Writings of Augustine. The Harmony of the Gospels
The Harmony of the Gospels
Translated by the Rev. S. D. F. Salmond, D.D.,
Free College, Aberdeen
Edited, with notes and introduction, by the Rev. M. B. Riddle, D.D.,
Professor of New-Testament Exegesis, Western Theological Seminary,
Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff,
New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.
This book embraces a discussion of those passages which are peculiar
to Mark, Luke, or John.
1. As we have examined Matthew's narrative in its complete connection,
and as the comparison which we have carried out between it and the
other three on to its conclusion has established the fact, that not
one of these evangelists contains anything either at variance with
other statements in his own Gospel, or inconsistent with the accounts
presented by his fellow-historians, let us now subject Mark to a
similar scrutiny. Our plan will be to omit those sections which he has
in common with Matthew, which we have already investigated as far as
seemed requisite and are now done with, and to take up those
paragraphs which remain, with the view of submitting them to
discussion and comparison, and of demonstrating their thorough harmony
with what is related by the other evangelists on to the notice of the
Lord's Supper. For we have already dealt with all the incidents which
are reported in all the four Gospels from that point on to the end,
and have considered the subject of their mutual consistency.
Chapter I.--Of the Question Regarding the Proof that Mark's Gospel is
in Harmony with the Rest in What is Narrated (Those Passages Which He
Has in Common with Matthew Being Left Out of Account), from Its
Beginning Down to the Section Where It is Said, "And They Go into
Capharnaum, and Straightway on the Sabbath-Day He Taught Them:" Which
Incident is Reported Also by Luke.
2. Mark, then, commences as follows: "The beginning of the gospel of
Jesus Christ, the Son of God: as it is written in the prophet Isaiah;"
and so on, down to where it is said, "And they go into Capharnaum; and
straightway on the Sabbath-day He entered into the synagogue and
taught them."  In this entire context, everything has been
examined above in connection with Matthew. This particular statement,
however, about His going into the synagogue at Capharnaum and teaching
them on the Sabbath-day, is one which Mark has in common with Luke.
 But it raises no question of difficulty.
 Mark i. 1-21.
 Mark iv. 31.
Chapter II.--Of the Man Out of Whom the Unclean Spirit that Was
Tormenting Him Was Cast, and of the Question Whether Mark's Version is
Quite Consistent with that of Luke, Who is at One with Him in
Reporting the Incident.
3. Mark proceeds with his narrative in the following terms: "And they
were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as one that had
authority, and not as the scribes. And there was in their synagogue a
man with an unclean spirit: and he cried out, saying,  What have
we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy
us?" and so on, down to the passage where we read, "And He preached in
the synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils." 
Although there are some points here which are common only to Mark and
Luke, the entire contents of this section have also been already dealt
with when we were going over Matthew's narrative in its continuity.
For all these matters came into the order of narration in such a
manner that I thought they could not be passed over. But Luke says
that this unclean spirit went out of the man in such a way as not to
hurt him: whereas Mark's statement is to this effect: "And the unclean
spirit cometh out of him, tearing him, and crying with a loud voice."
There may seem, therefore, to be some discrepancy here. For how could
the unclean spirit have been "tearing him," or, as some codices have
it, "tormenting him," if, as Luke says, he "hurt him not"? Luke,
however, gives the notice in full, thus: "And when the devil had
thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and "hurt him not."
 Thus we are to understand that when Mark says, "tormenting
him," he just refers to what Luke expresses in the sentence, "When he
had thrown him in the midst." And when the latter appends the words,
"and hurt him not," the meaning simply is, that the said tossing of
the man's limbs and tormenting him did not debilitate him, as is often
the case with the exit of devils, when, at times, some of the members
are even destroyed  in the process of removing the trouble.
 The words Let us alone, are omitted. [So the Greek text,
according to the best mss.--R.]
 Mark i. 22-39.
 Luke iv. 35.
 Reading elisis. Various mss. give amputatis aut evulsis =
amputated or torn off.
Chapter III.--Of the Question Whether Mark's Reports of the Repeated
Occasions on Which the Name of Peter Was Brought into Prominence are
Not at Variance with the Statement Which John Has Given Us of the
Particular Time at Which the Apostle Received that Name.
4. The same Mark continues as follows: "And there came a leper to Him,
beseeching Him, and kneeling down to Him, and saying unto Him, If thou
wilt, thou canst make me clean;" and so on, down to where it is said,
"And they cried out, saying, Thou art the Son of God: and He
straightway charged them that they should not make Him known." 
Luke  also records something similar to the last passage which
we have here adduced. But nothing emerges involving any discrepancy.
Mark proceeds thus: "And He goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto
Him whom He would: and they came unto Him. And He ordained twelve that
they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach;
and He gave them power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils. And
Simon He surnamed Peter;" and so on, down to where it is said, "And he
departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had
done: and all men did marvel."  I am aware that I have spoken
already of the names of the disciples when following the order of
Matthew's narrative.  Here, therefore, I repeat the caution,
that no one should suppose Simon to have received the name Peter on
this occasion for the first time, or fancy that Mark is here in any
antagonism with John, who reports that disciple to have been addressed
long before in these terms: "Thou shalt be called Cephas, which is, by
interpretation, A stone."  For John has there recorded the very
words in which the Lord gave him that name. Mark, on the other hand,
has introduced the matter in the form of a recapitulation in this
passage, when he says, "And Simon He surnamed Peter." For, as it was
his intention to enumerate the names of the twelve apostles here, and
it was necessary for him thus to mention Peter, he decided briefly to
intimate the fact that the said name was not borne by that disciple
all along, but was given him by the Lord, not, however, at the time
with which Mark was immediately dealing, but on the occasion in
connection with which John has introduced the very words employed by
the Lord. The other matters embraced within this paragraph, present
nothing inconsistent with any of the other Gospels, and they have also
been discussed previously.
 Mark i. 40-iii. 12.
 Luke iv. 41.
 Mark iii. 13-v. 20.
 See above, Book ii. chaps. 17 and 53.
 John i. 42.
Chapter IV.--Of the Words, "The More He Charged Them to Tell No One,
So Much the More a Great Deal They Published It;" And of the Question
Whether that Statement is Not Inconsistent with His Prescience, Which
is Commended to Our Notice in the Gospel.
5. Mark continues thus: "And when Jesus was passed over again by ship
unto the other side, much people gathered unto Him: and He was nigh
unto the sea;" and so on, down to where we read, "And the apostles
gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told Him all things, both
what they had done, and what they had taught."  This last
portion Mark has in common with Luke, and there is no discrepancy
between them. The rest of the contents of this section we have already
discussed. Mark continues in these terms: "And He said unto them, Come
ye apart into a desert place, and rest a while;" and so on, down to
the words, "But the more He charged them, so much the more a great
deal they published it; and were beyond measure astonished, saying, He
hath done all things well: He maketh both the deaf to hear, and the
dumb to speak."  In all this there is nothing which presents the
appearance of any want of harmony between Mark and Luke; and the whole
of the above we have already considered, when we were comparing these
evangelists with Matthew. At the same time, we must make sure that no
one shall suppose that the last statement, which I have cited here
from Mark's Gospel, is in antagonism with the entire body of the
evangelists, who, in reporting most of His other deeds and words, make
it plain that He knew what went on in men; that is to say, that their
thoughts and desires could not be concealed from Him. Thus John puts
it very clearly in the following passage: "But Jesus did not commit
Himself unto them, because He knew all men, and needed not that any
should testify of man; for He knew what was in man."  But what
wonder is it that He should discern the present thoughts of men, if He
announced beforehand to Peter the thought which he was to entertain in
the future,  but which he certainly had not then, at the very
time when he was boldly declaring himself ready to die for Him, or
with Him?  This being the case, then, how can it fail to appear
as if this knowledge and foreknowledge, which He possessed in so
supreme a measure, is contradicted by Mark's statement, "He charged
them that they should tell no man: but the more He charged them, so
much the more a great deal they published it"? For if He, as one who
held in His own knowledge all the intentions of men, both present and
future was aware that they would publish it all the more the more He
charged them not to publish it, what purpose could He have in giving
them such a charge? Well, but may not the explanation be this, that he
desired to give backward ones to understand how much more zealously
and fervently they ought to preach on whom He lays the commission to
preach, if even men who were interdicted were unable to keep silent?
 Mark v. 21-vi. 30.
 Mark vi. 31-vii. 37.
 John ii. 24, 25.
 The text gives simply: futuram Petro prænuntiavit, to which
cogitationem has to be supplied. Some editions insert negationem = his
 Matt. xxvi. 33-35.
Chapter V.--Of the Statement Which John Made Concerning the Man Who
Cast Out Devils Although He Did Not Belong to the Circle of the
Disciples; And of the Lord's Reply, "Forbid Them Not, for He that is
Not Against You is on Your Part;" And of the Question Whether that
Response Does Not Contradict the Other Sentence, in Which He Said, "He
that is Not with Me is Against Me."
6. Mark proceeds as follows: "In those days again,  the
multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat;" and so on,
down to the words, "John answered Him, saying, Master, we saw one
casting out devils in Thy name, and he followeth not us; and we
forbade him.  But Jesus said, Forbid him not; for there is no
man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil
of me; for he that is not against you is on your side."  Luke
relates this in similar terms, with this exception, that he does not
insert the clause, "for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my
name that can lightly speak evil of me." Consequently, there is
nothing here to raise the question of any discrepancy between these
two. We must see, however, whether this sentence must be supposed to
stand in opposition to another of the Lord's sayings, namely, the one
to this effect, "He that is not with me is against me; and he that
gathereth not with me scattereth abroad."  For how was this man
not against Him, who was not with Him, and of whom John reported that
he did not unite with them in following Him, if he is against Him who
is not with Him? Or if the man was against Him, how does He say to the
disciples, "Forbid him not; for he that is not against you is on your
side"? Will any one aver that it is of consequence to observe that
here He says to the disciples, "He that is not against you is on your
side;" whereas, in the other passage, He spoke of Himself in the
terms, "He that is not with me is against me"? That would make it
appear, indeed, as if it were possible for one not to be with Him,
although he was associated with those disciples of His who are, so to
speak, His very members. Besides, how would the truth of such sayings
as these stand then: "He that receiveth you receiveth me;"  and
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my
brethren, ye have done it unto me"?  Or is it possible for one
not to be against Him, although he may be against His disciples? Nay;
for what shall we make then of words like these: "He that despiseth
you, despiseth me;"  and, "Inasmuch as ye did it not unto the
least of mine, ye did it not unto me;"  and, "Saul, Saul, why
persecutest thou me,"  --although it was His disciples that Saul
was persecuting? But, in good truth, the sense intended to be conveyed
is just this, that, so far as a man is not with Him, so far is he
against Him; and again, that, so far as a man is not against Him, so
far is he with Him. For example, take this very case of the individual
who was working miracles in the name of Christ, and yet was not in the
company of Christ's disciples: so far as this man was working miracles
in His name, so far was he with them, and so far he was not against
them.  But, inasmuch as they had prohibited the man from doing a
thing in which, so far forth, he was really with them, the Lord said
to them, "Forbid him not." For what they ought to have forbidden was
what was outside their fellowship, so that they might bring him over
to the unity of the Church, and not a thing like this, in which he was
at one with them, that is to say, so far as he commended the name of
their Master and Lord in the casting out of devils. And this is the
principle on which the Catholic Church acts, not condemning common
sacraments among heretics; for in these they are with us, and they are
not against us. But she condemns and forbids division and separation,
or any sentiment adverse to peace and truth. For therein they are
against us, just because they are not with us in that, and because,
not gathering with us, they are consequently scattering.
 Iterum, inserted. [The Greek text, according to the best mss.
reads: "when there was again a great multitude." So Revised Version.
Augustin's text is: "In those days again, when there was a great
 The words, "because he followeth not us," are omitted. [So the
Vulgate and old Latin text; but the best Greek mss. omit the clause,
"and he followeth not us," inserting the last clause, "because he
followeth not us," as in Luke ix. 49.--R.]
 Mark viii. 1-ix. 39.
 Matt. xii. 30.
 Matt. x. 40.
 Matt. xxv. 40.
 Luke x. 16.
 Matt. xxv. 45.
 Acts ix. 4.
 [The correct reading in Luke ix. 50: "For he that is not
against you is for you," gives the key to the meaning. See
commentaries in loco.--R.]
Chapter VI.--Of the Circumstance that Mark Has Recorded More Than Luke
as Spoken by the Lord in Connection with the Case of This Man Who Was
Casting Out Devils in the Name of Christ, Although He Was Not
Following with the Disciples; And of the Question How These Additional
Words Can Be Shown to Have a Real Bearing Upon What Christ Had in View
in Forbidding the Individual to Be Interdicted Who Was Performing
Miracles in His Name.
7. Mark proceeds with his narrative in these terms: "For whosoever
shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong
to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. And
whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe on me, it
is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he
were cast into the sea. And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is
better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go
into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched; where their
worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." And so on, down to
where it is said, "Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with
another."  These words Mark represents to have been spoken by
the Lord in the connection immediately following what He said in
forbidding the man to be interdicted who was casting out devils in His
name, and yet was not following Him along with the disciples. In this
section, too, he introduces some matters which are not found in any of
the other evangelists, but also some which occur in Matthew as well,
and some which we come across in like manner both in Matthew and in
Luke. Those other evangelists, however, bring in these matters in
different connections, and in another order of facts, and not at this
particular point when the statement was made to Christ about the man
who did not follow Him along with the disciples, and yet was casting
out devils in His name. My opinion, therefore, is, that the Lord did
really utter sayings in this connection, according to Mark's
attestation, of which he also delivered Himself on other occasions,
and this for the simple reason, that they were sufficiently pertinent
to this expression of His mind which he gave here, when He forbade the
placing of any interdict upon the working of miracles in His name,
even although that should be done by a man who did not follow Him
along with His disciples. For Mark presents the relation of the one
passage to the other thus: "For he that is not against us is on our
part; for whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name,
because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose
his reward." This makes it plain that even this man, whose case John
had taken up, and thus had given occasion for the Lord to commence the
discourse referred to, was not separating himself from the society of
the disciples to any such effect as to scorn it like a heretic. But
his position was something parallel to the familiar one of men who,
while not going the length yet of receiving the sacraments of Christ,
nevertheless favour the Christian name so far as even to receive
Christians, and accommodate themselves to them for this very reason,
and none other, that they are Christian; of which type of persons it
is that He tells us that they do not lose their reward. This does not
mean, however, that they ought at once to think themselves quite safe
and secure simply on account of this kindness which they cherish
towards Christians, while at the same time they are neither cleansed
by Christ's baptism, nor incorporated into the unity of His body. But
the import is, that they are now being guided by the mercy of God in
such a way that they may also come to these higher things,  and
so quit this present world in safety. And such persons assuredly are
more profitable [servants], even before they become associated with
the number of Christians, than those individuals who, while already
bearing the Christian name and partaking in the Christian sacraments,
recommend courses which are only fitted to drag others, whom they may
persuade to adopt them, along with themselves into eternal punishment.
These are the persons to whom He refers under the figure of the
members of the body, and whom He commands to be cast out from the
body, like an offending hand or eye; that is to say, to be cut off
from the fellowship of that unity, in order that they should seek
rather to enter into life without such associates, than to go into
hell in their company. Moreover, they are separated from those from
whom they separate themselves, just when no consent is yielded to
their evil recommendations, that is to say, to the offences in which
they indulge. And if, indeed, they are discovered in the character of
their perversity to all good men with whom they have any fellowship,
 they are cut off completely from the fellowship of all, and
also from participation in the divine sacraments. But if they are
known in this character only to some, while their perversity is
unknown to the majority, they must just be borne with, as the chaff is
endured in the thrashing-floor previous to the winnowing; that is to
say, they must be dealt with in a manner which will neither involve
any agreement with them in the fellowship of unrighteousness, nor lead
to a forsaking of the society of the good on their account. This is
what is done by those who have salt in themselves, and who have peace
one with another.
 Mark ix. 40-50.
 The text gives ad ea. Another reading is ad eam = that unity of
 Reading societas. Many mss. give notitia = acquaintance.
Chapter VII.--Of the Fact that from This Point on to the Lord's
Supper, with Which Act the Discussion of All the Narratives of the
Four Evangelists Conjointly Commenced, No Question Calling for Special
Examination is Raised by Mark's Gospel.
8. Mark continues as follows: "And He arose from thence, and cometh
into the coasts of Judæa by the farther side of Jordan: and the people
resort unto Him again; and, as He was wont, He taught them again;" and
so on, down to where it is said, "For all they did cast in of their
abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all
her living."  In this entire context, all the above has been
subjected to investigation already, with the view of removing the
appearance of any contrariety, when we were comparing the other
Gospels in due order with Matthew. This narrative, however, of the
poor widow who cast two mites into the treasury is reported only by
two of them, namely, Mark and Luke.  But their harmony admits of
no question. And from this point onwards to the Lord's Supper, which
latter act formed the starting-point for our discussion of all the
records of the four evangelists taken conjointly, Mark introduces
nothing of a kind to make it necessary for us to institute a special
comparison between it and any other statement, or to conduct an
inquiry with the view of dispelling any appearance of discrepancy.
 Mark x. 1-xii. 44.
 Luke xxi. 1-4.
Chapter VIII.--Of Luke's Gospel, and Specially of the Harmony Between
Its Commencement and the Beginning of the Book of the Acts of the
9. Next in succession, therefore, let us now go over the Gospel of
Luke in regular order. We shall omit, however, those passages which he
has in common with Matthew and Mark. For all these have been already
handled. Luke, then, begins his narrative in the following fashion:
"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a
declaration of these things which have been fulfilled  among us,
even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were
eye-witnesses, and ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also,
having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to
write unto thee in order,  most excellent Theophilus, that thou
mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been
instructed."  This beginning does not pertain immediately to the
narrative presented in the Gospel. But it suggests to us to be
cognizant of the fact, that this same Luke is also the writer of the
other book which bears the name of the Acts of the Apostles. Our
ground for holding this opinion is not merely the circumstance that
the name of Theophilus occurs there as well as here. For it might
quite well happen that there was a second person with the name of
Theophilus; and even if it was one and the same person that was
referred to in both cases, still another composition might have been
addressed to him by a different individual, just as the Gospel was
written in his behoof by Luke. We base our view of the identity of
authorship, however, on the fact that this second book commences in
the following strain: "The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus,
of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which
He,  through the Holy Ghost, gave commandment unto the apostles
whom He chose to preach the gospel."  This statement gives us to
understand that, previous to this, he had written one of those four
books of the gospel which are held in the loftiest authority in the
Church. At the same time, when he tells us that he had composed a
treatise of all that Jesus began both to do and teach until the day in
which He gave commandment to the apostles, we are not to take this to
mean that he actually has given us a full account in his Gospel of all
that Jesus did and said when He lived with His apostles on earth. For
that would be contrary to what John affirms when he says that there
are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should
be written every one, the world itself could not contain the books.
 And besides, it is the admitted fact that not a few things have
been narrated by the other evangelists, which Luke himself has not
touched upon in his history. The sense therefore is, that he wrote a
treatise of all these things, in so far as he made a selection out of
the whole mass of materials for his narrative, and introduced those
facts which he judged fit and suitable for the satisfactory discharge
of the responsible duty laid upon him. Again, when he speaks of many
who had "taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those
things which have been fulfilled among us," he seems to refer to
certain parties who had not been able to complete the task which they
had assumed. Hence he also says that it seemed good to him also to
"write carefully in order, forasmuch as many have taken in hand," etc.
The allusion here, however, we ought to take to be to those writers
who have attained to no authority in the Church, just because they
were utterly incompetent rightly to carry out what they took in hand.
Moreover, the author at present before us has not confined himself to
the task of bringing down his narrative to the events of the Lord's
resurrection and assumption; neither has it been his aim simply to
have a place commensurate in honour with his labours in the company of
the four writers of the Gospel Scriptures. But he has also undertaken
a record of what was done subsequently by the hands of the apostles;
and relating as many of those events as he believed to be needful and
helpful to the edification of the faith of readers or hearers, he has
given us a narrative so faithful, that his is the only book that has
been reckoned worthy of acceptance in the Church as a history of the
Acts of the Apostles; while all these other writers who attempted,
although deficient in the trustworthiness which was the first
requisite, to compose an account of the doings and sayings of the
apostles, have met with rejection. And, further, Mark and Luke
certainly wrote at a time when it was quite possible to put them to
the test not only by the Church of Christ, but also by the apostles
themselves who were still alive in the flesh.
 Completæ sunt. [So Revised Version.--R.]
 [Et mihi assecuto a principio omnibus (some mss. have omnia)
diligenter ex ordine tibi scribere. Comp. Revised Version and
Augustin's explanation below.--R.]
 Luke i. 1-4.
 Usque in diem quo apostolis quos elegit, etc. Some editions
read quo apostolos elegit = on which He chose the apostles, giving
them commandment, etc.
 Acts i. 1, 2.
 John xxi. 25.
Chapter IX.--Of the Question How It Can Be Shown that the Narrative of
the Haul of Fishes Which Luke Has Given Us is Not to Be Identified
with the Record of an Apparently Similar Incident Which John Has
Reported Subsequently to the Lord's Resurrection; And of the Fact that
from This Point on to the Lord's Supper, from Which Event Onwards to
the End the Combined Accounts of All the Evangelists Have Been
Examined, No Difficulty Calling for Special Consideration Emerges in
the Gospel of Luke Any More Than in that of Mark.
10. Luke, then, commences his Gospel in the following fashion: "There
was in the days of Herod the king of Judæa, a certain priest named
Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of
Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth;"and so on, down to the passage
where it is said, "Now when He had left speaking, He said unto Simon,
Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught."
 In this whole section, there is nothing to stir any question as
to discrepancies. It is true that John appears to relate something
resembling the last passage. But what he gives is really something
widely different. I refer to what took place by the sea of Tiberias
after the Lord's resurrection.  In that instance, not only is
the particular time extremely different, but the circumstances
themselves are of quite another character. For there the nets were
cast on the right side, and a hundred and fifty and three fishes were
caught. It is added, too, that they were great fishes. And the
evangelist, therefore, has felt it necessary to state, that "for all
there were so many, yet was not the net broken," surely just because
he had in view the previous case, which is recorded by Luke, and in
connection with which the nets were broken  by reason of the
multitude of fishes. As for the rest, Luke has not recounted things
like those which John has narrated, except in relation to the Lord's
passion and resurrection. And this whole section, which comes in
between the Lord's Supper and the conclusion, has already been handled
by us in a manner which has yielded, as the result of a comparison of
the testimonies of all the evangelists conjointly, the demonstration
of an entire absence of discrepancies between them.
 Luke i. 5-v. 4.
 John xxi. 1-11.
 [Rumpebantur, "were breaking," as in the Greek; comp. Revised
Chapter X.--Of the Evangelist John, and the Distinction Between Him
and the Other Three.
11. John remains, between whom and others there is left no comparison
to be instituted. For, however the evangelists may each have reported
some matters which are not recorded by the others, it will be hard to
prove that any question involving real discrepancy arises out of
these. Thus, too, it is a clearly admitted position that the first
three--namely, Matthew, Mark, and Luke--have occupied themselves
chiefly with the humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to which
He is both king and priest. And in this way, Mark, who seems to answer
to the figure of the man in the well-known mystical symbol of the four
living creatures,  either appears to be preferentially the
companion of Matthew, as he narrates a larger number of matters in
unison with him than with the rest, and therein acts in due harmony
with the idea of the kingly character whose wont it is, as I have
stated in the first book,  to be not unaccompanied by
attendants; or else, in accordance with the more probable account of
the matter, he holds a course in conjunction with both [the other
Synoptists]. For although he is at one with Matthew in the larger
number of passages, he is nevertheless at one rather with Luke in some
others. And this very fact shows him to stand related at once to the
lion and to the steer, that is to say, to the kingly office which
Matthew emphasizes, and to the sacerdotal which Luke introduces,
wherein also Christ appears distinctively as man, as the figure which
Mark sustains stands related to both these. On the other hand,
Christ's divinity, in virtue of which He is equal to the Father, in
accordance with which He is the Word, and God with God, and the Word
that was made flesh in order to dwell among us,  in accordance
with which also He and the Father are one,  has been taken
specially in hand by John with a view to its recommendation to our
minds. Like an eagle, he abides among Christ's sayings of the sublimer
order, and in no way descends to earth but on rare occasions. In
brief, although he declares plainly his own knowledge of the Lord's
mother, he nevertheless neither unites with Matthew and Luke in
recording His nativity, nor associates himself with all the three in
relating His baptism; but all that he does there is simply to present
the testimony delivered by John in a lofty and sublime fashion, and
then, quitting the company of these others, he proceeds with Him to
the marriage in Cana of Galilee. And there, although the evangelist
himself mentions His mother by that very name, He nevertheless
addresses her thus: "Woman, what have I to do with thee?"  In
this, however, [it is to be understood that] He does not repel her of
whom He received the flesh, but means to convey the conception of His
divinity with special fitness at this time, when He is about to change
the water into wine; which divinity, likewise, had made that woman,
and had not itself been made in her.
12. Then, after noticing the few days spent in Capharnaum, the
evangelist comes again to the temple, where he states that Jesus spoke
of the temple of His body in these terms: "Destroy this temple, and in
three days I will raise it up:"  in which declaration emphatic
intimation is given not only that God was in that temple in the person
of the Word that was made flesh, but also that He Himself raised the
said flesh to life, in the veritable exercise of that prerogative
which He has in His oneness with the Father, and according to which He
does not act separately from Him; whereas it will perhaps be found
that, in all other passages, the phrase which Scripture employs is one
to the effect that God raised Him: neither is there any such
expression found anywhere else as that, when God raised Christ, Christ
also raised Himself, because He is one God with the Father; which is
the import of the passage now before us, in which He says, "Destroy
this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
13. Then how great and how divine are the words reported to have been
spoken with Nicodemus! From these the evangelist proceeds again to the
testimony of John, and brings before our notice the fact, that the
friend of the bridegroom cannot but rejoice because of the
bridegroom's voice. In this statement He gives us to understand that
the soul of man neither has light derivable from itself, nor can have
blessing, except by participation in the unchangeable wisdom.
Thereafter he carries us on to the case of the woman of Samaria, in
connection with which mention is made of the water, whereof if a man
drinks, he shall never thirst again. Once more, he brings us again to
Cana of Galilee, where Jesus had made the water wine. In that
narrative he tells us how He spoke to the nobleman, whose son was
sick, in these terms: "Except ye see signs and wonders ye believe
not:"  in which saying He aims at lifting the mind of the
believer high above all things mutable, so that He would not have even
the miracles themselves, which, however they may bear the impression
of what is divine, are yet wrought in the instance of what is
changeable in bodies, made objects of seeking on the part of the
14. Next he brings us back to Jerusalem, and tells the story of the
healing of the man who had an infirmity of thirty-eight years'
standing. What words are spoken on this occasion, and how ample is the
discourse! Here we are met by the sentence, "The Jews sought to kill
Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but said also that God was
His Father, making Himself equal with God."  In this passage it
is made sufficiently plain that He did not speak of God as His Father
in the ordinary sense in which holy men are in the habit of using the
phrase, but that He meant that He is His equal. For, a little before
this, He had said to those who were impeaching Him with violating the
Sabbath-day, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work."  Then
their fury flamed forth, not merely because He said that God was His
Father, but because He wished it to be understood that He was equal
with God, when He used the phrase, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I
work." In which utterance He also shows it to be matter of course
that, as the Father works, the Son should work also; because the
Father does not work without the Son. And this is in accordance with
what He states a little further on in the same passage, when these
parties were incensed at His declaration, namely, "For what things
soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." 
15. Then at length John descends to bear company with the other three,
whose course is with the same Lord, but upon the earth, and joins them
in recording the feeding of the five thousand men with the five
loaves. In this narrative, however, he is the only one who mentions,
that when the people wished to make Him a king, Jesus departed into a
mountain Himself alone.  And in making that statement, his
intention appears to me to have been just to communicate to the
reasonable soul the truth, that Christ reigns over our mind and reason
purely in a sphere in which He is exalted above us, in which He has no
community of nature with men, and in which He is verily by Himself
alone, as He is the Father's only fellow. This, however, is a mystical
truth, which escapes the cognizance of carnal men, whose life creeps
upon the lower soil of this earth, just because it is so sublime a
mystery. Hence Christ Himself also departs into the mountain from the
men whose habit is to seek for His kingdom with earthly conceptions of
it. Thus is it that He expresses Himself elsewhere to this effect, "My
kingdom is not of this world."  And this, again, is something
which is reported only by John, who soars high over earth in a kind of
ethereal flight, and delights himself in the light of the Sun of
righteousness. Then, on passing from the narrative connected with this
mountain, and from the miracle of the five loaves, he still keeps
company with the same three for a little while, until the notice of
the crossing of the sea is reached, and the occasion on which Jesus
walked upon the waters. But at this point he at once rises again to
the region of the Lord's discourses, and relates those words, so
grave, so lengthened, so sustainedly lofty and elevated, which had
their occasion in the multiplying of the bread, when He addressed the
multitudes to the following effect: "Verily, verily, I say unto you,
ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of
the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth,
but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life."  After
which sayings, He continues to discourse in similar terms for a very
long period, and in the most exalted strain. At that time, some fell
away from the sublime teaching of such words, namely, those who walked
no more with Him afterwards. But there were also those who did cleave
to Him; and these were they who were able to receive the meaning of
this saying, "It is the spirit that quickeneth, but the flesh
profiteth nothing."  For surely it is true, that even through
the flesh it is the spirit that profiteth,  and the spirit alone
that profiteth; whereas the flesh without the spirit profiteth
16. Next we come to the passage where His brethren--that is to say,
His relations according to the flesh--urge Him to go up to the
feast-day, in order that He may have an opportunity of making Himself
known to the multitude. And here, again, how supremely elevated is the
tone of His reply! "My time is not yet come, but your time is alway
ready. The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify
of it that the works thereof are evil."  So it is the case,
then, that "your time is alway ready," because ye desire that kind of
day to which the prophet refers when he says, "But I have not laboured
following Thee, O Lord; and the day of man I have not desired, Thou
knowest:"  that is to say, to soar to the light of the Word, and
to desire that day which Abraham desired to see, and which he did see,
and was glad.  And again, how wonderful, how divine, how sublime
are the words which John represents Him to have spoken after He had
gone up to the temple, at the time of the feast! They are such as
these: that where He was about to go, thither they could not come;
 that they both knew Him, and knew whence He was;  that He
who sent Him is true, whom they knew not,  which is much the
same as if He had said, "Ye both know whence I am, and know not whence
I am." And what else did He wish to be understood by such utterances,
but that it was possible for Him to be known to them according to the
flesh, in respect of lineage and country, but that, so far as regarded
His divinity, He was unknown to them? On this occasion, too, when He
spoke of the gift of the Holy Spirit, He showed them who He was,
inasmuch as He could hold the power of bestowing that highest boon.
17. Again, how weighty are the things which this evangelist reports
Jesus to have spoken, when He came back to the temple from Mount
Olivet, and after the forgiveness which He extended to the adulteress,
who had been brought before Him by His tempters, as one deserving to
be stoned: on which occasion He wrote with His finger upon the ground,
as if He would indicate that people of the character of these men
would be written on earth, and not in heaven, as He also admonished
His disciples to rejoice that their names were written in heaven!
 Or, it may be that He meant to convey the idea that it was by
humbling Himself (which He expressed by bending down His head) that He
wrought signs upon the earth; or, that the time was now come when His
law should be written, not, as formerly, on the sterile stone, but on
a soil which would yield fruit. Accordingly, after these incidents, He
affirmed Himself to be the light of the world, and declared that he
who followed Him would not walk in darkness, but would have the light
of life. He said, also, that He was "the beginning which also
discoursed to them."  By which designation He clearly
distinguished Himself from the light which He made, and presented
Himself as the Light by which all things have been made. Consequently,
when He said that He was the light of the world, we are not to take
the words to bear simply the sense intended when He addressed the
disciples in similar terms, saying, "Ye are the light of the world."
For they are compared only to the kindled light, which is not to be
put beneath a bushel, but to be set upon a candlestick;  as He
also says of John the Baptist, that "he was a burning and shining
light."  But He is Himself the beginning, of whom it is likewise
declared, that "of His fulness have all we received."  On the
occasion presently under review, He asserted further that He, the Son,
is the Truth, which will make us free, and without which no man will
be free. 
18. Next, after telling the story of the giving of sight to the man
who was blind from his birth, John tarries for a space over the
copious discourse to which that incident gave occasion, on the subject
of the sheep, and the shepherd, and the door, and the power of laying
down His life and taking it again, wherein He gave token of the
supreme might of His divinity. Thereafter, he relates how, at the time
when the feast of the dedication was being celebrated in Jerusalem,
the Jews said to Him, "How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be
the Christ, tell us plainly."  And then he reports the sublime
words which the Lord uttered when the opportunity thus arose for a
discourse. It was on this occasion that He said, "I and my Father are
one."  After this, again, he brings before us the raising of
Lazarus from the dead: in connection with which miracle the Lord said,
"I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth on me, though
he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in
me shall never die."  In these words what do we recognise but
the sublimity of the Godhead of Him, in fellowship with whom we shall
live for ever? Once more, John joins Matthew and Mark in what is
recorded about Bethany, where the scene took place with the precious
ointment which was poured upon His feet and His head by Mary. 
And then, on to the Lord's passion and resurrection, John keeps by the
other three evangelists, but only in so far as his narrative engages
itself with the same places.
19. Moreover, so far as regards the Lord's discourses, he does not
cease to ascend to the sublimer and more extended utterances of which,
from this point also, He delivered Himself. For he inserts a lofty
address which the Lord spoke on the occasion when, through Philip and
Andrew, the Gentiles expressed their desire to see Him, and which is
introduced by none of the other evangelists. There, too, he reports
the remarkable words which were spoken again on the subject of the
light which enlightens and makes men the children of light. 
Thereafter, in connection with the Supper itself, of which none of the
evangelists has failed to give us some notice, how affluent and how
lofty are those words of Jesus which John records, but which the
others have passed over in silence! I may instance not only His
commendation of humility, when He washed the disciples' feet, but also
that marvellously overpowering and pre-eminently copious discourse
which the Lord delivered to the eleven who remained with Him after His
betrayer had been indicated by the morsel of bread, and had gone out.
It was in this discourse, over which John lingers long, that He said,
"He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father also."  It was in
it, too, that He expressed Himself so largely about the Holy Spirit,
the Comforter, whom He was to send to them, and about His own glory,
which He had with the Father before the world was, and about His
making us one in Himself, even as He and the Father are one,--not that
He and the Father and we should be one, but that we should be one as
they are one. And many other things of a wonderfully sublime order did
He utter in that connection. But who can fail to see that to discuss
such themes in any manner that would be worthy of them, even if we
were competent to do so, is at least not the task which we have
undertaken in the present effort? For our object is to help those who
are lovers of the Word of God and students of holy truth to understand
that, in his Gospel, John was indeed an announcer and preacher of the
same Christ, the true and truthful One of whom the other three who
have composed Gospels also testified, and to whom the rest of the
apostles likewise bore witness, who, although they did not take in
hand the construction of written narratives, did at least discharge
the kindred service in officially preaching of Him: but that, at the
same time, he was borne to far loftier heights in the doctrine of
Christ from the very beginning of his book, and that it was but on
rare occasions that he kept to the level pursued by the others. These
occasions were the following in particular, namely: first by the
Jordan, in reference to the testimony of John the Baptist; secondly,
on the other side of the sea of Tiberias, when the Lord fed the
multitudes with the five loaves, and walked upon the waters; thirdly,
in Bethany, where He had the precious ointment poured over Him by the
devotion of a woman of faith. And so he proceeds, until he meets them
at the time of the Passion, which, as matter of course, he had to
relate in conjunction with them. But, even in that section, and on the
particular subject of the Lord's Supper, which has been left unnoticed
by none of them, he has presented us with a much more affluent
statement, as if he drew his materials directly from the
treasure-store of that bosom of the Lord on which it was his wont to
recline. Then, again, [John shows us how] He astonishes Pilate with
words of a sublimer import, declaring that His kingdom is not of this
world, and that He was born a King, and that He came into the world
for this purpose, that He might bear witness to the truth.  [It
is in this Gospel also that] He withdraws Himself  from Mary
with some deep mystical intention after His resurrection, and says to
her, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father."  It
is here, too, that He imparts the Holy Spirit to the disciples by
breathing on them  giving us thereby to understand that this
Spirit who is consubstantial and co-eternal with the Trinity, should
not be considered to be simply the Spirit of the Father, but should
also be held to be the Spirit of the Son.
20. Finally, He here commits His sheep to the care of Peter, who loves
Him, and thrice confesses that love, and then He states that He wills
this very John so to tarry until He comes.  In which utterance,
again, He seems to me to have conveyed in a profound and mystical way
the fact that this  evangelical stewardship of John's, in which
he is borne aloft into the most liquid light of the Word,  where
it is possible to behold the equality and unchangeableness of the
Trinity, and in which, above all, we see at what a distance from all
others in respect of essential character that humanity stands by whose
assumption it occurred that the Word was made flesh, cannot be clearly
discerned and recognised until the Lord Himself comes. Consequently,
it will tarry thus until He comes. At present it will tarry in the
faith of believers, but hereafter it will be possible to contemplate
it face to face,  when He, our Life, shall appear, and when we
shall appear with Him in glory.  But if any one supposes that
with man, living, as he still does, in this mortal life, it may be
possible for a person to dispel and clear off every obscurity induced
by corporeal and carnal fancies, and to attain to the serenest light
of changeless truth, and to cleave constantly and unswervingly to that
with a mind thoroughly estranged from the course of this present life,
that man understands neither what he asks, nor who he is that put such
a supposition. Let such an individual rather accept the authority, at
once lofty and free from all deceitfulness, which tells us that, as
long as we are in the body, we are absent from the Lord, and that we
walk by faith and not by sight.  And thus, with all perseverance
keeping and guarding his faith and hope and charity, let him look
forward to the sight which is promised, in accordance with that
earnest which we have received of the Holy Ghost, who shall teach us
all truth,  when God, who raised up Jesus Christ from the dead,
shall also quicken our mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in
us.  But before this body, which is dead by reason of sin, is
quickened, it is without doubt corruptible, and presseth down the
soul.  And if, in the body, man is ever helped to reach beyond
the cloud with which the whole earth is covered,  --that is to
say, beyond this carnal darkness with which the whole life of earth is
covered,--it is simply as if he were touched with a rapid coruscation,
only to sink swiftly into his natural infirmity, the desire surviving
by which he may again be excited (to what is evil), and the purity
being insufficient to establish him (in what is good). The more,
however, any one can do this, the greater is he; while the less he can
do so, the less is he. And if the mind of a man has as yet had no such
experience--in which mind nevertheless Christ dwells by faith--he
ought to strive earnestly to diminish the lusts of this world, and to
make an end of them by the exercise of moral virtue, walking, as it
were, in the company of these three evangelists with Christ the
Mediator. And, with the joy of large hope, let him in faith hold Him
who is alway the Son of God, but who, for our sakes, became the Son of
man, in order that His eternal power and Godhead might be united with
 our weakness and mortality, and, on the basis of what is ours,
make a way for us in Himself and to Himself. That a man may be kept
from sinning, he should be ruled by Christ the King. If he happens to
sin, he may obtain remission from Christ, who is also priest. And
thus, nurtured in the exercise of a good conversation and life, and
borne out of the atmosphere of earth on the wings of a twofold love,
as on a pair of strong pinions, so may he be enlightened by the same
Christ, who is also the Word, the Word who was in the beginning, the
Word who was with God, and the Word who was God; and although that
will still be through a glass darkly, it will be a sublime kind of
illumination far superior to every corporeal similitude. Wherefore,
although it is the gifts of the active virtue that shine pre-eminent
in the first three evangelists, while it is the gift of the
contemplative virtue that discerns such subjects, nevertheless, this
Gospel of John, in so far as it also is in part, will so tarry until
that which is perfect comes.  And to one, indeed, is given by
the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge by the
same Spirit.  One man regardeth the day to the Lord; 
another receives a clearer draught from the breast of the Lord;
another is caught up even to the third heaven, and hears unspeakable
words.  But all, as long as they are in the body, are absent
from the Lord.  And for all believers living in the good hope,
whose names are written in the book of life, there is still in reserve
that which is referred to in the words, "And I will love him, and will
manifest myself unto him."  Nevertheless, the greater the
advance which a man may make in the apprehension and knowledge of this
theme during the time of this absence from the Lord, all the more
carefully should he guard against those devilish vices, pride and
envy. Let him remember that this very Gospel of John, which urges us
so pre-eminently to the contemplation of truth, gives a no less
remarkable prominence to the inculcation of the sweet grace of
charity. Let him also consider that most true and wholesome precept
which is couched in the words, "The greater thou art, the more humble
thyself in all."  For the evangelist who presents Christ to us
in a far loftier strain of teaching than all the others, is also the
one in whose narrative the Lord washes the disciples' feet. 
 Apoc. iv. 6, 7.
 See chap. iii.
 John i. 1, 14.
 John x. 30.
 John ii. 1-11.
 John ii. 12-22.
 John iv. 48.
 John v. 18.
 John v. 17.
 John v. 19.
 John vi. 15.
 John xviii. 36.
 John vi. 26, 27.
 John vi. 63.
 The text gives: et per carnem spiritus prodest. Some editions
read et carni, etc. = the spirit profiteth even the flesh. [The
erroneous view of the term "flesh" leads to this explanation. It has
already in this passage an ethical sense, which Augustin ignores.--R.]
 John vii. 6, 7.
 Jer. xvii. 16.
 John viii. 56.
 John vii. 34.
 John vii. 28.
 John vii. 28.
 Luke x. 20.
 Se esse principium quod et loqueretur eis, as the rendering of
the ten archen ho ti kai lalo humin in John viii. 25.
 Matt. v. 14, 15.
 John v. 35.
 John i. 16.
 John viii. 36.
 John x. 24.
 John x. 30.
 John xi. 25, 26.
 John xii. 1-9; Matt. xxvi. 6-13; Mark xiv. 3-9.
 John xii. 20-50.
 John xiv. 9.
 John xviii. 36, 37.
 The text gives vitans. Many mss. and editions read visitans
=coming to Mary.
 John xx. 17.
 John xx. 22.
 John xxi. 23.
 Some mss. insert secretam = secret.
 Reading, lucem liquidissimam verbi sublimiter. But various mss.
and editions give verbi sublimitate fertur, etc. = borne aloft in the
sublimity of the word into the most liquid light.
 1 Cor. xiii. 12.
 Col. iii. 4.
 2 Cor. v. 6, 7.
 John xvi. 13.
 Rom. viii. 10, 11.
 Wisd. of Sol. ix. 13.
 Ecclus. xxiv. 3.
 Contemperata = attempered to.
 1 Cor. xiii. 12, 9, 10.
 1 Cor. xii. 8.
 Rom. xiv. 6.
 2 Cor. xii. 2-4.
 2 Cor. v. 6.
 John xiv. 21.
 Ecclus. iii. 18.
 John xiii. 5.
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