יום רביעי, 29 באפריל 2015


The Gospel of Peter.
The important fragment of which Mr. J. Armitage Robinson’s translation here follows was discovered by the French Archæological Mission, Cairo, in a grave (supposed to be a monk’s) in an ancient cemetery at Akhmîm (Panopolis), in Upper Egypt, in 1886. It was published in 1892 under the care of M. Bouriant in vol. ix., fasc. i., of the Memoirs of the French Archæological Mission at Cairo. The same parchment which contained this fragment also contained a fragment of the Revelation of Peter and a fragment of the Book of Enoch in Greek. The parchment codex is assigned to a date between the eighth and the twelfth century.
Before this discovery the following is all that was known of the Gospel of Peter: 1. Serapion, Bishop of Antioch 190–203, writing to the church at Rhossus, says (Eusebius, H. E., vi., 12, 2): “We, brethren, receive Peter and the other Apostles even as Christ; but the writings that go falsely by their names we, in our experience, reject, knowing that such things as these we never received. When I was with you I supposed you all to be attached to the right faith; and so without going through the gospel put forward under Peter’s name, I said, ‘If this is all that makes your petty quarrel,[1] why then let it be read.’ But now that I have learned from information given me that their mind was lurking in some hole of heresy, I will make a point of coming to you again: so, brethren, expect me speedily. Knowing then, brethren, of what kind of heresy was Marcion—[Here follows a sentence where the text is faulty.]…From others who used this very gospel—I mean from the successors of those who started it, whom we call Docetæ; for most of its ideas are of their school—from them, I say, I borrowed it, and was able to go through it, and to find that most of it belonged to the right teaching of the Saviour, but some things were additions.” From this we learn that a Gospel of Peter was in use in the church of Rhossus in the end of the second century, but that controversy had arisen as to its character, which, on a careful examination, Serapion condemned.
2. Origen († 253 a.d.), in commenting on Matthew x. 17, says: “But, proceeding on the tradition that is recorded in the Gospel according to Peter or in the Book of James, they say that there are certain brothers of Jesus, the sons of Joseph by a former wife, who lived with him before Mary.”
3. Eusebius (H. E., iii., 3, 2) says: “As to that work, however, which is ascribed to him, called ‘The Acts,’ and ‘The Gospel according to Peter,’ and that called ‘The Preaching and the Revelations of Peter,’ we know nothing of their being handed down as Catholic writings; since neither among the ancient nor the ecclesiastical writers of our own day has there been one that has appealed to testimony taken from them.” And in H. E., iii., 25, 6 sq., he includes the Gospel of Peter among the forged heretical gospels—“those that are adduced by the heretics under the name of the apostles,…of which no one of those writers in the ecclesiastical succession has condescended to make any mention in his works; and, indeed, the character of the style itself is very different from that of the apostles; and the sentiments, and the purport of those things that are advanced in them, deviating as far as possible from sound orthodoxy, evidently proves they are the fictions of heretical men; whence they are not only to be ranked among the spurious writings, but are to be rejected as altogether absurd and impious.” It is, however, uncertain whether Eusebius himself was acquainted with the Gospel of Peter.
4. Theodoret († c. 455), in his Religious History, ii., 2, says that the Nazarenes used “the gospel called ‘according to Peter.’” Later references in Western literature, e.g., Jerome, De vir. ill., i., and the Decretum Gelasianum, condemning the book, are based upon the judgement of Eusebius, and not upon direct knowledge (cf. Harnack, Geschichte der altchristl. Lit., I. Th., p. 11).
This was all that was known of the Gospel of Peter till the publication of the Akhmîm fragment. The latter extends to about 174 stichi, counting 32 words to the stichus. It begins in the middle of the history of the Passion, just after Pilate has washed his hands of all responsibility, and ends in the middle of a sentence, with the departure of the disciples into Galilee at the end of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, exactly a week after the crucifixion, the ostensible author, Peter, and Andrew, his brother, taking their nets and going to the sea; “and there was with us Levi the son of Alphæus, whom the Lord…”
The accompanying Synoptical Table shows where the Petrine narrative agrees with and where it varies from those supplied by the canonical gospels. Of that part of the Passion history which it narrates, it gives an account which follows the main lines of the canonical tradition, but with important variations in detail. Of the events between the burial and the resurrection of our Lord, its account is much more ample and detailed than anything in the canonical tradition.
Harnack (Texte und Untersuchungen, ix., 2, 2d ed., p. 76) gives the following list of new traits contained in the Petrine account of the history of the Passion and burial:
1. Herod was the judge who condemned Jesus, and to him application had to be made for the body.
2. The Jews, Herod, and the judges would not wash their hands, and Pilate then raised the sitting.
3. Joseph was the friend of Pilate (sec. 2).
4. Joseph begged for the body before the crucifixion, and Pilate sent for permission from Herod.
5. The soldiers “pushed him as they ran,” and their speech (sec. 3).
6. The mockery of the soldiers.
7. Mocking speech.
8. “As though having no pain” (sec. 4).
9. “Having placed his garments before him.”
10. One of the malefactors blamed the multitude, and his speech.
11. The legs of either the malefactor or Jesus were not broken, in order that he might die in torment.
12. The gall and vinegar (sec. 5).
13. In the darkness many went about with lamps, and fell down.
14. The cry, “My power, my power.”
15. The fact that when he had so cried Christ was taken up.
16. Mention of the nails in the hands at the taking down from the cross (sec. 6).
17. The earthquake when the body touched the ground.
18. The joy of the Jews when the sun shone again.
19. Joseph “had seen all the good things” that the Lord had done.
20. Joseph washed the body.
21. The cries of woe of the Jews and their leaders over their sins, and their expectation of the judgement on Jerusalem (sec. 7).
22. The disciples remained in concealment, full of grief, and fasted and wept till the Sabbath.
23. They were searched for as malefactors and as anxious to burn the temple.
24. The name of the centurion of the watch—Petronius (sec. 8).
25. The centurion, the soldiers, and the elders rolled up the stone.
26. The elders also watched at the grave.
27. Seven seals were placed on the stone.
28. A tent pitched for the watch.
29. The gathering of the multitude on the morning of the Sabbath to view the sealed grave (sec. 9).
The whole narrative of the resurrection is so different from that of the canonical gospels that it would be useless to go into details; but it is important to notice the prominence assigned to Mary Magdalene, and:
1. That the women fled from the grave and did not see the Lord (sec. 12).
2. That there is no account of any appearance of Christ for the first eight days after his death (sec. 13).
3. That the disciples, along with the rest of those who had taken part in the feast, returned home to Galilee on the seventh day of unleavened bread.
4. That they were then sad, and wept.
5. That the first appearance of Jesus must have taken place on the Lake of Gennesaret, either to Peter alone, or to Peter, Andrew, and Levi (Matthew), while fishing.
Moreover, according to section 13 (see sec. 5), the author puts the resurrection and ascension on the same day, or, rather, did not know of the latter as a separate event. He makes the angel say, “He is risen and gone away thither whence he was sent.”
Whether the author used any other sources than the canonical gospels is a matter still in doubt. He is certainly influenced by views which are foreign to these gospels, and which are known from other quarters in early Christian literature. As between the Synoptists and the Fourth Gospel, the narrator is generally more closely akin both in matter and in manner to the Synoptists, but he agrees with the author of the Fourth Gospel in regard to the chronology of the crucifixion and several of the events at the cross, and in his general attitude towards the Jews and Pilate. With regard to the last two points, the Petrine Gospel seems to present a later and more exaggerated form of the tendency perceptible in the Johannine, and fully worked out in the Acts of Pilate, to blame the Jews and exculpate Pilate.
Of the new features in this fragment some are at least liable to a Docetic interpretation, e.g., the silence on the cross “as though he had no pain” (sec. 4), the cry, “My power, my power” (sec. 5), and ”he was taken up” (sec. 5). This fact was recognised in subsequent times and condemned this gospel in the eye of the church. The date of the work is variously fixed by different scholars; Harnack assigns it to the first quarter of the second century, while Mr. Armitage Robinson and other scholars place it later.
The Gospel According to Peter.[1]
1 But of the Jews none washed his hands, neither Herod nor any one of his judges. And when they had refused to wash them, Pilate rose up. And then Herod the king commandeth that the Lord be taken,[2] saying to them, What things soever I commanded you to do unto him, do.
2 And there was standing there Joseph the friend of Pilate and of the Lord; and, knowing that they were about to crucify[3] him, he came to Pilate and asked the body of the Lord for burial. And Pilate sent to Herod and asked his body. And Herod said, Brother Pilate, even if no one had asked for him, we purposed to bury him, especially as the sabbath draweth on:[4] for it is written in the law, that the sun set not upon one that hath been put to death.
3 And he delivered him to the people on the day before the unleavened bread, their feast. And they took the Lord and pushed him as they ran, and said, Let us drag away the Son of God, having obtained power over him. And they clothed him with purple, and set him on the seat of judgment, saying, Judge righteously, O king of Israel. And one of them brought a crown of thorns and put it on the head of the Lord. And others stood and spat in his eyes, and others smote his cheeks: others pricked him with a reed; and some scourged him, saying, With this honour let us honour the Son of God.
4 And they brought two malefactors, and they crucified the Lord between them. But he held his peace, as though having no pain. And when they had raised the cross, they wrote the title: This is the king of Israel. And having set his garments before him they parted them among them, and cast lots for them. And one of those malefactors reproached them, saying, We for the evils that we have done have suffered thus, but this man, who hath become the Saviour of men, what wrong hath he done to you? And they, being angered at him, commanded that his legs should not be broken, that he might die in torment.
5 And it was noon, and darkness came over all Judæa: and they were troubled and distressed, lest the sun had set, whilst he was yet alive: [for] it is written for them, that the sun set not on him that hath been put to death. And one of them said, Give him to drink gall with vinegar. And they mixed and gave him to drink, and fulfilled all things, and accomplished their sins against their own head. And many went about with lamps, supposing that it was night, and fell down.[5] And the Lord cried out, saying, My power, my power, thou hast forsaken me. And when he had said it he was taken up. And in that hour the vail of the temple of Jerusalem was rent in twain.[6]
6 And then they drew out the nails from the hands of the Lord, and laid him upon the earth, and the whole earth quaked, and great fear arose. Then the sun shone, and it was found the ninth hour: and the Jews rejoiced, and gave his body to Joseph that he might bury it, since he had seen what good things he had done. And he took the Lord, and washed him, and rolled him in a linen cloth, and brought him into his own tomb, which was called the Garden of Joseph.
7 Then the Jews and the elders and the priests, perceiving what evil they had done to themselves, began to lament and to say, Woe for our sins: the judgement hath drawn nigh, and the end of Jerusalem. And I with my companions was grieved; and being wounded in mind we hid ourselves: for we were being sought for by them as malefactors, and as wishing to set fire to the temple. And upon all these things we fasted and sat mourning and weeping night and day until the sabbath.
8 But the scribes and Pharisees and elders being gathered together one with another, when they heard that all the people murmured and beat their breasts saying, If by his death these most mighty signs have come to pass, see how righteous he is,—the elders were afraid and came to Pilate, beseeching him and saying, Give us soldiers, that we may guard his sepulchre for three days, lest his disciples come and steal him away, and the people suppose that he is risen from the dead and do us evil. And Pilate gave them Petronius the centurion with soldiers to guard the tomb. And with them came elders and scribes to the sepulchre, and having rolled a great stone together with[7] the centurion and the soldiers, they all together who were there set it at the door of the sepulchre; and they affixed seven seals, and they pitched a tent there and guarded it. And early in the morning as the sabbath was drawing on, there came a multitude from Jerusalem and the region round about, that they might see the sepulchre that was sealed.
9 And in the night in which the Lord’s day was drawing on, as the soldiers kept guard two by two in a watch, there was a great voice in the heaven; and they saw the heavens opened, and two men descend from thence with great light and approach the tomb. And that stone which was put at the door rolled of itself and made way in part; and the tomb was opened, and both the young men entered in.
10 When therefore those soldiers saw it, they awakened the centurion and the elders; for they too were hard by keeping guard. And, as they declared what things they had seen, again they see three men come forth from the tomb, and two of them supporting one, and a cross following them: and of the two the head reached unto the heaven, but the head of him that was led by them overpassed the heavens. And they heard a voice from the heavens, saying, Thou hast preached to them that sleep. And a response was heard from the cross, Yea.
11 They therefore considered one with another whether to go away and shew these things to Pilate. And while they yet thought thereon, the heavens again are seen to open, and a certain man to descend and enter into the sepulchre. When the centurion and they that were with him saw these things, they hastened in the night to Pilate, leaving the tomb which they were watching, and declared all things which they had seen, being greatly distressed and saying, Truly he was the Son of God. Pilate answered and said, I am pure from the blood of the Son of God: but it was ye who determined this. Then they all drew near and besought him and entreated him to command the centurion and the soldiers to say nothing of the things which they had seen: For it is better, say they, for us to be guilty of the greatest sin before God, and not to fall into the hands of the people of the Jews and to be stoned. Pilate therefore commanded the centurion and the soldiers to say nothing.
12 And at dawn upon the Lord’s day Mary Magdalen, a disciple of the Lord, fearing because of the Jews, since they were burning with wrath, had not done at the Lord’s sepulchre the things which women are wont to do for those that die and for those that are beloved by them—she took her friends with her and came to the sepulchre where he was laid. And they feared lest the Jews should see them, and they said, Although on that day on which he was crucified we could not weep and lament, yet now let us do these things at his sepulchre. But who shall roll away for us the stone that was laid at the door of the sepulchre, that we may enter in and sit by him and do the things that are due? For the stone was great, and we fear lest some one see us. And if we cannot, yet if we but set at the door the things which we bring for a memorial of him, we will weep and lament, until we come unto our home.
13 And they went and found the tomb opened, and coming near they looked in there; and they see there a certain young man sitting in the midst of the tomb, beautiful and clothed in a robe exceeding bright: who said to them, Wherefore are ye come? Whom seek ye? Him that was crucified?[8] He is risen and gone. But if ye believe not, look in and see the place where he lay, that he is not [here]; for he is risen and gone thither, whence he was sent. Then the women feared and fled.
14 Now it was the last day of the unleavened bread, and many were going forth, returning to their homes, as the feast was ended. But we, the twelve disciples of the Lord, wept and were grieved: and each one, being grieved for that which was come to pass, departed to his home. But I Simon Peter and Andrew my brother took our nets and went to the sea; and there was with us Levi the son of Alphæus, whom the Lord…
Synoptical Table
of the
Four Canonical Gospels
The Gospel According to Peter
Matthew xxvii.
24 ¶ When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
[cf. v. 57.]
26 ¶ Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.
28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
29 ¶ And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.
Mark xv.
[cf. v. 43.]
[cf. v. 42.]
15 ¶ And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.
16 And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Prætorium; and they call together the whole band.
17 And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head,
18 And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews!
19 And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him.
Luke xxiii.
[2cf. Lk. xxiii. 7.]
[3cf. Lk. xxii. 66; Acts iv. 27.]
[cf. v. 50.]
[4cf. Lk. xxiii. 12.]
24 And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.
25 And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.
John xix.
[1cf. John passim.]
[cf. v. 38.]
[cf. xix. 31.]
16 Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.
1 But of the Jews[1] none washed his hands, neither Herod[2] nor any one of his judges.[3] 2 And when they had refused to wash them, Pilate rose up. And Herod the king commandeth that the Lord be taken, saying to them, What things soever I commanded you to do unto them, do.
3 And there was come there Joseph the friend of Pilate and of the Lord; and, knowing that they were about to crucify him, he came to Pilate and asked the body of the Lord for burial. 4 And Pilate sent to Herod and asked his body. 5 And Herod said, Brother[4] Pilate, even if no one had asked for him, we purposed to bury him, especially as the sabbath draweth on: for it is written in the law, that the sun set not upon one that hath been put to death. And he delivered him to the people on the day before the unleavened bread, their feast.
6 And they took the Lord and pushed him as they ran, and said, Let us drag away the Son of God, having obtained power over him.
7 And they clothed him with purple, and set him on the seat of judgement, saying, Judge righteously, O King of Israel. 8 And one of them brought a crown of thorns and put it on the head of the Lord. 9 And others stood and spat in his eyes, and others smote his cheeks: others pricked him with a reed; and some scourged him, saying, With this honour let us honour the Son of God.
31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.
32 And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.
33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull,
20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him.
21 And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.
22 And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.
26 And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.
27 ¶ And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.
28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.
29 For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.
30 Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.
31 For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?
32 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.
33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:
34 ¶ They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.
35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.
36 And sitting down they watched him there;
37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.
39 ¶ And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
23 And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.
24 And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.
25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.
26 And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
27 And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.
28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.
34 ¶ Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.
36 And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar,
37 And saying, If thou be the King of the Jews, save thyself.
38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
[cf. vv. 23, 24.]
19 ¶ And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.
20 This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.
10 And they brought two malefactors, and they crucified the Lord between them.
But he held his peace, as though having no pain.
11 And when they had raised the cross, they wrote upon it, This is the King of Israel.
12 And having set his garments before him, they parted them among them, and cast lots for them.
[cf. v. 11.]
40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,
42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.
[cf. v. 35.]
44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.
29 And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days,
30 Save thyself, and come down from the cross.
31 Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.
32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.
[cf. v. 24.]
And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
39 ¶ And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
21 Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.
22 Pilate answered, What I have written I have written.
23 ¶ Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout.
24 They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.
[cf. v. 12.]
13 And one of those malefactors reproached him, saying, We for the evils that we have done have suffered thus, but this man, who hath become the Saviour of men, what wrong hath he done to you?
45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
33 And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.
45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.
25 ¶ Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.
14 And they, being angered at him, commanded that his legs should not be broken, that he might die in torment.
15 And it was noon, and darkness came over all Judæa:
and they were troubled and distressed, lest the sun had set, whilst he was yet alive: [for] it is written for them, that the sun set not on him that hath been put to death.
47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.
48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.
49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
50 ¶ Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom;
and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
35 And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias.
36 And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down.
37 And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.
38 And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.
46 ¶ And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
28 ¶ After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.
29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.
30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.
33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:
16 And one of them said, Give him to drink gall with vinegar. And they mixed and gave him to drink, 17 and fulfilled all things, and accomplished their sins against their own head.
18 And many went about with lamps, supposing that it was night, and fell down. 19 And the Lord cried out, saying, My power, my power, thou hast forsaken me.
And when he had said it he was taken up.
20 And in that hour the vail of the temple of Jerusalem was rent in twain.
54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him:
56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.
57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathæa, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple:
39 ¶ And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.
40 There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome;
41 (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.
42 ¶ And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,
43 Joseph of Arimathæa, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus.
47 Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.
48 And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.
49 And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.
50 ¶ And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just:
51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathæa, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.
34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.
36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.
37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.
38 ¶ And after this Joseph of Arimathæa, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
21 And then they drew out the nails from the hands of the Lord, and laid him upon the earth, and the whole earth quaked, and great fear arose. 22 Then the sun shone, and it was found the ninth hour: 23 and the Jews rejoiced, and
58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.
59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre.
44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead.
45 And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph.
46 And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.
47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid.
52 This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.
53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.
54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.
55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.
56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.
gave his body to Joseph that he might bury it,
since he had seen what good things he had done.
24 And he took the Lord, and washed him, and wrapped him in a linen cloth, and brought him into his own tomb,
which was called the Garden of Joseph.
25 Then the Jews and the elders and the priests, perceiving what evil they had done to themselves, began to lament and to say, Woe for our sins: the judgement hath drawn nigh, and the end of Jerusalem.
26 And I with my companions was grieved; and being wounded in mind we hid ourselves: for we were being sought for by them as malefactors, and as wishing to set fire to the temple.
[1cf. Mt. ix. 15.]
62 ¶ Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees
came together unto Pilate,
63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.
66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.
[1cf. Mk. ii. 20.]
[2cf. Mk. xvi. 10.]
27 And upon all these things we fasted[5] and sat mourning[6] and weeping[7] night and day until the sabbath.
28 But the scribes and Pharisees and elders being gathered together one with another, when they heard that all the people murmured and beat their breasts, saying, If by his death these most mighty signs have come to pass, see how just he is,—29 the elders were afraid and
came to Pilate, beseeching him and saying, 30 Give us soldiers, that we may guard his sepulchre for three days, lest his disciples come and steal him away, and the people suppose that he is risen from the dead and do us evil.
31 And Pilate gave them Petronius the centurion with soldiers to guard the tomb. And with them came the elders and scribes to the sepulchre,
32 And having rolled a great stone together with the centurion and the soldiers, they all together who were there set it at the door of the sepulchre;
33 And they affixed seven seals, and they pitched a tent there and guarded it.
34 And early in the morning as the sabbath was drawing on, there came a multitude from Jerusalem and the region round about, that they might see the sepulchre that was sealed.
35 And in the night in which the Lord’s day was drawing on, as the soldiers kept guard two by two in a watch, there was a great voice in the heaven; 36 and they saw the heavens opened, and two men descend from thence with great light and approach the tomb. 37 And that stone which was put at the door rolled of itself and made way in part; and the tomb was opened, and both the young men entered in.
38 When therefore those soldiers saw it, they awakened the centurion and the elders,—for they too were hard by keeping guard; 39 and, as they declared what things they had seen, again they see three men coming forth from the tomb, and two of them supporting one, and a cross following them. 40 And of the two the head reached unto the heaven, but the head of him that was led by them overpassed the heavens. 41 And they heard a voice from the heavens, saying, Hast thou preached to them that sleep? 42 And a response was heard from the cross, Yea.
43 They therefore considered one with another whether to go away and shew these things to Pilate. 44 And while they yet thought thereon, the heavens again are seen to open, and a certain man to descend and enter into the sepulchre. 45 When the centurion and they that were with him saw these things, they hastened in the night to Pilate, leaving the tomb which they were watching, and declared all things which they had seen, being greatly distressed and saying, Truly he was the Son of God.
[cf. Mt. xxvii. 24.]
Chapter XXVIII.
1 ¶ In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
Chapter XVI.
1 ¶ And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?
4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
5 And entering into the sepulchre,
they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
Chapter XXIV.
1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
Chapter XX.
1 ¶ The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre,
and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
46 Pilate answered and said, I am pure from the blood of the Son of God: but ye determined this.
47 Then they all drew near and besought him and entreated him to command the centurion and the soldiers to say nothing of the things which they had seen: 48 For it is better, say they, for us to incur the greatest sin before God, and not to fall into the hands of the people of the Jews and to be stoned. 49 Pilate therefore commanded the centurion and the soldiers to say nothing.
50 And at dawn upon the Lord’s day, Mary Magdalen, a disciple of the Lord, fearing because of the Jews, since they were burning with wrath, had not done at the Lord’s sepulchre the things which the women are wont to do for those that die and for those that are beloved by them—
51 she took her friends with her and came to the sepulchre where he was laid.
52 And they feared lest the Jews should see them, and they said, Although on the day on which he was crucified we could not weep and lament, yet now let us do these things at his sepulchre.
53 But who shall roll away for us the stone that was laid at the door of the sepulchre, that we may enter in and sit by him and do the things that are due? 54 For the stone was great, and we fear lest some one see us. And if we cannot, yet if we but set at the door the things which we bring for a memorial of him, we will weep and lament, until we come unto our home.
55 And they went away and found the tomb opened,
and coming near they looked in there;
and they see there a certain young man sitting in the midst of the tomb, beautiful and clothed in a robe exceeding bright;
4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.
8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.
[Levi, etc.; cf. Mk. ii. 14.]
6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
8 And they remembered his words,
9 And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.
who said unto them, 56 Wherefore are ye come? Whom seek ye? Him that was crucified? He is risen and gone. But if ye believe not, look in and see the place where he lay, that he is not [here]; for he is risen and gone away thither, whence he was sent.
57 Then the women feared and fled.
58 Now it was the last day of the unleavened bread, and many were going forth, returning to their homes, as the feast was ended. 59 But we, the twelve disciples of the Lord, mourned and were grieved: and each one, being grieved for that which was come to pass, departed to his home. 60 But I, Simon Peter and Andrew my brother, took our nets and went to the sea; and there was with us Levi the son of Alphæus, whom the Lord…
The Testament of Abraham.
Version I.
I. Abraham lived the measure of his life, nine hundred and ninety-five years, and having lived all the years of his life in quietness, gentleness, and righteousness, the righteous one was exceeding hospitable; for, pitching his tent in the cross-ways at the oak of Mamre, he received every one, both rich and poor, kings and rulers, the maimed and the helpless, friends and strangers, neighbors and travelers, all alike did the devout, all-holy, righteous, and hospitable Abraham entertain. Even upon him, however, there came the common, inexorable, bitter lot of death, and the uncertain end of life. Therefore the Lord God, summoning his archangel Michael, said to him: Go down, chief-captain[1] Michael, to Abraham and speak to him concerning his death, that he may set his affairs in order, for I have blessed him as the stars of heaven, and as the sand by the sea-shore, and he is in abundance of long life and many possessions, and is becoming exceeding rich. Beyond all men, moreover, he is righteous in every goodness, hospitable and loving to the end of his life; but do thou, archangel Michael, go to Abraham, my beloved friend, and announce to him his death and assure him thus: Thou shalt at this time depart from this vain world, and shalt quit the body, and go to thine own Lord among the good.
II. And the chief-captain departed from before the face of God, and went down to Abraham to the oak of Mamre, and found the righteous Abraham in the field close by, sitting beside yokes of oxen for ploughing, together with the sons of Masek and other servants, to the number of twelve. And behold the chief-captain came to him, and Abraham, seeing the chief-captain Michael coming from afar, like to a very comely warrior, arose and met him as was his custom, meeting and entertaining all strangers. And the chief-captain saluted him and said: Hail, most honored father, righteous soul chosen of God, true son of the heavenly one. Abraham said to the chief-captain: Hail, most honored warrior, bright as the sun and most beautiful above all the sons of men; thou art welcome; therefore I beseech thy presence, tell me whence the youth of thy age has come; teach me, thy suppliant, whence and from what army and from what journey thy beauty has come hither. The chief-captain said: I, O righteous Abraham, come from the great city. I have been sent by the great king to take the place of a good friend of his, for the king has summoned him. And Abraham said, Come, my Lord, go with me as far as my field. The chief-captain said: I come; and going into the field of the ploughing, they sat down beside the company. And Abraham said to his servants, the sons of Masek: Go ye to the herd of horses, and bring two horses, quiet, and gentle and tame, so that I and this stranger may sit thereon. But the chief-captain said, Nay, my Lord, Abraham, let them not bring horses, for I abstain from ever sitting upon any four-footed beast. Is not my king rich in much merchandise, having power both over men and all kinds of cattle? but I abstain from ever sitting upon any four-footed beast. Let us go, then, O righteous soul, walking lightly until we reach thy house. And Abraham said, Amen, be it so.
III. And as they went on from the field toward his house, beside that way there stood a cypress tree, and by the command of the Lord the tree cried out with a human voice, saying, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God that calls himself to those that love him; but Abraham hid the mystery, thinking that the chief-captain had not heard the voice of the tree. And coming nigh to the house they sat down in the court, and Isaac seeing the face of the angel said to Sarah his mother, My lady mother, behold, the man sitting with my father Abraham is not a son of the race of those that dwell on the earth. And Isaac ran, and saluted him, and fell at the feet of the Incorporeal, and the Incorporeal blessed him and said, The Lord God will grant thee his promise that he made to thy father Abraham and to his seed, and will also grant thee the precious prayer of thy father and thy mother. Abraham said to Isaac his son, My son Isaac, draw water from the well, and bring it me in the vessel, that we may wash the feet of this stranger, for he is tired, having come to us from off a long journey. And Isaac ran to the well and drew water in the vessel and brought it to them, and Abraham went up and washed the feet of the chief captain Michael, and the heart of Abraham was moved, and he wept over the stranger. And Isaac, seeing his father weeping, wept also, and the chief captain, seeing them weeping, also wept with them, and the tears of the chief captain fell upon the vessel into the water of the basin and became precious stones. And Abraham seeing the marvel, and being astonished, took the stones secretly, and hid the mystery, keeping it by himself in his heart.
IV. And Abraham said to Isaac his son: Go, my beloved son, into the inner chamber of the house and beautify it. Spread for us there two couches, one for me and one for this man that is guest with us this day. Prepare for us there a seat and a candlestick and a table with abundance of every good thing. Beautify the chamber, my son, and spread under us linen and purple and fine linen. Burn there every precious and excellent incense, and bring sweet-smelling plants from the garden and fill our house with them. Kindle seven lamps full of oil, so that we may rejoice, for this man that is our guest this day is more glorious than kings or rulers, and his appearance surpasses all the sons of men. And Isaac prepared all things well, and Abraham taking the archangel Michael went into the chamber, and they both sat down upon the couches, and between them he placed a table with abundance of every good thing. Then the chief captain arose and went out, as if by constraint of his belly to make issue of water, and ascended to heaven in the twinkling of an eye, and stood before the Lord, and said to him: Lord and Master, let thy power know that I am unable to remind that righteous man of his death, for I have not seen upon the earth a man like him, pitiful, hospitable, righteous, truthful, devout, refraining from every evil deed. And now know, Lord, that I cannot remind him of his death. And the Lord said: Go down, chief-captain Michael, to my friend Abraham, and whatever he say to thee, that do thou also, and whatever he eat, eat thou also with him. And I will send my Holy Spirit upon his son Isaac, and will put the remembrance of his death into the heart of Isaac, so that even he in a dream may see the death of his father, and Isaac will relate the dream, and thou shalt interpret it, and he himself will know his end. And the chief-captain said, Lord, all the heavenly spirits are incorporeal, and neither eat nor drink, and this man has set before me a table with abundance of all good things earthly and corruptible. Now, Lord, what shall I do? How shall I escape him, sitting at one table with him? The Lord said: Go down to him, and take no thought for this, for when thou sittest down with him, I will send upon thee a devouring spirit, and it will consume out of thy hands and through thy mouth all that is on the table. Rejoice together with him in everything, only thou shalt interpret well the things of the vision, that Abraham may know the sickle of death and the uncertain end of life, and may make disposal of all his possessions, for I have blessed him above the sand of the sea and as the stars of heaven.
V. Then the chief captain went down to the house of Abraham, and sat down with him at the table, and Isaac served them. And when the supper was ended, Abraham prayed after his custom, and the chief-captain prayed together with him, and each lay down to sleep upon his couch. And Isaac said to his father, Father, I too would fain sleep with you in this chamber, that I also may hear your discourse, for I love to hear the excellence of the conversation of this virtuous man. Abraham said, Nay, my son, but go to thy own chamber and sleep on thy own couch, lest we be troublesome to this man. Then Isaac, having received the prayer from them, and having blessed them, went to his own chamber and lay down upon his couch. But the Lord cast the thought of death into the heart of Isaac as in a dream, and about the third hour of the night Isaac awoke and rose up from his couch, and came running to the chamber where his father was sleeping together with the archangel. Isaac, therefore, on reaching the door cried out, saying, My father Abraham, arise and open to me quickly, that I may enter and hang upon thy neck, and embrace thee before they take thee away from me. Abraham therefore arose and opened to him, and Isaac entered and hung upon his neck, and began to weep with a loud voice. Abraham therefore being moved at heart, also wept with a loud voice, and the chief-captain, seeing them weeping, wept also. Sarah being in her room, heard their weeping, and came running to them, and found them embracing and weeping. And Sarah said with weeping, My Lord Abraham, what is this that ye weep? Tell me, my Lord, has this brother that has been entertained by us this day brought thee tidings of Lot, thy brother’s son, that he is dead? is it for this that ye grieve thus? The chief-captain answered and said to her, Nay, my sister Sarah, it is not as thou sayest, but thy son Isaac, methinks, beheld a dream, and came to us weeping, and we seeing him were moved in our hearts and wept.
VI. Then Sarah, hearing the excellence of the conversation of the chief-captain, straightway knew that it was an angel of the Lord that spoke. Sarah therefore signified to Abraham to come out towards the door, and said to him, My Lord Abraham, knowest thou who this man is? Abraham said, I know not. Sarah said, Thou knowest, my Lord, the three men from heaven that were entertained by us in our tent beside the oak of Mamre, when thou didst kill the kid without blemish, and set a table before them. After the flesh had been eaten, the kid rose again, and sucked its mother with great joy. Knowest thou not, my Lord Abraham, that by promise they gave to us Isaac as the fruit of the womb? Of these three holy men this is one. Abraham said, O Sarah, in this thou speakest the truth. Glory and praise from our God and the Father. For late in the evening when I washed his feet in the basin I said in my heart, These are the feet of one of the three men that I washed then; and his tears that fell into the basin then became precious stones. And shaking them out from his lap he gave them to Sarah, saying, If thou believest me not, look now at these. And Sarah receiving them bowed down and saluted and said, Glory be to God that showeth us wonderful things. And now know, my Lord Abraham, that there is among us the revelation of some thing, whether it be evil or good!
VII. And Abraham left Sarah, and went into the chamber, and said to Isaac, Come hither, my beloved son, tell me the truth, what it was thou sawest and what befell thee that thou camest so hastily to us. And Isaac answering began to say, I saw, my Lord, in this night the sun and the moon above my head, surrounding me with its rays and giving me light. As I gazed at this and rejoiced, I saw the heaven opened, and a man bearing light descend from it, shining more than seven suns. And this man like the sun came and took away the sun from my head, and went up into the heavens from whence he came, but I was greatly grieved that he took away the sun from me. After a little, as I was still sorrowing and sore troubled, I saw this man come forth from heaven a second time, and he took away from me the moon also from off my head, and I wept greatly and called upon that man of light, and said, Do not, my Lord, take away my glory from me; pity me and hear me, and if thou takest away the sun from me, then leave the moon to me. He said, Suffer them to be taken up to the king above, for he wishes them there. And he took them away from me, but he left the rays upon me. The chief-captain said, Hear, O righteous Abraham; the sun which thy son saw is thou his father, and the moon likewise is Sarah his mother. The man bearing light who descended from heaven, this is the one sent from God who is to take thy righteous soul from thee. And now know, O most honored Abraham, that at this time thou shalt leave this worldly life, and remove to God. Abraham said to the chief captain O strangest of marvels! and now art thou he that shall take my soul from me? The chief-captain said to him, I am the chief-captain Michael, that stands before the Lord, and I was sent to thee to remind thee of thy death, and then I shall depart to him as I was commanded. Abraham said, Now I know that thou art an angel of the Lord, and wast sent to take my soul, but I will not go with thee; but do thou whatever thou art commanded.
VIII. The chief-captain hearing these words immediately vanished, and ascending into heaven stood before God, and told all that he had seen in the house of Abraham; and the chief-captain said this also to his Lord, Thus says thy friend Abraham, I will not go with thee, but do thou whatever thou art commanded; and now, O Lord Almighty, doth thy glory and immortal kingdom order aught? God said to the chief-captain Michael, Go to my friend Abraham yet once again, and speak to him thus, Thus saith the Lord thy God, he that brought thee into the land of promise, that blessed thee above the sand of the sea and above the stars of heaven, that opened the womb of barrenness of Sarah, and granted thee Isaac as the fruit of the womb in old age, Verily I say unto thee that blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thy seed, and I will give thee all that thou shalt ask from me, for I am the Lord thy God, and besides me there is no other. Tell me why thou hast rebelled against me, and why there is grief in thee, and why thou rebelled against my archangel Michael? Knowest thou not that all who have come from Adam and Eve have died, and that none of the prophets has escaped death? None of those that rule as kings is immortal; none of thy forefathers has escaped the mystery of death. They have all died, they have all departed into Hades, they are all gathered by the sickle of death. But upon thee I have not sent death, I have not suffered any deadly disease to come upon thee, I have not permitted the sickle of death to meet thee, I have not allowed the nets of Hades to enfold thee, I have never wished thee to meet with any evil. But for good comfort I have sent my chief-captain Michael to thee, that thou mayst know thy departure from the world, and set thy house in order, and all that belongs to thee, and bless Isaac thy beloved son. And now know that I have done this not wishing to grieve thee. Wherefore then hast thou said to my chief-captain, I will not go with thee? Wherefore hast thou spoken thus? Knowest thou not that if I give leave to death and he comes upon thee, then I should see whether thou wouldst come or not?
IX. And the chief-captain receiving the exhortations of the Lord went down to Abraham, and seeing him the righteous one fell upon his face to the ground as one dead, and the chief-captain told him all that he had heard from the Most High. Then the holy and just Abraham rising with many tears fell at the feet of the Incorporeal, and besought him, saying, I beseech thee, chief-captain of the hosts above, since thou hast wholly deigned to come thyself to me a sinner and in all things thy unworthy servant, I beseech thee even now, O chief-captain, to carry my word yet again to the Most High, and thou shalt say to him, Thus saith Abraham thy servant, Lord, Lord, in every work and word which I have asked of thee thou hast heard me, and hast fulfilled all my counsel. Now, Lord, I resist not thy power, for I too know that I am not immortal but mortal. Since therefore to thy command all things yield, and fear and tremble at the face of thy power, I also fear, but I ask one request of thee, and now, Lord and Master, hear my prayer, for while still in this body I desire to see all the inhabited earth, and all the creations which thou didst establish by one word, and when I see these, then if I shall depart from life I shall be without sorrow. So the chief-captain went back again, and stood before God, and told him all, saying, Thus saith thy friend Abraham, I desired to behold all the earth in my lifetime before I died. And the Most High hearing this, again commanded the chief-captain Michael, and said to him, Take a cloud of light, and the angels that have power over the chariots, and go down, take the righteous Abraham upon a chariot of the cherubim, and exalt him into the air of heaven that he may behold all the earth.
X. And the archangel Michael went down and took Abraham upon a chariot of the cherubim, and exalted him into the air of heaven, and led him upon the cloud together with sixty angels, and Abraham ascended upon the chariot over all the earth. And Abraham saw the world as it was in that day, some ploughing, others driving wains, in one place men herding flocks, and in another watching them by night, and dancing and playing and harping, in another place men striving and contending at law, elsewhere men weeping and having the dead in remembrance. He saw also the newly-wedded received with honor, and in a word he saw all things that are done in the world, both good and bad. Abraham therefore passing over them saw men bearing swords, wielding in their hands sharpened swords, and Abraham asked the chief-captain, Who are these? The chief-captain said, These are thieves, who intend to commit murder, and to steal and burn and destroy. Abraham said, Lord, Lord, hear my voice, and command that wild beasts may come out of the wood and devour them. And even as he spoke there came wild beasts out of the wood and devoured them. And he saw in another place a man with a woman committing fornication with each other, and said, Lord, Lord, command that the earth may open and swallow them, and straightway the earth was cleft and swallowed them. And he saw in another place men digging through a house, and carrying away other men’s possessions, and he said, Lord, Lord, command that fire may come down from heaven and consume them. And even as he spoke, fire came down from heaven and consumed them. And straightway there came a voice from heaven to the chief-captain, saying thus, O chief-captain Michael, command the chariot to stop, and turn Abraham away that he may not see all the earth, for if he behold all that live in wickedness, he will destroy all creation. For behold, Abraham has not sinned, and has no pity on sinners, but I have made the world, and desire not to destroy any one of them, but wait for the death of the sinner, till he be converted and live. But take Abraham up to the first gate of heaven, that he may see there the judgments and recompenses, and repent of the souls of the sinners that he has destroyed.
XI. So Michael turned the chariot and brought Abraham to the east, to the first gate of heaven; and Abraham saw two ways, the one narrow and contracted, the other broad and spacious, and there he saw two gates, the one broad on the broad way, and the other narrow on the narrow way. And outside the two gates there he saw a man sitting upon a gilded throne, and the appearance of that man was terrible, as of the Lord.[2] And they saw many souls driven by angels and led in through the broad gate, and other souls, few in number, that were taken by the angels through the narrow gate. And when the wonderful one who sat upon the golden throne saw few entering through the narrow gate, and many entering through the broad one, straightway that wonderful one tore the hairs of his head and the sides of his beard, and threw himself on the ground from his throne, weeping and lamenting. But when he saw many souls entering through the narrow gate, then he arose from the ground and sat upon his throne in great joy, rejoicing and exulting. And Abraham asked the chief-captain, My Lord chief-captain, who is this most marvelous man, adorned with such glory, and sometimes he weeps and laments, and sometimes he rejoices and exults? The incorporeal one said: This is the first-created Adam who is in such glory, and he looks upon the world because all are born from him, and when he sees many souls going through the narrow gate, then he arises and sits upon his throne rejoicing and exulting in joy, because this narrow gate is that of the just, that leads to life, and they that enter through it go into Paradise. For this, then, the first-created Adam rejoices, because he sees the souls being saved. But when he sees many souls entering through the broad gate, then he pulls out the hairs of his head, and casts himself on the ground weeping and lamenting bitterly, for the broad gate is that of sinners, which leads to destruction and eternal punishment. And for this the first-formed Adam falls from his throne weeping and lamenting for the destruction of sinners, for they are many that are lost, and they are few that are saved, for in seven thousand there is scarcely found one soul saved, being righteous and undefiled.
XII. While he was yet saying these things to me, behold two angels, fiery in aspect, and pitiless in mind, and severe in look, and they drove on thousands of souls, pitilessly lashing them with fiery thongs. The angel laid hold of one soul, and they drove all the souls in at the broad gate to destruction. So we also went along with the angels, and came within that broad gate, and between the two gates stood a throne terrible of aspect, of terrible crystal, gleaming as fire, and upon it sat a wondrous man bright as the sun, like to the Son of God. Before him stood a table like crystal, all of gold and fine linen, and upon the table there was lying a book, the thickness of it six cubits, and the breadth of it ten cubits, and on the right and left of it stood two angels holding paper and ink and pen. Before the table sat an angel of light, holding in his hand a balance, and on his left sat an angel all fiery, pitiless, and severe, holding in his hand a trumpet, having within it all-consuming fire with which to try the sinners. The wondrous man who sat upon the throne himself judged and sentenced the souls, and the two angels on the right and on the left wrote down, the one on the right the righteousness and the one on the left the wickedness. The one before the table, who held the balance, weighed the souls, and the fiery angel, who held the fire, tried the souls. And Abraham asked the chief-captain Michael, What is this that we behold? And the chief-captain said, These things that thou seest, holy Abraham, are the judgment and recompense. And behold the angel holding the soul in his hand, and he brought it before the judge, and the judge said to one of the angels that served him, Open me this book, and find me the sins of this soul. And opening the book he found its sins and its righteousness equally balanced, and he neither gave it to the tormentors, nor to those that were saved, but set it in the midst.
XIII. And Abraham said, My Lord chief-captain, who is this most wondrous judge? and who are the angels that write down? and who is the angel like the sun, holding the balance? and who is the fiery angel holding the fire? The chief-captain said, “Seest thou, most holy Abraham, the terrible man sitting upon the throne? This is the son of the first created Adam, who is called Abel, whom the wicked Cain killed, and he sits thus to judge all creation, and examines righteous men and sinners. For God has said, I shall not judge you, but every man born of man shall be judged. Therefore he has given to him judgment, to judge the world until his great and glorious coming, and then, O righteous Abraham, is the perfect judgment and recompense, eternal and unchangeable, which no one can alter. For every man has come from the first-created, and therefore they are first judged here by his son, and at the second coming they shall be judged by the twelve tribes of Israel, every breath and every creature. But the third time they shall be judged by the Lord God of all, and then, indeed, the end of that judgment is near, and the sentence terrible, and there is none to deliver. And now by three tribunals the judgment of the world and the recompense is made, and for this reason a matter is not finally confirmed by one or two witnesses, but by three witnesses shall everything be established. The two angels on the right hand and on the left, these are they that write down the sins and the righteousness, the one on the right hand writes down the righteousness, and the one on the left the sins. The angel like the sun, holding the balance in his hand, is the archangel, Dokiel the just weigher, and he weighs the righteousnesses and sins with the righteousness of God. The fiery and pitiless angel, holding the fire in his hand, is the archangel Puruel, who has power over fire, and tries the works of men through fire, and if the fire consume the work of any man, the angel of judgment immediately seizes him, and carries him away to the place of sinners, a most bitter place of punishment. But if the fire approves the work of anyone, and does not seize upon it, that man is justified, and the angel of righteousness takes him and carries him up to be saved in the lot of the just. And thus, most righteous Abraham, all things in all men are tried by fire and the balance.”
XIV. And Abraham said to the chief-captain, My Lord the chief-captain, the soul which the angel held in his hand, why was it adjudged to be set in the midst? The chief-captain said, Listen, righteous Abraham. Because the judge found its sins. and its righteousnesses equal, he neither committed it to judgment nor to be saved, until the judge of all shall come. Abraham said to the chief-captain, And what yet is wanting for the soul to be saved? The chief-captain said, If it obtains one righteousness above its sins, it enters into salvation. Abraham said to the chief-captain, Come hither, chief-captain Michael, let us make prayer for this soul, and see whether God will hear us. The chief-captain said, Amen, be it so; and they made prayer and entreaty for the soul, and God heard them, and when they rose up from their prayer they did not see the soul standing there. And Abraham said to the angel, Where is the soul that thou didst hold in the midst? And the angel answered, It has been saved by thy righteous prayer, and behold an angel of light has taken it and carried it up into Paradise. Abraham said, I glorify the name of God, the Most High, and his immeasurable mercy. And Abraham said to the chief-captain, I beseech thee, archangel, hearken to my prayer, and let us yet call upon the Lord, and supplicate his compassion, and entreat his mercy for the souls of the sinners whom I formerly, in my anger, cursed and destroyed, whom the earth devoured, and the wild beasts tore in pieces, and the fire consumed through my words. Now I know that I have sinned before the Lord our God. Come then, O Michael, chief-captain of the hosts above, come, let us call upon God with tears that he may forgive me my sin, and grant them to me. And the chief-captain heard him, and they made entreaty before the Lord, and when they had called upon him for a long space, there came a voice from heaven saying, Abraham, Abraham, I have hearkened to thy voice and thy prayer, and forgive thee thy sin, and those whom thou thinkest that I destroyed I have called up and brought them into life by my exceeding kindness, because for a season I have requited them in judgment, and those whom I destroy living upon earth, I will not requite in death.
XV. And the voice of the Lord said also to the chief-captain Michael, Michael, my servant, turn back Abraham to his house, for behold his end has come nigh, and the measure of his life is fulfilled, that he may set all things in order, and then take him and bring him to me. So the chief-captain, turning the chariot and the cloud, brought Abraham to his house, and going into his chamber he sat upon his couch. And Sarah his wife came and embraced the feet of the Incorporeal, and spoke humbly, saying, I give thee thanks, my Lord, that thou hast brought my Lord Abraham, for behold we thought he had been taken up from us. And his son Isaac also came and fell upon his neck, and in the same way all his men-slaves and women-slaves surrounded Abraham and embraced him, glorifying God. And the Incorporeal one said to them, Hearken, righteous Abraham. Behold thy wife Sarah, behold also thy beloved son Isaac, behold also all thy men-servants and maid-servants round about thee. Make disposition of all that thou hast, for the day has come nigh in which thou shalt depart from the body and go to the Lord once for all. Abraham said, Has the Lord said it, or sayest thou this of thyself? The chief-captain answered, Hearken, righteous Abraham. The Lord has commanded, and I tell it thee. Abraham said, I will not go with thee. The chief-captain, hearing these words, straightway went forth from the presence of Abraham, and went up into the heavens, and stood before God the Most High, and said, Lord Almighty, behold I have hearkened to Thy friend Abraham in all he has said to Thee, and have fulfilled his requests. I have shown to him Thy power, and all the earth and sea that is under heaven. I have shown to him judgment and recompense by means of cloud and chariots, and again he says, I will not go with thee. And the Most High said to the angel, Does my friend Abraham say thus again, I will not go with thee? The archangel said, Lord Almighty, he says thus, and I refrain from laying hands on him, because from the beginning he is Thy friend, and has done all things pleasing in Thy sight. There is no man like him on earth, not even Job the wondrous man, and therefore I refrain from laying hands on him. Command, therefore, Immortal King, what shall be done.
XVI. Then the Most High said, Call me hither Death that is called the shameless countenance and the pitiless look. And Michael the Incorporeal went and said to Death, Come hither; the Lord of creation, the immortal king, calls thee. And Death, hearing this, shivered and trembled, being possessed with great terror, and coming with great fear it stood before the invisible father, shivering, groaning and trembling, awaiting the command of the Lord. Therefore the invisible God said to Death, Come hither, thou bitter and fierce name of the world, hide thy fierceness, cover thy corruption, and cast away thy bitterness from thee, and put on thy beauty and all thy glory, and go down to Abraham my friend, and take him and bring him to me. But now also I tell thee not to terrify him, but bring him with fair speech, for he is my own friend. Having heard this, Death went out from the presence of the Most High, and put on a robe of great brightness, and made his appearance like the sun, and became fair and beautiful above the sons of men, assuming the form of an archangel, having his cheeks flaming with fire, and he departed to Abraham. Now the righteous Abraham went out of his chamber, and sat under the trees of Mamre, holding his chin in his hand, and awaiting the coming of the archangel Michael. And behold, a smell of sweet odor came to him, and a flashing of light, and Abraham turned and saw Death coming towards him in great glory and beauty. And Abraham arose and went to meet him, thinking that it was the chief-captain of God, and Death beholding him saluted him, saying, Rejoice, precious Abraham, righteous soul, true friend of the Most High God, and companion of the holy angels. Abraham said to Death, Hail thou of appearance and form like the sun, most glorious helper, bringer of light, wondrous man, from whence does thy glory come to us, and who art thou, and whence comest thou? Then Death said, Most righteous Abraham, behold I tell thee the truth. I am the bitter lot of death. Abraham said to him, Nay, but thou art the comeliness of the world, thou art the glory and beauty of angels and men, thou art fairer in form than every other, and sayest thou, I am the bitter lot of death, and not rather, I am fairer than every good thing. Death said, I tell thee the truth. What the Lord has named me, that also I tell thee. Abraham said, For what art thou come hither? Death said, For thy holy soul am I come. Then Abraham said, I know what thou meanest, but I will not go with thee; and Death was silent and answered him not a word.
XVII. Then Abraham arose, and went into his house, and Death also accompanied him thither. And Abraham went up into his chamber, and Death went up with him. And Abraham lay down upon his couch, and Death came and sat by his feet. Then Abraham said, Depart, depart from me, for I desire to rest upon my couch. Death said, I will not depart until I take thy spirit from thee. Abraham said to him, By the immortal God I charge thee to tell me the truth. Art thou death? Death said to him, I am Death. I am the destroyer of the world. Abraham said, I beseech thee, since thou art Death, tell me if thou comest thus to all in such fairness and glory and beauty? Death said, Nay, my Lord Abraham, for thy righteousnesses, and the boundless sea of thy hospitality, and the greatness of thy love towards God has become a crown upon my head, and in beauty and great peace and gentleness I approach the righteous, but to sinners I come in great corruption and fierceness and the greatest bitterness and with fierce and pitiless look. Abraham said, I beseech thee, hearken to me, and show me thy fierceness and all thy corruption and bitterness. And Death said, Thou canst not behold my fierceness, most righteous Abraham. Abraham said, Yes, I shall be able to behold all thy fierceness by means of the name of the living God, for the might of my God that is in heaven is with me. Then Death put off all his comeliness and beauty, and all his glory and the form like the sun with which he was clothed, and put upon himself a tyrant’s robe, and made his appearance gloomy and fiercer than all kind of wild beasts, and more unclean than all uncleanness. And he showed to Abraham seven fiery heads of serpents and fourteen faces, (one) of flaming fire and of great fierceness, and a face of darkness, and a most gloomy face of a viper, and a face of a most terrible precipice, and a face fiercer than an asp, and a face of a terrible lion, and a face of a cerastes and basilisk. He showed him also a face of a fiery scimitar, and a sword-bearing face, and a face of lightning, lightening terribly, and a noise of dreadful thunder. He showed him also another face of a fierce stormy sea, and a fierce rushing river, and a terrible three-headed serpent, and a cup mingled with poisons, and in short he showed to him great fierceness and unendurable bitterness, and every mortal disease as of the odor of Death. And from the great bitterness and fierceness there died servants and maid-servants in number about seven thousand, and the righteous Abraham came into indifference of death so that his spirit failed him.
XVIII. And the all-holy Abraham, seeing these things thus, said to Death, I beseech thee, all-destroying Death, hide thy fierceness, and put on thy beauty and the shape which thou hadst before. And straightway Death hid his fierceness, and put on his beauty which he had before. And Abraham said to Death, Why hast thou done this, that thou hast slain all my servants and maidservants? Has God sent thee hither for this end this day? Death said, Nay, my Lord Abraham, it is not as thou sayest, but on thy account was I sent hither. Abraham said to Death, How then have these died? Has the Lord not spoken it? Death said, Believe thou, most righteous Abraham, that this also is wonderful, that thou also wast not taken away with them. Nevertheless I tell thee the truth, for if the right hand of God had not been with thee at that time, thou also wouldst have had to depart from this life. The righteous Abraham said, Now I know that I have come into indifference of death, so that my spirit fails, but I beseech thee, all-destroying Death, since my servants have died before their time, come let us pray to the Lord our God that he may hear us and raise up those who died by thy fierceness before their time. And Death said, Amen, be it so. Therefore Abraham arose and fell upon the face of the ground in prayer, and Death together with him, and the Lord sent a spirit of life upon those that were dead and they were made alive again. Then the righteous Abraham gave glory to God.
XIX. And going up into his chamber he lay down, and Death came and stood before him. And Abraham said to him, Depart from me, for I desire to rest, because my spirit is in indifference. Death said, I will not depart from thee until I take thy soul. And Abraham with an austere countenance and angry look said to Death, Who has ordered thee to say this? Thou sayest these words of thyself boastfully, and I will not go with thee until the chief-captain Michael come to me, and I shall go with him. But this also I tell thee, if thou desirest that I shall accompany thee, explain to me all thy changes, the seven fiery heads of serpents and what the face of the precipice is, and what the sharp sword, and what the loud-roaring river, and what the tempestuous sea that rages so fiercely. Teach me also the unendurable thunder, and the terrible lightning, and the evil-smelling cup mingled with poisons. Teach me concerning all these. And Death answered, Listen, righteous Abraham. For seven ages I destroy the world and lead all down to Hades, kings and rulers, rich and poor, slaves and free men, I convoy to the bottom of Hades, and for this I showed thee the seven heads of serpents. The face of fire I showed thee because many die consumed by fire, and behold death through a face of fire. The face of the precipice I showed thee, because many men die descending from the tops of trees or terrible precipices and losing their life, and see death in the shape of a terrible precipice. The face of the sword I showed thee because many are slain in wars by the sword, and see death as a sword. The face of the great rushing river I showed thee because many are drowned and perish snatched away by the crossing of many waters and carried off by great rivers, and see death before their time. The face of the angry raging sea I showed thee because many in the sea falling into great surges and becoming shipwrecked are swallowed up and behold death as the sea. The unendurable thunder and the terrible lightning I showed thee because many men in the moment of anger meet with unendurable thunder and terrible lightning coming to seize upon men, and see death thus. I showed thee also the poisonous wild beasts, asps and basilisks, leopards and lions and lions’ whelps, bears and vipers, and in short the face of every wild beast I showed thee, most righteous one, because many men are destroyed by wild beasts, and others by poisonous snakes, serpents and asps and cerastes and basilisks and vipers, breathe out their life and die. I showed thee also the destroying cups mingled with poison, because many men being given poison to drink by other men straightway depart unexpectedly.
XX. Abraham said, I beseech thee, is there also an unexpected death? Tell me. Death said, Verily, verily, I tell thee in the truth of God that there are seventy-two deaths. One is the just death, buying its fixed time, and many men in one hour enter into death being given over to the grave. Behold, I have told thee all that thou hast asked, now I tell thee, most righteous Abraham, to dismiss all counsel, and cease from asking anything once for all, and come, go with me, as the God and judge of all has commanded me. Abraham said to Death, Depart from me yet a little, that I may rest on my couch, for I am very faint at heart, for since I have seen thee with my eyes my strength has failed me, all the limbs of my flesh seem to me a weight as of lead, and my spirit is distressed exceedingly. Depart for a little; for I have said I cannot bear to see thy shape. Then Isaac his son came and fell upon his breast weeping, and his wife Sarah came and embraced his feet, lamenting bitterly. There came also his men slaves and women slaves and surrounded his couch, lamenting greatly. And Abraham came into indifference of death, and Death said to Abraham, Come, take my right hand, and may cheerfulness and life and strength come to thee. For Death deceived Abraham, and he took his right hand, and straightway his soul adhered to the hand of Death. And immediately the archangel Michael came with a multitude of angels and took up his precious soul in his hands in a divinely woven linen cloth, and they tended the body of the just Abraham with divine ointments and perfumes until the third day after his death, and buried him in the land of promise, the oak of Mamre, but the angels received his precious soul, and ascended into heaven, singing the hymn of “thrice holy” to the Lord the God of all, and they set it there to worship the God and Father. And after great praise and glory had been given to the Lord, and Abraham bowed down to worship, there came the undefiled voice of the God and Father saying thus, Take therefore my friend Abraham into Paradise, where are the tabernacles of my righteous ones, and the abodes of my saints Isaac and Jacob in his bosom, where there is no trouble, nor grief, nor sighing, but peace and rejoicing and life unending. (And let us, too, my beloved brethren, imitate the hospitality of the patriarch Abraham, and attain to his virtuous way of life, that we may be thought worthy of the life eternal, glorifying the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; to whom be glory and power forever. Amen.).
Version II.
I. It came to pass, when the days of the death of Abraham drew near, that the Lord said to Michael: Arise and go to Abraham, my servant, and say to him, Thou shalt depart from life, for lo! the days of thy temporal life are fulfilled: so that he may set his house in order before he die.
II. And Michael went and came to Abraham, and found him sitting before his oxen for ploughing, and he was exceeding old in appearance, and had his son in his arms. Abraham, therefore, seeing the archangel Michael, rose from the ground and saluted him, not knowing who he was, and said to him: The Lord preserve thee. May thy journey be prosperous with thee. And Michael answered him: Thou art kind, good father. Abraham answered and said to him: Come, draw near to me, brother, and sit down a little while, that I may order a beast to be brought that we may go to my house, and thou mayest rest with me, for it is toward evening, and in the morning arise and go whithersoever thou wilt, lest some evil beast meet thee and do thee hurt. And Michael enquired of Abraham, saying: Tell me thy name, before I enter thy house, lest I be burdensome to thee. Abraham answered and said, My parents called me Abram, and the Lord named me Abraham, saying: Arise and depart from thy house, and from thy kindred, and go into the land which I shall show unto thee. And when I went away into the land which the Lord showed me, he said to me: Thy name shall no more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham. Michael answered and said to him: Pardon me, my father, experienced man of God, for I am a stranger, and I have heard of thee that thou didst go forty furlongs and didst bring a goat and slay it, entertaining angels in thy house, that they might rest there. Thus speaking together, they arose and went towards the house. And Abraham called one of his servants, and said to him: Go, bring me a beast that the stranger may sit upon it, for he is wearied with his journey. And Michael said: Trouble not the youth, but let us go lightly until we reach the house, for I love thy company.
III. And arising they went on, and as they drew nigh to the city, about three furlongs from it, they found a great tree having three hundred branches, like to a tamarisk tree. And they heard a voice from its branches singing, “Holy art thou, because thou hast kept the purpose for which thou wast sent.” And Abraham heard the voice, and hid the mystery in his heart, saying within himself, What is the mystery that I have heard? As he came into the house, Abraham said to his servants, Arise, go out to the flocks, and bring three sheep, and slay them quickly, and make them ready that we may eat and drink, for this day is a feast for us. And the servants brought the sheep, and Abraham called his son Isaac, and said to him, My son Isaac, arise and put water in the vessel that we may wash the feet of this stranger. And he brought it as he was commanded, and Abraham said, I perceive, and so it shall be, that in this basin I shall never again wash the feet of any man coming to us as a guest. And Isaac hearing his father say this wept, and said to him, My father what is this that thou sayest, This is my last time to wash the feet of a stranger? And Abraham seeing his son weeping, also wept exceedingly, and Michael seeing them weeping, wept also, and the tears of Michael fell upon the vessel and became a precious stone.
IV. When Sarah, being inside in her house, heard their weeping, she came out and said to Abraham, Lord, why is it that ye thus weep? Abraham answered, and said to her, It is no evil. Go into thy house, and do thy own work, lest we be troublesome to the man. And Sarah went away, being about to prepare the supper. And the sun came near to setting, and Michael went out of the house, and was taken up into the heavens to worship before God, for at sunset all the angels worship God and Michael himself is the first of the angels. And they all worshipped him, and went each to his own place, but Michael spoke before the Lord and said, Lord, command me to be questioned before thy holy glory! And the Lord said to Michael, Announce whatsoever thou wilt! And the Archangel answered and said, Lord, thou didst send me to Abraham to say to him, Depart from thy body, and leave this world; the Lord calls thee; and I dare not, Lord, reveal myself to him, for he is thy friend, and a righteous man, and one that receives strangers. But I beseech thee, Lord, command the remembrance of the death of Abraham to enter into his own heart, and bid not me tell it him, for it is great abruptness to say, Leave the world, and especially to leave one’s own body, for thou didst create him from the beginning to have pity on the souls of all men. Then the Lord said to Michael, Arise and go to Abraham, and lodge with him, and whatever thou seest him eat, eat thou also, and wherever he shall sleep, sleep thou there also. For I will cast the thought of the death of Abraham into the heart of Isaac his son in a dream.
V. Then Michael went into the house of Abraham on that evening, and found them preparing the supper, and they ate and drank and were merry. And Abraham said to his son Isaac, Arise, my son, and spread the man’s couch that he may sleep, and set the lamp upon the stand. And Isaac did as his father commanded him, and Isaac said to his father, I too am coming to sleep beside you. Abraham answered him, Nay, my son, lest we be troublesome to this man, but go to thy own chamber and sleep. And Isaac not wishing to disobey his father’s command, went away and slept in his own chamber.
VI. And it happened about the seventh hour of the night Isaac awoke, and came to the door of his father’s chamber, crying out and saying, Open, father, that I may touch thee before they take thee away from me. Abraham arose and opened to him, and Isaac entered and hung upon his father’s neck weeping, and kissed him with lamentations. And Abraham wept together with his son, and Michael saw them weeping and wept likewise. And Sarah hearing them weeping called from her bed-chamber, saying, My Lord Abraham, why is this weeping? Has the stranger told thee of thy brother’s son Lot that he is dead? or has aught else befallen us? Michael answered and said to Sarah, Nay, Sarah, I have brought no tidings of Lot, but I knew of all your kindness of heart, that therein ye excel all men upon earth, and the Lord has remembered you. Then Sarah said to Abraham, How durst thou weep when the man of God has come in to thee, and why have thy eyes[1] shed tears for today there is great rejoicing? Abraham said to her, How knowest thou that this is a man of God? Sarah answered and said, Because I say and declare that this is one of the three men who were entertained by us at the oak of Mamre, when one of the servants went and brought a kid and thou didst kill it, and didst say to me, Arise, make ready that we may eat with these men in our house. Abraham answered and said, Thou has perceived well, O woman, for I too, when I washed his feet knew in my heart that these were the feet which I had washed at the oak of Mamre, and when I began to enquire concerning his journey, he said to me, I go to preserve Lot thy brother from the men of Sodom, and then I knew the mystery.
VII. And Abraham said to Michael, Tell me, man of God, and show to me why thou hast come hither. And Michael said, Thy son Isaac will show thee. And Abraham said to his son, My beloved son, tell me what thou hast seen in thy dream today, and wast frightened. Relate it to me. Isaac answered his father, I saw in my dream the sun and the moon, and there was a crown upon my head, and there came from heaven a man of great size, and shining as the light that is called the father of light. He took the sun from my head, and yet left the rays behind with me. And I wept and said, I beseech thee, my Lord, take not away the glory of my head, and the light of my house, and all my glory. And the sun and the moon and the stars lamented, saying, Take not away the glory of our power. And that shining man answered and said to me, Weep not that I take the light of thy house, for it is taken up from troubles into rest, from a low estate to a high one; they lift him up from a narrow to a wide place; they raise him from darkness to light. And I said to him, I beseech thee, Lord, take also the rays with it. He said to me, There are twelve hours of the day, and then I shall take all the rays. As the shining man said this, I saw the sun of my house ascending into heaven, but that crown I saw no more, and that sun was like thee my father. And Michael said to Abraham, Thy son Isaac has spoken truth, for thou shalt go, and be taken up into the heavens, but thy body shall remain on earth, until seven thousand ages are fulfilled, for then all flesh shall arise. Now therefore, Abraham, set thy house in order, and thy children, for thou hast heard fully what is decreed concerning thee. Abraham answered and said to Michael, I beseech thee, Lord, if I shall depart from my body, I have desired to be taken up in my body that I may see the creatures that the Lord my God has created in heaven and on earth. Michael answered and said, This is not for me to do, but I shall go and tell the Lord of this, and if I am commanded I shall show thee all these things.
VIII. And Michael went up into heaven, and spoke before the Lord concerning Abraham, and the Lord answered Michael, Go and take up Abraham in the body, and show him all things, and whatsoever he shall say to thee do to him as to my friend. So Michael went forth and took up Abraham in the body on a cloud, and brought him to the river of Ocean.
XII. And after Abraham had seen the place of judgment, the cloud took him down upon the firmament below, and Abraham, looking down upon the earth, saw a man committing adultery with a wedded woman. And Abraham turning said to Michael, Seest thou this wickedness? but, Lord, send fire from heaven to consume them. And straightway there came down fire and consumed them, for the Lord had said to Michael, Whatsoever Abraham shall ask thee to do for him, do thou. Abraham looked again, and saw other men railing at their companions, and said, Let the earth open and swallow them, and as he spoke the earth swallowed them alive. Again the cloud led him to another place, and Abraham saw some going into a desert place to commit murder, and he said to Michael, Seest thou this wickedness? but let wild beasts come out of the desert, and tear them in pieces, and that same hour wild beasts came out of the desert, and devoured them. Then the Lord God spoke to Michael saying, Turn away Abraham to his own house, and let him not go round all the creation that I have made, because he has no compassion on sinners, but I have compassion on sinners that they may turn and live, and repent of their sins and be saved.
(VIII.) And Abraham looked and saw two gates, the one small and the other large, and between the two gates sat a man upon a throne of great glory, and a multitude of angels round about him, and he was weeping, and again laughing, but his weeping exceeded his laughter seven-fold. And Abraham said to Michael, Who is this that sits between the two gates in great glory; sometimes he laughs, and sometimes he weeps, and his weeping exceeds his laughter seven-fold? And Michael said to Abraham, Knowest thou not who it is? And he said, No, Lord. And Michael said to Abraham, Seest thou these two gates, the small and the great? These are they which lead to life and to destruction. This man that sits between them is Adam, the first man whom the Lord created, and set him in this place to see every soul that departs from the body, seeing that all are from him. When, therefore, thou seest him weeping, know that he has seen many souls being led to destruction, but when thou seest him laughing, he has seen many souls being led into life. Seest thou how his weeping exceeds his laughter? Since he sees the greater part of the world being led away through the broad gate to destruction, therefore his weeping exceeds his laughter seven-fold.
IX. And Abraham said, And he that cannot enter through the narrow gate, can he not enter into life? Then Abraham wept, saying, Woe is me, what shall I do? for I am a man broad of body, and how shall I be able to enter by the narrow gate, by which a boy of fifteen years cannot enter? Michael answered and said to Abraham, Fear not, father, nor grieve, for thou shalt enter by it unhindered, and all those who are like thee. And as Abraham stood and marveled, behold an angel of the Lord driving sixty thousand souls of sinners to destruction. And Abraham said to Michael, Do all these go into destruction? And Michael said to him, Yea, but let us go and search among these souls, if there is among them even one righteous. And when they went, they found an angel holding in his hand one soul of a woman from among these sixty thousand, because he had found her sins weighing equally with all her works, and they were neither in motion nor at rest, but in a state between; but the other souls he led away to destruction. Abraham said to Michael, Lord, is this the angel that removes the souls from the body or not? Michael answered and said, This is death, and he leads them into the place of judgment, that the judge may try them.
X. And Abraham said, My Lord, I beseech thee to lead me to the place of judgment so that I too may see how they are judged. Then Michael took Abraham upon a cloud, and led him into Paradise, and when he came to the place where the judge was, the angel came and gave that soul to the judge. And the soul said, Lord have mercy on me. And the judge said, How shall I have mercy upon thee, when thou hadst no mercy upon thy daughter which thou hadst, the fruit of thy womb? Wherefore didst thou slay her? It answered, Nay, Lord, slaughter has not been done by me, but my daughter has lied upon me. But the judge commanded him to come that wrote down the records, and behold cherubim carrying two books. And there was with them a man of exceeding great stature, having on his head three crowns, and the one crown was higher than the other two. These are called the crowns of witness. And the man had in his hand a golden pen, and the judge said to him, Exhibit the sin of this soul. And that man, opening one of the books of the cherubim, sought out the sin of the woman’s soul and found it. And the judge said, O wretched soul, why sayest thou that thou hast not done murder? Didst thou not, after the death of thy husband, go and commit adultery with thy daughter’s husband, and kill her? And he convicted her also of her other sins, whatsoever she had done from her youth. Hearing these things the woman cried out, saying, Woe is me, all the sins that I did in the world I forgot, but here they were not forgotten. Then they took her away also and gave her over to the tormentors.
XI. And Abraham said to Michael, Lord, who is this judge, and who is the other, who convicts the sins? And Michael said to Abraham, Seest thou the judge? This is Abel, who first testified, and God brought him hither to judge, and he that bears witness here is the teacher of heaven and earth, and the scribe of righteousness, Enoch, for the Lord sent them hither to write down the sins and righteousnesses of each one. Abraham said, And how can Enoch bear the weight of the souls, not having seen death? or how can he give sentence to all the souls? Michael said, If he gives sentence concerning the souls, it is not permitted; but Enoch himself does not give sentence, but it is the Lord who does so, and he has no more to do than only to write. For Enoch prayed to the Lord saying, I desire not, Lord, to give sentence on the souls, lest I be grievous to anyone; and the Lord said to Enoch, I shall command thee to write down the sins of the soul that makes atonement and it shall enter into life, and if the soul make not atonement and repent, thou shalt find its sins written down and it shall be cast into punishment. And about the ninth hour Michael brought Abraham back to his house. But Sarah his wife, not seeing what had become of Abraham, was consumed with grief, and gave up the ghost, and after the return of Abraham he found her dead, and buried her.
XIII. But when the day of the death of Abraham drew nigh, the Lord God said to Michael, Death will not dare to go near to take away the soul of my servant, because he is my friend, but go thou and adorn Death with great beauty, and send him thus to Abraham, that he may see him with his eyes. And Michael straightway, as he was commanded, adorned Death with great beauty, and sent him thus to Abraham that he might see him. And he sat down near to Abraham, and Abraham seeing Death sitting near to him was afraid with a great fear. And Death said to Abraham, Hail, holy soul! hail, friend of the Lord God! hail, consolation and entertainment of travelers! And Abraham said, Thou art welcome, servant of the Most High. God. I beseech thee, tell me who thou art; and entering into my house partake of food and drink, and depart from me, for since I have seen thee sitting near to me my soul has been troubled. For I am not at all worthy to come near thee, for thou art an exalted spirit and I am flesh and blood, and therefore I cannot bear thy glory, for I see that thy beauty is not of this world. And Death said to Abraham, I tell thee, in all the creation that God has made, there has not been found one like thee, for even the Lord himself by searching has not found such an one upon the whole earth. And Abraham said to Death, How durst thou lie? for I see that thy beauty is not of this world. And Death said to Abraham, Think not, Abraham, that this beauty is mine, or that I come thus to every man. Nay, but if any one is righteous like thee, I thus take crowns and come to him, but if it is a sinner I come in great corruption, and out of their sin I make a crown for my head, and I shake them with great fear, so that they are dismayed. Abraham therefore said to him, And whence comes thy beauty? And Death said, There is none other more full of corruption than I am. Abraham said to him, And art thou indeed he that is called Death? He answered him and said, I am the bitter name. I am weeping.…
XIV. And Abraham said to Death, Show us thy corruption. And Death made manifest his corruption; and he had two heads, the one had the face of a serpent and by it some die at once by asps, and the other head was like a sword; by it some die by the sword as by bows. In that day the servants of Abraham died through fear of Death, and Abraham seeing them prayed to the Lord, and he raised them up. But God returned and removed the soul of Abraham as in a dream, and the archangel Michael took it up into the heavens. And Isaac buried his father beside his mother Sarah, glorifying and praising God, for to him is due glory, honor and worship, of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, now and always and to all eternity. Amen.
Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume IX/The Acts of Xanthippe and Polyxena/Life and Conduct of the Holy Women, Xanthippe, Polyxena, and Rebecca
Life and Conduct of the Holy Women, Xanthippe, Polyxena, and Rebecca.
I. When the blessed Paul was at Rome through the word of the Lord, it happened that a certain servant of a ruler of Spain came to Rome with letters of his master’s, and heard the word of God from Paul, the truly golden and beautiful nightingale. This servant being greatly touched, and being unable to remain and be filled with the divine word because he was hastened by the letters, returned into Spain in great grief, and being unable to show his desire to any one, because his master was an idolater, he was always pained at heart and sighing greatly. Now this servant was honoured and faithful to his masters, and as time went past, the servant fell sick and grew lean of flesh, which his master perceiving said to him, What has happened to thee that thou art thus fallen together in countenance? The servant said, here is a great pain in my heart, and I can in no way find rest. His master said to him, And what is the pain that cannot receive healing from my chief physician? The servant said, While I was still in Rome, this pain and its recurring mishap made itself known to me. His master said, And knowest thou not of any who have fallen into this disease and been healed? The servant said, Yes, but where that physician is I know not, for I left him in Rome. So many as have been attended by that physician and have gone through the water m his hands, have received healing immediately. His master said, I ought not to grudge to send thee yet again to Rome, if perchance thou mightest obtain healing.
II. And while they spoke thus, behold his mistress, by name Xanthippe, overhearing these words, and learning of the teaching of Paul, said, What is the name of that physician, and what is the healing to ward off such a disease? The servant said to her, The calling upon a new name, and anointing with oil and washing with water. By this treatment I have seen many that had incurable pains receive healings. As he said this, the images of the idols that stood in the house began to be shaken and fall down. And his mistress beckoned to him, saying, Seest thou, brother, the images of the idols being shaken, how they cannot endure the power of the word? And his master, by name Probus, arose from his mid-day sleep with a very gloomy countenance, for the Devil had greatly disturbed him, because the knowledge of God had come into his house. And he questioned the servant of everything in order, and the servant having been seized by sickness by the foreknowledge of God, disclosed to him the life of man, and Xanthippe was incurable in her soul concerning this teaching. So Probus too was grieved for Xanthippe, because from that time she was wasting herself away with waking and abstinence and other austerities.
III. And Xanthippe going away to her couch and groaning, said, Woe is me, wretched one, lying in darkness, that I have not learned the name of the new teacher, that I might summon his prayer to help me, and what to say I know not. Shall I call upon him by the name of his God? but I cannot say, The God that is preached by such a one. Nevertheless I shall say thus by conjecture, O God, giving light in Hades, and guiding those in darkness, Lord of free men and kings, and preached by worthy servants in all the world, called upon as a brother by sinful men and quick to hear, to whom not even archangels can send up worthy songs of praise, who hast shown to me, humble and unworthy, the ever-living and abiding seed (though my ignorance permits me not to receive it), hasten also the things that concern me, Lord, since by thy will thou hast made thyself heard by me, and in thy compassion show me the proclamation of thy herald, that I may learn of him what is pleasing to thee. Yea, I beseech thee look upon my ignorance, O God, and enlighten me with the light of thy countenance, thou that never overlookest any of those that call upon thee in truth. Probus, her husband said to her, Why troublest thou thyself so much, lady, and dost not at all turn to sleep? Xanthippe said, I cannot sleep, for there is in me an incurable pain. Probus said to her, And what is thy pain or grief, O lady, that I am not sufficient to comfort thee? All that thou hast wished unto this day I have served thee in, and now what is it that thou hast, and dost not tell me? Xanthippe says to him, I beseech thee this thing only, my lord, permit me for a little and for this day only to sleep apart from thee. And Probus said to her, Be it as thou wilt, lady; only leave off thy groaning.
IV. Then entering into her bed-chamber alone, she spoke thus with tears, In what way, my God, I shall act, or what counsel I shall take, I know not. Shall I declare the thought that has come upon me? I fear the madness and disorder of the city. Shall I fly from this impious city? I fear the contrivance of the devil for seizing the sheep. Shall I await the mercy and swiftness of the Lord? Again I fear the untimely snatching away of life, for the death of sinners has no warning. Shall I depart and flee away to Rome? I fear the length of the journey, being unable to go on foot. But while I say these things by conjecture, constrained by my desire (for I cannot speak with surety), may I find pardon with thee, my God, and do thou fulfil my desire with excess of right words, and think me but worthy to hear thy preacher, for if I say, to see his face, I ask a great thing. Blessed is he that is found in the company of thy preachers, and is satisfied with their precious countenances. Blessed are they that are yoked under the preaching of thy commandments. Blessed are they that keep thy commandments; but where now, Lord, are thy mercies to our fathers, that we also may be their successors in love toward thee and heirs of faith. But behold now, Lord, I cannot find any one that has love for thee, that communing with him I might even a little refresh my soul. Speed therefore, Lord, to yoke me in desire for thee, and keep me under the shadow of thy wings, for thou alone art God, glorified to all eternity. Amen.
V. Therefore Xanthippe saying these words and others like them, groaned continually all the night, and Probus heard her and was greatly distressed, and arising from his couch when the morning came he went in to her, and seeing her eyes inflamed with tears, he said, Wherefore, lady, dost thou thus vex me, and wilt not tell me thy pain? Tell it me, that I may do whatever is pleasing to thee, and distress me not with thy trouble. Xanthippe says to him, Be of good cheer rather, my lord, and be not vexed, for my trouble shall not harm thee, but if I have found favour before thee, go forth now to the salutation, and allow me to indulge myself in it as I will, for it is not possible for man to take from me the insatiable pain. And listening to her he went out immediately to receive the salutations of the men of the city, for he was the great man among them, and was also known to Nero, the Emperor. And sitting down, great grief appeared in his countenance, and being asked the reason of his grief by the chief men of the city, he said to them that he had fallen into many and unfounded charges.
VI. And Xanthippe went out into the garden, that she might await there looking closely for certainty of her husband, and she saw the delight of the trees, and the various warbling of the birds, and said, groaning, O beauty of the world! for that which we hitherto thought to come of itself, we know now that all things are beautifully fashioned by the beautiful One. O power and invention of wisdom! for not only has he placed in men a thousand tongues, but also in birds he has distinguished various voices, as if from anthems and responses to receive sweet-voiced and heart-stirring hymns from his own works. O delightfulness of the air, declaring the inimitable creator! Who shall turn my sorrow into rejoicing? And again she said, God to whom praise is sung by all, give me peace and comfort. As she said these things, Probus also came up from the street to break his fast, and when he saw her countenance altered by tears, he began to pull out the hairs of his head, but he dared not speak to her then so as not to mingle other trouble with her trouble. So he went and fell upon his couch, and said, groaning, Alas, that I had not even the consolation of a child from her, but only acquire grief upon grief. Two years are not yet full since I was wedded to her, and already she meditates divorce.
VII. But Xanthippe was always keeping watch through the doors into the streets of the city, and the blessed Paul, the preacher and teacher and illuminator of the world, left Rome and came even into Spain by the fore-knowledge of God. And coming up to the gates of the city he stood and prayed, and crossing himself entered the city. When Xanthippe saw the blessed Paul walking quietly and equally, and adorned with all virtue and understanding, she was greatly delighted in him and her heart leaped continually, and as possessed with an unexpected joy she said with herself, Why does my heart beat vehemently at the sight of this man? Why is his walk quiet and equable, as of one who expects to take in his arms one that is pursued? Why is his countenance kindly, as of one that tends the sick? Why does he look so lovingly hither and thither, as one who desires to assist those who are seeking to flee from the mouths of dragons? Who shall tell me that this is one from the flock of preachers? If it were possible for me, I should wish to touch the hem of his garments, that I may behold his kindness and readiness to receive and sweet odour; for the servant had told her this also, that the hems of his garments had the odour of precious perfumes.
VIII. Now Probus heard her words, and straightway ran out by himself into the street, and laying hold of Paul’s hand said to him, Man, who thou art I know not, but deign to enter into my house; perchance thou mayest be to me a cause of salvation. Paul said to him, It will be well with thee, son, after thy request! And they went in together to Xanthippe. When Xanthippe therefore saw the great Paul, the intellectual eyes of her heart were uncovered, and she read upon his forehead, having as it were golden seals, these words, Paul the Preacher of God. Then exulting and rejoicing she threw herself at his feet, and twisting her hair together she wiped his feet, saying, Welcome, O man of God, to us humble ones, that live as shadows among shadows. For thou hast looked upon those who were running into Hades as into something beautiful, who addressed the crooked serpent and destroyer as provider and protector, who were running into the dark Hades as to their father, those that were fashioned with a rational nature but have become like irrational creatures. Thou hast sought me, lowly one, having the sun of righteousness in my heart. Now the poison is stayed, when I have seen thy precious face. Now he that troubled me is flown away, when thy most beautiful counsel has appeared to me. Now I shall be considered worthy of repentance, when I have received the seal of the preacher of the Lord. Before now I have deemed many happy who met with you, but I say boldly that from this time forth I myself shall be called happy by others, because I have touched thy hem, because I have received thy prayers, because I have enjoyed thy sweet and honeyed teaching. Thou hast not hesitated to come to us, thou that fishest the dry land in thy course, and gatherest the fish that fall in thy way into the net of the kingdom of heaven.
IX. The great Paul said to her, Arise, daughter, and look not upon me as having been sought out of thy ignorance by my foresight. For Christ, the provider of the world, the searcher out of sinners and the lost, who has not only called to mind those upon earth, but also by his own presence has redeemed those in Hades, he himself has pitied thee, and sent me hither that he might visit and pity many others together with thee. For this mercy and visitation are not of us, but are his injunction and command, even as we also have received mercy and been saved by him. Probus hearing this was astonished at their words, for he was altogether ignorant of these things. But Paul by force raised up Xanthippe from his feet, and she running set a new gilded chair for Paul to sit down upon. The great Paul said to her, My daughter Xanthippe, do not thus, for ye have not yet accorded to the faith of Christ, but wait a little, till the Lord shall set in order what is necessary! Xanthippe said to Paul, Sayest thou this to try me, O preacher of God, or hast thou any foreknowledge? Paul said, No, daughter, but the devil, who hates the servants of God, sows wickedness in the hearts of his own servants, to oppose those that labour for Christ in preaching, for his wickedness has extended to the apostles and even to the Lord himself. Therefore it is fitting to approach the unbelievers gently and kindly! Xanthippe said to Paul, I beseech thee, if thou lovest thy servants, make prayer for Probus, and let me see if he that is hated by thee can work in him; let me see if he can even stand against thy prayer. And Paul rejoiced exceedingly at the words of her faith, and said to her, Believe me, daughter, that by his suggestion and working I have not passed a single hour without chains and blows. Xanthippe said to him, But thou sufferest these things by thy own free will, since thou hast not neglected thy preaching even to scourging, but this again I tell thee, that thy bonds shall be the defeat of the prompter, and thy humiliation their overthrow.
X. Now the report of his presence ran through the whole city and the country round about, for some of that city having been at Rome had seen the signs and wonders that were done by the blessed Paul, and came to see if this was he. Many therefore came into the house of Probus, and he began to be annoyed and to say, I will not suffer my house to be made an inn. Xanthippe knowing that the face of Probus had begun to be estranged, and that he spoke thus, was greatly distressed, saying, Alas, wretched me, that we are not thought fully worthy to keep this man in our house; for if Paul goes hence, the church also will be held elsewhere. Then Xanthippe, considering these matters, put her hand on the foot of Paul, and taking dust she called Probus to her, and placing her hand on his breast said, O Lord, my God, who hast sought out me, lowly one and ignorant of thee, send what is fitting into this heart. And Paul perceived her prayer, and made the sign of the cross, and for several days the people entered unhindered, and as many as had sick and vexed by unclean spirits brought them, and all were healed.
XI. And Xanthippe said to Paul, Teacher, my heart is greatly consumed because I have not as yet received baptism. And after this Probus being again moved by the devil, cast Paul out of the house and shut up Xanthippe in her chamber. Then one of the chief men, Philotheus by name, besought the great Paul to come into his house, but the great Paul was unwilling to do so, saying, Lest Probus trouble thy house on my account. Philotheus said to him, Nay, father, I am not at all subject to him, for in no other thing is he greater than me, except in rank, and that because the parents of Xanthippe are above me. But if Probus come to me, I am above him in riches and in war. Then Paul, the great apostle of the Lord, was persuaded, and went into the house of Philotheus the ex-prefect. All this was done by the Evil one that Xanthippe might receive holy baptism with tribulation, and be faint-hearted concerning the commandments of Christ.
XII. Xanthippe therefore, with tears, said to her servants, Have ye learned where Paul is gone to? They said, Yea, in the house of Philotheus the ex-prefect, and Xanthippe rejoiced greatly that Philotheus also believed, being able, as she said, to persuade Probus also. Then Probus called Xanthippe to supper, and when she consented not, Probus said, Think not that in bed also thou wilt keep away from me. But when he lay down to supper, Xanthippe bending her knees, prayed to the Lord, saying, Eternal and immortal God, that didst take dust from the ground, and didst not value it according to the nature of its creation, but didst call it the son of immortality, thou who didst come from the heart of the father to the heart of the earth for our sake, on whom the cherubim dare not fix their gaze, and for us wast hidden in the womb that by taking up thy abode in a mother thou mightest make good the offence of Eve. Thou that didst drink gall and vinegar, and wast pierced in the side by a spear, that thou mightest heal the wound given by the rib to Adam. For Eve being his rib wrought a blow for Adam, and through him for all the world. Thou that gavest a sleep without perception to the serpent, so that he might not know thy Incarnation, remember also my groaning and tears, and grant fulfilment to my sleep,[1] and bring sleep upon Probus until I shall be deemed worthy of the gift of holy baptism, for I vehemently desire to obtain this, to the glory and praise of thy holy name.
XIII. But Probus, while still at supper, commanded the doors of their house to be secured by cruel and wicked soldiers, and having given these orders, he straightway fell asleep upon the couch. Then the servants came and announced this to Xanthippe that he might be awakened, but she said, Put out the lights, my children, and leave him thus. And in the first sleep, taking three hundred pieces of gold, she went to the doors, saying with herself, Perchance the porter will be persuaded by the amount of money. But he, being evil and froward, would not be persuaded to do this, and she, loosing also her girdle, which was set with precious stones and worth two hundred pieces of gold, gave it to him and went out saying, Lord, I win over my own slaves with money, that thy preacher Paul may not be oppressed by Probus. And Xanthippe went on to the house of Philotheus the ex-prefect, as to a great and incredible work, running and praising God. As she therefore passed through a certain place, the demons pursued her with fiery torches and lightnings, and she, turning, saw behind her this terrible sight, and being possessed with great fear said, What has happened to thee now, wretched soul? Thou hast been deprived of thy desire. Thou wast running to salvation, thou wast running to baptism, and thou hast fallen into the serpent and his ministers, and these things thy sins have prepared for thee. Speaking thus she was even fainting at heart from great despair, but the great Paul being forewarned by God of the assault of the demons, immediately stood beside her, being also preceded by a beautiful youth. And straightway the vision of the demons disappeared, and Paul said to her, Arise, daughter Xanthippe, and behold the Lord desired by thee, by whose flame the heavens are shaken and the deep is dried up, coming to thee and pitying and saving thee. Behold him that accepts thy prayers and straightway gives ear. See him coming in the shape of a man, and take courage against the demons. Then she rising from the ground said to him, Master, why hast thou left me solitary? Even now make haste to seal me, so that if death come upon me I may depart to him who is full of compassion and has no arrogance.
XIV. Therefore the great Paul straightway taking her hand, went into the house of Philotheus, and baptised her in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Ghost. Then taking bread also he gave her the eucharist saying, Let this be to thee for a remission of sins and for a renewing of thy soul. Then the blessed Xanthippe, receiving the divine grace of holy baptism, returned to her own house, rejoicing and praising the Lord. The porter seeing her complained loudly in violent words, that her going out might be deemed to have been without his will if Probus should notice it; but he that gave her light along with Paul kept the whole house, together with Probus, in a deep sleep, and they did not hear his words at all. Then she went running into her bed-chamber, saying, What shall I say of thee, searcher out of sinners, who art most present with us in tribulations. Thy goodness does these things, since for the sake of man whom thou didst make thou didst go down even to death, for, however much man stir thee to anger many times, yet thou, Lord, pourest out thy mercies upon him. O depth of compassion and wealth of mercy; O immeasurable goodness and incomparable kindness; O treasure of good things, and giver of mercy, and enricher of all that believe in thee! If, therefore, one who loves thee say, Be near me, Lord, thou hast already anticipated him. If he say, I give thee thanks; hear my words, before they are spoken, thou understandest. And as for those that ask of thee, thou givest to each after his asking. Thy goodness seeks out those that know thee not, and thou runnest to sinners. O cheerful look, filling the ways of sinners with mercy; O excellent watching and exhortation of the ignorant! Who shall tell my lord Paul of the salvation that has now befallen me, that he might come and give words of thanksgiving for me to this protector of sinners? Come many and behold and know the Lord, who hates sin, but has mercy on sinners. Come, now, O Paul, preacher of God, for with thee even now I sit under instruction, and give words of thanksgiving for me, for I desire to keep silence, since human reason makes me afraid, lest I have not the grace of eloquence. I desire to keep silence, and am compelled to speak, for some one inflames and sweetens me within. If I say, I will shut my mouth, there is some one that murmurs in me. Shall I say a great thing? Is it not that teacher that is in Paul, without arrogance, filling the heavens, speaking within and waiting without, sitting on the throne with the father and stretched upon the cross by man. What, therefore, I shall do I know not. My worthless mind delights me, and is not unfolded to the end. Thou that hadst thy hands fixed with nails and thy side pierced with the spear, thou star out of Jacob and lion’s whelp out of Judah, thou rod out of Jesse, and man and God out of Mary, thou invisible God in the bosom of the Father, and that canst not be looked upon by cherubim, and art mocked in Israel, glory be to thee, who didst appear on the earth and wast taken by the people, hung upon the tree and by the report of the wicked falsely said to be stolen, and that hast bought us all together.
XV. While she was still speaking thus, there appeared a cross on the eastern wall, and straightway there entered through it a beautiful youth, having round about him trembling rays, and under him an extended light, on which also he walked. And as he entered within, all the foundations of that house shook and sounded with a great trembling. Xanthippe seeing him cried out and fell to the ground as if dead; but he being pitiful and kind, changing immediately into the shape of Paul, raised her up, saying, Arise, Xanthippe, and fear not, for the servants of God are thus glorified. Then Xanthippe arising, gazed upon him, and thinking it to be Paul said, How art thou come in hither, preacher of God, seeing that I have given five hundred pieces of gold to the porter, and that although he is my slave, while thou hast no money? The Lord said to her, My servant Paul is richer than all wealth, for whatsoever treasure he acquires here he sends it before him into the kingdom of heaven, that departing thither he may rest in the unending and eternal rest. This is the treasure of Paul, thou and thy like. Then Xanthippe gazing upon him, desirous to say something, saw his face shining as the light; and being greatly amazed, and putting both her hands over her face she threw herself to the ground, and said, Hide thyself, Lord, from my bodily eyes and enlighten my understanding, for I know now who thou art. Thou art he whose precursor was the cross, the only begotten son of the Father alone above, and only son of the Virgin alone below. Thou art he who was pierced in the hands and who rent the rocks. Thou art he whom none other can carry except the bosom of the Father.
XVI. And as she spoke thus the Lord was again hidden from her, and Xanthippe, coming to herself, said, Woe is me wretched one, that no one has told me what is the gratitude of slaves towards their master. If Paul the preacher of the Lord were here, how could he give praise? But perchance in the face of such favors and gifts they are silent, possessed only with tears, for it is not possible worthily to praise any one according to his favour. Saying this she was seized with great faintness from lack of food, for having been strongly possessed with desire for Christ she had forgotten to take nourishment. Therefore, being greatly exhausted by abstinence and the vision and want of sleep and other austerities, she was unable to rise from the ground.
XVII. And Probus arose from his couch with a very gloomy countenance, for in his sleep he had seen a dream, and was greatly troubled concerning it. But the porter seeing him about to issue to the market-place, having his countenance thus troubled, was greatly afraid, Lest, said he, he know what has happened, and will miserably destroy me. Probus, however, having gone forth and signified to those in the market what was fitting for the day and season, speedily returned into the house, and said to his servants, Call me quickly the wise men Barandus and Gnosteas. When they were summoned he said to them, I have seen a very terrible vision, and what appeared in it is difficult for our power to interpret. This, however, do ye disclose to me, as being the most excellent of all the world. Expound it to me when I tell it you. Barandus says to him, If the vision can be interpreted by our wisdom, we shall explain it to thee, but if it be of the faith that is now spoken of we cannot expound it to thee, for it is of another wisdom and understanding. However, let our lord and master tell the dream, and let us see if there is any explanation for it. Probus says to Gnosteas, Wherefore answerest thou nothing? Gnosteas said, I have not heard the dream, and what can I say but whatever it may be, if it is by reason of Paul? Tell me now, and thou wilt find it so. Probus said, I thought I was standing in a certain unknown and strange country, and that there sat there an Ethiop king, who ruled over all the earth and seemed never to have any successor. There stood beside him multitudes of servants, and all hastened to destruction and had mastery far and wide. And when that Ethiop seemed to have gained his purpose, there arose a raven and standing above him croaked with a pitiful voice. And straightway there arose from the eastern parts an eagle, and seized his kingdom, and his power was made vain, and those standing by him fled to the eagle. Then that king strove against those that fled to the eagle, but the eagle carried it up into heaven, and, behold, there came a helper to those that fled to the eagle and left his staff to them. Then they laying hold of it were not overcome by the violence of that king. So many as ran to those who had the staff, he washed them in pure water, and they that were washed had power over his kingdom. And by that staff the enemies of the king were put to flight, therefore capable men laying hold of the staff turned to themselves great multitudes. And that king strove against them, and had no might at all, but he hindered many from believing in him that sent out the men into the world to bear witness, and for that reason many were grieved. Nevertheless, this one did not constrain any like the other, for he himself was ruler of all light. This then was the end.
XVIII. Then the wise Barandus said, By the grace of God I shall tell the things sent into the world by the Lord. The king whom thou sawest is the Devil, and the multitudes of his servants are the demons, and the throngs about him are they that worship the gods. Whereas he thought to have no successor, he looked not for the coming of Christ. The raven betokened the weakness of his kingdom, for the raven kept not obedience to the righteous Noah, but loved pitiful things. The eagle that arose and took away his kingdom and carried it up into heaven, and that there came a protector of those that fled to the eagle, having a staff, that is the Lord Jesus Christ, who left to them his staff, that is, his precious cross; and that he washed those that fled to him signifies the invulnerable breast-plate of baptism, and therefore they were not overcome. The capable men sent into the world with the cross are the preachers of God like Paul who is now with us, against whom that king has no power. This was made known to thee because even on those who are hard of belief God has compassion in some way. See therefore whether even thou wilt be able to injure Paul though thou desirest, for the mighty power that shields him has been shown thee by the Lord. Therefore, understand what has been said to thee by me, and serve not that king of darkness, for as thou sawest his kingdom vanish away, so shall all his servants perish with him. Come now, therefore, my Lord, let us go to Paul and receive baptism from him, lest Satan have mastery over us also. Probus said, Let us first go to Xanthippe and see whether she still lives, for behold there are twenty-nine days since she has tasted anything; for I saw her face in the evening, and it was as of one prepared to depart.
XIX. And as they went into the chamber, they heard her singing.
Praise the Lord ye sinners also, because he accepts your prayers also. Alleluia.
Praise the Lord ye that have despaired like me, for many are his mercies. Alleluia.
Praise him ye ungodly, because for you he was crucified. Alleluia.
Praise him ye that strive for the salvation of sinners, because God loves you. Alleluia.
Praise him, ye that rejoice at the calling of sinners, because ye are fellow-citizens with the saints. Alleluia.
As she said these words and more than these with tears, the wise men Barandus and Gnosteas opening the door entered and fell at her feet, saying, Pray for us lowly ones, O servant of Christ, that he may bring us also into thy number. But she said to them, Brethren, I am not Paul who remits sins, but neither is he far from you. Therefore fall not before my knees, but go to him, who is also more able to benefit you. Then they came running to the house of Philotheus to Paul, and found him teaching a great multitude. And Probus also came to hear Paul, and Xanthippe entered along with him to salute him, and coming near to Paul and bending her knees she did him reverence. Probus seeing this marvelled that her so proud spirit had changed to so great humility, for she sat beside the feet of Paul on the ground humbly and as one of the worthless. And Probus was greatly grieved, not yet attending to the hearing of the word, but was ever gazing and fixing his attention on Xanthippe.
XX. The great Paul was teaching thus, Let those that burn in the flesh observe lawful marriage, avoiding fornication, especially that with another’s wife, and let those that are united keep to one another. Probus heard this teaching with delight, and said, O Paul, how excellently and wisely thou employest this teaching. Why then has Xanthippe withdrawn from me? And Paul said, My son Probus, they that foresee that the works of men shall be tried with fire, and that have always in their mind the inexorableness of death, cast out all desire that cleaves to the flesh. But woe when the desire shall judge him that desired, then he shall gnash his teeth to no effect and in vain, for the amendment of repentance is past. Hearing this Probus went up into his house marvelling, and tasted nothing that day, but went and lay down upon his bed. And about the third hour of the night he arose and said, Alas, how wretched was the day in which I was wedded to Xanthippe. Would that I had died and not seen her. Saying this he arose and said, I shall pray to the God of Paul. Perchance he will do to me also what is fitting, that I may not become a reproach in the world, being rejected by her. And straightway falling upon the ground he said, O God of Paul, if, as I have heard from Xanthippe, thou dost seek after the ignorant and turn back those that are astray, do to me also what is fitting; for thou art the king of life and death, as I have heard, and hast dominion over things in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and over all the thoughts and desires of men, and to thee alone belongs glory to all eternity. Amen.
XXI. Then Probus arising from the ground fell again upon the couch, and arising early he came to Paul, and finding him baptising many in the name of the life-giving Trinity, he said, My lord Paul, if only I were worthy to receive baptism, behold the hour. Paul said to him, Son, behold the water is ready for the cleansing of those that come to Christ. Therefore immediately taking off his garments, and Paul laying hold of him, he leapt into the water, saying, Jesus Christ, son of God, and everlasting God, let all my sins be taken away by this water. And Paul said, We baptise thee in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Ghost. After this he made him to receive the eucharist of Christ. Then Xanthippe, being greatly rejoiced, began in the house toward evening together with her husband to give good cheer to all those in the house, and to prepare a feast, and when they came, after giving orders for the supper to be magnificent she herself went up to the chamber. And behold on the stairs a demon coming in the likeness of one of the actors, and standing in a dark corner, was desirous to frighten and terrify Xanthippe. But she thinking it to be the actor that she ordinarily had, said in anger, Many a time have I said to him that I no longer care for toys, and he despises me as being a woman; and straightway seizing an iron lamp-stand, she hurled it at his face, and crushed all his features. Then the demon cried out, saying, O violence, from this destroyer even women have received power to strike us. But Xanthippe was greatly afraid.
XXII. After supper then Probus went forth to hear the word, but Xanthippe sitting in her bed-chamber was reading the prophets, her sister Polyxena lying upon the couch. Xanthippe loved Polyxena exceedingly, because she was younger than herself, and beautiful in appearance, and Probus also loved her greatly. And as Polyxena lay upon the couch she saw this dream, that a dragon, hideous in appearance, came and signified to her to come to him, and when she did not obey him to go to him, he came running and swallowed her. From fear of this the girl leapt up trembling, and Xanthippe running to her said, What has happened to thee, dearest, that thou hast leapt up thus suddenly? She for a long time was unable to speak; then coming to herself she said, Alas, my sister Xanthippe, what danger or tribulation awaits me, I know not; for I saw in my dream that a hideous dragon came and signed to me to go to him, and, when I would not go, he came running and swallowed me, beginning at my feet. While I was terrified at this, there suddenly spoke out of the air, in the light of the sun, a beautiful youth, whom I thought to be the brother of Paul, saying, Verily, thou hast no power. Who also took me by the hand and straightway drew me out of him, and straightway the dragon disappeared. And behold his hand was full of sweet odour as of balsam or aught else for fragrance. Xanthippe said to her, Truly thou must be greatly troubled, my sister Polyxena, but God has thee dear, seeing that he has shown thee strange and marvellous things. Therefore arise quickly in the morning and receive the holy baptism, and ask in the baptism to be delivered from the snares of the dragon.
XXIII. Xanthippe, having said this to Polyxena, and having made a cross of wood, went to Paul, but Polyxena remained alone in the bed-chamber, her nurse having gone together with Xanthippe. And about the middle of the night, a certain man, powerful in wealth and assistance, finding the doors open and using magical arts, entered within, desiring to carry away Polyxena. She discovering this fled into the mill, but the magicians led by the demons found her. And she, not finding any door to escape by, said, Alas that I am given over to this destroyer; for she had heard that he was at enmity with her suitor, and he did this to assail and vex him, being a man who was a robber and exceeding cruel. Therefore seizing her they went out of the city, dragging her to the sea. She looked round this way and that, but there was none to deliver her, and groaning she said, Alas, my sister Xanthippe, thou didst send seven hundred pieces of gold to Rome and buy books, that through them thou mightest prophesy by me; for this evening thou didst read, I looked to my right hand and beheld, but there was no one that knew me; flight perished from me and there is no one that seeketh out my soul.[2]
XXIV. While she said these words, those that were dragging her away walked in haste, and coming to the shore they hired a ship and sailed for Babylonia, for he that carried her off had a brother there, a ruler of a district. But the wind blew against them, so that they could not proceed by reason of it, and as they were rowing on the sea, behold the great apostle of the Lord, Peter, was sailing past in a ship, being urged by a dream to go to Rome, because when Paul departed for Spain there had entered into Rome a certain deceiver and magician, Simon by name, and had broken up the church which Paul had established. And, behold, as he journeyed he heard a voice from heaven saying to him, Peter, to-morrow there will meet thee a ship coming from Spain; arise, therefore, and pray for the soul that is troubled in it. As soon therefore as Peter saw the ship, remembering the dream, he said, O Jesus, that hast care for the troubled, whom the tribulation of those in a strange land moves to compassion, whom the weeping of those in captivity made to come upon the earth, who givest us at all time whatsoever we desire, and never turnest away from our request, show now also pity and assistance to the soul that is tossed about in that ship, because thou, O Lord, pitiest at all time those in pain. The demons then, perceiving his prayer, said to the magicians, Avoid ye the course of that ship, for if we meet with it, we cannot move.
XXV. But the loving God taking care for Polyxena, the vessel arrived in Greece, the blessed Philip being there, and having come down to the shore by a vision, and there accompanied him also great multitudes of those who were being taught by him. And behold the vessel wherein was Polyxena appeared, terribly tossed about. And the blessed Philip said, Behold the vessel on account of which we came down here, in which there is a soul in trouble. When the vessel arrived and all had disembarked upon the dry land, they lay as half dead, because they had been greatly tossed about in the sea. But the apostle Philip ordered Polyxena to be lifted and taken to the place where he was lodging, and the rest to be looked to. But he that had carried off Polyxena, recovering from the disorder of the sea, was desirous to take her again, for Philip, having entrusted Polyxena to one of those that were taught by him, went on his way rejoicing. But he that had her said, She was committed to me by a holy man, and I cannot give her up to thee. He, however, giving no heed to him and finding there a kinsman of his, a nobleman, prepared for war, gathering eight thousand men. Polyxena, knowing this, went forth by night and departed, but he that had charge of Polyxena said, Taking the tunic of Philip, I shall go forth alone to meet them; but as he said this it was announced to him that the maid was not there. Then he, leaving all thought of the war, ran into the bed-chamber, and not finding the maid threw himself on the ground, saying, Woe is me, wretched one, that have become an enemy of Philip. What shall I answer him, when he asks the maiden from me? His servants came and said to him, Arise, our lord, from the ground, for the forces have surrounded thy house, and the maid cannot be found. He said, Leave me thus to die on her account. Perhaps, even by this, Philip the servant of Christ may be fully satisfied, since I shall be found despising his command. Then the servants, seeing that he heeded them not, took counsel to flee from the enemies, but again after a little, being moved by the foreknowledge of God, they said, It is not right for our master to die. Come, let us go forth to meet them, raising the sign of the cross. Then raising the precious cross they went forth, about thirty men, upon the enemy, and slew five thousand, and the rest fled. And they returned with victory to their master, praising God and saying, What God is so great as our God, who has not suffered his servant to be slain by the wicked? And coming upon their lord, still weeping, they said to him, Arise, lord, and weep not, for it befits it to be not as we will, but as the Lord wills.
XXVI. Polyxena, however, going out of the city, and not knowing by what way she should walk, found herself in desert places of the hills, and sitting down said thus with tears, Woe is me, outcast and captive, that I cannot find even a wild beast’s den to rest in. Woe is me, left desolate, that not even Hades, that no one escapes, has devoured me. Woe is me, who at one time showed myself not even to my servants, and now display myself to demons. Woe is me, that I am now made manifest to all those by whom I disdained to be seen. Alas for me that was formerly devoted to idols; for this now even the mercy of God has passed me in silence. Whom, then, shall I call upon to help me? The God of Paul whom I have constantly offended? But who shall help me now? No one sees or heeds or hears my groaning. Verily I shall beseech Him that sees the hidden things, for who is more pitiful and compassionate than He who always keeps watch over the oppressed? But because my mouth is unclean and defiled, I dare not ask help from Him. Would that I were as one of the wild beasts that I might not know what captivity is. Would that I had been drowned in the sea; perhaps having received the divine baptism I should have gone where no one is made captive. What then shall I do, for death delays, and night has come on, and there is no help anywhere. Having said thus, she arose and began to walk onwards, and passing through a small defile she fell into a wood very thick and large, and finding there a hollow in a tree, which was the den of a lioness, she sat down there, for the lioness had gone forth for her food. And sitting down she said, O wretched begetting, O grievous hour in which I, unhappy one, came into this world; O mother that bore me, why, foreseeing my troubles and wanderings, didst thou name me Polyxena? Has any other ever fallen into such tribulations and misfortunes? Truly, my sister Xanthippe, didst thou read concerning me, unhappy one, saying, I have suffered affliction and been utterly bowed down (—Psalm xxxviii. 6). These words thou didst utter with grief, while I lay upon the couch, thinking not at all of my sorrows. On this account I have now come into the depths of evils, and pass the night in deserts like a wild beast. But the beasts live with others of their kind, while I am left solitary, as not being of one race with mankind.
XXVII. And as she was saying these words, and more than these, the morning dawned, and the lioness came from her hunting. Polyxena, seeing the wild beast, trembled and said, By the God of Paul, O wild beast, have compassion on me and tear me not until I receive baptism. And the wild beast, fearing the adjuration, immediately went away, and standing afar off gazed at her. And she said, Behold, the beast has obeyed me; I will also retire from its dwelling. And immediately she began to journey towards the east, and the beast went before her until she was come out of the wood. Then Polyxena said, What shall I give to thee in return, O beast? The God of Paul will repay thee this kindness; and the wild beast, hearing her prayer, immediately returned to its place. Then she, descending, found a public road, and standing on it wept, not knowing whither she should go, and though many went past, she turned to none of them, but said, Perchance the God of Paul will remember me, and whoever shall have pity upon me, to him will I go.
XXVIII. As she said this, Andrew, the apostle of the Lord, also came journeying to that place, and as he drew near to Polyxena he felt in his heart some commotion arising in himself. Standing, therefore, to pray, and folding his arms in the shape of the cross, he said, Lord Jesus Christ, partaker of light and knower of things hidden, from whom nothing on earth is hid, do unto me kindness and mercy, and make clear to me this commotion of heart, and calm my reason, thou that makest peace always with those that love peace. Then Polyxena ran to him, and Andrew, the apostle of the Lord, said to her, Approach me not, daughter, but tell me who and whence thou art. Polyxena said, My lord, I am a stranger here, but I see thy face is gracious, and thy words as the words of Paul, and I suppose thee to be of the same God. Andrew understood that she spoke of the apostle Paul, and said to her, And whence dost thou know of Paul? She said, From my own country, for I left him in Spain. Andrew said to her, And how happenest thou to be here, the country being far distant? She said, Because it was thus appointed for me, and came to pass; but I beseech thee and fall at thy feet, seal me, as Paul seals, by the baptism of regeneration, so that even I, lowly one, may be known by our God, for the kind God, seeing my tribulation and distress, sent thee to pity me. Andrew, the great apostle of the Lord, said to her, Let us go, daughter, where there is water.
XXIX. And when they had gone no long way, they came to a well most transparent and pure. And as the blessed Andrew stood to pray beside the well, behold a certain maiden named Rebecca, of the tribe of Israel, brought as a captive to that country, came to draw water at the well, and seeing the blessed Andrew, knew him by his appearance. For Rebecca said, This is the appearance of a Prophet, and this is one of the apostles. And bowing down to him she said, Have mercy on me, servant of the true God, who am captive and sold for the third time, who was once honored by prophets, and am now insulted by idolaters, and recall me, lowly one, thou that wast sent to call back many sinners. Andrew, the apostle of Christ, said, God will care for thee also, daughter, as well as for this stranger. Therefore, receive ye now baptism, and be ye as of one people, glorifying God always.
XXX. Therefore the apostle standing prayed, and, behold, the lioness came running, and stood gazing upon him. And Andrew the apostle of the Lord said, What then does this beast wish? The lioness opening her mouth spoke with a human voice, Andrew, apostle of Christ, the prayer of her, that stands on thy right hand, has overtaken me. Therefore confirm thou and instruct and admonish them in the right and true faith of Christ, for they greatly desire the name of the Lord. And, behold, the wonderful condescension of God, that even on irrational and untamable beasts he has poured out his mercy. The blessed Andrew weeping said, What shall I say or what shall I speak concerning thy mercy, O God, that thus thou at all times cleavest to the lowly, and takest care for those in ignorance, being without arrogance and full of mercy? And having completed the prayer he baptised the maidens in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Then the lioness immediately set off to the mountain, and the Apostle Andrew said to the maidens, Be zealous, daughters, to be of good repute before God by living well in a strange land, and separate not from each other, and God, that is always present to those that call upon him, keep you in holiness, driving away from you the Evil One. And pray ye also for me. Polyxena said, We will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. The Apostle Andrew said, This was not made known to me by the Lord, daughters; therefore remain with peace, hoping in the Lord, and he will preserve you to the end.
XXXI. And Andrew went his way rejoicing and glorifying God. Then said Polyxena, Whither shall we go, sister? Rebecca said, Let us depart whither thou wilt, lest my mistress send and separate us. Polyxena said, Come, let us depart into the mountain to the lioness. Rebecca said, It is indeed better for us to live with wild beasts and perish of hunger than to be compelled by Greeks and idolaters to fall into the filth of marriage. So they began to journey, and, behold, by the providence of God, they met a man driving asses, who seeing them said, Ye are not of this country, and, as I see, ye wear not its dress. Command therefore of your servant to eat bread and receive one piece of silver that ye may remember your servant when ye buy bread. And he made haste and took the sacks off his asses and spread them on the ground, and made the maidens to sit upon them and said to them, Seeing that the wine which your servant carries is gathered by Greeks, tell me of what faith ye are, that thus we may taste of it. Polyxena said, We, brother, taste no wine, and are of the God of Paul. The ass-driver said. Is this God upon earth? Polyxena said to him, God is everywhere, both in heaven and on earth. The ass-driver, being desirous to learn clearly, said, Does this Paul then have the same God that is preached by Philip? Polyxena, learning that he was a Christian, said, Yea, brother, this is the God of all, whom Paul and Philip preach.
XXXII. The ass-driver hearing this wept unceasingly, and Polyxena said, Has then the providence of God overtaken thee, that thou weepest thus? The ass-driver said, If thou art desirous to learn wherefore I weep, hear the truth, for one ought not to grudge to tell the things of Christ. I was a disciple of Philip, the apostle of Christ, and seeing how all his thought was towards the poor, I took all that I had and sold it. And taking the price, I bought bread and wine, and divided them throughout the cities to those that had need, when therefore I had done this for some time in the neighbouring city, a certain maimed person cried out, saying (though it was not himself that spoke, but Satan through his mouth), I desire nothing, I take nothing from thee, because thou art a Christian. Then the whole city arose against me and sought to take me, but some ran one way and some another, while I go through their midst and no one sees me. And issuing from the city I gave praise and glory to God that thus I had been rewarded, and I prayed to my God that I should meet some one who knew his all-holy name, so that relating these things I might obtain relief. For the men of this country will not hear at all concerning Christ, being full of impiety and filled with wickedness. I exhort you therefore, take ye also one coin from me, and if it seem good, take ye rest also upon the asses. Polyxena said, Mayest thou obtain mercy from God, brother. But if thou wilt receive a full reward, save us as far as the sea, so that, if God wills, we may sail for Spain.
XXXIII. The ass-driver, as if commanded by the voice of God, eagerly receiving the maidens, went on his way rejoicing in the Lord. And he said to Polyxena, Alter thy appearance to that of a man, lest for thy beauty’s sake some one snatch thee away from me. And coming to an inn, they stayed there, and on the morrow they went forward taking heed to the way. And behold there came past a certain prefect journeying to Greece, who seeing the maidens ordered Polyxena to be carried off on his chariot. Then the ass-driver followed, crying and saying, A prefect does violence to none. Why do ye this? Then they beat him and drove him away.
XXXIV. And he going on his way lamented, saying, Woe is me, wretched and abominable one. Woe is me that thought to do good, but now I have wrought mischief. Woe is me that my trouble and my running were unacceptable. Would that I had died before yesterday, that I might not have met with these maidens at all. But why troublest thou me, O wretched soul? Let us go to Philip the apostle of God. If there is not forgiveness for me, it is better for me to choose death in whatsoever fashion than to live with such evil and bitter conscience. So he went and found Philip the apostle of Christ, and said to him, O disciple and preacher of Christ, thus and thus it has happened to me and befallen me. Has my soul salvation? Philip the apostle of Christ said, Be not distressed concerning this, my son, it is impossible for them to be dishonoured, seeing that no one ever overcomes God; for this same Polyxena, when she first came from the sea, I entrusted to a certain brother, who also was greatly distressed because of her running away secretly from his house. Him also I persuaded not to grieve, for through her tribulation and wanderings many shall know God.
XXXV. The prefect therefore carried Polyxena to the city where he stayed, and ordered her to be shut up in a chamber. And one of the soldiers seized Rebecca, but the maid secretly escaping fled into the house of an old woman, who received the maiden kindly and entreated her well. And sitting down she wept, saying, Alas, my sister Polyxena, I wretched one did not think that anyone was oppressed like myself, but now I am persuaded and know that all my misfortunes and tribulations do not compare with one day of thine. And most grievous of all, behold I have been separated from thee and am again a captive, but do thou search for me even into the next world, my sister Polyxena. The old woman said to her, What ails thee, daughter, that thou weepest thus bitterly? Rebecca said, Suffer me, mother, to be distressed and to lament the great and incurable pain of my heart. The old woman greatly compassionating her wept exceedingly, for the maid had told her all that had happened to her, and how through Polyxena she had believed in Christ. So too Polyxena, shut up in the chamber, said, Woe is me, wretched one; alas for me miserable one; now I know clearly how the devil hates virginity, but O Lord Jesus Christ, God of all, since I dare not beseech thee of myself, I bring to thee the prayers of thy holy preacher Paul, that thou mayst not suffer my virginity to be destroyed by any one.
XXXVI. And as she was yet praying, the attendants came to lead her to the couch of the prefect. But Polyxena said to them, Brethren, make not haste to any one’s destruction, for this time shall quickly pass away, and they that work together with the destroyers shall perish with them. Rather assist strangers, that ye be not found strangers to the angels of God. The men, being shamed by these words, went to the prefect and said, The maid from fear is seized with a violent fever. And the prefect said, Let her alone. And, behold, the son of the prefect came to Polyxena by night, and she seeing him was afraid, but the youth said to her, Fear not, girl. I seek not to be wedded with thee as the bridegroom of destruction, for I know from thy prayer that thou art the bride of the God of heaven. I know this God who is never overcome by any one, for a certain man of glorious countenance lately in Antioch preached this God, and a certain maid, whose name was Thecla, believing him followed him, and encountered dangers on account of her beauty, of whom I have heard that she was condemned to the wild beasts. I therefore continually gazed upon the man, and he having observed me said to me, God give heed to thee, my son. From that time therefore by the grace of Christ I have not gone into the sacrifices of idols, but sometimes feigning illness and sometimes involving myself in some business, my father said to me, Because thou hast no zeal for the sacrifices of the gods, therefore neither art thou in health, not being worthy of the gods. But I rejoiced, hearing that I was not worthy of the sacrifices to idols; and, by the grace of God, art thou come hither as a providence to me. Polyxena said, And what is the name of that man? The youth said, Paul is his name. Polyxena said, He is in my city. The youth said, Come then, girl, put on my appearance, and go down to the shore and wait me there; I having taken money will come quickly.
XXXVII. And one of the servants overhearing them told all this to the prefect, who being filled with great anger condemned them to be cast to the wild beasts. And when they were cast into the arena, a fierce lioness was let loose upon them, which ran and embraced the feet of Polyxena, and licked the soles of her feet. Then the prefect and all the city, seeing this fearful and wonderful sight, gave praise and glory to the merciful God, saying, Of a truth thou art, and he, that is named by Polyxena, alone is God, for the gods of the heathen are the works of men’s hands, unable to save or assist any one. Let them perish now, both themselves and their makers. And the prefect straightway taking his son and Polyxena into the palace, heard from them in order the faith and religion in Christ without omission, and he and all in the city believed, and there was great joy and giving of glory to God. And Polyxena said to the prefect, Be of good cheer, my lord, for the man of God will quickly come, who will perfectly teach, exhort, instruct, and enlighten you in the knowledge of Christ. She however prepared in all haste to depart into Spain.
XXXVIII. And as I, Onesimus, was sailing into Spain to Paul, I received from the Lord a revelation saying to me, Onesimus, the vessel in which thou now art will land in the parts of Greece, and thou wilt find on the shore of the harbour two maids and one youth. Assist them and take them to Paul. When we reached this place according to the command of the Lord, we found the maids together with the youth seeking a vessel. When the maids saw us therefore, they knew that we were of the hope of Christ, and Polyxena running to us said, Verily the man of God cannot be concealed, for the grace and kindliness of his countenance makes him manifest. And when we sought to sail away, the sea was troubled by the providence of God. And there was with us a disciple of Paul, by name Lucius, capable in word to teach the city. Therefore we remained seven days, and God opened to that place a great door of faith, and twenty thousand believed, and there was great joy and rejoicing in all the city. And when the season was favourable for us to sail the prefect again constrained us, and we stayed another seven days, until all believed and rejoiced in the Lord.
XXXIX. Thus now by the foreknowledge of Christ, the prefect sent us away with supplies for the voyage, sending also his son with us. And when we had sailed twenty days, Polyxena was greatly exhausted, and we touched at a certain island for the sake of rest. And behold, certain fierce and hardened men, coming down to us and seeing Polyxena, prepared for battle; but by the grace of Christ our men defended Polyxena and vanquished them, although the strangers were more numerous and more powerful. Polyxena therefore fearing again to become a captive threw herself into the sea; but the pilot dragged her out, having suffered no harm. Then we embarked in the vessel and fled, for the places were rough and wooded, and we were afraid to remain, and in twelve days we arrived in Spain, by the grace of God.
XL. And Paul seeing us rejoiced greatly, and said, Welcome ye that have been troubled. And Polyxena, laying hold of his feet, said, It may be that this trouble came upon me because I would have blasphemed thee, but now I beseech and entreat that I may not again be delivered into such troubles and misfortunes. And Paul said, weeping, Thus must we be troubled, my daughter, that we may know our defender, Jesus Christ.
XLI. And while we were giving the letters of the brethren to Paul, one ran and told Xanthippe of the arrival of Polyxena. And she made haste and came to us, and seeing Polyxena, was overcome by an unspeakable joy and fell to the ground; but Polyxena embracing her and caressing her for a long time brought her back to life. Then Xanthippe said to her, I, my true sister Polyxena, went not forth at all for forty days, praying much for thee to the loving God, that thy virginity might not be taken away. And Paul, the preacher of God, said to me, Her virginity will not be taken away, and she will come quickly. And Probus said to me, It was assigned to her by God to be thus afflicted. Seest thou how by many devices God saves many? But now, my beloved sister, having unexpectedly seen thy face, now I shall willingly die.
XLII. Then he who had carried her away came up again and sought for Polyxena, but the great Paul persuaded him to refrain from her, and he also believed and was baptised by Paul, as also the suitor of Polyxena believed, and there was great joy in all that city of Spain for the recovery of Polyxena. From that time forward she left not at all the blessed Paul in her fear of temptations. These things then being thus, all rejoiced in the Lord, glorifying Father, Son and Holy Ghost, one God, to whom is glory and power, now and ever and to all eternity. Amen.
The Narrative of Zosimus Concerning the Life of the Blessed.
I. About that time there was in the desert a certain man named Zosimus, who for forty years ate no bread, and drank no wine, and saw not the face of man. This man was entreating God that he might see the way of life of the blessed, and behold an angel of the Lord was sent saying to him, Zosimus, man of God, behold I am sent by the Most High, the God of all, to tell thee that thou shalt journey to the blessed, but shalt not dwell with them. But exalt not thy heart, saying, For forty years I have not eaten bread, for the word of God is more than bread, and the spirit of God is more than wine. And as for thy saying, I have not seen the face of man, behold the face of the great king is nigh thee. Zosimus said, I know that the Lord can do whatsoever he will. The angel said to him, Know this also, that thou art not worthy of one of their delights, but arise and set out.
II. And I, Zosimus, issuing from my cave with God leading me, set out not knowing which way I went, and after I had travelled forty days my spirit grew faint and my body failed, and being exhausted I sat down, and continued praying in that place for three days. And, behold, there came a beast from the desert, whose name is the camel, and placing its knees on the ground, it received me upon its neck and went into the desert and set me down. There there was much howling of wild beasts, and gnashing of teeth, and deadly poison. And becoming afraid, I prayed to the Lord, and there came in that place a great earthquake with noise, and a storm of wind blew and lifted me from the earth, and exalted me on its wing, and I was praying and journeying till it set me upon a place beside a river, and the name of the river is Eumeles. And behold when I desired to cross the river, some one cried as if from the water, saying, Zosimus, man of God, thou canst not pass through me, for no man can divide my waters: but look up from the waters to the heaven. And looking up I saw a wall of cloud stretching from the waters to the heaven, and the cloud said, Zosimus, man of God, through me no bird passes out of this world, nor breath of wind, nor the sun itself, nor can the tempter in this world pass through me.
III. And I was astonished at these words, and at the voice that spake these things to me. And as I prayed, behold two trees sprang up out of the earth, fair and beautiful, laden with fragrant fruits. And the tree on this side bent down and received me on its top, and was lifted up exceedingly above the middle of the river, and the other tree met me and received me in its branches and bending down set me on the ground; and both trees were lifted up and set me away from the river on the other side. In that place I rested three days, and arising again I went forward, whither I knew not, and that place was filled with much fragrance, and there was no mountain on either hand, but the place was level and flowery, all crowned with garlands, and all the land beautiful.
IV. And I saw there a naked man sitting, and said in myself, Surely this is not the tempter. And I remembered the voice of the cloud that it said to me, Not even the tempter in this world passes through me. And thus taking courage I said to him, Hail, brother. And he answering said to me, The grace of my God be with thee. Again I said to him, Tell me, man of God, who thou art? He answered and said to me, Who art thou rather? And I answered and told him all concerning myself, and that I had prayed to God and he had brought me into that place. He answered and said to me, I also know that thou art a man of God, for if not, thou couldst not have passed through the cloud and the river and the air. For the breadth of the river is about thirty thousand paces, and the cloud reaches to heaven, and the depth of the river to the abyss.
V. And having ended this discourse the man spoke again, Hast thou come hither out of the vanity of the world? I said to him, Wherefore art thou naked? He said, How knowest thou that I am naked? Thou wearest skins of the cattle of the earth, that decay together with thy body, but look up to the height of heaven and behold of what nature my clothing is. And looking up into heaven I saw his face as the face of an angel, and his clothing as lightning, which passes from the east to the west, and I was greatly afraid, thinking that it was the son of God, and trembled, falling upon the ground. And giving me his hand he raised me up, saying, Arise, I also am one of the blessed. Come with me, that I may lead thee to the elders. And laying hold of my hand he walked about with me and led me toward a certain crowd, and there were in that crowd elders like sons of God, and young men were standing beside the elders. And as I came near to them, they said, This man has come hither out of the vanity of the world; come, let us beseech the Lord and he will reveal to us this mystery. Surely the end is not at hand, that the man of vanity is come hither? Then they arose and besought the Lord with one accord, and behold two angels came down from heaven and said, Fear not the man, for God has sent him, that he may remain seven days and learn your ways of life, and then he shall go forth and depart to his own place. The angels of God having said this ascended into heaven before our eyes.
VI. Then the elders of the blessed gave me over to one of the attendants, saying, Keep him for seven days. So the attendant receiving me led me to his cave, and we sat under a tree partaking of food. For from the sixth hour even to the sixth, then we ate, and the water came out from the root of the tree sweeter than honey, and we drank our fill, and again the water sank down into its place. And all the country of those there heard of me, that there had come thither a man out of the vanity of the world, and all the country was stirred up, and they came to see me because it seemed strange to them. Therefore they were asking me all things and I was answering them, and I became faint in spirit and in body, and besought the man of God that served me, and said, I beseech thee, brother, if any come to see me, tell them He is not here, so that I may rest a little. And the man of God cried out saying, Woe is me, that the story of Adam is summed up in me, for Satan deceived him through Eve, and this man by his flattery desires to make me a liar while he is here. Take me away from hence, for I shall flee from the place. For behold he wishes to sow in me seeds of the world of vanity. And all the multitude and the elders rose up against me, and said, Depart from us, man; we know not whence thou art come to us. But I lamented with great lamentation, and my senses left me, and I cried out to the elders, saying, Forgive me, my lords, and the elders stilled them and made quietness. Then I related to them all from the beginning till that time, and said, I besought the Lord to come to you, and he deemed me worthy. And the elders said, And now what wilt thou we should do to thee? I said to them, I desire to learn of you your way of life.
VII. And they rejoiced with great joy, and taking up tables of stone they wrote on them with their nails, thus, Hear, ye sons of men, hear ye us who are become blessed, that we also are of you; for when the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed that the city of Jerusalem should be delivered into the hands of the destroyers, he rent his garments, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and sprinkled dust upon his head, and took earth upon his bed, and told all the people to turn from their wicked way. And our father Rechab, the son of Aminadab, heard him and said to us, Ye sons and daughters of Rechab, hearken to your father, and put off your garments from your body, and drink no vessel of wine, and eat no bread from the fire, and drink not strong drink and honey until the Lord hear your entreaty. And we said, All that he has commanded us we shall do and hearken. So we cast away our clothing from our bodies, and we ate no bread from the fire, and drank no vessel of wine nor honey nor strong drink, and we lamented with a great lamentation and besought the Lord, and he heard our prayer and turned away his anger from the city of Jerusalem, and there came to the city of Jerusalem mercy from the Lord, and he pitied its people, and turned away his deadly anger.
VIII. And after these things the king of the city of Jerusalem died, and there arose another king. And all the people gathered to him and informed him concerning us, and said, There are certain of thy people, who have changed their way from us. Therefore the king summoned them, and asked them wherefore they had done this; and he sent for us and asked, Who are ye and of what worship and of what country? And we said to him, We are the sons of thy servant, and our father is Rechab the son of Jonadab, and when Jeremiah the prophet preached in the days of thy father the king, he proclaimed death to the city of Jerusalem, saying, Yet three days and all the city shall be put to death. And the king thy father hearing this repented of his sins, and issued a command to all to turn aside from their wicked way. And our father thy servant hearing it charged us, saying, Drink no vessel of wine, and eat no bread from the fire, until the Lord shall hear your entreaty. And we hearkened to the commandment of our father, and made naked our bodies, we drank no wine and ate no bread, and we prayed to the Lord for the city of Jerusalem, and the Lord pitied his people and turned away his anger, and we saw it and our soul was rejoiced, and we said, It is good for us to be so.
IX. And the king said to us, Ye have done well. Now therefore mingle with my people, and eat bread and drink wine, and glorify your Lord, and ye shall be serving God and the king. But we said, We will not disobey God. Then the king was enraged and set us in prison, and we passed that night there. And behold a light shone in the building, and an angel uncovered the prison and laid hold of the crowns of our heads, and took us out of the prison, and set us beside the water of the river, and said to us, Whithersoever the water goes, go ye also. And we travelled with the water and with the angel. When therefore he had brought us to this place, the river was dried up and the water was swallowed up by the abyss, and he made a wall round this country, and there came a wall of cloud, and shadowed above the water; and he did not scatter us over all the earth, but gave to us this country.
X. Hear, ye sons of men, hear the way of life of the blessed. For God placed us in this land, for we are holy but not immortal. For the earth produces most fragrant fruit, and out of the trunks of the trees comes water sweeter than honey, and these are our food and drink. We are also praying night and day, and this is all our occupation. Hear, ye sons of men; with us there is no vine, nor ploughed field, nor works of wood or iron, nor have we any house or building, nor fire nor sword, nor iron wrought or unwrought, nor silver nor gold, nor air too heavy or too keen. Neither do any of us take to themselves wives, except for so long as to beget two children, and after they have produced two children they withdraw from each other and continue in chastity, not knowing that they were ever in the intercourse of marriage, but being in virginity as from the beginning. And the one child remains for marriage, and the other for virginity.
XI. And there is no count of time, neither weeks nor months nor years, for all our day is one day. In our caves lie the leaves of trees, and this is our couch under the trees. But we are not naked of body, as ye wrongly imagine, for we have the garment of immortality and are not ashamed of each other. At the sixth hour of every day we eat, for the fruit of the tree falls of itself at the sixth hour, and we eat and drink our fill, and again the water sinks into its place. We also know you who are there in the world, and who are in sins, and your works, for every day the angels of the Lord come and tell them to us, and the number of your years. But we pray for you to the Lord, because we also are of you and of your race, except that God has chosen us, and has set us in this place without sin. And the angels of God dwell with us every day, and tell us all things concerning you, and we rejoice with the angels over the works of the just, but over the works of sinners we mourn and lament, praying to the Lord that he may cease from his anger and spare your offences.
XII. But when the time of the forty days comes, all the trees cease from their fruits, and the manna that he gave to our fathers rains down from heaven, and the manna is sweeter than honey. Thus we know that the season of the year is changed. But when the time of the holy passover comes, then again the trees put forth fragrant fruit, and thus we know that it is the beginning of the year. But the feast of the resurrection of the Lord is performed with much watching, for we continue watching for three days and three nights.
XIII. We know also the time of our end, for we have no torment nor disease nor pain in our bodies, nor exhaustion nor weakness, but peace and great patience and love. For our soul is not troubled by the angels to go forth, for the angels rejoice when they receive our souls, and the souls also rejoice with the angels when they behold them; as a bride receives the bridegroom, so our soul receives the announcement of the holy angels, saying nothing more than only this, The Lord calls thee. Then the soul quits the body and goes to the angels, and the angels seeing the soul coming forth spotless rejoice, and spreading out their robes receive it. Then the angels call it blessed, saying, Blessed art then, O soul, because the will of the Lord is fulfilled in thee.
XIV. The time of our life is this. If one quits the body in his youth, the days of his life here are three hundred and sixty years, and he that quits the body in old age, the days of his life here are six hundred and eighty-eight years. And the day of our completion is made known to us by the angels, and when the angels of God come to take us, we go with them, and the elders, seeing the angels, gather together all the people and we depart together with the angels, singing psalms, until the angels arrive at the place of our abode. And because we have no tools, the angels of God themselves make the grave for our body, and thus he that is called by God goes down, and all salute him from small to great, sending him on his way and bidding him farewell. Then the soul quits the body and the angels receive it, but we see the shape of the soul as a shape of light, perfect in all the body apart from the distinction of male and female.
XV. Then the angels taking it up sing a song and hymn, making melody to God, and again other troops of angels come in haste to meet them, saluting the soul that is coming and entering into the firmaments. And when it has come to the place where it is to worship God, the son of God himself, together with the angels, receives the soul of the blessed one and bears it to the undefiled father of the ages, and again, when the angels sing above, we being below listen to them, and again we sing and they listen in heaven above, and thus between us and the angels there arises a giving of praise in hymns. But when the soul of the blessed one, falling upon its face, worships the Lord, then we also falling down worship the Lord in that same hour, and when the Lord raises it up then we also arise; and when it goes to its appointed place, we also go into the church, fulfilling the eucharist of the Lord.
Having written these things, and all the life of the blessed, we gave them to our brother Zosimus, and escorted him as far as the place of trees beside the river Eumeles.
XVI. And I, Zosimus, besought again the blessed ones to make entreaty for me to the Lord that the trees might receive me to take me across. And they all cried to the Lord and said, O God that hast shown us thy marvels and hast made thy servant Zosimus to come to us out of the world of vanity, set him again in his own place with peace, and command these trees to bow down and take up thy servant and set him on the further side. And as they finished their prayer, the trees straightway bent down before them, and received me as on the second day before; and being set on the other side of the river I cried with a loud voice and said, Men of righteousness, who are brothers of the holy angels, grant me your prayer in peace, for behold I depart from you. And making prayer they all cried out, saying, Peace, peace be with you, brother.
XVII. Then I prayed to the Lord, and there came to me a storm of wind, and received me upon its wings, and carried me to the place where it found me sitting, and left me there in peace. And raising its voice the wind said to me, Blessed art thou, Zosimus, that thou hast been numbered with the blessed. And the beast from the desert, whose name is the camel, came and received me upon its neck and carried me eighty and five stations, and set me in the place where it found me praying, and left me in peace, crying and saying, Blessed art thou, Zosimus, that thou hast been numbered with the blessed.
XVIII. But seeing me thus praised, Satan desired to tempt me and throw his dart at me from his station, but an angel of God came and said to me, Zosimus, behold Satan is coming to tempt thee, but the Lord will fight for thee, for the glory of thy faith must bind[1] Satan. And an angel of God appeared, crying and saying, Welcome, blessed one of Christ. Come and I shall lead thee to the cave that is the dwelling-place of thy body, for thy cave shall be a testimony of the desert, a healing of the sick that come to it, a place of trial and touch-stone of demons. And laying hold of my hand he strengthened me, and led me for forty days to the cave where I had dwelt. And there was there a table of righteousness, and I spent the night with the angels of God. And I placed the tablets that were given me by the holy blessed ones on the step of the altar in my cave.
XIX. And, behold, when the angels of God ascended, the Devil came, having a fierce shape, and possessed with anger and gall, and said to me, I knew that God would do with thee as with the blessed ones, and that they shall be free from sin and be above the angels, and therefore I brought in an evil design, and entered into the vessel of the serpent, an evil-doer added to evil-doer. And by this I made the first man Adam to transgress and taste of the tree of life, since God had commanded him not to eat of it, that he might remain equal in glory to God and the holy angels; and thou again hast gone and brought this commandment, but now that they may not be without sin, I shall show thee how I shall destroy thee and all those that receive this commandment, so that they may not be without sin, and the book that thou hast brought.
XX. Saying these things the Devil departed from me, and after eight days he brought with him one thousand three hundred and sixty demons, and dragged me from the cave as I prayed, and they beat me, tossing me about between them, for forty days. And after the forty days the devil lamented before me and said, Woe is me that through one man I have lost the world, for he has vanquished me by his prayer. And he began to run from me, but I laying hold of him stayed him and said, Thou shalt not run away and flee from me until thou swearest to me never again to tempt man. And lamenting with great and violent lamentation he swore to me by the firmament of heaven, So long as thy dwelling is here, and after thee, I will not come upon this place. Then I let him go, sending him and the demons with him into eternal fire. Then the angel came, who had companied with me at the table, and led me into my cave with great glory.
XXI. After this I lived thirty-six years, and communicated the way of life of the blessed to the fathers in the desert. But the Devil wept because of the tables of the life of the blessed, saying, If this get abroad in the world, I shall be mocked, and these will remain without sin and I alone in folly. And after the completion of the thirty-six years, the angels of God came to me as to the blessed.
And all the monks were gathered together and all who heard it, and this testament was read to all of them, and in such life he gave up his soul to God.
XXII. And I, Cryseos,[2] being one of those in the desert, spread it abroad and gave it to all that were willing to learn it and profit by it. Therefore the angels of God helped to bury the body of Zosimus as a precious gift, and we saw the soul of the blessed one shining seven times brighter than the sun. And straightway upon that place there came up seven palm-trees and overshadowed the cave. There came up also a fountain of water in that place, holy water, and unto this day a healing and salvation to all the sick that come to it. Peace be to all that have heard the memorial of the holy Zosimus; the Lord is the advocate and helper of all to the endless ages of ages. Amen.
Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume IX/Apology of Aristides/In the history of Barlaam and Josaphat
The Apology of Aristides
as it is preserved in the history of
Barlaam and Josaphat.
Translated from the Greek.
I. I, O King in the providence of God came into the world; and when I had considered the heaven and the earth, the sun and the moon and the rest, I marvelled at their orderly arrangement.
And when I saw that the universe and all that is therein is moved by necessity, I perceived that the mover and controller is God.
For everything which causes motion is stronger than that which is moved, and that which controls is stronger than that which is controlled.
The self-same being, then, who first established and now controls the universe—him do I affirm to be God who is without beginning and without end, immortal and self-sufficing, above all passions and infirmities, above anger and forgetfulness and ignorance and the rest.
Through Him too all things consist. He requires not sacrifice and libation nor anyone of the things that appear to sense; but all men stand in need of Him.
II. Having thus spoken concerning God, so far as it was possible for me to speak of Him,[1] let us next proceed to the human race, that we may see which of them participate in the truth and which of them in error.
For it is clear to us, O King,[2] that there are three[3] classes of men in this world; these being the worshippers of the gods acknowledged among you, and Jews, and Christians. Further they who pay homage to many gods are themselves divided into three classes, Chaldæans namely, and Greeks, and Egyptians; for these have been guides and preceptors to the rest of the nations in the service and worship of these many-titled deities.
III. Let us see then which of them participate in truth and which of them in error.
The Chaldæans, then, not knowing God went astray after the elements and began to worship the creation more than their Creator.
And of these they formed certain shapes and styled them a representation of the heaven and the earth and the sea, of the sun too and the moon and the other primal bodies or luminaries. And they shut them up together in shrines, and worship them, calling them gods, even though they have to guard them securely for fear they should be stolen by robbers. And they did not perceive that anything which acts as guard is greater than that which is guarded, and that he who makes is greater than that which is made. For if their gods are unfit to look after their own safety, how shall they bestow protection upon others? Great then is the error into which the Chaldæans wandered in adoring lifeless and good-for-nothing images.
And it occurs to me as surprising, O King, how it is that their so-called philosophers have quite failed to observe that the elements themselves are perishable. And if the elements are perishable and subject to necessity, how are they gods? And if the elements are not gods, how do the images made in their honour come to be gods?
IV. Let us proceed then, O King, to the elements themselves that we may show in regard to them that they are not gods, but perishable and mutable, produced out of that which did not exist at the command of the true God, who is indestructible and immutable and invisible; yet He sees all things and as He wills, modifies and changes things. What then shall I say concerning the elements?
They err who believe that the sky is a god. For we see that it revolves and moves by necessity and is compacted of many parts, being thence called the ordered universe (Kosmos). Now the universe is the construction of some designer; and that which has been constructed has a beginning and an end. And the sky with its luminaries moves by necessity. For the stars are carried along in array at fixed intervals from sign to sign, and, some setting, others rising, they traverse their courses in due season so as to mark off summers and winters, as it has been appointed for them by God; and obeying the inevitable necessity of their nature they transgress not their proper limits, keeping company with the heavenly order. Whence it is plain that the sky is not a god but rather a work of God.
They erred also who believed the earth to be a goddess. For we see that it is despitefully used and tyrannized over by men, and is furrowed and kneaded and becomes of no account. For, if it be burned with fire, it becomes devoid of life; for nothing will grow from the ashes. Besides if there fall upon it an excess of rain it dissolves away, both it and its fruits. Moreover it is trodden under foot of men and the other creatures; it is dyed with the blood of the murdered; it is dug open and filled with dead bodies and becomes a tomb for corpses. In face of all this, it is inadmissible that the earth is a goddess but rather it is a work of God for the use of men.
V. They also erred who believed the water to be a god. For it, too, has been made for the use of men, and is controlled by them; it is defiled and destroyed and suffers change on being boiled and dyed with colours; and it is congealed by the frost, and polluted with blood, and is introduced for the washing of all unclean things. Wherefore it is impossible that water should be a god, but it is a work of God.
They also err who believe that fire is a god. For fire was made for the use of men, and it is controlled by them, being carried about from place to place for boiling and roasting all kinds of meat, and even for (the burning of) dead bodies. Moreover it is extinguished in many ways, being quenched through man’s agency. So it cannot be allowed that fire is a god, but it is a work of God.
They also err who think the blowing of the winds is a goddess. For it is clear that it is under the dominion of another; and for the sake of man it has been designed by God for the transport of ships and the conveyance of grain and for man’s other wants. It rises too and falls at the bidding of God, whence it is concluded that the blowing of the winds is not a goddess but only a work of God.
VI. They also err who believe the sun to be a god. For we see that it moves by necessity and revolves and passes from sign to sign, setting and rising so as to give warmth to plants and tender shoots for the use of man.
Besides it has its part in common with the rest of the stars, and is much smaller than the sky; it suffers eclipse of its light and is not the subject of its own laws. Wherefore it is concluded that the sun is not a god, but only a work of God. They also err who believe that the moon is a goddess. For we see that it moves by necessity and revolves and passes from sign to sign, setting and rising for the benefit of men; and it is less than the sun and waxes and wanes and has eclipses. Wherefore it is concluded that the moon is not a goddess but a work of God.
VII. They also err who believe that man[4] is a god. For we see that he is moved by necessity, and is made to grow up, and becomes old even though he would not. And at one time he is joyous, at another he is grieved when he lacks food and drink and clothing. And we see that he is subject to anger and jealousy and desire and change of purpose and has many infirmities. He is destroyed too in many ways by means of the elements and animals, and by ever-assailing death. It cannot be admitted, then, that man is a god, but only a work of God.
Great therefore is the error into which the Chaldæans wandered, following after their own desires.
For they reverence the perishable elements and lifeless images, and do not perceive that they themselves make these things to be gods.
VIII. Let us proceed then to the Greeks, that we may see whether they have any discernment concerning God. The Greeks, indeed, though they call themselves wise proved more deluded than the Chaldæans in alleging that many gods have come into being, some of them male, some female, practised masters in every passion and every variety of folly. [And the Greeks themselves represented them to be adulterers and murderers, wrathful and envious and passionate, slayers of fathers and brothers, thieves and robbers, crippled and limping, workers in magic, and victims of frenzy. Some of them died (as their account goes), and some were struck by thunderbolts, and became slaves to men, and were fugitives, and they mourned and lamented, and changed themselves into animals for wicked and shameful ends.][5]
Wherefore, O King, they are ridiculous and absurd and impious tales that the Greeks have introduced, giving the name of gods to those who are not gods, to suit their unholy desires, in order that, having them as patrons of vice, they might commit adultery and robbery and do murder and other shocking deeds. For if their gods did such deeds why should not they also do them?
So that from these misguided practices it has been the lot of mankind to have frequent wars and slaughters and bitter captivities.
IX. But, further, if we be minded to discuss their gods individually, you will see how great is the absurdity; for instance, how Kronos is brought forward by them as a god above all, and they sacrifice their own children to him. And he had many sons by Rhea, and in his madness devoured his own offspring. And they say that Zeus cut off his members and cast them into the sea, whence Aphrodite is said in fable to be engendered. Zeus, then, having bound his own father, cast him into Tartaros. You see the error and brutality which they advance against their god? Is it possible, then, that a god should be manacled and mutilated? What absurdity! Who with any wit would ever say so?
Next Zeus is introduced, and they say that he was king of their gods, and that he changed himself into animals that he might debauch mortal women.
For they allege that he transformed himself into a bull for Europe, and into gold for Danae, and into a swan for Leda, and into a satyr for Antiope, and into a thunderbolt for Semele. Then by these there were many children, Dionysos and Zethus and Amphion and Herakles and Apollo and Artemis and Perseus, Kastor and Helenes and Polydeukes and Minos and Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon, and the nine daughters whom they called the Muses. Then too they bring forward statements about the matter of Ganymedes.
Hence it happened, O King, to mankind to imitate all these things and to become adulterous men and lascivious women, and to be workers of other terrible iniquities, through the imitation of their god. Now how is it possible that a god should be an adulterer or an obscene person or a parricide?
X. Along with him, too, they bring forward one Hephaistos as a god, and they say that he is lame and wields a hammer and tongs, working as a smith for his living.
Is he then badly off? But it cannot be admitted that a god should be a cripple, and besides be dependent on mankind.
Then they bring forward Hermes as a god, representing him to be lustful, and a thief, and covetous, and a magician (and maimed) and an interpreter of language. But it cannot be admitted that such an one is a god.
They also bring forward Asklepios as a god who is a doctor and prepares drugs and compounds plasters for the sake of a living. For he was badly off. And afterwards he was struck, they say, with a thunderbolt by Zeus on account of Tyndareos, son of Lacedaimon; and so was killed. Now if Asklepios in spite of his divinity could not help himself when struck by lightning, how will he come to the rescue of others?
Again Ares is represented as a god, fond of strife and given to jealousy, and a lover of animals and other such things. And at last while corrupting Aphrodite, he was bound by the youthful Eros and by Hephaistos. How then was he a god who was subject to desire, and a warrior, and a prisoner and an adulterer?
They allege that Dionysos also is a god who holds nightly revels and teaches drunkenness, and carries off the neighbours’ wives, and goes mad and takes to flight. And at last he was put to death by the Titans. If then Dionysos could not save himself when he was being killed, and besides used to be mad, and drunk with wine, and a fugitive, how should he be a god?
They allege also that Herakles got drunk and went mad and cut the throats of his own children, then he was consumed by fire and so died. Now how should he be a god, who was drunk and a slayer of children and burned to death? or how will he come to the help of others, when he was unable to help himself?
XI. They represent Apollo also as a jealous god, and besides as the master of the bow and quiver, and sometimes of the lyre and flute, and as divining to men for pay? Can he then be very badly off? But it cannot be admitted that a god should be in want, and jealous, and a harping minstrel.
They represent Artemis also as his sister, who is a huntress and has a bow with a quiver; and she roams alone upon the hills with the dogs to hunt the stag or the wild boar. How then should such a woman, who hunts and roams with her dogs, be a divine being?
Even Aphrodite herself they affirm to be a goddess who is adulterous. For at one time she had Ares as a paramour, and at another time Anchises and again Adonis, whose death she also laments, feeling the want of her lover. And they say that she even went down to Hades to purchase back Adonis from Persephone. Did you ever see, O King, greater folly than this, to bring forward as a goddess one who is adulterous and given to weeping and wailing?
And they represent that Adonis is a hunter god, who came to a violent end, being wounded by a wild boar and having no power to help himself in his distress. How then will one who is adulterous and a hunter and mortal give himself any concern for mankind?
All this and much more of a like nature, and even far more disgraceful and offensive details, have the Greeks narrated, O King, concerning their gods;—details which it is not proper either to state or for a moment to remember. And hence mankind, taking an impulse from their gods, practised all lawlessness and brutality and impiety, polluting both earth and air by their awful deeds.
XII. The Egyptians, again, being more stupid and witless than these have gone further astray than all the nations. For they were not content with the objects of worship of the Chaldæans and the Greeks, but in addition to these brought forward also brute creatures as gods, both land and water animals, and plants and herbs; and they were defiled with all madness and brutality more deeply than all the nations on the earth.
For originally they worshipped Isis, who had Osiris as brother and husband. He was slain by his own brother Typhon; and therefore Isis with Horos her son fled for refuge to Byblus in Syria, mourning for Osiris with bitter lamentation, until Horos grew up and slew Typhon. So that neither had Isis power to help her own brother and husband; nor could Osiris defend himself when he was being slain by Typhon; nor did Typhon, the slayer of his brother, when he was perishing at the hands of Horos and Isis, find means to rescue himself from death. And though they were revealed in their true character by such mishaps, they were believed to be very gods by the simple Egyptians, who were not satisfied even with these or the other deities of the nations, but brought forward also brute creatures as gods. For some of them worshipped the sheep, and some the goat; another tribe (worshipped) the bull and the pig; others again, the raven and the hawk, and the vulture and the eagle; and others the crocodile; and some the cat and the dog, and the wolf and the ape, and the dragon and the asp; and others the onion and the garlic and thorns and other created things. And the poor creatures do not perceive about all these that they are utterly helpless. For though they see their gods eaten by men of other tribes, and burnt as offerings and slain as victims and mouldering in decay, they have not perceived that they are not gods.
XIII. So the Egyptians and the Chaldæans and the Greeks made a great error in bringing forward such beings as gods, and in making images of them, and in deifying dumb and senseless idols.
And I wonder how they saw their gods sawn out and hacked and docked by the workmen, and besides aging with time and falling to pieces, and being cast from metal, and yet did not discern concerning them that they were not gods.
For when they have no power to see to their own safety, how will they take forethought for men?
But further, the poets and philosophers, alike of the Chaldæans and the Greeks and the Egyptians, while they desired by their poems and writings to magnify the gods of their countries, rather revealed their shame, and laid it bare before all men. For if the body of man while consisting of many parts does not cast off any of its own members, but preserving an unbroken unity in all its members, is harmonious with itself, how shall variance and discord be so great in the nature of God?
For if there had been a unity of nature among the gods, then one god ought not to have pursued or slain or injured another. And if the gods were pursued by gods, and slain, and kidnapped and struck with lightning by them, then there is no longer any unity of nature, but divided counsels, all mischievous. So that not one of them is a god. It is clear then, O King, that all their discourse on the nature of the gods is an error.
But how did the wise and erudite men of the Greeks not observe that inasmuch as they make laws for themselves they are judged by their own laws? For if the laws are righteous, their gods are altogether unrighteous, as they have committed transgressions of laws, in slaying one another, and practising sorceries, and adultery and thefts and intercourse with males. If they were right in doing these things, then the laws are unrighteous, being framed contrary to the gods. Whereas in fact, the laws are good and just, commending what is good and forbidding what is bad. But the deeds of their gods are contrary to law. Their gods, therefore, are lawbreakers, and all liable to the punishment of death; and they are impious men who introduce such gods. For if the stories about them be mythical, the gods are nothing more than mere names; and if the stories be founded on nature, still they who did and suffered these things are no longer gods; and if the stories be allegorical, they are myths and nothing more.
It has been shown then, O King, that all these polytheistic objects of worship are the works of error and perdition. For it is not right to give the name of gods to beings which may be seen but cannot see; but one ought to reverence the invisible and all-seeing and all-creating God.
XIV. Let us proceed then, O King, to the Jews also, that we may see what truth there is in their view of God. For they were descendants of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and migrated to Egypt. And thence God brought them forth with a mighty hand and an uplifted arm through Moses, their lawgiver; and by many wonders and signs He made known His power to them. But even they proved stubborn and ungrateful, and often served the idols of the nations, and put to death the prophets and just men who were sent to them. Then when the Son of God was pleased to come upon the earth, they received him with wanton violence and betrayed him into the hands of Pilate the Roman governor; and paying no respect to his good deeds and the countless miracles he wrought among them, they demanded a sentence of death by the cross.
And they perished by their own transgression; for to this day they worship the one God Almighty, but not according to knowledge. For they deny that Christ is the Son of God; and they are much like to the heathen, even although they may seem to make some approach to the truth from which they have removed themselves. So much for the Jews.
XV. Now the Christians[6] trace their origin from the Lord Jesus Christ. And He is acknowledged by the Holy Spirit to be the son of the most high God, who came down from heaven for the salvation of men. And being born of a pure virgin, unbegotten and immaculate, He assumed flesh and revealed himself among men that He might recall them to Himself from their wandering after many gods. And having accomplished His wonderful dispensation, by a voluntary choice He tasted death on the cross, fulfilling an august dispensation. And after three days He came to life again and ascended into heaven. And if you would read, O King, you may judge the glory of His presence from the holy gospel writing, as it is called among themselves. He had twelve disciples, who after His ascension to heaven went forth into the provinces of the whole world, and declared His greatness. As for instance, one of them traversed the countries about us, proclaiming the doctrine of the truth. From this it is, that they who still observe the righteousness enjoined by their preaching are called Christians.
And these are they who more than all the nations on the earth have found the truth. For they know God, the Creator and Fashioner of all things through the only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit[7]; and beside Him they worship no other God. They have the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself graven upon their hearts; and they observe them, looking forward to the resurrection of the dead and life in the world to come. They do not commit adultery nor fornication, nor bear false witness, nor covet the things of others; they honour father and mother, and love their neighbours; they judge justly, and they never do to others what they would not wish to happen to themselves; they appeal to those who injure them, and try to win them as friends; they are eager to do good to their enemies; they are gentle and easy to be entreated; they abstain from all unlawful conversation and from all impurity; they despise not the widow, nor oppress the orphan; and he that has, gives ungrudgingly for the maintenance of him who has not.
If they see a stranger, they take him under their roof, and rejoice over him as over a very brother; for they call themselves brethren not after the flesh but after the spirit.
And they are ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of Christ; for they observe His commands without swerving, and live holy and just lives, as the Lord God enjoined upon them.
And they give thanks unto Him every hour, for all meat and drink and other blessings.
XVI. Verily then, this is the way of the truth which leads those who travel therein to the everlasting kingdom promised through Christ in the life to come. And that you may know, O King, that in saying these things I do not speak at my own instance, if you deign to look into the writings of the Christians, you will find that I state nothing beyond the truth. Rightly then, did thy son[8] apprehend, and justly was he taught to serve the living God and to be saved for the age that is destined to come upon us. For great and wonderful are the sayings and deeds of the Christians; for they speak not the words of men but those of God. But the rest of the nations go astray and deceive themselves; for they walk in darkness and bruise themselves like drunken men.
XVII. Thus far, O King, extends my discourse to you, which has been dictated in my mind by the Truth.[9] Wherefore let thy foolish sages cease their idle talk against the Lord; for it is profitable for you to worship God the Creator, and to give ear to His incorruptible words, that ye may escape from condemnation and punishment, and be found to be heirs of life everlasting.
The Apology of Aristides the Philosopher.
Translated from the Syriac.
Here follows the defence which Aristides the philosopher made before Hadrian the King on behalf of reverence for God.
…All-powerful Cæsar Titus Hadrianus Antoninus, venerable and merciful, from Marcianus Aristides, an Athenian philosopher.[1]
I. I, O King, by the grace of God came into this world; and when I had considered the heaven and the earth and the seas, and had surveyed the sun and the rest of creation, I marvelled at the beauty of the world. And I perceived that the world and all that is therein are moved by the power of another; and I understood that he who moves them is God, who is hidden in them, and veiled by them. And it is manifest that that which causes motion is more powerful than that which is moved. But that I should make search concerning this same mover of all, as to what is his nature (for it seems to me, he is indeed unsearchable in his nature), and that I should argue as to the constancy of his government, so as to grasp it fully,—this is a vain effort for me; for it is not possible that a man should fully comprehend it. I say, however, concerning this mover of the world, that he is God of all, who made all things for the sake of mankind. And it seems to me that this is reasonable, that one should fear God and should not oppress man.
I say, then, that God is not born, not made, an ever-abiding nature without beginning and without end, immortal, perfect, and incomprehensible. Now when I say that he is “perfect,” this means that there is not in him any defect, and he is not in need of anything but all things are in need of him. And when I say that he is “without beginning,” this means that everything which has beginning has also an end, and that which has an end may be brought to an end. He has no name, for everything which has a name is kindred to things created. Form he has none, nor yet any union of members; for whatsoever possesses these is kindred to things fashioned. He is neither male nor female.[2] The heavens do not limit him, but the heavens and all things, visible and invisible, receive their bounds from him. Adversary he has none, for there exists not any stronger than he. Wrath and indignation he possesses not, for there is nothing which is able to stand against him. Ignorance and forgetfulness are not in his nature, for he is altogether wisdom and understanding; and in Him stands fast all that exists. He requires not sacrifice and libation, nor even one of things visible; He requires not aught from any, but all living creatures stand in need of him.
II. Since, then, we have addressed you concerning God, so far as our discourse can bear upon him, let us now come to the race of men, that we may know which of them participate in the truth of which we have spoken, and which of them go astray from it.
This is clear to you, O King, that there are four classes of men in this world:—Barbarians and Greeks, Jews and Christians. The Barbarians, indeed, trace the origin of their kind of religion from Kronos and from Rhea and their other gods; the Greeks, however, from Helenos, who is said to be sprung from Zeus. And by Helenos there were born Aiolos and Xuthos; and there were others descended from Inachos and Phoroneus, and lastly from the Egyptian Danaos and from Kadmos and from Dionysos.
The Jews, again, trace the origin of their race from Abraham, who begat Isaac, of whom was born Jacob. And he begat twelve sons who migrated from Syria to Egypt; and there they were called the nation of the Hebrews, by him who made their laws; and at length they were named Jews.
The Christians, then, trace the beginning of their religion from Jesus the Messiah; and he is named the Son of God Most High. And it is said that God came down from heaven, and from a Hebrew virgin assumed and clothed himself with flesh; and the Son of God lived in a daughter of man. This is taught in the gospel, as it is called, which a short time ago was preached among them; and you also if you will read therein, may perceive the power which belongs to it. This Jesus, then, was born of the race of the Hebrews; and he had twelve disciples in order that the purpose of his incarnation[3] might in time be accomplished. But he himself was pierced by the Jews, and he died and was buried; and they say that after three days he rose and ascended to heaven. Thereupon these twelve disciples went forth throughout the known parts of the world, and kept showing his greatness with all modesty and uprightness. And hence also those of the present day who believe that preaching are called Christians, and they are become famous.
So then there are, as I said above, four classes of men:—Barbarians and Greeks, Jews and Christians.
Moreover the wind is obedient to God, and fire to the angels; the waters also to the demons and the earth to the sons of men.[4]
III. Let us begin, then, with the Barbarians, and go on to the rest of the nations one after another, that we may see which of them hold the truth as to God and which of them hold error.
The Barbarians, then, as they did not apprehend God, went astray among the elements, and began to worship things created instead of their Creator;[5] and for this end they made images and shut them up in shrines, and lo! they worship them, guarding them the while with much care, lest their gods be stolen by robbers. And the Barbarians did not observe that that which acts as guard is greater than that which is guarded, and that everyone who creates is greater than that which is created. If it be, then, that their gods are too feeble to see to their own safety, how will they take thought for the safety of men? Great then is the error into which the Barbarians wandered in worshipping lifeless images which can do nothing to help them. And I am led to wonder, O King, at their philosophers, how that even they went astray, and gave the name of gods to images which were made in honour of the elements; and that their sages did not perceive that the elements also are dissoluble and perishable. For if a small part of an element is dissolved or destroyed, the whole of it may be dissolved and destroyed. If then the elements themselves are dissolved and destroyed and forced to be subject to another that is more stubborn than they, and if they are not in their nature gods, why, forsooth, do they call the images which are made in their honour, God? Great, then, is the error which the philosophers among them have brought upon their followers.
IV. Let us turn now, O King, to the elements in themselves, that we may make clear in regard to them, that they are not gods, but a created thing, liable to ruin and change, which is of the same nature as man; whereas God is imperishable and unvarying, and invisible, while yet He sees, and overrules, and transforms all things.
Those then who believe concerning the earth that it is a god have hitherto deceived themselves, since it is furrowed and set with plants and trenched; and it takes in the filthy refuse of men and beasts and cattle. And at times it becomes unfruitful, for if it be burnt to ashes it becomes devoid of life, for nothing germinates from an earthen jar. And besides if water be collected upon it, it is dissolved together with its products. And it is trodden under foot of men and beast, and receives the bloodstains of the slain; and it is dug open, and filled with the dead, and becomes a tomb for corpses. But it is impossible that a nature, which is holy and worthy and blessed and immortal, should allow of anyone of these things. And hence it appears to us that the earth is not a god but a creation of God.
V. In the same way, again, those erred who believed the waters to be gods. For the waters were created for the use of man, and are put under his rule in many ways. For they suffer change and admit impurity, and are destroyed and lose their nature while they are boiled into many substances. And they take colours which do not belong to them; they are also congealed by frost and are mingled and permeated with the filth of men and beasts, and with the blood of the slain. And being checked by skilled workmen through the restraint of aqueducts, they flow and are diverted against their inclination, and come into gardens and other places in order that they may be collected and issue forth as a means of fertility for man, and that they may cleanse away every impurity and fulfil the service man requires from them. Wherefore it is impossible that the waters should be a god, but they are a work of God and a part of the world.
In like manner also they who believed that fire is a god erred to no slight extent. For it, too, was created for the service of men, and is subject to them in many ways:—in the preparation of meat, and as a means of casting metals, and for other ends whereof your Majesty is aware. At the same time it is quenched and extinguished in many ways.
Again they also erred who believed the motion of the winds to be a god. For it is well known to us that those winds are under the dominion of another, at times their motion increases, and at times it fails and ceases at the command of him who controls them. For they were created by God for the sake of men, in order to supply the necessity of trees and fruits and seeds; and to bring over the sea ships which convey for men necessaries and goods from places where they are found to places where they are not found; and to govern the quarters of the world. And as for itself, at times it increases and again abates; and in one place brings help and in another causes disaster at the bidding of him who rules it. And mankind too are able by known means to confine and keep it in check in order that it may fulfil for them the service they require from it. And of itself it has not any authority at all. And hence it is impossible that the winds should be called gods, but rather a thing made by God.
VI. So also they erred who believed that the sun is a god. For we see that it is moved by the compulsion of another, and revolves and makes its journey, and proceeds from sign to sign, rising and setting every day, so as to give warmth for the growth of plants and trees, and to bring forth into the air where with it (sunlight) is mingled every growing thing which is upon the earth. And to it there belongs by comparison a part in common with the rest of the stars in its course; and though it is one in its nature it is associated with many parts for the supply of the needs of men; and that not according to its own will but rather according to the will of him who rules it. And hence it is impossible that the sun should be a god, but the work of God; and in like manner also the moon and the stars.
VII. And those who believed of the men of the past, that some of them were gods, they too were much mistaken. For as you yourself allow, O King, man is constituted of the four elements and of a soul and a spirit (and hence he is called a microcosm),[6] and without anyone of these parts he could not consist. He has a beginning and an end, and he is born and dies. But God, as I said, has none of these things in his nature, but is uncreated and imperishable. And hence it is not possible that we should set up man to be of the nature of God:—man, to whom at times when he looks for joy, there comes trouble, and when he looks for laughter there comes to him weeping,—who is wrathful and covetous and envious, with other defects as well. And he is destroyed in many ways by the elements and also by the animals.
And hence, O King, we are bound to recognize the error of the Barbarians, that thereby, since they did not find traces of the true God, they fell aside from the truth, and went after the desire of their imagination, serving the perishable elements and lifeless images, and through their error not apprehending what the true God is.
VIII. Let us turn further to the Greeks also, that we may know what opinion they hold as to the true God. The Greeks, then, because they are more subtle than the Barbarians, have gone further astray than the Barbarians; inasmuch as they have introduced many fictitious gods, and have set up some of them as males and some as females; and in that some of their gods were found who were adulterers, and did murder, and were deluded, and envious, and wrathful and passionate, and parricides, and thieves, and robbers. And some of them, they say, were crippled and limped, and some were sorcerers, and some actually went mad, and some played on lyres, and some were given to roaming on the hills, and some even died, and some were struck dead by lightning, and some were made servants even to men, and some escaped by flight, and some were kidnapped by men, and some, indeed, were lamented and deplored by men. And some, they say, went down to Sheol, and some were grievously wounded, and some transformed themselves into the likeness of animals to seduce the race of mortal women, and some polluted themselves[7] by lying with males. And some, they say, were wedded to their mothers and their sisters and their daughters. And they say of their gods that they committed adultery with the daughters of men; and of these there was born a certain race which also was mortal. And they say that some of the females disputed about beauty, and appeared before men for judgment. Thus, O King, have the Greeks put forward foulness, and absurdity, and folly about their gods and about themselves, in that they have called those that are of such a nature gods, who are no gods. And hence mankind have received incitements to commit adultery and fornication, and to steal and to practise all that is offensive and hated and abhorred. For if they who are called their gods practised all these things which are written above, how much more should men practise them—men, who believe that their gods themselves practised them. And owing to the foulness of this error there have happened to mankind harassing wars, and great famines, and bitter captivity, and complete desolation. And lo! it was by reason of this alone that they suffered and that all these things came upon them; and while they endured those things they did not perceive in their mind that for their error those things came upon them.
IX. Let us proceed further to their account of their gods that we may carefully demonstrate all that is said above. First of all, the Greeks bring forward as a god Kronos, that is to say Chiun[8] (Saturn). And his worshippers sacrifice their children to him, and they burn some of them alive in his honour. And they say that he took to him among his wives Rhea, and begat many children by her. By her too he begat Dios, who is called Zeus. And at length he (Kronos) went mad, and through fear of an oracle that had been made known to him, he began to devour his sons. And from him Zeus was stolen away without his knowledge; and at length Zeus bound him, and mutilated the signs of his manhood, and flung them into the sea. And hence, as they say in fable, there was engendered Aphrodite, who is called Astarte. And he (Zeus) cast out Kronos fettered into darkness. Great then is the error and ignominy which the Greeks have brought forward about the first of their gods, in that they have said all this about him, O King. It is impossible that a god should be bound or mutilated; and if it be otherwise, he is indeed miserable.
And after Kronos they bring forward another god Zeus. And they say of him that he assumed the sovereignty, and was king over all the gods. And they say that he changed himself into a beast and other shapes in order to seduce mortal women, and to raise up by them children for himself. Once, they say, he changed himself into a bull through love of Europe and Pasiphae.[9] And again he changed himself into the likeness of gold through love of Danae, and to a swan through love of Leda, and to a man through love of Antiope, and to lightning through love of Luna,[10] and so by these he begat many children. For by Antiope, they say, that he begat Zethus and Amphion, and by Luna Dionysos, by Alcmena Hercules, and by Leto, Apollo and Artemis, and by Danae Perseus, and by Leda, Castor and Polydeuces, and Helene and Paludus,[11] and by Mnemosyne he begat nine daughters whom they styled the Muses, and by Europe, Minos and Rhadamanthos and Sarpedon. And lastly he changed himself into the likeness of an eagle through his passion for Ganydemos (Ganymede) the shepherd.
By reason of these tales, O King, much evil has arisen among men, who to this day are imitators of their gods, and practise adultery and defile themselves with their mothers and their sisters, and by lying with males, and some make bold to slay even their parents. For if he who is said to be the chief and king of their gods do these things how much more should his worshippers imitate him? And great is the folly which the Greeks have brought forward in their narrative concerning him. For it is impossible that a god should practise adultery or fornication or come near to lie with males, or kill his parents; and if it be otherwise, he is much worse than a destructive demon.
X. Again they bring forward as another god Hephaistos. And they say of him, that he is lame, and a cap is set on his head, and he holds in his hands firetongs and a hammer; and he follows the craft of iron working, that thereby he may procure the necessaries of his livelihood. Is then this god so very needy? But it cannot be that a god should be needy or lame, else he is very worthless.
And further they bring in another god and call him Hermes. And they say that he is a thief,[12] a lover of avarice, and greedy for gain, and a magician and mutilated and an athlete, and an interpreter of language. But it is impossible that a god should be a magician or avaricious, or maimed, or craving for what is not his, or an athlete. And if it be otherwise, he is found to be useless.
And after him they bring forward as another god Asklepios. And they say that he is a physician and prepares drugs and plaster that he may supply the necessaries of his livelihood. Is then this god in want? And at length he was struck with lightning by Dios on account of Tyndareos of Lacedæmon, and so he died. If then Asklepios were a god, and, when he was struck with lightning, was unable to help himself, how should he be able to give help to others? But that a divine nature should be in want or be destroyed by lightning is impossible.
And again they bring forward another as a god, and they call him Ares. And they say that he is a warrior, and jealous, and covets sheep and things which are not his. And he makes gain by his arms. And they say that at length he committed adultery with Aphrodite, and was caught by the little boy Eros and by Hephaistos the husband of Aphrodite. But it is impossible that a god should be a warrior or bound or an adulterer.
And again they say of Dionysos that he forsooth! is a god, who arranges carousals by night, and teaches drunkenness, and carries off women who do not belong to him. And at length, they say, he went mad and dismissed his handmaidens and fled into the desert; and during his madness he ate serpents. And at last he was killed by Titanos. If then Dionysos were a god, and when he was being killed was unable to help himself, how is it possible that he should help others?
Herakles next they bring forward and say that he is a god, who hates detestable things, a tyrant,[13] and warrior and a destroyer of plagues. And of him also they say that at length he became mad and killed his own children, and cast himself into a fire and died. If then Herakles is a god, and in all these calamities was unable to rescue himself, how should others ask help from him? But it is impossible that a god should be mad, or drunken or a slayer of his children, or consumed by fire.
XI. And after him they bring forward another god and call him Apollon. And they say that he is jealous and inconstant, and at times he holds the bow and quiver, and again the lyre and plectron. And he utters oracles for men that he may receive rewards from them. Is then this god in need of rewards? But it is an insult that all these things should be found with a god.
And after him they bring forward as a goddess Artemis, the sister of Apollo; and they say that she was a huntress and that she herself used to carry a bow and bolts, and to roam about upon the mountains, leading the hounds to hunt stags or wild boars of the field. But it is disgraceful that a virgin maid should roam alone upon the hills or hunt in the chase for animals. Wherefore it is impossible that Artemis should be a goddess.
Again they say of Aphrodite that she indeed is a goddess. And at times she dwells with their gods, but at other times she is a neighbour to men. And once she had Ares as a lover, and again Adonis who is Tammuz. Once also, Aphrodite was wailing and weeping for the death of Tammuz, and they say that she went down to Sheol that she might redeem Adonis from Persephone, who is the daughter of Sheol (Hades). If then Aphrodite is a goddess and was unable to help her lover at his death, how will she find it possible to help others? And this cannot be listened to, that a divine nature should come to weeping and wailing and adultery.
And again they say of Tammuz that he is a god. And he is, forsooth! a hunter and an adulterer. And they say that he was killed by a wound from a wild boar, without being able to help himself. And if he could not help himself, how can he take thought for the human race? But that a god should be an adulterer or a hunter or should die by violence is impossible.
Again they say of Rhea that she is the mother of their gods. And they say that she had once a lover Atys, and that she used to delight in depraved men. And at last she raised a lamentation and mourned for Atys her lover. If then the mother of their gods was unable to help her lover and deliver him from death, how can she help others? So it is disgraceful that a goddess should lament and weep and take delight in depraved men.
Again they introduce Kore and say that she is a goddess, and she was stolen away by Pluto, and could not help herself. If then she is a goddess and was unable to help herself how will she find means to help others? For a god who is stolen away is very powerless.
All this, then, O King, have the Greeks brought forward concerning their gods, and they have invented and declared it concerning them. And hence all men received an impulse to work all profanity and all defilements; and hereby the whole earth was corrupted.
XII. The Egyptians, moreover, because they are more base and stupid than every people that is on the earth, have themselves erred more than all. For the deities (or religion) of the Barbarians and the Greeks did not suffice for them, but they introduced some also of the nature of the animals, and said thereof that they were gods, and likewise of creeping things which are found on the dry land and in the waters. And of plants and herbs they said that some of them were gods. And they were corrupted by every kind of delusion and defilement more than every people that is on the earth. For from ancient times they worshipped Isis, and they say that she is a goddess whose husband was Osiris her brother. And when Osiris was killed by Typhon his brother, Isis fled with Horos her son to Byblus in Syria, and was there for a certain time till her son was grown. And he contended with Typhon his uncle, and killed him. And then Isis returned and went about with Horos her son and sought for the dead body of Osiris her lord, bitterly lamenting his death. If then Isis be a goddess, and could not help Osiris her brother and lord, how can she help another? But it is impossible that a divine nature should be afraid, and flee for safety, or should weep and wail; or else it is very miserable.
And of Osiris also they say that he is a serviceable god. And he was killed by Typhon and was unable to help himself. But it is well known that this cannot be asserted of divinity. And further, they say of his brother Typhon that he is a god, who killed his brother and was killed by his brother’s son and by his bride, being unable to help himself. And how, pray, is he a god who does not save himself ?
As the Egyptians, then, were more stupid than the rest of the nations, these and such like gods did not suffice for them. Nay, but they even apply the name of gods to animals in which there is no soul at all. For some of them worship the sheep and others the calf; and some the pig and others the shad fish; and some the crocodile and the hawk and the fish and the ibis and the vulture and the eagle and the raven. Some of them worship the cat, and others the turbotfish, some the dog, some the adder, and some the asp, and others the lion; and others the garlic and onions and thorns, and others the tiger and other such things. And the poor creatures do not see that all these things are nothing, although they daily witness their gods being eaten and consumed by men and also by their fellows; while some of them are cremated, and some die and decay and become dust, without their observing that they perish in many ways. So the Egyptians have not observed that such things which are not equal to their own deliverance, are not gods. And if, forsooth, they are weak in the case of their own deliverance, whence have they power to help in the case of deliverance of their worshippers? Great then is the error into which the Egyptians wandered;—greater, indeed, than that of any people which is upon the face of the earth.
XIII. But it is a marvel, O King, with regard to the Greeks, who surpass all other peoples in their manner of life and reasoning, how they have gone astray after dead idols and lifeless images. And yet they see their gods in the hands of their artificers being sawn out, and planed and docked, and hacked short, and charred, and ornamented, and being altered by them in every kind of way. And when they grow old, and are worn away through lapse of time, and when they are molten and crushed to powder, how, I wonder, did they not perceive concerning them, that they are not gods? And as for those who did not find deliverance for themselves, how can they serve the distress of men?
But even the writers and philosophers among them have wrongly alleged that the gods are such as are made in honour of God Almighty. And they err in seeking to liken (them) to God whom man has not at any time seen nor can see unto what He is like. Herein, too (they err) in asserting of deity that any such thing as deficiency can be present to it; as when they say that He receives sacrifice and requires burnt-offering and libation and immolations of men, and temples. But God is not in need, and none of these things is necessary to Him; and it is clear that men err in these things they imagine.
Further their writers and their philosophers represent and declare that the nature of all their gods is one. And they have not apprehended God our Lord who while He is one, is in all. They err therefore. For if the body of a man while it is many in its parts is not in dread, one member of another, but, since it is a united body, wholly agrees with itself; even so also God is one in His nature. A single essence is proper to Him, since He is uniform in His nature and His essence; and He is not afraid of Himself. If then the nature of the gods is one, it is not proper that a god should either pursue or slay or harm a god. If, then, gods be pursued and wounded by gods, and some be kidnapped and some struck dead by lightning, it is obvious that the nature of their gods is not one. And hence it is known, O King, that it is a mistake when they reckon and bring the natures of their gods under a single nature. If then it becomes us to admire a god which is seen and does not see, how much more praiseworthy is it that one should believe in a nature which is invisible and all-seeing? And if further it is fitting that one should approve the handiworks of a craftsman, how much more is it fitting that one should glorify the Creator of the craftsman?
For behold! when the Greeks made laws they did not perceive that by their laws they condemn their gods. For if their laws are righteous, their gods are unrighteous, since they transgressed the law in killing one another, and practising sorcery, and committing adultery, and in robbing and stealing, and in lying with males, and by their other practises as well. For if their gods were right in doing all these things as they are described, then the laws of the Greeks are unrighteous in not being made according to the will of their gods. And in that case the whole world is gone astray.
For the narratives about their gods are some of them myths, and some of them nature-poems (lit: natural:—φυσικαί), and some of them hymns and elegies. The hymns indeed and elegies are empty words and noise. But these nature-poems, even if they be made as they say, still those are not gods who do such things and suffer and endure such things. And those myths are shallow tales with no depth whatever in them.
XIV. Let us come now, O King, to the history of the Jews also, and see what opinion they have as to God. The Jews then say that God is one, the Creator of all, and omnipotent; and that it is not right that any other should be worshipped except this God alone. And herein they appear to approach the truth more than all the nations, especially in that they worship God and not His works. And they imitate God by the philanthropy which prevails among them; for they have compassion on the poor, and they release the captives, and bury the dead, and do such things as these, which are acceptable before God and well-pleasing also to men,—which (customs) they have received from their forefathers.
Nevertheless they too erred from true knowledge. And in their imagination they conceive that it is God they serve; whereas by their mode of observance it is to the angels and not to God that their service is rendered:—as when they celebrate sabbaths and the beginning of the months, and feasts of unleavened bread, and a great fast; and fasting and circumcision and the purification of meats, which things, however, they do not observe perfectly.
XV. But the Christians, O King, while they went about and made search,[14] have found the truth; and as we learned from their writings, they have come nearer to truth and genuine knowledge than the rest of the nations. For they know and trust in God, the Creator of heaven and of earth, in whom and from whom are all things, to whom there is no other god as companion, from whom they received commandments which they engraved upon their minds and observe in hope and expectation of the world which is to come. Wherefore they do not commit adultery nor fornication, nor bear false witness, nor embezzle what is held in pledge, nor covet what is not theirs. They honour father and mother, and show kindness to those near to them; and whenever they are judges, they judge uprightly. They do not worship idols (made) in the image of man; and whatsoever they would not that others should do unto them, they do not to others; and of the food which is consecrated to idols they do not eat, for they are pure. And their oppressors they appease (lit: comfort) and make them their friends; they do good to their enemies; and their women, O King, are pure as virgins, and their daughters are modest; and their men keep themselves from every unlawful union and from all uncleanness, in the hope of a recompense to come in the other world. Further, if one or other of them have bondmen and bondwomen or children, through love towards them they persuade them to become Christians, and when they have done so, they call them brethren without distinction. They do not worship strange gods, and they go their way in all modesty and cheerfulness. Falsehood is not found among them; and they love one another, and from widows they do not turn away their esteem; and they deliver the orphan from him who treats him harshly. And he, who has, gives to him who has not, without boasting. And when they see a stranger, they take him in to their homes and rejoice over him as a very brother; for they do not call them brethren after the flesh, but brethren after the spirit and in God. And whenever one of their poor passes from the world, each one of them according to his ability gives heed to him and carefully sees to his burial. And if they hear that one of their number is imprisoned or afflicted on account of the name of their Messiah, all of them anxiously minister to his necessity, and if it is possible to redeem him they set him free. And if there is among them any that is poor and needy, and if they have no spare food, they fast two or three days in order to supply to the needy their lack of food. They observe the precepts of their Messiah with much care, living justly and soberly as the Lord their God commanded them. Every morning[15] and every hour they give thanks and praise to God for His loving-kindnesses toward them; and for their food and their drink they offer thanksgiving to Him. And if any righteous man among them passes from the world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God; and they escort his body as if he were setting out from one place to another near. And when a child has been born to one of them, they give thanks to God; and if moreover it happen to die in childhood, they give thanks to God the more, as for one who has passed through the world without sins. And further if they see that anyone of them dies in his ungodliness or in his sins, for him they grieve bitterly, and sorrow as for one who goes to meet his doom.
XVI. Such, O King, is the commandment of the law of the Christians, and such is their manner of life. As men who know God, they ask from Him petitions which are fitting for Him to grant and for them to receive. And thus they employ their whole lifetime. And since they know the loving-kindnesses of God toward them, behold! for their sake the glorious things which are in the world flow forth to view. And verily, they are those who found the truth when they went about and made search for it; and from what we considered, we learned that they alone come near to a knowledge of the truth. And they do not proclaim in the ears of the multitude the kind deeds they do, but are careful that no one should notice them; and they conceal their giving just as he who finds a treasure and conceals it. And they strive to be righteous as those who expect to behold their Messiah, and to receive from Him with great glory the promises made concerning them. And as for their words and their precepts, O King, and their glorying in their worship, and the hope of earning according to the work of each one of them their recompense which they look for in another world, you may learn about these from their writings. It is enough for us to have shortly informed your Majesty concerning the conduct and the truth of the Christians. For great indeed, and wonderful is their doctrine to him who will search into it and reflect upon it. And verily, this is a new people, and there is something divine (lit: a divine admixture) in the midst of them.
Take, then, their writings, and read therein, and lo! you will find that I have not put forth these things on my own authority, nor spoken thus as their advocate; but since I read in their writings I was fully assured of these things as also of things which are to come. And for this reason I was constrained to declare the truth to such as care for it and seek the world to come. And to me there is no doubt but that the earth abides through the supplication of the Christians. But the rest of the nations err and cause error in wallowing before the elements of the world, since beyond these their mental vision will not pass. And they search about as if in darkness because they will not recognize the truth; and like drunken men they reel and jostle one another and fall.
XVII. Thus far, O King, I have spoken; for concerning that which remains, as is said above,[16] there are found in their other writings things which are hard to utter and difficult for one to narrate,—which are not only spoken in words but also wrought out in deeds.
Now the Greeks, O King, as they follow base practises in intercourse with males, and a mother and a sister and a daughter, impute their monstrous impurity in turn to the Christians. But the Christians are just and good, and the truth is set before their eyes, and their spirit is long-suffering; and, therefore, though they know the error of these (the Greeks), and are persecuted by them, they bear and endure it; and for the most part they have compassion on them, as men who are destitute of knowledge. And on their side, they offer prayer that these may repent of their error; and when it happens that one of them has repented, he is ashamed before the Christians of the works which were done by him; and he makes confession to God, saying, I did these things in ignorance. And he purifies his heart, and his sins are forgiven him, because he committed them in ignorance in the former time, when he used to blaspheme and speak evil of the true knowledge of the Christians. And assuredly the race of the Christians is more blessed than all the men who are upon the face of the earth.
Henceforth let the tongues of those who utter vanity and harass the Christians be silent; and hereafter let them speak the truth. For it is of serious consequence to them that they should worship the true God rather than worship a senseless sound. And verily whatever is spoken in the mouth of the Christians is of God; and their doctrine is the gateway of light. Wherefore let all who are without the knowledge of God draw near thereto; and they will receive incorruptible words, which are from all time and from eternity. So shall they appear before the awful judgment which through Jesus the Messiah is destined to come upon the whole human race.
The Apology of Aristides the Philosopher is finished.
Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume IX/The Passion of the Scillitan Martyrs/The Passion of the Scillitan Martyrs
The Passion of the Scillitan Martyrs.
When Præsens, for the second time, and Claudianus were the consuls, on the seventeenth day of July, at Carthage, there were set in the judgment-hall Speratus, Nartzalus, Cittinus, Donata, Secunda and Vestia.
Saturninus the proconsul said: Ye can win the indulgence of our lord the Emperor, if ye return to a sound mind.
Speratus said: We have never done ill, we have not lent ourselves to wrong, we have never spoken ill, but when ill-treated we have given thanks; because we pay heed to our Emperor.
Saturninus the proconsul said: We too are religious, and our religion is simple, and we swear by the genius of our lord the Emperor, and pray for his welfare, as ye also ought to do.
Speratus said: If thou wilt peaceably lend me thine ears, I can tell thee the mystery of simplicity.
Saturninus said: I will not lend mine ears to thee, when thou beginnest to speak evil things of our sacred rites; but rather swear thou by the genius of our lord the Emperor.
Speratus said: The empire of this world I know not; but rather I serve that God, whom no man hath seen, nor with these eyes can see.[1] I have committed no theft; but if I have bought anything I pay the tax; because I know my Lord, the King of kings and Emperor of all nations.
Saturninus the proconsul said to the rest: Cease to be of this persuasion.
Speratus said: It is an ill persuasion to do murder, to speak false witness.
Saturninus the proconsul said: Be not partakers of this folly.
Cittinus said: We have none other to fear, save only our Lord God, who is in heaven.
Donata said: Honour to Cæsar as Cæsar: but fear to God.[2]
Vestia said: I am a Christian.
Secunda said: What I am, that I wish to be.
Saturninus the proconsul said to Speratus: Dost thou persist in being a Christian?
Speratus said: I am a Christian. And with him they all agreed.
Saturninus the proconsul said: Will ye have a space to consider?
Speratus said: In a matter so straightforward there is no considering.
Saturninus the proconsul said: What are the things in your chest?
Speratus said: Books and epistles of Paul, a just man.
Saturninus the proconsul said: Have a delay of thirty days and bethink yourselves.
Speratus said a second time: I am a Christian. And with him they all agreed.
Saturninus the proconsul read out the decree from the tablet: Speratus, Nartzalus, Cittinus, Donata, Vestia, Secunda and the rest having confessed that they live according to the Christian rite, since after opportunity offered them of returning to the custom of the Romans they have obstinately persisted, it is determined that they be put to the sword.
Speratus said: We give thanks to God.
Nartzalus said: To-day we are martyrs in heaven; thanks be to God.
Saturninus the proconsul ordered it to be declared by the herald: Speratus, Nartzalus, Cittinus, Veturius, Felix, Aquilinus, Lætantius, Januaria, Generosa, Vestia, Donata and Secunda, I have ordered to be executed.
They all said: Thanks be to God.
And so they all together were crowned with martyrdom; and they reign with the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever. Amen.
Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume IX/Origen on John
Commentaries of Origen.
For a general account of Origen and of his works we may refer to Dr. Crombie’s Life of Origen, in vol. iv. of this series (xxiii. in Clark’s issue). The principal facts of his career are as follows: He was born of Christian parents at Alexandria about the year 185 a.d., and from his earliest youth devoted himself to the study of Scripture in such a way as to suggest that he was destined for a great career. His father suffered martyrdom in the year 202, and Origen very soon afterwards succeeded the great Clement as head of the school at Alexandria. Thirteen years after, the persecution of Caracalla drove him from his own country to Cæsarea, where though still a layman he preached at church meetings. Recalled to Alexandria, he laboured there for fifteen years further as teacher and author, till in the year 231 his ordination at Cæsarea to the office of presbyter drew upon him the condemnation of the bishop of Alexandria and became the occasion of his permanent withdrawal from the place of his birth. At Cæsarea he now formed a new school of Christian training similar to that from which he had been driven. At this time, as well as in the earlier period of his life, he made various journeys to different parts of the world. His death was brought about by sufferings inflicted on him in the persecution of Decius, and took place at Tyre, probably in the year 254.
Part of the Commentary on John, the first great work of Christian interpretation, and part of that on Matthew, written by the father at a later period of his life, are here presented to the reader; and a few words of introduction may be added on Origen’s work as an expositor and on these two works in particular.
Though Origen was the first great interpreter of Scripture in the Church, commentaries had been written before his. He speaks of those who had preceded him in this activity; and though but little survives of the labours of these earlier expositors, we know that the work of commenting on Scripture was zealously carried on in the Gnostic churches in the latter part of the second century, and several of the older exegetes in the Church are also known to us by name and reputation. Heracleon the Gnostic commentator on John, who is often cited and often rather unfairly dealt with by Origen, as he follows him over the same ground, belonged to the Valentinian school. Many of his comments the reader will find to be very just and shrewd; but the tenets of his school led him into many extravagances. Of Pantænus, head of the catechetical school at Alexandria in the end of the second and early years of the third century, we hear that he interpreted many of the books of Scripture. We also learn that he preceded Clement and Origen, his successors in office, in the application of Gentile learning to Christian studies; the broad and liberal tone of Alexandrian theology may be due in part to his influence. Much of his exegetical work was still extant in the days of Jerome, who, however, reports that he did more for the Church as a teacher than as a writer. Only fragments of his Commentaries now remain. In Clement’s works, on the contrary, we find, if not any set commentaries, various extended discussions of particular texts. We also find in him a theory of Scripture, its inspiration and its nature, which is followed also by Origen, and which determines the whole character of Alexandrian exegesis. In accordance with the general tendency of that age, which witnessed a reaction from the independence of philosophy and an appeal in many quarters to the authority of ancient oracles and writings, the Alexandrian school treats Scripture as an inspired and infallible storehouse of truth,—of truth, however, not patent to the simple reader, but requiring the spiritual man to discern its mystic import. Clement discusses the question why divine things are wrapped up in mysteries, and holds that all who have spoken of such things have dealt with them in this way. Everything in Scripture, therefore, has a mystical in addition to its obvious meaning. Every minute particular about the tabernacle and its furniture is charged with an unseen truth. The effect of such a view of Scripture on exegesis is necessarily that the interpreter finds in the inspired words not what they plainly convey, but what most interests his own mind. In assigning to each verse its spiritual meaning, he is neither guided nor restrained by any rule or system, but enjoys complete liberty. The natural good sense of these great scholars curbed to some extent the licence of their theory; but with such a view of Scripture they could not but run into many an extravagance; and the allegorical method of interpretation, which so long prevailed in Christendom and is still practised in some quarters, dates from Alexandria. The roots of it lie further back, in Jewish rabbinical treatment of the Old Testament, and in the Greek philosophy of Alexandria. In Philo, the great contemporary of Christ at Alexandria, rabbinical and Greek learning met, and Scripture being a divine authority and having to furnish evidence of Greek philosophical doctrines, the allegorical method of interpretation was called to perform large services. To Philo’s eyes all wisdom was contained in the Pentateuch, and many an idea of which Moses never dreamed had to be extracted from that ancient record. The method was older than Clement and Origen, but it was through them that it became so firmly established in the Church.
In Origen we first find a great teacher who deliberately sets himself to the task of explaining Scripture. He became, at the early age of eighteen, the head of the catechetical school at Alexandria, an institution which not only trained catechumens but provided open lectures, on every part of Christian learning, and from that time to his death, at the age of sixty-nine, he was constantly engaged in the work of public exposition. At Alexandria his expositions took place in the school, but at Cæsarea they formed part of the church services, so that the reports of those belonging to the Cæsarean period provide us with the earliest examples we possess of the discourse at Christian meetings. In an activity which he practised so much Origen acquired extraordinary skill and facility, and gained the highest reputation, even beyond the limits of the Church. It is no wonder, therefore, if he succeeded in treating nearly the whole Bible in this way, a thing which might no doubt be said of many a Christian teacher since his day; for he was not one who was apt to repeat himself, but was constantly pressing on to break new ground.
But the reported homilies form only a part—and that not the most important part—of his exegetical works. What he gave in his homilies was necessarily designed for edification; it had to be plain enough to be understood by a mixed audience, and serviceable to their needs. Origen believed, however, that there was very much in Scripture that lay beyond the capacity of the ordinary mind, and that the highest way of treating Scripture was not that of practical application, but that of searching after its hidden sense. In the fourth book of his De Principiis (vol. x. of Clark’s set) he sets forth his views about the Scriptures. “As man,” he there says, “consists of body, soul, and spirit, so in the same way does Scripture, which has been arranged to be given by God for the salvation of man.” Scripture, therefore, has three senses, the bodily (somatic) or the obvious matter-of-fact sense, the psychical or moral sense, which serves for edification of the pious, and, highest of all, the spiritual sense. For this latter sense of Scripture Origen has many names,—as many as forty have been counted,—he calls it the heavenly sense, the intellectual, the anagogical, the mystic, the hidden. This is what chiefly engages his interest in the work of expounding. Scripture is to him full of mysteries, every jot and tittle has its secret, and to read these heavenly mysteries is the highest object of the interpreter. In addition, therefore, to his oral expositions (ὁμιλίαι) and the short notes (σημειώσεις) which are generally reckoned as a third class of his exegetical works, we have the written commentaries, books, or τόμοι of Origen, in which he discusses Scripture without being hampered by the requirements of edification, according to the method which alone he recognizes as adequate. He was enabled to devote himself to this labour by the generosity of a rich friend, Ambrosius, who urged him to undertake it, and provided funds for the payment of shorthand writers and copyists. We are told that seven of the former were at one time placed at his disposal. The work which he was thus led to undertake Origen felt to be very responsible and burdensome; it was not to be approached without fervent prayer, and he sometimes complains that it is too much for him, and that it is only the urgent commands of Ambrosius that make him go on with it. (See the opening chapters of the various books on John.)
What has been said will to some extent explain the nature of these commentaries, parts of which are now for the first time presented to the English reader. There is a side of them, however, of which we have not yet spoken. Origen was a great scholar as well as a great theologian; and he thought it right, as the reader may see from the letter to Gregory also here given, that scholarship should contribute all it could to the study of Scripture. Of his multifarious knowledge and of his easy command of all the science and philosophy of his day, the reader may judge for himself even from what is now presented to him. His work on the words of Scripture has a value quite independently of his theological views. Some of the most important qualifications of the worthy interpreter of Scripture he possesses in a supreme degree. His knowledge of Scripture is extraordinary both for its range and its minute accuracy. He had no concordance to help him; but he was himself a concordance. Whatever word occurs he is able to bring from every part of Scripture the passages in which it is used. He quotes passages, it is true, which are only verbally connected with the text before him and have no affinity of idea; the wealth of illustration he has at his command does not always assist, but sometimes, as the reader will see, impedes his progress: yet the wonder is not diminished of such a knowledge of all parts of the Bible as is probably without parallel. It has to be added that he is strong in grammar, and has a true eye for the real meaning of his text; the discussions in which he does this often leave nothing to be desired. In defining his terms he often goes far astray; he has to define them according to the science of his day; but he is not guilty of loose construction of sentences. Another matter in which he is distinguished is that of textual criticism. He is the first great textual critic of the Church. That his name occurs more frequently than that of any other father in the digests of early readings of the text of the New Testament, is due no doubt to the fact that he is the earliest writer of commentaries which have been preserved; his commentaries contain complete texts of the portions of Scripture commented on, as well as copious quotations from other parts of Scripture. But he was keenly interested in the text of the New Testament for its own sake. He tells us that many variations already existed in his day in different copies. And he preserves many readings which afterwards disappeared from the Bible. It has also to be said that he often quotes the same text differently in different passages, so that it appears probable that he used several copies of the N.T. books, and that these copies differed from each other. If, therefore, as Tischendorf suggests, Origen made a collation of the various texts of the N.T. with which he was acquainted, as he did with his texts of the O.T. in his Hexapla, he had no strong views as to which text was to be followed. He sometimes expresses an opinion as to which is the true reading (pp. 368 sq.), but he does so on grounds which the textual critics of the present day could not approve.
It may be stated here that the translators of Origen in this volume have sought to represent their author’s critical position with regard to Scripture by translating his Scripture quotations from his text. As he used the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, many of his quotations from that part of Scripture appear in a form unfamiliar to the English reader. In the New Testament, also, his text is also very different from that which afterwards prevailed in the Church.
The weakness of Origen as an interpreter is his want of historical feeling or of any conception of such a thing as growth or development in revelation. His mind slips incessantly away from the real scenes and events recorded in Scripture, to the ideal region where he conceives that the truths reside which these prefigure. Scripture is to him not a record of actual occurrences which took place as they are narrated, but a storehouse of types of heavenly things, which alone are real. He scoffs at the notion that historical facts should be regarded as the chief outcome of a Scripture narrative (John, book x. 15–17, pp. 389–394). When he does treat the facts as facts he has many a shrewd observation and many a beautiful application. But the facts are to a large extent in his way; they have to give place to something more important. He sees very well how the synoptic narratives clash with that of John; no better demonstration of this need be looked for than he gives in the tenth book of his John; from this, however, he infers not that the books must have had different sources of information, but that the literal meaning of the passages must be altogether disregarded, and their true purport looked for, not in the things of history, but in the things of the Spirit. The water-pots at the feast in Cana (De Principiis), the shoe latchet of the Saviour (John, book vi. 17), the ass and foal (John, book x. 18), each must receive a transcendent application.
It follows from this that the commentaries are deficient in order and sequence. The method which calls the writer to look at every step for spiritual meanings, combined with his own extraordinary fertility of imagination and wealth of matter, makes these books very disconnected. At each point a number of questions suggests itself as to possible meanings; a host of texts is brought at once from every part of Scripture to afford illustration, and these again have to be considered. Very modestly are the questions and themes introduced. The tone is as far as possible from being ex cathedra; it is rather that of a student groping his way, and asking at each step for assistance. And the great mass of the questions thus raised is left, apparently, unanswered. So that the work as a whole is rather a great collection of materials for future consideration than a finished treatise.
Such being the characteristics of Origen’s commentaries, they have by many been regarded as unsuitable for the general reader, and unfavourably compared with those of later writers, to whom the interpretation of Scripture was not weighted with such difficulties as Origen had to contend with. Our author does not carry us along in his commentaries with a stream of golden eloquence; his interests are intellectual more than literary or practical, his work is scientific rather than popular. Perhaps the historical student has more to gain from them than the preacher. But among the pages which witness chiefly to restless intellectual energy and unwearied diligence, there are also many passages of rare and touching beauty, when the writer realizes the greatness of the Christian salvation, or when the heavenly things to the search for which all his labour is devoted shine by their own brightness on his sight.
The Commentaries on John are the earliest work of Christian exegesis which has come down to us, and are therefore placed in this volume before those on Matthew. The first five books on John were written at Alexandria before Origen’s compulsory withdrawal from that city to Cæsarea in 231. In chaps. 4 and 8 of the first book he speaks of this work as being the first fruits of his activity as a writer on Holy Scripture. The sixth book, as he tells us in vi. 1, had been begun at Alexandria, but the manuscript had been left behind, so that a new beginning had to be made at Cæsarea. The work was again interrupted by the persecution of Maximian in 238; the volumes from the twenty-second to the last were written after that date. At the end of the thirty-second volume, which is the last we now possess, the writer has only reached John xiii. 33, but he tells us in his Commentary on Matthew that he has spoken of the two thieves in his work on John. In the time of Eusebius only twenty-two books survived out of the whole number, which seems to have been thirty-nine. We now possess books i., ii., vi., x., xiii., xix., xx., xxviii., xxxii., some of which, however, are not complete, and a few fragments. The thirteenth book begins in the middle of the story of the Samaritan woman. Ambrosius had wished that story to be completed in the twelfth book, but Origen did not like to make his books too long, and on this point disregarded the authority of his mentor. The nineteenth and twentieth books are both occupied with the eighth chapter of John, which, if it was all treated on the same scale, must have occupied two more books in addition to these. The thirty-second book scarcely completes the thirteenth chapter of the Gospel; and if the remaining chapters only occupied seven books, the treatment of these must have been much more condensed.
Two Latin translations of Origen’s John were made in the sixteenth century, one by Ambrosius Ferrarius of Milan from the Venice Codex, the other by Joachim Perionius.
The Commentaries on John and on Matthew are both embraced in several manuscripts. Of those on John, Mr. A. E. Brooke (Texts and Studies, vol. i. No. 4; The Fragments of Heracleon, pp. 1–30; “the mss. of Origen’s Commentaries on S. John”) enumerates eight or nine. The Munich ms. of the thirteenth century is the source of all the rest. Huet, the first editor (1668), used the Codex Regius (Paris) of the sixteenth century, which is in many passages mutilated and disfigured. The brothers Delarue (1733–1759) used the mss. Barberinus and Bodleianus, which are more complete, and Lommatzsch (1831) follows his predecessors. The present translations are from the text of Lommatzsch, which is in many places very defective.[1]
Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume IX/Origen on John/Letter of Origen to Gregory
Letter of Origen to Gregory.
When and to whom the Learning derived from Philosophy may be of Service for the Exposition of the Holy Scriptures; with a lively Personal Appeal.
This letter to Gregory, afterwards bishop of Cæsarea, and called Thaumaturgus, was preserved in the Philocalia, or collection of extracts from Origen’s works drawn up by Gregory of Nyssa and Basil of Cæsarea. It is printed by Delarue and Lommatzsch in the forefront of their editions of the works. It forms a good preface to the commentaries, as it shows how Origen considered the study of Scripture to be the highest of all studies, and how he regarded scientific learning, in which he was himself a master, as merely preparatory for this supreme learning. Dräseke[1] has shown that it was written about 235, when Origen, after having had Gregory as his pupil at Cæsarea for some years, had fled before the persecution under Maximinus Thrax to Cappadocia; while Gregory, to judge from the tenor of this Epistle, had gone to Egypt. The Panegyric on Origen,[2] pronounced by Gregory at Cæsarea about 239, when the school had reassembled there after the persecution, shows that the master’s solicitude for his pupil’s true advancement was not disappointed.
1. Gregory is Urged to Apply His Gentile Learning to the Study of Scripture.
All hail to thee in God, most excellent and reverend Sir, son Gregory, from Origen. A natural quickness of understanding is fitted, as you are well aware, if it be diligently exercised, to produce a work which may bring its owner so far as is possible, if I may so express myself, to the consummation of the art the which he desires to practise, and your natural aptitude is sufficient to make you a consummate Roman lawyer and a Greek philosopher too of the most famous schools. But my desire for you has been that you should direct the whole force of your intelligence to Christianity as your end, and that in the way of production. And I would wish that you should take with you on the one hand those parts of the philosophy of the Greeks which are fit, as it were, to serve as general or preparatory studies for Christianity, and on the other hand so much of Geometry and Astronomy as may be helpful for the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. The children of the philosophers speak of geometry and music and grammar and rhetoric and astronomy as being ancillary to philosophy; and in the same way we might speak of philosophy itself as being ancillary to Christianity.
2. This Procedure is Typified by the Story of the Spoiling of the Egyptians.
It is something of this sort perhaps that is enigmatically indicated in the directions God is represented in the Book of Exodus[3] as giving to the children of Israel. They are directed to beg from their neighbours and from those dwelling in their tents vessels of silver and of gold, and raiment; thus they are to spoil the Egyptians, and to obtain materials for making the things they are told to provide in connection with the worship of God. For out of the things of which the children of Israel spoiled the Egyptians the furniture of the Holy of Holies was made, the ark with its cover, and the cherubim and the mercy-seat and the gold jar in which the manna, that bread of angels, was stored. These probably were made from the finest of the gold of the Egyptians, and from a second quality, perhaps, the solid golden candlestick which stood near the inner veil, and the lamps on it, and the golden table on which stood the shewbread, and between these two the golden altar of incense. And if there was gold of a third and of a fourth quality, the sacred vessels were made of it. And of the Egyptian silver, too, other things were made; for it was from their sojourn in Egypt that the children of Israel derived the great advantage of being supplied with such a quantity of precious materials for the use of the service of God. Out of the Egyptian raiment probably were made all those requisites named in Scripture in embroidered work; the embroiderers working[4] with the wisdom of God,[5] such garments for such purposes, to produce the hangings and the inner and outer courts. This is not a suitable opportunity to enlarge on such a theme or to show in how many ways the children of Israel found those things useful which they got from the Egyptians. The Egyptians had not made a proper use of them; but the Hebrews used them, for the wisdom of God was with them, for religious purposes. Holy Scripture knows, however, that it was an evil thing to descend from the land of the children of Israel into Egypt; and in this a great truth is wrapped up. For some it is of evil that they should dwell with the Egyptians, that is to say, with the learning of the world, after they have been enrolled in the law of God and in the Israelite worship of Him. Ader the Edomite,[6] as long as he was in the land of Israel and did not taste the bread of the Egyptians, made no idols; but when he fled from the wise Solomon and went down into Egypt, as one who had fled from the wisdom of God he became connected with Pharaoh, marrying the sister of his wife, and begetting a son who was brought up among the sons of Pharaoh. Therefore, though he did go back to the land of Israel, he came back to it to bring division into the people of God, and to cause them to say to the golden calf, “These are thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” I have learned by experience and can tell you that there are few who have taken of the useful things of Egypt and come out of it, and have then prepared what is required for the service of God; but Ader the Edomite on the other hand has many a brother. I mean those who, founding on some piece of Greek learning, have brought forth heretical ideas, and have as it were made golden calves in Bethel, which is, being interpreted, the house of God. This appears to me to be intended to convey that such persons set up their own images in the Scriptures in which the Word of God dwells, and which therefore are tropically called Bethel. The other image is said in the word to have been set up in Dan. Now the borders of Dan are at the extremities and are contiguous to the country of the heathens, as is plainly recorded in the Book of Jesus, son of Nave. Some of these images, then, are close to the borders of the heathen, which the brothers, as we showed, of Ader have devised.
3. Personal Appeal.
Do you then, sir, my son, study first of all the divine Scriptures. Study them I say. For we require to study the divine writings deeply, lest we should speak of them faster than we think; and while you study these divine works with a believing and God-pleasing intention, knock at that which is closed in them, and it shall be opened to thee by the porter, of whom Jesus says,[7] “To him the porter openeth.” While you attend to this divine reading seek aright and with unwavering faith in God the hidden sense which is present in most passages of the divine Scriptures. And do not be content with knocking and seeking, for what is most necessary for understanding divine things is prayer, and in urging us to this the Saviour says not only,[8] “Knock, and it shall be opened to you,” and “Seek, and ye shall find,” but also “Ask, and it shall be given you.” So much I have ventured on account of my fatherly love to you. Whether I have ventured well or not, God knows, and His Christ, and he who has part of the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. May you partake in these; may you have an always increasing share of them, so that you may be able to say not only, “We are partakers of Christ,”[9] but also “We are partakers of God.”
Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume IX/Origen on Matthew/Origen's Commentary on Matthew
From Book I
From Book II→
From the First Book of the Commentary on Matthew.[1]
Concerning the four Gospels which alone are uncontroverted in the Church of God under heaven, I have learned by tradition that the Gospel according to Matthew, who was at one time a publican and afterwards an Apostle of Jesus Christ, was written first; and that he composed it in the Hebrew tongue and published it for the converts from Judaism. The second written was that according to Mark, who wrote it according to the instruction of Peter, who, in his General Epistle, acknowledged him as a son, saying, “The church that is in Babylon, elect together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Mark my son.”[2] And third, was that according to Luke, the Gospel commended by[3] Paul, which he composed for the converts from the Gentiles. Last of all, that according to John.
From the Second Book of the Commentary on the Gospel According to Matthew.
Book II. [1]
The Unity and Harmony of Scripture.
“Blessed are the peacemakers.…”[2] To the man who is a peacemaker in either sense there is in the Divine oracles nothing crooked or perverse, for they are all plain to those who understand.[3] And because to such an one there is nothing crooked or perverse, he sees therefore abundance of peace[4] in all the Scriptures, even in those which seem to be at conflict, and in contradiction with one another. And likewise he becomes a third peacemaker as he demonstrates that that which appears to others to be a conflict in the Scriptures is no conflict, and exhibits their concord and peace, whether of the Old Scriptures with the New, or of the Law with the Prophets, or of the Gospels with the Apostolic Scriptures, or of the Apostolic Scriptures with each other. For, also, according to the Preacher, all the Scriptures are “words of the wise like goads, and as nails firmly fixed which were given by agreement from one shepherd;”[5] and there is nothing superfluous in them. But the Word is the one Shepherd of things rational which may have an appearance of discord to those who have not ears to hear, but are truly at perfect concord. For as the different chords of the psalter or the lyre, each of which gives forth a certain sound of its own which seems unlike the sound of another chord, are thought by a man who is not musical and ignorant of the principle of musical harmony, to be inharmonious, because of the dissimilarity of the sounds, so those who are not skilled in hearing the harmony of God in the sacred Scriptures think that the Old is not in harmony with the New, or the Prophets with the Law, or the Gospels with one another, or the Apostle with the Gospel, or with himself, or with the other Apostles. But he who comes instructed in the music of God, being a man wise in word and deed, and, on this account, like another David—which is, by interpretation, skilful with the hand—will bring out the sound of the music of God, having learned from this at the right time to strike the chords, now the chords of the Law, now the Gospel chords in harmony with them, and again the Prophetic chords, and, when reason demands it, the Apostolic chords which are in harmony with the Prophetic, and likewise the Apostolic with those of the Gospels. For he knows that all the Scripture is the one perfect and harmonised[6] instrument of God, which from different sounds gives forth one saving voice to those willing to learn, which stops and restrains every working of an evil spirit, just as the music of David laid to rest the evil spirit in Saul, which also was choking him.[7] You see, then, that he is in the third place a peacemaker, who sees in accordance with the Scripture the peace of it all, and implants this peace in those who rightly seek and make nice distinctions in a genuine spirit.
Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Book X)
1. The Parable of the Tares: the House of Jesus.
Then He left the multitudes and went into His house, and His disciples came unto Him saying, Declare to us the parable of the tares of the field. Matthew 13:36 When Jesus then is with the multitudes, He is not in His house, for the multitudes are outside of the house, and it is an act which springs from His love of men to leave the house and to go away to those who are not able to come to Him. Now, having discoursed sufficiently to the multitudes in parables, He sends them away and goes to His own house, where His disciples, who did not abide with those whom He had sent away, come to Him. And as many as are more genuine hearers of Jesus first follow Him, then having inquired about His abode, are permitted to see it, and, having come, see and abide with Him, all for that day, and perhaps some of them even longer. And, in my opinion, such things are indicated in the Gospel according to John in these words, On the morrow again John was standing and two of his disciples. John 1:35 And in order to explain the fact that of those who were permitted to go with Jesus and see His abode, the one who was more eminent becomes also an Apostle, these words are added: One of the two that heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. John 1:40 And if then, unlike the multitudes whom He sends away, we wish to hear Jesus and go to the house and receive something better than the multitudes, let us become friends of Jesus, so that as His disciples we may come to Him when He goes into the house, and having come may inquire about the explanation of the parable, whether of the tares of the field, or of any other. And in order that it may be more accurately understood what is represented by the house of Jesus, let some one collect from the Gospels whatsoever things are spoken about the house of Jesus, and what things were spoken or done by Him in it; for all the passages collected together will convince any one who applies himself to this reading that the letters of the Gospel are not absolutely simple as some suppose, but have become simple to the simple by a divine concession; but for those who have the will and the power to hear them more acutely there are concealed things wise and worthy of the Word of God.
2. Exposition of the Parable.
After these things He answered and said to them, He that sows the good seed is the Son of man. Matthew 13:37 Though we have already, in previous sections, according to our ability discussed these matters, none the less shall we now say what is in harmony with them, even if there is reasonable ground for another explanation. And consider now, if in addition to what we have already recounted, you can otherwise take the good seed to be the children of the kingdom, because whatsoever good things are sown in the human soul, these are the offspring of the kingdom of God and have been sown by God the Word who was in the beginning with God, John 1:2 so that wholesome words about anything are children of the kingdom. But while men are asleep who do not act according to the command of Jesus, Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation, Matthew 26:41 the devil on the watch sows what are called tares— that is, evil opinions— over and among what are called by some natural conceptions, even the good seeds which are from the Word. And according to this the whole world might be called a field, and not the Church of God only, for in the whole world the Son of man sowed the good seed, but the wicked one tares—that is, evil words—which, springing from wickedness, are children of the evil one. And at the end of things, which is called the consummation of the age, there will of necessity be a harvest, in order that the angels of God who have been appointed for this work may gather up the bad opinions that have grown upon the soul, and overturning them may give them over to fire which is said to burn, that they may be consumed. And so the angels and servants of the Word will gather from all the kingdom of Christ all things that cause a stumbling-block to souls and reasonings that create iniquity, which they will scatter and cast into the burning furnace of fire. Then those who become conscious that they have received the seeds of the evil one in themselves, because of their having been asleep, shall wail and, as it were, be angry against themselves; for this is the gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:42 Wherefore, also, in the Psalms it is said, They gnashed upon me with their teeth. Then above all shall the righteous shine, no longer differently as at the first, but all as one sun in the kingdom of their Father. Matthew 13:43 Then, as if to indicate that there was indeed a hidden meaning, perhaps, in all that is concerned with the explanation of the parable, perhaps most of all in the saying, Then shall the righteous shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, the Saviour adds, He that has ears to hear, let him hear, Matthew 13:43 thereby teaching those who think that in the exposition, the parable has been set forth with such perfect clearness that it can be understood by the vulgar, that even the things connected with the interpretation of the parable stand in need of explanation.
3. The Shining of the Righteous. Its Interpretation.
But as we said above in reference to the words, Then shall the righteous shine as the sun, that the righteous will shine not differently as formerly, but as one sun, we will, of necessity, set forth what appears to us on the point. Daniel, knowing that the intelligent are the light of the world, and that the multitudes of the righteous differ in glory, seems to have said this, And the intelligent shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and from among the multitudes of the righteous as the stars for ever and ever. Daniel 12:3 And in the passage, There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory: so also is the resurrection of the dead, 1 Corinthians 15:41-42 the Apostle says the same thing as Daniel, taking this thought from his prophecy. Some one may inquire how some speak about the difference of light among the righteous, while the Saviour on the contrary says, They shall shine as one sun. I think, then, that at the beginning of the blessedness enjoyed by those who are being saved (because those who are not such are not yet purified), the difference connected with the light of the saved takes place: but when, as we have indicated, he gathers from the whole kingdom of Christ all things that make men stumble, and the reasonings that work iniquity are cast into the furnace of fire, and the worse elements utterly consumed, and, when this takes place, those who received the words which are the children of the evil one come to self-consciousness, then shall the righteous having become one light of the sun shine in the kingdom of their Father. For whom will they shine? For those below them who will enjoy their light, after the analogy of the sun which now shines for those upon the earth? For, of course, they will not shine for themselves. But perhaps the saying, Let your light shine before men, Matthew 5:16 can be written upon the table of the heart, according to what is said by Solomon, in a threefold way; so that even now the light of the disciples of Jesus shines before the rest of men, and after death before the resurrection, and after the resurrection until all shall attain unto a full-grown man, Ephesians 4:13 and all become one sun. Then shall they shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
4. Concerning the Parable of the Treasure Hidden in the Field. The Parable Distinguished from the Similitude.
Again the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid. Matthew 13:44 The former parables He spoke to the multitudes; but this and the two which follow it, which are not parables but similitudes in relation to the kingdom of heaven, He seems to have spoken to the disciples when in the house. In regard to this and the next two, let him who gives heed to reading 1 Timothy 4:13 inquire whether they are parables at all. In the case of the latter the Scripture does not hesitate to attach in each case the name of parable; but in the present case it has not done so; and that naturally. For if He spoke to the multitudes in parables, and spoke all these things in parables, and without a parable spoke nothing to them, Matthew 13:34 but on going to the house He discourses not to the multitudes but to the disciples who came to Him there, manifestly the things spoken in the house were not parables: for, to them that are without, even to those to whom it is not given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 13:11 He speaks in parables. Some one will then say, If they are not really parables, what are they? Shall we then say in keeping with the diction of the Scripture that they are similitudes (comparisons)? Now a similitude differs from a parable; for it is written in Mark, To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or in what parable shall we set it forth? Mark 4:30 From this it is plain that there is a difference between a similitude and a parable. The similitude seems to be generic, and the parable specific. And perhaps also as the similitude, which is the highest genus of the parable, contains the parable as one of its species, so it contains that particular form of similitude which has the same name as the genus. This is the case with other words as those skilled in the giving of many names have observed; who say that impulse is the highest genus of many species, as, for example, of disinclination and inclination, and say that, in the case of the species which has the same name as the genus, inclination is taken in opposition to and in distinction from disinclination.
5. The Field and the Treasure Interpreted.
And here we must inquire separately as to the field, and separately as to the treasure hidden in it, and in what way the man who has found this hidden treasure goes away with joy and sells all that he has in order to buy that field; and we must also inquire— what are the things which he sells. The field, indeed, seems to me according to these things to be the Scripture, which was planted with what is manifest in the words of the history, and the law, and the prophets, and the rest of the thoughts; for great and varied is the planting of the words in the whole Scripture; but the treasure hidden in the field is the thoughts concealed and lying under that which is manifest, of wisdom hidden in a mystery, even Christ, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden. Colossians 2:3 But another might say that the field is that which is verily full, which the Lord blessed, the Christ of God; but the treasure hidden in it is the things said to have been hidden in Christ by Paul, who says about Christ, in whom are the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden. The heavenly things, therefore, even the kingdom of heaven, as in a figure it is written in the Scriptures— which are the kingdom of heaven, or Christ— Himself the king of the ages, are the kingdom of heaven which is likened to a treasure hidden in the field.
6. The Exposition Continued.
And at this point you will inquire, whether the kingdom of heaven is likened only to the treasure hidden in the field, so that we are to think of the field as different from the kingdom, or is likened to the whole of this treasure hidden in the field, so that the kingdom of heaven contains according to the similitude both the field and the treasure hidden in the field. Now a man who comes to the field, whether to the Scriptures or to the Christ who is constituted both from things manifest and from things hidden, finds the hidden treasure of wisdom whether in Christ or in the Scriptures. For, going round to visit the field and searching the Scriptures and seeking to understand the Christ, he finds the treasure in it; and, having found it, he hides it, thinking that it is not without danger to reveal to everybody the secret meanings of the Scriptures, or the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ. And, having hidden it, he goes away, working and devising how he shall buy the field, or the Scriptures, that he may make them his own possession, receiving from the people of God the oracles of God with which the Jews were first entrusted. Romans 3:2 And when the man taught by Christ has bought the field, the kingdom of God which, according to another parable, is a vineyard, is taken from them and is given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof, Matthew 21:43 — to him who in faith has bought the field, as the fruit of his having sold all that he had, and no longer keeping by him anything that was formerly his; for they were a source of evil to him. And you will give the same application, if the field containing the hidden treasure be Christ, for those who give up all things and follow Him, have, as it were in another way, sold their possessions, in order that, by having sold and surrendered them, and having received in their place from God— their helper— a noble resolution, they may purchase, at great cost worthy of the field, the field containing the treasure hidden in itself.
7. The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price. The Formation and Difference of Pearls.
Again the kingdom of heaven is like a man that is a merchant seeking goodly pearls. Matthew 13:45 There are many merchants engaged in many forms of merchandise, but not to any one of these is the kingdom of heaven like, but only to him who is seeking goodly pearls, and has found one equal in value to many, a very costly pearl which he has bought in place of many. I consider it reasonable, then, to make some inquiry into the nature of the pearl. Be careful however to note, that Christ did not say, He sold all the pearls that he had, for he sold not only those which one seeking goodly pearls had bought, but also everything which he had, in order to buy that goodly pearl. We find then in those who write on the subject of stones, with regard to the nature of the pearl, that some pearls are found by land, and some in the sea. The land pearls are produced among the Indians only, being fitted for signet-rings and collets and necklaces; and the sea pearls, which are superior, are found among the same Indians, the best being produced in the Red Sea. The next best pearls are those taken from the sea at Britain; and those of the third quality, which are inferior not only to the first but to the second, are those found at Bosporus off Scythia. Concerning the Indian pearl these things further are said. They are found in mussels, like in nature to very large spiral snail-shells; and these are described as in troops making the sea their pasture-ground, as if under the guidance of some leader, conspicuous in colour and size, and different from those under him, so that he has an analogous position to what is called the queen of the bees. And likewise, in regard to the fishing for the best— that is, those in India— the following is told. The natives surround with nets a large circle of the shore, and dive down, exerting themselves to seize that one of them all which is the leader; for they say that, when this one is captured, the catching of the troop subject to it costs no trouble, as not one of those in the troop remains stationary, but as if bound by a thong follows the leader of the troop. It is said also that the formation of the pearls in India requires periods of time, the creature undergoing many changes and alterations until it is perfected. And it is further reported that the shell— I mean, the shell of the animal which bears the pearl— opens and gapes, as it were, and being opened receives into itself the dew of heaven; when it is filled with dew pure and untroubled, it becomes illumined and brings forth a large and well-formed pearl; but if at any time it receives dew darkened, or uneven, or in winter, it conceives a pearl cloudy and disfigured with spots. And this we also find that if it be intercepted by lightning when it is on the way towards the completion of the stone with which it is pregnant, it closes, and, as it were in terror, scatters and pours forth its offspring, so as to form what are called physemata. And sometimes, as if premature, they are born small, and are somewhat cloudy though well-formed. As compared with the others the Indian pearl has these features. It is white in colour, like to silver in transparency, and shines through as with a radiance somewhat greenish yellow, and as a rule is round in form; it is also of tender skin, and more delicate than it is the nature of a stone to be; so it is delightful to behold, worthy to be celebrated among the more notable, as he who wrote on the subject of stones used to say. And this is also a mark of the best pearl, to be rounded off on the outer surface, very white in colour, very translucent, and very large in size. So much about the Indian pearl. But that found in Britain, they say, is of a golden tinge, but somewhat cloudy, and duller in sparkle. And that which is found in the strait of Bosporus is darker than that of Britain, and livid, and perfectly dim, soft and small. And that which is produced in the strait of Bosporus is not found in the pinna which is the pearl-bearing species of shells. but in what are called mussels; and their habitat— I mean those at Bosporus— is in the marshes. There is also said to be a fourth class of pearls in Acarnania in the pinnæ of oysters. These are not greatly sought after, but are irregular in form, and perfectly dark and foul in colour; and there are others also different from these in the same Acarnania which are cast away on every ground.
8. The Parable Interpreted is the Light of These Views.
Now, having collected these things out of dissertations about stones, I say that the Saviour with a knowledge of the difference of pearls, of which some are in kind goodly and others worthless, said, The kingdom of heaven is like a man that is a merchant seeking goodly pearls; Matthew 13:45 for, if some of the pearls had not been worthless, it would not have been said, to a man seeking goodly pearls. Now among the words of all kinds which profess to announce truth, and among those who report them, he seeks pearls. And let the prophets be, so to speak, the mussels which conceive the dew of heaven, and become pregnant with the word of truth from heaven, the goodly pearls which, according to the phrase here set forth, the merchantman seeks. And the leader of the pearls, on the finding of which the rest are found with it, is the very costly pearl, the Christ of God, the Word which is superior to the precious letters and thoughts in the law and the prophets, on the finding of which also all the rest are easily taken. And the Saviour holds converse with all the disciples, as merchant-men who are not only seeking the goodly pearls but who have found them and possess them, when He says, Cast not your pearls before swine. Matthew 7:6 Now it is manifest that these things were said to the disciples from that which is prefixed to His words, And seeing the multitudes He went up into the mountain, and when He had sat down His disciples came unto Him; Matthew 5:1 for, in the course of those words, He said, Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine. Matthew 7:6 Perhaps, then, he is not a disciple of Christ, who does not possess pearls or the very costly pearl, the pearls, I mean, which are goodly; not the cloudy, nor the darkened, such as the words of the heterodox, which are brought forth not at the sunrise, but at the sunset or in the north, if it is necessary to take also into the comparison those things on account of which we found a difference in the pearls which are produced in different places. And perhaps the muddy words and the heresies which are bound up with works of the flesh, are the darkened pearls, and those which are produced in the marshes, not goodly pearls.
9. Christ the Pearl of Great Price.
Now you will connect with the man seeking goodly pearls the saying, Seek and you shall find, Matthew 7:7 and this— Every one that seeks finds. Matthew 7:8 For what seek ye? Or what does every one that seeks find? I venture to answer, pearls and the pearl which he possesses, who has given up all things, and counted them as loss; for which, says Paul, I have counted all things but loss that I may win Christ; Philippians 3:8 by all things meaning the goodly pearls, that I may win Christ, the one very precious pearl. Precious, then, is a lamp to men in darkness, and there is need of a lamp until the sun rise; and precious also is the glory in the face of Moses, and of the prophets also, I think, and a beautiful sight, by which we are introduced so as to be able to see the glory of Christ, to which the Father bears witness, saying, This is My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased. Matthew 3:17 But that which has been made glorious has not been made glorious in this respect by reason of the glory that surpasses; 2 Corinthians 3:10 and there is need to us first of the glory which admits of being done away, for the sake of the glory which surpasses; as there is need of the knowledge which is in part, which will be done away when that which is perfect comes. 1 Corinthians 13:9-10 Every soul, therefore, which comes to childhood, and is on the way to full growth, until the fullness of time is at hand, needs a tutor and stewards and guardians, in order that, after all these things, he who formerly differed nothing from a bond-servant, though he is lord of all, may receive, when freed from a tutor and stewards and guardians, the patrimony corresponding to the very costly pearl, and to that which is perfect, which on its coming does away with that which is in part, when one is able to receive the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, Philippians 3:8 having been previously exercised, so to speak, in those forms of knowledge which are surpassed by the knowledge of Christ. But the multitude, not perceiving the beauty of the many pearls of the law, and all the knowledge, in part, though it be, of the prophets, suppose that they can, without a clear exposition and apprehension of these, find in whole the one precious pearl, and behold the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, in comparison with which all things that came before such and so great knowledge, although they were not refuse in their own nature, appear to be refuse. This refuse is perhaps the dung thrown down beside the fig tree by the keeper of the vineyard, which is the cause of its bearing fruit. Luke 13:8
10. The Pearl of the Gospel in Relation to the Old Testament.
To everything then is its season, and a time for everything under heaven, Ecclesiastes 3:1 a time to gather the goodly pearls, and a time after their gathering to find the one precious pearl, when it is fitting for a man to go away and sell all that he has in order that he may buy that pearl. For as every man who is going to be wise in the words of truth must first be taught the rudiments, and further pass through the elementary instruction, and appreciate it highly but not abide in it, as one who, having honoured it at the beginning but passed over towards perfection, is grateful for the introduction because it was useful at the first; so the perfect apprehension of the law and the prophets is an elementary discipline for the perfect apprehension of the Gospel, and all the meaning in the words and deeds of Christ.
11. The Parable of the Drag-Net.
Again the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea. Matthew 13:47 As in the case of images and statues, the likenesses are not likenesses in every respect of those things in relation to which they are made; but, for example, the image painted with wax on the plane surface of wood has the likeness of the surface along with the colour, but does not further preserve the hollows and prominences, but only their outward appearance; and in the moulding of statues an endeavour is made to preserve the likeness in respect of the hollows and the prominences, but not in respect of the colour; and, if the cast be formed of wax, it endeavours to preserve both, I mean both the colour and also the hollows and the prominences, but is not indeed an image of the things in the respect of depth; so conceive with me also that, in the case of the similitudes in the Gospel, when the kingdom of heaven is likened unto anything, the comparison does not extend to all the features of that to which the kingdom is compared, but only to those features which are required by the argument in hand. And here, accordingly, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea, not (as supposed by some, who represent that by this word the different natures of those who have come into the net, to-wit, the evil and the righteous, are treated of), as if it is to be thought that, because of the phrase which gathered of every kind, there are many different natures of the righteous and likewise also of the evil; for to such an interpretation all the Scriptures are opposed, which emphasise the freedom of the will, and censure those who sin and approve those who do right; or otherwise blame could not rightly attach to those of the kinds that were such by nature, nor praise to those of a better kind. For the reason why fishes are good or bad lies not in the souls of the fishes, but is based on that which the Word said with knowledge, Let the waters bring forth creeping things with living souls, Genesis 1:20 when, also, God made great sea-monsters and every soul of creeping creatures which the waters brought forth according to their kinds. Genesis 1:21 There, accordingly, The waters brought forth every soul of creeping animals according to their kinds, the cause not being in it; but here we are responsible for our being good kinds and worthy of what are called vessels, or bad and worthy of being cast outside. For it is not the nature in us which is the cause of the evil, but it is the voluntary choice which works evil; and so our nature is not the cause of righteousness, as if it were incapable of admitting unrighteousness, but it is the principle which we have admitted that makes men righteous; for also you never see the kinds of things in the water changing from the bad kinds of fishes into the good, or from the better kind to the worse; but you can always behold the righteous or evil among men either coming from wickedness to virtue, or returning from progress towards virtue to the flood of wickedness. Wherefore also in Ezekiel, concerning the man who turns away from unrighteousness to the keeping of the divine commandments, it is thus written: But if the wicked man turn away from all his wickednesses which he has done, etc., down to the words, that he turn from his wicked way and live; Ezekiel 18:20-23 but concerning the man who returns from the advance towards virtue unto the flood of wickedness it is said, But in the case of the righteous man turning away from his righteousness and committing iniquity, etc., down to the words, in his sins which he has sinned in them shall he die. Ezekiel 18:24 Let those who, from the parable of the drag-net, introduce the doctrine of different natures, tell us in regard to the wicked man who afterwards turned aside from all the wickednesses which he committed and keeps all the commandments of God, and does that which is righteous and merciful, of what nature was he when he was wicked? Clearly not of a nature to be praised. If verily of a nature to be censured, of what kind of nature can he reasonably be described, when he turns away from all his sins which he did? For if he were of the bad class of natures, because of his former deeds, how did he change to that which was better? Or if because of his subsequent deeds you would say that he was of the good class, how being good by nature did he become wicked? And you will also meet with a like dilemma in regard to the righteous man turning away from his righteousness and committing unrighteousness in all manner of sins. For before he turned away from righteousness, being occupied with righteous deeds he was not of a bad nature, for a bad nature could not be in righteousness, since a bad tree— that is wickedness— cannot produce good fruits—the fruits that spring from virtue. Again, on the other hand, if he had been of a good and unchangeable nature he would not have turned away from the good after being called righteous, so as to commit unrighteousness in all his sins which he committed.
12. The Divine Scriptures Compared to a Net.
Now, these things being said, we must hold that the kingdom of heaven is likened to a net that was cast into the sea and gathered of every kind, Matthew 13:47 in order to set forth the varied character of the principles of action among men, which are as different as possible from each other, so that the expression gathered from every kind embraces both those worthy of praise and those worthy of blame in respect of their proclivities towards the forms of virtues or of vices. And the kingdom of heaven is likened unto the variegated texture of a net, with reference to the Old and the New Scripture which is woven of thoughts of all kinds and greatly varied. As in the case of the fishes that fall into the net, some are found in one part of the net and some in another part, and each at the part at which it was caught, so in the case of those who have come into the net of the Scriptures you would find some caught in the prophetic net; for example, of Isaiah, according to this expression, or of Jeremiah or of Daniel; and others in the net of the law, and others in the Gospel net, and some in the apostolic net; for when one is first captured by the Word or seems to be captured, he is taken from some part of the whole net. And it is nothing strange if some of the fishes caught are encompassed by the whole texture of the net in the Scriptures, and are pressed in on every side and caught, so that they are unable to escape but are, as it were, absolutely enslaved, and not permitted to escape from the net. And this net has been cast into the sea— the wave— tossed life of men in every part of the world, and which swims in the bitter affairs of life. And before our Saviour Jesus Christ this net was not wholly filled; for the net of the law and the prophets had to be completed by Him who says, Think not that I came to destroy the law and the prophets, I came not to destroy but to fulfil. Matthew 5:17 And the texture of the net has been completed in the Gospels, and in the words of Christ through the Apostles. On this account, therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea and gathered of every kind. And, apart from what has been said, the expression, gathered from every kind, may show forth the calling of the Gentiles from every race. And those who attended to the net which was cast into the sea are Jesus Christ, the master of the net, and the angels who came and ministered unto Him, Matthew 4:11 who do not draw up the net from the sea, nor carry it to the shore beyond the sea—namely, to things beyond this life, unless the net be filled full, that is, unless the fullness of the Gentiles has come into it. But when it has come, then they draw it up from things here below, and carry it to what is figuratively called the shore, where it will be the work of those who have drawn it up, both to sit by the shore, and there to settle themselves, in order that they may place each of the good in the net into its own order, according to what are here called vessels, but cast without and away those that are of an opposite character and are called bad. By without is meant the furnace of fire as the Saviour interpreted, saying, So shall it be at the consummation of the age. The angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the righteous and shall cast them into the furnace of fire. Matthew 13:49-50 Only it must be observed, that we are already taught by the parable of the tares and the similitude set forth, that the angels are to be entrusted with the power to distinguish and separate the evil from the righteous; for it is said above, The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that cause stumbling, and them that do iniquity, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be the weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:42 But here it is said, The angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the righteous and shall cast them into the furnace of fire.
13. Relation of Men to Angels.
From this it does not follow, as some suppose, that the men who are saved in Christ are superior even to the holy angels; for how can those who are cast by the holy angels into vessels be compared with those who cast them into vessels, seeing that they have been put under the authority of the angels? While we say this, we are not ignorant that the men who will be saved in Christ surpass some angels— namely, those who have not been entrusted with this office— but not all of them. For we read, Which things angels desire to look into, 1 Peter 1:12 where it is not said all angels. And we know also this— We shall judge angels 1 Corinthians 6:3 where it is not said all angels. Now since these things are written about the net and about those in the net, we say that he who desires that, before the consummation of the age, and before the coming of the angels to sever the wicked from among the righteous, there should be no evil persons of every kind in the net, seems not to have understood the Scripture, and to desire the impossible. Wherefore let us not be surprised if, before the severing of the wicked from among the righteous by the angels who are sent forth for this purpose, we see our gatherings also filled with wicked persons. And would that those who will be cast into the furnace of fire may not be greater in number than the righteous! But since we said in the beginning, that the parables and similitudes are not to be accepted in respect of all the things to which they are likened or compared, but only in respect of some things, we must further establish from the things to be said, that in the case of the fishes, so far as their life is concerned, an evil thing happens to them when they are found in the net. For they are deprived of the life which is theirs by nature, and whether they are cast into vessels or cast away, they suffer nothing more than the loss of the life as it is in fishes; but, in the case of those to whom the parable refers, the evil thing is to be in the sea and not to come into the net, in order to be cast along with the good into vessels. And in like manner the bad fishes are cast without and thrown away; but the bad in the similitude before us are cast into the furnace of fire, that what is said in Ezekiel about the furnace of fire may also overtake them— And the Word of the Lord came unto me saying, Son of man behold the house of Israel has become to me all mixed with brass and iron, etc., down to the words, And you shall know that I the Lord have poured My fury upon you. Ezekiel 18:17-22
14. The Disciples as Scribes.
Have ye understood all these things? They say, Yea. Matthew 13:51 Christ Jesus, who knows the things in the hearts of men, John 2:25 as John also taught concerning Him in the Gospel, puts the question not as one ignorant, but having once for all taken upon Him the nature of man, He uses also all the characteristics of a man of which asking is one. And there is nothing to be wondered at in the Saviour doing this, since indeed the God of the universe, bearing with the manners of men as a man bears with the manners of his son, makes inquiry, as— Adam, where are you? Genesis 3:9 and, Where is Abel your brother? Genesis 4:9 But some one with a forced interpretation will say here that the words have understood are not to be taken interrogatively but affirmatively; and he will say that the disciples bearing testimony to His affirmation, say, Yea. Only, whether he is putting a question or making an affirmation, it is necessarily said not these things only—which is demonstrative—not all things only, but all these things. And here He seems to represent the disciples as having been scribes before the kingdom of heaven; Matthew 13:52 but to this is opposed what is said in the Acts of the Apostles thus, Now when they beheld the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled, and they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13 Some one may inquire in regard to these things— if they were scribes, how are they spoken of in the Acts as unlearned and ignorant men? Or if they were unlearned and ignorant men, how are they very plainly called scribes by the Saviour? And it might be answered to these inquiries that, as a matter of fact, not all the disciples but only Peter and John are described in the Acts as unlearned and ignorant, but that there were more disciples in regard to whom, because they understood all things, it is said, Every scribe, etc. Or it might be said that every one who has been instructed in the teaching according to the letter of the law is called a scribe, so that those who were unlearned and ignorant and led captive by the letter of the law are spoken of as scribes in a particular sense. And it is very specially the characteristic of ignorant men, who are unskilled in figurative interpretation and do not understand what is concerned with the mystical exposition of the Scriptures, but believe the bare letter, and, vindicate it, that they call themselves scribes. And so one will interpret the words, Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, Matthew 23:13 as having been said to every one that knows nothing but the letter. Here you will inquire if the scribe of the Gospel be as the scribe of the law, and if the former deals with the Gospel, as the latter with the law, reading and hearing and telling those things which contain an allegory, Galatians 4:24 so as, while preserving the historic truth of the events, to understand the unerring principle of mystic interpretation applied to things spiritual, so that the things learned may not be spiritual things whose characteristic is wickedness, Ephesians 6:12 but may be entirely opposite to such, namely, spiritual things whose characteristic is goodness. And one is a scribe made a disciple to the kingdom of heaven in the simpler sense, when he comes from Judaism and receives the teaching of Jesus Christ as defined by the Church; but he is a scribe in a deeper sense, when having received elementary knowledge through the letter of the Scriptures he ascends to things spiritual, which are called the kingdom of the heavens. And according as each thought is attained, and grasped abstractly and proved by example and absolute demonstration, can one understand the kingdom of heaven, so that he who abounds in knowledge free from error is in the kingdom of the multitude of what are here represented as heavens. So, too, you will allegorise the word, Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand, Matthew 3:2 as meaning that the scribes— that is, those who rest satisfied in the bare letter— may repent of this method of interpretation and be instructed in the spiritual teaching which is called the kingdom of the heavens through Jesus Christ the living Word. Wherefore, also, so far as Jesus Christ, who was in the beginning with God, God the word, John 1:1-2 has not His home in a soul, the kingdom of heaven is not in it, but when any one becomes near to admission of the Word, to him the kingdom of heaven is near. But if the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God are the same thing in reality, if not in idea, manifestly to those to whom it is said, The kingdom of God is within you, Luke 17:21 to them also it might be said, The kingdom of heaven is within you; and most of all because of the repentance from the letter unto the spirit; since When one turn to the Lord, the veil over the letter is taken away. But the Lord is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:16-17 And he who is truly a householder is both free and rich; rich because from the office of the scribe he has been made a disciple to the kingdom of heaven, in every word of the Old Testament, and in all knowledge concerning the new teaching of Christ Jesus, and has this riches laid up in his own treasure-house— in heaven, in which he stores his treasure as one who has been made a disciple to the kingdom of heaven—where neither moth does consume, nor thieves break through. Matthew 6:20 And in regard to him, who, as we have said, lays up treasure in heaven, we may truly lay down that not one moth of the passions can touch his spiritual and heavenly possessions. A moth of the passions, I said, taking the suggestion from the Proverbs in which it is written, a worm in wood, so pain wounds the heart of man. Proverbs 25:20 For pain is a worm and a moth, which wounds the heart which has not its treasures in heaven and spiritual things, for if a man has his treasure in these— for where the treasure is, there will the heart be also, Matthew 6:21 — he has his heart in heaven, and on account of it he says, Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear. And so neither can thieves in regard to whom the Saviour said, All that came before Me are thieves and robbers, John 10:8 break through those things which are treasured up in heaven, and through the heart which is in heaven and therefore says, He raised us up with Him, and made us to sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ, Ephesians 2:6 and, Our citizenship is in heaven. Philippians 3:20
15. The Householder and His Treasury.
Now since every scribe who has been made a disciple to the kingdom of heaven is like a man that is a householder who brings forth out of his treasury things new and old, Matthew 13:52 it clearly follows, by conversion of the proposition, as it is called, that every one who does not bring forth out of his treasury things new and old, is not a scribe who has been made a disciple unto the kingdom of heaven. We must endeavour, therefore, in every way to gather in our heart, by giving heed to reading, to exhortation, to teaching, 1 Timothy 4:13 and by meditating in the law of the Lord day and night, not only the new oracles of the Gospels and of the Apostles and their Revelation, but also the old things in the law which has the shadow of the good things to come, Hebrews 10:1 and in the prophets who prophesied in accordance with them. And these things will be gathered together, when we also read and know, and remembering them, compare at a fitting time things spiritual with spiritual, not comparing things that cannot be compared with one another, but things which admit of comparison, and which have a certain likeness of diction signifying the same thing, and of thoughts and of opinions, so that by the mouth of two or three or more witnesses Matthew 18:16 from the Scripture, we may establish and confirm every word of God. By means of them also we must refute those who, as far as in them lies, cleave in two the Godhead and cut off the New from the Old, so that they are far removed from likeness to the householder who brings forth out of his treasury things new and old. And since he who is likened to any one is different from the one to whom he is likened, the scribe who is made a disciple unto the kingdom of heaven will be the one who is likened, but different from him is the householder who brings out of his treasury things new and old. But he who is likened to him, as in imitation of him, wishes to do that which is like. Perhaps, then, the man who is a householder is Jesus Himself, who brings forth out of His treasury, according to the time of the teaching, things new, things spiritual, which also are always being renewed by Him in the inner man of the righteous, who are themselves always being renewed day by day, 2 Corinthians 4:16 and old things, things written and engraven on stones, 2 Corinthians 3:7 and in the stony hearts of the old man, so that by comparison of the letter and by exhibition of the spirit He may enrich the scribe who is made a disciple unto the kingdom of heaven, and make him like Himself; until the disciple shall be as the Master, imitating first the imitator of Christ, and after him Christ Himself, according to that which is said by Paul, Be imitators of me even as I also of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 And likewise, Jesus the householder may in the simpler sense bring forth out of His treasury things new—that is, the evangelic teaching— and things old—that is, the comparison of the sayings which are taken from the law and the prophets, of which we may find examples in the Gospels. And with regard to these things new and old, we must attend also to the spiritual law which says in Leviticus, And you shall eat old things, and the old things of the old, and you shall bring forth the old from before the new; and I will set my tabernacle among you. Leviticus 26:10-11 For we eat with blessing the old things—the prophetic words—and the old things of the old things—the words of the law; and, when the new and evangelical words came, living according to the Gospel we bring forth the old things of the letter from before the new, and He sets His tabernacle in us, fulfilling the promise which He spoke, I will dwell among them and walk in them.
16. Parables in Relation to Similitudes. Jesus in His Own Country.
And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, He departed thence. And coming into His own country. Matthew 13:53-54 Since we inquired above whether the things spoken to the multitude were parables, and those spoken to the disciples were similitudes, and set forth observations bearing on this in my judgment not contemptible, you must know that the sentence which is subjoined, And it came to pass when Jesus had finished these parables, He departed thence, will appear to be in opposition to all these arguments, as applying not only to the parables, but also to the similitudes as we have expounded. We inquire therefore whether all these things are to be rejected, or whether we must speak of two kinds of parables, those spoken to the multitudes, and those announced to the disciples; or whether we are to think of the name of parable as equi-vocal; or whether the saying, And it came to pass when Jesus had finished these parables, is to be referred only to the parables above, which come before the similitudes. For, because of the saying, To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to the rest in parables, Matthew 13:11 it was not possible to say to the disciples, inasmuch as they were not of those without, that the Saviour spoke to them in parables. And it follows from this, that the saying, And it came to pass when Jesus had finished these parables, He departed thence, is to be referred to the parables spoken above, or that the name parable is equivocal, or that there are two kinds of parables, or that these which we have named similitudes were not parables at all. And observe that it was outside of His own country He speaks the parables which, when He had finished, He departed thence; and coming into His own country He taught them in their synagogue. And Mark says, And He came into His own country and His disciples follow Him. Mark 6:1 We must therefore inquire whether, by the expression, His own country, is meant Nazareth or Bethlehem—Nazareth, because of the saying, He shall be called a Nazarene, Matthew 2:23 or Bethlehem, since in it He was born. And further I reflect whether the Evangelists could have said, coming to Bethlehem, or, coming to Nazareth. They have not done so, but have named it His country, because of something being declared in a mystic sense in the passage about His country—namely, the whole of Judæa,— in which He was dishonoured according to the saying, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country. Matthew 13:57 And if anyone thinks of Jesus Christ, a stumbling-block to the Jews, 1 Corinthians 1:23 among whom He is persecuted even until now, but proclaimed among the Gentiles and believed in—for His word has run over the whole world—he will see that in His own country Jesus had no honour, but that among those who were strangers from the covenants, Ephesians 2:12 the Gentiles, He is held in honour. But what things He taught and spoke in their synagogue the Evangelists have not recorded, but only that they were so great and of such a nature that all were astonished. And probably the things spoken were too high to be written down. Only be it noted, He taught in their synagogue, not separating from it, nor disregarding it.
17. The Brethren of Jesus.
And the saying, Whence has this man this wisdom, Matthew 13:54 indicates clearly that there was a great and surpassing wisdom in the words of Jesus worthy of the saying, lo, a greater than Solomon is here. Matthew 12:42 And He was wont to do greater miracles than those wrought through Elijah and Elisha, and at a still earlier date through Moses and Joshua the son of Nun. And they spoke, wondering, (not knowing that He was the son of a virgin, or not believing it even if it was told to them, but supposing that He was the son of Joseph the carpenter,) is not this the carpenter's son? Matthew 13:55 And depreciating the whole of what appeared to be His nearest kindred, they said, Is not His mother called Mary? And His brethren, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Matthew 13:55-56 They thought, then, that He was the son of Joseph and Mary. But some say, basing it on a tradition in the Gospel according to Peter, as it is entitled, or The Book of James, that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honour of Mary in virginity to the end, so that that body of hers which was appointed to minister to the Word which said, The Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you, Luke 1:35 might not know intercourse with a man after that the Holy Ghost came into her and the power from on high overshadowed her. And I think it in harmony with reason that Jesus was the first-fruit among men of the purity which consists in chastity, and Mary among women; for it were not pious to ascribe to any other than to her the first-fruit of virginity. And James is he whom Paul says in the Epistle to the Galatians that he saw, But other of the Apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. Galatians 1:19 And to so great a reputation among the people for righteousness did this James rise, that Flavius Josephus, who wrote the Antiquities of the Jews in twenty books, when wishing to exhibit the cause why the people suffered so great misfortunes that even the temple was razed to the ground, said, that these things happened to them in accordance with the wrath of God in consequence of the things which they had dared to do against James the brother of Jesus who is called Christ. And the wonderful thing is, that, though he did not accept Jesus as Christ, he yet gave testimony that the righteousness of James was so great; and he says that the people thought that they had suffered these things because of James. And Jude, who wrote a letter of few lines, it is true, but filled with the healthful words of heavenly grace, said in the preface, Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James. Jude 1 With regard to Joseph and Simon we have nothing to tell; but the saying, And His sisters are they not all with us, Matthew 13:56 seems to me to signify something of this nature— they mind our things, not those of Jesus, and have no unusual portion of surpassing wisdom as Jesus has. And perhaps by these things is indicated a new doubt concerning Him, that Jesus was not a man but something diviner, inasmuch as He was, as they supposed, the son of Joseph and Mary, and the brother of four, and of the others— the women— as well, and yet had nothing like to any one of His kindred, and had not from education and teaching come to such a height of wisdom and power. For they also say elsewhere, How knows this man letters having never learned? John 7:15 which is similar to what is here said. Only, though they say these things and are so perplexed and astonished, they did not believe, but were offended in Him; as if they had been mastered in the eyes of their mind by the powers which, in the time of the passion, He was about to lead in triumph on the cross.
18. Prophets in Their Country.
But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country. Matthew 13:57 We must inquire whether the expression has the same force when applied universally to every prophet (as if each one of the prophets was dishonoured in his own country only, but not as if every one who was dishonoured was dishonoured in his country); or, because of the expression being singular, these things were said about one. If, then, these words are spoken about one, these things which have been said suffice, if we refer that which is written to the Saviour. But if it is general, it is not historically true; for Elijah did not suffer dishonour in Tishbeth of Gilead, nor Elisha in Abelmeholah, nor Samuel in Ramathaim, nor Jeremiah in Anathoth. But, figuratively interpreted, it is absolutely true; for we must think of Judæa as their country, and that famous Israel as their kindred, and perhaps of the body as the house. For all suffered dishonour in Judæa from the Israel which is according to the flesh, while they were yet in the body, as it is written in the Acts of the Apostles, as having been spoken in censure to the people, Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute, who showed before of the coming of the Righteous one? Acts 7:52 And by Paul in the First Epistle to the Thessalonians like things are said: For you brethren became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judæa in Christ Jesus, for you also suffered the same things of your own countrymen even as they did of the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove out us, and please not God, and are contrary to all men. 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15 A prophet, then, is not without honour among the Gentiles; for either they do not know him at all, or, having learned and received him as a prophet, they honour him. And such are those who are of the Church. Prophets suffer dishonour, first, when they are persecuted, according to historical fact, by the people, and, secondly, when their prophecy is not believed by the people. For if they had believed Moses and the prophets they would have believed Christ, who showed that when men believed Moses and the prophets, belief in Christ logically followed, and that when men did not believe Christ they did not believe Moses. John 5:46 Moreover, as by the transgression of the law he who sins is said to dishonour God, so by not believing in that which is prophesied the prophet is dishonoured by the man who disbelieves the prophecies. And so far as the literal truth is concerned, it is useful to recount what things Jeremiah suffered among the people in relation to which he said, And I said, I will not speak, nor will I call upon the name of the Lord. Jeremiah 20:9 And again, elsewhere, I was continually being mocked. Jeremiah 20:7 And how great sufferings he endured from the then king of Israel are written in his prophecy. And it is also written that some of the people often came to stone Moses to death; for his fatherland was not the stones of any place, but the people who followed him, among whom also he was dishonoured. And Isaiah is reported to have been sawn asunder by the people; and if any one does not accept the statement because of its being found in the Apocryphal Isaiah, let him believe what is written thus in the Epistle to the Hebrews, They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were tempted; Hebrews 11:37 for the expression, They were sawn asunder, refers to Isaiah, just as the words, They were slain with the sword, refer to Zacharias, who was slain between the sanctuary and the altar, as the Saviour taught, bearing testimony, as I think, to a Scripture, though not extant in the common and widely circulated books, but perhaps in apocryphal books. And they, too, were dishonoured in their own country among the Jews who went about in sheep-skins, in goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, and so on; Hebrews 11:37 For all that will to live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12 And probably because Paul knew this, That a prophet has no honour in his own country, though he preached the Word in many places he did not preach it in Tarsus. And the Apostles on this account left Israel and did that which had been enjoined on them by the Saviour, Make disciples of all the nations, Matthew 28:19 and, You shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judæa and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:8 For they did that which had been commanded them in Judæa and Jerusalem; but, since a prophet has no honour in his own country, when the Jews did not receive the Word, they went away to the Gentiles. Consider, too, if, because of the fact that the saying, I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all flesh, and they shall prophesy, Joel 2:28 has been fulfilled in the churches from the Gentiles, you can say that those formerly of the world and who by believing became no longer of the world, having received the Holy Spirit in their own country— that is, the world— and prophesying, have not honour, but are dishonoured. Wherefore blessed are they who suffer the same things as the prophets, according to what was said by the Saviour, For in the same manner did their fathers unto the prophets. Luke 6:23 Now if any one who attends carefully to these things be hated and attacked, because of his living with rigorous austerity, and his reproof of sinners, as a man who is persecuted and reproached for the sake of righteousness, he will not only not be grieved, but will rejoice and be exceeding glad, being assured that, because of these things, he has great reward in heaven from Him who likened him to the prophets on the ground of his having suffered the same things. Therefore, he who zealously imitates the prophetic life, and attains to the spirit which was in them, must be dishonoured in the world, and in the eyes of sinners, to whom the life of the righteous man is a burden.
19. Relation of Faith and Unbelief to the Supernatural Powers of Jesus.
Following this you may see, He did not there many mighty works because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:58 We are taught by these things that powers were found in those who believed, since to every one that has shall be given and he shall have abundance, Matthew 13:12 but among unbelievers not only did the powers not work, but as Mark wrote, They could not work. Matthew 17:19-20 For attend to the words, He could not there do any mighty works, for it is not said, He would not, but He could not; as if there came to the power when working co-operation from the faith of him on whom the power was working, but this co-operation was hindered in its exercise by unbelief. See, then, that to those who said, Why could we not cast it out? He said, Because of your little faith. Matthew 14:31 And to Peter, when he began to sink, it was said, O you of little faith, wherefore did you doubt? Luke 8:45-46 But, moreover, she who had the issue of blood, who did not ask for the cure, but only reasoned that if she were to touch the hem of His garment she would be healed, was healed on the spot. And the Saviour, acknowledging the method of healing, says, Who touched Me? For I perceived that power went forth from Me. Matthew 17:20 And perhaps, as in the case of material things there exists in some things a natural attraction towards some other thing, as in the magnet for iron, and in what is called naphtha for fire, so there is an attraction in such faith towards the divine power, according to what is said, If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove. Matthew 13:58 And Matthew and Mark, wishing to set forth the excellency of the divine power, that it has power even in unbelief, but not so great power as it has in the faith of those who are being benefited, seem to me to have said with accuracy, not that He did not any mighty works because of their unbelief, but that He did not many there. Mark 6:5 And Mark also does not say, that He could not do any mighty work there, and stop at that point, but added, Save that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk and healed them, Mark 6:5 the power in Him thus overcoming the unbelief. Now it seems to me that, as in the case of material things, tillage is not sufficient in itself for the gathering in of the fruits, unless the air cooperates to this end, nay, rather, He who forms the air with whatever quality He wills and makes it whatever He wills; nor the air apart from tillage, but rather He who by His providence has enacted that the things which spring up from the earth could not spring up apart from tillage; for this He has done once for all in the law, Let the earth put forth grass sowing seed after its kind and after its likeness; Genesis 1:11 so also neither do the operations of the powers, apart from the faith of those who are being healed, exhibit the absolute work of healing, nor faith, however great it may be, apart from the divine power. And that which is written about wisdom, you may apply also to faith, and to the virtues specifically, so as to make a precept of this kind, If any one be perfect in wisdom among the sons of men, and the power that comes from You be wanting, he will be reckoned as nothing; Wisdom 9:6 or, If any one be perfect in self-control, so far as is possible for the sons of men, and the control that is from You be wanting, he will be reckoned as nothing; or, If any one be perfect in righteousness, and in the rest of virtues, and the righteousness and the rest of the virtues that are from You be wanting to him, he will be reckoned as nothing. Wherefore, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, nor the strong man in his strength, Jeremiah 9:23 for that which is fit matter for glorying is not ours, but is the gift of God; the wisdom is from Him, and the strength is from Him; and so with the rest.
20. Different Conceptions of John the Baptist.
At that season Herod the tetrarch heard the report concerning Jesus and said unto his own servants, This is John the Baptist. Matthew 14:1 In Mark Mark 6:14 it is the same, and also in Luke. Luke 9:7 The Jews had different opinions, some false, such as the Sadducees held about the resurrection of the dead, that they do not rise, and in regard to angels that they do not exist, but that those things which were written about them were only to be interpreted figuratively, but had no reality in point of fact; and some true opinions, such as were taught by the Pharisees about the resurrection of the dead that they rise. We must therefore here inquire, whether the opinion regarding the soul, mistakenly held by Herod and some from among the people, was somewhat like this— that John, who a little before had been slain by him, had risen from the dead after he had been beheaded, and was the same person under a different name, and being now called Jesus was possessed of the same powers which formerly wrought in John. For what credibility is there in the idea that One, who was so widely known to the whole people, and whose name was noised abroad in the whole of Judæa, whom they declared to be the son of the carpenter and Mary, and to have such and such for brothers and sisters, was thought to be not different from John whose father was Zacharias, and whose mother was Elisabeth, who were themselves not undistinguished among the people? But it is probable that the fact of his being the Son of Zacharias was not unknown to the people, who thought with regard to John that he was truly a prophet, and were so numerous that the Pharisees, in order to avoid the appearance of saying that which was displeasing to the people, were afraid to answer the question, Was his baptism from heaven or from men? Matthew 21:25 And perhaps, also, to some of them had come the knowledge of the incident of the vision which was seen in the temple, when Gabriel appeared to Zacharias. What credibility, forsooth, has the erroneous opinion, whether of Herod or of some of the people, that John and Jesus were not two persons, but that it was one and the same person John who rose from the dead after that he had been beheaded and was called Jesus? Some one might say, however, that Herod and some of those of the people held the false dogma of the transmigration of souls into bodies, in consequence of which they thought that the former John had appeared again by a fresh birth, and had come from the dead into life as Jesus. But the time between the birth of John and the birth of Jesus, which was not more than six months, does not permit this false opinion to be considered credible. And perhaps rather some such idea as this was in the mind of Herod, that the powers which wrought in John had passed over to Jesus, in consequence of which He was thought by the people to be John the Baptist. And one might use the following line of argument. Just as because of the spirit and the power of Elijah, and not because of his soul, it is said about John, This is Elijah which is to come, Matthew 11:14 the spirit in Elijah and the power in him having gone over to John— so Herod thought that the powers in John wrought in his case works of baptism and teaching—for John did not one miracle, John 10:41 but in Jesus miraculous portents. It may be said that something of this kind was the thought of those who said that Elijah had appeared in Jesus, or that one of the old prophets had risen. Luke 9:8 But the opinion of those who said that Jesus was a prophet even as one of the prophets, Mark 6:15 has no bearing on the question. False, then, is the saying concerning Jesus, whether that recorded to have been the view of Herod, or that spoken by others. Only, the saying, That John went before in the spirit and power of Elijah, Luke 1:17 which corresponds to the thoughts which they were now cherishing concerning John and Jesus, seems to me more credible. But since we learned, in the first place, that when the Saviour after the temptation heard that John was given up, He retreated into Galilee, and in the second place, that when John was in prison and heard the things about Jesus he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, Are you He that comes, or look we for another? Matthew 11:2-3 and in the third place, generally that Herod said about Jesus, It is John the Baptist, he is risen from the dead, Matthew 14:2 but we have not previously learned from any quarter the manner in which the Baptist was killed, therefore Matthew has now recorded it, and Mark almost like him; but Luke passed over in silence the greater part of the narrative as it is found in them.
21. Herod and the Baptist.
The narrative of Matthew is as follows— for Herod had laid hold on John and bound him in the prison. Matthew 14:3 In reference to these things, it seems to me, that as the law and the prophets were until John, Luke 16:16 after whom the grace of prophecy ceased from among the Jews; so the authority of those who had rule among the people, which included the power to kill those whom they thought worthy of death, existed until John; and when the last of the prophets was unlawfully killed by Herod, the king of the Jews was deprived of the power of putting to death; for, if Herod had not been deprived of it, Pilate would not have condemned Jesus to death; but for this Herod would have sufficed along with the council of the chief priests and elders of the people, met for the purpose. And then I think was fulfilled that which was spoken as follows by Jacob to Judah: A ruler shall not depart from Judah, nor a leader from Israel, until that come which is laid up in store, and he is the expectation of the Gentiles. Genesis 49:10 And perhaps also the Jews were deprived of this power, the Providence of God arranging for the spread of the teaching of Christ among the people, so that even if this were hindered by the Jews, the opposition might not go so far as the slaying of believers, which seemed to be according to law. But Herod laid hold on John and bound him in prison and put him away, Matthew 14:3 by this act signifying that, so far as it depended on his power and on the wickedness of the people, he bound and imprisoned the prophetic word, and prevented him from continuing to abide a herald the truth in freedom as formerly. But this Herod did for the sake of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for you to have her. Matthew 14:3-4 Now this Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituræa and of Trachonitis. Some, then, suppose that, when Philip died leaving a daughter, Herodias, Herod married his brother's wife, though the law permitted marriage only when there were no children. But, as we find nowhere clear evidence that Philip was dead, we conclude that a yet greater transgression was done by Herod, namely, that he had induced his brother's wife to revolt from her husband while he was still living.
22. The Dancing of Herodias. The Keeping of Oaths.
Wherefore John, endued with prophetic boldness and not terrified at the royal dignity of Herod, nor through fear of death keeping silence in regard to so flagrant a sin, filled with a divine spirit said to Herod, It is not lawful for you to have her; for it is not lawful for you to have the wife of your brother. For Herod having laid hold on John bound him and put him in prison, not daring to slay him outright and to take away the prophetic word from the people; but the wife of the king of Trachonitis— which is a kind of evil opinion and wicked teaching— gave birth to a daughter of the same name, whose movements, seemingly harmonious, pleasing Herod, who was fond of matters connected with birthdays, came the cause of there being no longer a prophetic head among the people. And up to this point I think that the movements of the people of the Jews, which seem to be according to the law, were nothing else than the movements of the daughter of Herodias; but the dancing of Herodias was opposed to that holy dancing with which those who have not danced will be reproached when they hear the words, We piped unto you, and you did not dance. And on birthdays, when the lawless word reigns over them, they dance so that their movements please that word. Some one of those before us has observed what is written in Genesis about the birthday of Pharaoh, and has told that the worthless man who loves things connected with birth keeps birthday festivals; and we, taking this suggestion from him, find in no Scripture that a birthday was kept by a righteous man. For Herod was more unjust than that famous Pharaoh; for by the latter on his birthday feast a chief baker is killed; Genesis 40:20 but by the former, John, than whom no one greater has risen among those born of women, Matthew 11:11 in regard to whom the Saviour says, But for what purpose did ye go out? To see a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. Luke 7:26 But thanks be unto God, that, even if the grace of prophecy was taken from the people, a grace greater than all that was poured forth among the Gentiles by our Saviour Jesus Christ, who became free among the dead; for though He were crucified through weakness, yet He lives through the power of God. 2 Corinthians 13:4 Consider also the word in which pure and impure meats are inquired into; but prophecy is despised when it is brought forward in a charger instead of meat. But the Jews have not the head of prophecy, inasmuch as they disown the crown of all prophecy, Christ Jesus; and the prophet is beheaded, because of an oath in a case where the duty was rather to break the oath than to keep the oath; for the charge of rashness in taking an oath and of breaking it because of the rashness is not the same in guilt as the death of a prophet. And not on this account alone is he beheaded, but because of those who sat at meat with him, who preferred that the prophet should be killed rather than live. And they recline at the same table and also feast along with the evil word which reigns over the Jews, who make merry over his birth. At times you may make a graceful application of the passage to those who swear rashly and wish to hold fast oaths which are taken with a view to unlawful deeds, by saying that not every keeping of oaths is seemly, just as the keeping of the oath of Herod was not. And mark, further, that not openly but secretly and in prison does Herod put John to death. For even the present word of the Jews does not openly deny the prophecies, but virtually and in secret denies them, and is convicted of disbelieving them. For as if they believed Moses they would have believed Jesus, John 5:46 so if they had believed the prophets they would have received Him who had been the subject of prophecy. But disbelieving Him they also disbelieve them, and cut off and confine in prison the prophetic word, and hold it dead and divided, and in no way wholesome, since they do not understand it. But we have the whole Jesus, the prophecy concerning Him being fulfilled which said, A bone shall not be broken.
23. The Withdrawal of Jesus.
And the disciples of John having come bury his remains, and they went and told Jesus. Matthew 14:12 And He withdrew to a desert place—that is, the Gentiles— and after the killing of the prophet multitudes followed Him from the cities everywhere; seeing which to be great He had compassion on them, and healed their sick; and afterwards with the loaves which were blessed and multiplied from a few loaves He feeds those who followed Him. Now when Jesus heard it He withdrew thence in a boat to a desert place apart. Matthew 14:13 The letter teaches us to withdraw as far as it is in our power from those who persecute us, and from expected conspiracies through words; for this would be to act according to prudence; and, when one can keep outside of critical positions, to go to meet them is rash and headstrong. For who would still hesitate about avoiding such things, when not only did Jesus retreat in view of what happened to John, but also taught and said, If they persecute you in this city, flee ye into the other? Matthew 10:23 When a temptation comes which is not in our power to avoid, we must endure it with exceeding nobleness and courage; but, when it is in our power to avoid it, not to do so is rash. But since after the letter we must also investigate the place according to the mystical meaning, we must say that, when prophecy was plotted against among the Jews and destroyed, because of their giving honour to matters of birthdays, and in respect of their reception of vain movements which, though conceived by the ruler of the wicked and those who feast along with him to be regular and pleasing to them, were irregular and out of tune, if truth be umpire, then Jesus withdraws from the place in which prophecy was attacked and condemned; and He withdraws to the place which had been barren of God among the Gentiles, in order that the Word of God, when the kingdom was taken from the Jews and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof, Matthew 21:43 might be among the Gentiles; and, on account of it, the children of the desolate one, who had not been instructed either in the law or the prophets, might be more than of her who has the husband, that is, the law. When, then, the word was of old among the Jews, it was not so among them as it is among the Gentiles; wherefore it is said that, in a boat,— that is, in the body— He went to the desert place apart, when He heard about the killing of the prophet. And, having come into the desert place apart, He was in it, because that the Word dwelt apart, and His teaching was contrary to the customs and usages which obtained among the Gentiles. And the crowds among the Gentiles, when they heard that Jesus had come to stay in their desert, and that He was apart, as we have already reported, followed Him from their own cities, because each had left the superstitious customs of his fathers and come to the law of Christ. And by land they followed Him, and not in a boat, inasmuch as not with the body but with the soul only, and with the resolution to which they had been persuaded by the Word, they followed the Image of God. And to them Jesus comes out, as they were not able to go to Him, in order that, having gone to those who were without, He might lead within those who were without. And great is the crowd without to whom the Word of God goes out, and, having poured out upon it the light of His visitation, beholds it; and, seeing that they were rather deserving of being pitied, because they were in such circumstances, as a lover of men He who was impassible suffered the emotion of pity, and not only had pity but healed their sick, who had sicknesses diverse and of every kind arising from their wickedness.
24. The Diverse Forms of Spiritual Sickness.
And, if you wish to see of what nature are the sicknesses of the soul, contemplate with me the lovers of money, and the lovers of ambition, and the lovers of boys, and if any be fond of women; for these also beholding among the crowds and taking compassion upon them, He healed. For not every sin is to be considered a sickness, but that which has settled down in the whole soul. For so you may see the lovers of money wholly intent on money and upon preserving and gathering it, the lovers of ambition wholly intent on a little glory, for they gape for praise from the masses and the vulgar; and analogously you will understand in the case of the rest which we have named, and if there be any other like to them. Since, then, when expounding the words, He healed their sick, Matthew 14:14 we said that not every sin is a sickness, it is fitting to discuss from the Scripture the difference of these. The Apostle indeed says, writing to the Corinthians who had diverse sicknesses, For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep. 1 Corinthians 11:30 Hear Him in these words, knitting a band and making it plaited of different sins, according as some are weak, and others sickly more than weak, and others, in comparison with both, are asleep. For some, because of impotence of soul, having a tendency to slip into any sin whatever, although they may not be wholly in the grasp of any form of sin, as the sickly are, are only weak; but others who, instead of loving God with all their soul and all their heart and all their mind, love money, or a little glory, or wife, or children, are suffering from something worse than weakness, and are sickly. And those who sleep are those who, when they ought to be taking heed and watching with the soul, are not doing this, but by reason of great want of attention are nodding in resolution and are drowsy in their reflections, such as in their dreamings defile the flesh, and set at naught that which is highest in authority, and rail at dignities. Jude 8 And these, because they are asleep, live in an atmosphere of vain and dream-like fancies concerning realities, not admitting the things which are actually true, but deceived by what appears in their vain imaginations, in regard to whom it is said in Isaiah, Like as when a thirsty man dreams that he is drinking, but when he has risen up is still thirsty, and his soul has cherished a vain hope, so shall be the wealth of all the nations as many as have warred in Jerusalem. If, then, we have seemed to make a digression in recounting the difference between the weak and the sickly and those that sleep, because of that which the Apostle said in the letter to the Corinthians which we have expounded, we have made the digression in our desire to represent what is meant to be understood by the saying, And He healed their sick. Matthew 14:14
25. Healing Precedes Participation in the Loaves of Jesus.
After this the word says, And when even had come, His disciples came to Him, saying, The place is desert and the time is already past; send, therefore, the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food. Matthew 14:15 And first observe that when about to give to the disciples the loaves of blessing, that they might set them before the multitudes, He healed the sick, in order that, having been restored to health, they might participate in the loaves of blessing; for while they are yet sickly, they are not able to receive the loaves of the blessing of Jesus. But if any one, when he ought to listen to the precept, But let each prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread, etc., 1 Corinthians 11:28 does not obey these words, but in haphazard fashion participates in the bread of the Lord and His cup, he becomes weak or sickly, or even— if I may use the expression— on account of being stupefied by the power of the bread, asleep.
Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Book XI)
1. Introduction to the Feeding of the Five Thousand.
And when even had come His disciples came to Him, Matthew 14:15 that is, at the consummation of the age in regard to which we may fitly say what is found in the Epistle of John, It is the last hour. 1 John 2:18 They, not yet understanding what the Word was about to do, say to Him, The place is desert, Matthew 14:15 seeing the desert condition of the masses in respect of God and the Law and the Word; but they say to Him, The time is past, Matthew 14:15 as if the fitting season of the law and prophets had passed. Perhaps they spoke this saying, in reference to the word of Jesus, that because of the beheading of John both the law and the prophets who were until John had ceased. Luke 16:16 The time is past, therefore they say, and no food is at hand, because the season of it is no longer present, that those who have followed You in the desert may serve the law and the prophets. And, further, the disciples say, Send them away, Matthew 14:15 that each one may buy food, if he cannot from the cities, at least from the villages—places more ignoble. Such things the disciples said, because, after the letter of the law had been abrogated and prophecies had ceased, they despaired of unexpected and new food being found for the multitudes. But see what Jesus answers to the disciples though He does not cry out and plainly say it: You suppose that, if the great multitude go away from Me in need of food, they will find it in villages rather than with Me, and among bodies of men, not of citizens but of villagers, rather than by abiding with Me. But I declare unto you, that in regard to that of which you suppose they are in need they are not in need, for they have no need to go away; but in regard to that of which you think they have no need— that is, of Me— as if I could not feed them, of this contrary to your expectation they have need. Since, then, I have trained you, and made you fit to give rational food to them who are in need of it, give ye to the crowds who have followed Me to eat; for you have the power, which you have received from Me, of giving the multitudes to eat; and if you had attended to this, you would have understood that I am far more able to feed them, and you would not have said, 'Send the multitudes away that they may go and buy food for themselves.' Matthew 14:15
2. Exposition of the Details of the Miracle.
Jesus, then, because of the power which He gave to the disciples, even the power of nourishing others, said, Give ye them to eat. Matthew 14:16 But (not denying that they can give loaves, but thinking that there were much too few and not sufficient to feed those who followed Jesus, and not considering that when Jesus takes each loaf— the Word— He extends it as far as He wills, and makes it suffice for all whomsoever He desires to nourish), the disciples say, We have here but five loaves and two fishes. Matthew 14:17 Perhaps by the five loaves they meant to make a veiled reference to the sensible words of the Scriptures, corresponding in number on this account to the five senses, but by the two fishes either to the word expressed and the word conceived, which are a relish, so to speak, to the sensible things contained in the Scriptures; or, perhaps, to the word which had come to them about the Father and the Son. Wherefore also after His resurrection He ate of a broiled fish, Luke 24:42-43 having taken a part from the disciples, and having received that theology about the Father which they were in part able to declare to Him. Such is the contribution we have been able to give to the exposition of the word about the five loaves and the two fishes; and probably those, who are better able than we to gather together the five loaves and the two fishes among themselves, would be able to give a fuller and better interpretation of their meaning. It must be observed, however, that while in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the disciples say that they have the five loaves and the two fishes, without indicating whether they were wheaten or of barley, John alone says, that the loaves were barley loaves. John 6:9 Wherefore, perhaps, in the Gospel of John the disciples do not acknowledge that the loaves are with them, but say in John, There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fishes. John 6:9 And so long as these five loaves and two fishes were not carried by the disciples of Jesus, they did not increase or multiply, nor were they able to nourish more; but, when the Saviour took them, and in the first placed looked up to heaven, with the rays of His eyes, as it were, drawing down from it power which was to be mingled with the loaves and the fishes which were about to feed the five thousand; and after this blessed the five loaves and the two fishes, increasing and multiplying them by the word and the blessing; and in the third place dividing and breaking He gave to the disciples that they might set them before the multitudes, then the loaves and the fishes were sufficient, so that all ate and were satisfied, and some portions of the loaves which had been blessed they were unable to eat. For so much remained over to the multitudes, which was not according to the capacity of the multitudes but of the disciples who were able to take up that which remained over of the broken pieces, and to place it in baskets filled with that which remained over, which were in number so many as the tribes of Israel. Concerning Joseph, then, it is written in the Psalms, His hands served in the basket, but about the disciples of Jesus that they took up that which remained over of the broken pieces twelve baskets, twelve baskets, I take it, not half-full but filled. And there are, I think, up to the present time, and will be until the consummation of the age with the disciples of Jesus, who are superior to the multitudes, the twelve baskets, filled with the broken pieces of living bread which the multitudes cannot eat. Now those who ate of the five loaves which existed before the twelve baskets that remained over, were kindred in nature to the number five; for those who ate had reached the stage of sensible things, since also they were nourished by Him who looked up to heaven and blessed and broke them, and were not boys nor women, but men. For there are, I think, even in sensible foods differences, so that some of them belong to those who have put away childish things, 1 Corinthians 13:11 and some to those who are still babes and carnal in Christ.
3. The Exposition of Details Continued. The Sitting Down on the Grass. The Division into Companies.
We have spoken these things because of the words, They that ate were five thousand men, beside children and women, Matthew 14:21 which is an ambiguous expression; for either those who ate were five thousand men, and among those who ate there was no child or woman; or the men only were five thousand, the children and the women not being reckoned. Some, then, as we have said by anticipation, have so understood the passage that neither children nor women were present, when the increase and multiplication of the five loaves and the two fishes took place. But some one might say that, while many ate and according to their desert and capacity participated in the loaves of blessing, some worthy to be numbered, corresponding to the men of twenty years old who are numbered in the Book of Numbers, Numbers 1:3 were Israelitish men, but others who were not worthy of such account and numbering were children and women. Moreover, interpret with me allegorically the children in accordance with the passage, I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ; 1 Corinthians 3:1 and the women in accordance with the saying, I wish to present you all as a pure virgin to Christ; 2 Corinthians 11:2 and the men according to the saying, When I have become a man I have put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11 Let us not pass by without exposition the words, He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass, and He look the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, He blessed, and broke, and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples to the multitudes. And they did all eat. Matthew 14:19-20 For what is meant by the words, And He commanded all the multitudes to sit down on the grass? And what are we to understand in the passage worthy of the command of Jesus? Now, I think that He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass because of what is said in Isaiah, All flesh is grass; Isaiah 40:6 that is to say, He commanded them to put the flesh under, and to keep in subjection the mind of the flesh, Romans 8:6 that so any one might be able to partake of the loaves which Jesus blesses. Then since there are different orders of those who need the food which Jesus supplies and all are not nourished by equal words, on this account I think that Mark has written, And He commanded them that they should all sit down by companies upon the green grass; and they sat down in ranks by hundreds and by fifties; Mark 6:39-40 but Luke, And He said unto His disciples, Make them sit down in companies about fifty each. Luke 9:14 For it was necessary that those who were to find rest in the food of Jesus should either be in the order of the hundred— the sacred number— which is consecrated to God, because of the unit, (in it) or in the order of the fifty— the number which embraces the remission of sins, in accordance with the mystery of the Jubilee which took place every fifty years, and of the feast at Pentecost. And I think that the twelve baskets were in the possession of the disciples to whom it was said You shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Matthew 19:28 And as the throne of him who judges the tribe of Reuben might be said to be a mystery, and the throne of him who judges the tribe of Simeon, and another of him who judges the tribe of Judah, and so on with the others; so there might be a basket of the food of Reuben, and another of Simeon, and another of Levi. But it is not in accordance with our present discourse now to digress so far from the subject in hand as to collect what is said about the twelve tribes, and separately what is said about each of them, and to say what each tribe of Israel may signify.
4. The Multitudes and the Disciples Contrasted.
And straightway He constrained the disciples to enter into the boat, and to go before Him unto the other side, till He should send the multitudes away. Matthew 14:22 It should be observed how often in the same passages is mentioned the word, the multitudes, and another word, the disciples, so that by observing and bringing together the passages about this matter it may be seen that the aim of the Evangelists was to represent by means of the Gospel history the differences of those who come to Jesus; of whom some are the multitudes and are not called disciples, and others are the disciples who are better than the multitudes. It is sufficient, however, for the present, for us to set forth a few sayings, so that any one who is moved by them may do the like with the whole of the Gospels. It is written then— as if the multitudes were below, but the disciples were able to come to Jesus when He went up into the mountain, where the multitudes were not able to be— as follows: And seeing the multitudes He went up into the mountain, and when He had sat down His disciples came unto Him; and He opened His mouth and taught them saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit, etc. Matthew 5:1-3 And again in another place, as the multitudes stood in need of healing, it is said, Many multitudes followed Him and He healed them. Matthew 12:15 We do not find any healing recorded of the disciples; since if any one is already a disciple of Jesus he is whole, and being well he needs Jesus not as a physician but in respect of His other powers. Again in another place, when He was speaking to the multitudes, His mother and His brethren stood without, seeking to speak to Him; this was made known to Him by some one to whom He answered, stretching forth His hand not towards the multitudes but towards the disciples, and said, Behold My mother and My brethren, Matthew 14:46-49 and bearing testimony to the disciples as doing the will of the Father which is in heaven, He added, He is My brother and sister and mother. Matthew 14:50 And again in another place it is written, All the multitude stood on the beach and He spoke to them many things in parables. Matthew 13:2-3 Then after the parable of the sowing, it was no longer the multitudes but the disciples who came and said to Him, not Why do you speak to us in parables, but, Why do you speak to them in parables. Matthew 13:10 Then also He answered and said, not to the multitudes but to the disciples, To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to the rest in parables. Matthew 13:11 Accordingly, of those who come to the name of Jesus some, who know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, would be called disciples; but those to whom such a privilege is not given would be called multitudes, who would be spoken of as inferior to the disciples. For observe carefully that He said to the disciples, To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but about the multitudes, To them it is not given. Matthew 13:11 And in another place He dismisses the multitudes indeed, and goes into the house, Matthew 13:36 but He does not dismiss the disciples; and there came to Him into His house, not the multitudes but His disciples, saying, Declare to us the parable of the tares of the field. Matthew 13:36 Moreover, also, in another place when Jesus heard the things concerning John and withdrew in a boat to a desert place apart, the multitudes followed Him; when He came forth and saw a great multitude He had compassion on them and healed their sick— the sick of the multitudes, not of the disciples. Matthew 14:13-14 And when even had come there came to Him, not the multitudes, but the disciples, as being different from the multitudes, saying, Send the multitudes away that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food. Matthew 14:15 And, further, when Jesus took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven He blessed and broke the loaves, He gave not to the multitudes but to the disciples, Matthew 14:19 that the disciples might give to the multitudes who were not able to take from Him, but received with difficulty at the hands of the disciples the loaves of the blessing of Jesus, and did not eat even all these; for the multitudes were filled and left that which remained over in twelve baskets which were full.
5. The Disciples in Conflict. Jesus Walks Upon the Waters.
The reason why we have taken up this subject is the passage under discussion which tells that Jesus separated the disciples from the multitudes, and constrained them to enter into the boat and to go before Him unto the other side until He Himself should send the multitudes away; Matthew 14:22 for the multitudes were not able to go away to the other side, as they were not in the mystic sense Hebrews, which are by interpretation, dwelling on the other side. But this was the work of the disciples of Jesus— I mean to go away to the other side, and to pass beyond things seen and material, as temporal, and to go on to things unseen and eternal. To be dismissed by Jesus was a sufficient act of kindness bestowed on the multitudes by Jesus; for just because they were multitudes they were not able to go away to the other side; and this kind of dismissal no one has the power to effect save Jesus only, and it is not possible for any one to be dismissed unless he has first eaten of the loaves which Jesus blesses. Nor is it possible for any one to eat of the loaves of blessing of Jesus unless he has done as Jesus commanded and sat down upon the grass as we have told. Nor again was it possible for the multitudes to do this unless they had followed Jesus from their own cities, when He withdrew into a desert place apart. And at first, when He was asked by the disciples to send away the multitudes, He did not send them away until He had fed them with the loaves of blessing; but now He sends them away, having first constrained the disciples to enter into the boat; and He sends them away, while they were somewhere below—for the desert was below—but He Himself went up into the mountain to pray. Matthew 14:23 And you must observe this, that immediately after the five thousand had been fed, Jesus constrained the disciples to embark into the boat, and to go before Him unto the other side. Only, the disciples were not able to go before Jesus to the other side; but, when they had got as far as the middle of the sea, and the boat was distressed because the wind was contrary to them, Matthew 14:24 they were afraid when about the fourth watch of the night Jesus came to them. And if Jesus had not gone up into the boat neither would the wind which was contrary to the disciples who were sailing have ceased, nor would those who were sailing have gone across and come to the other side. And, perhaps, wishing to teach them by experience that it was not possible apart from Him to go to the other side He constrained them to enter into the boat and go before Him to the other side; but, when they were not able to advance farther than the middle of the sea, He appeared to them, and did what is written, Matthew 14:25 and showed that he who arrives at the other side reaches it because Jesus sails along with him. But what is the boat into which Jesus constrained the disciples to enter? Is it perhaps the conflict of temptations and difficulties into which any one is constrained by the Word, and goes unwillingly, as it were, when the Saviour wishes to train by exercise the disciples in this boat which is distressed by the waves and the contrary wind? But since Mark has made a slight change in the reading, and for Straightway He constrained the disciples to enter into the boat and to go before Him to the other side, has written, And straightway He constrained His disciples to enter into the boat and to go before Him unto the other side unto Bethsaida, Mark 6:45 we must attend to the word, He constrained, when first we have seen to the slight variation in Mark who indicates something more definite by the addition of the pronoun; for the same thing is not expressed by the words, straightway He constrained the disciples. Something more than the disciples simply is written in Mark, namely, His disciples. Perhaps, therefore, to attend to the expression, the disciples who found it hard to tear themselves away from Jesus, and could not be separated from Him by any ordinary cause, wished to be present with Him; but He having judged that they should make trial of the waves and of the contrary wind, which would not have been contrary if they had been with Jesus, put on them the necessity of being separated from Him and entering into the boat. The Saviour then compels the disciples to enter into the boat of temptations and to go before Him to the other side, and through victory over them to go beyond critical difficulties; but when they had come into the midst of the sea, and of the waves in the temptations, and of the contrary winds which prevented them from going away to the other side, they were not able, struggling as they were without Jesus, to overcome the waves and the contrary wind and reach the other side. Wherefore the Word, taking compassion upon them who had done all that was in their power to reach the other side, came to them walking upon the sea, which for Him had no waves or wind that was able to oppose if He so willed; for it is not written, He came to them walking upon the waves, but, upon the waters; Matthew 14:25 Just as Peter, who at first when Jesus said to him, Come, went down from the boat and walked not upon the waves, but upon the waters Matthew 14:29 to come to Jesus; but when he doubted he saw that the wind was strong, which was not strong to him who laid aside his little faith and his doubting. But, when Jesus went up with Peter into the boat, the wind ceased, as it had no power to energise against the boat when Jesus had gone up into it.
6. Interpretation of the Details in the Narrative. Application Thereof to All Disciples.
And then the disciples having crossed over came to the land Gennesaret, Matthew 14:34 of which word, if we knew the interpretation, we might gain some assistance in the exposition of the present passage. And observe, since God is faithful, and will not suffer the multitudes to be tempted above that they are able, in what way the Son of God constrained the disciples to enter into the boat, as being stronger and able to get as far as the middle of the sea, and to endure the trials by the waves, until they became worthy of divine assistance, and saw Jesus and heard Him when He had gone up, and to cross over and come to the land Gennesaret; but as for the multitudes who, because they were weaker, did not make trial of the boat and the waves and the contrary wind, them He sent away, and went up into the mountain apart to pray. Matthew 14:22-23 To pray for whom? Was it perhaps to pray for the multitudes that, when they were dismissed after the loaves of blessing, they might do nothing opposed to their dismissal by Jesus? And for the disciples that, when they were constrained by Him to enter into the boat and to go before Him unto the other side, they might suffer nothing in the sea nor from the contrary wind? And I would say with confidence, that, because of the prayer of Jesus to the Father for the disciples, they suffered nothing when sea and wave and contrary wind were striving against them. The simpler disciple, then, may be satisfied with the bare narrative; but let us remember, if ever we fall into distressful temptations, that Jesus has constrained us to enter into their boat, wishing us to go before Him unto the other side; for it is not possible for us to reach the other side, unless we have endured the temptations of waves and contrary wind. Then when we see many difficulties besetting us, and with moderate struggle we have swum through them to some extent, let us consider that our boat is in the midst of the sea, distressed at that time by the waves which wish us to make shipwreck concerning faith or some one of the virtues; but when we see the spirit of the evil one striving against us, let us conceive that then the wind is contrary to us. When then in such suffering we have spent three watches of the night— that is, of the darkness which is in the temptations— striving nobly with all our might and watching ourselves so as not to make shipwreck concerning the faith or some one of the virtues—the first watch against the father of darkness and wickedness, the second watch against his son who opposes and exalts himself against all that is called God or thing that is worshipped, 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and the third watch against the spirit that is opposed to the Holy Spirit, then we believe that when the fourth watch impends, when the night is far spent, and the day is at hand, Romans 13:12 the Son of God will come to us, that He may prepare the sea for us, walking upon it. And when we see the Word appearing unto us we shall indeed be troubled before we clearly understand that it is the Saviour who has come to us, supposing that we are still beholding an apparition, and for fear shall cry out; but He Himself straightway will speak to us saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. Matthew 14:27 And if, warmly moved by His Be of good cheer, any Peter be found among us, who is on his way to perfection but has not yet become perfect, having gone down from the boat, as if coming out of that temptation in which he was distressed, he will indeed walk at first, wishing to come to Jesus upon the waters; but being as yet of little faith, and as yet doubting, will see that the wind is strong and will be afraid and begin to sink; but he will not sink because he will call upon Jesus with loud voice, and will say to Him, Lord, save me; Matthew 14:30 then immediately while such a Peter is yet speaking and saying, Lord save me, the Word will stretch forth His hand, holding out assistance to such an one, and will take hold of him when he is beginning to sink, and will reproach him for his little faith and doubting. Matthew 14:31 Only, observe that He did not say, O you without faith, but, O you of little faith, and that it was said, Wherefore did you doubt, as he had still a measure of faith, but also had a tendency towards that which was opposed to faith.
7. The Healing of the Sick on the Other Side. The Method of Healing.
But after this both Jesus and Peter will go up into the boat, and the wind will cease; and those in the boat, perceiving the great dangers from which they have been saved, will worship Him, saying, not simply, You are the Son of God, as also the two demoniacs said, but, Of a truth, You are the Son of God. Matthew 14:33 This the disciples in the boat say, for I do not think that others than the disciples said so. And when we have undergone all these experiences, having crossed over, we shall come to the land where Jesus commanded us to go before Him. And perhaps, also, some secret and occult mystery with reference to some who were saved by Jesus is indicated by the words, And when the men of that place knew Him,— plainly of the place on the other side—they sent into all that region round about,— round about the other side, not on the other side itself, but round about it—and they brought unto Him all that were sick. Matthew 14:35 And here observe that they brought unto Him not only many that were sick, but all in that region round about; and the sick who were brought to Him besought Him that they might touch if it were only the border of His garment, Matthew 14:36 beseeching this grace from Him, since they were not like the woman who had an issue of blood twelve years, and who came behind Him and touched the border of His garment, saying within herself, If I do but touch His garment, I shall be made whole. Matthew 9:20-21 For observe in what is said about the border of His garment, on account of what the flowing of her blood ceased at once. But those from the country round the land of Gennesaret, to which Jesus and His disciples crossed over and came, did not come of themselves to Jesus, but were brought by those who had sent the tidings, inasmuch as they were not able because of their extreme weakness to come of themselves. Nor did they merely touch the garment, like the woman who had an issue of blood, but they touched after that they had besought Him. Only, of these, as many as touched were made whole. Matthew 14:36 And whether there be any difference between the They were made whole, which is said in their case, and the being saved, — for it was said to the woman with the issue of blood, Your faith has saved you, Matthew 9:22 you may yourself consider.
8. Concerning the Phariseesand Scribes Who Came and Inquired, Why Do Your Disciples Transgress the Tradition of the Elders?
Then there came to Him from Jerusalem Pharisees and scribes, saying, Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread. Matthew 15:1-2 He who observes at what time the Pharisees and scribes came from Jerusalem to Jesus, saying, Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders, etc., will perceive that Matthew of necessity wrote not simply that Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem came to the Saviour to inquire of Him the matters before us, but put it thus, Then come to Him from Jerusalem. What time, therefore, are we to understand by then? At the time when Jesus and His disciples crossed over and came in the boat to the land of Gennesaret, when the wind ceased from the time that Jesus entered into the boat, and when the men of that place knowing Him sent into all that region round about, and brought unto Him all that were sick, and besought Him that they might touch if it were only the border of His garment, and as many as touched were made whole. Matthew 14:35-36 At that time came to Him from Jerusalem Pharisees and scribes, not struck with admiration at the power which was in Jesus, which healed those who only touched even the border of His garment, but in a censorious spirit, accusing the disciples before their Teacher, not concerning the transgression of a commandment of God, but of a single tradition of the Jewish elders. And it is probable that this very charge of these censorious persons is a proof of the piety of the disciples of Jesus, who gave to the Pharisees and scribes no opportunity of censure with reference to the transgression of the commandments of God, as they would not have brought the charge of transgression against the disciples, as transgressing the commandment of the elders, if they had had it in their power to censure those whom they accused, and to show that they were transgressing a commandment of God. But do not suppose that these things go to establish the necessity of keeping the law of Moses according to the letter, because the disciples of Jesus up to that time kept it; for not before He suffered did He redeem us from the curse of the law, Galatians 3:13 who in suffering for men became a curse for us. But just as fittingly Paul became a Jew to the Jews that he might gain Jews, 1 Corinthians 9:20 what strange thing is it that the Apostles, whose way of life was passed among the Jews, even though they understood the spiritual things in the law, should have used a spirit of accommodation, as Paul also did when he circumcised Timothy, Galatians 2:3 and offered sacrifice in accordance with a certain legal vow, as is written in the Acts of the Apostles? Only, again, they appear fond of bringing accusations, as they have no charge to bring against the disciples of Jesus with reference to a commandment of God, but only with reference to one tradition of the elders. And especially does this love of accusation become manifest in this, that they bring the charge in presence of those very persons who had been healed from their sickness; in appearance against the disciples, but in reality purposing to slander their Teacher, as it was a tradition of the elders that the washing of hands was a thing essential to piety. For they thought that the hands of those who did not wash before eating bread were defiled and unclean, but that the hands of those who had washed them with water became pure and holy, not in a figurative sense, in due relation to the law of Moses according to the letter. But let us, not according to the tradition of the elders among the Jews, but according to sound reason, endeavour to purify our own actions and so to wash the hands of our souls, when we are about to eat the three loaves which we ask from Jesus, who wishes to be our friend; for with hands that are defiled and unwashed and impure, we ought not to partake of the loaves.
9. Explanation of Corban.
Jesus, however, does not accuse them with reference to a tradition of the Jewish elders, but with regard to two most imperative commandments of God, the one of which was the fifth in the decalogue, being as follows: Honour your father and your mother, that it may be well with you, and that your days may be long on the land which the Lord your God gives you; Exodus 20:12 and the other was written thus in Leviticus, If a man speak evil of his father or his mother, let him die the death; he has spoken evil of his father or mother, he shall be guilty. Leviticus 20:9 But when we wish to examine the very letter of the words as given by Matthew, He that speaks evil of father or mother, let him die the death, Matthew 15:4 consider whether it was taken from the place where it was written, Whoso strikes his father or mother, let him die the death; and he that speaks evil of father or mother let him die the death. For such are the exact words taken from the Law with regard to the two commandments; but Matthew has quoted them in part and in an abridged form, and not in the very words. But what the nature of the charge is which the Saviour brings against the Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem, when He says that they transgress the commandment of God because of their tradition we must consider. And God said, Honour your father and your mother, Exodus 20:12 teaching that the child should pay the honour which is due to his parents. Of this honour to parents one part was to share with them the necessaries of life, such as food and clothing, and if there was any other thing in which it was possible for them to show favour towards their own parents. But the Pharisees and scribes promulgated in opposition to the law a tradition which is found rather obscurely in the Gospel, and which we ourselves would not have thought of, unless one of the Hebrews had given to us the following facts relating to the passage. Sometimes, he says, when money-lenders fell in with stubborn debtors who were able but not willing to pay their debts, they consecrated what was due to the account of the poor, for whom money was cast into the treasury by each of those who wished to give a portion of their goods to the poor according to their ability. They, therefore, said sometimes to their debtors in their own tongue, That which you owe to me is Corban,— that is, a gift— for I have consecrated it to the poor, to the account of piety towards God. Then the debtor, as no longer in debt to men but to God and to piety towards God, was shut up, as it were, even though unwilling, to payment of the debt, no longer to the money-lender, but now to God for the account of the poor, in name of the money-lender. What then the money-lender did to the debtor, that sometimes some sons did to their parents and said to them, That wherewith you might have been profited by me, father or mother, know that you will receive this from Corban, Matthew 15:4 from the account of the poor who are consecrated to God. Then the parents, hearing that that which should have been given to them was Corban—consecrated to God—no longer wished to take it from their sons, even though they were in extreme need of the necessaries of life. The elders, then, declared to the people a tradition of this kind, Whosoever said to his father or mother, that which should be given to any of them is Corban and a gift, that man was no longer a debtor to his father or mother in respect of giving to them the necessaries of life. The Saviour censures this tradition, as not being sound but opposed to the commandment of God. For if God says, Honour your father and your mother, but the tradition said, he is not bound to honour his father or mother by a gift, who has consecrated to God, as Corban, that which would have been given to his parents, manifestly the commandment of God concerning the honour due to parents was made void by the tradition of the Pharisees and scribes which said, that he was no longer bound to honour his father or mother, who had, once for all, consecrated to God that which the parents would have received. And the Pharisees, as lovers of money, in order that under pretext of the poor they might receive even that which would have been given to the parents of any one, gave such teaching. And the Gospel testifies to their love of money, saying, But the Pharisees who were lovers of money heard these things and they scoffed at Him. Luke 16:14 If, then, any one of those who are called elders among us, or of those who are in any way rulers of the people, profess to give to the poor under the name of the commonweal, rather than to be of those who give to their kindred if they should chance to be in need of the necessaries of life, and those who give cannot do both, this man might with justice be called a brother of those Pharisees who made void the word of God through their own tradition, and were accused by the Saviour as hypocrites. And as a very powerful deterrent to any one from being anxious to take from the account of the poor, and from thinking that the piety of others is a way of gain, 1 Timothy 6:5 we have not only these things, but also that which is recorded about the traitor Judas, who in appearance championed the cause of the poor, and said with indignation, This ointment might have been sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor, but in reality was a thief, and having the bag took away what was put therein. John 12:6 If, then, any one in our time who has the bag of the Church speaks likes Judas on behalf of the poor, but takes away what is put therein, let there be assigned to him the portion along with Judas who did these things; on account of which things eating like a gangrene into his soul, the devil cast it into his heart to betray the Saviour; and, when he had received the fiery dart, Ephesians 6:16 with reference to this end, the devil afterwards himself entered into his soul and took full possession of him. And perhaps, when the Apostle says, The love of money is a root of all evils, 1 Timothy 6:10 he says it because of Judas' love of money, which was a root of all the evils that were committed against Jesus.
10. The Traditions of the Elders in Collision with Divine Law.
But let us return to the subject before us, in which the Saviour abridged and expounded two commandments from the law, the one from the decalogue from Exodus, and the other from Leviticus, or the other from some one of the books of the Pentateuch. Then since we have explained in what way they made void the word of God which said, Honour your father and your mother, by saying, You shall not honour your father or your mother, whosoever shall say to his father or mother, It is a gift that wherewith you might have been profited by me, some one may inquire whether the words, He that speaks evil of father or mother, let him die the death, Matthew 15:4 are not extraneous. For, granted that he does not honour his father and mother, who consecrates to what is called Corban that which would have been given in honour of father and mother, in what way, therefore, does the tradition of the Pharisees make void the word which said, He that speaks evil of father or mother, let him die the death? But, perhaps, when any one said to his father or his mother, It is a gift, that wherewith you might have been profited by me, Matthew 15:5 he, as it were, casts abuse on his father or mother as if he were calling his parents sacrilegious, in taking that which was consecrated to Corban from him who had consecrated it to Corban. The Jews then punish their sons according to the law, as speaking evil of father or mother, when they say to their father or mother, It is a gift, that wherewith you might have been profited by me, but you by one of your traditions make void two commandments of God. And then you are not ashamed to accuse My disciples who transgress no commandment; for they walk in all His commandments and ordinances blamelessly, but transgress a tradition of the elders, so as not to transgress a commandment of God. And if you had held this aim before you, you would have kept the commandment about the honour due to father and mother, and that which said, He that speaks evil of father and mother, let him die the death; but the tradition of the elders which is opposed to these commandments you would not have kept.
11. Exposition of the Prophecy of Isaiah Quoted by Jesus.
And, after this, wishing to refute completely from the words of the prophets all these traditions of the elders among the Jews, He brought before them a saying, from Isaiah, which in the exact words is as follows: And the Lord said, This people draws near to Me with their mouth, etc.; Isaiah 29:13 and, as we said before, Matthew has not written out the prophetical saying in the very words. And, if it be necessary because of its use in the Gospel to interpret it according to our ability, we will take in addition the preceding passage which is, in my judgment, noted with advantage by us for the exposition of that passage in the Gospel which was taken from the prophet. The passage in Isaiah from the beginning is thus, Be faint, and be maddened: be ye drunken, but not with strong drink nor with wine: for the Lord has given you to drink of the spirit of stupor, and He will close their eyes, both of their prophets, and of their rulers who see things secret. And all these sayings shall be to you as the words of the book, which has been sealed, which if they give to a man who knows letters, saying, Read this, he shall answer, I cannot read, for it is sealed. And this book will be given into the hands of a man who does not know letters, and one will say to him, Read this, and he will say, I know not letters. And the Lord said, This people is near to Me, etc., down to the words, Woe unto them that form counsel in secret, and their works shall be in darkness. Isaiah 29:9-15 Taking up then the passage before us in the Gospel, I have put some of the verses which come before it, and some which follow it, in order to show in what way the Word threatens to close the eyes of those of the people who are astonished and drunken, and have been made to drink of the spirit of deep sleep. And it threatens also to close the eyes of their prophets and their rulers who profess to see things secret—which things, I think, took place after the advent of the Saviour among that people; for all the words of the whole of the Scriptures, and of Isaiah also, have become to them as the words of a sealed book. Now the expression sealed is used of a book closed in virtue of its obscurity and not open in virtue of its lucidity, which is equally obscure to those who are not able to read it at all because they do not know letters, and to those who profess to know letters but do not understand the meaning in the things which have been written. Well, then, does he add to this, that when the people, fainting because of their sins and being in a state of madness rage against Him through those sins wherewith they shall be drunken against Him with the spirit of stupor, which shall be given to them to drink by the Lord when He closes their eyes, as unworthy to see, and the eyes of their prophets and of their rulers who profess to see the hidden things of the mysteries in the Divine Scriptures; and, when their eyes are closed, then shall the prophetic words be sealed to them and hidden, as has been the case with those who do not believe in Jesus as the Christ. And when the prophetic sayings have become as the words of a sealed book, not only to those who do not know letters but to those who profess to know, then the Lord said, that the people of the Jews draw near to God with their mouth only, and He says that they honour Him with their lips, because their heart by reason of their unbelief in Jesus is far from the Lord. And now, especially, from the time at which they denied our Saviour, it might be said about them by God, But in vain do they worship Me; Matthew 15:9 for they no longer teach the precepts of God but of men, and doctrines which are human and no longer of the Spirit of wisdom. Wherefore, when these things happen to them, God has removed the people of the Jews, and has caused to perish the wisdom of the wise men among them; for there is no longer wisdom among them, just as there is no prophecy; but God has utterly destroyed the prudence of the prudent and concealed it, Isaiah 29:14 and no longer is it splendid and conspicuous. Wherefore, although they may seem to form some counsel in a deep fashion, because they do it not through the Lord they are called miserable; and even though they profess to tell some secrets of the Divine counsel they lie, since their works are not works of light, but of darkness and night. Isaiah 29:15 I have thought it right briefly to set forth the prophecy, and to a certain extent elucidate its meaning, seeing that Matthew made mention of it. And Mark also made mention of it, from whom we may usefully set down the following words in the place, with reference to the transgression of the elders who held that it was necessary to wash hands when the Jews ate bread, For the Pharisees and all the Jews, except they wash their hands diligently, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders; and when they come from the market-place except they wash themselves they eat not. And there are some other things which they have received to hold, washings of cups and pots and brazen vessels and couches. Mark 7:3-4
12. Things Clean and Unclean According to the Law and the Gospel.
And He called to Him the multitude and said unto them, Hear and understand, etc. Matthew 15:10 We are clearly taught in these words by the Saviour that, when we read in Leviticus and Deuteronomy the precepts about meat clean and unclean, for the transgression of which we are accused by the material Jews and by the Ebionites who differ little from them, we are not to think that the scope of the Scripture is found in any superficial understanding of them. For if not that which enters into the mouth defiles the man, but that which proceeds out of the mouth, Matthew 15:11 and especially when, according to Mark, the Saviour said these things making all meats clean, Mark 7:19 manifestly we are not defiled when we eat those things which the Jews who desire to be in bondage to the letter of the law declare to be unclean, but we are then defiled when, whereas our lips ought to be bound with perception and we ought to make for them what we call a balance and weight, Sirach 28:25 we speak offhand and discuss matters we ought not, from which there comes to us the spring of sins. And it is indeed becoming to the law of God to forbid those things which arise from wickedness, and to enjoin those things which tend to virtue, but as for things which are in their own nature indifferent to leave them in their own place, as they may, according to our choice and the reason which is in us, be done ill if we sin in them, but if rightly directed by us be done well. And any one who has carefully thought on these matters will see that, even in those things which are thought to be good, it is possible for a man to sin who has taken them up in an evil way and under the impulse of passion, and that these things called impure may be considered pure, if used by us in accordance with reason. As, then, when the Jew sins his circumcision shall be reckoned for uncircumcision, but when one of the Gentiles acts uprightly his uncircumcision shall be reckoned for circumcision, Romans 2:25-26 so those things which are thought to be pure shall be reckoned for impure in the case of him who does not use them fittingly, nor when one ought, nor as far as he ought, nor for what reason he ought. But as for the things which are called impure, All things become pure to the pure, for, To them that are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure, since both their minds and their conscience are defiled. Titus 1:15 And when these are defiled, they make all things whatsoever they touch defiled; as again on the contrary the pure mind and the pure conscience make all things pure, even though they may seem to be impure; for not from intemperance, nor from love of pleasure, nor with doubting which draws a man both ways, do the righteous use meats or drinks, mindful of the precept, Whether you eat or drink or whatsoever other thing ye do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 And if it be necessary to delineate the foods which are unclean according to the Gospel, we will say that they are such as are supplied by covetousness, and are the result of base love of gain, and are taken up from love of pleasure, and from deifying the belly which is treated with honour, when it, with its appetites, and not reason, rules our souls. But as for us who know that some things are used by demons, or if we do not know, but suspect, and are in doubt about it, if we use such things, we have used them not to the glory of God, nor in the name of Christ; for not only does the suspicion that things have been sacrificed to idols condemn him who eats, but even the doubt concerning this; for he that doubts, according to the Apostle, is condemned if he eat, because he eats not of faith; and whatsoever is not of faith is sin. Romans 14:23 He then eats in faith who believes that that which is eaten has not been sacrificed in the temples of idols, and that it is not strangled nor blood; but he eats not of faith who is in doubt about any of these things. And the man who knowing that they have been sacrificed to demons nevertheless uses them, becomes a communicant with demons, while at the same time, his imagination is polluted with reference to demons participating in the sacrifice. And the Apostle, however, knowing that it is not the nature of meats which is the cause of injury to him who uses them or of advantage to him who refrains from their use, but opinions and the reason which is in them, said, But meat commends us not to God, for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we eat not are we the worse. 1 Corinthians 8:8 And since he knew that those who have a loftier conception of what things are pure and what impure according to the law, turning aside from the distinction about the use of things pure and impure, and superstition, I think, in respect of things being different, become indifferent to the use of meats, and on this account are condemned by the Jews as transgressors of law, he said therefore, somewhere, Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink, etc., Colossians 2:16 teaching us that the things according to the letter are a shadow, but that the true thoughts of the law which are stored up in them are the good things to come, in which one may find what are the pure spiritual meats of the soul, and what are the impure foods in false and contradictory words which injure the man who is nourished in them, For the law had a shadow of the good things to come. Hebrews 10:1
13. The Offence of the Pharisees.
And as in many cases we have to consider the astonishment of the Jews at the words of the Saviour, because they were spoken with authority, so also in regard to the words in this place. Having called the multitudes therefore, He said unto them, Hear and understand, Matthew 15:10 etc. And He said this, the Pharisees being offended at this saying, as, because of their evil opinions and their worthless interpretation of the law, they were not the plant of his own Father in heaven, and on this account were being rooted up; Matthew 15:13 for they were rooted up as they did not receive the true vine, which was cultivated by the Father, even Jesus Christ. John 15:1 For how could they be a plant of His Father who were offended at the words of Jesus, words which turn men away from the precept, Handle not, nor taste, nor touch—all which things were to perish in the using— after the precepts and doctrines of men, Colossians 2:21-22 but induce the intelligent hearer of them to seek in regard to them the things which are above and not the things upon the earth as the Jews do? Colossians 3:2 And since, because of their evil opinions, the Pharisees were not the plant of His Father in heaven, on this account, as about such as were incorrigible, He says to the disciple, Let them alone; Matthew 15:14 Let them alone, He said for this reason, that as they were blind they ought to become conscious of their blindness and seek guides; but they, being unconscious of their own blindness, profess to guide the blind, not reckoning that they would fall into a pit, about which it is written in the Psalms, He has made a pit, and dug it, and will fall into the ditch which he has made. Again, elsewhere it is written, And seeing the multitudes, He went up into the mountain, and when He had sat down His disciples came unto Him; Matthew 5:1 but here He stretches forth His hand to the multitude, calling them unto Him, and turning their thoughts away from the literal interpretation of the questions in the law, when He in the first place said to them, who did not yet understand what they heard, Hear and understand, and thereafter as in parables said to them, Not that which enters into the mouth defiles the man, but that which proceeds out of the mouth. Matthew 15:10-11
14. Why the Pharisees Were Not a Plant of God. Teaching of Origen on the Bread of the Lord.
After this, it is worth while to look at the phrase which has been assailed in a sophistical way by those who say that the God of the law and the God of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not the same; for they say that the heavenly Father of Jesus Christ is not the husbandman of those who think that they worship God according to the law of Moses. Jesus Himself said that the Pharisees, who were worshipping the God who created the world and the law, were not a plant which His heavenly Father had planted, and that for this reason it was being rooted up. Matthew 15:13 But you might also say this, that even if it were the Father of Jesus who brought in and planted the people, when it came out of Egypt, to the mountain of His own inheritance, to the place which He had prepared for Himself to dwell in, Exodus 15:17 yet Jesus would have said, in regard to the Pharisees, Every plant which My heavenly Father planted not, shall be rooted up. Now, to this we will say, that as many as on account of their perverse interpretation of the things in the law were not a plant of His Father in heaven, were blinded in their minds, as not believing the truth, but taking pleasure in unrighteousness, 2 Thessalonians 2:12 by him who is deified by the sons of this world, and on this account is called by Paul the god of this world. 2 Corinthians 4:4 And do not suppose that Paul said that he was truly God; for just as the belly, though it is not the god of those who prize pleasure too highly, being lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, is said by Paul to be their god, Philippians 3:19 so the prince of this world, in regard to whom the Saviour says, Now has the prince of this world been judged, John 16:11 though he is not God, is said to be the god of those who do not wish to receive the spirit of adoption, in order that they may become sons of that world, and sons of the resurrection from the dead, and who, on this account, abide in the sonship of this world. I have deemed it necessary to introduce these matters, even though they may have been spoken by way of digression, because of the saying, They are blind guides of the blind. Matthew 15:14 Who are such? The Pharisees, whose minds the god of this world has blinded as they are unbelieving, because they have not believed in Jesus Christ; and he has blinded them so that the light of the Gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ should not dawn upon them. 2 Corinthians 4:4 But not only must we avoid being guided by those blind ones who are conscious that they are in need of guides, because they have not yet received the power of vision of themselves; but even in the case of all who profess to guide us in sound doctrine, we must hear with care, and apply a sound judgment to what is said, lest being guided according to the ignorance of those who are blind, and do not see the things that concern sound doctrine, we ourselves may appear to be blind because we do not see the sense of the Scriptures, so that both he who guides and he who is guided will fall into the ditch of which we have spoken before. Next to this, it is written in what way Peter answered and said to the Saviour, as if he had not understood the saying, Not that which comes into the mouth defiles the man, but that which goes out of the mouth, Declare unto us the parable. Matthew 15:11 To which the Saviour says, Are ye also, even yet, without understanding? Matthew 15:16 As if He had said, Having been so long time with Me, do ye not yet understand the meaning of what is said, and do ye not perceive that for this reason that which goes into his mouth does not defile the man, because it passes into the belly, and going out from it is cast into the draught? Matthew 15:17 It was not in respect of the law in which they appeared to believe, that the Pharisees were not a plant of the Father of Jesus, but in respect of their perverse interpretation of the law and the things written in it. For since there are two things to be understood in regard to the law, the ministration of death which was engraven in letters and which had no kinship with the spirit, and the ministration of life which is understood in the spiritual law, those who were able with a sincere heart to say, We know that the law is spiritual, Romans 7:14 and therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and righteous and good, Romans 7:12 were the plant which the heavenly Father planted; but those who were not such, but guarded with care the letter which kills only, were not a plant of God but of him who hardened their heart, and put a veil over it, which veil had power over them so long as they did not turn to the Lord; for if any one should turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away, and the Lord is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:16-17 Now some one when dealing with the passage might say, that just as not that which enters into the mouth defiles the man, Matthew 15:11 of even though it may be thought by the Jews to be defiled, so not that which enters into the mouth sanctifies the man, even though what is called the bread of the Lord may be thought by the simpler disciples to sanctify. And the saying is I think, not to be despised, and on this account, demands clear exposition, which seems to me to be thus; as it is not the meat but the conscience of him who eats with doubt which defiles him that eats, for he that doubts is condemned if he eat, because he eats not of faith, Romans 14:23 and as nothing is pure to him who is defiled and unbelieving, not in itself, but because of his defilement and unbelief, so that which is sanctified through the word of God and prayer does not, in its own nature, sanctify him who uses it, for, if this were so, it would sanctify even him who eats unworthily of the bread of the Lord, and no one on account of this food would become weak or sickly or asleep for something of this kind Paul represented in saying, For this cause many among you are weak and sickly and not a few sleep. 1 Corinthians 11:30 And in the case of the bread of the Lord, accordingly, there is advantage to him who uses it, when with undefiled mind and pure conscience he partakes of the bread. And so neither by not eating, I mean by the very fact that we do not eat of the bread which has been sanctified by the word of God and prayer, are we deprived of any good thing, nor by eating are we the better by any good thing; for the cause of our lacking is wickedness and sins, and the cause of our abounding is righteousness and right actions; so that such is the meaning of what is said by Paul, For neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we eat not are we the worse. 1 Corinthians 8:8 Now, if everything that enters into the mouth goes into the belly and is cast out into the drought, Matthew 15:17 even the meat which has been sanctified through the word of God and prayer, in accordance with the fact that it is material, goes into the belly and is cast out into the draught, but in respect of the prayer which comes upon it, according to the proportion of the faith, becomes a benefit and is a means of clear vision to the mind which looks to that which is beneficial, and it is not the material of the bread but the word which is said over it which is of advantage to him who eats it not unworthily of the Lord. And these things indeed are said of the typical and symbolic body. But many things might be said about the Word Himself who became flesh, John 1:14 and true meat of which he that eats shall assuredly live for ever, no worthless person being able to eat it; for if it were possible for one who continues worthless to eat of Him who became flesh, who was the Word and the living bread, it would not have been written, that every one who eats of this bread shall live for ever. John 6:51
15. Eating with Unwashed Heart Defiles the Man.
Next to this let us see how the things which proceed out and defile the man do not defile the man because of their proceeding out of the mouth, but have the cause of their defilement in the heart, when there come forth out of it, before those things which proceed through the mouth, evil thoughts, of which the species are— murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, railings. Matthew 15:18-19 For these are the things which defile the man, when they come forth out of the heart, and going out from it proceed through the mouth; so that, if they did not come out of the heart, but were retained there somewhere about the heart, and were not allowed to be spoken through the mouth, they would very quickly disappear, and a man would be no more defiled. The spring and source, then, of every sin are evil thoughts; for, unless these gained the mastery, neither murders nor adulteries nor any other such thing would exist. Therefore, each man must keep his own heart with all watchfulness; Proverbs 4:23 for when the Lord comes in the day of judgment, He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts, 1 Corinthians 4:5 all the thoughts of men meanwhile accusing or else excusing them, Romans 2:15 when their own devices have beset them about. Hosea 7:2 But of such a nature are the evil thoughts that sometimes they make worthy of censure even those things which seem good, and which, so far as the judgment of the masses is concerned, are worthy of praise. Accordingly, if we do alms before men, having in our thoughts the design of appearing to men philanthropic, and of being honoured because of philanthropy, we receive the reward from men; Matthew 6:1-2 and, universally, everything that is done with the consciousness in the doer that he will be glorified by men, has no reward from Him who beholds in secret, and renders the reward to those who are pure, in secret. So, too, therefore, is it with apparent purity if it is influenced by considerations of vain glory or love of gain; and the teaching which is thought to be the teaching of the Church, if it becomes servile through the word of flattery, either when it is made the excuse for covetousness, or when any one seeks glory from men because of his teaching, is not reckoned to be the teaching of those who have been set by God in the Church: first, apostles; secondly, prophets; and thirdly, teachers. 1 Corinthians 12:28 And you will say the like in the case of him who seeks the office of a bishop for the sake of glory with men, or of flattery from men, or for the sake of the gain received from those who, coming over to the word, give in the name of piety; for a bishop of this kind at any rate does not desire a good work, 1 Timothy 3:1 nor can he be without reproach, nor temperate, nor sober-minded, as he is intoxicated with glory and intemperately satiated with it. And the same also you will say about the elders and deacons. And if we seem to some to have made a digression in speaking of these things, consider if it were not necessary that they should be said, because that evil thoughts are the spring of all sins, and can pollute even those actions which, if they were done apart from evil thoughts, would have justified the man who did them. We have thus investigated according to our ability what are the things which defile; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man; but if we must say it with boldness, with unwashed heart to eat anything whatsoever which is the natural food of our reason, defiles the man.
16. Concerning the Canaanitish Woman. Meaning of the Borders of Tyre and Sidon.
And Jesus went out thence and withdrew into the parts of Tyre and Sidon. And behold a Canaanitish woman. Matthew 15:21-22 Whence the thence? Was it from the land of Gennesaret, concerning which it was said before, And when they had crossed over they came into the land of Gennesaret? Matthew 14:34 But He withdrew, perhaps because the Pharisees were offended when they heard that not that which enters in, but that which proceeds out, defiles the man; Matthew 15:11 and that, because of their being suspected of plotting against Him, it is said, He withdrew, is manifest from the passage, And when He heard that John was delivered up He withdrew into Galilee. Matthew 4:12 Perhaps also on this account, when describing the things in this place, Mark says that He rose up and went into the borders of Tyre, and having entered into the house wished no man to know it. Mark 7:24 It is probable that He sought to avoid the Pharisees who were offended at His teaching, waiting for the time for His suffering, which was more fitting and rightly appointed. But some one might say that Tyre and Sidon are used for the Gentiles; accordingly when He withdrew from Israel He came into the parts of the Gentiles. Among the Hebrews, then, Tyre is called Sor, and it is interpreted anguish. Sidon, which is also the Hebrew name, is rendered hunters. And among the Gentiles likewise the hunters are the evil powers, and among them is great distress, the distress, namely, which exists in wickedness and passions. When Jesus, then, went out from Gennesaret He withdrew indeed from Israel and came, not to Tyre and Sidon, but into the parts of Tyre and Sidon, with the result that those of the Gentiles now believe in part; so that if He had visited the whole of Tyre and Sidon, no unbeliever would have been left in it. Now, according to Mark, Jesus rose up and went into the borders of Tyre, Mark 7:24 — that is, the distress of the Gentiles—in order that they also from these borders who believe can be saved, when they come out of them; for attend to this: And behold a Canaanitish woman came out from these borders and cried saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David, my daughter is terribly vexed with a demon. Matthew 15:22 And I think that if she had not come out from those borders she would not have been able to cry to Jesus with the great faith to which testimony was borne; and according to the proportion of faith one comes out from the borders among the Gentiles, which when the Most High divided the nations He set up according to the number of the sons of Israel, Deuteronomy 32:8 and prevented their further advance. Here, then, certain borders are spoken of as the borders of Tyre and Sidon, but in Exodus the borders of Pharaoh, Exodus 8:2 in which, they say, were formed the plagues against the Egyptians. And we must suppose that each of us when he sins is in the borders of Tyre or Sidon or of Pharaoh and Egypt, or some one of those which are outside the allotted inheritance of God; but when he changes from wickedness to virtue he goes out from the borders of evil, and comes to the borders of the portion of God, there being among these also a difference which will be manifest to those who are able to understand the things that concern the division and the inheritance of Israel, in harmony with the spiritual law. And attend also to the meeting, so to speak, which took place between Jesus and the Canaanitish woman; for He comes as to the parts of Tyre and Sidon, and she comes out of those parts, and cried, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David. Matthew 15:22 Now the woman was Canaanitish, which is rendered, prepared for humiliation. The righteous, indeed, are prepared for the kingdom of heaven and for the exaltation in the kingdom of God; but sinners are prepared for the humiliation of the wickedness which is in them, and of the deeds which flow from it and prepare them for it, and of the sin which reigns in their mortal body. Only, the Canaanitish woman came out of those borders and went forth from the state of being prepared for humiliation, crying and saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David.
17. Exposition of the Details in the Narrative.
Now bring together from the Gospels those who call Him Son of David, as she, and the blind men in Jericho; Matthew 20:30 and who call Him Son of God, and that without the addition truly like the demoniacs who say, What have we to do with You, Thou Son of God; Matthew 8:29 and who call Him so with the addition truly, like those in the boat who worshipped Him saying, Truly You are the Son of God. Matthew 14:33 For the bringing together of these passages will, I think, be useful to you with a view to seeing the difference of those who come (to Jesus); some indeed come as to Him who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh; Romans 1:3 but others come to Him who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness; Romans 1:4 and of these some with the truly, and some without it. Further, observe, that the Canaanitish woman besought Him not about a son, whom she does not seem to have brought forth at all, but about a daughter who was terribly vexed with a demon; but another mother receives back alive her son who was being carried forth dead. Luke 7:12 And again the ruler of the synagogue makes supplication for a daughter twelve years old, as being dead, Matthew 9:18 but the nobleman about a son as being still sick, and at the point of death. John 4:46 The daughter, accordingly, who was distressed by a demon, and the dead son sprang from two mothers; and the dead daughter, and the son who was sick unto death, sprang from two fathers, of whom the one was a ruler of the synagogue, and the other was a nobleman. And I am persuaded these things contain reasons concerning the diverse kinds of souls which Jesus vivifies and heals. And all the cures that He works among the people, especially those recorded by the Evangelists, took place at that time, that those who would not otherwise have believed unless they saw signs and wonders might believe; John 4:48 for the things aforetime were symbols of the things that are ever being accomplished by the power of Jesus; for there is no time when each of the things which are written is not done by the power of Jesus according to the desert of each. The Canaanitish woman, therefore, because of her race was not worthy even to receive an answer from Jesus, who acknowledged that He had not been sent by the Father for any other thing than to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, Matthew 15:24 — a lost race of souls possessed of clear vision; but, because of her resolution and of having worshipped Jesus as Son of God, she obtains an answer, which reproaches her with baseness of birth and exhibits the measure of her worthiness, namely, that she was worthy of crumbs as the little dogs, but not of the loaves. But when she with intensified resolution, accepting the saying of Jesus, puts forth the claim to obtain crumbs even as a little dog, and acknowledges that the masters are of a nobler race, then she gets a second answer, which bears testimony to her faith as great, and a promise that it shall be done unto her as she wills. Matthew 15:28 And corresponding, I think, to the Jerusalem above, which is free, the mother Galatians 4:26 of Paul and those like to him, must we conceive of the Canaanitish woman, the mother of her who was terribly distressed with a demon, who was the symbol of the mother of such a soul. And consider whether it is not according to sound reason that there are also many fathers and many mothers corresponding to the fathers of Abraham to whom the patriarch went away, Genesis 15:15 and to Jerusalem the mother, as Paul says, concerning himself and those like to him. And it is probable that she of whom the Canaanitish woman was a symbol came out of the borders of Tyre and Sidon, of which the places on earth were types, and came to the Saviour and besought Him and even now beseeches Him saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David, my daughter is terribly vexed with a demon. Matthew 15:22 Then also to those without and to the disciples when necessary He answers and says, I was not sent; Matthew 15:24 teaching us that there are some lost souls pre-eminently intellectual and clear of vision, figuratively called sheep of the house of Israel; which things, I think, the simpler who are of opinion that they are spoken in regard to the Israel which is after the flesh will of necessity admit, namely, that our Saviour was sent by the Father to no others than to those lost Jews. But we, who can truthfully boast that if we have once known Christ after the flesh, but now no longer do we know Him so, 2 Corinthians 5:16 are assured that it is pre-eminently the work of the Word to save the more intelligent, for these are more akin to Him than those who are duller. But since the lost sheep of the house of Israel, with the exception of the remnant according to the election of grace, Romans 11:5 disbelieved the Word, on this account God chose the foolish things of the world, 1 Corinthians 1:27 namely, that which was not Israel, nor clear of vision, that He might put to shame the wise ones of Israel; and He called the things which are not, 1 Corinthians 1:28 handing over to them an intelligent nation who were able to admit the foolishness of the preaching, 1 Corinthians 1:21 and of His good pleasure saved those who believe in this, that He might refute the things which are, having perfected praise for Himself, out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, when they became hostile to truth. Now, the Canaanitish woman, having come, worshipped Jesus as God, saying, Lord, help me, but He answered and said, It is not possible to take the children's bread and cast it to the little dogs. Matthew 15:25-26 But some one might inquire also into the meaning of this saying, since—inasmuch as there was a measure of loaves such that both the children and the dogs of the household could not eat loaves, unless the dogs ate other loaves than those which were well made—it was not possible according to right reason for the well-made loaf of the children to be given as food to the little dogs. But no such thing appears in the case of the power of Jesus, for of this it was possible both for the children and those called little dogs to partake. Consider, then, whether perhaps with reference to the saying, It is not possible to take the bread of children, we ought to say that, He who emptied Himself and took upon Him the form of a servant, Philippians 2:7 brought a measure of power such as the world was capable of receiving, of which power also He was conscious that a certain quantity went forth from Him as is plain from the words, Some one did touch Me, for I perceived that power had gone forth from Me. Luke 8:46 From this measure of power, then, He dispensed, giving a larger portion to those who were pre-eminent and who were called sons, but a smaller portion to those who were not such, as to the little dogs. But though these things were so, nevertheless where there was great faith, to her, who because of her base birth in Canaanitish land was a little dog, He gave as to a child the bread of the children. And perhaps, also, of the words of Jesus there are some loaves which it is possible to give to the more rational, as to children only; and other words, as it were, crumbs from the great house and table of the wellborn and the masters, which may be used by some souls, like the dogs. And according to the law of Moses it is written about certain things, You shall cast them to the dogs, Exodus 22:31 and it was a matter of care to the Holy Spirit to give instruction about certain foods that they should be left to the dogs. Let others, then, who are strangers to the doctrine of the Church, assume that souls pass from the bodies of men into the bodies of dogs, according to their varying degree of wickedness; but we, who do not find this at all in the divine Scripture, say that the more rational condition changes into one more irrational, undergoing this affection in consequence of great slothfulness and negligence. But, also, in the same way, a will which was more irrational, because of its neglect of reason, sometimes turns and becomes rational, so that that which at one time was a dog, loving to eat of the crumbs that fell from the table of its masters, comes into the condition of a son. For virtue contributes greatly to the making of one a son of God, but wickedness, and mad fury in wanton discourses and shamelessness, contribute to the giving of a man the name of dog according to the word of the Scripture. 2 Samuel 16:9 And the like you will also understand in the case of the other names which are applied to animals without reason. Only, he who is reproached as a dog and yet is not indignant at being called unworthy of the bread of children and with all forbearance repeats the saying of that Canaanitish woman, Yea, Lord, for even the little dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' Matthew 15:27 table, will obtain the very gentle answer of Jesus saying to him, Great is your faith,— when he has received so great faith— and saying, Be it done unto you even as you will, Matthew 15:28 so that he himself may be healed, and if he has produced any fruit which stands in need of healing, that this, too, may be cured.
18. Concerning the Multitudes Who Were Healed. Comparison of the Mountain Where Jesus Sat to the Church.
And Jesus departed thence,— manifestly, from what has been said before, from the parts of Tyre and Sidon,— and came near unto the sea of Galilee, Matthew 15:29 which is commonly called the Lake of Gennesaret, and again went up into the mountain where He went up and sat. We may say, then, that into this mountain where Jesus sits, not only the sound in health go up, but along with the sound, those also who were suffering from various disorders. And, perhaps, this mountain to which Jesus went up and sat is that which is more commonly called the Church, which has been set up through the word of God over the rest of the world and the men upon it; whither go not the disciples only, leaving the multitudes as in the case of the beatitudes, but great multitudes who were not accused themselves of being deaf or suffering from any affection, but who had such along with themselves. For you may see, along with the multitudes who come to this mountain where the Son of God sits, some who have become deaf to the things promised, and others blind in soul and not looking at the true light, and others who are lame and not able to walk according to reason, and others who are maimed and not able to work according to reason. Those, accordingly, who are suffering in soul from such things, though they go up along with the multitudes into the mountain where Jesus was, so long as they are outside of the feet of Jesus, are not healed by Him; but when, as men suffering from such disorders, they are cast by the multitude at His feet, Matthew 15:30 and at the extremities of the body of Christ, not being worthy to obtain such things so far as they themselves are concerned, they are then healed by Him. And when you see in the congregation of what is more commonly called the church the catechumens cast behind those who are at the extreme end of it, and as it were at the feet of the body of Jesus— the church— coming to it with their own deafness and blindness and lameness and crookedness, and in time cured according to the Word, you would not err in saying that such having gone up with the multitudes of the church to the mountain where Jesus was, are cast at His feet and are healed; so that the multitude of the church is astonished at beholding transformations which have taken place from so great evils to that which is better, so that it might say, those who were formerly dumb afterwards speak the word of God, and the lame walk, the prophecy of Isaiah being fulfilled, not only in things bodily but in things spiritual, which said, Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of him that has an impediment in his speech be plain. Isaiah 35:6 And there, unless the expression, the lame man shall leap as an hart, is to be taken as accidental, we will say that those formerly lame, and who now through the power of Jesus leap as an hart are not without design compared to a hart, which is a clean animal, and hostile to serpents and cannot at all be injured by their poison. But also, in respect of the fact that the dumb are seen speaking is the prophecy fulfilled which said, And the tongue of him that has an impediment shall be plain, or rather that which said, Hear ye deaf; but the blind see according to the prophecy following, Hear ye deaf, and you blind look up that you may see. Isaiah 42:18 Now the blind see, when they see the world and from the exceeding great beauty of the things created they contemplate the Creator corresponding in greatness and beauty to them; and when they see clearly the invisible things of God Himself from the creation of the world, which are perceived through the things that are made; Romans 1:20 that is, they see and understand with care and clearness. Now the multitudes seeing these things, glorified the God of Israel, Matthew 15:31 and glorify Him in the persuasion that it is the same God, who is the Father of Him who healed those previously mentioned, and the God of Israel. For He is not the God of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles. Romans 3:29 Let us then cause to go up along with ourselves to the mountain where Jesus sits— His church— those who wish to go up to it along with us, the deaf, the blind, the lame, the maimed and many others, and let us cast them at the feet of Jesus that He may heal them, so that the multitudes are astonished at their healing; for it is not the disciples who are described as wondering at such things, although at that time they were present with Jesus, as is manifest from the words, And Jesus called unto Him His disciples and said, I have compassion on the multitudes, Matthew 15:32 etc.; and perhaps if you attend carefully to the words, There came unto Him great multitudes, Matthew 15:30 you would find that the disciples at that time did not come to Him, but had begun long ago to follow Him and followed Him into the mountain. But there came unto Him those who were inferior to the disciples, and were then for the first time approaching Him, who had not the same experience as those who had gone up with them. Observe, moreover, in the Gospel who are described as having followed Jesus, and who as having come to Him, and who as having been brought to Him, and the division between those who go before and of those who follow; and of those who came, who came to Him in the house, and who when He was elsewhere. For by observation, and by comparing things spiritual with spiritual, you would find many things worthy of the accurate wisdom in the Gospels.
19. Concerning the Seven Loaves. The Narrative of the Feeding of the Four Thousand Compared with that of the Five Thousand.
And Jesus called unto Him His disciples and said. Matthew 15:32 Above in the similar history to this about the loaves, before the loaves are spoken of, Jesus came forth and saw a great multitude and had compassion upon them and healed their sick. And when even had come the disciples came to Him saying, The place is desert and the time is already past, send them away, Matthew 14:15 etc. But now after the healing of the deaf and the rest, He takes compassion on the multitude which had continued with Him now three days and had nothing to eat. And there the disciples make request concerning the five thousand; Matthew 14:15 but here He speaks of His own accord about the four thousand. Matthew 15:32 Those, too, are fed when it was evening after they had spent a day with Him; but these, who are testified to have continued with Him three days, partake of the loaves lest they might faint by the way. And there the disciples say to Him when He was not inquiring, that they had only five loaves and two fishes; but here to Him making inquiry, they give answer about the seven loaves and the few small fishes. And there He commands the multitudes to sit down or lie upon the grass; for Luke also wrote, Make them sit down, Luke 9:14 and Mark says, He commanded them all to sit down; Mark 6:39 but here He does not command but proclaims to the multitude to sit down. Again, there, the three Evangelists say in the very same words that He took the five loaves and the two fishes and looking up to heaven He blessed; but here, as Matthew and Mark have written, Jesus gave thanks and broke; there, they recline upon the grass, but here they sit down upon the ground. You will moreover investigate in the accounts in the different places the variation found in John, who wrote in regard to that transaction that Jesus said, Make the men sit down, John 6:10 and that, having given thanks, He gave of the loaves to them that were set down, but he did not mention this miracle at all. Attending, then, to the difference of those things which are written in the various places in regard to the loaves, I think that these belong to a different order from those; wherefore these are fed in a mountain, and those in a desert place; and these after they had continued three days with Jesus, but those one day, on the evening of which they were fed. And further, unless it be the same thing for Jesus to do a thing of Himself and to act after having heard from the disciples, consider if those to whom Jesus shows kindness are not superior when He fed them on the spot with a view to showing them kindness. And, if according to John, John 6:13 they were barley loaves of which the twelve baskets remained over, but nothing of this kind is said about these, how are not these superior to the former? And the sick of those He healed, Matthew 14:14 but here He heals these, along with the multitudes, who were not sick but blind, and lame, and deaf, and maimed; wherefore also in regard to these the four thousand marvel, Matthew 15:31 but in regard to the sick no such thing is said. And these I think who ate of the seven loaves for which thanks were given, are superior to those who ate of the five which were blessed; and these who ate the few little fishes to those who ate of the two, and perhaps also these who sat down upon the ground to those who sat down on the grass. And those from fewer loaves leave twelve baskets, but these from a greater number leave seven baskets, inasmuch, as they were able to receive more. And perhaps these tread upon all earthly things and sit down upon them, but those upon the grass— upon their flesh only— for all flesh is grass. Isaiah 40:6 Consider also after this, that Jesus does not wish to send them away fasting lest they faint on the way, as being without the loaves of Jesus, and while they were still on the way— the way to their own concerns— might suffer injury. Take note also of the cases where Jesus is recorded to have sent any one away, that you may see the difference of those who were sent away by Him after being fed, and those who had been sent away otherwise; and, as a pattern of one who was sent away otherwise, take Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity. But further the disciples who are always with Jesus are not sent away by Him; but the multitudes after they have eaten are sent away. Likewise, again, the disciples who conceive nothing great about the Canaanitish woman say, Send her away, for she cries after us; Matthew 15:23 but the Saviour does not at all appear to send her away; for saying unto her, O woman, great is your faith, be it done to you even as you will, Matthew 15:28 He healed her daughter from that hour: it is not however written that He sent her away. So far at the present time have we been able to investigate and see into the passage before us.
Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Book XII)
1. Concerning Those Who Asked Him to Show Them a Sign from Heaven.
And the Sadducees and Pharisees came, and tempting Him kept asking Him to show them a sign from heaven. Matthew 16:1 The Sadducees and Pharisees who disagreed with each other in regard to the most essential truths,— for the Pharisees champion the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, hoping that there will be a world to come, while the Sadducees know nothing after this life in store for a man whether he has been advancing towards virtue, or has made no effort at all to come out from the mountains of wickedness—these, I say, agree that they may tempt Jesus. Now, a similar thing, as Luke has narrated, Luke 23:12 happened in the case of Herod and Pilate, who became friends with one another that they might kill Jesus; for, perhaps, their hostility with one another would have prevented Herod from asking that He should be put to death, in order to please the people, who said, Crucify Him, Crucify Him, Luke 23:21 and would have influenced Pilate, who was somewhat inclined against His condemnation, his hostility with Herod giving fresh impulse to the inclination which he previously cherished to release Jesus. But their apparent friendship made Herod stronger in his demand against Jesus with Pilate, who wished, perhaps, also because of the newly-formed friendship to do something to gratify Herod and all the nation of the Jews. And often even now you may see in daily life those who hold the most divergent opinions, whether in the philosophy of the Greeks or in other systems of thought, appearing to be of one mind that they may scoff at and attack Jesus Christ in the person of His disciples. And from these things I think you may go on by rational argument to consider, whether when forces join in opposition which are in disagreement with one another, as of Pharaoh with Nebuchadnezzar, 2 Kings 24:7 and of Tirhakah, king of the Ethiopians, with Sennacherib, 2 Kings 19:9 a combination then takes place against Jesus and His people. So perhaps, also, The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers were gathered together, though not at all before at harmony with one another, that having taken counsel against the Lord and His Christ, they might slay the Lord of glory.
2. Why the Pharisees Asked a Sign from Heaven.
Now, to this point we have come in our discourse, because of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming together unto Jesus, who disagreed in matters relating to the resurrection, but came, as it were, to an agreement for the sake of tempting our Saviour, and asking Him to show them a sign from heaven. For, not satisfied with the wonderful signs shown among the people in the healing of all forms of disease and sickness, and with the rest of the miracles which our Saviour had done in the knowledge of many, they wished Him to show to them also a sign from heaven. And I conjecture that they suspected that the signs upon earth might possibly not be of God; for they did not hesitate indeed to say, Jesus casts out demons by Beelzebub the prince of the demons; and it seemed to them that a sign from heaven could not spring from Beelzebub or any other wicked power. But they erred in regard to both, in regard to signs upon earth as well as to signs from heaven, not being approved money-changers, nor knowing how to distinguish between the spirits that are working, which kind are from God, and which have revolted from Him. And they ought to have known that even many of the portents wrought against Egypt in the time of Moses, though they were not from heaven, were clearly from God, and that the fire which fell from heaven upon the sheep of Job was not from God; Job 1:16 for that fire belonged to the same one as he to whom belonged those who carried off, and made three bands of horsemen against, the cattle of Job. I think, moreover, that in Isaiah— as if signs could be shown both from the earth and from heaven, the true being from God, but with all power and signs and lying wonders 2 Thessalonians 2:9 those from the evil one— it was said to Ahaz, Ask for yourself a sign from the Lord your God in the depth or in the height. Isaiah 7:11 For, unless there had been some signs in the depth or in the height which were not from the Lord God, this would not have been said, Ask for yourself a sign from the Lord your God in the depth or in the height. But I know well that such an interpretation of the passage, Ask for yourself a sign from the Lord your God, will seem to some one rather forced; but give heed to that which is said by the Apostle about the man of sin, the son of perdition, that, with all power and signs and lying wonders and with all deceit of unrighteousness, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 he shall be manifested to them that are perishing, imitating all kinds of wonders, to-wit, those of truth. And as the enchanters and magicians of the Egyptians, as being inferior to the man of sin and the son of perdition, imitated certain powers, both the signs and wonders of truth, doing lying wonders so that the true might not be believed; so I think the man of sin will imitate signs and powers. And perhaps, also, the Pharisees suspected these things because of the prophecies concerning Him; but I inquire whether also the Sadducees tempting Him asked Jesus to show them a sign from heaven. For unless we say that they suspected this, how shall we describe their relation to the portents which Jesus wrought, who continued hard-hearted and were not put to shame by the miraculous things that were done? But if any one supposes that we have given an occasion of defence to the Pharisees and Sadducees, both when they say that the demons were cast out by Jesus through Beelzebub, and when tempting Him, they ask Jesus about a heavenly sign, let him know that we plausibly say that they were drawn away to the end that they might not believe in the miracles of Jesus; but not as to deserve forgiveness; for they did not look to the words of the prophets which were being fulfilled in the acts of Jesus, which an evil power was not at all capable of imitating. But to bring back a soul which had gone out, so that it came out of the grave when already stinking and passing the fourth day, John 11:39 was the work of no other than Him who heard the word of the Father, Let us make man after our image and likeness. Genesis 1:26 But also to command the winds and to make the violence of the sea cease at a word, was the work of no other than Him through whom all things, both the sea itself and the winds, have come into being. Moreover also as to the teaching which stimulates men to the love of the Creator, in harmony with the law and the prophets, and which checks passions and moulds morals according to piety, what else did it indicate to such as were able to see, than that He was truly the Son of God who wrought works so mighty? In respect of which things He said also to the disciples of John, Go your way and tell John what great things ye see and hear; the blind receive their sight, etc. Matthew 11:4-5
3. The Answer of Jesus to Their Request.
Next let us remark in what way, when asked in regard to one sign, that He might show it from heaven, to the Pharisees and Sadducees who put the question, He answers and says, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and there shall be no sign given to it, but the sign of Jonah the prophet, when also, He left them and departed. Matthew 16:4 But the sign of Jonah, in truth, according to their question, was not merely a sign but also a sign from heaven; so that even to those who tempted Him and sought a sign from heaven He, nevertheless, out of His own great goodness gave the sign. For if, as Jonah passed three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so the Son of man did in the heart of the earth, and after this rose up from it—whence but from heaven shall we say that the sign of the resurrection of Christ came? And especially when, at the time of the passion, He became a sign to the robber who obtained favour from Him to enter into the paradise of God; after this, I think, descending into Hades to the dead, as free among the dead. And the Saviour seems to me to conjoin the sign which was to come from Himself with the reason of the sign in regard to Jonah when He says, not merely that a sign like to that is granted by Him but that very sign; for attend to the words, And there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet. Matthew 16:4 Accordingly that sign was this sign, because that became indicative of this, so that the elucidation of that sign, which was obscure on the face of it, might be found in the fact that the Saviour suffered, and passed three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. At the same time also we learn the general principle that, if the sign signifies something, each of the signs which are recorded, whether as in actual history, or by way of precept, is indicative of something afterwards fulfilled; as for example, the sign of Jonah going out after three days from the whale's belly was indicative of the resurrection of our Saviour, rising after three days and three nights from the dead; and that which is called circumcision is the sign of that which is indicated by Paul in the words: We are the circumcision. Philippians 3:3 Seek you also every sign in the Old Scriptures as indicative of some passage in the New Scripture, and that which is named a sign in the New Covenant as indicative of something either in the age about to be, or even in the subsequent generations after that the sign has taken place.
4. Why Jesus Called Them an Adulterous Generation. The Law as Husband.
And He called them, indeed, an evil generation, because of the quality arising from evil which had been produced in them, for wickedness is voluntary evil-doing, but adulterous because that when the Pharisees and Sadducees left that which is figuratively called man, the word of truth or the law, they were debauched by falsehood and the law of sin. For if there are two laws, the law in our members warring against the law of the mind, and the law of the mind, Romans 7:23 we must say that the law of the mind— that is, the spiritual— is man, to whom the soul was given by God as wife, that is, to the man who is law, according to what is written, A wife is married to a man by God; Proverbs 19:14 but the other is a paramour of the soul which is subject to it, which also on account of it is called an adulteress. Now that the law is husband of the soul Paul clearly exhibits in the Epistle to the Romans, saying, The law has dominion over a man for so long time as he lives; for the woman that has a husband is bound to the husband while he lives, to the husband who is law, etc. For consider in these things that the law has dominion over the man so long time as the law lives—as a husband over a wife. For the woman that has a husband, that is, the soul under the law, is bound to the husband while he lives, to the husband who is the law; but if the husband— that is, the law die— she is discharged from the law, which is her husband. Now the law dies to him who has gone up to the condition of blessedness, and no longer lives under the law, but acts like to Christ, who, though He became under law for the sake of those under law, that He might gain those under law, 1 Corinthians 9:10 did not continue under law, nor did He leave subject to law those who had been freed by Him; for He led them up along with Himself to the divine citizenship which is above the law, which contains, as for the imperfect and such as are still sinners, sacrifices for the remission of sins. He then who is without sin, and stands no longer in need of legal sacrifices, perhaps when he has become perfect has passed beyond even the spiritual law, and comes to the Word beyond it, who became flesh to those who live in the flesh, but to those who no longer at all war after the flesh, He is perceived as being the Word, as He was God in the beginning with God, and reveals the Father. Three things therefore are to be thought of in connection with this place— the woman that has a husband, who is under a husband— the law; and the woman who is an adulteress, to-wit, the soul, which, while her husband, the law, lives, has become joined to another husband, namely, the law of the flesh; and the woman who is married to the brother of the dead husband, to the Word who is alive and dies not, who being raised from the dead dies no more, for death has no more dominion over Him. Romans 6:9 So far then because of the saying, But if the husband die she is discharged from the law, the husband, and because of this, so then, while her husband lives, she shall be called an adulteress, if she be joined to another man, and because of this, but if the husband die, she is free from the law, so that she is no adulteress though she be joined to another man. Romans 7:2-3 But this very saying, So then while her husband lives, she shall be called an adulteress, we have brought forward, wishing clearly to show why in answer to the Pharisees and Sadducees who were tempting Him and asking Him to show them a sign from heaven, He said not only a wicked generation, but an adulterous generation. Matthew 16:4 In a general way, then, the law in the members which wars against the law of the mind, Romans 7:23 as a man who is an adulterer, is an adulterer of the soul. But now also every power that is hostile, which gains the mastery over the human soul, and has intercourse with it, commits adultery with her who had a bridegroom given to her by God, namely, the Word. After these things it is written that He left them and departed. For how was the bridegroom— the Word— not going to leave the adulterous generation and depart from it? But you might say that the Word of God, leaving the synagogue of the Jews as adulterous, departed from it, and took a wife of fornication, Hosea 1:2 namely, those from the Gentiles; since those who were Sion, a faithful city, Isaiah 1:21 have become harlots; but these have become like the harlot Rahab, who received the spies of Joshua, and was saved with all her house; Joshua 6:25 after this no longer playing the harlot, but coming to the feet of Jesus, and wetting them with the tears of repentance, and anointing them with the fragrance of the ointment of holy conversation, on account of whom, reproaching Simon the leper—the former people—He spoke those things which are written.
5. Concerning the Leaven of the Pharisees.
And His disciples came to the other side and forgot to take loaves. Matthew 16:5 Since the loaves which they had before they came to the other side were no longer useful to the disciples when they came to the other side, for they needed one kind of loaves before they crossed and a different kind when they crossed,— on this account, being careless of taking loaves when going to the other side, they forgot to take loaves with them. To the other side then came the disciples of Jesus who had passed over from things material to things spiritual, and from things sensible to those which are intellectual. And perhaps that He might turn back those who, by crossing to the other side, had begun in spirit, from running back to carnal things, Jesus said to them when on the other side, Take heed and beware. Matthew 16:6 For there was a certain lump of teaching and of truly ancient leaven—that according to the bare letter, and on this account not freed from those things which arise from wickedness—which the Pharisees and Sadducees offered, of which Jesus does not wish His own disciples any longer to eat, having made for them a new and spiritual lump, offering Himself to those who gave up the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees and had come to Him— the living bread which came down from heaven and gives life to the world. John 6:33, 51 But since, to him who is no longer going to use the leaven and the lump and the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the first thing is to see and then to beware, so that no one, by reason of not seeing and from want of taking heed, may ever partake of their forbidden leaven—on this account He says to the disciples, first, see, and then, beware. It is the mark of the clear-sighted and careful to separate the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees and every food that is not of the unleavened-bread of sincerity and truth 1 Corinthians 5:8 from the living bread, even that which came down from heaven, so that no one who eats may adopt the things of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, but by eating the living and true bread may strengthen his soul. And we might seasonably apply the saying to those who, along with the Christian way of life, prefer to live as the Jews, materially, for these do not see nor beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, but, contrary to the will of Jesus who forbade it, eat the bread of the Pharisees. Yea and also all, who do not wish to understand that the law is spiritual, and has a shadow of the good things to come, Hebrews 10:1 and is a shadow of the things to come, Colossians 2:17 neither inquire of what good thing about to be each of the laws is a shadow, nor do they see nor beware of the leaven of the Pharisees; and they also who reject the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead are not on their guard against the leaven of the Sadducees. And there are many among the heterodox who, because of their unbelief in regard to the resurrection of the dead, are imbued with the leaven of the Sadducees. Now, while Jesus said these things, the disciples reasoned, saying not aloud, but in their own hearts, We took no loaves. Matthew 16:7 And something like this was what they said, If we had loaves we would not have had to take of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees; but since, from want of loaves, we run the risk of taking from their leaven, while the Saviour does not wish us to run back to their teaching, therefore He said to us, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Matthew 16:6 And these things then they reasoned; Jesus, while looking to that which was in their hearts, and hearing the reasons in them, as the true overseer of hearts, reproves them because they did not see nor remember the loaves which they received from Him; on account of which, even when they appeared to be in want of loaves, they did not need the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
6. The Meaning of Leaven. Jesus' Knowledge of the Heart.
Then expounding clearly and representing to them, who were being distracted because of the equivocal meaning of loaf and leaven, in an undisguised fashion, that He was not speaking to them about sensible bread but about the leaven in the teaching, He subjoins, How is it that you do not perceive that I spoke not you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Matthew 16:11 And though He had not laid bare the interpretation, but still continued to use metaphorical language, the disciples would have understood that the discourse of the Saviour was about the teaching, figuratively called leaven, which the Pharisees and Sadducees were teaching. So long, then, as we have Jesus with us fulfilling the promise which runs, Lo, I am with you always unto the consummation of the age, Matthew 28:20 we cannot fast nor be in want of food, so that, because of want of it we should desire to take and eat the forbidden leaven, even from the Pharisees and Sadducees. Now there may sometimes be a time, when He is with us, that we are without food, as is spoken of in the passage above, They continue with me now three days and have nothing to eat; Matthew 15:32 but, even though this should happen, being unwilling to send us away fasting lest we faint on the way, He gives thanks over the loaves which were with the disciples, and causes us to have the seven baskets over from the seven loaves, as we have recorded. And moreover this also is to be observed, in view of those who think that the divinity of the Saviour is not at all demonstrable from the Gospel of Matthew, that the fact that, when the disciples were reasoning among themselves and saying, We have no loaves, Jesus knew their reasonings and said, Why reason ye among yourselves, O you of little faith, because ye took no loaves, Matthew 16:8 was beyond the power of man; for the Lord alone, as Solomon says in the third Book of Kings, knows the hearts of men. 1 Kings 8:39 But since the disciples understood, when Jesus said, Beware of the leaven, Matthew 16:6 that He did not tell them to beware of the loaves but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees, you will understand that whenever leaven is named it is put figuratively for teaching, whether in the law, or in the Scriptures which come after the law; and so perhaps leaven is not offered upon the altar; for it is not right that prayers should take the form of teaching, but should only be supplications of good things from God. But one might inquire, on account of what has been said about disciples who came to the other side, if any one who has reached the other side can be reproached as one of little faith, and as not yet understanding nor remembering what was done by Jesus. But it is not difficult, I think, to say to this, that in relation to that which is perfect, on the coming of which that which is in part shall be done away, 1 Corinthians 13:10 all our faith here is little faith, and in regard to that, we who know in part do not yet know nor remember; for we are not able to obtain a memory which is sufficient and able to attain to the magnitude of the nature of the speculations.
7. Relative Magnitude of Sins of the Heart and Actual Sins.
But we may also learn from this, that in respect of the reasonings only which we reason within ourselves, we are sometimes convicted and reproached as being of little faith. And I think that just as a man commits adultery in his heart only, though not proceeding altogether to the overt act, so he commits in his heart the rest of the things which are forbidden. As then he who has committed adultery in his heart will be punished proportionately to adultery of this kind, so also he who has done in his heart any one of the things forbidden, for example, who has stolen in his heart only, or borne false witness in his heart only, will not be punished as he who has stolen in fact, or who has completed the very act of false testimony, but only as he who has done such things in his heart. There is also the case of the man who while he did not arrive at the evil action, came short of it in spite of his own will. For if, in addition to willing it, he has attempted it, but not carried it out, he will be punished not as one who has sinned in his heart alone but in deed. To questions of this sort one might ask, whether any one commits adultery in his heart, even if he does not do the deed of adultery, but lacks self-control in heart only. And the like also you will say concerning the rest of things which are deserving of praise. But the passage possibly contains a plausible fallacy which must be cleared away, I think, in this manner: adultery which takes place in the heart is a less sin, than if one were also to add to it the act. But it is impossible that there can be chastity in the heart, hindering the chaste action— unless indeed one brings forward for an illustration of this the case of the virgin who according to the law was violated in solitude; Deuteronomy 22:25 for it may be granted that the heart of any one may be most pure, but that force in a matter of licentiousness has caused the corruption of the body of her who was chaste. In truth she seems to me to be altogether chaste in secret heart, but no longer to be pure in body such as she was before the act of violence; but though she is not pure outwardly, is she therefore now also unchaste? I have said these things because of the words, They reasoned among themselves saying, We took no loaves, to which is added, And Jesus perceiving it, said, O you of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, Matthew 16:7-8 etc.; for it was necessary that investigation should be made in regard to the censure of things in secret and correlatively to the praise of things in secret.
8. The Leaven Figurative Like the Water Spoken of by Jesus to the Woman of Samaria.
But I wonder if the disciples thought, before the saying was explained to them by Jesus, that their Teacher and Lord was forbidding them to beware of the sensible leaven of the Pharisees or the Sadducees as impure, and on this account forbidden, lest they might use that leaven because they had not taken loaves. And we might make a like inquiry in regard to other things; but by-way of illustration the narrative about the woman of Samaria suffices, Every one that drinks of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst. John 14:13-14 For there, also, so far as the mere form of expression is concerned, the Samaritan woman would seem to have thought that the Saviour was giving a promise about sensible water, when He said, Whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst. And those things then must be figuratively interpreted, and we must examine and compare the water of the spring of Jacob from which the woman of Samaria drew water with the water of Jesus; and here the like must be done; for perhaps the loaves were not baked, but a kind of raw leaven solely, the teaching, namely, of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
9. Concerning the Question of Jesus in Cæsarea, Who Do Men Say that I Am? Different Conceptions of Jesus.
Now when Jesus came into the parts of Cæsarea Philippi, He asked His disciples. Matthew 16:13 Jesus inquires of the disciples, Who do men say that I am, that we may learn from the answer of the Apostles the different conceptions then held among the Jews in regard to our Saviour; and perhaps also that the disciples of Jesus might learn to be interested in knowing what is said by men about them; because that will be an advantage to them who do it, by cutting off in every way occasions of evil if anything evil is spoken of, and by increasing the incitements to good, if anything good is spoken of. Only, observe how, on account of the different movements of opinion among the Jews about Jesus, some, under the influence of unsound theories, said that He was John the Baptist, like Herod the tetrarch who said to his servants, This is John the Baptist, he is risen from the dead, and therefore do the powers work in him; Matthew 14:2 but others that He who was now called Jesus was Elijah, either having been born a second time, or living from that time in the flesh, and appearing at the present time. But those who said that Jesus was Jeremiah, and not that Jeremiah was a type of the Christ, were perhaps influenced by what is said in the beginning of Jeremiah about Christ, which was not fulfilled in the prophet at that time, but was beginning to be fulfilled in Jesus, whom God set up over nations and kingdoms to root up, and to break down, and to destroy, and to build up, and to transplant, Jeremiah 1:10 having made Him to be a prophet to the Gentiles to whom He proclaimed the word. Moreover also those who said, that he was a certain one of the prophets, Matthew 16:14 conceived this opinion concerning Him because of those things which had been said in the prophets as unto them, but which had not been fulfilled in their case. But also the Jews, as worthy of the veil which was upon their heart, held false opinions concerning Jesus; while Peter as not a disciple of flesh and blood, Matthew 16:17 but as one fit to receive the revelation of the Father in heaven, confessed that He was the Christ. The saying of Peter to the Saviour, You are the Christ, when the Jews did not know that He was Christ, was indeed a great thing, but greater that he knew Him not only to be Christ, but also the Son of the living God, Matthew 16:16 who had also said through the prophets, I live, Jeremiah 22:24 and They have forsaken Me the spring of living water; Jeremiah 2:13 — and He is life also, as from the Father the spring of life, who said, I am the Life; John 14:6 and consider carefully, whether, as the spring of the river is not the same thing as the river, the spring of life is not the same as life. And these things we have added because to the saying, You are the Christ, the Son of God, was subjoined the word living; Matthew 16:16 for it was necessary to set forth something noteworthy in regard to that which is said about God and the Father of all things as living, both in relation to His absolute life, and in relation to those things which participate in it. But since we said that they were under the influence of unsound opinions who declared that Jesus was John the Baptist, or any one of those named, in saying this let us prove that if they had fallen in with Jesus as He was going away to John for baptism, or with John when he was baptizing Jesus, or if they had heard it from any one, they would not have said that Jesus was John. But also if they had understood the opinions under the influence of which Jesus said, If you are willing to receive it, this is Elijah which is to come, Matthew 11:14 and had heard what was said, as men having ears, some would not have said that He was Elijah. And if those who said that He was Jeremiah had perceived that the most of the prophets took upon themselves certain features that were symbolic of Him, they would not have said that He was Jeremiah; and in like manner the others would not have said that He was one of the prophets.
10. The Answer of Peter.
And perhaps that which Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, Matthew 16:16 if we say it as Peter, not by flesh and blood revealing it unto us, but by the light from the Father in heaven shining in our heart, we too become as Peter, being pronounced blessed as he was, because that the grounds on which he was pronounced blessed apply also to us, by reason of the fact that flesh and blood have not revealed to us with regard to Jesus that He is Christ, the Son of the living God, but the Father in heaven, from the very heavens, that our citizenship may be in heaven, Philippians 3:20 revealing to us the revelation which carries up to heaven those who take away every veil from the heart, and receive the spirit of the wisdom and revelation of God. Ephesians 1:17 And if we too have said like Peter, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, not as if flesh and blood had revealed it unto us, but by light from the Father in heaven having shone in our heart, we become a Peter, and to us there might be said by the Word, You are Peter, etc. Matthew 16:18 For a rock is every disciple of Christ of whom those drank who drank of the spiritual rock which followed them, 1 Corinthians 10:4 and upon every such rock is built every word of the church, and the polity in accordance with it; for in each of the perfect, who have the combination of words and deeds and thoughts which fill up the blessedness, is the church built by God.
11. The Promise Given to Peter Not Restricted to Him, But Applicable to All Disciples Like Him.
But if you suppose that upon that one Peter only the whole church is built by God, what would you say about John the son of thunder or each one of the Apostles? Shall we otherwise dare to say, that against Peter in particular the gates of Hades shall not prevail, but that they shall prevail against the other Apostles and the perfect? Does not the saying previously made, The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it, Matthew 16:18 hold in regard to all and in the case of each of them? And also the saying, Upon this rock I will build My church? Matthew 16:18 Are the keys of the kingdom of heaven given by the Lord to Peter only, and will no other of the blessed receive them? But if this promise, I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 16:19 be common to the others, how shall not all the things previously spoken of, and the things which are subjoined as having been addressed to Peter, be common to them? For in this place these words seem to be addressed as to Peter only, Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, Matthew 16:19 etc.; but in the Gospel of John the Saviour having given the Holy Spirit unto the disciples by breathing upon them said, Receive the Holy Spirit, John 20:22 etc. Many then will say to the Saviour, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God; but not all who say this will say it to Him, as not at all having learned it by the revelation of flesh and blood but by the Father in heaven Himself taking away the veil that lay upon their heart, in order that after this with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord 2 Corinthians 3:18 they may speak through the Spirit of God saying concerning Him, Lord Jesus, and to Him, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Matthew 16:16 And if any one says this to Him, not by flesh and blood revealing it unto Him but through the Father in heaven, he will obtain the things that were spoken according to the letter of the Gospel to that Peter, but, as the spirit of the Gospel teaches, to every one who becomes such as that Peter was. For all bear the surname of rock who are the imitators of Christ, that is, of the spiritual rock which followed those who are being saved, 1 Corinthians 10:4 that they may drink from it the spiritual draught. But these bear the surname of the rock just as Christ does. But also as members of Christ deriving their surname from Him they are called Christians, and from the rock, Peters. And taking occasion from these things you will say that the righteous bear the surname of Christ who is Righteousness, and the wise of Christ who is Wisdom. 1 Corinthians 1:30 And so in regard to all His other names, you will apply them by way of surname to the saints; and to all such the saying of the Saviour might be spoken, You are Peter, etc., down to the words, prevail against it. But what is the it? Is it the rock upon which Christ builds the church, or is it the church? For the phrase is ambiguous. Or is it as if the rock and the church were one and the same? This I think to be true; for neither against the rock on which Christ builds the church, nor against the church will the gates of Hades prevail; just as the way of a serpent upon a rock, according to what is written in the Proverbs, cannot be found. Now, if the gates of Hades prevail against any one, such an one cannot be a rock upon which Christ builds the church, nor the church built by Jesus upon the rock; for the rock is inaccessible to the serpent, and it is stronger than the gates of Hades which are opposing it, so that because of its strength the gates of Hades do not prevail against it; but the church, as a building of Christ who built His own house wisely upon the rock, Matthew 7:24 is incapable of admitting the gates of Hades which prevail against every man who is outside the rock and the church, but have no power against it.
12. Every Sin— Every False Doctrine is a Gate of Hades.
But when we have understood how each of the sins through which there is a way to Hades is a gate of Hades, we shall apprehend that the soul, which has spot or wrinkle or any such thing, Ephesians 5:27 and because of wickedness is neither holy nor blameless, is neither a rock upon which Christ builds, nor a church, nor part of a church which Christ builds upon the rock. But if any one wishes to put us to shame in regard to these things because of the great majority of those of the church who are thought to believe, it must be said to him not only Many are called, but few chosen; Matthew 22:14 but also that which was said by the Saviour to those who come to Him, as it is recorded in Luke in these words, Strive to enter in by the narrow door, for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in through the narrow door and shall not be able; Luke 13:24 and also that which is written in the Gospel of Matthew thus, For narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leads unto life, and few be they that find it. Matthew 7:14 Now, if you attend to the saying, Many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in and shall not be able, Luke 13:24 you will understand that this refers to those who boast that they are of the church, but live weakly and contrary to the word. Of those, then, who seek to enter in, those who are not able to enter will not be able to do so, because the gates of Hades prevail against them; but in the case of those against whom the gates of Hades will not prevail, those seeking to enter in will be strong, being able to do all things, in Christ Jesus, who strengthens them. Philippians 4:13 And in like manner each one of those who are the authors of any evil opinion has become the architect of a certain gate of Hades; but those who co-operate with the teaching of the architect of such things are servants and stewards, who are the bond-servants of the evil doctrine which goes to build up impiety. And though the gates of Hades are many and almost innumerable, no gate of Hades will prevail against the rock or against the church which Christ builds upon it. Notwithstanding, these gates have a certain power by which they gain the mastery over some who do not resist and strive against them; but they are overcome by others who, because they do not turn aside from Him who said, I am the door, John 10:9 have rased from their soul all the gates of Hades. And this also we must know that as the gates of cities have each their own names, in the same way the gates of Hades might be named after the species of sins; so that one gate of Hades is called fornication, through which fornicators go, and another denial, through which the deniers of God go down into Hades. And likewise already each of the heterodox and of those who have begotten any knowledge which is falsely so called, 1 Timothy 6:20 has built a gate of Hades— Marcion one gate, and Basilides another, and Valentinus another.
13. The Gates of Hades And the Gates of Zion Contrasted.
In this place, then, the gates of Hades are spoken of; but in the Psalms the prophet gives thanks saying, He who lifts me up from the gates of death that I may declare all your praises in the gates of the daughter of Zion. And from this we learn that it is never possible for any one to be fit to declare the praises of God, unless he has been lifted up from the gates of death, and has come to the gates of Zion. Now the gates of Zion may be conceived as opposed to the gates of death, so that there is one gate of death, dissoluteness, but a gate of Zion, self-control; and so a gate of death, unrighteousness, but a gate of Zion, righteousness, which the prophet shows forth saying, This is the gate of the Lord, the righteous shall enter into it. And again there is cowardice, a gate of death, but manly courage, a gate of Zion; and want of prudence, a gate of death, but its opposite, prudence, a gate of Zion. But to all the gates of the knowledge which is falsely so called 1 Timothy 6:20 one gate is opposed, the gate of knowledge which is free from falsehood. But consider if, because of the saying, our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, Ephesians 6:12 etc., you can say that each power and world-ruler of this darkness, and each one of the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places Ephesians 6:12 is a gate of Hades and a gate of death. Let, then, the principalities and powers with which our wrestling is, be called gates of Hades, but the ministering spirits Hebrews 1:14 gates of righteousness. But as in the case of the better things many gates are first spoken of, and after the gates, one, in the passage, Open to me the gates of righteousness, I will enter into them, and will make full confession to the Lord, and this is the gate of the Lord, by it the righteous shall enter; so also in the case of those gates which are opposed, many are the gates of Hades and death, each a power; but over all these the wicked one himself. And let us take heed in regard to each sin, as if we were descending into some gate of death if we sin; but when we are lifted up from the gates of death let us declare all the praises of the Lord in the gates of the daughter of Zion; as, for example, in one gate of the daughter of Zion— that which is called self-control— we will declare by our self-control the praises of God; and in another which is called righteousness, by righteousness we will declare the praises of God; and, generally, in all things whatsoever of a praiseworthy character with which we are occupied, in these we are at some gate of the daughter of Zion, declaring at each gate some praise of God. But we must make inquiry whether in one of the Twelve it is said, They hated him that reproves in the gates, and they loathed the holy word. Amos 5:10 Perhaps, then, he who reproves in the gates is of the gates of the daughter of Zion, reproving those who are in sins which are opposed to this gate, even of the gates of Hades or death. But if you do not so understand the words, They hated him that reproves in the gates, either the expression in the gates will be held to be superfluous, or investigate how that which is said can be worthy of the prophetic spirit.
14. In What Sense the Keys Are Given to Peter, and Every Peter. Limitations of This Power.
And after this let us see in what sense it is said to Peter, and to every Peter, I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 16:19 And, in the first place, I think that the saying, I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, is spoken in consistency with the words, The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18 For he is worthy to receive from the same Word the keys of the kingdom of heaven, who is fortified against the gates of Hades so that they do not prevail against him, receiving, as it were, for a prize, the keys of the kingdom of heaven, because the gates of Hades had no power against him, that he might open for himself the gates that were closed to those who had been conquered by the gates of Hades. And he enters in, as a temperate man, through an opened gate— the gate of temperance— by the key which opens temperance; and, as a righteous man, by another gate— the gate of righteousness— which is opened by the key of righteousness; and so with the rest of the virtues. For I think that for every virtue of knowledge certain mysteries of wisdom corresponding to the species of the virtue are opened up to him who has lived according to virtue; the Saviour giving to those who are not mastered by the gates of Hades as many keys as there are virtues, which open gates equal in number, which correspond to each virtue according to the revelation of the mysteries. And perhaps, also, each virtue is a kingdom of heaven, and all together are a kingdom of the heavens; so that according to this he is already in the kingdom of the heavens who lives according to the virtues, so that according to this the saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, is to be referred, not to the time, but to deeds and dispositions; for Christ, who is all virtue, has come, and speaks, and on account of this the kingdom of God is within His disciples, and not here or there. Luke 17:21 But consider how great power the rock has upon which the church is built by Christ, and how great power every one has who says, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, so that the judgments of this man abide sure, as if God were judging in him, that in the very act of judging the gates of Hades shall not prevail against him. But when one judges unrighteously, and does not bind upon earth according to the Word of God, nor loose upon earth according to His will, the gates of Hades prevail against him; but, in the case of any one against whom the gates of Hades do not prevail, this man judges righteously. Wherefore he has the keys of the kingdom of heaven, opening to those who have been loosed on earth that they may be also loosed in heaven, and free; and shutting to those who by his just judgment have been bound on earth that they also may be bound in heaven, and condemned. But when those who maintain the function of the episcopate make use of this word as Peter, and, having received the keys of the kingdom of heaven from the Saviour, teach that things bound by them, that is to say, condemned, are also bound in heaven, and that those which have obtained remission by them are also loosed in heaven, we must say that they speak wholesomely if they have the way of life on account of which it was said to that Peter, You are Peter; Matthew 16:18 and if they are such that upon them the church is built by Christ, and to them with good reason this could be referred; and the gates of Hades ought not to prevail against him when he wishes to bind and loose. But if he is tightly bound with the cords of his sins, Proverbs 5:22 to no purpose does he bind and loose. And perhaps you can say that in the heavens which are in the wise man— that, is the virtues—the bad man is bound; and again in these the virtuous man is loosed, and has received an indemnity for the sins which he committed before his virtue. But, as the man, who has not the cords of sins nor iniquities compared to a long rope or to the strap of the yoke of a heifer, Isaiah 5:18 not even God could bind, in like manner, no Peter, whoever he may be; and if any one who is not a Peter, and does not possess the things here spoken of, imagines as a Peter that he will so bind on earth that the things bound are bound in heaven, and will so loose on earth that the things loosed are loosed in heaven, he is puffed up, not understanding the meaning of the Scriptures, and, being puffed up, has fallen into the ruin of the devil. 1 Timothy 3:10
15. Relation of the Former Commission Given by Jesus to the Disciples, to His Present Injunction of Silence. Belief and Knowledge Contrasted.
Then enjoined He His disciples that they should tell no man that He was the Christ. Matthew 16:20 It is written above that Jesus sent forth these twelve saying unto them, Go not into any way of the Gentiles, Matthew 10:5 and the other words which are recorded to have been said to them when He sent them to the apostleship. Did He then wish them when they were already discharging the function of Apostles to proclaim that He was the Christ? For, if He wished it, it is fitting to inquire why He now at all commands the disciples that they should not say that He was the Christ? Or if He did not wish it, how can the things concerning the apostleship be safely maintained? And these things also one may inquire at this place—whether, when He sent away the Twelve, He did not send them away with the understanding that He was the Christ? But if the Twelve had such understanding, manifestly Peter had it also; how, then, is he now pronounced blessed? For the expression here plainly indicates that now for the first time Peter confessed that Christ was the Son of the living God. Matthew then, according to some of the manuscripts, has written, Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no man that He was the Christ, but Matthew 16:20 Mark says, He charged them that they should tell no man of Him; Mark 8:30 and Luke, He charged them and commanded them to tell this to no man. Luke 9:21 But what is the this? Was it that also according to him, Peter answered and said to the question, Who say ye that I am.— The Christ, the Son of the living God? Matthew 16:15-16 You must know, however, that some manuscripts of the Gospel according to Matthew have, He charged. Matthew 16:20 The difficulty thus started seems to me a very real difficulty; but let a solution which cannot be impugned be sought out, and let the finder of it bring it forward before all, if it be more credible than that which shall be advanced by us as a fairly temperate view. Consider, then, if you can say, that the belief that Jesus is the Christ is inferior to the knowledge of that which is believed. And perhaps also there is a difference in the knowledge of Jesus as the Christ, as every one who knows does not know Him alike. From the words in John, If you abide in My word, you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free, John 8:31-32 it is plain that belief without knowledge is inferior to knowing; but that there is a difference in the knowledge of Jesus as the Christ, as all who know Him do not know Him equally, is a fact self-evident to any one who gives even a very little consideration to the matter. For who would not acknowledge, for example, that Timothy, though he knew that Jesus was the Christ, had not been enlightened to such an extent in the knowledge of Him as the Apostle had been enlightened? And who would not also admit this— that though many, speaking the truth, say about God, He has given to me a true knowledge of things that are, yet they will not say this with equal insight and apprehension of the things known, nor as knowing the same number of things? But it is not only in respect of the difference of knowing that those who know do not know alike, but also according to that which is the source of the knowledge; so that according to this he who knows the Son by the revelation of the Father, Matthew 16:16 as Peter is testified to have known, has the highest beatitude. Now, if these views of ours are sound, you will consider whether the Twelve formerly believed but did not know; but, after believing, they gained also the rudiments of knowledge and knew a few things about Him; and afterwards they continued to advance in knowledge so that they were able to receive the knowledge from the Father who reveals the Son; in which position Peter was, when he was pronounced blessed; for also he is pronounced blessed not merely because he said, You are the Christ, but with the addition, the Son of the living God. Accordingly Mark and Luke who have recorded that Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, but have not given the addition found in Matthew, have not recorded that he was declared blessed for what had been said, nor the blessing which followed the declaration of blessedness, You are Peter, Matthew 16:18 etc.
16. Gradual Growth in Knowledge of the Disciples.
But now we must first investigate the fact that they were declaring other things about Him as being great and wonderful, but did not yet proclaim that He was the Christ, lest the Saviour may not appear to take away from them the authority to announce that He was the Christ, which He had formerly bestowed upon them. And perhaps some one will support an argument of this kind, saying that on their introduction into the school of Christ the Jews were taught by the disciples glorious things about Jesus, so that in due season there might be built upon these as a foundation the things about Jesus being the Christ; and perhaps many of the things which were said to them were said to all who virtually believed; for not to the Apostles alone did the saying apply, Before governors and kings also shall you be brought for My sake for a testimony to them and to the Gentiles; Matthew 10:18 and perhaps also not to the Apostles absolutely, but to all who were about to believe the word, And brother shall deliver up brother to death, Matthew 10:21 etc.; but, Whosoever shall confess Me, Matthew 10:32 etc., is said not specially to the Apostles, but also to all believers. According to this, then, through that which was said to the Apostles an outline was given beforehand of the teaching which would afterwards come to be of service both to them and to every teacher.
17. Reasons for that Gradual Knowledge.
And likewise he who holds that the fact that He was Christ had been formerly proclaimed by the Apostles when they heard the saying, What I tell you in the darkness, speak ye in the light, and what ye hear in the ear proclaim on the housetops, Matthew 10:27 will say, that He wished first to give catechetical instruction as it were to those of the Apostles who were to hear the name of Christ, then to permit this, so to speak, to be digested in the minds of the hearers, that, after there had been a period of silence in the proclamation of something of this kind about Him, at a more seasonable time there might be built up upon the former rudiments Christ Jesus crucified and raised from the dead, which at the beginning not even the Apostles knew; for it is written in the passage now under consideration, From that time began Jesus to show unto His disciples that He must go unto Jerusalem Matthew 16:21 and suffer this and that. But if now, for the first time, the Apostles learn from Jesus the things that were about to happen unto Him, namely, that the elders will plot against Him, and that He will be killed, and that after these things, on the third day, He will rise from the dead—what necessity is there for supposing that those who had been taught by the Apostles concerning Jesus knew them before, or that although Christ was announced to them He was announced to them by way of an introduction which did not clearly elucidate the things concerning Him? For our Saviour wished, when He enjoined the disciples to tell no man that He was the Christ, to reserve the more perfect teaching about Him to a more fitting time, when to those who had seen Him crucified, the disciples who had seen Him crucified and risen could testify the things relating to His resurrection. For if the Apostles, who were always with Him and had seen all the wonderful things which He did, and who bore testimony to His words that they were words of eternal life, John 6:68 were offended on the night on which He was betrayed—what do you suppose would have been the feelings of those who had formerly learned that He was the Christ? To spare them, I think, He gave this command.
18. Jesus Was at First Proclaimed by the Twelve as a Worker and a Teacher Only.
But he who holds that the things spoken to the Twelve refer to the times subsequent to this, and that the Apostles had not as yet announced to their hearers that He was the Christ, will say that He wished the conception of the Christ which was involved in the name of Jesus to be reserved for that preaching which was more perfect, and which brought salvation, such as Paul knew of when he said to the Corinthians, I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2 Wherefore, formerly they proclaimed Jesus as the doer of certain things, and the teacher of certain things; but now when Peter confesses that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God, as He did not wish it to be proclaimed already that He was the Christ, in order that He might be proclaimed at a more suitable time, and that as crucified, He commands His disciples that they should tell no man that He was the Christ. And that this was His meaning, when He forbade proclamation to be made that He was the Christ, is in a measure established by the words, From that time began Jesus to show unto His disciples how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders, and what is annexed; Matthew 16:21 for then, at the fitting time, He proclaims, so to speak, to the disciples who knew that Jesus was Christ, the Son of the living God, the Father having revealed it to them, that instead of believing in Jesus Christ who had been crucified, they were to believe in Jesus Christ who was about to be crucified. But also, instead of believing in Christ Jesus and Him risen from the dead, He teaches them to believe in Christ Jesus and Him about to be risen from the dead. But since having put off from Himself the principalities and the powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over in the cross, Colossians 2:15 if any one is ashamed of the cross of Christ, he is ashamed of the dispensation on account of which these powers were triumphed over; and it is fitting that he, who both believes and knows these things, should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, Galatians 6:14 through which, when Christ was crucified, the principalities— among which, I think, was also the prince of this world— were made a show of and triumphed over before the believing world. Wherefore, when His suffering was at hand he said, Now the prince of this world has been judged, John 16:11 and, Now shall the prince of this world be cast out, and, I, if I be lifted from the earth, will draw all men unto Myself; John 12:31-32 as he no longer had sufficient power to prevent those going to Jesus who were being drawn by Him.
19. Importance of the Proclamation of Jesus as the Crucified.
It is necessary, therefore, to the proclamation of Jesus as Christ, that He should be proclaimed as crucified; and the proclamation that Jesus was the Christ does not seem to me so defective when any of His other miracles is passed over in silence, as when the fact of His crucifixion is passed over. Wherefore, reserving the more perfect proclamation of the things concerning Him by the Apostles, He commanded His disciples that they should tell no man that He was the Christ; and He prepared them to say that He was the Christ crucified and risen from the dead, when He began not only to say, nor even to advance to the point of teaching merely, but to show Matthew 16:21 to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, etc.; for attend to the expression show; because just as sensible things are said to be shown so the things spoken by Him to His disciples are said to be shown by Jesus. And I do not think that each of the things seen was shown to those who saw Him suffering many things in body from the elders of the people, with such clearness as was the rational demonstration about Him to the disciples.
20. Why Jesus Had to Go to Jerusalem.
Then began He to show; Matthew 16:21 and probably afterwards when they were able to receive it He showed more clearly, no longer beginning to show as to those who were learning the introduction, but already also advancing in the showing; and if it is reasonable to conceive that Jesus altogether completed what He began, then, some time, He altogether completed that which He began to show to His disciples about the necessity of His suffering the things which are written. For, when any one apprehends from the Word the perfect knowledge of these things, then it must be said that, from a rational exhibition (the mind seeing the things which are shown,) the exhibition becomes complete for him who has the will and the power to contemplate these things, and does contemplate them. But since it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem, Luke 13:33 — a perishing which corresponds to the words, He that loses his life for My sake shall find it, Matthew 10:39 — on this account it was necessary for Him to go to Jerusalem, that having suffered many things in that Jerusalem, He might make the first-fruits 1 Corinthians 15:20 of the resurrection from the dead in the Jerusalem above, doing away with and breaking up the city upon the earth with all the worship which was maintained in it. For so long as Christ had not been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of them that are asleep, 1 Corinthians 15:20 and those who become conformed to His death and resurrection had not yet been raised along with Him, the city of God was sought for below, and the temple, and the purifications, and the rest; but when this took place, no longer were the things below sought for, but the things above; and, in order that these might be set up, it was necessary that He should go unto the Jerusalem below, and there suffer many things from the elders in it, and the chief priests and scribes of the people, in order that He might be glorified by the heavenly elders who could receive his bounties, and by diviner high-priests who are ordained under the one High-Priest, and that He might be glorified by the scribes of the people who are occupied with letters not written with ink 2 Corinthians 3:3 but made clear by the Spirit of the living God, and might be killed in the Jerusalem below, and having risen from the dead might reign in Mount Zion, and the city of the living God— the heavenly Jerusalem. Hebrews 12:22 But on the third day He rose from the dead, in order that having delivered them from the wicked one, and his son, in whom was falsehood and unrighteousness and war and everything opposed to that which Christ is, and also from the profane spirit who transforms himself into the Holy Spirit, He might gain for those who had been delivered the right to be baptized in spirit and soul and body, into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, which represent the three days eternally present at the same time to those who by means of them are sons of light.
21. The Rebuke of Peter and the Answer of Jesus.
And Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying, God be propitious to You. Lord, this shall never be unto you. Matthew 16:22 To whom He said, Get behind Me, Satan; you are a stumbling-block unto Me; for you mind not the things of God but the things of men. Matthew 16:23 Since Jesus had begun to show unto His disciples that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things, Peter up to this point learned the beginnings of those things which were shown. But since he thought that the sufferings were unworthy of Christ the Son of the living God, and below the dignity of the Father who had revealed to him so great things about Christ,— for the things that concerned His coming suffering had not been revealed to him—on this account he took Him, and as one forgetful of the honour due to the Christ, and that the Son of the living God neither does nor says anything worthy of rebuke, he began to rebuke Him; and as to one who needed propitiation—for he did not yet know that God had set Him forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, Romans 3:25 he said, God be propitious to you, O Lord. Matthew 16:22 Approving his purpose, indeed, but rebuking his ignorance, because of the purpose being right, He says to him, Get behind Me, Matthew 16:23 as to one who, by reason of the things of which he was ignorant and spoke not rightly, had abandoned the following of Jesus; but because of his ignorance, as to one who had something antagonistic to the things of God, He said, Satan, which in the Hebrew means adversary. But, if Peter had not spoken from ignorance, nor rebuked the Son of the living God, saying unto Him, God be propitious to you, Lord, this shall never be unto You, Christ would not have said to him, Get behind Me, as to one who had given up being behind Him and following Him; nor would He have said as to one who had spoken things adverse to what He had said, Satan. But now Satan prevailed over him who had followed Jesus and was going behind Him, to turn aside from following Him and from being behind the Son of God, and to make him, by reason of the words which he spoke in ignorance, worthy of being called Satan and a stumbling-block to the Son of God, and as not minding the things of God but the things of men. But that Peter was formerly behind the Son of God, before he committed this sin, is manifest from the words, Come ye behind Me, and I will make you fishers of men. Matthew 4:19
22. Importance of the Expressions Behind And Turned.
But you will compare together His saying to Peter, Get behind me, Satan, Matthew 16:23 with that said to the devil (who said to Him, All these things will I give You if You will fall down and worship me), Matthew 4:9 get you hence, Matthew 4:10 without the addition, behind Me; for to be behind Jesus is a good thing. Wherefore it was said, Come ye behind Me and I will make you fishers of men. Matthew 4:19 And to the same effect is the saying, He that does not take his cross and follow behind Me is not worthy of Me. Matthew 10:38 And as a general principle observe the expression behind; because it is a good thing when any one goes behind the Lord God and is behind the Christ; but it is the opposite when any one casts the words of God behind him, or when he transgresses the commandment which says, Do not walk behind your lusts. Sirach 18:30 And Elijah also, in the third Book of Kings, says to the people, How long halt ye on both your knees? If God is the Lord, go behind Him, but if Baal is the Lord, go behind him. 1 Kings 18:21 And Jesus says this to Peter when He turned, and He does so by way of conferring a favour. And if therefore you will collect more illustrations of the having turned, and especially those which are ascribed to Jesus, and compare them with one another, you would find that the expression is not superfluous. But it is sufficient at present to bring forward this from the Gospel according to John, Jesus turned and beheld them— clearly, Peter and Andrew— following, and says unto them, What do you seek? John 1:38 For observe that, when He turned, it is for the advantage of those to whom He turned.
23. Peter as a Stumbling-Block to Jesus.
Next we must inquire how He said to Peter, You are a stumbling-block unto Me, Matthew 16:23 especially when David says, Great peace have they that love Your law, and there is no stumbling-block to them. For some one will say, if this is said in the prophet, because of the steadfastness of those who have love, and are incapable of being offended, for love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, love never fails, 1 Corinthians 13:7-8 how did the Lord Himself, who upholds all that fall, and raises up all that be bowed down, say to Peter, You are a stumbling-block unto Me? But it must be said that not only the Saviour, but also he who is perfected in love, cannot be offended. But, so far as it depends on himself, he who says or does such things is a stumbling-block even to him who will not be offended; unless perhaps Jesus calls the disciple who sinned a stumbling-block even to Himself, as much more than Paul He would have said from love, Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I burn not? 2 Corinthians 11:29 In harmony with which we may put, Who is made to stumble, and I am not made to stumble? But if Peter, at that time because of the saying, God be propitious to You, Lord, this shall not be unto You, Matthew 16:22 was called a stumbling-block by Jesus, as not minding the things of God in what he said but the things of men, what is to be said about all those who profess to be made disciples of Jesus, but do not mind the things of God, and do not look to things unseen and eternal, but mind the things of man, and look to things seen and temporal, 2 Corinthians 4:18 but that such still more would be stigmatized by Jesus as a stumbling-block to Him, and because stumbling-blocks to Him, as stumbling-blocks to His brethren also? As in regard to them He says, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, Matthew 25:42 etc., so also He might say, When I was running ye caused Me to stumble. Let us not therefore suppose that it is a trivial sin to mind the things of men, since we ought in everything to mind the things of God. And it will be appropriate also to say this to every one that has fallen away from the doctrines of God and the words of the church and a true mind; as, for example, to him who minds as true the teaching of Basilides, or Valentinus, or Marcion, or any one of those who teach the things of men as the things of God.
24. Self-Denial and Cross-Bearing.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, If any man wills to follow after Me, etc. Matthew 16:24 He shows by these words that, to will to come after Jesus and to follow Him, springs from no ordinary manly courage, and that no one who has not denied himself can come after Jesus. And the man denies himself who wipes out by a striking revolution his own former life which had been spent in wickedness; as by way of illustration he who was once licentious denies his licentious self, having become self-controlled even abidingly. But it is probable that some one may put the objection, whether as he denied himself so he also confesses himself, when he denied himself, the unjust, and confesses himself, the righteous one. But, if Christ is righteousness, he who has received righteousness confesses not himself but Christ; so also he who has found wisdom, by the very possession of wisdom, confesses Christ. And such a one indeed as, with the heart believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth makes confession unto salvation, Romans 10:10 and bears testimony to the works of Christ, as making confession by all these things of Christ before men, will be confessed by Him before His Father in heaven. Matthew 10:32 So also he who has not denied himself but denied the Christ will experience the saying, I also will deny him. Matthew 10:33 On this account let every thought and every purpose and every word and every action become a denial of ourselves, but a testimony about Christ and in Christ; for I am persuaded that every action of the perfect man is a testimony to Christ Jesus, and that abstinence from every sin is a denial of self, leading him after Christ. And such an one is crucified with Christ, and taking up his own cross follows Him who for our sakes bears His own cross, according to that which is said in John: They took Jesus therefore and put it on Him, etc., down to the words, Where they crucified Him. John 19:17-18 But the Jesus according to John, so to speak, bears the cross for Himself, and bearing it went out; but the Jesus according to Matthew and Mark and Luke, does not bear it for Himself, for Simon of Cyrene bears it. And perhaps this man refers to us, who because of Jesus take up the cross of Jesus, but Jesus Himself takes it upon Himself; for there are, as it were, two conceptions of the cross, the one which Simon of Cyrene bears, and the other which Jesus Himself bears for Himself.
25. Reference to the Saying of Paul About Crucifixion with Christ.
Moreover in regard to the saying, Let him deny himself, Matthew 16:24 the following saying of Paul who denied himself seems appropriate, Yet I live, and yet no longer I but Christ lives in me; Galatians 2:20 for the expression, I live, yet no longer I, was the voice of one denying himself, as of one who had laid aside his own life and taken on himself the Christ, in order that He might live in him as Righteousness, and as Wisdom, and as Sanctification, and as our Peace, and as the Power of God, who works all things in him. But further also, attend to this, that while there are many forms of dying, the Son of God was crucified, being hanged on a tree, in order that all who die unto sin may die to it, in no other way than by the way of the cross. Wherefore they will say, I have been crucified with Christ, and, Far be it from me to glory save in the cross of the Lord, through which the world has been crucified unto me and I unto the world. For perhaps also each of those who have been crucified with Christ puts off from himself the principalities and the powers, and makes a show of them and triumphs over them in the cross; Colossians 2:15 or rather, Christ does these things in them.
26. The Less of Life; And the Saving of It.
For whosoever would save his own life shall lose it. Matthew 16:25 The first expression is ambiguous; for it may be understood in one way thus. If any one as being a lover of life, and thinking that the present life is good, tends carefully his own life with a view to living in the flesh, being afraid to die, as through death going to lose it, this man, by the very willing to save in this way his own life will lose it, placing it outside of the borders of blessedness. But if any one despising the present life because of my word, which has persuaded him to strive in regard to eternal life even unto death for truth, loses his own life, surrendering it for the sake of piety to that which is commonly called death, this man, as for my sake he has lost his life, will save it rather, and keep it in possession. And according to a second way we might interpret the saying as follows. If any one, who has grasped what salvation really is, wishes to procure the salvation of his own life, let this man having taken farewell of this life, and denied himself and taken up his own cross, and following me, lose his own life to the world; for having lost it for my sake and for the sake of all my teaching, he will gain the end of loss of this kind— salvation.
27. Life Lost to the World is Saved.
But at the same time also observe that at the beginning it is said, Whosoever wills, but afterwards, Whoso shall lose. Matthew 16:25 If we then wish it to be saved let us lose it to the world, as those who have been crucified with Christ and have for our glorying that which is in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world is to be crucified unto us and we unto the world, Galatians 6:14 that we may gain our end, even the salvation of our lives, which begins from the time when we lose it for the sake of the word. But if we think that the salvation of our life is a blessed thing, with reference to the salvation which is in God and the blessednesses with Him, then any loss of life ought to be a good thing, and, for the sake of Christ must prove to be the prelude to the blessed salvation. It seems to me, therefore, following the analogy of self-denial, according to what has been said, that each ought to lose his own life. Let each one therefore lose his own sinning life, that having lost that which is sinful, he may receive that which is saved by right actions; but a man will in no way be profited if he shall gain the whole world. Now he gains the world, I think, to whom the world is not crucified; and to whom the world is not crucified, to that man shall be the loss of his own life. But when two things are put before us, either by gaining one's life to forfeit the world, or by gaining the world to forfeit one's life, much more desirable is the choice, that we should forfeit the world and gain our life by losing it on account of Christ.
28. The Exchange for One's Life.
But the saying, What shall a man give in exchange for his own life, Matthew 16:26 if spoken by way of interrogation, will seem to be able to indicate that an exchange for his own life is given by the man who after his sins has given up his whole substance, that his property may feed the poor, as if he were going by that to obtain salvation; but, if spoken affirmatively, I think, to indicate that there is not anything in man by the giving of which in exchange for his own life which has been overcome by death, he will ransom it out of its hand. A man, therefore, could not give anything as an exchange for his own life, but God gave an exchange for the life of us all, the precious blood of Christ Jesus, 1 Peter 1:19 according as we were bought with a price, 1 Corinthians 6:20 having been redeemed, not with corruptible things as silver or gold, but with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even of Christ. 1 Peter 1:18-19 And in Isaiah it is said to Israel, I gave Ethiopia in exchange for you, and Egypt and Syene for you; from what time you have become honourable before Me you were glorified. Isaiah 43:3-4 For the exchange, for example, of the first-born of Israel was the first-born of the Egyptians, and the exchange for Israel was the Egyptians who died in the last plagues that came upon Egypt, and in the drowning which took place after the plagues. But, from these things, let him who is able inquire whether the exchange of the true Israel given by God, who redeems Israel from all his transgressions, is the true Ethiopia, and, so to speak, spiritual Egypt, and Syene of Egypt; and to inquire with more boldness, perhaps Syene is the exchange for Jerusalem, and Egypt for Judæa, and Ethiopia for those who fear, who are different from Israel, and the house of Levi, and the house of Aaron.
29. The Coming of the Son of Man in Glory.
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His own Father with His angels. Matthew 16:27 Now, indeed, the Son of man has not come in His glory; for we saw Him, and He had no form nor beauty; but His form was dishonoured and defective compared with the sons of men; He was a man in affliction and toil, and acquainted with the enduring of sickness, because His face was turned away, He was dishonoured and not esteemed. Isaiah 53:2-3 And it was necessary that He should come in such form that He might bear our sins Isaiah 53:4 and suffer pain for us; for it did not become Him in glory to bear our sins and suffer pain for us. But He also comes in glory, having prepared the disciples through that epiphany of His which has no form nor beauty; and, having become as they that they might become as He, conformed to the image of His glory, Romans 8:29 since He formerly became conformed to the body of our humiliation, Philippians 3:21 when He emptied Himself and took upon Him the form of a servant, Philippians 2:7 He is restored to the image of God and also makes them conformed unto it.
30. The Word Appears in Different Forms; The Time of His Coming in Glory.
But if you will understand the differences of the Word which by the foolishness of preaching 1 Corinthians 1:21 is proclaimed to those who believe, and spoken in wisdom to them that are perfect, you will see in what way the Word has the form of a slave to those who are learning the rudiments, so that they say, We saw Him and He had no form or beauty. Isaiah 53:2 But to the perfect He comes in the glory of His own Father, Matthew 16:27 who might say, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 For indeed to the perfect appears the glory of the Word, and the only-begotten of God His Father, and the fullness of grace and likewise of truth, which that man cannot perceive who requires the foolishness of the preaching, in order to believe. But the Son of man shall come in the glory of His own Father not alone, but with His own angels. And if you can conceive of all those who are fellow-helpers in the glory of the Word, and in the revelation of the Wisdom which is Christ, coming along with Him, you will see in what way the Son of man comes in the glory of His own Father with His own angels. And consider whether you can in this connection say that the prophets who formerly suffered in virtue of their word having no form or beauty had an analogous position to the Word who had no form or beauty. And, as the Son of man comes in the glory of His own Father, so the angels, who are the words in the prophets, are present with Him preserving the measure of their own glory. But when the Word comes in such form with His own angels, He will give to each a part of His own glory and of the brightness of His own angels, according to the action of each. But we say these things not rejecting even the second coming of the Son of God understood in its simpler form. But when shall these things happen? Shall it be when that apostolic oracle is fulfilled which says, For we must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether it be good or bad? 2 Corinthians 5:10 But if He will render to each according to his deed, not the good deed only, nor the evil apart from the good, it is manifest that He will render to each according to every evil, and according to every good, deed. But I suppose— in this also following the Apostle, but comparing also the sayings of Ezekiel, in which the sins of him who is a perfect convert are wiped out, and the former uprightness of him who has utterly fallen away is not held of account— that in the case of him who is perfected, and has altogether laid aside wickedness, the sins are wiped out, but that, in the case of him who has altogether revolted from piety, if anything good was formerly done by him, it is not taken into account. Ezekiel 18:21-24 But to us, who occupy a middle position between the perfect man and the apostate, when we stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:10 there is rendered what we have done, whether good or bad; for we have not been so pure that our evil deeds are not at all imputed unto us, nor have we fallen away to such an extent that our better actions are forgotten.
31. The Simpler Interpretation of the Promise About Not Tasting of Death.
Verily I say unto you there be some of them that stand here that shall not taste of death. Matthew 16:28 Some refer these things to the going up— six days after, or, as Luke says, Luke 9:28 eight days— of the three disciples into the high mountain with Jesus apart; and those who adopt this interpretation say that Peter and the remaining two did not taste of death before they saw the Son of man coming in His own kingdom and in His own glory. For when they saw Jesus transfigured before them so that His face shone, etc., they saw the kingdom of God coming with power. Mark 9:1 For even as some spear-bearers stand around a king, so Moses and Elijah appeared to those who had gone up into the mountains, talking with Jesus. But it is worth while considering whether the sitting on the right hand and on the left hand of the Saviour in His kingdom refers to them, so that the words, But for whom it is prepared, were Matthew 20:23 spoken because of them. Now this interpretation about the three Apostles not tasting of death until they have seen Jesus transfigured, is adapted to those who are designated by Peter as new-born babes longing for the reasonable milk which is without guile, 1 Peter 2:2 to whom Paul says, I have fed you with milk, not with meat, 1 Corinthians 3:2 etc. Now, too, every interpretation of a text which is able to build up those who cannot receive greater truths might reasonably be called milk, flowing from the holy ground of the Scriptures, which flows with milk and honey. But he who has been weaned, like Isaac, Genesis 21:8 worthy of the good cheer and reception which Abraham gave at the weaning of his son, would seek here and in every Scripture food which is different, I think, from that which is meat, indeed, but is not solid food, and from what are figuratively called herbs, which are food to one who has been weaned and is not yet strong but weak, according to the saying, He that is weak eats herbs. Romans 14:2 In like manner also he who has been weaned, like Samuel, and dedicated by his mother to God, — she was Hannah, which is, by interpretation, grace—would be also a son of grace, seeking, like one nurtured in the temple, flesh of God, the holy food of those who are at once perfect and priests.
32. Standing by the Saviour.
The reflections in regard to the passage before us that occur to us at the present time are these: Some were standing where Jesus was, having the footsteps of the soul firmly planted with Jesus, and the standing of their feet was akin to the standing of which Moses said in the passage, And I stood on the mountain forty days and forty nights, Deuteronomy 10:10 who was deemed worthy to have it said to him by God who asked him to stand by Him, But stand here with Me. Deuteronomy 5:31 Those who really stand by Jesus— that is, by the Word of God— do not all stand equally; for among those who stand by Jesus are differences from each other. Wherefore, not all who stand by the Saviour, but some of them as standing better, do not taste of death until they shall have seen the Word who dwelt with men, and on that account called Son of man, coming in His own kingdom; for Jesus does not always come in His own kingdom when He comes, since to the newly initiated He is such that they might say, beholding the Word Himself not glorious nor great, but inferior to many among them, We saw Him, and He had no form or beauty, but His form was dishonoured, defective compared with all the sons of men. Isaiah 53:2-3 And these things will be said by those who beheld His glory in connection with their own former times, when at first the Word as understood in the synagogue had no form nor beauty to them. To the Word, therefore, who has assumed most manifestly the power above all words, there belongs a royal dignity which is visible to some of those who stand by Jesus, when they have been able to follow Him as He goes before them and ascends to the lofty mountain of His own manifestation. And of this honour some of those who stand by Jesus are deemed worthy if they be either a Peter against whom the gates of Hades do not prevail, or the sons of thunder, Mark 3:17 and are begotten of the mighty voice of God who thunders and cries aloud from heaven great things to those who have ears and are wise. Such at least do not taste death.
33. Interpretation of Tasting of Death.
But we must seek to understand what is meant by tasting of death. And He is life who says, I am the life, John 14:6 and this life assuredly has been hidden with Christ in God; and. when Christ our life shall be manifested, then along with Him Colossians 3:3-4 shall be manifested those who are worthy of being manifested with Him in glory. But the enemy of this life, who is also the last enemy of all His enemies that shall be destroyed, is death, 1 Corinthians 15:26 of which the soul that sins dies, having the opposite disposition to that which takes place in the soul that lives uprightly, and in consequence of living uprightly lives. And when it is said in the law, I have placed life before your face, Deuteronomy 30:15 the Scripture says this about Him who said, I am the Life, and about His enemy, death; the one or other of which each of us by his deeds is always choosing. And when we sin with life before our face, the curse is fulfilled against us which says, And your life shall be hanging up before you, etc., down to the words, and for the sights of your eyes which you shall see. Deuteronomy 28:66-67 As, therefore, the Life is also the living bread which came down from heaven and gave life to the world, John 6:33, 51 so His enemy death is dead bread. Now every rational soul is fed either on living bread or dead bread, by the opinions good or bad which it receives. As then in the case of more common foods it is the practice at one time only to taste them, and at another to eat of them more largely; so also, in the case of these loaves, one eats insufficiently only tasting them, but another is satiated—he that is good or is on the way to being good with the living bread which came down from heaven, but he that is wicked with the dead bread, which is death; and some perhaps sparingly, and sinning a little, only taste of death; but those who have attained to virtue do not even taste of it, but are always fed on the living bread. It naturally followed then in the case of Peter, against whom the gates of Hades will not prevail, that he did not taste of death, since any one tastes of death and eats death at the time when the gates of Hades prevail against him; and one eats or tastes of death in proportion as the gates of Hades to a greater or less extent, more or fewer in number, prevail against him. But also for the sons of thunder who were begotten of thunder, which is a heavenly thing, it was impossible to taste of death, which is extremely far removed from thunder, their mother. But these things the Word prophesies to those who shall be perfected, and who by standing with the Word advanced so far that they did not taste of death, until they saw the manifestation and the glory and the kingdom and the excellency of the Word of God in virtue of which He excels every word, which by an appearance of truth draws away and drags about those who are not able to break through the bonds of distraction, and go up to the height of the excellency of the Word of truth.
34. Meaning of Until. No Limitation of Promise.
But since some one may think that the promise of the Saviour prescribes a limit of time to their not tasting of death, namely, that they will not taste of death until Matthew 16:28 they see the Son of man coming in His own kingdom, but after this will taste of it, let us show that according to the scriptural usage the word until signifies that the time concerning the thing signified is pressing, but is not so defined that after the until, that which is contrary to the thing signified should at all take place. Now, the Saviour says to the eleven disciples when He rose from the dead, this among other things, Lo, I am with you all the days, even until the consummation of the age. Matthew 28:20 When He said this, did He promise that He was going to be with them until the consummation of the age, but that after the consummation of the age, when another age was at hand, which is called the age to come, He would be no longer with them?— so that according to this, the condition of the disciples would be better before the consummation of the age than after the consummation of the age? But I do not think that any one will dare to say, that after the consummation of the age the Son of God will be no longer with the disciples, because the expression declares that He will be with them for so long, until the consummation of the age is at hand; for it is clear that the matter under inquiry was, whether the Son of God was immediately going to be with His disciples before the age to come and the hoped for promises of God which were given as a recompense. But there might have been a question— it being granted that He would be with them— whether sometimes He was present with them, and sometimes not present. Wherefore setting us free from the suspicion that might have arisen from doubt, He declared that now and even all the days He would be with the disciples, and that He would not leave those who had become His disciples until the consummation of the age; (because He said all the days He did not deny that by night, when the sun set, He would be present with them.) But if such is the force of the words, until the consummation of the age, plainly we shall not be compelled to admit that those who see the Son of man coming in His own kingdom shall taste of death, after being deemed worthy of beholding Him in such guise. But as in the case of the passage we brought forward, the urgent necessity was to teach us that until the consummation of the age He would not leave us but be with us all the days; so also in this case I think that it is clear to those who know how to look at the logical coherence of things that He who has seen once for all the Son of man coming in His own kingdom, and seen Him in His own glory, and seen the kingdom of God come with power, could not possibly taste of death after the contemplation of things so good and great. But apart from the word of the promise of Jesus, we have conjectured not without reason that we would taste of death, so long as we were not yet held worthy to see the kingdom of God come with power, and the Son of man coming in His own glory and in His own kingdom.
35. Scriptural References to Death.
But since here it is written in the three Evangelists, They shall not taste of death, but in other writers different things are written concerning death, it may not be out of place to bring forward and examine these passages along with the taste. In the Psalms, then, it is said, What man is he that shall live and not see death? And again, in another place, Let death come upon them and let them go down into Hades alive; but in one of the prophets, Death becoming mighty has swallowed them up; Isaiah 25:8 and in the Apocalypse, Death and Hades follow some. Revelation 6:10 Now in these passages it appears to me that it is one thing to taste of death, but another thing to see death, and another thing for it to come upon some, and that a fourth thing, different from the aforesaid, is signified by the words, Death becoming mighty has swallowed them up, and a fifth thing, different from these, by the words, Death and Hades follow them. And if you were to collect them, you would perhaps find also other differences than those which we have mentioned, by a comparison of which with one another and right investigation, you would find the things signified in each place. But here I inquire whether it is a less evil to see death, but a greater evil than seeing to taste of it, but still worse than this that death should follow any one, and not only follow him, but also now come upon him and seize him whom it formerly followed; but to be swallowed up seems to be more grievous than all the things spoken of. But giving heed to what is said, and to the differences of sins committed, you will not I think, be slow to admit that things of this kind were intended by the Spirit who caused these things to be written in the oracles of God. But, if it be necessary to give an exposition clearer than what has been said of what is signified by seeing the Son of man coming in His own kingdom, or in His own glory, and what is signified by seeing the kingdom of God come with power, these things— whether those that are made to shine in our hearts, or that are found by those who seek, or that enter gradually into our thoughts,— let each one judge as he wills— we will set forth. He who beholds and apprehends the excellency of the Word, as he breaks down and refutes all the plausible forms of things which are truly lies but profess to be truths, sees the Son of man, (according to the word of John, the Word of God,) coming in His own kingdom; but if such an one were to behold the Word, not only breaking down plausible oppositions, but also representing His own truths with perfect clearness, he would behold His glory in addition to His kingdom. And such an one indeed would see in Him the kingdom of God come with power; and he would see this, as one who is no longer now under the reign of sin which reigns in the mortal body of those who sin, Romans 6:12 but is ever under the orders of the king, who is God of all, whose kingdom is indeed potentially within us, Luke 17:21 but actually, and, as Mark has called it, with power, and not at all in weakness within the perfect alone. These things, then, Jesus promised to the disciples who were standing, prophesying not about all of them, but about some.
36. Concerning the Transfiguration of the Saviour.
Now after six days, according to Matthew and Mark, He takes with him Peter and James and John his brother, and leads them up into a high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them. Now, also, let it be granted, before the exposition that occurs to us in relation to these things, that this took place long ago, and according to the letter. But it seems to me, that those who are led up by Jesus into the high mountain, and are deemed worthy of beholding His transfiguration apart, are not without purpose led up six days after the discourses previously spoken. For since in six days— the perfect number— the whole world—this perfect work of art—was made, on this account I think that he who transcends all the things of the world by beholding no longer the things which are seen, for they are temporal, but already the things which not seen, and only the things which are not seen, because that they are eternal, is represented in the words, After six days Jesus took up with Him certain persons. If therefore any one of us wishes to be taken by Jesus, and led up by Him into the high mountain, and be deemed worthy of beholding His transfiguration apart, let him pass beyond the six days, because he no longer beholds the things which are seen, nor longer loves the world, nor the things in the world, 1 John 2:15 nor lusts after any worldly lust, which is the lust of bodies, and of the riches of the body, and of the glory which is after the flesh, and whatever things whose nature it is to distract and drag away the soul from the things which are better and diviner, and bring it down and fix it fast to the deceit of this age, in wealth and glory, and the rest of the lusts which are the foes of truth. For when he has passed through the six days, as we have said, he will keep a new Sabbath, rejoicing in the lofty mountain, because he sees Jesus transfigured before him; for the Word has different forms, as He appears to each as is expedient for the beholder, and is manifested to no one beyond the capacity of the beholder.
37. Force of the Words Before Them.
But you will ask if, when He was transfigured before those who were led up by Him into the lofty mountain, He appeared to them in the form of God, in which He formerly was, so that He had to those below the form of a servant, but to those who had followed Him after the six days to the lofty mountain, He had not that form, but the form of God. But hear these things, if you can, at the same time giving heed spiritually, that it is not said simply, He was transfigured, but with a certain necessary addition, which Matthew and Mark have recorded; for, according to both, He was transfigured before them. And according to this, indeed, you will say that it is possible for Jesus to be transfigured before some with this transfiguration, but before others at the same time not to be transfigured. But if you wish to see the transfiguration of Jesus before those who went up into the lofty mountain apart long with Him, behold with me the Jesus in the Gospels, as more simply apprehended, and as one might say, known according to the flesh, by those who do not go up, through works and words which are uplifting, to the lofty mountain of wisdom, but known no longer after the flesh, but known in His divinity by means of all the Gospels, and beholden in the form of God according to their knowledge; for before them is Jesus transfigured, and not to any one of those below. But when He is transfigured, His face also shines as the sun, that He may be manifested to the children of light, who have put off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light, Romans 13:12 and are no longer the children of darkness or night, but have become the sons of day, and walk honestly as in the day; and being manifested, He will shine unto them not simply as the sun, but as demonstrated to be the sun of righteousness.
38. The Garments White as the Light.
And not only is He transfigured before such disciples, nor does He only add to the transfiguration the shining of His face as the sun; but further also to those who were led up by Him into the high mountain apart, His garments appear white as the light. Matthew 17:2 But the garments of Jesus are the expressions and letters of the Gospels with which He invested Himself. But I think that even the words in the Apostles which indicate the truths concerning Him are garments of Jesus, which become white to those who go up into the high mountain along with Jesus. But since there are differences also of things white, His garments become white as the brightest and purest of all white things; and that is light. When therefore you see any one not only with a thorough understanding of the theology concerning Jesus, but also making clear every expression of the Gospels, do not hesitate to say that to Him the garments of Jesus have become white as the light. But when the Son of God in His transfiguration is so understood and beheld, that His face is a sun, and His garments white as the light, straightway there will appear to him who beholds Jesus in such form Moses—the law— and Elijah,— in the way of synecdoche, not one prophet only, but all the prophets— holding converse with Jesus; for such is the force of the words talking with Him; Matthew 17:3 but, according to Luke, Moses and Elijah appeared in glory, down to the words, in Jerusalem. Luke 9:30-31 But if any one sees the glory of Moses, having understood the spiritual law as a discourse in harmony with Jesus, and the wisdom in the prophets which is hidden in a mystery, 1 Corinthians 2:7 he sees Moses and Elijah in glory when he sees them with Jesus.
39. Jesus Was Transfigured— As He Was Praying.
Then, since it will be necessary to expound the passage as given in Mark, And as He was praying He was transfigured before them, we must say that perhaps it is possible especially to see the Word transfigured before us if we have done the things aforesaid, and gone up into the mountain, and seen the absolute Word holding converse with the Father, and praying to Him for such things as the true High-Priest might pray for to the only true God. But in order that He may thus hold fellowship with God and pray to the Father, He goes up into the mountain; and then, according to Mark, His garments become white and glistening as the light, so as no fuller on earth can whiten them. Mark 9:3 And perhaps the fullers upon the earth are the wise men of this world who are careful about the diction which they consider to be bright and pure, so that even their base thoughts and false dogmas seem to be beautified by their fulling, so to speak; but He who shows His own garments glistering to those who have ascended and brighter than their fulling can make them, is the Word, who exhibits in the expressions of the Scriptures which are despised by many the glistering of the thoughts, when the raiment of Jesus, according to Luke, becomes white and dazzling. Luke 9:29
40. Discussion of the Saying of Peter.
But let us next see what was the thought of Peter when he answered and said to Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, etc. And on this account these words call for very special examination, because Mark, in his own person, has added, For he knew not what to answer, Mark 9:6 but Luke, not knowing, he says, what he spoke. Luke 9:33 You will consider, therefore, if he spoke these things as in a trance, being filled with the spirit which moved him to say these things, which could not be a Holy Spirit; for John taught in the Gospel that, before the resurrection of the Saviour, no one had the Holy Spirit, saying, For the Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:39 But if the Spirit was not yet, and he, not knowing what he said, spoke under the influence of some spirit, the spirit which caused these things to be said was some one of the spirits which had not yet been triumphed over in the cross, nor made a show of along with them, about whom it is written, Having put off from Himself the principalities and the powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in the cross. Colossians 2:15 But this spirit was perhaps that which is called a stumbling-block by Jesus, and which is spoken of as Satan in the passage, Get behind Me, Satan; you are a stumbling-block unto me. Matthew 16:23 But I know well that such things will offend many who meet with them, because they think that it is opposed to sound reason that he should be spoken ill of who a little before had been pronounced blessed by Jesus, on the ground that the Father in heaven had revealed to him the things concerning the Saviour, to-wit, that He was verily Jesus, and the Christ, and the Son of the living God. But let such an one attend more exactly to the statements about Peter and the rest of the Apostles, how even they made requests as if they were yet alien from Him who was to redeem them from the enemy and purchase them with His own precious blood; or let them also, who will have it that even before the passion of Jesus the Apostles were perfect, tell us whence it came about that Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep. Luke 9:32 But to anticipate something else of what follows and apply it to the subject in hand, I would raise in turn these questions—whether it is possible for any one to find occasion of stumbling in Jesus apart from the working of the devil who caused him to stumble; and whether it is possible for any one to deny Jesus, and that in presence of a little maid and a doorkeeper and men most worthless, unless a spirit had been with him in his denial hostile to the Spirit which is given and the wisdom, (which is given) to those who are assisted by God to make confession, according to a certain desert of theirs. But he who has learned to refer the roots of sin to the father of sin, the devil, will not say that apart from him either the Apostles were caused to stumble, or that Peter denied Christ thrice before that well-known cock-crowing. But if this be so, consider whether perhaps with a view to make Jesus stumble, so far as was in his power, and to turn Him aside from the dispensation whose characteristic was suffering that brought salvation to men, which He undertook with great willingness, seeking to effect these things which seemed to contribute to this end, he himself also here wishes as it were, by deceit, to draw away Jesus, as if calling upon Him no longer to condescend to men, and come to them, and undergo death for them, but to abide on the high mountain with Moses and Elijah. But he promised also to build three tabernacles, one apart for Jesus, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah, as if one tabernacle would not have sufficed for the three, if it had been necessary for them to be in tabernacles and in the high mountain. And perhaps also in this he acted with evil intent, when he incited him who did not know what he said, not desiring that Jesus and Moses and Elijah should be together, but desiring to separate them from one another, under pretext of the three tabernacles. And likewise it was a lie, It is good for us to be here; Matthew 17:4 for if it had been a good thing they would also have remained there. But if it were a lie, you will seek to know who caused the lie to be spoken; and especially since according to John, When he speaks a lie he speaks of his own; for he is a liar and the father thereof; John 8:44 and as there is no truth apart from the working of Him who says, I am the Truth, John 14:6 so there is no lie apart from him who is the enemy of truth. These contrary qualities, accordingly, were still in Peter truth and falsehood; and from truth he said, You are the Christ, the son of the living God, Matthew 16:16 but from falsehood he said, May God be propitious to You, Lord, this shall not be unto You, Matthew 16:20 and also, It is good for us to be here. Matthew 17:4 But if any one will not admit that Peter spoke these things from any evil inspiration, but that his words were of his own mere choice, and it is demanded of him how he will interpret, not knowing what he said, and, Luke 9:33 for he did not know what to answer, Mark 9:6 he will say, that in the former case Peter held it to be a shameful thing and unworthy of Jesus to admit that the Son of the living God, the Christ, whom already the Father had revealed to him, should be killed; and in the present case that, as having seen the two forms of Jesus and the one at the transfiguration which was much more excellent, being well pleased with that, he said that it was good to make their sojourning in that mountain, in order that he himself and those with him might rejoice as they beheld the transfiguration of Jesus and His face shining as the sun, and His garments white as the light, and, in addition to these things, might always behold in glory those whom they had once seen in glory, Moses and Elijah; and that they might rejoice at the things which they might hear, as they talked and held intercourse with each other, Moses and Elijah with Jesus, and Jesus with them.
41. Figurative Interpretation of the Same.
But since we have not yet spent our energy in interpreting the things in the place figuratively, but have said these things by way of searching into the mere letter, let us in conformity with these things, consider whether the aforesaid Peter and the sons of thunder who were taken up into the mountain of the dogmas of the truth, and who saw the transfiguration of Jesus and of Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory with Him, might wish to make tabernacles in themselves for the Word of God who was going to dwell in them, and for His law which had been beholden in glory, and for the prophecy which spoke of the decease of Jesus, which He was about to accomplish; Luke 9:31 and Peter, as one loving the contemplative life, and having preferred that which was delightsome in it to the life among the crowd with its turmoil, said, with the design of benefiting those who desired it, It is good for us to be here. Matthew 17:4 But since love seeks not its own, 1 Corinthians 13:5 Jesus did not do that which Peter thought good; wherefore He descended from the mountain to those who were not able to ascend to it and behold His transfiguration, that they might behold Him in such form as they were able to see Him. It is, therefore, the part of a righteous man who possesses the love which seeks not its own 1 Corinthians 13:5 to be free from all, but to bring himself under bondage to all those below that He might gain the more of them. 1 Corinthians 9:19 But some one, with reference to what we have alleged about the trance and the working of an evil spirit in Peter, concerning the words, not knowing what he said, Luke 9:33 not accepting that interpretation of ours, may say that there were certain mentioned by Paul desiring to be teachers of the law, 1 Timothy 1:7 who do not know about what they speak, but who, though they do not clearly expound the nature of what is said, nor understand their meaning, make confident affirmations of things which they do not know. Of such a nature was the affection of Peter also, for not apprehending what was good with reference to the dispensation of Jesus and of those who appeared in the mountain—Moses and Elijah,— he says, It is good for us to be here, etc., not knowing what he said, for he knew not what to say, for if a wise man will understand the things from his own mouth, and carries prudence in his lips, Proverbs 16:23 he who is not so does not understand the things from his own mouth, nor comprehend the nature of the things spoken by him.
42. The Meaning of the Bright Cloud.
Next to these come the words, While He was yet speaking, behold, also, a bright cloud overshadowed them, Matthew 17:5 etc. Now, I think that God, wishing to dissuade Peter from making three tabernacles, under which so far as it depended on his choice he was going to dwell, shows a tabernacle better, so to speak, and much more excellent, the cloud. For since it is the function of a tabernacle to overshadow him who is in it, and to shelter him, and the bright cloud overshadowed them, God made, as it were, a diviner tabernacle, inasmuch as it was bright, that it might be to them a pattern of the resurrection to come; for a bright cloud overshadows the just, who are at once protected and illuminated and shone upon by it. But what might the bright cloud, which overshadows the just, be? Is it, perhaps, the fatherly power, from which comes the voice of the Father bearing testimony to the Son as beloved and well-pleasing, and exhorting those who were under its shadow to hear Him and no other one? But as He speaks of old, so also always does He speak through what He wills. And perhaps, too, the Holy Spirit is the bright cloud which overshadows the just, and prophesies of the things of God, who works in it, and says, This is My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased; but I would venture also to say that our Saviour is a bright cloud. When, therefore, Peter said, Let us make here three tabernacles,. ..one from the Father Himself, and from the Son, and one from the Holy Spirit. For a bright cloud of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit overshadows the genuine disciples of Jesus; or a cloud overshadows the Gospel and the law and the prophets, which is bright to him who is able to see the light of it in the Gospel, and the law, and the prophets. But perhaps the voice from the cloud says to Moses and Elijah, This is My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased, hear Him, as they were desirous to see the Son of man, and to hear Him, and to behold Him as He was in glory. And perhaps it teaches the disciples that He who was, in a literal sense, the Son of God, and His beloved in whom He was well-pleased, whom it behooved them especially to hear, was He who was then beheld, and transfigured, and whose face shone as the sun, and who was clothed with garments white as the light.
43. Relation of Moses and Elijah to Jesus. The Injunction of Silence.
But after these things it is written that, when they heard the voice from the cloud bearing testimony to the Son, the three Apostles, not being able to bear the glory of the voice and power resting upon it, fell on their face, Matthew 17:6 and besought God; for they were sore afraid at the supernatural sight, and the things which were spoken from the sight. But consider if you can also say this with reference to the details in the passage, that the disciples, having understood that the Son of God had been holding conference with Moses, and that it was He who said, A man shall not see My face and live, Exodus 30:20 and taking further the testimony of God about Him, as not being able to endure the radiance of the Word, humbled themselves under the mighty hand of God; 1 Peter 5:6 but, after the touch of the Word, lifting up their eyes they saw Jesus only and no other. Matthew 17:8 Moses, the law, and Elijah, the prophet, became one only with the Gospel of Jesus; and not, as they were formerly three, did they so abide, but the three became one. But consider these things with me in relation to mystical matters; for in regard to the bare meaning of the letter, Moses and Elijah, having appeared in glory and talked with Jesus, went away to the place from which they had come, perhaps to communicate the words which Jesus spoke with them, to those who were to be benefited by Him, almost immediately, namely, at the time of the passion, when many bodies of the saints that had fallen asleep, their tombs being opened, were to go to the city which is truly holy— not the Jerusalem which Jesus wept over— and there appear unto many. Matthew 27:52-53 But after the dispensation in the mountain, when the disciples were coming down from the mountain in order that, when they had come to the multitude, they might serve the Son of God concerning the salvation of the people, Jesus commanded the disciples saying, Tell the vision to no man until the Son of man rise from the dead. Matthew 17:9 But that saying, Tell the vision to no man, is like that which was investigated in the passage above, when He enjoined the disciples to tell no man that He was the Christ. Matthew 16:20 Wherefore the things that were said at that passage may be useful to us also for the passage before us; since Jesus wishes also, in accordance with these, that the things of His glory should not be spoken of, before His glory after the passion; for those who heard, and in particular the multitudes, would have been injured when they saw Him crucified, who had been so glorified. Wherefore since His being glorified in the resurrection was akin to His transfiguration, and to the vision of His face as the sun, on this account He wishes that these things should then be spoken of by the Apostles, when He rose from the dead.
Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Book XIII)
1. Relation of the Baptist to Elijah. The Theory of Transmigration Considered.
The disciples asked Him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elijah must first come? Matthew 17:10 The disciples indeed who went up with Jesus remembered the traditions of the scribes concerning Elijah, that before the advent of Christ, Elijah would come and prepare for Him the souls of those who were going to receive Him. But the vision in the mountain, at which Elijah appeared, did not seem to be in harmony with the things which were said, since to them it seemed that Elijah had not come before Jesus but after Him; wherefore, they say these things, thinking that the scribes lied. But to this the Saviour answers, not setting aside the traditions concerning Elijah, but saying that there was another advent of Elijah before that of Christ of which the scribes were ignorant; and, in regard to this, being ignorant of him, they had done unto him whatsoever they listed, Matthew 17:12 as if they had been accomplices in his having been cast into prison by Herod and slain by him; then He says that according as they had done towards Elijah so would He suffer at their hands. Matthew 17:12 And these things indeed as about Elijah the disciples asked and the Saviour answered, but when they heard they understood that the words, Elijah has already come, and that following which was spoken by the Saviour, had reference to John the Baptist. Matthew 17:13 And let these things be said by way of illustration of the passage before us. But now according to our ability let us make investigation also into the things that are stored up in it. In this place it does not appear to me that by Elijah the soul is spoken of, lest I should fall into the dogma of transmigration, which is foreign to the church of God, and not handed down by the Apostles, nor anywhere set forth in the Scriptures; for it is also in opposition to the saying that things seen are temporal, 2 Corinthians 4:18 and that this age shall have a consummation, and also to the fulfilment of the saying, Heaven and earth shall pass away, Matthew 24:35 and the fashion of this world passes away, 1 Corinthians 7:31 and the heavens shall perish, and what follows. For if, by hypothesis, in the constitution of things which has existed from the beginning unto the end of the world, the same soul can be twice in the body, for what cause should it be in it? For if because of sin it should be twice in the body, why should it not be thrice, and repeatedly in it, since punishments, in respect of this life, and of the sins committed in it, shall be rendered to it only by the method of transmigration? But if this be granted as a consequence, perhaps there will never be a time when a soul shall not undergo transmigration: for always because of its former sins will it dwell in the body; and so there will be no place for the corruption of the world, at which the heaven and the earth shall pass away. Matthew 24:35 And if it be granted, on this hypothesis, that one who is absolutely sinless shall not come into the body by birth, after what length of time do you suppose that a soul shall be found absolutely pure and needing no transmigration? But nevertheless, also, if any one soul is always thus being removed from the definite number of souls and returns no longer to the body, sometime after infinite ages, as it were, birth shall cease; the world being reduced to some one or two or a few more, after the perfecting of whom the world shall perish, the supply of souls coming into the body having failed. But this is not agreeable to the Scripture; for it knows of a multitude of sinners at the time of the destruction of the world. This is manifest from consideration of the saying, How-beit when the Son of man comes shall He find faith on the earth? Luke 18:8 So we find it thus said in Matthew, As were the days of Noah so shall also be the coming of the Son of man; for as they were in the days of the flood, etc. Matthew 24:37-39 But to those who are then in existence there shall be the exaction of a penalty for their sins, but not by way of transmigration; for, if they are caught while still sinning, either they will be punished after this by a different form of punishment—and according to this either there will be two general forms of punishment, the one by way of transmigration, and the other outside of a body of this kind, and let them declare the causes and differences of these—or they will not be punished, as if those who were left at the consummation of things had immediately cast away their sins; or, which is better, there is one form of punishment for those who have sinned in the body, namely, that they should suffer, outside of it, that is, outside the constitution of this life, what is according to the desert of their sins. But to one who has insight into the nature of things it is clear that each of these things is fitted to overturn the doctrine of transmigration. But if, of necessity, the Greeks who introduce the doctrine of transmigration, laying down things in harmony with it, do not acknowledge that the world is coming to corruption, it is fitting that when they have looked the Scriptures straight in the face which plainly declare that the world will perish, they should either disbelieve them, or invent a series of arguments in regard to the interpretation of the things concerning the consummation; which even if they wish they will not be able to do. And this besides we will say to those who may have had the hardihood to aver that the world will not perish, that, if the world does not perish but is to exist for infinite periods of time, there will be no God knowing all things before they come into being. But if, perhaps, He knows in part, either He will know each thing before it comes into being, or certain things, and after these again other things; for things infinite in nature cannot possibly be grasped by that knowledge whose nature it is to limit things known. From this it follows that there cannot be prophecies about all things whatsoever, since all things are infinite.
2. The Spirit and Power of Elijah— Not the Soul— Were in the Baptist.
I have thought it necessary to dwell some time on the examination of the doctrine of transmigration, because of the suspicion of some who suppose that the soul under consideration was the same in Elijah and in John, being called in the former case Elijah, and in the second case John; and that, not apart from God, had he been called John, as is plain from the saying of the angel who appeared to Zacharias, Fear not, Zacharias, for your supplication is heard, and your wife Elisabeth shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name John; Luke 1:13 and from the fact that Zacharias regained his speech after he had written in the tablet, that he who had been born should be called John. Luke 1:63 But if it were the soul of Elijah, then, when he was begotten a second time, he should have been called Elijah; or for the change of name some reason should have been assigned, as in the case of Abram and Abraham, Sarah and Sarrah, Jacob and Israel, Simon and Peter. And yet not even thus would their argument in the case be tenable; for, in the case of the aforesaid, the changes of name took place in one and the same life. But some one might ask, if the soul of Elijah was not first in the Tishbite and secondly in John, what might that be in both which the Saviour called Elijah? And I say that Gabriel in his words to Zacharias suggested what the substance was in Elijah and John that was the same; for he says, Many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God; and he shall go before his face in the spirit and power of Elijah. Luke 1:16-17 For, observe, he did not say in the soul of Elijah, in which case the doctrine of transmigration might have some ground, but in the spirit and power of Elijah. For the Scripture well knows the distinction between spirit and soul, as, May God sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and the passage, Bless the Lord, you spirits and souls of the righteous as it stands in the book of Daniel, according to the Septuagint, represents the difference between spirit and soul. Elijah, therefore, was not called John because of the soul, but because of the spirit and the power, which in no way conflicts with the teaching of the church, though they were formerly in Elijah, and afterwards in John; and the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, 1 Corinthians 14:32 but the souls of the prophets are not subject to the prophets, and the spirit of Elijah rested on Elisha. 2 Kings 2:15 But we ought to inquire whether the spirit of Elijah is the same as the spirit of God in Elijah, or whether they are different from each other, and whether the spirit of Elijah which was in him was something supernatural, different from the spirit of each man which is in him; for the Apostle clearly indicates that the Spirit of God, though it be in us, is different from the spirit of each man which is in Him, when he says somewhere, The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God; Romans 8:16 and elsewhere, No one of men knows the things of a man save the spirit of the man which is in him; even so the things of God none knows save the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:11 But do not marvel in regard to what is said about Elijah, if, just as something strange happened to him different from all the saints who are recorded, in respect of his having been caught up by a whirlwind into heaven, 2 Kings 2:11 so his spirit had something of choice excellence, so that not only did it rest on Elisha, but also descended along with John at his birth; and that John, separately, was filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother's womb, and separately, came before Christ in the spirit and power of Elijah. For it is possible for several spirits not only worse, but also better, to be in the same man. David accordingly asks to be established by a free spirit, and that a right spirit be renewed in his inward parts. But if, in order that the Saviour may impart to us of the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, Isaiah 11:2 he was filled also with the spirit of the fear of the Lord; it is possible also that these several good spirits may be conceived as being in the same person. And this also we have brought forward, because of John having come before Christ in the spirit and power of Elijah, Luke 1:17 in order that the saying, Elijah has already come, Matthew 17:12 may be referred to the spirit of Elijah that was in John; as also the three disciples who had gone up with Him understood that He spoke to them about John the Baptist. Matthew 17:13 Upon Elisha, then, only the spirit of Elijah rested, but John came before, not only in the spirit, but also in the power of Elijah. Wherefore, also, Elisha could not have been called Elijah, but John was Elijah himself. But if it be necessary to adduce the Scripture from which the scribes said that Elijah must first come, listen to Malachi who says, And behold I will send to you Elijah the Tishbite, etc., down to the words, Lest I come and smite the earth utterly. Malachi 4:5-6 And it seems to be indicated by these words, that Elijah was to prepare for the glorious coming of Christ by certain holy words and dispositions in their souls, those who had been made fittest for this, which those upon earth could not have endured, because of the excellency of the glory, unless they had been prepared before hand by Elijah. And likewise, by Elijah, in this place, I do not understand the soul of that prophet but his spirit and his power; for these it is by which all things shall be restored, Matthew 17:11 so that when they have been restored, and, as a result of that restoration, become capable of receiving the glory of Christ, the Son of God who shall appear in glory may sojourn with them. But if also Elijah be in some sort a word inferior to the Word who was in the beginning with God, God the Word, John 1:1 this word also might come as a preparatory discipline to the people prepared by it, that they might be trained for the reception of the perfect Word. But some one may raise the question whether the spirit and power of Elijah, suffered what was suffered in John, according to the words, They did in him whatsoever they listed. Matthew 17:12 And to this it will be said on the one hand, in simpler fashion that there is nothing strange in the thought, that the things which assist do, because of love, suffer along with those that are assisted; and Jesus indeed says. Because of the weak I was weak, and I hungered because of the hungry, and I thirsted because of the thirsty, and, on the other hand, in a deeper sense that the words are not, But they did unto him whatsoever they listed in him, for the things which suffered leaned upon the spirit and the power of Elijah, the soul of John being in no wise Elijah; and probably also the body (leaned upon them). For in one fashion is the soul in the body, and the spirit, and the power; and in another fashion is the body of the righteous man in these better parts, as leaning upon them, and clinging to them; but they who are in the flesh cannot please God; but you are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if the Spirit of God dwell in you; Romans 8:8-9 for the soul of the sinner is in the flesh, but of the righteous man in spirit. And likewise, further, this might be inquired into, to whom refer the words, But they did in him whatsoever they listed. Matthew 17:12 Was it to the scribes in regard to whom the disciples inquired and said, Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must first come? Matthew 17:10 But it is not at all evident that John suffered anything at the hands of the scribes, except, indeed, that they did not believe him; or, as we said also before, that they were accomplices in the wrongs which Herod dared to inflict on him. But another might say that the words, But they did in him whatsoever they listed, refer not to the scribes but to Herodias and her daughter, and Herod, who did in him whatsoever they listed. And that which follows, So shall the Son of man suffer from them, Matthew 17:12 might be referred to the scribes, if the former were referred to them; but, if the former refers to Herod and Herodias and her daughter, the second passage will also refer to them; for Herod also seems to have joined in the vote that Jesus should die, perhaps his wife also taking part with him in the plot against Him.
3. Concerning the Epileptic.
And when they had come to the multitude, there came to Him a man kneeling to Him and saying, Lord, have mercy upon my son. Matthew 17:14-15 Those who are suffering, or the kinsfolk of the sufferers, are along with the multitudes; wherefore, when He has dispensed the things that were beyond the multitudes, He descends to them, so that those, who were not able to ascend because of the sicknesses that repressed their soul, might be benefited when the Word descended to them from the loftier regions. But we ought to make inquiry, in respect of what diseases the sufferers believe and pray for their own healing, and in respect of what diseases others do this for them, as, for example, the centurion for his servant, and the nobleman for his son, and the ruler of the synagogue for a daughter, and the Canaanitish woman for her female child who was vexed with a demon, and now the man who kneels to Him on behalf of his epileptic son. And along with these you will investigate when the Saviour heals of Himself and unasked by any one, as for example, the paralytic; for these cures, when compared with one another for this very purpose, and examined together, will exhibit to him who is able to hear the wisdom of God hidden in a mystery, 1 Corinthians 2:7 many dogmas concerning the different diseases of souls, as well as the method of their healing.
4. Spiritual Epileptics.
But since our present object is not to make inquiry about every case, but about the passage before us, let us, adopting a figurative interpretation, consider who we may say the lunatic was, and who was his father who prayed for him, and what is meant by the sufferer falling not constantly but oft-times, sometimes into the fire, and sometimes into the water, and what is meant by the fact that he could not be healed by the disciples but by Jesus Himself. For if every sickness and every infirmity, which our Saviour then healed among the people, refers to different disorders in souls, it is also in accordance with reason that by the paralytics are symbolised the palsied in soul, who keep it lying paralysed in the body; but by those who are blind are symbolised those who are blind in respect of things seen by the soul alone, and these are really blind; and by the deaf are symbolised those who are deaf in regard to the reception of the word of salvation. On the same principle it will be necessary that the matters regarding the epileptic should be investigated. Now this affection attacks the sufferers at considerable intervals, during which he who suffers from it seems in no way to differ from the man in good health, at the season when the epilepsy is not working on him. Similar disorders you may find in certain souls, which are often supposed to be healthy in point of temperance and the other virtues; then, sometimes, as if they were seized with a kind of epilepsy arising from their passions, they fall down from the position in which they seemed to stand, and are drawn away by the deceit of this world and other lusts. Perhaps, therefore, you would not err if you said, that such persons, so to speak, are epileptic spiritually, having been cast down by the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places, Ephesians 6:12 and are often ill, at the time when the passions attack their soul; at one time falling into the fire of burnings, when, according to what is said in Hosea, they become adulterers, like a pan heated for the cooking from the burning flame; Hosea 7:4 and, at another time, into the water, when the king of all the dragons in the waters casts them down from the sphere where they appeared to breath freely, so that they come into the depths of the waves of the sea of human life. This interpretation of ours in regard to the lunatic will be supported by him who says in the Book of Wisdom with reference to the even temperament of the just man, The discourse of a pious man is always wisdom, but, in regard to what we have said, The fool changes as the moon. Sirach 27:11 And sometimes even in the case of such you may see impulses which might carry away in praise of them those who do not attend to their want of ballast, so that they would say that it was as full moon in their case, or almost full moon. And you might see again the light that seemed to be in them diminishing—as it was not the light of day but the light of night—fading to so great an extent, that the light which appeared to be seen in them no longer existed. But whether or not those who first gave their names to things, on account of this gave the name of lunacy to the disease epilepsy, you will judge for yourself.
5. The Deaf and Dumb Spirit.
Now the father of the epileptic— perhaps the angel to whom he had been allotted, if we are to say that every human soul is put in subjection to some angel— prays the Physician of souls for his son that He may heal him who could not be healed from his disorder by the inferior word which was in the disciples. But the dumb and deaf spirit, who was cast out by the Word, must be figuratively understood as the irrational impulses, even towards that which seems to be good, so that, what things any man once did by irrational impulse which seemed to onlookers to be good, he may do no longer irrationally but according to the reason of the teaching of Jesus. Under the inspiration of this Paul also said, If I have all faith so as to remove mountains; 1 Corinthians 13:2 for he, who has all faith, which is as a grain of mustard seed, Matthew 17:20 removes not one mountain only, but also several analogous to it; for although faith is despised by men and appears to be something very little and contemptible; yet when it meets with good ground, that is the soul, which is able fittingly to receive such seed, it becomes a great tree, so that no one of those things which have no wings, but the birds of heaven which are winged spiritually, are able to lodge in the branches of faith so great.
6. Influence of the Moon and Stars on Men.
Let us now, then, give heed to the very letter of the passage, and first let us inquire, how he who has been cast into darkness and repressed by an impure and deaf and dumb spirit is said to be a lunatic, and for what reason the expression to be a lunatic derives its name from the great light in heaven which is next to the sun, which God appointed to rule over the night. Genesis 1:16 Let physicians then, discuss the physiology of the matter, inasmuch as they think that there is no impure spirit in the case, but a bodily disorder, and inquiring into the nature of things let them say, that the moist humours which are in the head are moved by a certain sympathy which they have with the light of the moon, which has a moist nature; but as for us, who also believe the Gospel that this sickness is viewed as having been effected by an impure dumb and deaf spirit in those who suffer from it, and who see that those, who are accustomed like the magicians of the Egyptians to promise a cure in regard to such, seem sometimes to be successful in their case, we will say that, perhaps, with the view of slandering the creation of God, in order that unrighteousness may be spoken loftily, and that they may set their mouth against the heaven, this impure spirit watches certain configurations of the moon, and so makes it appear from observation of men suffering at such and such a phase of the moon, that the cause of so great an evil is not the dumb and deaf demon, but the great light in heaven which was appointed to rule by night, and which has no power to originate such a disorder among men. But they all speak unrighteousness loftily, as many as say, that the cause of all the disorders which exist on the earth, whether of such generally or of each in detail, arises from the disposition of the stars; and such have truly set their mouth against the heaven, when they say that some of the stars have a malevolent, and others a benevolent influence; since no star was formed by the God of the universe to work evil, according to Jeremiah as it is written in the Lamentations, Out of the mouth of the Lord shall come things noble and that which is good. And it is probable that as this impure spirit, producing what is called lunacy, observes the phases of the moon, that it may work on him who for certain causes has been committed to it, and who has not made himself worthy of the guardianship of angels, so also there are other spirits and demons who work at certain phases of the rest of the stars; so that not the moon only, but the rest of the stars also may be calumniated by those who speak unrighteousness loftily. It is worth while, then, to listen to the casters of nativities, who refer the origin of every form of madness and every demoniacal possession to the phases of the moon. That those, then, who suffer from what is called lunacy sometimes fall into the water is evident, and that they also fall into the fire, less frequently indeed, yet it does happen; and it is evident that this disorder is very difficult to cure, so that those who have the power to cure demoniacs sometimes fail in respect of this, and sometimes with fastings and supplications and more toils, succeed. But you will inquire whether there are such disorders in spirits as well as in men; so that some of them speak, but some of them are speechless, and some of them hear, but some are deaf; for as in them will be found the cause of their being impure, so also, because of their freedom of will, are they condemned to be speechless and deaf; for some men will suffer such condemnation if the prayer of the prophet, as spoken by the Holy Spirit, shall be given heed to, in which it is said of certain sinners, Let the lying lips be put to silence. And so, perhaps, those who make a bad use of their hearing, and admit the hearing of vanities, will be rendered deaf by Him who said, Who has made the stone-deaf and the deaf, Exodus 4:11 so that they may no longer lend an ear to vain things.
7. The Power of Faith.
But when the Saviour said, O faithfulness and perverse generation, Matthew 17:17 He signifies that wickedness, which is contrary to nature, stealthily enters in from perversity, and makes us perverted. But of the whole race of men on earth, I think, being oppressed by reason of their wickedness and His tarrying with them, the Saviour said, How long shall I be with you? We have already, then, spoken in part of the words, If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, Matthew 17:20 etc.; but nevertheless also we shall speak in this place the things that appear to us fitted to increase perspicuity. The mountains here spoken of, in my opinion, are the hostile powers that have their being in a flood of great wickedness, such as are settled down, so to speak, in some souls of men. Whenever, then, any one has all faith so that he no longer disbelieves in any things which are contained in the Holy Scriptures, and has faith such as was that of Abraham, who believed in God to such a degree that his faith was counted for righteousness. he has all faith as a grain of mustard seed; then will such an one say to this mountain— I mean, the dumb and deaf spirit in him who is called lunatic,— Remove hence, clearly, from the man who is suffering, perhaps to the abyss, and it shall remove. And the Apostle, taking, I think. his starting-point from this place, says with authority, If I have all faith so as to remove mountains, 1 Corinthians 13:2 for not one mountain merely, but also several analogous to it, he removes who has all faith which is as a grain of mustard-seed; and nothing shall be impossible to him who has so great faith. Matthew 17:20 But let us also attend to this, This kind goes not out save by prayer and fasting, Matthew 17:21 in order that if at any time it is necessary that we should be engaged in the healing of one suffering from such a disorder, we may not adjure, nor put questions, nor speak to the impure spirit as if it heard, but devoting ourselves to prayer and fasting, may be successful as we pray for the sufferer, and by our own fasting may thrust out the unclean spirit from him.
8. Jesus' Prediction of His Delivery Into the Hands of Men.
And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. Matthew 17:22 And these things will appear to be of the same effect as those, that Jesus began to show unto His disciples that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes. Matthew 16:21 But it is not so; for it is not the same thing to show unto the disciples that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and, after suffering, be killed, and, after being killed, be raised up on the third day, as that which was said to them, when they were in Galilee—which we did not learn before—that the Son of man would be delivered up; for the being delivered up was not mentioned above, but now also it is said that He is to be delivered up into the hands of men. Matthew 17:22 As for these matters let us inquire by what person or persons He will be delivered up into the hands of men; for there we are taught of whom He will suffer, and in what place He will suffer; but here, in addition, we learn that while His suffering many things takes place at the hands of the aforesaid, they are not the prime causes of His suffering many things, but the one or ones who delivered Him up into the hands of men. For some one will say that the Apostle, interpreting this, says with reference to God, He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all; Romans 8:32 but the Son also gave Himself to death for us, so that He was delivered up, not only by the Father but also by Himself. But another will say not merely that, but also collecting the passages together, will say that the Son is first delivered up by God—then about to be tempted, then to be in conflict, then to suffer for men, or even for the whole world that He might take away its sin, John 1:29 — to the prince of this age, and to the rest of its princes, and then by them delivered into the hands of men who would slay Him. The case of Job will be taken as an illustration. Lo, all that is his I give into your hands, but do not touch him; Job 1:12 thereafter, he was, as it were, delivered up by the devil to his princes, namely, to those who took prisoners of war, to the horsemen, to the fire that came down from heaven, to the great wind that came from the desert and broke up his house. Job 1:15-19 But you will consider if, as he delivered up the property of Job to those who took them captive, and to the horsemen, so also he delivered them up to a certain power, subordinate to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience, Ephesians 2:2 in order that the fire which descended thence on the sheep of Job might seem to fall from heaven, to the man who announced to Job that fire fell from heaven, and burned up his sheep, and consumed the shepherds likewise. Job 1:16 And in the same way you will inquire whether also the sudden mighty wind, that came down from the desert and assailed the four corners of the dwelling, was one of those which are under the devils to whom the devil delivered up the banquet of the sons and daughters of Job, that the house might fall on the children of the just man, and they might die. Let it be granted, then, that, as in the case of Job, the Father first delivered up the Son to the opposing powers, and that then they delivered Him up into the hands of men, among which men Judas also was, into whom after the sop John 13:27 Satan entered, who delivered Him up in a more authoritative manner than Judas. But take care lest on comparing together the delivering up of the Son by the Father to the opposing powers, with the delivering up of the Saviour by them into the hands of men, you should think that what is called the delivering up is the same in the case of both. For understand that the Father in His love of men delivered Him up for us all; but the opposing powers, when they delivered up the Saviour into the hands of men, did not intend to deliver Him up for the salvation of some, but, as far as in them lay, since none of them knew the wisdom of God which was hidden in a mystery, 1 Corinthians 2:7-8 they gave Him up to be put to death, that His enemy death might receive Him under its subjection, like those who die in Adam; 1 Corinthians 15:22 and also the men who slew Him did so, as they were moulded after the will of those who wished indeed that Jesus should become subject to death. I have deemed it necessary also to examine into these things, because that when Jesus was delivered up into the hands of men, He was not delivered up by men into the hands of men, but by powers to whom the Father delivered up His Son for us all, and in the very act of His being delivered up, and coming under the power of those to whom He was delivered up, destroying him that has the power of death; for through death He brought to nought him that has the power of death, that is, the devil, and delivered all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Hebrews 2:14-15
9. Satan and the Delivery Of Jesus.
Now we must think that the devil has the power of death—not of that which is common and indifferent, in accordance with which those who are compacted of soul and body die, when their soul is separated from the body—but of that death which is contrary to and the enemy of Him who said, I am the Life, John 14:6 in accordance with which the soul that sins, it shall die. Ezekiel 18:4 But that it was not God who gave Him up into the hands of men, the Saviour manifestly declares when He says, If My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews. John 18:36 For, when He was delivered up to the Jews, He was delivered into the hands of men, not by His own servants, but by the prince of this age who says, concerning the powers which are in the sphere of the invisible, the kingdoms which are set up against men, All these things will I give You, if You will fall down and worship Me. Matthew 4:9 Wherefore also we should think that in regard to them it was said, The kings of the earth stood side by side, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ. And those kings, indeed, and those rulers stood side by side and were gathered against the Lord and against His Christ; but we, because we have been benefited by His being delivered by them into the hands of men and slain, say, Let us break their bonds asunder and cast away their yoke from us. For, when we become conformed to the death of Christ, we are no longer under the bonds of the kings of the earth, as we have said, nor under the yoke of the princes of this age, who were gathered together against the Lord. And, on this account, the Father spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, Romans 8:32 that those, who took Him and delivered Him up into the hands of men, might be laughed at by Him who dwells in the heavens, and might be derided by the Lord, inasmuch as, contrary to their expectation, it was to the destruction of their own kingdom and power, that they received from the Father the Son, who was raised on the third day, by having abolished His enemy death, and made us conformed, not only to the image of His death but also of His resurrection; through whom we walk in newness of life, Romans 6:4 no longer sitting in the region and shadow of death, Matthew 4:16 through the light of God which has sprung up upon us. But when the Saviour said, The Son of man shall be delivered up into the hands of men, and they shall kill Him, and the third day He shall rise again, they were exceeding sorry, Matthew 17:22-23 giving heed to the fact that He was about to be delivered up into the hands of men, and that He would be killed, as matters gloomy and calling for sorrow, but not attending to the fact that He would rise on the third day, as He needed no longer time to bring to nought through death him that had the power of death. Hebrews 2:14
10. Concerning Those Who Demanded the Half-Shekel.
And when they had come to Capernaum, they that received the half-shekel came to Peter. Matthew 17:24 There are certain kings of the earth, and the sons of these do not pay toll or tribute; and there are others, different from their sons, who are strangers to the kings of the earth, from whom the kings of the earth receive toll or tribute. And among the kings of the earth, their sons are free as among fathers; but those who are strangers to them, while they are free in relation to things beyond the earth, are as slaves in respect of those who lord it over them and keep them in bondage; as the Egyptians lorded it over the children of Israel, and greatly afflicted their life and violently held them in bondage. Exodus 1:13-14 It was for the sake of those who were in a bondage, corresponding to the bondage of the Hebrews, that the Son of God took upon Him only the form of a slave, Philippians 2:7 doing no work that was foul or servile. As then, having the form of that slave, He pays toll and tribute not different from that which was paid by His disciple; for the same stater sufficed, even the one coin which was paid for Jesus and His disciple. But this coin was not in the house of Jesus, but it was in the sea, and in the mouth of a fish of the sea which, in my judgment, was benefited when it came up and was caught in the net of Peter, who became a fisher of men, in which net was that which is figuratively called a fish, in order also that the coin with the image of Cæsar might be taken from it, and that it might take its place among those which were caught by them who have learned to become fishers of men. Let him, then, who has the things of Cæsar render them to Cæsar, that afterwards he may be able to render to God the things of God. But since Jesus, who was the image of the invisible God, Colossians 1:15 had not the image of Cæsar, for the prince of this age had nothing in Him, John 14:31 on this account He takes from its own place, the sea, the image of Cæsar, that He may give it to the kings of the earth for Himself and His disciple, so that those who receive the half-shekel might not imagine that Jesus was the debtor of them and of the kings of the earth; for He paid the debt, not having taken it up, nor having possessed it, nor having acquired it, nor at any time having made it His own possession, so that the image of Cæsar might never be along with the image of the invisible God.
11. The Freedom of Sons.
And this may be put in another way. There are some who are kings' sons on the earth, and yet they are not sons of those kings, but sons, and sons absolutely; but others, because of their being strangers to the sons of the kings of the earth, and sons of no one of those upon the earth, but on this very account are sons, whether of God or of His Son, or of some one of those who are God's. If, then, the Saviour inquires of Peter, saying, The kings of the earth from whom do they receive toll or tribute— from their own sons or from strangers? Matthew 17:25 and Peter replies not from their own sons, but from strangers, then Jesus says about such as are strangers to the kings of the earth, and on account of being free are sons, Therefore the sons are free; Matthew 17:26 for the sons of the kings of the earth are not free, since every one that commits sin is the bond-servant of sin, John 8:34 but they are free who abide in the truth of the word of God, and on this account, know the truth, that they also may become free from sin. If, any one then, is a son simply, and not in this matter wholly a son of the kings of the earth, he is free. And nevertheless, though he is free, he takes care not to offend even the kings of the earth, and their sons, and those who receive the half-shekel; wherefore He says, Let us not cause them to stumble, but go and cast your net, and take up the fish that first comes up, Matthew 17:27 etc. But I would inquire of those who are pleased to make myths about different natures, of what sort of nature they were, whether the kings of the earth, or their sons, or those who receive the half-shekel, whom the Saviour does not wish to offend; it appears of a verity, ex hypothesi, that they are not of a nature worthy of praise, and yet He took heed not to cause them to stumble, and He prevents any stumbling-block being put in their way, that they may not sin more grievously, and that with a view to their being saved— if they will— even by receiving Him who has spared them from being caused to stumble. And as in a place verily of consolation—for such is, by interpretation, Capernaum,— comforting the disciple as being both free and a son, He gives to him the power of catching the fish first, that when it came up Peter might be comforted by its coming up and being caught, and by the stater being taken from its mouth, in order to be paid to those whose the stater was, and who demanded as their own such a piece of money.
12. The Stater Allegorized.
But you might sometimes gracefully apply the passage to the lover of money, who has nothing in his mouth but things about silver, when you behold him healed by some Peter, who takes the stater, which is the symbol of all his avarice, not only from his mouth and words, but from his whole character. For you will say that such an one was in the sea, and in the bitter affairs of life, and in the waves of the cares and anxieties of avarice, having the stater in his mouth when he was unbelieving and avaricious, but that he came up from the sea and was caught in the rational net, and being benefited by some Peter who has taught him the truth, no longer has the stater in his mouth, but in place of it those things which contain His image, the oracles of God.
13. The Sacred Half-Shekel.
Moreover to the saying, They that received the half-shekel came to Peter, Matthew 17:24 you will adduce from Numbers that, for the saints according to the law of God, is paid not a half-shekel simply, but a sacred half-shekel. For it is written, And you shall take five shekels per head, according to the sacred half-shekel. Numbers 3:47 But also on behalf of all the sons of Israel is given a sacred half-shekel per head. Since then it was not possible for the saint of God to possess along with the sacred half-shekels the profane shekels, so to speak, on this account, to them who do not receive the sacred half-shekels, and who asked Peter and said, Does not your master pay the half-shekel? the Saviour commands the stater to be paid, in which was the half-shekel which was found in the mouth of the first fish that came up, in order that it might be given for the Teacher and the disciple.
14. Concerning Those Who Said, Who is the Greatest? And Concerning the Child that Was Called by Jesus.
In that day came the disciples unto Jesus saying, Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Matthew 18:1 In order that we might be taught what it was that the disciples came to Jesus and asked to learn of Him, and how He answered to their inquiry, Matthew, though he might have given an account of this very thing only, has added, according to some manuscripts, In that hour the disciples came unto Jesus, but, according to others, In that day; and it is necessary that we should not leave the meaning of the evangelist without examination. Wherefore giving attention to the words preceding in that day, or hour, let us see if it is possible from them to find a way to understand, as being necessary, the addition, in that day, or hour. Jesus then had come to Capernaum along with His disciples, where they that received the half-shekel came to Peter, and asked and said, Does not your Master pay the half-shekel? Then, when Peter answered and said to them, Yea, Jesus giving further a defence with reference to the giving of the half-shekel, sends Peter to drag up the fish into the net, in the mouth of which He said that a stater would be found which was to be given for Himself and Peter. It seems to me, then, that thinking that this was a very great honour which had been bestowed on Peter by Jesus, who judged that he was greater than the rest of His friends, they wished to learn accurately the truth of their suspicion, by making inquiry of Jesus and hearing from Him, whether, as they supposed, He had judged that Peter was greater than they; and at the same time also they hoped to learn the ground on which Peter had been preferred to the rest of the disciples. Matthew then, I think, wishing to make this plain, has subjoined to the words that take— the stater, to-wit— and give unto them for you and me, the words, In that day came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And, perhaps, they were also in doubt because of the preference which had been given to the three at the transfiguration, and they were in doubt about this— which of the three was judged by the Lord to be greatest. For John reclined on His breast through love, and we may conclude that before the Supper they had seen many tokens of special honour given by Jesus to John; but Peter on his confession was called blessed in their hearing, because of his saying, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God; Matthew 16:16-17 but again because of the saying, Get behind Me, Satan; you are a stumbling-block unto Me, for you mind not the things of God but the things of men, Matthew 16:23 they were distracted in mind as to whether it was not he but one of the sons of Zebedee, that was the greatest. So much for the words in that day or hour, on which took place the matters relating to the stater.
15. Greatness Varies in Degree.
But next we must seek to understand this: the disciples came to Him, as disciples to a teacher proposing difficult questions, and making inquiry, Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Matthew 18:1 And, in this respect, we must imitate the disciples of Jesus; for if, at any time, any subject of investigation among us should not be found out let us go with all unanimity in regard to the question in dispute to Jesus, who is present where two or three are gathered together in His name, Matthew 18:20 and is ready by His presence with power to illumine the hearts of those who truly desire to become His disciples, with a view to their apprehension of the matters under inquiry. And likewise it would be nothing strange for us to go to any of those who have been appointed by God as teachers in the church, and propose any question of a like order to this, Who, then, is greatest in the kingdom of heaven? What, then, was already known to the disciples of the matters relating to this question? And what was the point under inquiry? That there is not equality in regard to those who are deemed worthy of the kingdom of heaven they had apprehended, and that, as there was not equality, some one was greatest, and so in succession down to the least: but of what nature was the greatest, and what was the way of life of him who was the least, and who occupied the middle position, they further desired to know; unless, indeed, it is more accurate to say that they knew who was least from the words, Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but who was the greatest of all they did not know, even if they had grasped the meaning of the words, Whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven; Matthew 5:19 for as there were many great, it was not clear to them who was the greatest of the great, to use a human standard. And that many are great, but the great not equally great, will be manifest from the ascription of the epithet great to Isaac, who grew great, and became exceedingly great, Genesis 26:13 and from what is said in the case of Moses, and John the Baptist, and the Saviour. And every one will acknowledge that even though all these were great according to the Scripture, yet the Saviour was greater than they. But whether John also (than whom there was no greater among those born of women), Matthew 11:11 was greater than Isaac and Moses, or whether he was not greater, but equal to both, or to one of them, it would be hazardous to declare. And from the saying, But Isaac, waxing great, became greater, Genesis 26:13 until he became not simply great, but with the twice repeated addition, exceedingly, we may learn that there is a difference among the great, as one is great, and another exceedingly great, and another exceedingly exceedingly great. The disciples, therefore, came to Jesus and sought to learn, who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven; and perhaps they wished to learn, hearing from Him sometimes like this, A certain one is greatest in the kingdom of heaven; but He gives a universal turn to the discourse, showing what was the quality of him who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Let us seek to understand, from what is written, to the best of our ability, who this is. For Jesus called a little child, Matthew 18:2 etc.
16. Why the Great are Compared to Little Children.
But first we may expound it in simple fashion. One, expounding the word of the Saviour here after the simple method, might say that, if any one who is a man mortifies the lusts of manhood, putting to death by the spirit the deeds of the body, and always bearing about in the body the putting to death of Jesus, 2 Corinthians 4:10 to such a degree that he has the condition of the little child who has not tasted sensual pleasures, and has had no conception of the impulses of manhood, then such an one is converted, and has become as the little children. And the greater the advance he has made towards the condition of the little children in regard to such emotions, by so much the more as compared with those who are in training and have not advanced to so great a height of self-control, is he the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. But that which has been said about little children in respect of lustful pleasures, the same might also be said in regard to the rest of the affections and infirmities and sicknesses of the soul, into which it is not the nature of little children to fall, who have not yet fully attained to the possession of reason; as, for example, that, if any one be converted, and, though a man, such an one becomes as a child in respect of anger; and, as is the child in relation to grief, so that sometimes he laughs and plays at the very time that his father or mother or brother is dead, he who is converted would become such an one as little children; and, having received from the Word a disposition incapable of grief, so that he becomes like the little child in regard to grief. And the like you will say about what is called pleasure, in regard to which the wicked are irrationally lifted up, from which little children do not suffer, nor such as have been converted and become as little children. As, then, it has been accurately demonstrated also by others, that no passion is incident to the little children who have not yet attained to full possession of reason; and if no passion, clearly fear also; but, if there be anything corresponding to the passions, these are faint, and very quickly suppressed, and healed in the case of little children, so that he is worthy of love, who, being converted as the little children, has reached such a point as to have, as it were, his passions in subjection like the little children. And with regard to fear, therefore, similar things to those spoken might be conceived, that the little children do not experience the fear of the wicked, but a different thing, to which those who have an accurate knowledge of questions in regard to the passions and their names give the name of fear; as, for example, in the case of children there is a forgetfulness of their evils at the very time of their tears, for they change in a moment, and laugh and play along with those who were thought to grieve and terrify them, but in truth had wrought in them no such emotion. So too, moreover, one will humble himself like the little child which Jesus called; for neither haughtiness, nor conceit in respect of noble birth, or wealth, or any of those things which are thought to be good, but are not, comes to a little child. Wherefore you may see those who are not altogether infants, up to three or four years of age, like to those who are of mean birth, though they may seem to be of noble birth, and not appearing at all to love rich children rather than the poor. If, therefore, in the same way as according to their age children are affected towards those passions which exalt the senseless, the disciple of Jesus under the influence of reason has humbled himself like the little child which Jesus showed, not being exalted because of vainglory, nor puffed up on the ground of wealth, or raiment, nor elated because of noble birth, in particular are they to be received and imitated in the name of Jesus, who have been converted as the Word showed, like the little child which Jesus took to Him; since especially in such the Christ is, and therefore He says, Whosoever shall receive one such little child in My name receives Me. Matthew 18:5
17. The Little Ones and Their Stumbling-Blocks.
But it is a hard task to expound what follows in logical harmony with what has already been said; for one might say, how is it that he who is converted and has become as the little children, is a little one among such as believe in Jesus, and is capable of being caused to stumble? And likewise let us attempt to explain this coherently. Every one that gives his adherence to Jesus as the Son of God according to the true history concerning Him, and by deeds done according to the Gospel, is on the way to living the life which is according to virtue, is converted and is on the way towards becoming as the little children; and it is impossible for him not to enter into the kingdom of heaven. There are, indeed, many such; but not all, who are converted with a view to becoming like the little children, have reached the point of being made like little children; but each wants so much of the likeness to the little children, as he falls short of the disposition of little children towards the passions, of which we have spoken. In the whole multitude, then, of believers, are also those who, having been, as it were, just converted in regard to their becoming as the little children, at the very point of their conversion that they may become as the little children, are called little; and those of them, who are converted that they may become as the little children, but fall far short of having truly become as the little children, are capable of being caused to stumble; each of whom falls so far short of the likeness to them, as he falls short of the disposition of children towards the passions, of which we have spoken, to whom we ought not to give occasions of stumbling-block; but, if it be otherwise, he who has caused him to stumble will require, as contributing towards his cure, to have an ass's millstone hanged about his neck, and be sunk into the depths of the sea. Matthew 18:6 For, in this way, when he has paid the due penalty in the sea, where is the dragon which God formed to play in it, and, so far as is expedient for the end in view, has been punished and undergone suffering, he shall then have his part in those troubles which belong to the depths of the sea, which he endured when he was dragged down by the ass's millstone. For there are also differences of millstones, so that one of them may be, so to call it, the millstone of a man, and another that of an ass; and that is human, about which it is written, Two women shall be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left; Matthew 24:41 but the millstone of the ass is that which shall be put round him who has given occasion of stumbling-block. But some one might say— I know not whether he would speak soundly or erroneously— that the ass's millstone is the heavy body of the wicked man, which is sunken downwards, and which he will receive at the resurrection that he may be sunk in the abyss which is called the depth of the sea, where is the dragon which God formed to play therein. But another will refer the creating of a stumbling-block to one of the little ones to the powers that are unseen by men; for from these arise many stumbling-blocks to the little ones pointed out by Jesus. But when they cause to stumble one of the little ones pointed out by Jesus, who are believers in Him, he shall assume an ass's millstone, the corruptible body which presses heavily on the soul, which is itself hung from the neck, which is dragged down to the affairs in this life, that by means of these their conceit may be taken away, and having paid the penalty, they shall come, through means of the ass's millstone, to the condition expedient for them.
18. Who Was the Little Child Called by Jesus.
Now another interpretation different from what is called the simpler may be uttered; whether as dogma, or for the sake of exercise, so to speak, let us also inquire what was the little child who was called by Jesus and set in the midst of the disciples. Now consider if you can say that the little child, whom Jesus called, was the Holy Spirit who humbled Himself, when He was called by the Saviour, and set in the midst of the reason of the disciples of Jesus; if, indeed, He wishes us, being turned away from everything else, to be turned towards the examples suggested by the Holy Spirit, so that we may so become as the little children, who are themselves also turned and likened to the Holy Spirit; which little children God gave to the Saviour, according to what is said in Isaiah, Behold, I and the little children which God has given to me. And it is not possible for any one to enter into the kingdom of heaven, who has not been turned away from the affairs of this world, and made like the little children who possess the Holy Spirit; which Holy Spirit was called by Jesus, and, descending from His own perfection to men as a little child, was set by Jesus in the midst of the disciples. It is necessary, then, for him who has turned away from the desires of this world to humble himself not simply as the little child, but, according to what is written, as this little child. Matthew 18:4 But to humble oneself as that little child is to imitate the Holy Spirit, who humbled Himself for the salvation of men. Now, that the Saviour and the Holy Spirit were sent by the Father for the salvation of men has been declared in Isaiah, in the person of the Saviour, saying, And now the Lord has sent me and His Spirit. Isaiah 48:16 You must know, however, that this expression is ambiguous; for either God sent, but also the Holy Spirit sent, the Saviour; or, as we have taken it, the Father sent both— the Saviour and the Holy Spirit. He, therefore, who has humbled himself more than all those who have humbled themselves in imitation of that little child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. For there are many who are willing to humble themselves as that little child; but the man, who in every respect has become like to the little child who humbled himself, in the name of Jesus— especially in Jesus Himself—in reality, would be found to be he who is named greater than all in the kingdom of heaven. But as he receives Jesus, whosoever receives one such of the little children in His name, so he rejects Jesus and casts Him out, who does not wish to receive one such little child in the name of Jesus. But if, also, there is a difference in those who are deemed worthy of the Holy Spirit, as believers receive more or less of the Holy Spirit, there would be some little ones among those who believe in God who can be made to stumble: to avenge whose being made to stumble the Word says, with reference to those who had caused them to stumble, It is profitable for him that an ass's millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:6 Let these things be said in regard to the passage of Matthew before us.
19. The Parallel Passages in Mark and Luke.
But let us consider also the like account in the other Evangelists. Mark, Mark 9:33-34 then, says, that the Twelve reasoned in the way as to which of them was the greatest. Wherefore He sat down, and called them, and teaches who is the greatest, saying, that he who became last of all by means of his moderation and gentleness, would as the greatest obtain the first place, so that he did not receive the place of one who was being ministered unto, but the place of one who ministered, and that not to some but not to others, but to all absolutely; for attend to the words, If any man would be first he shall be last of all, and minister of all. Mark 9:35 And next to that He says, that He,— Jesus to-wit— took a little child, and set him in the midst of His own disciples, and taking him in His arms, He said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of the little children in My name receives Me. Mark 9:36-37 But what was the little child which Jesus took and placed in His arms, according to the deeper meaning in the passage? Was it the Holy Spirit? And to this little child, indeed, some were likened, of whom He said, Whosoever shall receive one of such little children in My name receives Me. According to Luke, however, the reasoning did not arise spontaneously in the disciples, but was suggested to them by the question, which of them should be greatest. Luke 9:46 And Jesus, seeing the reasoning of their heart, as He had eyes that see the reasonings of hearts—seeing the reasoning of their heart—without being questioned, according to Luke, took the little child and set him, not in the midst alone, as Matthew and Mark have said, but now, also, by His side, and said to the disciples, not only, Whosoever shall receive one such little child, or, Whosoever shall receive one of such little ones in My name receives Me, but, now going even a step higher, Whosoever shall receive this little child in My name receives Me. Luke 9:47-48 It is necessary, therefore, according to Luke, to receive in the name of Jesus that very little child which Jesus took and placed by His side. And I know not if there be any one who can interpret figuratively the word, Whosoever shall receive this little child in My name. For it is necessary that each of us should receive in the name of Jesus that little child which Jesus then took and set by His side; for he lives as immortal, and we must receive him from Jesus Himself in the name of Jesus; and without being separated from him, Jesus is with him who receives the little child, so that according to this it is said, Whosoever shall receive this little child in My name receives Me. Then, since the Father is inseparable from the Son, He is with him who receives the Son. Wherefore it is said, And whosoever shall receive Me receives Him that sent Me. Luke 9:48 But he who has received the little child, and the Saviour, and Him that sent Him, is least of all the disciples of Jesus, making himself little. But, so far as he belittles himself, to that extent does he become great; as that very thing, which caused him the more to make himself little, contributes to his advance in greatness; for attend to what is said, He that is least among you all the same is great; but in other manuscripts we read, The same shall be great. Now, according to Luke, If any one shall not receive the kingdom of God as the little child, he shall in no wise enter therein. Luke 18:17 And this expression is ambiguous; for either it means that he who receives the kingdom of God may become as a little child, or, that he may receive the kingdom of God, which has become to him as a little child. And perhaps here those who receive the kingdom of God receive it, when it is as a little child, but in the world to come no longer as a little child; and they receive the greatness of the perfection in the spiritual manhood, so to speak, which perfection is manifested to all who in the present time receive it, when it is here as a little child.
20. The World and Offences. Various Meanings of World.
Woe unto the world because of occasions of stumbling. Matthew 18:7 The expression cosmos, is used in itself and absolutely in the passage, He was in the cosmos and the cosmos knew Him not, John 1:10 but it is used relatively and in respect of its connection with that of which it is the cosmos, in the words, Lest you look up to the heaven, and seeing the sun, and the moon, and all the cosmos of the heavens, you should stray and bow down to them and worship them. Deuteronomy 4:19 And the like you will find in the Book of Esther, spoken about her, when it is written, stripping off all her cosmos. For the word cosmos, simply, is not the same as the cosmos of heaven, or the cosmos of Esther; and this which we are now investigating is another. I think, then, that the world is not this compacted whole of heaven and earth according to the Divine Scriptures, but only the place which is round about the earth, and this is not to be conceived in respect of the whole earth, but only in respect of ours which is inhabited; for the true light was in the world, that is, in the place which is around, conceived in relation to our part of the earth; and the world knew Him not, John 1:10 that is, the men in the region round about, and perhaps also the powers that have an affinity to this place. For it is monstrous to understand by the world here the compacted whole formed of heaven and earth, and those in it; so that it could be said, that the sun and moon and the choir of the stars and the angels in all this world, did not know the true light, and, though ignorant of it, preserved the order which God had appointed for them. But when it is said by the Saviour in the prayer to the Father, And, now, glorify me, O Father, with Your own self, with the glory which I had with You before the world was, John 17:5 you must understand by the world, that which is inhabited by us on the earth; for it was from this world that the Father gave men to the Son, in regard to whom alone the Saviour beseeches His Father, and not for the whole world of men. Moreover, also, when the Saviour says, And I come to you and am no longer in the world, John 17:11 He speaks of the terrestrial world; for it is not to be supposed that He spoke things contradictory when He said, And I come to you, and I am no longer in the world, and I am in the world. But also in this, And these things I speak in the world, John 17:13 we must think of the place round about the earth. And this is clearly indicated also by the words, And the world hated them, because they are not of the world. John 17:14 For it hated us from the time when we no longer look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, 2 Corinthians 4:18 because of the teaching of Jesus; not the world of heaven and earth and them that are therein, all compacted together but the men on the earth along with us. And the saying, They are not of the world, John 17:21 is equivalent to, They are not of the place round about the earth. And so also the disciples of Jesus are not of this world, as He was not of the world. And further also the saying, That the world may believe that You have sent Me, twice spoken in the Gospel according to John, does not refer to the things that are superior to men, but to men who need to believe that the Father sent the Son into the world here. Yea, and also in the Apostle, Your faith is proclaimed in the whole world. Romans 1:8
21. The Woe Does Not Apply to the Disciples of Jesus.
But if there is woe unto men everywhere on the earth, because of occasions of stumbling to those who are laid hold of by them; but the disciples are not of the world, as they do not look at things seen, like as the Master is not of this world; to no one of the disciples of Jesus does the woe because of occasions of stumbling apply, since great peace have they who love the law of God, and there is to them no occasion of stumbling. But if any one seems to be called a disciple, but yet is of the world, because of his loving the world, and the things therein—I mean, the life in the place round about the earth, and the property in it, or the possessions, or any form of wealth whatsoever—so that the saying, they are not of the world, John 17:16 does not fit him; to him, as being really of the world, shall come that which happens to the world, the woe, because of occasions of stumbling. But let him who wishes to avoid this woe not be a lover of life, but let him say with Paul, The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Galatians 6:14 For the saints while in the tabernacle, do groan being burdened 2 Corinthians 5:4 with the body of humiliation, and do all things that they may become worthy to be found in the mystery of the resurrection, when God shall fashion anew the body of humiliation not of all, but of those who have been truly made disciples to Christ, so that it may be conformed to the body of the glory of Christ. Philippians 3:21 For as none of the woes happen to any of the disciples of Christ, so does not this woe, because of occasions of stumbling; for, supposing that thousands of occasions should arise, they shall not touch those who are no longer of the world. But if any one, because of his faith wanting ballast, and the instability of his submission in regard to the Word of God, is capable of being caused to stumble, let him know that he is not called by Jesus His disciple. Now we must suppose that so many stumbling-blocks come, that, as a result, the woes extend not to some parts of the earth, but to the whole world which is in it.
22. What the Occasions of Stumbling Are.
And it must needs be that occasions of stumbling come, Matthew 18:7 which I take to be different from the men by whom they come. The occasions then which come are an army of the devil, his angels, and a wicked band of impure spirits, which, seeking out instruments through whom they will work, often find men altogether strangers to piety, and sometimes even some of those who are thought to believe the Word of God, for whom exists a worse woe than that which comes to him who is caused to stumble, just as also it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, Matthew 11:22 than for the places where Jesus did signs and wonders, and yet was not believed. But as one might undertake to make a collection from the Scriptures of those who are pronounced blessed, and of the things in respect of which they are so called, so also he might undertake to do with the woes which are written, and those in whose case the woes are spoken. But that the woe is worse in the case of him who causes to stumble, than in him who is made to stumble, you may prove by the passage, Whoso shall cause to stumble one of these little ones which believe in Me, it is profitable for him, Matthew 18:6 etc.; for, while the little one who is made to stumble receives retribution from him who caused him to stumble, it is expedient that the severe and intolerable punishment which is written should befall the man who has caused the stumbling. But if we were to give more careful consideration to these things, we should be on our guard against sinning against the brethren, and wounding their conscience when it is weak, lest we sin against Christ; 1 Corinthians 8:11-12 as often our brethren about us, for whom Christ died, perish, not only through our knowledge, but also through some other causes connected with us; in the case of whom, we, sinning against Christ, shall pay the penalty, the soul of them who perish through us being required of us.
23. In What Sense Necessary.
Next we must test accurately the meaning of the word necessity in the passage, For there is a necessity that the occasions come, Matthew 18:7 and to the like effect in Luke, It is 'inadmissible' but that occasions of stumbling should come, Luke 18:1 instead of impossible. And as it is necessary that that which is mortal should die, and it is impossible but that it should die, and as it must needs be that he who is in the body should be fed, for it is impossible for one who is not fed to live, so it is necessary and impossible but that occasions of stumbling should arise, since there is a necessity also that wickedness should exist before virtue in men, from which wickedness stumbling-blocks arise; for it is impossible that a man should be found altogether sinless, and who, without sin, has attained to virtue. For the wickedness in the evil powers, which is the primal source of the wickedness among men, is altogether eager to work through certain instruments against the men in the world. And perhaps also the wicked powers are more exasperated when they are cast out by the word of Jesus, and their worship is lessened, their customary sacrifices not being offered unto them; and there is a necessity that these offenses come; but there is no necessity that they should come through any particular one; wherefore the woe falls on the man through whom the stumbling-block comes, as he has given a place to the wicked power whose purpose it is to create a stumbling-block. But do not suppose that by nature, and from constitution, there are certain stumbling-blocks which seek out men through whom they come; for as God did not make death, so neither did He create stumbling-blocks; but free-will begot the stumbling-blocks in some who did not wish to endure toils for virtue.
24. The Offending Hand, or Foot, or Eye.
And it is well, then, if the eye and the hand are deserving of praise, that the eye cannot with reason say to the hand, I have no need of you. 1 Corinthians 12:21 But if any one in the whole body of the congregations of the church, who because of his practical gifts has the name of hand, should change and become a hand causing to stumble, let the eye say to such a hand, I have no need of you, and, saying it, let him cut it off and cast it from him. Matthew 18:8 And so it is well, if any head be blessed, and the feet worthy of the blessed head, so that the head observing the things which are becoming to itself, may not be able to say to the feet, I have no need of you. If, however, any foot be found to become a stumbling-block to the whole body, let the head say to such a foot, I have no need of you, and having cast it off, let him cast it from himself; for even it is much better that the rest of the body should enter into life, wanting the foot or the hand which caused the stumbling-block, rather than, when the stumbling-block has spread over the whole body, it should be cast into the hell of fire with the two feet or the two hands. And so it is well, that he who can become the eye of the whole body should be worthy of Christ and of the whole body; but if such an eye should ever change, and become a stumbling-block to the whole body, it is well to take it out and cast it outside the whole body, and that the rest of the body without that eye should be saved, rather than that along with it, when the whole body has been corrupted, the whole body should be cast into the hell of fire. For the practical faculty of the soul, if prone to sin, and the walking faculty of the soul, so to speak, if prone to sin, and the faculty of clear vision, if prone to sin, may be the hand that causes to stumble, and the foot that causes to stumble, and the eye that causes to stumble, which things it is better to cast away, and having put them aside to enter into life without them, like as one halt, or maimed, or one-eyed, rather than along with them to lose the whole soul. And likewise in the case of the soul it is a good and blessed thing to use its power for the noblest ends; but if we are going to lose one for any cause, it is better to lose the use of it, that along with the other powers we may be saved.
25. The Eye or Hand Allegorized.
And it is possible to apply these words also to our nearest kinsfolk, who are our members, as it were; being considered to be our members, because of the close relationship; whether by birth, or from any habitual friendship, so to speak; whom we must not spare if they are injuring our soul. For let us cut off from ourselves as a hand or a foot or an eye, a father or mother who wishes us to do that which is contrary to piety, and a son or daughter who, as far as in them lies, would have us revolt from the church of Christ and the love of Him. But even if the wife of our bosom, or a friend who is kindred in soul, become stumbling-blocks to us, let us not spare them, but let us cut them out from ourselves, and cast them outside of our soul, as not being truly our kindred but enemies of our salvation; for whosoever hates not his father, and mother, Luke 14:26 and the others subjoined, when it is the fitting season to hate them as enemies and assailants, that he may be able to win Christ, this man is not worthy of the Son of God. And in respect of these we may say, that from a critical position any lame one, so to speak, is saved, when he has lost a foot— say a brother— and alone obtains the inheritance of the kingdom of God; and a maimed one is saved, when his father is not saved, but they perish, while he is separated from them, that he alone may obtain the benedictions. And so also any one is saved with one eye, who has cut out the eye of his own house, his wife, if she commit fornication, lest having two eyes he may go away into the hell of fire.
26. The Little Ones and Their Angels.
See that you despise not one of these little ones. Matthew 18:10 It seems to me that as among the bodies of men there are differences in point of size—so that some are little, and others great, and others of middle height, and, again, there are differences among the little, as they are more or less little, and the same holds of the great, and of those of middle height—so also among the souls of men, there are some things which give them the stamp of littleness, and other things the stamp of greatness, so to speak, and generally, after the analogy of things bodily, other things the stamp of mediocrity. But in the case of bodies, it is not due to the action of men but to the spermatic principles, that one is short and little, another great, and another of middle height; but in the case of souls, it is our free-will, and actions of such a kind, and habits of such a kind, that furnish the reason why one is great, or little, or of middle height; and it is of our free-will either by advancing in stature to increase our size, or not advancing to be short. And so indeed I understand the words about Jesus having assumed a human soul, Jesus advanced; Luke 2:52 for as from the free-will there was an advance of His soul in wisdom and grace, so also in stature. And the Apostle says, Until we all attain unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; Ephesians 4:13 for we must think that he attains unto a man, and that full-grown, according to the inner man, who has gone through the things of the child, and has reached the stage of the man, and has put away the things of the child, and generally, has perfected the things of the man. And so we must suppose that there is a certain measure of spiritual stature unto which the most perfect soul can attain by magnifying the Lord, and become great. Thus, then, these became great, of whom this is written, Isaac, and Moses, and John, and the Saviour Himself above all; for also about Him Gabriel said, He shall be great; Luke 1:32 but the little ones are the newborn babes which long for the reasonable milk which is without guile, 1 Peter 2:2 such as stand in need of nursing-fathers and nursing-mothers, spoken of in Isaiah when he says, about the calling from the Gentiles, And they shall bring the sons in the bosom, and take their daughters on the shoulders, and kings shall be your nursing-fathers and their princesses your nursing-mothers. Isaiah 49:22-23 For these reasons you will, then, attend to the word, Do not despise one of these little ones, Matthew 18:10 and consider whether it is their angels who bring them in their bosom, since they have become sons, and also take on their shoulders what are called daughters, and whether from them are the nursing-fathers who are called kings, and the nursing-mothers who are called princesses. And since the little ones, pointed out by our Saviour, are under the stewardship as of nursing-fathers and nursing-mothers, on this account I think that Moses, who believed that he had been already assigned a place among the ranks of the great, said, with regard to the promise, My angel shall go before you, Exodus 32:34 If you yourself do not go along with me, carry me not up hence. Exodus 33:15 For though the little one even be an heir, yet as being a child he differs nothing from a servant when he is a child, Galatians 4:1 and to the extent to which he is little has the spirit of bondage to fear; Romans 8:15 but he who is not at all any longer such has no longer the spirit of bondage, but already the spirit of adoption, when perfect love casts out fear; 1 John 4:18 it will be plain to you, how that according to these things the angel of the Lord is said to encamp round about them that fear Him, and to save them. But you will consider, according to these things also, whether these are indeed angels of the little ones who are led by the spirit of bondage to fear, when the angel of the Lord encamps round about them that fear Him and delivers them; but of the great, whether it is the Lord who is greater than the angels, who might say about each of them, I am with him in affliction; and, so long as we are imperfect, and need one to assist us that we may be delivered from evils, we stand in need of an angel of whom Jacob said, The angel who delivered me from all the evils; Genesis 48:16 but, when we have become perfected, and have passed through the stage of being subject to nursing-fathers and nursing-mothers and guardians and stewards, Galatians 4:4 we are meet to be governed by the Lord Himself.
27. When the Little Ones are Assigned to Angels.
Then again one might inquire at what time those who are called their angels assume guardianship of the little ones pointed out by Christ; whether they received this commission to discharge concerning them, from what time by the laver of regeneration, Titus 3:5 through which they were born as new-born babes, they long for the reasonable milk which is without guile, 1 Peter 2:2 and no longer are in subjection to any wicked power; or, whether from birth they had been appointed, according to the foreknowledge and predestination of God, over those whom God also foreknew, and foreordained to be conformed to the glory of the Christ. Romans 8:29 And with reference to the view that they have angels from birth, one might quote, He who separated me from my mother's womb, Galatians 1:15 and, From the womb of my mother you have been my protector, and, He has assisted me from my mother's womb, and, Upon you I was cast from my mother, and in the Epistle of Jude, To them that are beloved in God the Father and are kept for Jesus Christ, being called, Jude 1 — kept completely by the angels who keep them.
28. Close Relationship of Angels to Their Little Ones.
With reference to the words, When through the laver I became a child in Christ, it may be said, that there is no holy angel present with those who are still in wickedness, but that during the period of unbelief they are under the angels of Satan; but, after the regeneration, He who has redeemed us with His own blood consigns us to a holy angel, who also, because of his purity, beholds the face of God. And a third exposition of this passage might be something like the following, which would say, that as it is possible for a man to change from unbelief to faith, and from intemperance to temperance, and generally from wickedness to virtue, so also it is possible that the angel, to whom any soul has been entrusted at birth, may be wicked at the first, but afterwards may at some time believe in proportion as the man believes, and may make such advance that he may become one of the angels who always behold the face of the Father in heaven, Matthew 18:10 beginning from the time that he is yoked along with the man who was foreknown and foreordained to believe at that time, the judgments of God, which are unspeakable and unsearchable and like to the depths, fitly bringing together all this harmonious relationship— angels with men. And it may be that as when a man and his wife are both unbelievers, sometimes it is the man who first believes and in time saves his wife, and sometimes the wife who begins and afterwards in time persuades her husband, so it happens with angels and with men. If, however, anything of this kind takes place in the case of other angels or not, you may seek out for yourself. But consider whether it may not be appropriate to say something of this kind in regard to each angel who is so honoured according to the word of the Saviour, that he is said to behold always the face of the Father who is in heaven. But since in what we said above, that the little ones have angels, but that the great have passed beyond such a position, some one will quote in opposition to us from the Acts of the Apostles, where it is written, that a certain maid Rhoda, when Peter knocked at the door, came to answer, and recognizing the voice of Peter, ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate; but when they who were gathered together in the house wondered, and thought that it was quite impossible that Peter verily stood before the gate, they said, It is his angel. Acts 12:13-15 For the objector will say that, as they had learned once for all that each of the believers had some definite angel, they knew that Peter also had one. But he, who adheres to what we have previously said, will say that the word of Rhoda was not necessarily a dogma, and perhaps also the word of those who did not accurately know, when one as being little and God-fearing is governed by angels, and when now by the Lord Himself. After this, in order to establish our conception of the little one which we have brought forward, it will be said that we need no command about not despising in the case of the great, but we do need it in the case of the little; wherefore it is not merely said, Do not despise one of these, pointing to all the disciples, but one of these little ones, Matthew 18:10 pointed out by Him, who sees the littleness and the greatness of the soul.
29. The Little Ones and the Perfect.
But another might say that the perfect man is here called little, applying the word, For he that is least among you all, the same is great, Luke 9:48 and will affirm that he who humbles himself and becomes a child in the midst of all that believe, though he be an apostle or a bishop, and becomes such as when a nurse cherishes her own children, 1 Thessalonians 2:7 is the little one pointed out by Jesus, and that the angel of such an one is worthy to behold the face of God. For to say that the little are here called perfect, according to the passage, He that is least among you all, the same is great, Luke 9:48 and as Paul said, Unto me who am less than the least of all saints was this grace given, Ephesians 3:8 will seem to be in harmony with the saying, Whoso shall cause one of these little ones to stumble, Matthew 18:6 and So it is not the will of My Father in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. Matthew 18:14 For he, as has been stated, who is now little, could not be made to stumble nor perish, for great peace have they who love the law of God, and there is no stumbling-block to them; and he could not perish, who is least of all among all the disciples of Christ, and on this account becomes great; and, since he could not perish, he could say, Who shall separate us from the love, Romans 8:35 etc. But he who wishes to maintain this last exposition will say that the soul even of the just man is changeable, as Ezekiel also testifies, saying, that the righteous man may abandon the commandments of God, so that his former righteousness is not reckoned unto him; Ezekiel 33:12 wherefore it is said, Whoso shall cause to stumble one of these little ones, Matthew 18:6 and, It is not the will of My Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. Matthew 18:14
[As for the exposition of the matters relating to the hundred sheep, you may consult the homilies on Luke. Matthew 18:12-14]
30. The Sinning Brother.
If your brother sin against you, go, show him his fault between you and him alone. Matthew 18:15 He, then, who attends closely to the expression, in proof of the surpassing philanthropy of Jesus, will say, that as the words do not suggest a difference of sins, they will act in a singular manner and contrary to the goodness of Jesus, who supply the thought, that these words are to be understood as being limited in their application to lesser sins. But another, also attending closely to the expression, and not wishing to introduce these extraneous thoughts, nor admitting that it is spoken about every sin, will say, that he who commits those great sins is not a brother, even if he be called a brother, as the Apostle says, If any one that is named a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, etc., with such an one not to eat; 1 Corinthians 5:11 for no one who is an idolater, or a fornicator, or covetous, is a brother; for if he, who seems to bear the name of Christ, though he is named a brother, has something of the features of these, he would not rightly be called a brother. As then he, who says that such words are spoken about every sin, whether the sin be murder, or poisoning, or pederasty, or anything of that sort, would give occasion of injury to the exceeding goodness of Christ, so, on the contrary, he who distinguishes between the brother and him who is called the brother, might teach that, in the case of the least of the sins of men, he who has not repented after the telling of the fault is to be reckoned as a Gentile and a publican, for sins which are not unto death, 1 John 5:16 or, as the law has described them in the Book of Numbers, not death-bringing. Numbers 18:22 This would seem to be very harsh; for I do not think that any one will readily be found who has not been censured thrice for the same form of sin, say, reviling, with which revilers abuse their neighbours, or those who are carried away by passion, or for over-drinking, or lying and idle words, or any of those things which exist in the masses. You will inquire, therefore, whether any observation of the passage has escaped the notice of those, who are influenced by their conception of the goodness of the Word, and grant pardon to those who have committed the greatest sins, as well as of those who teach that, in the case of the very least sins, he is to be reckoned as a Gentile and a publican, making him a stranger to the church, after he has committed three very trivial transgressions. But the following seems to me to have been overlooked by both of them, namely, the words, You have gained your brother. Matthew 18:15 It is assigned by the Word to him only who heard, and He no longer applies it in the case of him who has stumbled twice or thrice and been censured; but that which was to be said about him who was censured twice or thrice, corresponding to the saying, You have gained your brother, He has left in the air, so to speak. He is not, therefore, altogether gained, nor will he altogether perish, or he will receive stripes. And attend carefully to the first passage, If he hear you, you have gained your brother, and to the second passage, which is literally, If he hear you not, take with yourself one or two more, that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. Matthew 18:15-16 What, then, will happen to him who has been censured for the second time, after every word has been established by two or three witnesses, He has left us to conceive. And, again, If he refuse to hear them— manifestly, the witnesses who have been taken— tell it, he says, to the church; Matthew 18:17 and He does not say what he will suffer if he does not hear the church, but He taught that if he refused to hear the church, then he who had thrice admonished, and had not been heard, was to regard him for the future as the Gentile and the publican. Matthew 18:17 Therefore he is not altogether gained, nor will he altogether perish. But what at all he will suffer, who at first did not hear, but required witnesses, or even refused to hear these, but was brought to the church, God knows; for we do not declare it, according to the precept, Judge not that you be not judged, Matthew 7:1 until the Lord come, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and make manifest the counsels of the hearts. 1 Corinthians 4:5 But, with reference to the seeming harshness in the case of those who have committed less sins, one might say that it is not possible for him who has not heard twice in succession to hear the third time, so as, on this account, no longer to be as a Gentile or a publican, or no longer to stand in need of the censure in presence of all the church. For we must bear in mind this, So it is not the will of My Father in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. Matthew 18:14 For if we must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether it be good or bad, 2 Corinthians 5:10 let each one with all his power do what he can so that he may not receive punishment for more evil things done in the body, even if he is going to receive back for all the wrongs which he has done; but it should be our ambition to procure the reward for a greater number of good deeds, since with what measure we mete, it shall be measured to us, Matthew 7:2 and, according to the works of our own hands shall it happen unto us, Isaiah 3:11 and not in infinite wise, but either double or sevenfold shall sinners receive for their sins from the hand of the Lord; since He does not render unto any one according to the works of his hands, but more than that which he has done, for Jerusalem, as Isaiah taught, received from the hand of the Lord double for her sins; Isaiah 40:2 but the neighbours of Israel, whoever they may be, will receive sevenfold, according to the following expression in the Psalms, Render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom the reproach with which they have reproached You, O Lord. And other forms of payment in return could be found, which, if we apprehend, we shall know that to repent after any sin, whatever its greatness, is advantageous, in order that, in addition to our not being punished for more offenses, there may be some hope left to us concerning good deeds done afterwards at some time, even though, before them, thousands of errors have been committed by anyone of us. For it would be strange that evil deeds should be reckoned to any one, but the better which are done after the bad should profit nothing; which may also be learned from Ezekiel, Ezekiel xxxiii by those who pay careful consideration to the things said about such cases.
31. The Power to Bind on Earth and in Heaven.
But to me it seems that, to the case of him who after being thrice admonished was adjudged to be as the Gentile and the publican, it is fitly subjoined, Verily, I say unto you,— namely, to those who have judged any one to be as the Gentile and the publican— and what things soever you shall bind on the earth, Matthew 18:18 etc.; for with justice has he, who has thrice admonished and not been heard, bound him who is judged to be as a Gentile and a publican; wherefore, when such an one is bound and condemned by one of this character, he remains bound, as no one of those in heaven overturns the judgment of the man who bound him. And, in like manner, he who was admonished once for all, and did things worthy of being gained, having been set free by the admonition of the man who gained him, and no longer bound by the cords of his own sins, Proverbs 5:22 for which he was admonished, shall be adjudged to have been set free by those in heaven. Only, it seems to be indicated that the things, which above were granted to Peter alone, are here given to all who give the three admonitions to all that have sinned; so that, if they be not heard, they will bind on earth him who is judged to be as a Gentile and a publican, as such an one has been bound in heaven. But since it was necessary, even if something in common had been said in the case of Peter and those who had thrice admonished the brethren, that Peter should have some element superior to those who thrice admonished, in the case of Peter, this saying I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, Matthew 16:19 has been specially set before the words, And what things soever you shall bind on earth, etc. And, indeed, if we were to attend carefully to the evangelical writings, we would also find here, and in relation to those things which seem to be common to Peter and those who have thrice admonished the brethren, a great difference and a pre-eminence in the things said to Peter, compared with the second class. For it is no small difference that Peter received the keys not of one heaven but of more, and in order that whatsoever things he binds on the earth may be bound not in one heaven but in them all, as compared with the many who bind on earth and loose on earth, so that these things are bound and loosed not in the heavens, as in the case of Peter, but in one only; for they do not reach so high a stage, with power as Peter to bind and loose in all the heavens. Matthew 16:19 The better, therefore, is the binder, so much more blessed is he who has been loosed, so that in every part of the heavens his loosing has been accomplished.
Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Book XIV)
1. The Power of Harmony in Relation to Prayer.
Again I say unto you that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them. Matthew 18:19 The word symphony is strictly applied to the harmonies of sounds in music. And there are indeed among musical sounds some accordant and others discordant. But the Evangelic Scripture is familiar with the name as applied to musical matters in the passage, He heard a symphony and dancing. Luke 15:25 For it was fitting that when the son who had been lost and found came by penitence into concord with his father a symphony should be heard on the occasion of the joyous mirth of the house. But the wicked Laban was not acquainted with the word symphony in his saying to Jacob, And if you had told me I would have sent you away with mirth and with music and with drums and a harp. Genesis 31:27 But akin to the symphony of this nature is that which is written in the second Book of Kings when the brethren of Aminadab went before the ark, and David and his son played before the Lord on instruments artistically fitted with might and with songs; 2 Samuel 6:4-5 for the instruments thus fitted with might and with songs, had in themselves the musical symphony which is so powerful that when two only, bring along with the symphony which has relation to the music that is divine and spiritual, a request to the Father in heaven about anything whatsoever, the Father grants the request to those who ask along with the symphony on earth—which is most miraculous,— those things which those who have made the symphony spoken of may have asked. So also I understand the apostolic saying Defraud ye not one the other except it be by agreement for a season that you may give yourselves unto prayer. 1 Corinthians 7:5 For since the word harmony is applied to those who marry according to God in the passage from Proverbs which is as follows: Fathers will divide their house and substance to their sons, but from God the woman is married to the man, it is a logical consequence of the harmony being from God, that the name and the deed should enjoy the agreement with a view to prayer, as is indicated in the word, unless it be by agreement. 1 Corinthians 7:5 Then the Word repeating that the agreeing of two on the earth is the same thing as the agreeing with Christ, adds, For where two or three are gathered together in My name. Matthew 18:20 Therefore the two or three who are gathered together in the name of Christ are those who are in agreement on earth, not two only but sometimes also three. But he who has the power will consider whether this agreement and a congregation of this sort in the midst of which Christ is, can be found in more, since narrow and straightened is the way that leads unto life, and few be they that find it. Matthew 7:14 But perhaps also not even few but two or three make a symphony as Peter and James and John, to whom as making a symphony the Word of God showed His own glory. But two made a symphony, Paul and Sosthenes, when writing the first Epistle to the Corinthians; 1 Corinthians 1:1 and after this Paul and Timothy when sending the second Epistle to the same. 2 Corinthians 1:1 And even three made a symphony when Paul and Silvanus and Timothy gave instruction by letter to the Thessalonians. 1 Thessalonians 1:1 But if it be necessary also from the ancient Scriptures to bring forward the three who made a symphony on earth, so that the Word was in the midst of them making them one, attend to the superscription of the Psalms, as for example to that of the forty-first, which is as follows: Unto the end, unto understanding, for the sons of Korah. For though there were three sons of Korah whose names we find in the Book of Exodus, Exodus 6:24 Aser, which is, by interpretation, instruction, and the second Elkana, which is translated, possession of God, and the third Abiasaph, which in the Greek tongue might be rendered, congregation of the father, yet the prophecies were not divided but were both spoken and written by one spirit, and one voice, and one soul, which wrought with true harmony, and the three speak as one, As the heart pants after the springs of the water, so pants my soul after you, O God. But also they say in the plural in the forty-fourth Psalm, O God, we have heard with our ears. But if you wish still further to see those who are making symphony on earth look to those who heard the exhortation, that you may be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment, 1 Corinthians 1:10 and who strove after the goal, the soul and the heart of all the believers were one, Acts 4:32 who have become such, if it be possible for such a condition to be found in more than two or three, that there is no discord between them, just as there is no discord between the strings of the ten-stringed psaltery with each other. But they were not in symphony in earth who said, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:12 but there were schisms among them, upon the dissolution of which they were gathered together in company with the spirit in Paul, with the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 5:4 that they might no longer bite and devour one another so that they were consumed by one another; Galatians 5:15 for discord consumes, as concord brings together, and admits the Son of God who comes in the midst of those who have become at concord. And strictly, indeed, concord takes place in two things generic, through the perfecting together, as the Apostle has called it, of the same mind by an intellectual grasp of the same opinions, and through the perfecting together of the same judgment, by a like way of living. But if whenever two of us agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of the Father of Jesus who is in heaven, Matthew 18:19 plainly when this is not done for them of the Father in heaven as touching anything that they shall ask, there the two have not been in agreement on earth; and this is the cause why we are not heard when we pray, that we do not agree with one another on earth, neither in opinions nor in life. But further also if we are the body of Christ and God has set the members each one of them in the body that the members may have the same care one for another, and may agree with one another, and when one member suffers, all the members suffer with it, and if one be glorified, they rejoice with it, we ought to practise the symphony which springs from the divine music, that when we are gathered together in the name of Christ, He may be in the midst of us, the Word of God, and the Wisdom of God, and His Power. 1 Corinthians 1:24
2. The Harmony of Husband and Wife.
So much then for the more common understanding of the two or three whom the Word exhorts to be in agreement. But now let us also touch upon another interpretation which was uttered by some one of our predecessors, exhorting those who were married to sanctity and purity; for by the two, he says, whom the Word desires to agree on earth, we must understand the husband and wife, who by agreement defraud each other of bodily intercourse that they may give themselves unto prayer; 1 Corinthians 7:5 when if they pray for anything whatever that they shall ask, they shall receive it, the request being granted to them by the Father in heaven of Jesus Christ on the ground of such agreement. And this interpretation does not appear to me to cause dissolution of marriage, but to be an incitement to agreement, so that if the one wished to be pure, but the other did not desire it, and on this account he who willed and was able to fulfil the better part, condescended to the one who had not the power or the will, they would not both have the accomplishment from the Father in heaven of Jesus Christ, of anything whatever that they might ask.
3. The Harmony of Body, Soul, and Spirit.
And next to this about the married, I am familiar also with another interpretation of the agreement between the two which is as follows. In the wicked, sin reigns over the soul, being settled as on its own throne in this mortal body, so that the soul obeys the lusts thereof; Romans 6:12 but in the case of those, who have stirred up the sin which formerly reigned over the body as from a throne and who are in conflict with it, the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; Galatians 5:17 but in the case of those who have now become perfected, the spirit has gained the mastery and put to death the deeds of the body, and imparts to the body of its own life, so that already this is fulfilled, He shall quicken also your mortal bodies because of His Spirit that dwells in you; Romans 8:11 and there arises a concord of the two, body and spirit, on the earth, on the successful accomplishment of which there is sent up a harmonious prayer also of him who with the heart believes unto righteousness, but with the mouth makes confession unto salvation, Romans 10:10 so that the heart is no longer far from God, and along with this the righteous man draws near to God with his own lips and mouth. But still more blessed is it if the three be gathered together in the name of Jesus that this may be fulfilled, May God sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 But some one may inquire with regard to the concord of spirit and body spoken of, if it is possible for these to be at concord without the third being so—I mean the soul— and whether it does not follow from the concord of these on the earth after the two have been gathered together in the name of Christ, that the three also are already gathered together in His name, in the midst of whom comes the Son of God as all are dedicated to Him—I mean the three—and no one is opposed to Him, there being no antagonism not only on the part of the spirit, but not even of the soul, nor further of the body.
4. Harmony of the Old and New Covenants.
And likewise it is a pleasant thing to endeavour to understand and exhibit the fact of the concord of the two covenants—of the one before the bodily advent of the Saviour and of the new covenant; for among those things in which the two covenants are at concord so that there is no discord between them would be found prayers, to the effect that about anything whatever they shall ask it shall be done to them from the Father in heaven. And if also you desire the third that unites the two, do not hesitate to say that it is the Holy Spirit, since the words of the wise, whether they be of those before the advent, or at the time of the advent, or after it, are as goads, and as nails firmly fixed, which were given by agreement from one shepherd. Ecclesiastes 12:11 And do not let this also pass unobserved, that He did not say, where two or three are gathered together in My name, there shall I be in the midst of them, but there am I, Matthew 18:20 not going to be, not delaying, but at the very moment of the concord being Himself found, and being in the midst of them.
5. The Limit of Forgiveness.
Then came Peter and said unto Him, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Matthew 18:21 The conception that these things were said in a simple sense by Peter, as if he were inquiring whether he was to forgive his brother when he sinned against him seven times, but no longer if he sinned an eighth time, and by the Saviour, as if He thought that one should sit still and reckon up the sins of his neighbours against him in order that he might forgive seventy times and seven, but that from the seventy-eighth he should not forgive the man who wronged him, seems to me altogether silly and unworthy alike of the progress which Peter had made in the company of Jesus and of the divine magnanimity of Jesus. Perhaps, then, these things also border on an obscurity akin to the words, Hear My voice, you wives of Lamech, Genesis 4:23 etc. If any one has already become a friend of Jesus so as to be taught by His spirit which illumines the reason of him who has advanced so far according to his desert, he might know the true meaning, therefore, in regard to these things, and such as Jesus Himself would have clearly expounded it; but we who fall short of the greatness of the friendship of Jesus must be content if we can babble a little about the passage. The number six, then, appears to be working and toilsome, but the number seven to contain the idea of repose. And consider if you can say that he, who loves the world and works the things of the world, and does those things which are material, sins six times, and that the number seven is the end of sin in his case, so that Peter with some such thought in his mind wished to pardon seven sins of those which his brother had committed against him. But since as units the tens and the hundreds have a certain common measure of proportion to the number which is in units, and Jesus knew that the number might be exceeded, on this account, I think, that He added to the number seven also the seventy, Matthew 18:22 and said that there ought to be forgiveness to brethren here, and to them who have sinned in respect to things here. But if any one going beyond the things about the world and this age were to commit sin, even if it were trifling, he could not longer reasonably have forgiveness of sins; for forgiveness extends to the things here, and in relation to the sins committed here, whether the forgiveness comes late or soon; but there is no forgiveness, not even to a brother, who has sinned beyond the seven and seventy times. But you might say that he who has sinned in such wise, whether as against Peter his brother, or as against Peter, against whom the gates of Hades do not prevail, is by sins of this kind in the smaller number of the sin, but according to sins still worse is in the number which has no forgiveness of sins.
6. Concerning the King Who Made a Reckoning with His Own Servants, to Whom Was Brought a Man Who Owed Ten Thousand Talents.
Therefore I say unto you the kingdom of heaven is likened unto a certain king, who wished to make a reckoning with his own servants. Matthew 18:23 The general conception of the parable is to teach us that we should be inclined to forgive the sins committed against us by those who have wronged us, and especially if after the wrongdoing he who has done it supplicates him who has been wronged, asking forgiveness for the sins which he has committed against him. And this the parable wishes to teach us by representing that even when forgiveness has been granted by God to us of the sins in respect of which we have received remission, exaction will be demanded even after the remission, unless we forgive the sins of those who have wronged us, so that there is no longer left in us the least remembrance of the wrong that was done, but the whole heart, assisted by the spirit of forgetfulness of wrongs, which is no common virtue, forgives him who has wronged us those things which have been wickedly done against any of us by him, even treacherously. But next to the general conception of the parable, it is right to examine the whole of it more simply according to the letter, so that he who advances with care to the right investigation of each detail of the things previously written may derive profit from the examination of what is said. Now there is, as is probable, an interpretation, transcendental and hard to trace, as it is somewhat mystical, according to which, after the analogy of the parables which are interpreted by the Evangelists, one would investigate each of the details in this; as, for example, who the king was, and who the servants were, and what was the beginning of his making a reckoning, and who was the one debtor who owed many talents, and who was his wife and who his children, and what were the all things spoken of besides those which the king ordered to be sold in order that the debt might be paid out of his belongings, and what was meant by the going out of the man who had been forgiven the many talents, and who was the one of the servants who was found and was a debtor not to the householder, but to the man who had been forgiven, and what is meant by the number of the hundred pence, and what by the word, He took him by the throat saying, Pay what you owe , and what is the prison into which he who had been forgiven all the talents went out and cast his fellow-servant, and who were the fellow-servants who were grieved and told the lord all that had been done, and who were the tormentors to whom he who had cast his fellow-servant into prison was delivered, and how he who was delivered to the tormentors paid all that was due, so that he no longer owed anything. But it is probable also that some other things could be added to the number by a more competent investigator, the exposition and interpretation of which I think to be beyond the power of man, and requiring the Spirit of Christ who spoke them in order that Christ may be understood as He spoke; for as no one among men knows the things of the man, save the spirit which is in him, and no one knows the things of God, save the Spirit of God, 1 Corinthians 2:11 so no one knows after God the things spoken by Christ in proverbs and parables save the Spirit of Christ, in which he who participates in Christ not only so far as He is Spirit, but in Christ as He is Wisdom, as He is Word, would behold the things which were revealed to him in this passage. But with regard to the interpretation of the loftiest type, we make no profession; nor on the other hand with the assistance of Christ who is the Wisdom of God do we despair of apprehending the things signified in the parable; but whether it shall be the case that such things shall be dictated to us in connection with this Scripture or not, may God in Christ suggest the doing of that which is pleasing to Him, if only there be granted to us also concerning these things, the word of wisdom which is given from God through the Spirit, and the word of knowledge which is supplied according to the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:8
7. Exposition Continued: the King and the Servants.
The kingdom of heaven, He says, is likened, Matthew 18:23 etc. But if it be likened to such a king, and one who has done such things, who must we say that it is but the Son of God? For He is the King of the heavens, and as He is absolute Wisdom and absolute Righteousness and absolute Truth, is He not so also absolute Kingdom? But it is not a kingdom of any of those below, nor of a part of those above, but of all the things above, which were called heavens. But if you enquire into the meaning of the words, Theirs is the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 5:3 you may say that Christ is theirs in so far as He is absolute Kingdom, reigning in every thought of the man who is no longer under the reign of sin which reigns in the mortal body of those who have subjected themselves to it. Romans 6:12 And if I say, reigning in every thought, I mean something like this, reigning as Righteousness and Wisdom and Truth and the rest of the virtues in him who has become a heaven, because of bearing the image of the heavenly, and in every power, whether angelic, or the rest that are named saints, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come, and who are worthy of a kingdom of such a kind. Accordingly this kingdom of heaven (when it was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, Romans 8:3 that for sin it might condemn sin, when God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on behalf of us, 2 Corinthians 5:21 who bear the body of our sin), is likened to a certain king who is understood in relation to Jesus being united to Him, if we may dare so to speak, having more capacity towards being united and becoming entirely one with the First-born of all creation, Colossians 1:15 than he, who, being joined to the Lord, becomes one spirit with Him. 1 Corinthians 6:17 Now of this kingdom of the heavens which is likened unto a certain king, according to the conception of Jesus, and is united to Him, it is said by anticipation that he wished to make a reckoning with his servants. But he is about to make a reckoning with them in order that it may be manifested how each has employed the tried money of the householder and his rational coins. And the image in the parables was indeed taken from masters who made a reckoning with their own servants; but we shall understand more accurately what is signified by this part of the parable, if we fix our thought on the things done by the slaves who had administered their master's goods, and who were asked to give a reckoning concerning them. For each of them, receiving in different measure from his master's goods, has used them either for that which was right so as to increase the goods of his master, or consumed it riotously on things which he ought not, and spent profusely without judgment and without discretion that which had been put into his hands. But there are those who have wisely administered these goods and goods so great, but have lost others, and whenever they give the reckoning when the master makes a reckoning with them, there is gathered together how much loss each has incurred, and there is reckoned up how much gain each has brought, and according to the worthiness of the way in which he has administered it, he is either honoured or punished, or in some cases the debt is forgiven, but in others the talents are taken away. Well, then, from what has been said, let us first look at the rational coins and the tried money of the householder, of which one receives more and another less, for according to the ability of each, to one are given five talents as he has the ability to administer so many, but to another two as not being able to receive the amount of the man before him, and to another one as being also inferior to the second. Matthew 25:15 Are these, then, the only differences, or are we to recognize these differences in the case of certain persons of whom the Gospel goes on to speak while there are also others besides these: In other parables also are found certain persons, as the two debtors, the one who owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty; Luke 7:41 but whether these had been entrusted with them and had administered them badly as being inferior in ability to him who had been entrusted with a talent, or had received them, we have not learned; but that they owed so much, we seem to be taught from the parable. And there are found other ten servants who were each entrusted with a pound separately. Luke 19:13 And if any one understood the varied character of the human soul and the wide differences from each other in respect of natural aptitude, or want of aptitude for more or fewer of the virtues, and for these virtues or for those, perhaps he would comprehend how each soul has come with certain coins of the householder which come to light with the full attainment of reason, and with the attention which follows the full attainment of reason, and with exercise in things that are right, or with diligence and exercise in other things, whether they be useful as pursuits, or in part useful and in part not useful, such as the opinions which are not wholly true nor wholly false.
8. The Principle of the Reckoning.
But you will here inquire whether all men can be called servants of the king, or some are servants whom he foreknew and fore-ordained, while there are others who transact business with the servants, and are called bankers. Matthew 25:27 And in like manner you will inquire if there are those outside the number of the slaves from whom the householder declares that he will exact his own with usury, not only men alien from piety, but also some of the believers. Now the servants alone are the stewards of the Word, but the king, making a reckoning with the servants, demands from those who have borrowed from the servants, whether a hundred measures of wheat or a hundred measures of oil, Luke 16:6-7 or whatever in point of fact those who are outside of the household of the king have received; for he who owed the hundred measures of wheat or the hundred measures of oil is not found to be, according to the parable, a fellow-servant of the unjust steward, as is evident from the question— how much do you owe to my lord? Luke 16:5 But mark with me that each deed which is good or seemly is like a gain and an increment, but a wicked deed is like a loss; and as there is a certain gain when the money is greater and another when it is less, and as there are differences of more or less, so according to the good deeds, there is as it were a valuing of gains more or less. To reckon what work is a great gain, and what a less gain, and what a least, is the prerogative of him who alone knows to investigate such things, looking at them in the light of the disposition, and the word, and the deed, and from consideration of the things which are not in our power cooperating with those that are; and so also in the case of things opposite, it is his to say what sin, when a reckoning is made with the servants, is found to be a great loss, and what is less, and what, if we may so call it, is the loss of the very last mite, Luke 12:59 or the last farthing. Matthew 5:26 The account, therefore, of the entire and whole life is exacted by that which is called the kingdom of heaven which is likened to a king, when we must all stand before the judgment-sent of Christ that each one may receive the things done in the body according to what he has done, whether good or bad; 2 Corinthians 5:10 and then when the reckoning is being made, shall there be brought into the reckoning that is made also every idle word that men shall speak, Matthew 12:36 and any cup of cold water only which one has given to drink in the name of a disciple. Matthew 10:42
9. The Time Occupied by the Reckoning.
And these things will take place whenever that happens which is written in Daniel, The books were opened and the judgment was set; Daniel 7:10 for a record, as it were, is made of all things that have been spoken and done and thought, and by divine power every hidden thing of ours shall be manifested, and everything that is covered shall be revealed, in order that when any one is found who has not given diligence to be freed from the adversary, he may go in succession through the hands of the magistrate, and the judge, and the attendant into the prison, until he pays the very last mite; Luke 12:58-59 but when one has given diligence to be freed from him and owes nothing to any one, and already has made the pound ten pounds or five pounds, or doubled the five talents, or made the two four, he may obtain the due recompense, entering into the joy of his Lord, either being set over all His possessions, Matthew 24:47 or hearing the word, Have authority over ten cities, Luke 19:17 or Have authority over five cities. But we think that these things are spoken of as if they required a long period of time, in order that an account may be made by us of the whole times of the earthly life, so that we might suppose that when the king makes a reckoning with each one of his many servants the matter would require so vast a period of time, until these things come to an end which have existed from the beginning of the world down to the consummation of the age, not of one age, but of many ages. But the truth is not so; for when God wished all at once to rekindle in the memories of all everything that had been done by each one throughout the whole time, in order that each might become conscious of his own doings whether good or bad, He would do it by His ineffable power. For it is not with God as with us; for if we wish to call some things to remembrance, we require sufficient time for the detailed account of what has been said by us, and to bring to our remembrance the things which we wish to remember; but if He wished to call to our memory the things which have been done in this life, in order that becoming conscious of what we have done we may apprehend for what we are punished or honoured, He could do so. But if any one disbelieves the swiftness of the power of God in regard to these matters, he has not yet had a true conception of the God who made the universe, who did not require times to make the vast creation of heaven and earth and the things in them; for, though He may seem to have made these things in six days, there is need of understanding to comprehend in what sense the words in six days are said, on account of this, This is the book of the generation of heaven and earth, Galatians 2:4 etc. Therefore it may be boldly affirmed that the season of the expected judgment does not require times, but as the resurrection is said to take place in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, 1 Corinthians 15:52 so I think will the judgment also be.
10. The Man Who Owed Many Talents.
Next we must speak in regard to this, And when he had begun to reckon, there was brought unto him one which owed many talents. Matthew 18:24 The sense of this appears to me to be as follows: The season of beginning the judgment is with the house of God, who says, as also it is written in Ezekiel, to those who are appointed to attend to punishments, Begin ye with My saints; Ezekiel 9:6 and it is like the twinkling of an eye; but, the time of making a reckoning includes the same twinkling, ideally apprehended, for we are not forgetful of what has been previously said of those who owe more. Wherefore it is not written, when he was making reckoning, but it is said, When he began to reckon, there was brought, at the beginning of his making a reckoning, one who owed many talents; he had lost tens of thousands of talents, having been entrusted with great things, and having had many things committed to his care, but he had brought no gain to his master, but had lost tens of thousands so that he owed many talents; and, perhaps on this account, he owed many talents, seeing that he followed often the woman, who was sitting upon the talent of lead, whose name is wickedness. Zechariah 5:7-8 But observe here that every great sin is a loss of the talents of the master of the house, and such sins are committed by fornicators, adulterers, abusers of themselves with men, effeminate, idolaters, murderers. Perhaps then the one who is brought to the king owing many talents has committed no small sin but all that are great and heinous; and if you were to seek for him among men, perhaps you would find him to be the man of sin, the son of perdition, he that opposes and exalts himself against every God or object of worship; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 but if you seek him outside the number of men, who can this be but the devil who has ruined so many who received him, who wrought sin in them. For man is a great thing, and a pitiful man is precious, Proverbs 20:6 precious so as to be worthy of a talent, whether of gold like as the lamp which was equal to a talent of gold, Exodus 25:39 or of silver or of any kind of material whatsoever understood intellectually, the symbols of which are recorded in the Words of the Days, 1 Chronicles 22:14 when David became enriched with many talents of which the number is mentioned, so many talents of gold, and so many of silver, and of the rest of the material there named, from which the temple of God was built.
11. The Servant Who Owed a Hundred Pence.
Only, though he cannot pay the talents, for he has lost them, he has a wife and children and other things, of which it is written, All that he has. Matthew 18:25 And it was possible that when he had been sold along with his own, he would have prospered if some one had bought him, and, by his worth and the things that were his, have paid the whole debt in full; and it was possible that he might no longer be the servant of the king, but become that of his purchaser. And he makes a request that he be not sold along with his own, but may continue to abide in the house of the king; wherefore he fell down and worshipped him, knowing that the king was God, and said, Have patience with me, and I will pay you all; Matthew 18:26 for he was, as is probable, an active man, who knew that he could by a second course of action fill up the whole deficiency of the former loss of many talents. And this truly good king was moved with compassion for the man who owed him many talents and then released him, having bestowed upon him a favour greater than the request which had been made; for the debtor promised to the long-suffering master to pay all his debts, but the Lord moved with compassion for him did not merely forgive him with the idea of receiving his own back as a result of his patience, but even entirely released him and forgave him the whole debt. But this wicked servant, who had besought his master to have patience for his many talents, acted without mercy, for, having found one of his fellow-servants which owed him a hundred pence, he laid hold on him and took him by the throat, saying, Pay if you owe . Matthew 18:28 And did he not exhibit the very excess of wickedness who laid hold of his fellow-servant for a hundred pence, and took him by the throat and deprived him of freedom to breathe, when he himself, for the many talents, had neither been laid hold of, nor seized by the throat, but at first was ordered to be sold along with his wife and children and all that was his own; but afterwards, when he had worshipped him, the master was moved with compassion for him, and he was released and forgiven in regard to the whole of the debt. But it were indeed a hard task to tell according to the conception of Jesus who is the one fellow-servant who was found to be owing a hundred pence, not to his own lord, but to him who owed many talents, and who are the fellow-servants who saw the one taking by the throat, and the other taken, and were exceedingly sorry, and represented clearly unto their own lord all that had been done. But what the truth in these matters is, I declare that no one can interpret unless Jesus, who explained all things to His own disciples privately, takes up His abode in his reason, and opens up all the treasures in the parable which are dark, hidden, unseen, and confirms by clear demonstrations the man whom He desires to illumine with the light of the knowledge of the things that are in this parable, that he may at once represent who is brought to the king as the debtor of many talents, and who is the other one who owes to him a hundred pence, etc.; whether he can be the man of sin previously mentioned, 2 Thessalonians 2:3 or the devil, or neither of these, but some other, whether a man, or some one of these under the sway of the devil; for it is a work of the wisdom of God to exhibit the things that have been prophesied concerning those who are in themselves of a certain nature, or have been made according to such and such qualities, whether among visible powers or also among some men, in whatever way they may have been written by the Holy Spirit. But as we have not yet received the competent mind which is able to be blended with the mind of Christ, and which is capable of attaining to things so great, and which is able with the Spirit to search all things, even the deep things of God, 1 Corinthians 2:10 we, forming an impression still indefinitely with regard to the matters in this passage, are of opinion that the wicked servant indicated by the parable who is here represented in regard to the debt of many talents, refers to some definite one.
12. The Time of the Reckoning.
But it is fitting to examine at what time the man— the king— in the parable wished to make a reckoning with his own servants, and to what period we ought to refer the things that are said. For if it be after the consummation, or at it at the time of the expected judgment, how are we to maintain the things about him who owed a hundred pence, and was taken by the throat by the man who had been forgiven the many talents? But if, before the judgment, how can we explain the reckoning that was made before this by the king, with his own servants? But we ought to think in a general way about every parable, the interpretation of which has not been recorded by the evangelists, even though Jesus explained all things to His own disciples privately; Mark 4:34 and for this reason the writers of the Gospels have concealed the clear exposition of the parables, because the things signified by them were beyond the power of the nature of words to express, and every solution and exposition of such parables was of such a kind that not even the whole world itself could contain the books that should be written John 21:25 in relation to such parables. But it may happen that a fitting heart be found, and, because of its purity, able to receive the letters of the exposition of the parable, so that they could be written in it by the Spirit of the living God. But some one will say that, perhaps, we act with impiety, who, because of the secret and mystical import of some of the Scriptures which are of heavenly origin, wish them to be symbolic, and endeavour to expound them, even though it might seem ex hypothesi that we had an accurate knowledge of their meaning. But to this we must say that, if there be those who have obtained the gift of accurate apprehension of these things, they know what they ought to do; but as for us, who acknowledge that we fall short of the ability to see into the depth of the things here signified, even though we obtain a somewhat crass perception of the things in the passage, we will say, that some of the things which we seem to find after much examination and inquiry, whether by the grace of God, or by the power of our own mind, we do not venture to commit to writing; but some things, for the sake of our own intellectual discipline, and that of those who may chance to read them, we will to some extent set forth. But let these things, then, be said by way of apology, because of the depth of the parable; but, with regard to the question at what time the man— the king— in the parable wished to make a reckoning with his own servants, we will say that it seems that this takes place about the time of the judgment which had been proclaimed. And this is confirmed by two parables, one at the close of the Gospel before us, Matthew 25:14-30 and one from the Gospel according to Luke. Luke 19:12-27 And not to prolong the discussion by quoting the very letter, as any one who wishes can take it from the Scripture himself, we will say that the parable according to Matthew declares, For it is as when a man going into another country called his own servants, and delivered unto them his own goods, and to one he gave five talents, and to another two, and to another one talent; Matthew 25:14-15 then they took action with regard to that which had been entrusted to them, and, after a long time, the lord of those servants comes, and it is written in the very words, that he also makes a reckoning with them. Matthew 25:19 And compare the words, And when he began to make a reckoning, Matthew 18:24 and consider that he called the going of the householder into another country the time at which we are at home in the body but absent from the Lord; 2 Corinthians 5:6 but his advent, when, after a long time the lord of those servants comes, Matthew 25:19 the time at the consummation in the judgment; for after a long time the lord of those servants comes and makes a reckoning with them, and those things which follow take place. But the parable in Luke represents with more clearness, that a certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return, and when going, he called ten servants, and gave to them ten pounds, and said unto them, Trade ye till I come. Luke 19:12-13 But the nobleman, being hated by his own citizens, who sent an ambassage after him, as they did not wish him to reign over them, came back again, having received the kingdom, and told the servants to whom he had given the money to be called to himself that he might know what they had gained by trading. And, seeing what they had done, to him who had made the one pound ten pounds, rendering praise in the words, Well done, you good servant, because you were found faithful in a very little, Luke 19:17 he gives to him authority over ten cities, to-wit, those which were under his kingdom. And to another, who had multiplied the pound fivefold, he did not render the praise which he assigned to the first, nor did he specify the word authority, as in the case of the first, but said to him, Be also over five cities. But to him who had tied up the pound in a napkin, he said, Out of your own mouth will I judge you, you wicked servant; Luke 19:22 and he said to them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it unto him that has the ten pounds. Luke 19:24 Who, then, in regard to this parable, will not say that the nobleman, who goes into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return, is Christ, going, as it were, into another country to receive the kingdoms of this world, and the things in it? And those who have received the ten talents are those who have been entrusted with the dispensation of the Word which has been committed unto them. And His citizens who did not wish Him to reign over them when He was a citizen in the world in respect of His incarnation, Luke 19:14 are perhaps Israel who disbelieved Him, and perhaps also the Gentiles who disbelieved Him.
13. No Forgiveness to the Unforgiving.
Only, I have said these things with the view of referring his return when he comes with his kingdom to the consummation, when he commanded the servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him that he might know what they had gained by trading, and from a desire to demonstrate from this, and from the parable of the Talents, that the passage he who wished to make a reckoning with his own servants Matthew 18:23 is to be referred to the consummation when now he is king, receiving the kingdom, on account of which, according to another parable, Luke 19:12 he went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. Therefore, when he returned after receiving the kingdom, he wished to make a reckoning with his own servants. And when he had begun to reckon, there was brought unto him one who owed many talents, Matthew 18:24 and he was brought as to a king by those who had been appointed his ministers— I think, the angels. And perhaps he was one of those under the kingdom who had been entrusted with a great administration and had not dispensed it well, but had wasted what had been entrusted to him, so that he came to owe the many talents which he had lost. This very man, perhaps not having the means to pay, is ordered by the king to be sold along with his wife, by intercourse with whom he became the father of certain children. But it is no easy task to see what is intellectually meant by father and mother and children. What this means in point of truth God may know, and whether He Himself has given insight to us or not, he who can may judge. Only this is our conception of the passage; that, as the Jerusalem which is above is the mother Galatians 4:26 of Paul and of those like him, so there may be a mother of others after the analogy of Jerusalem, the mother, for example, of Syene in Egypt, or Sidon, or as many cities as are named in the Scriptures. Then, as Jerusalem is a bride adorned for her husband, Revelation 21:2 Christ, so there may be those mothers of certain powers who have been allotted to them as wives or brides. And as there are certain children of Jerusalem, as mother, and of Christ, as father, so there would be certain children of Syene, or Memphis, or Tyre, or Sidon, and the rulers set over them. Perhaps then, too, this one, the debtor of many talents who was brought to the king, has, as we have said, a wife and children, whom at first the king ordered to be sold, and also all that he had to be sold; but afterwards, being moved with compassion, he released him and forgave him all the debt; not, as if he were ignorant of the future, but, in order that we might understand what happened, it was written that he did so. Each one then of those who have, as we have said, a wife and children will render an account whenever the king comes to make a reckoning, having received the kingdom and having returned; and each of them as a ruler of any Syene or Memphis, or Tyre or Sidon, or any like them, has also debtors. This one, then, having been released, and having been forgiven all the debt, went out from the king and found one of his fellow-servants, Matthew 18:28 etc.; and, on this account, I suppose that he took him by the throat, when he had gone out from the king, for unless he had gone out he would not have taken his own fellow-servant by the throat. Then observe the accuracy of the Scripture, how that the one fell down and worshipped, but the other fell down and did not worship but besought; and the king being moved with compassion released him and forgave him all the debt, but the servant did not wish even to pity his own fellow-servant; and the king before his release ordered him to be sold and what was his, while he who had been forgiven cast him into prison. And observe that his fellow-servants did not bring any accusation or said, but told, Matthew 18:31 and that he did not use the epithet wicked at the beginning in regard to the money lost, but reserved it afterwards for his action towards the fellow-servant. But mark also the moderation of the king; he does not say, You worshipped me, but You besought me; and no longer did he order him and his to be sold, but, what was worse, he delivered him to the tormentors, because of his wickedness. Matthew 18:34 But who may these be but those who have been appointed in the matter of punishments? But at the same time observe, because of the use made of this parable by adherents of heresies, that if they accuse the Creator of being passionate, because of words that declare the wrath of God, they ought also to accuse this king, because that being angry, he delivered the debtor to the tormentors. But it must further be said to those whose view it is that no one is delivered by Jesus to the tormentors,— pray, explain to us, good sirs, who is the king who delivered the wicked servant to the tormentors? And let them also attend to this, So therefore also shall My heavenly Father do unto you; Matthew 18:35 and to the same persons also might rather be said the things in the parable of the Ten Pounds that the Son of the good God said, Howbeit these mine enemies which would not that I should reign over them, Luke 19:27 etc. The conclusion of the parable, however, is adapted also to the simpler; for all of us who have obtained the forgiveness of our own sins, and have not forgiven our brethren, are taught at once that we shall suffer the lot of him who was forgiven but did not forgive his fellow-servant.
14. How Jesus Finished His Words.
And it came to pass when Jesus had finished these words. Matthew 19:1 He who gives a detailed and complete account of each of the questions before him so that nothing is left out, finishes his own words. But he will give a declaration on this point with more confidence who devotes himself with great diligence to the entire reading of the Old and New Testament; for if the expression, he finished these words, may be applied to no other, neither to Moses, nor to any of the prophets, but only to Jesus, then one would dare to say that Jesus alone finished His words, He who came to put an end to things, and to fulfil what was defective in the law, by saying, It was said to them of old time, Matthew 5:33 etc., and, again, That the things spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled. But if it is written somewhere also in them, then you may compare and contrast the discourses finished by them with those finished by the Saviour, that you may find the difference between them. And yet at this point, also, investigation might be made whether in the case of the things spoken by way of oracle the expression, he finished, is applied either to the things spoken by Moses, or any of the prophets, or of both together; for careful observation would suggest very weighty thoughts to those who know how to compare spiritual things with spiritual, and on this account speak not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Spirit teaches. 1 Corinthians 2:13 But perhaps some other one, attending with over-curious spirit to the word finished, which is assigned to things of a more mystical order, just as we say that some one delivered to those who were under his control mysteries and rites of perfecting not in a praiseworthy fashion, and another delivered the mysteries of God to those who are worthy, and rites of perfecting proportionate to such mysteries, might say that having initiated them, he made a rite of perfecting, by which perfecting the words were shown to be powerful, so that the gospel of Jesus was preached in the whole world, and by virtue of the divine perfecting gained the mastery of every soul which the Father draws to the Son, according to what is said by the Saviour, No one comes to Me except the Father which has sent Me draw him. John 6:44 Wherefore also the word of those who by the grace of God are ambassadors of the gospel, and their preaching, is not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit of power, to those for whom the words of the doctrine of Jesus were finished. You will therefore observe how often it is said, He finished, and of what things it is said, and you will take as an illustration that which is said in regard to the beatitudes, and the whole of the discourse to which is subjoined, And it came to pass when Jesus had finished these words, all the multitudes were astonished at His teaching. Matthew 7:28 But now the saying, Jesus finished these words, is referred also immediately to the very mystical parable according to which the kingdom of heaven is likened unto a king, but also beyond this parable to the sections which were written before it.
15. How Men Followed Jesus.
Only, when Jesus had finished these words, having spoken them in Galilee about Capernaum, then He departed thence, and came into the borders of Judæa, Matthew 19:1 which were different from Galilee. But He came to the borders of Judæa, and not to the middle of it, but, as it were, to the outermost parts, where great multitudes followed Him, Matthew 19:2 whom He healed at the borders of Judæa beyond Jordan,— where baptism had been given. John 1:28 But you will observe the difference between the crowds who simply followed, and Peter and the others who gave up everything and followed, and Matthew, who arose and followed him; Matthew 9:9 he did not simply follow, but having arisen; for having arisen is an important addition. There are always those, then, who follow like the great multitudes, who have not arisen that they may follow, nor have given up all that was theirs formerly, but few are they who have arisen and followed, who also, in the regeneration, shall sit on twelve thrones. Matthew 19:28 Only, if one wishes to be healed, let him follow Jesus.
16. Concerning the Pharisees and Scribes Tempting Jesus (by Asking) Whether Was Lawful for a Man to Put Away His Wife for Every Cause.
After this it is written that there came unto Him the Pharisees tempting Him and saying, Is it lawful for a man to wife for every cause? Matthew 19:3 Mark, also, has written to the like effect. Mark 10:2 Accordingly, of those who came to Jesus and inquired of Him, there were some who put questions to tempt Him; and if our Saviour so transcendent was tempted, which of His disciples who is ordained to teach need be vexed, when he is tempted by some who inquire, not from the love of learning, but from the wish to tempt? And you might find many passages, if you brought them together, in which the Pharisees tempted our Jesus, and others, different from them, as a certain lawyer, Matthew 22:35 and perhaps also a scribe, Mark 12:28 that by bringing together what is said about those who tempted Him, you might find by investigation what is useful for this kind of inquiries. Only, the Saviour, in response to those who tempted Him, laid down dogmas; for they said, Is it lawful for a man to put away his own wife for every cause? and He answered and said, Have ye not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female? Matthew 19:4 etc. And I think that the Pharisees put forward this word for this reason, that they might attack Him whatever He might say; as, for example, if He had said, It is lawful, they would have accused Him of dissolving marriages for trifles; but, if He had said, It is not lawful, they would have accused Him of permitting a man to dwell with a woman, even with sins; so, likewise, in the case of the tribute-money, Matthew 22:17 if He had told them to give, they would have accused Him of making the people subject to the Romans, and not to the law of God, but if He had told them not to give, they would have accused Him of creating war and sedition, and of stirring up those who were not able to stand against so powerful an army. But they did not perceive in what way He answered blamelessly and wisely, in the first place, rejecting the opinion that a wife was to be put away for every cause, and, in the second place, giving answer to the question about the bill of divorcement; for He saw that not every cause is a reasonable ground for the dissolution of marriage, and that the husband must dwell with the wife as the weaker vessel, giving honour, 1 Peter 3:7 and bearing her burdens in sins; Galatians 6:2 and by what is written in Genesis, He puts to shame the Pharisees who boasted in the Scriptures of Moses, by saying, Have ye not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, etc., and, subjoining to these words, because of the saying, And the two shall become one flesh, teaching in harmony with one flesh, namely, So that they are no more two, but one flesh. Matthew 19:4-6 And, as tending to convince them that they should not put away their wife for every cause, is it said, What God has joined together, let not man put asunder. Matthew 19:6 It is to be observed, however, in the exposition of the words quoted from Genesis in the Gospel, that they were not spoken consecutively as they are written in the Gospel; and I think that it is not even said about the same persons, namely, of those who were formed after the image of God, and of those who were formed from the dust of the ground and from one of the ribs of Adam. For where it is said, Male and female made He them, Genesis 1:27 the reference is to those formed after the image, but where He also said, For this cause shall a man leave his own father and mother, Genesis 2:24 etc., the reference is not to those formed after the image; for some time after the Lord God formed the man, taking dust from the ground, and from his side the helpmate. And mark, at the same time, that in the case of those who are formed after the image, the words were not husband and wife but male and female. But we have also observed this in the Hebrew, for man is indicated by the word is, but male by the word zachar, and again woman by the word essa, but female by the word agkeba. For at no time is it woman or man after the image, but the superior class, the male, and the second, the female. But also if a man leave his mother and his father, he cleaves not to the female, but to his own wife, and they become, since man and woman are one in flesh, one flesh. Then, describing what ought to be in the case of those who are joined together by God, so that they may be joined together in a manner worthy of God, the Saviour adds, So that they are no more two; Matthew 19:6 and, wherever there is indeed concord, and unison, and harmony, between husband and wife, when he is as ruler and she is obedient to the word, He shall rule over you, Genesis 3:16 then of such persons we may truly say, They are no more two. Then since it was necessary that for him who was joined to the Lord, it should be reserved that he should become one spirit with Him, 1 Corinthians 6:17 in the case of those who are joined together by God, after the words, So that they are no more two, it is said, but one flesh. And it is God who has joined together the two in one so that they are no more two, from the time that the woman is married to the man. And, since God has joined them together, on this account in the case of those who are joined together by God, there is a gift; and Paul knowing this, that marriage according to the Word of God was a gift, like as holy celibacy was a gift, says, But I would that all men were like myself; howbeit, each man has his own gift from God, one after this manner, and another after that. 1 Corinthians 7:7 And those who are joined together by God both mind and keep the precept, Husbands love your wives, as Christ also the church. Ephesians 5:25 The Saviour then commanded, What God has joined together, let not man put asunder, Matthew 19:6 but man wishes to put asunder what God has joined together, when, falling away from the sound faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron, forbidding, not only to commit fornication, but to marry, 1 Timothy 4:1-3 he dissolves even those who had been before joined together by the providence of God. Let these things then be said, keeping in view what is expressly said concerning the male and the female, and the man and the woman, as the Saviour taught in the answer to the Pharisees.
17. Union of Christ and the Church.
But since the Apostle understands the words, And they two shall be one flesh, Matthew 19:5 of Christ and the church, Ephesians 5:31-32 we must say that Christ keeping the saying, What God has joined together let not man put asunder, Matthew 19:6 did not put away His former wife, so to speak— that is, the former synagogue— for any other cause than that that wife committed fornication, being made an adulteress by the evil one, and along with him plotted against her husband and slew Him, saying, Away with such a fellow from the earth, crucify Him, crucify Him. It was she therefore who herself revolted, rather than her husband who put her away and dismissed her; wherefore, reproaching her for falling away from him, it says in Isaiah, Of what kind is the bill of your mother's divorcement, with which I sent her away? Isaiah 50:1 And He who at the beginning created Him who is in the form of God after the image, made Him male, and the church female, granting to both oneness after the image. And, for the sake of the church, the Lord— the husband— left the Father whom He saw when He was in the form of God, Philippians 2:6 left also His mother, as He was the very son of the Jerusalem which is above, and was joined to His wife who had fallen down here, and these two here became one flesh. For because of her, He Himself also became flesh, when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, John 1:14 and they are no more two, but now they are one flesh, since it is said to the wife, Now you are the body of Christ, and members each in his part; 1 Corinthians 12:27 for the body of Christ is not something apart different from the church, which is His body, and from the members each in his part. And God has joined together these who are not two, but have become one flesh, commanding that men should not separate the church from the Lord. And he who takes heed for himself so as not to be separated, is confident as one who will not possibly be separated and says, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Romans 8:35 Here, therefore, the saying, What God has joined together, let not man put asunder, Matthew 19:6 was written with relation to the Pharisees, but to those who are superior to the Pharisees, it could be said, What then God has joined together, let nothing put asunder, neither principality nor power; for God, who has joined together is stronger than all those which any one could conceive and name.
18. The Bill of Divorcement.
After this we will discuss the saying of the Pharisees which they said to Jesus, Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorcement and put her away? Matthew 19:7 And with good reason we will bring forward for this purpose the passage from Deuteronomy concerning the bill of divorcement, which is as follows: But if a man takes a wife and cohabit with her, and it shall be, if she do not find favour in his sight because he has found in her a thing unseemly, etc., down to the words, and you shall not pollute the land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 Now I inquire whether in these things according to this law, we are to seek nothing in it beyond the letter seeing that God has not given it, or whether to the Pharisees who quoted the saying, Moses commanded to give a bill of divorcement and put her away, it was of necessity said, Moses, for your hardness of heart, suffered you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it has not been so. Matthew 19:8 But if any one ascends to the Gospel of Christ Jesus which teaches that the law is spiritual, he will seek also the spiritual understanding of this law. And he who wishes to interpret these things figuratively will say that, just as it was said by Paul confident in the grace which he had, A wife is bound for so long time as her husband lives, but if the husband be dead she is free to be married to whom she will, only in the Lord; but she is happier if she abide as she is, after my judgment, and I think that I also have the Spirit of God 1 Corinthians 7:39-40 (for here to the words, after my judgment, lest it should be despised as being without the Spirit of God, he well added, and I think that I also have the Spirit of God), so also it would be possible for Moses, by reason of the power given to him to make laws, to the effect that he suffered for the hardness of heart of the people certain things, among which was the putting away of wives, to be persuaded in regard to the laws which he promulgated according to his own judgment, that in these also the legislation took place with the Spirit of God. And he will say that, unless one law is spiritual and another is not such, this is a law, and this is spiritual, and its spiritual significance ought to be investigated.
19. The Divorce of Israel.
Now, keeping in mind what we said above in regard to the passage from Isaiah about the bill of divorcement, we will say that the mother of the people separated herself from Christ, her husband, without having received the bill of divorcement, but afterwards when there was found in her an unseemly thing, and she did not find favour in his sight, the bill of divorcement was written out for her; for when the new covenant called those of the Gentiles to the house of Him who had cast away his former wife, it virtually gave the bill of divorcement to her who formerly separated from her husband— the law, and the Word. Therefore he, also, having separated from her, married, so to speak, another, having given into the hands of the former the bill of divorcement; wherefore they can no longer do the things enjoined on them by the law, because of the bill of divorcement. And a sign that she has received the bill of divorcement is this, that Jerusalem was destroyed along with what they called the sanctuary of the things in it which were believed to be holy, and with the altar of burnt offerings, and all the worship associated with it. And a further sign of the bill of divorcement is this, that they cannot keep their feasts, even though according to the letter of the law designedly commanded them, in the place which the Lord God appointed to them for keeping feasts; but there is this also, that the whole synagogue has become unable to stone those who have committed this or that sin; and thousands of things commanded are a sign of the bill of divorcement; and the fact that there is no more a prophet, and that they say, We no longer see signs; for the Lord says, He has taken away from Judæa and from Jerusalem, according to the word of Isaiah, Him that is mighty, and her that is mighty, a powerful giant, etc., down to the words, a prudent hearer. Isaiah 3:1-3 Now, He who is the Christ may have taken the synagogue to wife and cohabited with her, but it may be that afterwards she found not favour in His sight; and the reason of her not having found favour in His sight was, that there was found in her an unseemly thing; for what was more unseemly than the circumstance that, when it was proposed to them to release one at the feast, they asked for the release of Barabbas the robber, and the condemnation of Jesus? Matthew 27:21 And what was more unseemly than the fact, that they all said in His case, Crucify Him, crucify Him, and Away with such a fellow from the earth? John 19:15 And can this be freed from the charge of unseemliness, His blood be upon us, and upon our children? Matthew 27:25 Wherefore, when He was avenged, Jerusalem was compassed with armies, and its desolation was near, Luke 21:20 and their house was taken away from it, and the daughter of Zion was left as a booth in a vineyard, and as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, and as a besieged city. Isaiah 1:8 And, about the same time, I think, the husband wrote out a bill of divorcement to his former wife, and gave it into her hands, and sent her away from his own house, and the bond of her who came from the Gentiles has been cancelled about which the Apostle says, Having blotted out the bond written in ordinances, which was contrary to us, and He has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; Colossians 2:14 for Paul also and others became proselytes of Israel for her who came from the Gentiles. The first wife, accordingly, not having found favour before her husband, because in her had been found an unseemly thing, went out from the dwelling of her husband, and, going away, has become joined to another man, to whom she has subjected herself, whether we should call the husband Barabbas the robber, who is figuratively the devil, or some evil power. And in the case of some of that synagogue there has happened the former thing which was written in the law, but in the case of others, that which was second. For the last husband Deuteronomy 24:3 hated his wife and will write out for her some day at the consummation of things a bill of divorcement, when God so orders it, and will give it into her hands and will send her away from his dwelling; for as the good God will put enmity between the serpent and the woman, and between his seed and her seed, Genesis 3:15 so will He order it that the last husband shall hate her.
20. Christ and the Gentiles.
Now there are those in whose case it has happened that the man dwells with them without having hated them, because they abide in the house of the last husband, who took to himself their synagogue as wife. But also in their case the latter husband dies, Deuteronomy 24:3 perhaps whenever the last enemy of Christ, death, is destroyed. But whichever of these things may happen, whether the former or the latter to the wife, the former husband, it says, who sent her away, will not he able to turn back and take her to be a wife to himself after she has been defiled, since it is abomination, it says, before the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 24:4 But these things will not seem to be consistent with this, If the fullness of the Gentiles be come in, all Israel shall be saved. Romans 11:25-26 But consider if it can be said to this, that, if she shall be saved by her former husband returning and taking her to himself as wife, she will in any case be saved after she has been polluted. A priest, then, will not take to himself as a wife one who has been a harlot and an outcast, Leviticus 21:14 but no other, as being inferior to the priest, is hindered from doing so. But if you seek for the harlot in regard to the calling of the Gentiles, you may use the passage, Take to yourself a wife of fornication, and children of fornication, Hosea 1:2 etc.; for, as the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are guiltless, Matthew 12:5 so he who, casting out his former wife, takes in due season a wife of fornication, having done it according to the command of Him who says, when it is necessary, and so long as it was necessary, He shall not take a harlot to wife, and, when it was reasonable, He says, Take to yourself a wife of fornication. For as the Son of man is Lord of the sabbath, Matthew 12:8 and not the slave of the sabbath as the people are, so He who gives the law has power to give it until a time of reformation, Hebrews 9:10 and to change the law, and, when the time of the reformation is at hand, also to give after the former way and after the former heart another way and another heart, in an acceptable time, and in a day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2 And let these things be said according to our interpretation of the law in regard to the bill of divorcement.
21. Union of Angels and the Souls of Men.
But some one may inquire whether the human soul can be figuratively called a wife, and the angel who is set over her and is her ruler, with whom as her sovereign she holds conversation, can be called her husband; so that according to this each lawfully dwells along with the soul which is worthy of the guardianship of a divine angel; but sometimes after long sojourning and intercourse a cause may arise in the soul why she does not find favour in the eyes of the angel who is her lord and ruler, because that in it there is found an unseemly thing; and bonds may be written out, as such are written, and a bill of divorcement be written and put into the hands of her who is cast out, so that she may no longer be familiar with her former guardian, when she is cast out from his dwelling. And even she who has gone away from her former dwelling may be joined to another husband, and be unfortunate with him, not only, as in the case of the former, not finding favour in his sight because an unseemly thing was found in her, but even being hated by him. Yea, and even there might be written out from the second husband a bill of divorcement and it might be put into her hands from the last husband who sends her away from his dwelling. But whether there can be such a change of the life of angels with men, as to amount, so far as concerns their relation to us, to their death, one may put the question rash though it be; but be that as it may, she also who has once fallen away from the former husband will not return again to him, for the former husband who sent her away will not be able to turn back and take her as wife to himself, after she was defiled. Deuteronomy 24:4 And if one should dare, using a Scripture which is in circulation in the church, but not acknowledged by all to be divine, to soften down a precept of this kind, the passage might be taken from The Shepherd, concerning some who as soon as they believe are put in subjection to Michael, but falling away from him from love of pleasure, are put in subjection to the angel of luxury, then to the angel of punishment, and after this to the angel of repentance; for you observe that the wife or soul who has once been given to luxury no longer returns to the first ruler, but also besides suffering punishment, is put in subjection to one inferior to Michael; for the angel of penitence is inferior to him. We must therefore take heed lest there be found in us any unseemly thing, and we should not find favour in the eyes of our husband Christ, or of the angel who has been set over us. For if we do not take heed, perhaps we also shall receive the bill of divorcement, and either be bereft of our guardian, or go to another man. But I consider that it is not of good omen to receive, as it were, the marriage of an angel with our own soul.
22. The Marriage of Church Dignitaries.
But, while dealing with the passage, I would say that we will be able perhaps now to understand and clearly set forth a question which is hard to grasp and see into, with regard to the legislation of the Apostle concerning ecclesiastical matters; for Paul wishes no one of those of the church, who has attained to any eminence beyond the many, as is attained in the administration of the sacraments, to make trial of a second marriage. For laying down the law in regard to bishops in the first Epistle to Timothy, he says, If a man seeks the office of a bishop, he desires a good work. The bishop, therefore, must be without reproach, the husbands of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, 1 Timothy 3:1-2 etc.; and, in regard to deacons, Let the deacons, he says, be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well, 1 Timothy 3:12 etc. Yea, and also when appointing widows, he says, Let there be no one as a widow under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man; 1 Timothy 5:9 and after this he says the things superadded, as being second or third in importance to this. And, in the Epistle to Titus, For this cause, he says, I left you in Crete that you should set in order the things that were wanting, and appoint elders in every city as I gave you charge. If any one is blameless, the husband of one wife, having children, that believe Titus 1:5-6 — of course— and so on. Now, when we saw that some who have been married twice may be much better than those who have been married once, we were perplexed why Paul does not at all permit those who have been twice married to be appointed to ecclesiastical dignities; for also it seemed to me that such a thing was worthy of examination, as it was possible that a man, who had been unfortunate in two marriages, and had lost his second wife while he was yet young, might have lived for the rest of his years up to old age in the greatest self-control and chastity. Who, then, would not naturally be perplexed why at all, when a ruler of the church is being sought for, we do not appoint such a man, though he has been twice married, because of the expressions about marriage, but lay hold of the man who has been once married as our ruler, even if he chance to have lived to old age with his wife, and sometimes may not have been disciplined in chastity and temperance? But, from what is said in the law about the bill of divorcement, I reflect whether, seeing that the bishop and the presbyter and the deacon are a symbol of things that truly exist in accordance with these names, he wished to appoint those who were figuratively once married, in order that he who is able to give attention to the matter, may find out from the spiritual law the one who was unworthy of ecclesiastical rule, whose soul did not find favour in the eyes of her husband because there had been found in her an unseemly thing, and she had become worthy of the bill of divorcement; for such a soul, having dwelt along with a second husband, and having been hated by such an one, can no longer, after the second bill of divorcement, return to her former husband. It is likely, therefore, also, that other arguments will be found by those who are wiser than we, and have more ability to see into such things, whether in the law about the bill of divorcement, or in the apostolic writings which prohibit those who have been twice married from ruling over the church or being preferred to preside over it. But, until something shall be found that is better and able by the excessive brilliancy of the light of knowledge to cast into the shade what we have uttered, we have said the things which have occurred to us in regard to the passages.
23. Some Laws Given by Concession to Human Weakness.
But, even if we have seemed to touch on things too deep for our capacity in the passages, nevertheless, because of the literal expression these things must further be said, that some of the laws were written not as excellent, but as by way of accommodation to the weakness of those to whom the law was given; for something of this kind is indicated in the words, Moses for your hardness of heart suffered you to put away your wives; Matthew 19:8 but that which is pre-eminent and superior to the law, which was written for their hardness of heart, is indicated in this, But from the beginning it has not been so. But in the new covenant also there are some legal injunctions of the same order as, Moses for your hardness of heart suffered you to put away your wives; for example, because of our hardness of heart, it has been written on account of our weakness, But because of fornications, let each man have his own wife and let each woman have her own husband; 1 Corinthians 7:2 and this, Let the husband render unto the wife her due, and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 1 Corinthians 8:3 To these sayings it is accordingly subjoined, But this I say by way of permission, not of commandment. 1 Corinthians 7:6 But this also, A wife is bound for so long time as her husband lives, but if her husband be dead, she is free to be married to whom she will, only in the Lord, 1 Corinthians 7:39 was said by Paul in view of our hardness of heart and weakness, to those who do not wish to desire earnestly the greater gifts 1 Corinthians 12:31 and become more blessed. But now contrary to what was written, some even of the rulers of the church have permitted a woman to marry, even when her husband was living, doing contrary to what was written, where it is said, A wife is bound for so long time as her husband lives, and So then if while her husband lives, she shall be joined to another man she shall be called an adulteress, Romans 7:3 not indeed altogether without reason, for it is probable this concession was permitted in comparison with worse things, contrary to what was from the beginning ordained by law, and written.
24. Jewish Criticism of the Law of Christ.
But perhaps some Jewish man of those who dare to oppose the teaching of our Saviour will say, that when Jesus said, Whosoever shall put away his own wife, saving for the cause of fornication, makes her an adulteress, Matthew 5:32 He also gave permission to put away a wife like as well as Moses did, who was said by Him to have given laws for the hardness of heart of the people, and will hold that the saying, Because he found in her an unseemly thing, Deuteronomy 24:1 is to be reckoned as the same as fornication on account of which with good cause a wife could be cast away from her husband. But to him it must be said that, if she who committed adultery was according to the law to be stoned, clearly it is not in this sense that the unseemly thing is to be understood. For it is not necessary for adultery or any such great indecency to write a bill of divorcement and give it into the hands of the wife; but indeed perhaps Moses called every sin an unseemly thing, on the discovery of which by the husband in the wife, as not finding favour in the eyes of her husband, the bill of divorcement is written, and the wife is sent away from the house of her husband; but from the beginning it has not been so. Matthew 19:8 After this our Saviour says, not at all permitting the dissolution of marriages for any other sin than fornication alone, when detected in the wife, Whosoever shall put away his own wife, saving for the cause of fornication, makes her an adulteress. Matthew 5:32 But it might be a subject for inquiry if on this account He hinders any one putting away a wife, unless she be caught in fornication, for any other reason, as for example for poisoning, or for the destruction during the absence of her husband from home of an infant born to them, or for any form of murder whatsoever. And further, if she were found despoiling and pillaging the house of her husband, though she was not guilty of fornication, one might ask if he would with reason cast away such an one, seeing that the Saviour forbids any one to put away his own wife saving for the cause of fornication. In either case there appears to be something monstrous, whether it be really monstrous, I do not know; for to endure sins of such heinousness which seem to be worse than adultery or fornication, will appear to be irrational; but again on the other hand to act contrary to the design of the teaching of the Saviour, every one would acknowledge to be impious. I wonder therefore why He did not say, Let no one put away his own wife saving for the cause of fornication, but says, Whosoever shall put away his own wife, saving for the cause of fornication, makes her an adulteress. Matthew 5:32 For confessedly he who puts away his wife when she is not a fornicator, makes her an adulteress, so far as it lies with him, for if, when the husband is living she shall be called an adulteress if she be joined to another man; Romans 7:3 and when by putting her away, he gives to her the excuse of a second marriage, very plainly in this way he makes her an adulteress. But as to whether her being caught in the act of poisoning or committing murder, furnishes any defence of his dismissal of her, you can inquire yourselves; for the husband can also in other ways than by putting her away cause his own wife to commit adultery; as, for example, allowing her to do what she wishes beyond what is fitting, and stooping to friendship with what men she wishes, for often from the simplicity of husbands such false steps happen to wives; but whether there is a ground of defence or not for such husbands in the case of such false steps, you will inquire carefully, and deliver your opinion also in regard to the difficult questions raised by us on the passage. And even he who withholds himself from his wife makes her oftentimes to be an adulteress when he does not satisfy her desires, even though he does so under the appearance of greater gravity and self-control. And perhaps this man is more culpable who, so far as it rests with him, makes her an adulteress when he does not satisfy her desires than he who, for other reason than fornication, has sent her away—for poisoning or murder or any of the most grievous sins. But as a woman is an adulteress, even though she seem to be married to a man, while the former husband is still living, so also the man who seems to marry her who has been put away, does not so much marry her as commit adultery with her according to the declaration of our Saviour.
25. Chastity and Prayer.
Now after these things, having considered how many possible accidents may arise in marriages, which it was necessary for the man to endure and in this way suffer very great hardships, or if he did not endure, to transgress the word of Christ, the disciples say to him, taking refuge in celibacy as easier, and more expedient than marriage, though the latter appears to be expedient, If the case of the man is so with his wife, it is not expedient to marry. Matthew 19:10 And to this the Saviour said, teaching us that absolute chastity is a gift given by God, and not merely the fruit of training, but given by God with prayer, All men cannot receive the saying, but they to whom it is given. Matthew 19:11 Then seeing that some make a sophistical attack on the saying. To whom it is given, as if those who wished to remain pure in celibacy, but were mastered by their desires, had an excuse, we must say that, if we believe the Scriptures, why at all do we lay hold of the saying, But they to whom it is given, but no longer attend to this, Ask and it shall be given you, Matthew 7:7 and to that which is added to it, For every one that asks receives? Matthew 7:8 For if they to whom it is given can receive this saying about absolute purity, let him who wills ask, obeying and believing Him who said, Ask and it shall be given you, Matthew 7:7 and not doubting about the saying, Every one that asks receives. Matthew 7:8 But when there you will inquire who it is that asks, for no one of those who do not receive has asked, even though he seems to have done so, since it is not lawful to say that the saying, Every one that asks receives, is a lie. Who then is he that asks, but he who has obeyed Jesus when He says, If you stand praying, believe that you receive, and you shall receive? Mark 11:24-25 But he that asks must do everything in his power that he may pray with the spirit and pray also with the understanding, 1 Corinthians 14:15 and pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 keeping in mind also the saying, And He spoke a parable unto them to the end that they ought always to pray, and not to faint, saying, There was in a city a judge, Luke 18:1-2 etc. And it is useful to know what it is to ask, and what it is to receive, and what is meant by Every one that asks, receives, Matthew 7:8 and by I say unto you though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity, he will arise and give him as many as he needs. Luke 11:8 It is therefore added, And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you, and so on. Further, let the saying, All men cannot receive the saying but they to whom it is given, Matthew 19:11 be a stimulus to us to ask worthily of receiving; and this, What son is there of you who shall ask his father for a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent, Luke 11:11 etc. God therefore will give the good gift, perfect purity in celibacy and chastity, to those who ask Him with the whole soul, and with faith, and in prayers without ceasing.
The Apocalypse of Peter.
The Apocalypse of Peter.
1. …many of them will be false prophets,[1] and will teach divers ways and doctrines of perdition: but these will become sons of perdition.[2] 3. And then God will come unto my faithful ones who hunger and thirst and are afflicted and purify their souls in this life; and he will judge the sons of lawlessness.[3]
4. And furthermore the Lord said: Let us go into the mountain:[4] Let us pray. 5. And going with him, we, the twelve disciples, begged that he would show us one of our brethren, the righteous who are gone forth out of the world, in order that we might see of what manner of form they are, and having taken courage, might also encourage[5] the men who hear us.
6. And as we prayed, suddenly there appeared two men standing before the Lord towards the East, on whom we were not able to look;[6] 7, for there came forth from their countenance a ray as of the sun, and their raiment was shining, such as eye of man[7] never saw; for no mouth is able to express or heart to conceive the glory with which they were endued, and the beauty of their appearance. 8. And as we looked upon them, we were astounded; for their bodies were whiter than any snow and ruddier than any rose;[8] 9, and the red thereof was mingled with the white, and I am utterly unable to express their beauty; 10, for their hair was curly and bright and seemly both on their face and shoulders, as it were a wreath[9] woven of spikenard and divers-coloured flowers, or like a rainbow in the sky, such was their seemliness.
11. Seeing therefore their beauty we became astounded at them, since they appeared suddenly. 12. And I approached the Lord and said: Who are these? 13. He saith to me: These are your brethren the righteous, whose forms ye desired to see. 14. And I said to him: And where are all the righteous ones and what is the æon in which they are and have this glory?
15. And the Lord showed me[10] a very great country outside of this world, exceeding bright with light, and the air there lighted with the rays of the sun, and the earth itself blooming with unfading flowers and full of spices and plants, fair-flowering and incorruptible and bearing blessed fruit. 16. And so great was the perfume that it[11] was borne thence even unto us. 17. And the dwellers in that place were clad in the raiment of shining angels and their raiment was like unto their country; and angels hovered about them there. 18. And the glory of the dwellers there was equal, and with one voice they sang praises alternately to the Lord God, rejoicing in that place. 19. The Lord saith to us: This is the place of your high-priests,[12] the righteous men.
20. And over against that place I saw another, squalid, and it was the place of punishment; and those who were punished there and the punishing angels had their raiment dark[13] like the air of the place.
21. And there were certain there hanging by the tongue: and these were the blasphemers of the way of righteousness; and under them lay fire,[14] burning and punishing them.
22. And there was a great lake, full of flaming mire, in which were certain men that pervert righteousness,[15] and tormenting angels afflicted them.
23. And there were also others, women, hanged by their hair over that mire that bubbled up: and these were they who adorned themselves for adultery; and the men who mingled with them in the defilement[16] of adultery, were hanging by the feet and their heads in that mire. And I said: I did not believe that I should come into this place.
24. And I saw the murderers and those who conspired with them, cast into a certain strait place, full of evil snakes, and smitten by those beasts, and thus turning to and fro in that punishment; and worms,[17] as it were clouds of darkness, afflicted them. And the souls of the murdered stood and looked upon the punishment of those murderers and said: O God, thy judgment is just.
25. And near that place I saw another strait place into which the gore and the filth of those who were being punished ran down and became there as it were a lake: and there sat women having the gore up to their necks, and over against them sat many children who were born to them out of due time, crying; and there came forth from them sparks of fire and smote the women in the eyes: and these were the accursed who conceived and caused abortion.
26. And other men and women were burning up to the middle and were cast into a dark place and were beaten by evil spirits, and their inwards were eaten by restless worms:[18] and these were they who persecuted the righteous and delivered them up.
27. And near those there were again women and men gnawing their own lips, and being punished and receiving a red-hot iron in their eyes: and these were they who blasphemed and slandered[19] the way of righteousness.
28. And over against these again other men and women gnawing their tongues and having flaming fire in their mouths: and these were the false witnesses.[20]
29. And in a certain other place there were pebbles sharper than swords or any spit, red-hot, and women and men in tattered and filthy raiment rolled about on them in punishment: and these were the rich who trusted in their riches and had no pity for orphans and widows, and despised the commandment[21] of God.
30. And in another great lake, full of pitch and blood and mire bubbling up, there stood men and women up to their knees: and these were the usurers and those who take interest on interest.
31. And other men and women were being hurled down from a great cliff and reached the bottom, and again were driven by those who were set over them to climb up upon the cliff, and thence were hurled down again, and had no rest from this punishment: and these were they who defiled[22] their bodies acting as women; and the women who were with them were those who lay with one another as a man with a woman.
32. And alongside of that cliff there was a place full of much fire, and there stood men who with their own hands had made for themselves carven images instead of God. And alongside of these were other men and women, having rods and striking each other and never ceasing from such punishment.
33. And others again near them, women and men, burning and turning themselves and roasting: and these were they that leaving the way of God[23]…
Fragments of the Apocalypse of Peter.
1. Clemens Alexandrinus, Eclog. 48. For instance, Peter in the Apocalypse says that the children who are born out of due time shall be of the better part: and that these are delivered over to a care-taking angel that they may attain a share of knowledge and gain the better abode [after suffering what they would have suffered if they had been in the body: but the others shall merely obtain salvation as injured beings to whom mercy is shown, and remain without punishment, receiving this as a reward].[1]
2. Clem. Alex. Eclog. 49. But the milk of the women running down from their breasts and congealing shall engender small flesh-eating beasts: and these run up upon them and devour them.[2]
3. Macarius Magnes, Apocritica iv., 6 cf. 16. The earth, it (sc. the Apoc. of Peter) says, “shall present all men before God at the day of judgment, being itself also to be judged, with the heaven also which encompasses it.”
4. Clem. Alex. Eclog. 41. The scripture says that infants that have been exposed are delivered to a care-taking angel, by whom they are educated and so grow up, and they will be, it says, as the faithful of a hundred years old are here.
5. Methodius, Conviv. ii., 6. Whence also we have received in divinely-inspired scriptures that untimely births are delivered to care-taking angels, even if they are the offspring of adultery.
Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume IX/The Apocalypse of the Virgin/The Apocalypse of the Holy Mother of God Concerning the Chastisements
The Apocalypse of the Holy Mother of God Concerning the Chastisements.
I. The all-holy mother of God was about to proceed to the Mount of Olives to pray; and praying to the Lord our God she said: In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; let the archangel Gabriel descend, that he may tell me concerning the chastisements and concerning things in heaven and on the earth and under the earth. And as she said the word the archangel Michael descended with the angels of the East and the West and angels of the South and the North, and they saluted the highly favoured one and said to her: Hail, reflection of the Father, hail dwelling of the Son, hail command of the Holy Spirit, hail firmament of the seven heavens, hail firmament of the eleven strongholds, hail worship of the angels, hail loftier than the prophets unto the throne of God. And the holy mother of God said to the angel: Hail Michael, commander-in-chief, the minister of the invisible Father, hail Michael, commander-in-chief, associate of my Son, hail Michael, commander-in-chief, most dread of the six-winged, hail Michael, commander-in-chief, who rules through all things and art worthy to stand beside the throne of the Lord, hail Michael, commander-in-chief, who art about to sound the trumpet and awaken those who have been asleep for ages: hail Michael, commander-in-chief, first of all unto the throne of God.
II. And having greeted all the angels in like manner, the highly favoured one prayed the commander-in-chief regarding the chastisements, saying: Tell to me all things on the earth. And the commander-in-chief said to her: If thou askest me, highly favoured one, I will tell thee. And the highly favoured one said to him: How many are the chastisements with which the race of man is chastised? And the archangel said to her: The chastisements are innumerable. And the highly favoured one said to him: Tell me the things in heaven and on the earth.
III. Then the commander-in-chief, Michael, commanded the Western angels that revelation should be made, and Hades opened, and she saw those who were chastised[1] in Hades: and there lay there a multitude of men and women, and there was a great lamentation. And the highly favoured one asked the commander-in-chief: Who are these and what is their sin? And the commander-in-chief said: These, all holy, are those who did not worship the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and for this cause they are thus chastised here.
IV. And she saw in another place[2] a great darkness: and the all holy said: What is this darkness and who are they who are being chastised? And the commander-in-chief said: Many souls are lying in this darkness. And the all holy one said: Let this darkness be taken away in order that I may see this chastisement also. And the commander-in-chief said to the highly favoured one: It is not possible, all holy, that thou shouldst see this chastisement also. And the angels guarding them answered and said: We have a command from the invisible Father that they shall not see the light till thy blessed Son shall shine forth. And plunged in grief the all holy lifted up her eyes to the angels touching the undefiled word of the Father, and said: In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit let the darkness be taken away, that I may see this chastisement also. And straightway that darkness was lifted up and covered the seven heavens: and there lay a great multitude of both men and women, and there arose a great lamentation and a great cry began. And seeing them the all holy wept and said to them: What are ye doing, wretched ones? Who are ye? And how are ye found there? and there was no voice or hearkening. And the angels guarding them said: Why do ye not speak to the highly favoured one? And those who were under chastisement said to her: O highly favoured one, from eternity we see not the light, and we are not able to keep off that up there. And splashing pitch flowed down upon them: and seeing them the all holy wept. And again those who were being chastised said to her: How dost thou ask concerning us, holy lady, Mother of God? Thy blessed Son came to The earth and did not make enquiry concerning us, neither Abraham the patriarch, nor John the Baptist, nor Moses the great prophet, nor the Apostle Paul, and unto us their light shone not: and now, all holy Mother of God, the armour of the Christians, the bringer of great comfort on account of the Christians, how dost thou ask concerning us? Then the all holy Mother of God said to Michael, the commander-in-chief: What is their sin? And Michael, the commander-in-chief, said: These are they who did not believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and did not confess thee[3] to be the Mother of God, and that the Lord Jesus Christ was born of thee and took flesh, and for this cause they are chastised there. And again weeping, the all holy Mother of God said to them: Why did ye so greatly err, wretched ones? Did ye not hear that the whole creation names my name? And having said these words the darkness fell over them as it was from the beginning.
V. And the commander-in-chief said: Whither wouldst thou go, highly favoured one? to the West or to the South? And the highly favoured answered: Let us go to the South. And immediately there appeared the cherubim and the seraphim and four hundred angels, and led out the highly favoured one to the South, where came out the river of fire,[4] and there there lay a multitude of men and women, some up to the girdle, others up to the neck, and others up to the crown of the head: and seeing them the all holy Mother of God cried out with a loud voice to the commander-in-chief and said: Who are these, and what is their sin who stand in the fire up to the girdle? And the commander-in-chief said: These, all holy one, are they who inherited the curse of father and mother, and for this cause they are thus chastised here as accursed.
VI. And the all holy one said: And who are these standing in the fire up to the breasts? And the commander-in-chief said: These are whosoever cast off their wives and defiled them in adultery, and for this cause they are thus chastised here.
VII. And the all holy one said to the commander-in-chief: Who are these standing up to the neck in the flame of the fire? And the commander-in-chief said: These, all holy one, are whosoever ate of the flesh of men. And the all holy one said: And how is it possible for one man to eat of the flesh of another? And the commander-in-chief said: Listen, all holy one, and I will tell thee: These are they whosoever brought down their own children out of their own wombs and cast them out[5] as food for dogs, and whosoever gave up their brothers in the presence of kings and governors, these ate the flesh of man, and for this cause they are thus chastised.
VIII. And the all holy one said: Who are these set in the fire up to the crown? And the commander-in-chief said: These, all holy one, are whosoever lay hold of the precious cross and swear to a lie: by the power of the cross of the Lord. The angels tremble and worship with fear, and men lay hold of it and swear to a lie and do not know what they testify: and for this cause they are thus chastised here.
IX. And in another place the all holy one saw a man hung by the feet,[6] and worms devoured him. And she asked the commander-in-chief: Who is this and what is his sin? And the commander-in-chief said: This is he who took usury[7] for his gold, and for this cause he is thus chastised here.
X. And she saw a woman hanging by her two ears, and all the beasts[8] came out of her mouth and gnawed her in pieces: and the highly favoured one asked the commander-in-chief: Who is she, and what is her sin? And the commander-in-chief said: She is she who turned aside into strange houses and those of her neighbours and spoke evil words to make strife, and for that cause she is thus chastised here.
XI. And seeing these things the all holy Mother of God wept and said to the commander-in-chief: It were well for man that he had not been born. And the commander-in-chief said: Verily, all holy one, thou hast not seen the great chastisements. And the all holy one said to the commander-in-chief: Come, Michael, great commander-in-chief, and lead me that I may see all the chastisements. And the commander-in-chief said: Where dost thou wish, all holy one, that we should go? And the highly favoured one answered: To the West: and straightway the cherubim appeared and led the highly favoured to the West.
XII. And she saw a cloud full of fire and in it there was a[9] multitude of men and women. And the all holy one said: What was their sin? And the commander-in-chief said: These, all holy one, are they who on the morning of the Lord’s day sleep like the dead, and for that reason they are thus chastised here. And the all holy one said: If anyone cannot rise, what shall he do? And the commander-in-chief said: Listen, all holy one: if anyone’s house is fastened on the four (sides?) and surrounds him and he cannot come out, he has forgiveness.
XIII. And she saw in another place burning benches of fire and on them sat a multitude of men and women and burned on them. And the all holy one asked: Who are these and what is their sin? And the commander-in-chief said: These, all holy one, are they who do not rise up to the presbyter when they enter into the church of God, and for this cause they are thus chastised here.
XIV. And the all holy one saw in another place an iron tree and it had branches of iron, and on it there hung a multitude of men and women by their tongues.[10] And seeing them the all holy one wept, and asked the commander-in-chief saying: Who are these and what was their sin? And the commander-in-chief said: These are perjurers, blasphemers, slanderers, whosoever divided brothers from brothers. And the all holy one said: How is it possible to divide brothers from brothers? And the commander-in-chief said: Listen, all holy one, and I will tell thee about this: When some from among the nations desired to be baptised, he would say to them one word: Thou foul-feeding, unbelieving Gentile; because he thus blasphemed, he shall receive ceaseless retribution.
XV. And in another place the all holy one saw a man hanging from his four extremities, and from his nails blood gushed vehemently, and his tongue[11] was tied in a flame of fire, and he was unable to groan and say the Kyrie eleïson me. And when she had seen him the all holy one wept and herself said the Kyrie eleïson thrice: and after the saying of the prayer, came the angel who had authority over the scourge and loosed the man’s tongue: and the all holy one asked the commander-in-chief: Who is this wretched one who has this chastisement? And the commander-in-chief said: This, all holy one, is the steward who did not the will of God, but ate the things of the church and said: “He who ministers to the altar shall be nourished from the altar”:[12] and for this cause he is thus chastised here. And the all holy one said: Let it be unto him according to his faith. And again he tied his tongue.
XVI. And Michael, the commander-in-chief said: Come hither, all holy one, and I will show unto thee where the priests are chastised. And the all holy one came out and saw presbyters hanging by their twenty nails, and fire came out of their heads. And seeing them the all holy one asked the commander-in-chief: Who are these and what is their sin? And the commander-in-chief said: These, all holy one, are they who stand beside the throne of God, and when they sang of the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, the pearls fell out, and the awful throne of heaven shook and the footstool of our Lord Jesus Christ trembled, and they did not perceive it: and for this cause they are thus chastised here.
XVII. And the all holy one saw a man and a winged beast having three heads like flames of fire: the two heads were towards his eyes and the third head towards his mouth. And seeing him the all holy one asked the commander-in-chief: Who is this, that he cannot save himself from the mouth of the dragon? And the commander-in-chief said to her: This, all holy one, is the reader who does not practise in his own habits according to what is worthy of the holy Gospel: and for this cause he is thus chastised here.
XVIII. And the commander-in-chief said: Come hither, all holy one, and I will show thee where the angelic and archangelic form is chastised. She proceeded and saw[13] them lying in the fire and the sleepless worm gnawed them: and the all holy one said: Who are these, and what is their sin? And the commander-in-chief said: These, all holy one, are they who possessed the archangelic and apostolic form: hearken, all holy one, concerning this: on earth they were called patriarchs and bishops, and they were not worthy of their name: on earth they heard ‘Bless (the Lord) ye saints,’ and in heaven they were not called saints, because they did not act as bearers of the archangelic form: and for this cause they are thus chastised here.
XIX. And she saw women hanging by their nails, and a flame of fire came out of their mouth and burned them: and all the beasts[14] coming out of the fire gnawed them to pieces, and groaning they cried out: Have pity on us, have pity, for we are chastised worse than all those who are under chastisement. And seeing them the all holy one wept, and asked the commander-in-chief, Michael: Who are these and what is their sin? And the commander-in-chief said: These are the wives of presbyters who did not honour the presbyters, but after the death of the presbyter took husbands, and for this cause they are thus chastised here.
XX. And the all holy one saw after the same manner also a deaconess hanging from a crag and a beast with two heads devoured her breasts. And the all holy one asked: What is her sin? And the commander-in-chief said: She, all holy one, is an archdeaconess who defiled her body in fornication, and for this cause she is thus chastised here.
XXI. And she saw other women hanging over the fire, and all the beasts devoured them. And the all holy one asked the commander-in-chief: Who are these and what is their sin? And he said: These are they who did not do the will of God, lovers of money and those who took interest[15] on accounts, and the immodest.
XXII. And when she had heard these things the all holy one wept and said: Woe unto sinners. And the commander-in-chief said: Why dost thou lament, all holy one? Now verily thou hast not seen the great chastisements. And the highly favoured one said: Come, Michael, the great commander-in-chief of the powers above, tell me how I may see all the chastisements. And the commander-in-chief said: Where dost thou wish that we should go, all holy one? to the East or towards the left parts of Paradise? And the all holy one said: To the left parts of Paradise.
XXIII. And immediately when she had spoken, the cherubim and seraphim stood beside her and led the highly favoured one out to the left parts of Paradise. And behold, there was a great river, and the appearance of the river was blacker than pitch, and in it there were a multitude[16] of men and women: it boiled like a furnace of forges, and its waves were like a wild sea over the sinners: and when the waves rose, they sank the sinners ten thousand cubits and they were unable to keep it off and say: Have mercy on us, thou just judge: for the sleepless worm devoured them, and there was no reckoning of the number of those who devoured them. And seeing the all holy Mother of God the angels[17] who chastised them cried out with one voice: Holy is God who has compassion on account of the Mother of God: we give thee thanks, O Son of God, that from eternity we did not see the light, and to-day through the Mother of God we have seen the light: and again they shouted with one voice, saying: Hail, highly favoured Mother of God: Hail, lamp of the inaccessible light: Hail to thee also, Michael, the commander-in-chief, thou that art ambassador from the whole creation: for we, seeing the chastisement of sinners are greatly grieved. And the all holy one, when she saw the angels humbled on account of the sinners, lamented and said: Woe to sinners and their neighbours. And the all holy one said: Let us see the sinners. And the highly favoured one, coming with the archangel Michael and all the armies of the angels lifted up one voice saying: Lord have mercy. And after the making of the prayer earnestly, the wave of the river rested and the fiery waves grew calm, and the sinners appeared as a grain of mustard-seed: and seeing them the all holy one lamented and said: What is this river, and what are its waves? And the commander-in-chief said: This river is the outer fire, and those who are being tortured are the Jews who crucified our Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God, and who refused holy baptism, and those who commit fornication and sin against the sweet and passionless perfume of marriage, and he who debauches mother and daughter, and the poisoners and those who slay with the sword, and the women who strangle their offspring. And the all holy one said: According to their faith so be it unto them. And straightway the waves rose over the sinners and the darkness covered them. And the commander-in-chief said: Hearken, thou highly favoured one: if anyone shall be cast into this darkness,[18] his remembrance shall never be in the sight of God. And the all holy Mother of God said: Woe to sinners, because the flame of the fire is everlasting.
XXIV. And the commander-in-chief said: Come hither, all holy one, and I will show unto thee the lake of fire: and see thou where the race of the Christians is chastised.[19] And the all holy one proceeded and saw: and some she heard, but others she did not see: and she asked the commander-in-chief: Who are these, and what is their sin? And the commander-in-chief said: These, all holy one, are those who were baptised and arrayed under the oracle of Christ, but worked the works of the devil and wasted the time of their repentance: and for this cause they are thus chastised here.
XXV. And she said: I pray, one request will I make of thee, let me also be chastised with the Christians, because they are the children of my son. And the commander-in-chief said: Rest thou in Paradise, holy lady, Mother of God. And the all holy one said: I pray thee, move the fourteen firmaments and the seven heavens, and let us pray for the Christians that the Lord our God may hearken unto us and have mercy on them.[20] And the commander-in-chief said: As the Lord God liveth, the great name, seven times a day and seven times a night, when we lead up the hymn of the Lord, we make remembrance for the sake of sinners, and the Lord accounts us as naught.
XXVI. And the all holy one said: I pray thee, commander-in-chief, command the armies of the angels and let them place me on the height of heaven and let me into the presence of the invisible Father. And immediately the commander-in-chief commanded, and the chariot of the cherubim and seraphim appeared, and they exalted the highly favoured one to the height of heaven and placed her in the presence of the invisible Father: And she stretched forth her hands to the undefiled throne of the Father and said: Have mercy, O Lord, on the Christian sinners, for I saw them being chastised and I cannot bear their complaint. Let me go forth and be chastised myself for the Christians. I do not pray, O Lord, for the unbelieving Jews, but for the Christians I entreat thy compassion. And there came a second voice from the invisible Father saying: How can I have mercy on them, when they did not have mercy on their own brothers?[21] And the all holy one said: Lord, have mercy on the sinners: behold the chastisements, for every creature on the earth calls upon my name: and when the soul comes forth out of the body, it cries saying, “Holy Lady, Mother of God.” Then the Lord said to her: Hearken, all holy Mother of God, if anyone names and calls upon thy name, I will not forsake him, either in heaven or on earth.
XXVII. And the all holy one said: Where is Moses? Where are all the prophets and fathers who never sinned? Where art thou, holy Paul of God? where is the holy Lord’s Day, the boast of the Christians? where is the power of the precious and life-giving cross, which delivered Adam and Eve from the ancient curse? Then Michael and all the angels raised one voice saying: Lord, have mercy on the sinners. Then Moses also cried: Have mercy, Lord, on those to whom I gave thy law. Then John also called: Have mercy, Lord, on those to whom I gave thy Gospel. Then Paul cried: Have mercy, Lord, on those to whom I brought thy epistles in the Church. And the Lord God said: Hearken, all ye righteous: if according to the law which Moses gave, and according to the Gospel which John gave, and according to the epistles which Paul carried, they thus be judged. And they had nothing to say except, Have mercy, O just judge.
XXVIII. And the all holy Mother of God said: Have mercy, Lord, on the Christians, because they kept thy law and gave heed to thy gospel, but they were simple ones. Then the Lord said to her: Hearken, all holy one: if anyone did evil to them and they did not requite him the evil, thou sayest well that they attended to both my law and my gospel, but if he did not do them wrong and they requited him evil, how may I say that these are holy men? now they shall be rewarded according to their wrongdoing. Then all hearing the voice of the Lord had nothing to answer; and the all holy one, when she saw that the saints were at a loss, and their Lord did not hear, and his mercy was hidden from them, then the all holy one said: Where is Gabriel, who announced unto me the “Hail, thou that from eternity shalt conceive him who is without beginning like the Father,” and now does not look upon sinners? Where is the great commander-in-chief? come hither, all ye saints whom God justified, and let us fall down in the presence of the invisible Father, in order that the Lord God may hear us, and have mercy on sinners. Then Michael, the commander-in-chief, and all the saints fell on their faces in the presence of the invisible Father, saying: Have mercy, Lord, on the Christian sinners.
XXIX. Then the Lord, seeing the prayer of the saints, had compassion and said: Go down, my beloved son, and because of the prayer of the saints let thy face shine on earth to sinners. Then the Lord came down from his undefiled throne: and when they saw Him, those who were under chastisement raised one voice saying: Have mercy on us, King of ages. Then the Lord of all things said: Hearken, all ye sinners and righteous men: I made paradise and made man after my image: but he transgressed, and for his own sins was delivered to death: but I did not suffer the works of my hands to be tyrannized over by the serpent: wherefore I bowed the heavens and came down and was born of Mary, the holy undefiled Mother of God, that I might set you free: I was baptised in Jordan in order that I might save the creature (nature) which had grown old under sin: I was nailed to the cross[22] to free you from the ancient curse: I asked for water and ye gave me vinegar mingled with gall: I was laid in the grave: I trampled on the enemy: I raised up mine elect, and even thus ye would not hear me. But now, because[23] of the prayer of my mother Mary, because she has wept much for your sake, and because of Michael my archangel, and because of the multitude of my saints, I grant you to have rest on the day of Pentecost to glorify the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
XXX. Then all the angels and archangels, thrones, lordships, authorities, governments, powers, and the many-eyed cherubim and the six-winged seraphim and all the apostles and prophets and martyrs and all the saints raised one voice, saying: Glory to thee, O Lord: glory to thee, lover of men: glory to thee, King of ages: glory be to thy compassion: glory be to thy long suffering: glory be to thy unspeakable justice of judgment, because thou hast been long-suffering with sinners and impious men: Thine is it to pity and to save. To him be the glory and the power to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume IX/The Apocalypse of Sedrach/The Apocalypse of Sedrach
The Apocalypse of Sedrach.
The Word of the holy and blessed Sedrach concerning love and concerning repentance and Orthodox Christians, and concerning the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Lord give thy blessing.
I. Beloved, let us prefer nothing in honour except sincere love: for in many things we stumble every day and night and hour. And for this cause let us gain love, for it covereth a multitude of sins: for what is the profit, my children, if we have all things, and have not saving love…
O blessed love, supplier of all good things. Blessed is the man who has gained the true faith and sincere love, according as the Master said, there is no greater love than this that a man should lay down his life for his friend. Cf. John xv. 13.
II. And invisibly he received a voice in his ears: Come hither, Sedrach, since thou wishest and desirest to converse with God and ask of him that he may reveal unto thee whatever thou wishest to ask. And Sedrach said: What, Sir? And the voice said to him: I was sent to thee to raise thee here into heaven. And he said: I desired to speak mouth to mouth with God: I am not fit, Sir, to come into heaven. And stretching out his wings he took him up and he came into heaven to the very flame, and he set him as high as the third heaven, and in it stood the flame of the divinity.
III. And the Lord saith to him: Welcome, my beloved Sedrach: What suit hast thou against God who created thee, that thou saidst, I desired to speak face to face with God? Sedrach saith to him:[1] Yea, verily, the son hath a suit with the Father: my Lord, why didst thou make the earth? The Lord saith to him: For man’s sake. Sedrach saith: And why didst Thou make the sea? Why didst Thou scatter every good thing on the earth? The Lord saith to him: For man’s sake. Sedrach saith to him:[2] If thou didst these things,[3] why wilt Thou destroy him? And the Lord said: Man is my work and the creature of my hands, and I discipline him as I find good.
IV. Sedrach saith to him: Chastisement and fire are thy discipline: they are bitter, my Lord:[4] it were well for man if he had not been born: why then didst thou make him, my Lord? Why didst thou weary thine undefiled hands[5] and create man, since thou didst not intend to have mercy on him? God saith to him: I made Adam the first creature and placed him in Paradise in the midst of the tree of life and said to him: Eat of all the fruits, but beware of the tree of life: for if thou eat of it, thou shalt die the death. But he transgressed my commandment, and being beguiled by the devil ate of the tree.
V. Sedrach saith to him: Of thy will Adam was beguiled, my Lord: Thou commandest thine[6] angels to make approach to Adam, and the first of the angels himself transgressed thy commandment and did not make approach to him, and Thou didst banish him, because he transgressed thy commandment and did not make any approach to the work of thine hands: if thou lovedst man, why didst Thou not slay the devil, the worker of unrighteousness? Who is able to fight an invisible spirit? And he as a smoke enters into the hearts of men and teaches them every sin: he fights against thee, the immortal God, and what can wretched man then do to him? But have mercy, O Lord, and stop the chastisements: but if not, count me also with the sinners: if thou wilt have no mercy on the sinners, where are thy mercies, where is thy[7] compassion, O Lord?
VI. God saith to him: Be it known unto thee that I ordered all things to be placable to him: I gave him understanding and made him the heir of heaven and earth, and I subjected all things to him, and every living thing flees from him and from before his face: but he, having received of mine, became alien, adulterous, and sinful: tell me, what father, having given his son his portion, when he takes his substance and leaves his father and goes away and becomes an alien and serves an alien, when the father sees that the son has deserted him, does not darken his heart, and does not the father go and take his substance and banish him from his glory because he deserted his father? And how have I, the wonderful and jealous God, given him everything, and he having received these things has become an adulterer and a sinner?
VII. Sedrach saith to him: Thou, O Lord, didst create man. Thou knewest of what sort of mind he was and of what sort of knowledge we are, and thou makest it a cause for chastisement: but cast him forth; for shall not I alone fill up the heavenly places? But if that is not to be so save man too, O Lord. He failed by thy will, wretched man. Why dost thou waste words on me, Sedrach? I created Adam and his wife and the sun and said: Behold each other how bright he is, and the wife of Adam is brighter in the beauty of the moon and he was the giver of her life.[8] Sedrach saith: but of what profit are beauties if they die away into the earth? How didst thou say, O Lord, Thou shalt not return evil for evil? How is it, O Lord? the word of Thy divinity never lies, and why dost Thou retaliate on man? or dost thou not in so doing render evil for evil? I know that among the quadrupeds there is no other so wily and unreasonable as the mule. But we strike it with the bridle when we wish: and thou hast angels: send them forth to guard them, and when man inclines towards sin, to take hold of his foot and not let him go whither he would.
VIII. God saith to him: If I catch him by the foot, he will say, Thou hast given me no joy in the world. But I have left him to his own will because I loved him. Wherefore I sent forth my righteous angels to guard him night and day. Sedrach saith:[9] I know, O Lord, that of all thy creatures Thou chiefly lovedst man, of the quadrupeds the sheep, of woods the olive, of fruits the vine, of flying things the bee, of rivers the Jordan, of cities Jerusalem. And all these man also loves, my Lord. God saith to Sedrach: I will ask thee one thing, Sedrach: if thou answerest me, then I may fitly help thee, even though thou hast tempted thy creator. Sedrach saith: Speak.[10] The Lord God saith: Since I made all things, how many men were born and how many died, and how many are to die and how many hairs have they? Tell me, Sedrach,[11] since the heaven was created and the earth, how many trees grew in the world, and how many fell, and how many are to fall, and how many are to arise, and how many leaves have they? Tell me, Sedrach, since I made the sea, how many waves arose and how many fell, and how many are to arise, and how many winds blow along the margin of the sea? Tell me, Sedrach, from the creation of the world of the æons, when the air rained, how many drops fell upon the world, and how many are to fall? And Sedrach said: Thou alone knowest all these things, O Lord; thou only understandest all these things: only, I pray thee, deliver man from chastisement, and I shall not be separated from our race.
IX. And God said to his only begotten Son: Go,[12] take the soul of Sedrach my beloved, and place it in Paradise. The only begotten Son saith to Sedrach: Give me the trust which our Father deposited in the womb of thy mother in the holy tabernacle of thy body from a child. Sedrach saith: I will not give thee my soul. God saith to him: And wherefore was I sent to come hither, and thou pleadest against me? For I was commanded by my Father not to take thy soul with violence; but if not, (then) give me thy most greatly desired soul.
X. And Sedrach saith to God: And whence dost Thou intend to take my soul, and from which limb? And God saith to him: Dost thou not know that it is placed in the midst of thy lungs and thy heart and is dispersed into all thy limbs? It is brought up through the throat and gullet and the mouth and at whatever hour it is predestined to come forth, it is scattered, and brought together from the points of the nails and from all the limbs, and there is a great necessity that it should be separated from the body and parted from the heart. When Sedrach had heard all these things and had considered the memory of death he was greatly astounded, and Sedrach said to God: O Lord, give me a little respite that I may weep, for I have heard that tears are able to do much and much remedy comes to the lowly body of thy creature.
XI. And weeping and bewailing he began to say: O marvellous head of heavenly adornment: O radiant as the sun which shines on heaven and earth: thy hairs are known from Teman, thine eyes from Bosor, thine ears from thunder, thy tongue from a trumpet, and thy brain is a small creation, thy head the energy of the whole body: O friendly and most fair beloved by all, and now falling into the earth it must become forgotten. O hands, mild, fair-fingered, worn with toil by which the body is nourished: O hands, deftest of all, heaping up from all quarters ye made ready houses. O fingers adorned and decked with gold and silver (rings): and great worlds are led by the fingers: the three joints enfold the palms, and heap up beautiful things: and now ye must become aliens to the world. O feet, skilfully walking about, self-running, most swift, unconquerable: O knees, fitted together, because without you the body does not move: the feet run along with the sun and the moon in the night and in the day, heaping up all things, foods and drinks, and nourishing the body: O feet, most swift and fair runners, moving on the face of the earth, getting ready the house with every good thing: O feet which bear up the whole body, that run up to the temples, making repentance and calling on the saints, and now ye are to remain motionless. O head and hands and feet, until now I have kept you. O soul, what sent thee into the humble and wretched body? and now being separated from it, thou art going up where the Lord calleth thee, and the wretched body goes away to judgment. O body well-adorned, hair clothed with stars, head of heavenly adornment and dress: O face well-anointed, light-bringing eyes, voice trumpet-like, tongue placable, chin fairly adorned, hairs like the stars, head high as heaven, body decked out, light-bringing eyes that know all things—and now you shall fall into the earth and under the earth your beauty shall disappear.
XII. Christ saith to him: Stay, Sedrach; how long dost thou weep and groan? Paradise is opened to thee, and, dying, thou shalt live. Sedrach saith to him: Once more I will speak unto thee, O Lord: How long shall I live before I die? and do not disregard my prayer. The Lord saith to him: Speak, O Sedrach. Sedrach saith: If a man shall live eighty or ninety or an hundred years, and live these years in sin, and again shall turn, and the man live in repentance, in how many days dost thou forgive him his sins? God saith to him: If he shall live an hundred or eighty years and shall turn and repent for three years and do the fruit of righteousness, and death shall overtake him, I will not remember all his sins.
XIII. Sedrach saith to him: The three years are a long time, my Lord, lest death overtake him and he fulfil not his repentance: have mercy, Lord, on thine image and have compassion, for the three years are many. God saith to him: If a man live an hundred years and remember his death and confess before men and I find him, after a time I will forgive all his sins. Sedrach saith again: I will again beseech thy compassion for thy creature. The time is long lest death overtake him and snatch him suddenly. The Saviour saith to him: I will ask thee one word, Sedrach, my beloved, then thou shalt ask me in turn: if the man shall repent for forty days I will not remember all his sins which he did.
XIV. And Sedrach saith[13] to the archangel Michael: Hearken to me, O powerful chief, and help thou me and be my envoy that God may have mercy on the world. And falling on their faces, they besought the Lord and said: O Lord, teach us how and by what sort of repentance and by what labour man shall be saved. God saith: By repentances, by intercessions, by liturgies, by tears in streams, in hot groanings. Dost thou not know that my prophet David was saved by tears, and the rest were saved in one moment? Thou knowest, Sedrach, that there are nations which have not the law and which do the works of the law: for if they are unbaptized and my divine spirit come unto them and they turn to my baptism, I also receive them with my righteous ones into Abraham’s bosom. And there are some who have been baptized with my baptism and who have shared in my divine part and become reprobate in complete reprobation and will not repent: and I suffer them with much compassion and much pity and wealth[14] in order that they may repent, but they do the things which my divinity hates, and did not hearken to the wise man asking (them), saying, we by no means justify a sinner. Dost thou not most certainly know that it is written: And those who repent never see chastisement? And they did not hearken to the Apostles or to my word in the Gospels, and they grieve my angels, and verily they do not attend to my messenger in the assemblies (for communion) and in my services, and they do not stand in my holy churches, but they stand and do not fall down and worship in fear and trembling, but boast things which I do not accept, or my holy angels.
XV. Sedrach saith to God: O Lord, Thou alone art sinless and very compassionate, having compassion and pity for sinners, but thy divinity said: I am not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. And the Lord said to Sedrach: Dost thou not know, Sedrach, that the thief was saved in one moment to repent? Dost thou not know that my apostle and evangelist was saved in one moment? “Peccatores enim non salvantur,” for their hearts are like rotten stone: these are they who walk in impious ways and who shall be destroyed with Antichrist. Sedrach saith: O my Lord, Thou also saidst: My divine spirit entered into the nations which, not having the law, do the things of the law. So also the thief and the apostle and evangelist and the rest of those who have already got into thy Kingdom. O my Lord; so likewise do Thou pardon those who have sinned to the last: for life is very toilsome and there is no time for repentance.
XVI. The Lord saith to Sedrach: I made man in three stages: when he is young, I overlooked his stumblings as he was young: and again when he was a man I considered his purpose: and again when he grows old, I watch him till he repent. Sedrach saith: O Lord, Thou knowest and understandest all these things: but have sympathy for sinners. The Lord saith to him: Sedrach, my beloved, I promise to have sympathy and bring down the forty days to twenty: and whosoever shall remember thy name shall not see the place of chastisement, but shall be with the just in a place of refreshment and rest: and if anyone shall record this wonderful word his sins shall not be reckoned against him for ever and ever.[15] And Sedrach saith: O Lord, and if anyone shall bring enlightenment to thy servant, save him, O Lord, from all evil. And Sedrach, the servant of the Lord, saith: Now take my soul, O Lord. And God took him and placed him in Paradise with all the saints. To whom be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

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