Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew

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Translated by John Patrick, D.D.

Text edited by Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson and first published by T&T Clark in Edinburgh in 1867. Additional introductionary material and notes provided for the American edition by A. Cleveland Coxe, 1886.


According to Eusebius (H. E. vi. 36) the Commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew were written about the same time as the Contra Celsum, when Origen was over sixty years of age, and may therefore be probably assigned to the period 246-248. This statement is confirmed by internal evidence. In the portion here translated, books x.-xiv., he passes by the verses Matt. xviii. 12, 13, and refers for the exposition of them to his Homilies on Luke (book xiii. 29). Elsewhere, he refers his readers for a fuller discussion on certain points to his Commentaries on John (book xvi. 20), and on Romans (book xvii. 32). Of the twenty-five books into which the work was divided, the first nine, with the exception of two fragments, are lost; books x.-xvii., covering the portion from Matt. xiii. 36 to xxii. 33, are extant in the Greek, and the greater part of the remaining books survives in a Latin version, which is co-extensive with the Greek from book xii. 9 to book xvii. 36, and contains further the exposition from Matt. xxii. 34 to xxvii. 66. The passages in Cramer's Catena do not seem to be taken from the Commentaries. Of the numerous quotations from Matthew only one (Matt. xxi. 35) can be definitely traced to this section of the writings of Origen; and as this differs greatly from our present text, and is moreover purely narrative, it is probably taken like the others either from the Scholia (commaticum interpretationis genus), or from the Homilies to which reference is made by Jerome (Prol. in Matt. I. iv). The majority of them may be ascribed to the Scholia.

In addition to the mss. already referred to (p. 292) the old Latin version is often useful for determining the text, though it contains some interpolations and has many omissions. The omissions (cf. book xiii. 28, book xiv. 1, 3, book xiv. 19-22) are not due to any dogmatic bias, but have been made by the translator or some subsequent transcriber on the ground that the passages were uninteresting or unimportant. The version is otherwise for the most part literal, and has in some cases preserved the correct reading, though it often fails just when it would have been of most service. For an estimate of the work and method of Origen as an exegete, see pp. 290-292; and for a fuller statement on some of the points here touched upon, see Westcott's article on Origen in Smith's Dictionary of Christian Biography (vol. iv.).

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From the First Book of the Commentary on Matthew. [5150]

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." [5151]And third, was that according to Luke, the Gospel commended by [5152] Paul, which he composed for the converts from the Gentiles. Last of all, that according to John.


[5150] This fragment is found in Eusebius, H.E. vi. 25. [5151] 1 Pet. v. 13. [5152] Or, who is commended by Paul.


From the Second Book of the Commentary on the Gospel According to Matthew.


Book II. [5153]

The Unity and Harmony of Scripture.

"Blessed are the peacemakers...." [5154]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. [5155]And because to such an one there is nothing crooked or perverse, he sees therefore abundance of peace [5156] 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;" [5157] 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 [5158] 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. [5159]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.


[5153] This fragment, which is preserved in the Philocalia, c. vi., is all that is extant of Book II. [5154] Matt. v. 9. [5155] Prov. viii. 8, 9. [5156] Ps. lxxii. 7. [5157] Ecc. xii. 11. [5158] Or, fitted. [5159] 1 Sam. xvi. 14.


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." [5160]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." [5161]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." [5162]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; [5163] 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.


[5160] Matt. xiii. 36. [5161] John i. 35. [5162] John i. 40. [5163] Or, by a dispensation.

2. Exposition of the Parable.

"After these things He answered and said to them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man." [5164]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, [5165] 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 ye enter not into temptation," [5166] 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," [5167] 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." [5168]Wherefore, also, in the Psalms it is said, "They gnashed upon me with their teeth." [5169]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." [5170]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 hath ears to hear, let him hear," [5171] 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, [5172] that even the things connected with the interpretation of the parable stand in need of explanation.


[5164] Matt. xiii. 37. [5165] John i. 2. [5166] Matt. xxvi. 41. [5167] Matt. xiii. 39. Or, reading hos kaleitai for ho, and at the end of things, there will of necessity be a harvest, which is called the consummation of the age. [5168] Matt. xiii. 42. [5169] Ps. xxxv. 16. [5170] Matt. xiii. 43. [5171] Matt. xiii. 43. [5172] Or, in little details.

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." [5173]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 differeth from another star in glory: so also is the resurrection of the dead," [5174] 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," [5175] can be written "upon the table of the heart," [5176] 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," [5177] and all become one sun. Then shall they shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.


[5173] Dan. xii. 3. [5174] 1 Cor. xv. 41, 42. [5175] Matt. v. 16. [5176] Prov. vii. 3. Or, on the breadth of the heart. [5177] Eph. iv. 13.

4. Concerning the Parable of the Treasure Hidden in the Field. The Parable Distinguished from the Similitude.

"Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid." [5178]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" [5179] 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 "spake all these things in parables, and without a parable spake nothing to them," [5180] 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," [5181] 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?" [5182]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" [5183] is the highest genus of many species, as, for example, of "disinclination" [5184] 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."


[5178] Matt. xiii. 44. [5179] 1 Tim. iv. 13. [5180] Matt. xiii. 34. [5181] Matt. xiii. 11. [5182] Mark iv. 30. [5183] horme; also inclination. [5184] aphorme.

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." [5185]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.


[5185] Col. ii. 3.

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. [5186]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," [5187] --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.


[5186] Rom. iii. 2. [5187] Matt. xxi. 43.

7. The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price. The Formation and Difference of Pearls.

"Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a merchant seeking goodly pearls." [5188]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. [5189]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.


[5188] Matt. xiii. 45. [5189] Cf.Pliny, Nat. Hist. ix. 54, etc.

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 unto a man that is a merchant seeking goodly pearls;" [5190] 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." [5191]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;" [5192] 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." [5193]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.


[5190] Matt. xiii. 45. [5191] Matt. vii. 6. [5192] Matt. v. 1. [5193] Matt. vii. 6.

9. Christ the Pearl of Great Price.

Now you will connect with the man seeking goodly pearls the saying, "Seek and ye shall find," [5194] and this--"Every one that seeketh findeth." [5195]For what seek ye? Or what does every one that seeketh 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;" [5196] 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." [5197]But "that which hath been made glorious hath not been made glorious in this respect by reason of the glory that surpasseth;" [5198] and there is need to us first of the glory which admits of being done away, for the sake of the glory which surpasseth; as there is need of the knowledge which is in part, which will be done away when that which is perfect comes. [5199]Every soul, therefore, which comes to childhood, and is on the way to full growth, until the fulness 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, [5200] 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," [5201] 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 [5202] 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. [5203]


[5194] Matt. vii. 7. [5195] Matt. vii. 8. [5196] Phil. iii. 8. [5197] Matt. iii. 17. [5198] 2 Cor. iii. 10. [5199] 1 Cor. xiii. 9, 10. [5200] Cf. Gal. iv. 1, 2. [5201] Phil. iii. 8. [5202] Or, absolutely. [5203] Luke xiii. 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," [5204] 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. [5204] Eccles. iii. 1.


11. The Parable of the Drag-Net.

"Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea." [5205]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 unto a net that was cast into the sea," not (as supposed by some, [5206] 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," [5207] when, also, "God made great sea-monsters and every soul of creeping creatures which the waters brought forth according to their kinds." [5208]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 worketh 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 hath done," etc., down to the words, "that he turn from his wicked way and live;" [5209] 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 hath sinned in them shall he die." [5210]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.


[5205] Matt. xiii. 47. [5206] Valentinus and his followers. [5207] Gen. i. 20. [5208] Gen. i. 21. [5209] Ezek. xviii. 20-23. [5210] Ezek. xviii. 24.

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, [5211] " 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." [5212]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 unto 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," [5213] 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 "fulness 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." [5214]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." [5215]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."


[5211] Matt. xiii. 47. [5212] Matt. v. 17. [5213] Matt. iv. 11. [5214] Matt. xiii. 49, 50. [5215] Matt. xiii. 42.

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," [5216] where it is not said "all" angels. And we know also this--"We shall judge angels" [5217] 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 is become to me all mixed with brass and iron," etc., down to the words, "And ye shall know that I the Lord have poured My fury upon you." [5218]


[5216] 1 Pet. i. 12. [5217] 1 Cor. vi. 3. [5218] Ezek. xviii. 17-22.

14. The Disciples as Scribes.

"Have ye understood all these things? They say, Yea." [5219]Christ Jesus, who knows the things in the hearts of men, [5220] 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 beareth with the manners of his son, makes inquiry, as--"Adam, where art thou?" [5221] and, "Where is Abel thy brother?" [5222]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; [5223] 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." [5224]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 [5225] 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," [5226] 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," [5227] 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," [5228] 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 [5229] 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," [5230] 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," [5231] has not His home in a soul, the kingdom of heaven is not in it, but when any one becomes nigh to admission of the Word, to him the kingdom of heaven is nigh. But if the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God are the same thing in reality, [5232] if not in idea, manifestly to those to whom it is said, "The kingdom of God is within you," [5233] 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." [5234]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 doth consume, nor thieves break through. [5235]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 woundeth the heart of man." [5236]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," [5237] --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." [5238]And so neither can thieves in regard to whom the Saviour said, "All that came before Me are thieves and robbers," [5239] 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," [5240] and, "Our citizenship is in heaven." [5241]


[5219] Matt. xiii. 51. [5220] John ii. 25. [5221] Gen. iii. 9. [5222] Gen. iv. 9. [5223] Matt. xiii. 52. [5224] Acts iv. 13. [5225] Or, anagogical. [5226] Matt. xxiii. 13. [5227] Gal. iv. 24. [5228] Eph. vi. 12. [5229] Or, in an exalted sense. [5230] Matt. iii. 2. [5231] John i. 1, 2. [5232] Or, substance. [5233] Luke xvii. 21. [5234] 2 Cor. iii. 16, 17. [5235] Matt. vi. 20. [5236] Prov. xxv. 20. [5237] Matt. vi. 21. [5238] Ps. xxvii. 3. [5239] John x. 8. [5240] Eph. ii. 6. [5241] Phil. iii. 20.

15. The Householder and His Treasury.

Now since "every scribe who has been made a disciple to the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder who bringeth forth out of his treasury things new and old," [5242] 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," [5243] and by "meditating in the law of the Lord day and night," [5244] 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," [5245] 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 [5246] 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 twain the Godhead and cut off the New from the Old, [5247] 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, [5248] and old things, things "written and engraven on stones," [5249] 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 unto 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 ye imitators of me even as I also of Christ." [5250]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 ye shall eat old things, and the old things of the old, and ye shall bring forth the old from before the new; and I will set my tabernacle among you." [5251]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." [5252]


[5242] Matt. xiii. 52. [5243] 1 Tim. iv. 13. [5244] Ps. i. 2. [5245] Heb. x. 1. [5246] Matt. xviii. 16. [5247] Marcion and his school. [5248] 2 Cor. iv. 16. [5249] 2 Cor. iii. 7. [5250] 1 Cor. xi. 1. [5251] Lev. xxvi. 10, 11. [5252] Lev. xxvi. 12; 2 Cor. vi. 16.

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." [5253]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," [5254] 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." [5255]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," [5256] 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." [5257]And if anyone thinks of Jesus Christ, "a stumbling-block to the Jews," [5258] 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," [5259] the Gentiles, He is held in honour. But what things He taught and spake 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.


[5253] Matt. xiii. 53, 54. [5254] Matt. xiii. 11. [5255] Mark vi. 1. [5256] Matt. ii. 23. [5257] Matt. xiii. 57. [5258] 1 Cor. i. 23. [5259] Eph. ii. 12.

17. The Brethren of Jesus.

And the saying, "Whence hath this man this wisdom," [5260] 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." [5261]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?" [5262]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?" [5263]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, [5264] as it is entitled, or "The Book of James," [5265] 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 thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee," [5266] 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." [5267] 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. [5268]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." [5269]With regard to Joseph and Simon we have nothing to tell; but the saying, "And His sisters are they not all with us," [5270] 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 knoweth this man letters having never learned?" [5271] 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.


[5260] Matt. xiii. 54. [5261] Matt. xii. 42. [5262] Matt. xiii. 55. [5263] Matt. xiii. 55, 56. [5264] The Gospel of Peter, of which a fragment was recovered in 1886 and published in 1892. [5265] Protevangelium Jacobi, c. 9. [5266] Luke i. 35. [5267] Gal. i. 19. [5268] Jos. Ant. xviii. 4. [5269] Jude 1. [5270] Matt. xiii. 56. [5271] John vii. 15.

18. Prophets in Their Country.

"But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country." [5272]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?" [5273]And by Paul in the First Epistle to the Thessalonians like things are said: "For ye brethren became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judæa in Christ Jesus, for ye 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 drave out us, and please not God, and are contrary to all men." [5274]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. [5275]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." [5276]And again, elsewhere, "I was continually being mocked." [5277]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, [5278] let him believe what is written thus in the Epistle to the Hebrews, "They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were tempted;" [5279] 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," [5280] 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; [5281] "For all that will to live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." [5282]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," [5283] and, "Ye shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judæa and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." [5284]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," [5285] 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." [5286]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.


[5272] Matt. xiii. 57. [5273] Acts vii. 52. [5274] 1 Thess. ii. 14, 15. [5275] John v. 46. [5276] Jer. xx. 9. [5277] Jer. xx. 7. [5278] Probably the Ascensio Isaiæ. Cf. Orig. Ep. ad Afric. c. 9. [5279] Heb. xi. 37. [5280] Matt. xxiii. 35. Cf. Orig. Ep. ad Afric. c. 9. [5281] Heb. xi. 37. [5282] 2 Tim. iii. 12. [5283] Matt. xxviii. 19. [5284] Acts i. 8. [5285] Joel ii. 28. [5286] Luke vi. 23.

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." [5287]We are taught by these things that powers were found in those who believed, since "to every one that hath shall be given and he shall have abundance," [5288] but among unbelievers not only did the powers not work, but as Mark wrote, "They could not work." [5289]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." [5290]And to Peter, when he began to sink, it was said, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" [5291]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." [5292] 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 ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove." [5293]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. [5294]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," [5295] 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;" [5296] 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 Thee be wanting, he will be reckoned as nothing;" [5297] 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 Thee 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 Thee 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," [5298] 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.


[5287] Matt. xiii. 58. [5288] Matt. xiii. 12. [5289] Matt. xvii. 19, 20. [5290] Matt. xiv. 31. [5291] Luke viii. 45, 46. [5292] Matt. xvii. 20. [5293] Matt. xiii. 58. [5294] Mark vi. 5. [5295] Mark vi. 5. [5296] Gen. i. 11. [5297] Wisdom of Solomon ix. 6. [5298] Jer. ix. 23.

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." [5299]In Mark [5300] it is the same, and also in Luke. [5301]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 [5302] 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?" [5303]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," [5304] 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, [5305] 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. [5306]But the opinion of those who said that Jesus was "a prophet even as one of the prophets," [5307] 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," [5308] 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, "Art thou He that cometh, or look we for another?" [5309] and in the third place, generally that Herod said about Jesus, "It is John the Baptist, he is risen from the dead," [5310] 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 unto him; but Luke passed over in silence the greater part of the narrative as it is found in them." [5311]


[5299] Matt. xiv. 1. [5300] Mark vi. 14. [5301] Luke ix. 7. [5302] Or, none other than. [5303] Matt. xxi. 25. [5304] Matt. xi. 14. [5305] John x. 41. [5306] Luke ix. 8. [5307] Mark vi. 15. [5308] Luke i. 17. [5309] Matt. xi. 2, 3. [5310] Matt. xiv. 2. [5311] The question of John's relation to Jesus and of the supposed transcorporation, is more fully discussed by Origen in his Commentary on John, book vi. 7, p. 353, sqq.

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." [5312]In reference to these things, it seems to me, that as the law and the prophets were until John, [5313] 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." [5314] 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," [5315] 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 thee to have her." [5316]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.


[5312] Matt. xiv. 3. [5313] Luke xvi. 16. [5314] Gen. xlix. 10. [5315] Matt. xiv. 3. [5316] Matt. xiv. 3, 4.

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 thee to have her; for it is not lawful for thee to have the wife of thy 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 ye did not dance." [5317]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; [5318] but by the former, John, "than whom no one greater hath risen among those born of women," [5319] 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." [5320]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;" [5321] for "though He were crucified through weakness, yet He liveth through the power of God." [5322]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," [5323] 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." [5324]


[5317] Matt. xi. 17; Luke vii. 32. [5318] Gen. xl. 20. [5319] Matt. xi. 11. [5320] Luke vii. 26. [5321] Ps. lxxxviii. 6. [5322] 2 Cor. xiii. 4. [5323] John v. 46. [5324] Ex. xii. 46; John xix. 36.

23. The Withdrawal of Jesus.

And the disciples of John having come bury his remains, and "they went and told Jesus." [5325]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." [5326]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"? [5327] 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," [5328] 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," [5329] 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.


[5325] Matt. xiv. 12. [5326] Matt. xiv. 13. [5327] Matt. x. 23. [5328] Matt. xxi. 43. [5329] Isa. liv. 1; Gal. iv. 27.

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," [5330] 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." [5331]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." [5332]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." [5333] 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." [5334]


[5330] Matt. xiv. 14. [5331] 1 Cor. xi. 30. [5332] Jude 8. [5333] Isa. xxix. 8 (LXX., which has "against mount Zion," where Origen has "in Jerusalem"). [5334] Matt. xiv. 14.

25. Healing Precedes Participation in the Loaves of Jesus.

After this the word says, "And when even was 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." [5335]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., [5336] 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.


[5335] Matt. xiv. 15. [5336] 1 Cor. xi. 28. .

Book XI.

1. Introduction to the Feeding of the Five Thousand.

"And when even was come His disciples came to Him," [5337] 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." [5338]They, not yet understanding what the Word was about to do, say to Him, "The place is desert," [5339] 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," [5340] 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. [5341]"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 Thee in the desert may serve the law and the prophets. And, further, the disciples say, "Send them away," [5342] 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 ye have the power, which ye have received from Me, of giving the multitudes to eat; and if ye had attended to this, ye would have understood that I am far more able to feed them, and ye would not have said, `Send the multitudes away that they may go and buy food for themselves.'" [5343]


[5337] Matt. xiv. 15. [5338] 1 John ii. 18. [5339] Matt. xiv. 15. [5340] Matt. xiv. 15. [5341] Luke xvi. 16. [5342] Matt. xiv. 15. [5343] Matt. xiv. 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. [5344] 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. [5345]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 [5346] and the word conceived, [5347] 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, [5348] 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, [5349] 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. [5350]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." [5351]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," [5352] 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 brake 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," [5353] and some to those who are still babes and carnal in Christ.


[5344] Matt. xiv. 16. [5345] Matt. xiv. 17. [5346] logos prophorikos. [5347] logos endiathetos. [5348] Luke xxiv. 42, 43. [5349] Matt. xiv. 17; Mark vi. 38; Luke ix. 13. [5350] John vi. 9. [5351] John vi. 9. [5352] Ps. lxxxi. 7. [5353] 1 Cor. xiii. 11.

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 did eat were five thousand men, beside children and women," [5354] 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, [5355] 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;" [5356] and the women in accordance with the saying, "I wish to present you all as a pure virgin to Christ;" [5357] and the men according to the saying, "When I am become a man I have put away childish things." [5358]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 brake, and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples to the multitudes. And they did all eat." [5359]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;" [5360] that is to say, He commanded them to put the flesh under, and to keep in subjection "the mind of the flesh," [5361] 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;" [5362] but Luke, "And He said unto His disciples, Make them sit down in companies about fifty each." [5363]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 "Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." [5364]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.


[5354] Matt. xiv. 21. [5355] Num. i. 3. [5356] 1 Cor. iii. 1. [5357] 2 Cor. xi. 2. [5358] 1 Cor. xiii. 11. [5359] Matt. xiv. 19, 20. [5360] Isa. xl. 6. [5361] Rom. viii. 6. [5362] Mark vi. 39, 40. [5363] Luke ix. 14. [5364] Matt. xix. 28.

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." [5365]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. [5366]And again in another place, as the multitudes stood in need of healing, it is said, "Many multitudes followed Him and He healed them." [5367]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," [5368] 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." [5369]And again in another place it is written, "All the multitude stood on the beach and He spake to them many things in parables." [5370]Then after the parable of the sowing, it was no longer the multitudes but the disciples who came and said to Him, not "Why speakest thou to us in parables," but, "Why speakest thou to them in parables." [5371]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." [5372] 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." [5373] And in another place He dismisses the multitudes indeed, and goes into the house, [5374] 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." [5375] 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. [5376]"And when even was 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." [5377]And, further, when Jesus took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven He blessed and brake the loaves, He gave not to the multitudes but to the disciples, [5378] 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.


[5365] Matt. xiv. 22. [5366] Matt. v. 1-3. [5367] Matt. xii. 15. [5368] Matt. xiv. 46-49. [5369] Matt. xiv. 50. [5370] Matt. xiii. 2, 3. [5371] Matt. xiii. 10. [5372] Matt. xiii. 11. [5373] Matt. xiii. 11. [5374] Matt. xiii. 36. [5375] Matt. xiii. 36. [5376] Matt. xiv. 13, 14. [5377] Matt. xiv. 15. [5378] Matt. xiv. 19.

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; [5379] 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. [5380]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," [5381] 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, [5382] 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," [5383] 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;" [5384] 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" [5385] 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.


[5379] Matt. xiv. 22. [5380] Matt. xiv. 23. [5381] Matt. xiv. 24. [5382] Matt. xiv. 25. [5383] Mark vi. 45. [5384] Matt. xiv. 25. [5385] Matt. xiv. 29.

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," [5386] 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, [5387] 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. [5388]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 opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or thing that is worshipped," [5389] and the third watch against the spirit [5390] that is opposed to the Holy Spirit, then we believe that when the fourth watch impendeth, when "the night is far spent, and the day is at hand," [5391] 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." [5392]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;" [5393] 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. [5394] Only, observe that He did not say, "O thou without faith," but, "O thou of little faith," and that it was said, "Wherefore didst thou doubt," as he had still a measure of faith, but also had a tendency towards that which was opposed to faith.


[5386] Matt. xiv. 34. [5387] Cf. 1 Cor. x. 13. [5388] Matt. xiv. 22, 23. [5389] 2 Thess. ii. 4. [5390] The conception of Origen seems to be that opposed to the Divine Trinity there is an evil trinity. Cf. book xii. 20. [5391] Rom. xiii. 12. [5392] Matt. xiv. 27. [5393] Matt. xiv. 30. [5394] Matt. xiv. 31.

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, "Thou art the Son of God," as also the two demoniacs said, but, "Of a truth, Thou art the Son of God." [5395]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." [5396]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, [5397] 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." [5398]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." [5399]And whether there be any difference between the "They were made whole," [5400] which is said in their case, and the "being saved," [5401] --for it was said to the woman with the issue of blood, "Thy faith hath saved thee," [5402] you may yourself consider.


[5395] Matt. xiv. 33. [5396] Matt. xiv. 35. [5397] Matt. xiv. 36. [5398] Matt. ix. 20, 21. [5399] Matt. xiv. 36. [5400] diesothesan. [5401] sothenai. [5402] Matt. ix. 22.

8. Concerning the Pharisees and Scribes Who Came and Inquired, Why Do Thy Disciples Transgress the Tradition of the Elders?

"Then there came to Him from Jerusalem Pharisees and scribes, saying, Why do Thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread." [5403]He who observes at what time the Pharisees and scribes came from Jerusalem to Jesus, saying, "Why do Thy 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." [5404]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," [5405] 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, [5406] 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, [5407] and offered sacrifice in accordance with a certain legal vow, as is written in the Acts of the Apostles? [5408] 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; [5409] for with hands that are defiled and unwashed and impure, we ought not to partake of the loaves.


[5403] Matt. xv. 1, 2. [5404] Matt. xiv. 35, 36. [5405] Gal. iii. 13. [5406] 1 Cor. ix. 20. [5407] Gal. ii. 3. [5408] Acts xxi. 26; xviii. 18. [5409] Cf. Luke xi. 5.

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 thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee, and that thy days may be long on the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee;" [5410] 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." [5411]But when we wish to examine the very letter of the words as given by Matthew, "He that speaketh evil of father or mother, let him die the death," [5412] consider whether it was taken from the place where it was written, "Whoso striketh his father or mother, let him die the death; and he that speaketh evil of father or mother let him die the death." [5413]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 thy father and thy mother," [5414] 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 thou mightest have been profited by me, father or mother, know that you will receive this from Corban," [5415] 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 thy father and thy 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." [5416]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," [5417] 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," [5418] but in reality "was a thief, and having the bag took away what was put therein." [5419]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," [5420] 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," [5421] he says it because of Judas' love of money, which was a root of all the evils that were committed against Jesus.


[5410] Ex. xx. 12. [5411] Lev. xx. 9. [5412] Matt. xv. 4. [5413] Exod. xxi. 15; Lev. xx. 9. [5414] Exod. xx. 12. [5415] Matt. xv. 4. [5416] Luke xvi. 14. [5417] 1 Tim. vi. 5. [5418] Mark xiv. 5; John xii. 5. [5419] John xii. 6. [5420] Eph. vi. 16. [5421] 1 Tim. vi. 10.

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 thy father and thy mother," by saying, "Thou shalt not honour thy father or thy mother," whosoever shall say to his father or mother, "It is a gift that wherewith thou mightest have been profited by me," some one may inquire whether the words, "He that speaketh evil of father or mother, let him die the death," [5422] 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 speaketh 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 thou mightest have been profited by me," [5423] 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 [5424] 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 thou mightest 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," [5425] 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 speaketh 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.


[5422] Matt. xv. 4. [5423] Matt. xv. 5. [5424] Or, you, if we read humas. [5425] Cf. Luke i. 6.

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 nigh to Me with their mouth," etc.; [5426] 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 ye faint, and be maddened: be ye drunken, but not with strong drink nor with wine: for the Lord hath 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 nigh to Me," etc., down to the words, "Woe unto them that form counsel in secret, and their works shall be in darkness." [5427]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 nigh 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;" [5428] 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, [5429] 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. [5430]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." [5431]


[5426] Isa. xxix. 13. [5427] Isa. xxix. 9-15. [5428] Matt. xv. 9. [5429] Isa. xxix. 14. [5430] Isa. xxix. 15. [5431] Mark vii. 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. [5432]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 entereth into the mouth defileth the man, but that which proceedeth out of the mouth," [5433] and especially when, according to Mark, the Saviour said these things "making all meats clean," [5434] 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," [5435] 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, [5436] 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." [5437]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 ye eat or drink or whatsoever other thing ye do, do all to the glory of God." [5438]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 doubteth," according to the Apostle, "is condemned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith; and whatsoever is not of faith is sin." [5439]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; [5440] 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 commendeth us not to God, for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we eat not are we the worse." [5441]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, [5442] 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., [5443] 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." [5444]


[5432] Matt. xv. 10. [5433] Matt. xv. 11. [5434] Mark vii. 19. [5435] Ecclus. xxviii. 25. [5436] Rom. ii. 25, 26. [5437] Tit. i. 15. [5438] 1 Cor. x. 31. [5439] Rom. xiv. 23. [5440] Cf. Acts xv. 20. [5441] 1 Cor. viii. 8. [5442] The text is uncertain. [5443] Col. ii. 16. [5444] Heb. x. 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," [5445] 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; [5446] for they were rooted up as they did not receive the true vine, which was cultivated by the Father, even Jesus Christ. [5447]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," [5448] 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? [5449]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;" [5450] "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 hath made a pit, and digged it, and will fall into the ditch which he hath made." [5451]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;" [5452] 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 entereth into the mouth defileth the man, but that which proceedeth out of the mouth." [5453]


[5445] Matt. xv. 10. [5446] Matt. xv. 13. [5447] John xv. 1. [5448] Col. ii. 21, 22. [5449] Col. iii. 2. [5450] Matt. xv. 14. [5451] Ps. vii. 15. [5452] Matt. v. 1. [5453] Matt. xv. 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 [5454] 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. [5455]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," [5456] 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, [5457] by him who is deified by the sons of this world, and on this account is called by Paul the god of this world. [5458]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, [5459] so the prince of this world, in regard to whom the Saviour says, "Now has the prince of this world been judged," [5460] 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, [5461] 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." [5462]Who are such? The Pharisees, whose minds the god of this world hath blinded as they are unbelieving, because they have not believed in Jesus Christ; and he hath blinded them so that the "light of the Gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ should not dawn upon them." [5463]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 cometh into the mouth defileth the man, but that which goeth out of the mouth," "Declare unto us the parable." [5464]To which the Saviour says, "Are ye also, even yet, without understanding?" [5465]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 goeth into his mouth does not defile the man, because it passeth into the belly, and going out from it is cast into the draught?" [5466]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 [5467] 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," [5468] and therefore "the law is holy, and the commandment holy and righteous and good," [5469] were the plant which the heavenly Father planted; but those who were not such, but guarded with care the letter which killeth 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." [5470]Now some one when dealing with the passage might say, that just as "not that which entereth into the mouth defileth the man," [5471] of even though it may be thought by the Jews to be defiled, so not that which entereth into the mouth sanctifieth 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 eateth, for "he that doubteth is condemned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith," [5472] 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 [5473] 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." [5474]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." [5475] Now, if "everything that entereth into the mouth goes into the belly and is cast out into the drought," [5476] 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 symbolical body. But many things might be said about the Word Himself who became flesh, [5477] and true meat of which he that eateth 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." [5478]


[5454] Marcion and his followers. [5455] Matt. xv. 13. [5456] Exod. xv. 17. [5457] 2 Thess. ii. 12. [5458] 2 Cor. iv. 4. [5459] Phil. iii. 19. [5460] John xvi. 11. [5461] Cf. Luke xx. 36. [5462] Matt. xv. 14. [5463] 2 Cor. iv. 4. [5464] Matt. xv. 11. [5465] Matt. xv. 16. [5466] Matt. xv. 17. [5467] Cf. 2 Cor. iii. 7. [5468] Rom. vii. 14. [5469] Rom. vii. 12. [5470] 2 Cor. iii. 16, 17. [5471] Matt. xv. 11. [5472] Rom. xiv. 23. [5473] Cf. 1 Tim. iv. 5. [5474] 1 Cor. xi. 30. [5475] 1 Cor. viii. 8. [5476] Matt. xv. 17. [5477] John i. 14. [5478] John vi. 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. [5479]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; [5480] 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," [5481] "all the thoughts of men meanwhile accusing or else excusing them," [5482] "when their own devices have beset them about." [5483]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; [5484] 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." [5485]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," [5486] 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, defileth the man.


[5479] Matt. xv. 18, 19. [5480] Prov. iv. 23. [5481] 1 Cor. iv. 5. [5482] Rom. ii. 15. [5483] Hos. vii. 2. [5484] Matt. vi. 1, 2. [5485] 1 Cor. xii. 28. [5486] 1 Tim. iii. 1.

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." [5487]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?" [5488]But He withdrew, perhaps because the Pharisees were offended when they heard that "not that which entereth in, but that which proceedeth out, defileth the man;" [5489] 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." [5490]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." [5491]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," [5492] --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." [5493]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," [5494] 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, [5495] 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." [5496]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; [5497] 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."


[5487] Matt. xv. 21, 22. [5488] Matt. xiv. 34. [5489] Matt. xv. 11. [5490] Matt. iv. 12. [5491] Mark vii. 24. [5492] Mark vii. 24. [5493] Matt. xv. 22. [5494] Deut. xxxii. 8. [5495] Exod. viii. 2. [5496] Matt. xv. 22. [5497] Cf. Matt. xxv. 34.

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; [5498] and who call Him Son of God, and that without the addition "truly" like the demoniacs who say, "What have we to do with Thee, Thou Son of God;" [5499] and who call Him so with the addition "truly," like those in the boat who worshipped Him saying, "Truly Thou art the Son of God." [5500]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;" [5501] but others come to Him who "was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness;" [5502] 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. [5503]And again the ruler of the synagogue makes supplication for a daughter twelve years old, as being dead, [5504] but the nobleman about a son as being still sick, and at the point of death. [5505] 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; [5506] 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, [5507] --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. [5508]And corresponding, I think, "to the Jerusalem above, which is free, the mother" [5509] 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, [5510] 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." [5511] Then also to those without and to the disciples when necessary He answers and says, "I was not sent;" [5512] 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," [5513] 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," [5514] disbelieved the Word, on this account "God chose the foolish things of the world," [5515] 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," [5516] handing over to them an intelligent nation who were able to admit "the foolishness of the preaching," [5517] 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," [5518] 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." [5519]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," [5520] 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." [5521]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, "Ye shall cast them to the dogs," [5522] 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. [5523]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' [5524] table," will obtain the very gentle answer of Jesus saying to him, "Great is thy faith,"--when he has received so great faith--and saying, "Be it done unto thee even as thou wilt," [5525] 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.


[5498] Matt. xx. 30. [5499] Matt. viii. 29. [5500] Matt. xiv. 33. [5501] Rom. i. 3. [5502] Rom. i. 4. [5503] Luke vii. 12. [5504] Matt. ix. 18. [5505] John iv. 46. [5506] John iv. 48. [5507] Matt. xv. 24. [5508] Matt. xv. 28. [5509] Gal. iv. 26. [5510] Gen. xv. 15. [5511] Matt. xv. 22. [5512] Matt. xv. 24. [5513] 2 Cor. v. 16. [5514] Rom. xi. 5. [5515] 1 Cor. i. 27. [5516] 1 Cor. i. 28. [5517] 1 Cor. i. 21. [5518] Ps. viii. 2. [5519] Matt. xv. 25, 26. [5520] Phil. ii. 7. [5521] Luke viii. 46. [5522] Exod. xxii. 31. [5523] 2 Sam. xvi. 9. [5524] Matt. xv. 27. [5525] Matt. xv. 28.

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 nigh unto the sea of Galilee," [5526] 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, [5527] 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 hath an impediment in his speech be plain." [5528]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 hath 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 ye blind look up that ye may see." [5529]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;" [5530] that is, they see and understand with care and clearness. Now the multitudes seeing these things, glorified the God of Israel, [5531] 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. [5532]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," [5533] etc.; and perhaps if you attend carefully to the words, "There came unto Him great multitudes," [5534] 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.


[5526] Matt. xv. 29. [5527] Matt. xv. 30. [5528] Isa. xxxv. 6. [5529] Isa. xlii. 18. [5530] Rom. i. 20. [5531] Matt. xv. 31. [5532] Rom. iii. 29. [5533] Matt. xv. 32. [5534] Matt. xv. 30.

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." [5535]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 was come the disciples came to Him saying, The place is desert and the time is already past, send them away," [5536] 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; [5537] but here He speaks of His own accord about the four thousand. [5538] 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," [5539] and Mark says, "He commanded them all to sit down;" [5540] but here He does not command but proclaims [5541] 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;" [5542] but here, as Matthew and Mark have written, "Jesus gave thanks and brake;" [5543] 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," [5544] 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. [5545]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, [5546] 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, [5547] 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, [5548] 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." [5549]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, thou art loosed from thine infirmity." [5550]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 crieth after us;" [5551] but the Saviour does not at all appear to send her away; for saying unto her, "O woman, great is thy faith, be it done to thee even as thou wilt," [5552] 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.


[5535] Matt. xv. 32. [5536] Matt. xiv. 15. [5537] Matt. xiv. 15. [5538] Matt. xv. 32. [5539] Luke ix. 14. [5540] Mark vi. 39. [5541] ou keleuei halla parangellei [5542] Matt. xiv. 19; Mark vi. 41; Luke ix. 16. [5543] Matt. xv. 36; Mark viii. 6. [5544] John vi. 10. [5545] Or, did not mention the occasion of this. [5546] John vi. 13. [5547] Matt. xiv. 14. [5548] Matt. xv. 31. [5549] Isa. xl. 6. [5550] Luke xiii. 12, Literally `thou art sent away.' [5551] Matt. xv. 23. [5552] Matt. xv. 28.

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