St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea (Golden Chain)

Gospel of Matthew

translated by
John Henry Parker, v. I, J.G.F. and J. Rivington
London, 1842



CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION
Chapters:
*1**2**3**4**5**6**7**8**9**10**11**12**13**14*
*15**16**17**18**19**20**21**22**23**24**25**26**27**28


INTRODUCTION

Go up to the top of the mountain, thou that preachest glad tidings in Sion; lift up thy voice with might, thou that preachest in Jerusalem: cry aloud, fear not: say to the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Lo, the Lord God shall come with power, and His arm shall have dominion; Lo, His reward is with Him. [Isaiah xl. 9]

The Prophet Isaiah, a manifest preacher of the Gospel, briefly expressing the loftiness, the name, and the substance of the Gospel doctrine, addresses the evangelic teacher in the person of the Lord, saying, “Go up to the top of the mountain, &c.”

But to make our beginning with the title, The Gospel.

Augustine, contra Faust., ii, 2: The word, ‘Evangelium,’ (Gospel,) is rendered in Latin ‘bonus nuntius,’ or ‘bona annuntiatio,’ (good news.) It may indeed be used on all occasions whenever any good is announced; but it has come to be appropriated to the announcement of the Saviour.

Gloss.: Those who have related the birth, deeds, words, and sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ, are properly styled Evangelists.

Chrysostom, Homil. in Matt., i, 2: For what is there that can equal these good tidings? God on earth, man in heaven; that long war ceased, reconciliation made between God and our nature, the devil overthrown, death abolished, paradise opened. These things, so far beyond our merits, are given us with all fulness; not for our own toil or labour, but because we are beloved of God.

Augustine, de vera relig, c. 16: Whereas God in many ways heals the souls of men, according to the times and the seasons which are ordained by His [p. 2] marvellous wisdom, yet has He in no way more beneficently provided for the human race, than when the Very Wisdom of God, the Only Son of one substance and coeternal with the Father, stooped to take upon Him perfect man, and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Hereby He made manifest how high a place among creatures had human nature, in that He appeared to men as Very Man.

Pseudo-Aug., Serm. de Nativ., Serm. ix: God was made man, that man might be made God.

Gloss.: This part of the glad tidings that should be preached, the Prophet foretells saying, “Behold, your God, &c.”

Pope Leo, Epist. ad Flavian., xxviii, 3: For this emptying of himself, by which the Invisible made Himself Visible, and the Creator and Lord of all things choose to become one of us mortal creatures, was a stooping of His mercy, not a failing of His power.

Gloss.: Therefore that the Lord should not be supposed to be present in such a way as that there should be any thing lost of His power, the Prophet adds, “The Lord shall come with power.”

Aug., de doct. Christ, i, 12: “Come,” not by passing through the regions of space, but by shewing Himself to men in the flesh.

Leo, Serm. in Nativ., xix, 3: By the unspeakable power of God, it was wrought, that while very Man was in the inviolable God, and very God is passible flesh, there was bestowed upon man, glory through shame, immortality through punishment, life through death.

Aug., de Peccatorum Meritis, ii, 30: For blood that was without sin being shed, the bond of all men’s sins was done away, by which men were before held captive by the Devil.

Gloss.: Therefore because men, having been delivered from sin by virtue of Christ suffering, became the servants of God, it follows, “And His arm shall have dominion.”

Leo: In Christ then was given us this wonderful deliverance, that on our passible nature the condition of death should not abide, which His impassible essence had admitted, and that by that which could not die, that which was dead might be brought to life.

Gloss.: And thus through Christ is opened to us the entrance of immortal glory, concerning which it follows, “Lo, His reward is with Him;” that, namely, of which Himself speaks, “Your reward is abundant in heaven.” [Matt 5:12]

Aug., contra Faust., iv, 2: The promise of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven belongs to the New Testament; in the Old Testament are contained promises of temporal things.

Gloss.: So then evangelic teaching delivers to us four things [p. 3] concerning Christ; the Divinity that takes upon it, the Humanity that is taken upon it, His Death by which we are delivered from bondage, His Resurrection by which the entrance of a glorious life is opened to us. On this account it is represented in Ezekiel under the figure of the four animals.

Gregory, in Ezek, Hom., iv: The Only-begotten Son of God was Himself verily made Man; Himself condescended to die as the sacrifice of our redemption as a Calf; He rose again through the power of His might, as a Lion; and as an Eagle He ascended aloft into heaven.

Gloss.: In which ascension He shewed manifestly His Divinity; Matthew then is denoted by the Man, because he dwells chiefly on the humanity of Christ; Mark by the Lion, because he treats of His Resurrection; Luke by the Calf, because he insists on His Priesthood; John by the Eagle, because he describes the sacraments of His Divinity.

Ambrose, Comm. in Luc., pref.: And it has happened well that we set out with delivering the opinion that the Gospel according to Matthew is of a moral kind, for morals are the peculiar province of man. The figure of a Lion is ascribed to Mark, because he begins with an assertion of His Divine power, saying, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.” The figure of the Eagle is given to John, because he has described the miracles of the Divine Resurrection.

Greg.: These things the commencement of each of the Gospel books testifies. Because he opens with Christ’s human generation, Matthew is rightly designated by a Man; Mark by a Lion, because he begins with the crying in the desert; Luke by a Calf, because he begins with a sacrifice; because he takes his beginning from the divinity of the Word, John is worthily signified by an Eagle.

Aug., de Consensu Evang., i, 6: Or, Matthew who has chiefly represented the regal character of Christ, is designated by a Lion; Luke by a Calf, because of the Priest’s victim; Mark, who chose neither to relate the royal nor the priestly lineage [ed. note: The original text of Augustine has here, “neque stirpem regiam neque sacerdotalem vel consecrationem vel cognationem.”], and yet is clearly busied about His human nature, is designated by the figure of a Man.

These three animals, the Lion, the Man, the Calf, walk on the earth, whence these three Evangelists are mostly employed about those things which Christ wrought in the flesh.

But John, [p. 4] as the Eagle, soars on high, and with most keen eyes of the heart beholds the light of unchangeable Truth. From which we may understand, that the other three Evangelists are occupied about the active, and John about the contemplative, life.

The Greek Doctors by the Man understood Matthew, because he has deduced the Lord’s lineage according to the flesh; by the Lion, John, because as the lion, strikes terror into the other beasts by his roaring, so John struck terror into all heretics; by the Calf, they understood Luke, because the calf was the victim of the Priests, and he is much employed concerning the Temple and the Priesthood; and by the Eagle they understood Mark, because the eagle in the Divine Scripture is used to denote the Holy Spirit, who spake by the mouths of the Prophets; and Mark begins with a citation from the Prophets.

Jerome, Hier. Prolog. in Evan. Matt. ad Euseb., Luke 1, 1: Concerning the number of the Evangelists, it should be known, that there were many who had written Gospels, as the Evangelist Luke witnesses, saying, “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand, &c.,” and as books remaining to the present time declare which divers authors have set forth, therein laying the foundation of many heresies; such as the Gospel according to the Egyptians, according to Thomas, Matthias, and Bartholomew [see note, b, just below]; that of the twelve Apostles, and Basilides, and Apelles, and others whom it would be long to reckon up.

[ed. note, b: These apocryphal compositions are elsewhere mentioned by Clement Alex. (Strom, iii, p. 539, 553) Origen (in Luc. i) Eusebius (Hist. iii. 25) Pseudo-Athanasius (Synops. 76) Cyril (Catech. iv. 36, vi. 31) Epiphanius (Hier, 62, n. 2) Ambrose (in Luc. i. 2) and Pope Gelasius in his Decree.

The Gospel according to the Egyptians is supposed to be one of the works referred to in the beginning of St. Luke. It was afterwards used by the Gnostics and Sabellians in their defence. There seem to have been several Gospels according to Thomas, one ascribed to a disciple of Manes; one of an earlier date. One is still extant and is one of the two Gospels of our Saviour’s infancy, which seem to be the work of the Gnostics.

The Gospel according to the Twelve Apostles seems to be the same as the celebrated Gospel according to the Nazarenes, or Hebrews, supposed to have been prior to the inspired Gospels, and afterwards corrupted by the Ebionites. Basilides was a Gnostic, and Apelles a Marcionite. Little is known of the Gospels according to Matthias, and Bartholomew; the former seems to have been of Gnostic origin.]

But the Church, which is founded by the Lord’s word upon the rock, sending forth, like Paradise, its four streams, has four corners and four rings, by which as the ark of the covenant, and the guardian of the Law of the Lord, it is carried about on moveable [ed. note: some read, immobilibus] [p. 5] staves.

Aug., de cons. Evan. i. 2: Or, Because there are four quarters of the world, through the whole of which Christ’s Church is extended. In learning and preaching they had a different order from that they had in writing. In learning and preaching they ranked first who followed the Lord present in the flesh, heard Him teaching, saw Him acting, and by His mouth were sent to preach the Gospel; but in penning the Gospel, an order which we must suppose to have been fixed by Heaven, the first place, and the last place were filled out of the number of those whom the Lord chose before His passion, the first by Matthew, the last by John; so that the other two, who were not of that number, but who yet followed Christ speaking in them, were embraced as sons, and placed in the middle between the other two, so as to be supported by them on both sides.

Remigius: Matthew wrote in Judaea in the time of the Emperor Caius Caligula; Mark in Italy, at Rome, in the time of Nero or Claudius, according to Rabanus; Luke in the parts of Achaia and Baeotia, at the request of Theophilus; John at Ephesus, in Asia Minor, under Nerva.

Bede: But though there were four Evangelists, yet what they wrote is not so much four Gospels, as one true harmony of four books. For as two verses having the same substance, but different words and different metre, yet contain one and the same matter, so the books of the Evangelists, though four in number, yet contain one Gospel, teaching one doctrine of the Catholic faith.

Chrys.: It had indeed been enough that one Evangelist should have written all; but whereas four speak all things as with one mouth, and that neither from the same place nor at the same time, nor having met and discoursed together, these things are the greatest test of truth.

It is also a mark of truth that in some small matters they seem to disagree. For had their agreement been complete throughout, adversaries might have supposed that it was by a human collusion that this was brought about. Indeed, in essentials which pertain to direction of life, and preaching the faith, they do not differ in the least thing. And if in their accounts of miracles, one tells it in one way, another in another, let not this disturb you; but think that if one had told all, the other three would have been a needless superfluity; had they all written different things, there would have been no [p. 6] room for proof of their harmony. And if their account differs in times or modes, this does not hinder the truth of the facts themselves which they relate, as shall be shewn below.

Aug.: Though each seems to have followed an order of narration of his own, yet we do not find any one of them writing as if in ignorance of his predecessor, or that he left out some things which he did not know, which another was to supply; but as each had inspiration, he gave accordingly the cooperation of his own not unnecessary labour.

Gloss.: But the sublimity of the Gospel doctrine consists, first, in its preeminent authority.

Aug.: For among all the Divine instruments which are contained in Holy Writ, the Gospel has justly the most excellent place; its first preachers were the Apostles who had seen the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ present in the flesh; and some of them, that is, Matthew and John, published each a book of such things as seemed good to be published concerning Him.

And that it should not be supposed, that, as far as relates to receiving and preaching the Gospel, it makes any difference whether it is announced by those who followed Him during His sojourn in the flesh, or by those who faithfully believed what they heard from others, it is provided by Divine Providence through the Holy Spirit [ed. note: a clause is inserted here from the original to complete the sense.], that a commission, as well of writing as of preaching the Gospel, should be bestowed on some out of the number of those that followed the first Apostles.

Gloss.: And thus it is clear that the sublimity of the authority of the Gospel is derived from Christ; this is proved by the words of the Prophet cited above, “Go up to the top of the mountain.” For Christ is that Mountain of whom the same Isaiah speaks, “And there shall be in the last days a mountain prepared, the house of the Lord in the top of the mountains;” [Isa 2:2] that is, upon all the saints who from Christ the Mountain are also called mountains; for of His fulness have we all received. And rightly is that, “Go thou up upon a high mountain,” addressed to Matthew, who, as had been foretold, in his own person saw the deeds of Christ, and heard His doctrine.

Aug., de cons. Evan. i. 7: This should be considered which to many presents a great difficulty, why the Lord Himself wrote nothing, so that we are obliged to give our belief to others who wrote [p. 7] of Him.

Gloss.: But we ought not to say that He wrote nothing, seeing His members have written those things which they learned by the dictation of their Head. For whatever He would have us to read concerning His actions or His words, that He enjoined upon them to write as His own hands.

Gloss.: Secondly, the Evangelic doctrine has sublimity of strength; whence the Apostle says, “The Gospel is the power of God to the salvation of all that believe.” [Rom 1:16] The Prophet also shews this in the foregoing words, “Lift up thy voice with might;” which further marks out the manner of evangelic teaching, by that raising the voice which gives clearness to the doctrine.

Aug., ad Volus. Ep. 3: For the mode in which Holy Scripture is put together, is one accessible to all, but thoroughly entered into by few. The things it shews openly, it doth as a familiar friend without guile speaking to the heart of the unlearned, as the learned. The things it veils in mysteries, it does not deck out in lofty speech, to which a slow and unlearned soul would not dare to approach, as a poor man would not to a rich; but in lowly phrase it invites all, whom it not only feeds with plain truth, but exercises in hidden knowledge; for it has matter of both.

But that its plain things might not be despised, these very same things it again withholds; being withheld they become as new; and thus become new they are again pleasingly expressed. Thus all tempers have here what is meet for them; the bad are corrected, the weak are strengthened, the strong are gratified.

Gloss.: But because the voice when raised on high is heard further off, by the raising of the voice may be denoted the publication of the Gospel doctrine; because it is given to be preached not to one nation only, but to all nations. The Lord speaks, “Preach the Gospel to every creature.” [Matt 16:15]

Gregory, Homil. in Evan, 28: By every creature may be meant the Gentiles.

Gloss.: The Evangelic doctrine has, thirdly, the loftiness of liberty.

Aug., con. Adver. Legis et Proph. i. 17: Under the Old Testament because of the promise of temporal goods and the threatening of temporal evils, the temporal Jerusalem begets slaves; but under the New Testament, where faith requires love, by which the Law can be fulfilled not more through fear of punishment, than from love of righteousness, the eternal Jerusalem begets [p. 8] freemen.

Gloss.: This excellence of the Gospel doctrine the Prophet describes when he says, “Cry aloud, fear not.” It remains to see to whom, and for what purpose, this Gospel was written.

Jerome, Hier. Prolog. ad Euseb: Matthew published his Gospel in Judaea, in the Hebrew tongue, for the sake of those of the Jews who believed in Jerusalem.

Gloss. Ordinaria: For having first preached the Gospel in Judaea, being minded to pass to the Gentiles, he first put in writing a Gospel in Hebrew, and left it as a memorial to those brethren from whom he was departing. For as it was necessary that the Gospel should be preached for confirmation of the faith, so was it necessary that it should be written to oppose heretics.

Pseudo-Chrys., Comm. in Matt., Prolog: Matthew has arranged his narrative in a regular series of events. First, the birth, secondly, the baptism, thirdly, the temptation, fourthly, the teachings, fifthly, the miracles, sixthly, the passion, seventhly, the resurrection, and lastly, the ascension of Christ; desiring by this not only to set forth the history of Christ, but to teach the order of evangelic life.

It is nought that we are born of our parents, if we be not reborn again of God by water and the Spirit. After baptism we must resist the Devil. Then being as it were superior to all temptation, he is made fit to teach, and if he be a priest let him teach, and commend his teaching, as it were, by the miracles of a good life; if he be lay, let him teach faith by his works. In the end we must take our departure from the stage of this world, and there remains that the reward of resurrection and glory follow the victory over temptation.

Gloss.: From what has been said then, we understand the title Gospel, the substance of the Gospel doctrine, the emblems of the writers of the Gospel, their number, their time, language, discrepancy and arrangement; the sublimity of the Gospel doctrine; to whom this Gospel is addressed, and the method of its arrangement.

 

Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 1

[p. 9]

Ver. 1. The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.


Jerome, Ez, i. 5. Hier. Prolog. in Com. in Matt.: ‘The face of a man’ (in Ezekiel’s vision) signifies Matthew, who accordingly opens his Gospel with the human genealogy of Christ.

Rabanus: By this exordium he shews that it is the birth of Christ according to the flesh that he has undertaken to narrate.

Pseudo-Chrys., Hom. in Matt., Hom. i: Matthew wrote for the Jews, and in Hebrew [ed. note: It seems to be the general witness of antiquity that there was a Hebrew copy of St. Matthew’s Gospel, whether written before or after the Greek. This Hebrew copy was interpolated by the Ebionites.]; to them it was unnecessary to explain the divinity which they recognized; but necessary to unfold the mystery of the Incarnation. John wrote in Greek for the Gentiles who knew nothing of a Son of God. They required therefore to be told first, that the Son of God was God, then that this Deity was incarnate.

Rabanus: Though the genealogy occupies only a small part of the volume, he yet begins thus, “The book of the generation.” For it is the manner of the Hebrews to name their books from that with which they open; as Genesis.

Gloss. Ordinaria: The full expression would be “This is the book of the generation;” but this is a usual ellipse; e.g. “The vision of Isaiah,” for, ‘This is the vision.’

“Generation,” he says in the singular number, though there be many here given in succession, as it is for the sake of the one generation of Christ that the rest are here introduced.

Chrys., Hom. in Matt., Hom. ii: Or he therefore entitles it, “The book of the generation,” because this is the sum of the whole dispensation, the root of all its blessings; viz. [p. 10] that God become man; for this once effected, all other things followed of course.

Rabanus: He says, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ,” because he knew it was written, ‘The book of the generation of Adam.’ He begins thus then, that he may oppose book to book, the new Adam to the old Adam, for by the one were all things restored which had been corrupted by the other.

Jerome, Hier. Comm. in Matt., ch. 1: We read in Isaiah, “Who shall declare His generation?” [Isa 53:8] But it does not follow that the Evangelist contradicts the Prophet, or undertakes what he declares impossible; for Isaiah is speaking of the generation of the Divine nature; St. Matthew of the incarnation of the human.

Chrys.: And do not consider this genealogy a small thing to hear: for truly it is a marvellous thing that God should descend to be born of a woman, and to have as His ancestors David and Abraham.

Remigius: Though any affirm that the prophet (Isaiah) does speak of His human generation, we need not answer to his enquiry, “Who shall declare it?” - “No man;” but, “Very few;” because Matthew and Luke have.

Rabanus: By saying, “of Jesus Christ,” he expresses both the kingly and priestly office to be in Him, for Jesus, who first bore this name, was after Moses, the first who was leader of the children of Israel; and Aaron, anointed by the mystical ointment, was the first priest under the Law.

Hilary, Quaest. Nov. et Vet. Test. q. 40: What God conferred on those, who, by the anointing of oil were consecrated as kings or priests, this the Holy Spirit conferred on the Man Christ; adding moreover a purification. The Holy Spirit cleansed that which taken of the Virgin Mary was exalted into the Body of the Saviour, and this is that anointing of the Body of the Saviour’s flesh whence He was called Christ.

[ed. note: This passage is from a work commonly ascribed to Hilary the Deacon. The Fathers bear out its doctrine; e.g. “Since the flesh is not holy in itself, therefore it was sanctified even in Christ, the Word which dwelt in it, through the Holy Ghost, sanctifying His own Temple, and changing it into the energy of His own Nature. For therefore is Christ’s Body understood to be both holy and hallowing, as being made a Temple of the Word united to it bodily, as Paul says.” Cyril Alex. lib. v. in Joann. p. 992.

In like manner, Gregory of Nazianzus speaks of “The Father of the True and really Anointed (Christ), whom He has anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows, anointing the manhood with the Godhead, so as to make both one.” Orat. 5. fin]

Because the impious craft of the Jews denied that Jesus was born of the seed of David, he adds, “The son of David, the son of Abraham.” [p. 11]

Chrys.: But why would it not have been enough to name one of them, David alone, or Abraham alone? Because the promise had been made to both of Christ to be born of their seed. To Abraham, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” [Gen 22:18] To David, “Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy seat.” [Ps 137:11]

He therefore calls Christ the Son of both, to shew that in Him was fulfilled the promise to both. Also because Christ was to have three dignities; King, Prophet, Priest; but Abraham was prophet and priest; priest, as God says to him in Genesis, “Take an heifer;” [Gen 15:9] Prophet, as the Lord said to Abimelech concerning him, “He is a prophet, and shall pray for thee.” [Gen 20:7] David was king and prophet, but not priest.

Thus He is expressly called the son of both, that the threefold dignity of His forefathers might be recognized by hereditary right in Christ.

Ambrose, in Luc. iii: He therefore names specially two authors of His birth - one who received the promise concerning the kindreds of the people, the other who obtained the oracle concerning the generation of Christ; and though he is later in order of succession is yet first named, inasmuch as it is greater to have received the promise concerning Christ than concerning the Church, which is through Christ; for greater is He who saves than that which is saved.

Jerome: The order of the names is inverted, but of necessity; for had he written Abraham first, and David afterwards, he would have to repeat Abraham again to preserve the series of the genealogy.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Another reason is that royal dignity is above natural, though Abraham was first in time, yet David is honour.

Gloss.: But since from this title it appears that the whole book is concerning Jesus Christ, it is necessary first to know what we must think concerning Him; for so shall be better explained what this book relates of Him.

Aug., de Haer, et 10: Cerinthus then and Ebion made Jesus Christ only man; Paul of Samosata, following them, asserted Christ not to have had an existence from eternity, but to have begun to be from His birth of the Virgin Mary; he also thought Him nothing more than man. This heresy was afterwards confirmed by Photinus.

Pseudo-Athan., Vigil. Tapsens. (Athan. Ed. Ben., vol ii, p. 646): The Apostle John, seeing long before by the Holy Spirit this man’s madness, rouses him from his deep sleep of error by the preaching of his voice, saying, “In the beginning was the [p. 12] Word.” [John 1:1]

He therefore, who in the beginning was with God, could not in this last time take the beginning of His being from man. He says further, (let Photinus hear his words,) “Father, glorify Me with that glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” [John 17:5]

Aug., de Haeres. 19: The error of Nestorius was, that he taught that a man only was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom the Word of God received not into Unity of person and inseparable fellowship; a doctrine which Catholic ears could not endure.

Cyril of Alexandria, Ep. i. ad Monachos Egypti.: Saith the Apostle of the Only-begotten, “Who being in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God.” [Phil 2:6]

Who then is this who is in the form of God? or how emptied He Himself, and humbled Himself to the likeness of man? If the abovementioned heretics dividing Christ into two parts, i.e. the Man and the Word, affirm that it was the Man that was emptied of glory, they must first shew what form and equality with the Father are understood to be, and did exist, which might suffer any manner of emptying.

But there is no creature, in its own proper nature, equal with the Father; how then can any creature be said to be emptied? or from what eminence to descend to become man? Or how can he be understood to have taken upon Him, as though He had not at first, the form of a servant?

But, they say, the Word being equal with the Father dwelt in Man born of a woman, and this is the emptying. I hear the Son truly saying to the Holy Apostles, “If any man love Me, he will keep My saying, and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.” [John 14:23]

Hear how He saith that He and the Father will dwell in them that love Him. Do you then suppose that we shall grant that He is there emptied of His glory, and has taken upon Him the form of a servant, when He makes His abode in the hearts of them that love Him? Or the Holy Spirit, does He fulfil an assumption of human flesh when He dwells in our hearts?

Isidore, Epist. lib. iv. 166: But not to mention all arguments, let us bring forward that one to which all arguments point, that, for one who was God to assume a lowly guise both has an obvious use, and is an adaptation and in nothing contradicts the course of nature. But for one who is man to speak things divine and supernatural is the highest presumption; for though a king may [p. 13] humble himself a common soldier may not take on him the state of an emperor. So, if He were God made man, all lowly things have place; but if mere man, high things have none.

Aug., de Haeres. 41: Sabellius they say was a disciple of Noctus, who taught that the same Christ was one and the same Father and Holy Spirit.

Pseudo-Athan., Vigil. Tapsens. (ibid. p. 644): The audaciousness of this most insane error I will curb by the authority of the heavenly testimonies, and demonstrate the distinct personality of the proper substance of the Son. I shall not produce things which are liable to be explained away as agreeable to the assumption of human nature; but shall offer such passages as all will allow to be decisive in proof of His divine nature.

In Genesis we find God saying, “Let Us make man in Our own Image.” By this plural number shewing, that there was some other person to whom He spoke. Had He been one, He would have been said to have made Him in His own Image, but there is another; and He is said to have made man in the Image of that other.

Gloss.: Other denied the reality of Christ’s human nature. Valentinus said that Christ sent from the Father, carried about a spiritual or celestial body, and took nothing of the Virgin, but passed through her as through a channel, taking nothing of her flesh. But we do not therefore believe Him to have been born of the Virgin, because by no other means He could have truly lived in the flesh, and appeared among men; but because it is so written in the Scripture, which if we believe not we cannot either be Christians, or be saved.

But even a body taken of spiritual, or ethereal, or clayey substance, had He willed to change into the true and very quality of human flesh, who will deny His power to do this? The Manichaeans said that the Lord Jesus Christ was a phantasm, and could not be born of the womb of a woman. But if the body of Christ was a phantasm, He was a deceiver, and if a deceiver, then He was not the truth. But Christ is the Truth; therefore His Body was not a phantasm.

Gloss.: And as the opening both of this Gospel, and of that according to Luke, manifestly proves Christ’s birth of a woman, and hence His real humanity, they reject the beginning of both these Gospels.

Aug., cont. Faust, ii, 1: Faustus affirms, that “the Gospel both begins, and begins to be so called, from the preaching of [p. 14] Christ, in which He no where affirms Himself to have been born of men. [ed. note: The Ebionites, as well as the Manichees, rejected the beginning of St. Matthew, vid. Epiphan. II arr. xxx. 23. And the Marcionites the beginning of St. Luke. Epiph. Haer. xlii, 11. But what exact portion they rejected is doubtful.]

Nay, so far is this genealogy from being part of the Gospel, that the writer does not venture so to entitle it; beginning, ‘The book of the generation,’ not ‘The book of the Gospel.’ Mark again, who cared not to write of the generation, but only of the preaching of the Son of God, which is properly The Gospel, begins thus accordingly, “The Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.” Thus then, all that we read in Matthew before the words, “Jesus began to preach the Gospel of the kingdom,” [Matt 4:!4] is a part of the genealogy, not of the Gospel. I therefore betook myself to Mark and John, with whose prefaces I had good reason to be satisfied, as they introduce neither David, nor Mary, nor Joseph.”

To which Augustine replies, What will he say then to the Apostle’s words, “Remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ of the seed of David according to my Gospel.” [2 Tim 2:8] But the Gospel of the Apostle Paul was likewise that of the other Apostles, and of all the faithful, as he says, “Whether I, or they, thus have we preached the Gospel.”

Aug., de Haer., 49: The Arians will not have the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to be of one and the same substance, nature, and existence; but that the Son is a creature of the Father, and Holy Spirit a creature of a creature, i.e. created by the Son; further, they think that Christ took the flesh without a soul.

But John declares the Son to be not only God, but even of the same substance as the Father; [margin note: ref Id. de Trin. i. 6] for when he had said, “The Word was God,” he added, “all things were made by Him;” whence it is clear that He was not made by Whom all things were made; and if not made, then not created; and therefore of one substance with the Father, for all that is not of one substance with the Father is creature.

I know not what benefit the person of the Mediator has conferred upon us, if He redeemed not our better part, but took upon Him our flesh only, which without the soul cannot have consciousness of the benefit. But if Christ came to save that which had perished, [p. 15] the whole man had perished, and therefore needs a Saviour; Christ then in coming saves the whole man, taking on Him both soul and body.

How too do they answer innumerable objections from the Gospel Scriptures, in which the Lord speaks so many things manifestly contrary to them? as is that, “My soul is sorrowful even unto death,” [Matt 26:38] and, “I have power to lay down My life;” [John 10:18] and many more things of the like kind.

Should they say that He spoke thus in parables, we have at hand proofs from the Evangelists themselves, who in relating His actions, bear witness as to the reality of His body, so of His soul, by mention of passions which cannot be without a soul; as when they say, “Jesus wondered, was angry,” and others of like kind.

The Apollinarians also as the Arians affirmed that Christ had taken the human flesh without the soul [margin note: Id. de Haeres. 55]. But overthrown on this point by the weight of Scripture proof, they then said that part which is the rational soul of man was wanting to the soul of Christ, and that its place was filled by the Word itself.

But if it be so, then we must believe that the Word of God took on Him the nature of some brute with a human shape and appearance. But even concerning the nature of Christ’s body, there are some who have so far swerved from the right faith, as to say, that the flesh and the Word were of one and the same substance, most perversely insisting on that expression, The Word was made flesh; which they interpret that some portion of the Word was changed into flesh, not that He took to Him flesh of the flesh of the Virgin.

[ed. note: Some of the Apollinarians thus hold. vid. Nyssen. vol. ii, p. 694. A.Theodor. Eranist. p. 174. ed. Schulz. The same doctrine was afterwards ascribed to the Eutychians, vid. Vigil. Taps. in Eutych. iv. Theod. Haer. iv. 13]

Cyril, Ep. ad Joan. Antioch. tom. 6, Ep. 107: We account those persons mad who have suspected that so much as the shadow of change could take place in the nature of the Divine Word; it abides what it ever was, neither is nor can be changed.

Leo, Epist. 59, ad Const.: We do not speak of Christ as man in such a sort as to allow that any thing was wanting to Him, which it is certain pertains to human nature, whether soul, or rational mind, or flesh, and flesh such as was taken of the Woman, not gained by a change or conversion of the Word into flesh.

These three several errors, that thrice false heresy of the Apollinarists has brought forward. Eutyches also chose out this third dogma of Apollinaris, which denying [p. 16] the verity of the human body and soul, maintained that our Lord Jesus Christ was wholly and entirely of one nature, as though the Divine Word had changed itself into flesh and soul, and as though the conception, birth, growth, and such like, had been undergone by that Divine Essence, which was incapable of any such changes with the very and true flesh; for such as is the nature of the Only-begotten, such is the nature of the Father, and such is the nature of the Holy Ghost, both impassible and eternal.

But if to avoid being driven to the conclusion that the Godhead could feel suffering and death, he departs from the corruption of Apollinaris, and should still dare to affirm the nature of the incarnate Word, that is of the Word and the flesh, to be the same, he clearly falls into the insane notions of Manichaeus and Marcion, and believes that the Lord Jesus Christ did all His actions with a false appearance, that His body was not a human body, but a phantasm, which imposed on the eyes of the beholders.

But what Eutyches ventured [margin note: Id. Ep. 35 ad Julian] to pronounce as an episcopal decision, that in Christ before His incarnation were two natures, but after His incarnation only one, it behoved that he should have been urgently pressed to give the reason of this his belief.

I suppose that in using such language he supposed the soul which the Saviour took, to have had its abode in heaven before it was born of the Virgin Mary [ed. note, e: This opinion, which involves Nestorianism, the opposite error to Eutychianism or Monophysitism, is imputed to Eutyches by Flavian, ap. Leon. Ep. xxii. 3. Ephraem, Antioch, ap Phot. p. 805. Leont. de Sectis 7 init].

This Catholic hearts and ears endure not, for that the Lord when He came down from heaven shewed nothing of the condition of human nature, nor did He take on Him any soul that had existed before, nor any flesh that was not taken of the flesh of His mother. Thus what was justly condemned in Origen [ed. note, f: Vid. Origen in Joan. t. i. n. 37. t. xx. n. 17. Patriarch. ii. 6. n. 4. ix. Cels. i. 32, 33], must needs be rebuked in Eutyches, to wit, that our souls before they were placed in our bodies had actions not only wonderful but various.

Remig: These heresies therefore the Apostles overthrow in the opening of their Gospels, as Matthew in relating how He derived His descent from the kings of the Jews proves Him to have been truly man and to have had true flesh.

Likewise Luke, when he [p. 17] describes the priestly stock and person; Mark when he says, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God;” and John when he says, “In the beginning was the Word;” both shew Him to have been before all ages God, with God the Father.


2. Abraham began Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren.


Aug., de Con. Evan., ii, 1: Matthew, by beginning with Christ’s genealogy, shews that he has undertaken to relate Christ’s birth according to the flesh. But Luke, as rather describing Him as a Priest for the atonement of sin, gives Christ’s genealogy not in the beginning of his Gospel, but at His baptism, when John bare that testimony, “Lo, He that taketh away the sins of the world.” [John 1:29]

In the genealogy of Matthew is figured to us the taking on Him of our sins by the Lord Christ: in the genealogy of Luke, the taking away of our sins by the same; hence Matthew gives them in a descending, Luke in an ascending, series. But Matthew, describing Christ’s human generation in descending order, begins his enumeration with Abraham.

Ambrose, in Luc. cap. 3. lib. iii. n. 7,8: For Abraham was the first who deserved the witness of faith; “He believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” It behoved therefore that he should be set forth as the first in the line of descent, who was the first to deserve the promise of the restoration of the Church, “In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” And it is again brought to a period in David, for that Jesus should be called his Son; hence to him is preserved the privilege, that from him should come the beginning of the Lord’s genealogy.

Chrys., Hom. iii, and Aug. City of God, 15, 15: Matthew then, desiring to preserve in memory the lineage of the Lord’s humanity through the succession of His parents, begins with Abraham, saying, “Abraham begat Isaac.” Why does he not mention Ismael, his first-born? And again, “Isaac began Jacob;” why does he not speak of Esau his first-born? Because through them he could not have come down to David.

Gloss.: Yet he names all the brethren of Judah with him in the lineage. Ismael and Esau had not remained in the worship of the true God; but the brethren of Judah were reckoned in God’s people. [p. 18]

Chrys., Hom. iii: Or, he names all the twelve Patriarchs that he may lower that pride which is drawn from a line of noble ancestry. For many of these were born of maidservants, and yet were Patriarchs and heads of tribes.

Gloss: But Judah is the only one mentioned by name, and that because the Lord was descended from him only. But in each of the Patriarchs we must note not their history only, but the allegorical and moral meaning to be drawn from them; allegory, in seeing whom each of the Fathers foreshewed; moral instruction in that through each one of the Fathers some virtue may be edified in us either through the signification of his name, or through his example.

[ed. note: Origen considered that there were three senses of Scripture, the literal or historical, the moral, and the mystical or spiritual, corresponding to the three parts of man, body, and soul, and spirit. Hom. in Lev. ii, 5, de Princio iv, p. 168. By the moral sense is meant, as the name implies, a practical application of the text; by mystical one which interprets it of the invisible and the spiritual world.]

Abraham is in many respects a figure of Christ, and chiefly in his name, which is interpreted the Father of many nations, and Christ is Father of many believers. Abraham moreover went out from his own kindred, and abode in a strange land; in like manner Christ, leaving the Jewish nation, went by His preachers throughout the Gentiles.

Pseudo-Chys.: Isaac is interpreted, ‘laughter,’ but the laughter of the saints is not the foolish convulsion of the lips, but the rational joy of the heart, which was the mystery of Christ. For as he was granted to his parents in their extreme age to their great joy, that it might be known that he was not the child of nature, but of grace, thus Christ also in this last time came of a Jewish mother to be the joy of the whole earth; the one of a virgin, the other of a woman past the age, both contrary to the expectation of nature.

Remig.: Jacob is interpreted, ‘supplanter,’ and it is said of Christ, “Thou hast cast down beneath Me them that rose up against Me.” [Ps 18:43]

Pseudo-Chrys.: Our Jacob in like manner begot the twelve Apostles in the Spirit, not in the flesh; in word, not in blood. Judah is interpreted, ‘confessor,’ for he was a type of Christ who was to be the confessor of His Father, as He spake, “I confess to Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth.”

Gloss: Morally; Abraham signifies to us the virtue of faith in Christ, as an example himself, as it [p. 19] is said of him, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted unto Him for righteousness.” Isaac may represent hope; for Isaac is interpreted, ‘laughter,’ as he was the joy of his parents; and hope is our joy, making us to hope for eternal blessings and to joy in them. “Abraham begat Isaac,” and faith begets hope. Jacob signifies, ‘love,’ for love embraces two lives; active in the love of our neighbour, contemplative in the love of God; the active is signified by Leah, the contemplative by Rachel. For Leah is interpreted ‘labouring,’ [ed. note, h: Leah full of labour, Jerom. de nomin. Hebr. from לאה, to weary one’s self.] for she is active in labour; Rachel ‘having seen the beginning,’ [ed. note, i: Rachel, in ewe, (as Gen. xxxi, 38, &c.) Jerom. ibid. who also gives the interpretation in the text, from ראה and חלל (החלה beginning.] because by the contemplative, the beginning, that is God, is seen. Jacob is born of two parents, as love is born of faith and hope; for what we believe, we both hope for and love.


3-6. And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; and Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; and Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; and Jesse begat David the king.


Gloss: Passing over the other sons of Jacob, the Evangelist follows the family of Judah, saying, “But Judah begat Phares and Zara of Thamar.”

Augustine, City of God, 15, 15: Neither was Judah himself first-born, nor of these two sons was either his first-born; he had already had three before them. So that he keeps in that line of descent, by which he shall arrive at David, and from him whither he purposed.

Jerome: It should be noted, that none of the holy women are taken into the Saviour’s genealogy, but rather such as Scripture has condemned, that He who came for sinners being born of sinners might so put away the sins of all; thus Ruth the Moabitess follows among the rest.

Ambrose, in Luc. 3: But Luke has avoided the mention of these, that he might set forth the series of the priestly race immaculate. But the plan of St. Matthew did not exclude the [p. 20] righteousness of natural reason; for when he wrote in his Gospel, that He who should take on Him the sins of all, was born in the flesh, was subject to wrongs and pain, he did not think it any detraction from His holiness that He did not refuse the further humiliation of a sinful parentage.

Nor, again, would it shame the Church to be gathered from among sinners, when the Lord Himself was born of sinners; and, lastly, that the benefits of redemption might have their beginning with His own forefathers: and that none might imagine that a stain in their blood was any hindrance to virtue, nor again any pride themselves insolently on nobility of birth.

Chrys.: Besides this, it shews that all are equally liable to sin; for here is Thamar accusing Judah of incest, and David begat Solomon with a woman with whom he had committed adultery. But if the Law was not fulfilled by these great ones, neither could it be by their less great posterity, and so all have sinned, and the presence of Christ is become necessary.

Ambrose: Observe that Matthew does not name both without a meaning; for though the object of his writing only required the mention of Phares, yet in the twins a mystery is signified; namely, the double life of the nations, one by the Law, the other by Faith.

Pseudo-Chys.: By Zarah is denoted the people of the Jews, which first appeared in the light of faith, coming out of the dark womb of the world, and was therefore marked with the scarlet thread of the circumciser, for all supposed that they were to be God’s people; but the Law was set before their face as it had been a wall or hedge. Thus the Jews were hindered by the Law, but in the times of Christ’s coming the hedge of the Law was broken down that was between Jews and Gentiles, as the Apostle speaks, “Breaking down the middle wall of partition;” [Eph 2:14] and thus it fell out that the Gentiles, who were signified by Phares, as soon as the Law was broken through by Christ’s commandments, first entered into the faith, and after followed the Jews.

Gloss: Judah begat Phares and Zarah before he went into Egypt, whither they both accompanied their father. In Egypt, “Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; Aram begat Aminadab; Aminadab begat Naasson;” and then Moses led them out of Egypt. Naasson was head of the tribe of Judah under Moses in the desert, where he begat Salmon; and this Salmon it was who, as prince of the tribe [p. 21] of Judah, entered the land of promise with Joshua.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But as we believe that the names of these Fathers were given for some special reason under the providence of God, it follows, but “Naasson begat Salmon.” This Salmon after his father’s death entered the promised land with Joshua as prince of the tribe of Judah. He took a wife of the name of Rahab. This Rahab is said to have been that Rahab the harlot of Jericho who entertained the spies of the children of Israel, and hid them safely. For Salmon being noble among the children of Israel, inasmuch as he was of the tribe of Judah, and son of the prince thereof, beheld Rahab so ennobled through her great faith, that she was worthy whom he should take to wife. Salmon is interpreted ‘receive a vessel,’ [ed. note: שלמון. Probably as if from מאן Ch. a vessel; perhaps נשא למאן] perhaps as if invited in God’s providence by his very name to receive Rahab a vessel of election.

Gloss: This Salmon in the promised land begat Booz of this Rahab. Booz begat Obeth of Ruth.

Pseudo-Chrys.: How Booz took to wife a Moabitess whose name was Ruth, I thought it needless to tell, seeing the Scripture concerning them is open to all. We need but say thus much, that Ruth married Booz for the reward of her faith, for that she had cast off the gods of her forefathers, and had chosen the living God. And Booz received her to wife for reward of his faith, that from such sanctified wedlock might be descended a kingly race.

Ambrose: But how did Ruth who was an alien marry a man that was a Jew? and wherefore in Christ’s genealogy did His Evangelist so much as mention a union, which in the eye of the law was bastard? Thus the Saviour’s birth of a parentage not admitted by the law appears to us monstrous, until we attend to that declaration of the Apostle, “The Law was not given for the righteous, but for the unrighteous.” [1 Tim 1:9]

For this woman who was an alien, a Moabitess, a nation with whom the Mosaic Law forbad all intermarriage, and shut them totally out of the Church, how did she enter into the Church, unless that she were holy and unstained in her life above the Law? Therefore she was exempt from this restriction of the Law, and deserved to be numbered in the Lord’s lineage, chosen from the kindred of her mind, not of her body.

To us she is a great example, for [p. 22] that in her was prefigured the entrance into the Lord’s Church of all of us who are gathered out of the Gentiles.

Jerome: Ruth the Moabitess fulfils the prophecy of Isaiah, “Send forth, O Lord, the Lamb that shall rule over the earth, out of the rock of the desert to the mount of the daughter of Sion.” [Isa 16:1]

Gloss: Jesse, the father of David, has two names, being more frequently called Isai. But the Prophet says, “There shall come a rod from the stem of Jesse;” [Isa 11:1] therefore to shew that this prophecy was fulfilled in Mary and Christ, the Evangelist puts Jesse.

Remig.: It is asked, why this epithet King is thus given by the holy Evangelist to David alone? Because he was the first king in the tribe of Judah. Christ Himself is Phares ‘the divider,’ as it is written, “Thou shalt divide the sheep from the goats;” [Matt 25:33] He is Zaram [ed. note, l: זרח; in Zech. 6:12, it is זרח], ‘the east,’ “Lo the man, the east is His name;” [Zech 6:12]; He is Esrom [ed. note, m: חצרון, as if from חץ, and so Jerome.], ‘an arrow,’ “He hath set me as a polished shaft.” [Isa 49:2]

Raban.: Or following another interpretation, according to the abundance of grace, and the width of love. He is Aram the chosen [ed. note, n: רם to be lofty, vid. infr. p.23], according to that, “Behold my Servant whom I have chosen.” [Isa 42:1] He is Aminadab, that is ‘willing,’ [ed. note, o: עמי נדב My people is willing, - Jerome; comp. עמך נדבת, Ps 110:3], in that He says, “I will freely sacrifice to Thee.” [Isa 54:6] Also He is Naasson [ed. note, p: נחשן, from נחש to augur from serpents, and so Jerome], i.e. ‘augury,’ as He knows the past, the present, and the future; or, ‘like a serpent,’ according to that, “Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness.” [John 3:14] He is Salmon [ed. note, q: And so Jerome], i.e. ‘the feeleth,’ as He said, “I feel that power is gone forth out of me.” [Luke 8:46]

Gloss: Christ Himself espouses Rahab, i.e. the Gentile Church; for Rahab [ed. note, : רחב, to be wide or broad. (רהב might רעב hunger)] is interpreted either ‘hunger’ or ‘breadth’ or ‘might;’ for the Church of the Gentiles hungers and thirsts after righteousness, and converts philosophers and kings by the might of her doctrine. Ruth is interpreted either ‘seeing’ or ‘hastening’ [ed. note, s: And so Jerome, from ראה, and perhaps רוץ for the second.], and denotes the Church which in purity of heart sees God, and hastens to the prize of the heavenly call.

Remig. Christ is also Booz [ed. note, t: And so Jerome; perhaps בעז =بعز  activity; here, as if בעז “with might.”], because He is strength, for, [p. 23] “When I am lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me.” [John 12:32] He is Obeth, ‘a servant’ [ed. note, u: עובד Obed, and so Jerome], for “the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” [Matt 20:28] He is Jesse, or ‘burnt’ [ed. note, x: As if from אש], for, “I am come to send fire on earth.” [Luke 12:49] He is David [ed. note, y: And so Jerome], ‘mighty in arm,’ for, “the Lord is great and powerful;” [Ps 24:8] ‘desirable,’ for, “He shall come, the Desire of all nations;” [Hag 2:7] ‘beautiful to behold,’ according to that, “Beautiful in form before the sons of men.” [Ps. 45:3]

Gloss: Let us now see what virtues they be which these fathers edify in us; for faith, hope, and charity are the foundation of all virtues; those that follow are like additions over and above them. Judah is interpreted ‘confession,’ of which there are two kinds, confession of faith, and of sin. If then, after we be endowed with the three forementioned virtues, we sin, confession not of faith only but of sin is needful for us.

Phares is interpreted, ‘division,’ Zamar ‘the east,’ and Thamar, ‘bitterness.’ [ed note, z: תמרורים bitterness, from מרר Jer. 31:15, Hos 12:15] Thus confession begets separation from vice, the rise of virtue, and the bitterness of repentance.

After Phares follows Esron, ‘an arrow,’ for when one is separated from vice and secular pursuits, he should become a dart wherewith to slay by preaching the vices of others.

Aram is interpreted ‘elect’ or ‘lofty’ [ed. note, a: Lofty from רום], for as soon as one is detached from this world, and profiteth for another, he must needs be held to be elect of God, famous amongst men, high in virtue.

Naasson is ‘augury,’ but this augury is of heaven, not of earth. It is that of which Joseph boasted when he said, “Ye have taken away the cup of my Lord, wherewith He is wont to divine.” [Gen 44:5] The cup is the divine Scripture wherein is the draught of wisdom; by this the wise man divines, since in it he sees things future, that is, heavenly things.

Next is Salomon [ed. note, b: שלם peace, and so Jerome], ‘that perceiveth,’ for he who studies divine Scripture becomes perceiving, that is, he discerns by the taste of reason, good from bad, sweet from bitter.

Next is Booz, that is, ‘brave,’ for who is well taught in Scripture becomes brave to endure all adversity.

Pseudo-Chrys.: This brave one is the son of Rahab, that is, of the Church; for Rahab signifies ‘breadth’ or ‘spread out,’ for because the [p. 24] Church of the Gentiles was called from all quarters of the earth, it is called, ‘breadth.’

Gloss: Then follows Obeth, i.e. ‘servitude,’ for which none is fit but he who is strong; and this servitude is begotten of Ruth, that is ‘haste,’ for it behoves a slave to be quick, not slow.

Pseudo-Chrys.: They who look to wealth and not temper, to beauty and not faith, and require in a wife such endowments as are required in harlots, will not beget sons obedient to their parents or to God, but rebellious to both; that their children may be punishment of their ungodly wedlock. Obeth begat Jesse, that is, ‘refreshment,’ for whoever is subject to God and his parents, begets such children as prove his ‘refreshment.’

Gloss: Or Jesse may be interpreted, ‘incense.’ [ed. note: See p. 29, note i] For if we serve God in love and fear, there will be a devotion in the heart, which in the heat and desire of the heart offers the sweetest incense to God. But when one is become a fit servant, and a sacrifice of incense to God, it follows that he becomes David (ie. ‘of a strong hand’), who fought mightily against his enemies, and made the Idumeans tributary.

In like manner ought he to subdue carnal men to God by teaching and example.


6-8. David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; and Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; and Asa begat Josaphat.


The Evangelist has now finished the first fourteen generations, and is come to the second, which consists of royal personages, and therefore beginning with David, who was the first king in the tribe of Judah, he calls him “David the king.”

Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 4: Since in Matthew’s genealogy is shewed forth the taking on Him by Christ of our sins, therefore he descends from David to Solomon, in whose mother David had sinned. Luke ascends to David through Nathan, for through Nathan the prophet of God punished David’s sin; because Luke’s genealogy is to shew the putting away of our sins.

Aug., Lib. Retract., ii, 16: That [p. 25] is it, must be said, through a prophet of the same name, for it was not Nathan the son of David who reproved him, but a prophet of the same name.

Remig.: Let us enquire why Matthew does not mention Bathsheba by name as he does the other women. Because the others, though deserving of much blame, were yet commendable for many virtues. But Bathsheba was not only consenting in the adultery, but in the murder of her husband, hence her name is not introduced in the Lord’s genealogy.

Gloss: Besides, he does not name Bathsheba, that, by naming Urias, he may recall to memory that great wickedness which she was guilty of towards him.

Ambrose: But the holy David is the more excellent in this, that he confessed himself to be but man, and neglected not to wash out with the tears of repentance the sin of which he had been guilty, in so taking away Urias’ wife. Herein shewing us that none ought to trust in his own strength, for we have a mighty adversary whom we cannot overcome without God’s aid. And you will commonly observe very heavy sins befalling to the share of illustrious men, that they may not from their other excellent virtues be thought more than men, but that you may see that as men they yield to temptation.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Solomon is interpreted, ‘peace-maker,’ because having subdued all the nations round about, and made them tributary, he had a peaceful reign. Roboam in interpreted, ‘by a multitude of people,’ for multitude is the mother of sedition; for where many are joined in a crime, that is commonly unpunishable. But a limit in numbers is the mistress of good order.


8-11. And Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; and Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; and Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; and Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon.


Jerome: In the fourth book of Kings we read, that Ochozias was the son of Joram. On his death, Josabeth, sister of [p. 26] Ochozias and daughter of Joram, took Joash, her brother’s son, and preserved him from the slaughter of the royal seed by Athalias. To Joash succeeded his son Amasias; after him his son Azarias, who is called Ozias; after him his son Joatham. Thus you see according to historical truth there were three intervening kings, who are omitted by the Evangelist. Joram, moveover, begot not Ozias, but Ochozias, and the rest as we have related.

But because it was the purpose of the Evangelist to make each of the three periods consist of fourteen generations, and because Joram had connected himself with Jezebel’s most impious race, therefore his posterity to the third generation is omitted in tracing the lineage of the holy birth.

Hilary: Thus the stain of the Gentile alliance being purged, the royal race is again taken up in the fourth following generation.

Pseudo-Chrys.: What the Holy Spirit testified through the Prophet, saying, that He would cut off every male from the house of Ahab, and Jezebel, that Jehu the son of Nausi fulfilled, and received the promise that his children to the fourth generation should sit on the throne of Israel. As great a blessing then as was given upon the house of Ahab, so great a curse was given on the house of Joram, because of the wicked daughter of Ahab and Jazebel, that his sons to the fourth generation should be cut out of the number of the Kings.

Thus his sin descended on his posterity as it had been written, “I will visit the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.” [Ex 20:5] Thus see how dangerous it is to marry with the seed of the ungodly.

Aug., Hilsr. Amast. V. et N. Test. q. 85: Or, Ochozias, Joash, and Amasias, were excluded from the number, because their wickedness was continuous and without interval. For Solomon was suffered to hold the kingdom for his father’s deserts, Roboam for his son’s.

But these three doing evil successively were excluded. This then is an example how a race is cut off when wickedness is shewn therein in perpetual succession.

“And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias.”

Gloss: This Ezekias was he to whom, when he had no children, it was said, “Set thy house in order, for thou shalt die.” [Isa 38:1] He wept, not from desire of longer life, for he knew that Solomon had thereby pleased God, that he had not [p. 27] asked length of days; but he wept, for he feared that God’s promise should not be fulfilled, when himself, being in the line of David of whom Christ should come, was without children.

“And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: But the order in the Book of Kings is different [2 Ki 23], thus namely; Josias begot Eliakim, afterwards called Joakim; Joakim begot Jechonias. But Joakim is not reckoned among the Kings in the genealogy, because God’s people had not set him on the throne, but Pharoah by his might. For if it were just that only for their intermixture with the race of Ahab, three kings should be shut out of the number in the genealogy, was it not just that Joakim should be likewise shut out, whom Pharaoh had set up as king by hostile force? And thus Jechonias, who is the son of Joakim, and the grandson of Josiah, is reckoned among the kings as the son of Josiah, in place of his father who is omitted.

Jerome: Otherwise, we may consider the first Jeconias to be the same as Joakim, and the second to be the son not the father, the one being spelt with k and m, the second by ch and n. This distinction has been confounded both by Greeks and Latins, by the fault of writers and the lapse of time.

Ambrose, in Luc., cap. 2: That there were two kings of the name of Joakim, is clear from the Book of Kings. “And Joakim slept with his fathers, and Joachim his son reigned in his stead.” [2 Ki 24:6] This son is the same whom Jeremiah calls Jeconias. And rightly did St. Matthew purpose to differ from the Prophet, because he sought to shew therein the great abundance of the Lord’s mercies. For the Lord did not seek among men nobility of race, but suitably chose to be born of captives and of sinners, as He came to preach remission of sin to the captives. The Evangelist therefore did not conceal either of these; but rather shewed them both, inasmuch as both were called Jeconias.

Remig.: But it may be asked, why the Evangelist says they were born in the carrying away, when they were born before the carrying away. He says this because they were born for this purpose, that they should be led captive, from the dominion of the whole nation, for their own and others’ sins. And because God foreknew that they were [p. 28] to be carried away captive, therefore he says, they were born in the carrying away to Babylon.

But of those whom the holy Evangelist places together in the Lord’s genealogy, it should be known, that they were alike in good or ill fame. Judas and his brethren were notable for good, in like manner Phares and Zara, Jechonias and his brethren, were notable for evil.

Gloss: Mystically, David is Christ, who overcame Golias, that is, the Devil. Urias, i.e. God is my light, is the Devil who says, “I will be like the Highest.” [Isa 14:14] To Him the Church was married, when Christ on the Throne of the majesty of His Father loved her, and having made her beautiful, united her to Himself in wedlock.

Or Urias is the Jewish nation who through the Law boasted of their light. From them Christ took away the Law, having taught it to speak of Himself.

Bersabee is ‘the well of satiety,’ that is, the abundance of spiritual grace.

Remig.: Bersabee is interpreted, ‘the seventh well,’ or, ‘the well of the oath’ [ed. note, c: באר שבע the well of the oath, the origin of the name is given, Gen 21:28-31. “satiety” as if from שבע], by which is signified the grant of baptism, in which is given the gift of the sevenfold Spirit, and the oath against the Devil is made.

Christ is also Solomon, i.e. the peaceful, according to that of the Apostle, “He is our peace.” [Eph 2:14]

Roboam [ed. note, d: So Jerome, from רחב; or the foolishness of the people, Ecclus. 47. 23] is, ‘the breadth of the people,’ according to that, “Many shall come from the East and from the West.”

Raban.: Or; ‘the might of the people,’ because he quickly converts the people to the faith.

Remig.: He is also Abias, that is, ‘the Lord Father,’ according to that, “One is your Father who is in heaven.” [Matt 23:9] And again, “Ye call me Master and Lord.” [John 13:13]

He is also Asa [ed. note, e: So Jerome; as if from נשה=נסה; but אסא means a physician], that is, ‘lifting up,’ according to that, “Who taketh away the sins of the world.” [John 1:29]

He is also Josaphat, that is, ‘judging,’ for, “The Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” [John 5:22]

He is also Joram, that is, ‘lofty,’ according to that, “No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven.” [John 3:13]

He is also Ozias, that is, ‘the Lord’s strength,’ for “The Lord is my strength and my praise.” [Ps 118:14]

He is also Jotham [ed. note, f: And so Jerome, from תמם], that is, ‘completed,’ or ‘perfected,’ for “Christ is the end of [p. 29] the Law.” [Rom 10:4]

He is also Ahaz [ed. note, g: אחז to seize or hold, and so Jerome.], that is, ‘turning,’ according to that, “Be ye turned to Me.” [Zech 1:3]

Raban.: Or, ‘embracing,’ because, “None knoweth the Father but the Son.” [Matt 11:27]

Remig.: His is also Ezekias, that is, ‘the strong Lord,’ or, ‘the Lord shall comfort;’ according to that, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” [John 16:33]

He is also Manasses, that is, ‘forgetful,’ or, ‘forgotten,’ according to that, “I will not remember your sins any more.” [Ezek 28]

He is also Aaron [ed note, h: A strong mountain; Jerome. It has no Hebrew root.], that is, ‘faithful,’ according to that, “The Lord is faithful in all His words.” [Ps 145:17]

He is also Josias, that is, ‘the incense of the Lord,’ [ed. note, i: A sacrifice to the Lord, - Jerome; from אשה fire in the ritual service, or incense, Lev 24:7], as, “And being in an agony, He prayed more earnestly.” [Luke 22:44]

Raban.: And that incense signifies prayer, the Psalmist witnesses, saying, “Let my prayer come up as incense before Thee.” [Ps 141:2] Or, ‘The salvation of the Lord,’ according to that, “My salvation is for ever.” [Isa 55]

Remig.: He is Jechonias [ed. note, k: יכניהו “the Lord establisheth,” also “prepareth.”], that is, ‘preparing,’ or ‘the Lord’s preparation,’ according to that, “If I shall depart, I will also prepare a place for you.” [John 14:3]

Gloss: Morally; After David follows Solomon, which is interpreted, ‘peaceful.’ For one then becomes peaceful, when unlawful motions being composed, and being as it were already set in the everlasting rest, he serves God, and turns others to Him.

Then follows Roboam, that is, ‘the breadth of the people.’ For when there is no longer any thing to overcome within himself, it behoves a man to look abroad to others, and to draw with him the people of God to heavenly things.

Next is Abias, that is, ‘the Lord Father,’ for these things premised, He may proclaim Himself the Son of God, and then He will be Asa, that is, ‘raising up,’ and will ascend to His Father from virtue to virtue: and He will become Josaphat, that is, ‘judging,’ for He will judge others, and will be judged of none.

Thus he becomes Joram, that is, ‘lofty,’ as it were dwelling on high; and is made Oziah, that is, ‘the strong One of the Lord,’ as attributing all his strength to God, and persevering in his path.

Then follows Jotham, that is, ‘perfect,’ for he groweth daily for greater perfection. And thus he becomes Ahaz, that is, ‘embracing,’ for by obedience knowledge is increased according [p. 30] to that, “They have proclaimed the worship of the Lord, and have understood His doings.”

Then follows Ezekias, that is, ‘the Lord is strong,’ because he understands that God is strong, and so turning to His love, he becomes Manassas, ‘forgetful,’ because he gives up as forgotten all worldly things; and is made thereby Amon, that is, ‘faithful,’ for whoso despises all temporal things, defrauds no man of his goods. Thus he is made Josias, that is, ‘in certain hope of the Lord’s salvation;’ for Josias in intepreted ‘the salvation of the Lord.’


12-15. And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; and Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; and Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; and Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob.


Pseudo-Chrys.: After the carrying away, he sets Jeconiah again, as now become a private person.

Ambrose: Of whom Jeremiah speaks. “Write this man dethroned; for there shall not spring of his seed one sitting on the throne of David.” [Jer 22:30]

How is this said of the Prophet, that none of the seed of Jeconias should reign? For if Christ reigned, and Christ was of the seed of Jeconiah, then has the Prophet spoken falsely. But it is not there declared that there shall be none of the seed of Jeconiah, and so Christ is of his seed; and that Christ did reign, is not in contradiction to the prophecy; for He did not reign with worldly honours, as He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” [John 18:36]

Pseudo-Chrys.: Concerning Salathiel [ed. note, l: This Gloss. from Pseudo-Chrys. is not found in Nicolai’s edition.], we have read nothing either good or bad, but we suppose him to have been a holy man, and in the captivity to have constantly besought God in behalf of afflicted Israel, and that hence he was named, Salathiel, ‘the petition of God.’ [ed. note, m: שאלתי אל “I have asked of God.”]

“Salathiel begot Zorobabel,” which is interpreted, ‘flowing postponed,’ or, ‘of the confusion,’ or here, ‘the doctor of Babylon.’ [ed. note, n (p.31): The teacher of Babylon; Jerome; perhaps from זר “crown;” זרב Ch. flowed, poured away,” Syr. “contracted, bound;” hence another of the meanings in the text.]

I have read, but know not [p. 31] whether it be true, that both the priestly line and the royal line were united in Zorobabel; and that it was through him that the children of Israel returned into their own country. For that in a disputation held between three, of whom Zorobabel was one, each defending his own opinion, Zorobabel’s sentence, that Truth was the strongest thing, prevailed; and that for this Darius granted him that the children of Israel should return to their country; and therefore after this providence of God, he was rightly called Zorobabel, ‘the doctor of Babylon.’ For what doctrine greater than to shew that Truth is the mistress of all things?

Gloss: But this seems to contradict the genealogy which is read in Chronicles. For there it is said, that Jeconias begot Salathiel and Phadaias, and Phadaias begot Zorobabel, and Zorobabel Mosollah, Ananias, and Solomith their sister. [1 Chron 3:17] But we know that many parts of the Chronicles have been corrupted by time, and error of transcribers. Hence come many and controverted questions of genealogies which the Apostle bids us avoid. [1 Tim 1:4]

Or it may be said, that Salathiel and Phadaias are the same man under two different names. Or that Salathiel and Phadaias were brothers, and both had sons of the same name, and that the writer of the history followed the genealogy of Zorobabel, the son of Salathiel. From Abiud down to Joseph, no history is found in the Chronicles; but we read that the Hebrews had many other annals, which were called the Words of the Days, of which much was burned by Herod, who was a foreigner, in order to confound the descent of the royal line.

And perhaps Joseph had read in them the names of his ancestors, or knew them from some other source. And thus the Evangelist could learn the succession of this genealogy. It should be noted, that the first Jeconiah is called the resurrection of the Lord, the second, the preparation of the Lord. Both are very applicable to the Lord Christ, who declares, “I am the resurrection, and the life;” [John 11:25] and, “I go to prepare a place for you.” [John 14:2]

Salathiel, i.e. ‘the Lord is my petition,’ is suitable to Him who said, “Holy Father, keep them whom Thou hast given Me.” [John 17:11]

Remig.: He is also Zorobabel, [p. 32] that is, ‘the master of confusion,’ according to that, “Your Master eateth with publicans and sinners.” [Matt 9:11]

He is Abiud, that is, ‘He is my Father,’ according to that, “I and the Father are One.” [John 10:30]

He is also Eliacim [ed. note: So Jerome, אל יקים “God will raise up”], that is, ‘God the Reviver,’ according to that, “I will revive him again in the last day.” [John 6:54]

He is also Azor, that is, ‘aided,’ according of that, “He who sent Me is with Me.” [John 8:29]

He is also Sadoch, that is, ‘the just,’, or, ‘the justified,’ according to that, “He was delivered, the just for the unjust.” [1 Pet 3:18]

He is also Achim, that is, ‘my brother is He,’ according to that, “Whoso doeth the will of My Father, he is My brother.” [Matt 12:50]

He is also Eliud, that is, ‘He is my God,’ according to that, “My Lord, and my God.” [John 20:28]

Gloss: He is also Eleazar, i.e. ‘God is my helper,’ as in the seventeenth Psalm, “My God, my helper.”

He is also Mathan, that is, ‘giving,’ or, ‘given,’ for, “He gave gifts for men;” [Eph 4:8] and, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son.” [John 3:16]

Remig.: He is also Jacob, ‘that supplanteth,’ for not only hath He supplanted the Devil, but hath given His power to His faithful people; as, “Behold I have given you power to tread upon serpents.” [Luke 10:19]

He is also Joseph, that is, ‘adding,’ according to that, “I came that they might have life, and that they might have it abundantly.”

Raban.: But let us see what moral signification these names contain. After Jeconias, which means ‘the preparation of the Lord,’ follows Salathiel, i.e. ‘God is my petition,’ for he who is rightly prepared, prays not but of God.

Again, he becomes Zorobabel, ‘the master of Babylon,’ that is, of the men of the earth, whom he makes to know concerning God, that He is their Father, which is signified in Abiud.

Then that people rise again from their vices, whence follows Eliacim, ‘the resurrection;’ and thence rise to good works, which is Azor, and becomes Sadoch, i.e. ‘righteous;’ and then they are taught the love of their neighbour. He is my brother, which is signified in Achim; and through love to God he says of Him, ‘My God,’ which Eliud signifies.

Then follows Eleazar, i.e. ‘God is my helper;’ he recognizes God as his helper. But whereto he tends is shewn in Matthan, which is interpreted ‘gift,’ or ‘giving;’ for he looks to God as his benefactor; and as he wrestled with and overcame his vices [p. 33] in the beginning, so he does in the end of life, which belongs to Jacob, and thus he reaches Joseph, that is, ‘The increase of virtues.’


16. And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.


Gloss: In the last place, after all the patriarchs, he sets down Joseph the husband of Mary, for whose sake all the rest are introduced, saying, “But Jacob begot Joseph.”

Jerome: This passage is objected to us by the Emperor Julian in his Discrepancy of the Evangelists. Matthew calls Joseph the son of Jacob, Luke makes him the son of Heli. He did not know the Scripture manner, one was his father by nature, the other by law. For we know that God commanded by Moses, that if a brother or near kinsman died without children, another should take his wife, to raise up seed to his brother or kinsman. [Deut 25]

But of this matter Africanus the chronologist [ed. note: In his Epist. ad Aristidem, vid. Reuth Reliqu. vol. ii, p. 114. Africanus], and Eusebius of Caesarea, have disputed more fully.

Euseb., Hist. Eccles. i, 7: For Matthan and Melchi at different periods had each a son by one and the same wife Jesca. Matthan, who traced through Solomon, first had her, and died leaving one son, Jacob by name. As the Law forbade not a widow, either dismissed from her husband, or after the death of her husband, to be married to another, so Melchi, who traced through Matthan, being of the same tribe but of another race, took this widow to his wife, and begat Heli his son.

Thus shall we find Jacob and Heli, though of a different race, yet by the same mother, to have been brethren. One of whom, namely Jacob, after Heli his brother was deceased without issue, married his wife, and begat on her the third, Joseph, by nature indeed and reason his own son. Whereupon also it is written, “And Jacob begat Joseph.” But by the Law, he was the son of Heli; for Jacob, being his brother, raised up seed to him.

Thus the genealogy, both as recited by Matthew, and by Luke, stands right and true; Matthew saying, “And Jacob begot Joseph;” Luke saying, “Which was the son, as it was supposed, (for he adds this withal,) of Joseph, [p. 34] which was the son of Heli, which was the son of Melchi.”

Nor could he have more significantly or properly expressed that way of generation according to the Law, which was made by a certain adoption that had respect to the dead, carefully leaving out the word “begetting” throughout even to the end.

Augustine, de Cons. Evan., ii, 2: He is more properly called his son, by whom he was adopted, than had he been said to have been begotten of him of whose flesh he was not born. Wherefore Matthew, in saying, “Abraham begot Isaac,” and continuing the same phrase throughout down to “Jacob begot Joseph,” sufficiently declares that he gives the father according to the order of nature, so as that we must hold Joseph to have been begotten, not adopted, by Jacob. Though even if Luke had used the word, “begotten,” we need not have thought it any serious objection; for it is not absurd to say of an adopted son that he is begotten, not after the flesh, but by affection.

Euseb.: Neither does this lack good authority; nor has it been suddenly devised by us for this purpose. For the kinsmen of our Saviour according to the flesh, either out of desire to shew forth this their so great nobility of stock, or simply for the truth’s sake, have delivered it unto us.

Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 4: And suitably does Luke, who relates Christ’s ancestry not in the opening of his Gospel, but at his baptism, follow the line of adoption, as thus more clearly pointing Him out as the Priest that should make atonement for sin. For by adoption we are made the sons of God, by believing in the Son of God. But by the descent according to the flesh which Matthew follows, we rather see that the Son of God was for us made man.

Luke sufficiently shews that he called Joseph the son of Heli, because he was adopted by Heli, by his calling Adam the son of God, which he was by grace, as he was set in Paradise, though he lost it afterwards by sinning.

Chrys., Hom. 4: Having gone through all the ancestry, and ended in Joseph, he adds, “The husband of Mary,” thereby declaring that is was for her sake that he was included in the genealogy.

Jerome: When you hear this word, “husband,” do not straight bethink you of wedlock, but remember the Scripture manner, which calls persons only betrothed husband and wife.

Gennadius, de Eccles. Dog., 2: The Son of God was born of human flesh, that is of Mary, and not by man after the way of nature, as Ebion says; and accordingly it is significantly [p. 35] added, “Of her Jesus was born.”

Aug., De Haeres, ii: This is said against Valentinus, who taught that Christ took nothing of the Virgin Mary, but passed through her as through a channel or pipe.

Wherefore it pleased Him to take flesh of the womb of a woman, is known in His own secret counsels; whether that He might confer honour on both sexes alike, by taking the form of a man, and being born of a woman, or from some other reason which I would not hastily pronounce on.

Hilary, Quaest. Nov. et Vet. Test. q. 49: What God conveyed by the anointing of oil to those who were anointed to be kings, this the Holy Spirit conveyed upon the man Christ, adding thereto the expiation; wherefore when born He was called Christ; and thus it proceeds, “who is called Christ.”

Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 1: It was not lawful that he should think to separate himself from Mary for this, that she brought forth Christ as yet a Virgin. And herein may the faithful gather, that if they be married, and preserve strict continence on both sides, yet may their wedlock hold with union of love only, without carnal; for here they see that it is possible that a son be born without carnal embrace.

Aug., de Nupt. et Concup., i, 11: In Christ’s parents was accomplished every good benefit of marriage, fidelity, progeny, and a sacrament. The progeny we see in the Lord Himself; fidelity, for there was no adultery; sacrament, for there was no divorce.

Jerome: The attentive reader may ask, Seeing Joseph was not the father of the Lord and Saviour, how does his genealogy traced down to him in order pertain to the Lord? We will answer, first, that it is not the practice of Scripture to follow the female line in its genealogies; secondly, that Joseph and Mary were of the same tribe, and that he was thence compelled to take her to wife as a kinsman, and they were enrolled together at Bethlehem, as being come of one stock.

Augustine: Also, the line of descent ought to be brought down to Joseph, that in wedlock no wrong might be done to the male sex, as the more worthy, providing only nothing was taken away from the truth; because Mary was of the seed of David.

Hence then we believe that Mary was in the line of David; namely, because we believe the Scripture which affirms two things, both that Christ was of the seed of David according to the flesh, and that He should be conceived of Mary not by knowledge of man, but as yet a virgin.

The Council of Ephesus: Herein we [p. 36] must beware of the error of Nestorius, who thus speaks; “When Divine Scripture is to speak either of the birth of Christ which is of the Virgin Mary, or His death, it is never seen to put God, but either, Christ, or Son, or Lord; since these three are significative of the two natures, sometimes of this, sometimes of that, and sometimes of both this and that together. And here is a testimony to this, ‘Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.’ For God the Word needed not a second birth of a woman.”

Pseudo-Aug., Vigil. Cont. Fel. 12. ap. Aug. t. 8. p. 45: But not one was the Son of God, and another the son of a man; but the same Christ was the son of both God and man. And as in one man, the soul is one and the body is another, so in the mediator between God and man, the Son of God was one, and the son of man another; yet of both together was one Christ the Lord. Two in distinction of substance, one in unity of Person.

But the heretic objects; “how can you teach Him to have been born in time whom you say was before coeternal with His Father? For birth is as it were a motion of a thing not in being, before it be born, bringing about this, that by benefit of birth it come into being. Whence it is concluded, that He who was in being cannot be born; if He could be born He was not in being.”

(To this it is replied by Augustine:) Let us imagine, as many will have it, that the universe has a general soul, which by some unspeakable motion gives life to all seeds, so as that itself is not mixed up with the things it produces. When this then passes forth into the womb to form passible matter to its own uses, it makes one with itself the person of that thing which it is clear has not the same substance.

And thus, the soul being active and the matter passive, of two substances is made one man, the soul and the flesh being distinct; thus it is that our confession is, that that soul is born of the womb which in coming to the womb we say conferred life on the thing conceived. He, I say, is said to be born of His mother, who shaped to Himself a body out of her, in which He might be born; not as though before He was born, His mother might, as far as pertained to Him, not have been in being. In like manner, yea in a manner yet more incomprehensible and sublime, the Son of God was born, by taking on Him perfect manhood of his Mother. He [p. 37] who by his singular almighty power is the cause of their being born to all things that are born.


17. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.


Pseudo-Chrys.: Having enumerated the generations from Abraham to Christ, he divides them into three divisions of fourteen generations, because three times at the end of fourteen generations the state of the people of the Jews was changed. From Abraham to David they were under Judges; from David to the carrying away into Babylon under Kings; from the carrying away to Christ under the High Priests.

What he would shew then is this: like as ever at the end of fourteen generations the state of men has changed, so there being fourteen generations completed from the carrying away to Christ, it must needs be that the state of men be changed by Christ. And so since Christ all the Gentiles have been made under one Christ Judge, King, and Priest. And for that Judges, Kings, and Priests prefigured Christ’s dignity, their beginnings were always in a type of Christ; the first of the Judges was Joshua the son of Nave; the first of the Kings, David; the first of the Priests, Jesus son of Josedech. That this was typical of Christ none doubts.

Chrys.: Or he divided the whole genealogy into three parts to shew that not even by the change of their government were they made better, but under Judges, Kings, High Priests, and Priests, held the same evil course. For which cause also he mentions the captivity in Babylon, shewing that neither by this were they corrected. But the going down into Egypt is not mentioned, because they were not still in terror of the Egyptians as they were of the Assyrians or Parthians; and because that was a remote, but this a recent event; and because they had not been carried thither for sin as they had to Babylon.

Ambrose, in Luc., c. 3: Let us not think this is to be overlooked, that though there were seventeen Kings of Judaea between David and Jeconiah, Matthew only recounts fourteen. We must observe that there [p. 38] might be many more successions to the throne than generations of men; for some may live longer and beget children later; or might be altogether without seed; thence the number of Kings and of generations would not coincide.

Gloss: Or we may say that there are three Kings overlooked, as was said above.

Ambrose: Again, from Jeconiah to Joseph are computed twelve generations; yet he afterwards calls these also fourteen. But if you look attentively, you will be able to discover the method by which fourteen are reckoned here. Twelve are reckoned including Joseph, and Christ is the thirteenth; and history declares that there were two Joakims, that is two Jeconiahs, father and son. The Evangelist has not passed over either of these, but has named them both. Thus, adding the younger Jeconiah, fourteen generations are computed.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, the same Jeconiah is counted twice in the Gospel, once before the carrying away, and again after the carrying away. For this Jeconiah being one person had two different conditions; before the carrying away he was King, as being made King by the people of God; but he became a private man at the carrying away; hence he is reckoned once among the Kings before the carrying away; and after the carrying away once among private men.

Aug., de Cons. Evan, ii, 4: Or, one of Christ’s forefathers is counted twice, because in him, Jeconiah to wit, there was made a passing off to strange nations since he was carried to Babylon. Wherever a series turns out of the right line to go in any other direction there is an angle made, and that part that is in the angle is reckoned twice. Thus here is a figure of Christ, who passes from the circumcision to the uncircumcision, and is made a cornerstone.

Remig.: He made fourteen generations, because the ten denotes the Decalogue, and the four the four books of the Gospel; whence this shews the agreement of the Law and the Gospel. And he put the fourteen three times over, that he might shew that the perfection of law, prophecy, and grace, consists in the faith of the Holy Trinity.

Gloss: Or in this number is signified the sevenfold grace of the Holy Spirit. The number is made up of seven, doubled, to shew that the grace of the Holy Spirit is needed both for soul and body to salvation.

Also the genealogy is divided into three portions of fourteen thus. The first from Abraham [p. 39] to David, so as that David is included in it; the second from David to the carrying away, in which David is not included, but the carrying away is included; the third is from the carrying away to Christ, in which if we say that Jeconiah is included, then the carrying away is included. In the first are denoted the men before the Law, in which you will find some of the men of the Law of nature, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, all as far as Solomon.

In the second are denoted the men under the Law; for all who are included in it were under the Law.

In the third are found the men of grace; for it is finished in Christ, who was the giver of grace; and because in it was the deliverance from Babylon, signifying the deliverance from captivity that was made by Christ.

Aug.: After having divided the whole into three periods of fourteen generations, he does not sum them all up and say, The sum of the whole is forty and two; because one of those fathers, that is Jeconiah, is reckoned twice; so that they do not amount to forty-two, as three times fourteen does, but because one is reckoned twice over, there are only forty-one generations.

Matthew therefore, whose purpose was to draw out Christ’s kingly character, counts forty successions in the genealogy exclusive of Christ. This number denotes the time for which we must be governed by Christ in this world, according to that painful discipline which is signified by the iron rod of which it is written in the Psalms, “Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron.”

That this number should denote this our temporal life, a reason offers at hand, in this, that the seasons of the year are four, and that the world itself is bounded by four sides, the east, the west, the north, and the south. But forty contains ten four times. Moreover, ten itself is made up by a number proceeding from one to four.

Gloss: Or, the ten refers to the decalogue, the four to this life present, which passes through four seasons; or by the ten is meant the Old Testament, by the four the New.

Remig.: But if any, maintaining that it is not the same Jeconiah, but two different persons, make the number forty and two, we then shall say that the Holy Church is signified; for this number is the product of seven, and six; (for six times seven make forty-two;) the six denotes labour, and the seven rest.

[p. 40]


18. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.


Pseudo-Chrys.: Having said above, “And Jacob begat Joseph,” to whom Mary being espoused bare Jesus; that none who heard should suppose that His birth was as that of any of the forementioned fathers, he cuts off the thread of his narrative, saying, “But Christ’s generation was thus.” As though he were to say, The generation of all these fathers was as I have related it; but Christ’s was not so, but as follows, “His mother Mary being espoused.”

Chrys.: He announces that he is to relate the manner of the generation, shewing therein that he is about to speak some new thing; that you may not suppose when you hear mention of Mary’s husband, that Christ was born by the law of nature.

Remig.: Yet it might be referred to the foregoing in this way, The generation of Christ was, as I have related, thus, “Abraham begat Isaac.”

Jerome: But why is He conceived not of a Virgin merely, but of a Virgin espoused? First, that by the descent of Joseph, Mary’s family might be made known; secondly, that she might not be stoned by the Jews as an adulteress; thirdly, that in her flight into Egypt she might have the comfort of a husband.

The Martyr Ignatius [margin note: vid. Ign. ad Eph. 19] adds yet a fourth reason, namely, that His birth might be hid from the Devil, looking for Him to be born of a wife and not of a virgin.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Therefore both espoused and yet remaining at home; for as in her who should conceive in the house of her husband, is understood natural conception; so in her who conceives before she be taken to her husband, there is suspicion of infidelity.

Jerome, Hieron. cont. Helvid. in princ.: It is to be known, that Helvidius, a certain turbulent man, having got matter of disputation, takes in hand to blaspheme against the Mother of God. His first proposition was, Matthew begins thus, “When she was espoused.” Behold, he says, you have her espoused, but as ye say, not yet committed; but surely not espoused for any other reason than as being to be married.

Origen: She was indeed espoused to Joseph, but not united in wedlock; that is to say, His mother immaculate, His mother incorrupt, [p. 41] His mother pure. His mother! Whose mother? The mother of God, of the Only-begotten, of the Lord, of the King, of the Maker of all things, and the Redeemer of all.

Cyril, Epist. ad Monach. Egypt. (Ep. p. 7): What will any one see in the Blessed Virgin more than in other mothers, if she be not the mother of God, but of Christ, or the Lord, as Nestorius says? For it would not be absurd should any one please to name the mother of any anointed person, the mother of Christ. Yet she alone and more than they is called the Holy Virgin, and the mother of Christ. For she bare not a simple man as ye say, but rather the Word incarnate, and made man of God the Father.

But perhaps you say, Tell me, do you think the Virgin was made the mother of His divinity? To this also we say, that the Word was born of the very substance of God Himself, and without beginning of time always coexisted with the Father.

But in these last times when He was made flesh, that is united to flesh, having a rational soul, He is said to be born of a woman after the flesh. Yet is this sacrament in a manner brought out like to birth among us; for the mothers of earthly children impart to their nature that flesh that is to be perfected by degrees in the human form; but God sends the life into the animal. But though these are mothers only of the earthly bodies, yet when they bear children, they are said to bear the whole animal, and not a part of it only.

Such do we see to have been done in the birth of Emmanuel; the Word of God was born of the substance of His Father; but because He took on Him flesh, making it His own, it is necessary to confess that He was born of a woman according to the flesh. Where seeing He is truly God, how shall any one doubt to call the Holy Virgin the Mother of God?

Chrysologus, Serm. 148: If you are not confounded when you hear of the birth of God, let not His conception disturb you, seeing the pure virginity of the mother removes all that might shock human reverence. And what offence against our awe and reverence is there, when the Deity entered into union with purity that was always dear to Him, where an Angel is mediator, faith is bridesmaid, where chastity is the giving away, virtue the gift, conscience the judge, God the cause; where the conception is inviolateness, the birth virginity, and the mother a virgin. [ed. note: The allusions here made may be illustrated by a passage in the Ad Uxor. ii. 1, of Tertullian, who, with reference to the civil usages, speaks of “the [cont. p. 42] happiness of that Marriage, which the Church “brings about, (conciliat,)” the “Oblation” confirms, the Blessing “seals,” the Angles “witness,” and the Father “ratifies,” In Chrysologus the Angel brings about, (interpres ost,) virtue is the oblation or bride’s gift, and a pure conscience is the witness.]

Cyril, Epist. ad Joan. Antioch. (Ep. p. 107): But if [p. 42] we were to say that the holy Body of Christ came down from heaven, and was not made of His mother, as Valentinus does, in what sense could Mary be the Mother of God?

Gloss: The name of His Mother is added, “Mary.”

Bede, in Luc., c. 3: Mary in interpreted, ‘Star of the Sea,’ after the Hebrew; ‘Mistress,’ after the Syriac; as she bare into the world the Light of salvation, and the Lord. [ed. note, r:  their rebellion. S. Ambrose interprets it “God from my race,” and “the bitterness of the sea.” de Instit. Virg. 33. It is not necessary to give the origin of these various interpretations.]

Gloss: And to whom she was betrothed is shewn, Joseph.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Mary was therefore betrothed to a carpenter, because Christ the Spouse of the Church was to work the salvation of all men through the wood of the Cross.

Chrys.: What follows, “Before they came together,” does not mean before she was brought to the bridegroom’s house, for she was already within. For it was a frequent custom among the ancients to have their betrothed wives home to their house before marriage; as we see done now also, and as the sons-in-law of Lot were with him in the house.

Gloss: But the words denote carnal knowledge.

Pseudo-Chrys.: That He should not be born of passion, of flesh and blood, who was therefore born that He might take away all passion of flesh and blood.

Aug., de Nupt. et Concup., i, 12: There was no carnal knowledge in this wedlock, because in sinful flesh this could not be without carnal desire which came of sin, and which He would be without, who was to be without sin; and that hence He might teach us that all flesh which is born of sexual union is sinful flesh, seeing that Flesh alone was without sin, which was not so born.

Pseudo-Aug., in App. 122 et. al.: Christ was also born of a pure virgin, because it was not holy that virtue should be born of pleasure, chastity of self-indulgence, incorruption of corruption. Nor could He come from heaven but after some new manner, who came to destroy the ancient empire of death. Therefore she received the crown of virginity who bare the King of chastity. Farther, our Lord sought out for Himself a virgin abode, wherein to be received, that He might shew us that God ought to be borne in a chaste body.

Therefore He that wrote on tables of stone without an iron pen, the same wrought in Mary by the Holy [p. 43] Spirit; “She was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”

Jerome: And found by none other than by Joseph, who knew all, as being her espoused husband.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For, as a not incredible account relates, Joseph was absent when the things were done which Luke writes. For it is not easy to suppose that the Angel came to Mary and said those words, and Mary made her answer when Joseph was present. And even if we suppose thus much to have been possible, yet it could not be that she should have gone into the hill country, and abode there three months when Joseph was present, because he must needs have enquired the causes of her departure and long stay. And so when after so many months he returned from abroad, he found her manifestly with child.

Chrys.: He says exactly “was found,” for so we use to say of things not thought of. And that you should not molest the Evangelist by asking in what way was this birth of a virgin, he clears himself shortly, saying, “Of the Holy Ghost.” As much as to say, it was the Holy Ghost that wrought this miracle. For neither Gabriel nor Matthew could say any futher.

Gloss., ap Anselm: Therefore the words, “Is of the Holy Ghost,” were set down by the Evangelist, to the end, that when it was said that she was with child, all wrong suspicion should be removed from the minds of the hearers.

Pseudo-Aug. , Serm. 236 in App.: But not, as some impiously think, are we to suppose, that the Holy Spirit was as seed, but we say that He wrought with the power and might of a Creator. [ed. note: And thus S. Hilary speaks of the sementiva ineuntis Spiritus “efficacia.” de Trin. ii, 26]

Ambrose, De Spir. Sanct., ii, 5: That which is of any thing is either of the substance or the power of that thing; of the substance, as the Son who is of the Father; of the power, as all things are of God, even as Mary was with Child of the Holy Spirit.

Aug., Enchir. c. 40: Furthermore, this manner in which Christ was born of the Holy Spirit suggests to us the grace of God, by which man without any previous merits, in the very beginning of his nature, was united with the Word of God into so great unity of person, that he was also made son of God. [margin note: Aug., Enchir. c. 38]

But inasmuch as the whole Trinity wrought to make this creature which was conceived of the Virgin, though pertaining only to the person of the Son, (for the works of the Trinity are indivisible,) why is [p. 44] the Holy Spirit only named in this work? Must we always, when one of the Three is named in any work, understand that the whole Trinity worked in that?

Jerome, Hieron. Cont. Helvid. in princip.: But says Helvidius; Neither would the Evangelist have said, “Before they came together,” if they were not to come together afterwards; as none would say, Before dinner, where there was to be no dinner. As if one should say, Before I dined in harbour, I set sail for Africa, would this have no meaning in it, unless he were at some times or other to dine in the harbour?

Surely we must either understand it thus, - that “before,” though it often implies something to follow, yet often is said of things that follow only in thought; and it is not necessary that the things so thought of should take place, for that something else has happened to prevent them from taking place.

Jerome: Therefore it by no means follows that they did come together afterwards; Scripture however shews not what did happen.

Remig.: Or the word “come together” may not mean carnal knowledge, but may refer to the time of the nuptials, when she who was betrothed begins to be wife. Thus, “before they came together,” may mean before they solemnly celebrated the nuptial rites.

Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 5: How this was done Matthew omits to write, but Luke relates after the conception of John, “In the sixth month the Angel was sent;” and again, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee.” This is what Matthew relates in these words, “She was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” And it is no contradiction that Luke has described what Matthew omits; or again that Matthew relates what Luke has omitted; that namely which follows, from “Now Joseph her husband being a just man,” to that place where it is said of the Magi, that “They returned into their own country another way.”

If one desired to digest into one narrative the two accounts of Christ’s birth, he would arrange thus; beginning with Matthew’s words, “Now the birth of Christ was on this wise;” then taking up with Luke, from “There was in the days of Herod,” [Luke 1:5] to, “Mary abode with her three months,” and “returned to her house;” then taking up again Matthew, add, “She was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” [Matt 1:10]

[p. 45]


19. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.


Chrys.: The Evangelist having said that she was found with child of the Holy Ghost, and without knowledge of man, that you should not herein suspect Christ’s disciple of inventing wonders in honour of his Master, brings forward Joseph confirming the history by his own share in it; “Now Joseph her husband, being a just man.”

Pseudo-Aug., Serm. in App. s. 195: Joseph, understanding that Mary was with child, is perplexed that it should be thus with her whom he had received from the temple of the Lord, and had not yet known, and resolved within himself, saying, What shall I do? Shall I proclaim it, or shall I overlook it? If I proclaim it, I am indeed not consenting to the adultery; but I am running into the guilt of cruelty, for by Moses’ law she must be stoned. If I overlook it, I am consenting to the crime, and take my portion with the adulterers. Since then it is an evil to overlook the things, and worse to proclaim the adultery, I will put her away from being my wife.

Ambrose, in Luc., ii, 5: St. Matthew has beautifully taught how a righteous man ought to act, who has detected his wife’s disgrace; so as at once to keep himself guiltless of her blood, and yet pure from her defilements; therefore it is he says, “Being a just man.” Thus is preserved throughout in Joseph the gracious character of a righteous man, that his testimony may be the more approved; for, the tongue of the just speaketh the judgment of truth.

Jerome: But how is Joseph thus called, “just,” when he is ready to hide his wife’s sin? For the Law enacts, that not only the doers of evil, but they who are privy to any evil done, shall be held to be guilty.

Chrys.: But it should be known, that “just” here is used to denote one who is in all things virtuous. For there is a particular justice, namely, the being free from covetousness; and another universal virtue, in which sense Scripture generally uses the word justice. Therefore being “just,” that is, kind, merciful, he “was minded to put away privily” her who according to the Law was liable not only to dismissal, but to death. But Joseph remitted both, as though living above the Law. For as the sun lightens up the world, [p. 46] before he shews his rays, so Christ before He was born caused many wonders to be seen.

Aug.: Otherwise; if you alone have knowledge of a sin that any has committed against you, and desire to accuse him thereof before men, you do not herein correct, but rather betray him. But Joseph, “being a just man,” with great mercy spared his wife, in this great crime of which he suspected her. The seeming certainty of her unchastity tormented him, and yet because he alone knew of it, he was willing not to publish it, but to send her away privily; seeking rather the benefit than the punishment of the sinner.

Jerome: Or this may be considered a testimony to Mary, that Joseph, confident in her purity, and wondering at what had happened, covered in silence that mystery which he could not explain.

Rabanus: He beheld her to be with child, whom he knew to be chaste; and because he had read, “There shall come a Rod out of the stem of Jesse,” of which he knew that Mary was come [ed. note: Jerome in loc. Ambros. de Spir. S. ii. 5. and Pseudo-Augustine (t. vi. p. 570.) so apply these words, considering Christ the ‘Branch’ or flower (flos) which is spoken of in the clause following. Cyril Alex. et Theod. in loc. explain it of Christ.], and had also read, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive,” he did not doubt that this prophecy should be fulfilled in her.

Origen: But if he had no suspicion of her, how could he be a just man, and yet seek to put her away, being immaculate? He sought to put her away, because he saw in her a great sacrament, to approach which he thought himself unworthy.

Gloss, ap Anselm: Or, in seeking to put her away, he was just; in that he sought it privily, is shewn his mercy, defending her from disgrace; “Being a just man, he was minded to put her away;” and being unwilling to expose her in public, and so to disgrace her, he sought to do it privily.

Ambrose, in Luc., ii, 1: But as no one puts away what he has not received; in that he was minded to put her away, he admits to have received her.

Gloss, part ap. Anselm, part in Ordinaria: Or, being unwilling to bring her home to his house to live with him for ever, “he was minded to put her away privily;” that is, to change the time of their marriage. For that is true virtue, when neither mercy is observed without justice, nor justice without mercy; both which vanish when severed one from the other.

Or he was just because of his faith, in that [p. 47] he believed that Christ should be born of a virgin; wherefore he wished to humble himself before so great a favour.


20. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.


Remig.: Because Joseph was minded, as has been said, to put Mary away privily, which if he had done, there would have been few who would not rather have thought her a harlot than a virgin, therefore this purpose of Joseph was changed by Divine revelation, whence it is said, “While he thought on these things.”

Gloss., ap Anselm: In this is to be noted the wise soul that desires to undertake nothing rashly.

Chrys.: Also observe the mercifulness of Joseph, that he imparted his suspicions to none, not even to her whom he suspected, but kept them within himself.

Pseudo-Aug., Serm. in App. 195: Yet though Joseph think on these things, let not Mary the daughter of David be troubled; as the word of the Prophet brought pardon to David, so the Angel of the Saviour delivers Mary. Behold, again appears Gabriel the bridesman of this Virgin; as it follows, “Behold the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph.”

Ambrose: In this word “appeared” is conveyed the power of Him that did appear, allowing Himself to be seen where and how He pleases.

Raban.: How the Angel appeared to Joseph is declared in the words, “In his sleep;” that is, as Jacob saw the ladder offered by a kind of imagining to the eyes of his heart.

Chrys.: He did not appear so openly to Joseph as to the Shepherds, because he was faithful; the shepherds needed it, because they were ignorant. The Virgin also needed it, as she had first to be instructed in these mighty wonders. In like manner Zacharias needed the wonderful vision before the conception of his son.

Gloss., part Int., part Anselm: The Angel appearing calls him by name, and adds his descent, in order to banish fear, “Joseph, son of David;” Joseph, as though he were known to him by name and his familiar friend.

Pseudo-Chrys.: By addressing him as son of David, he sought to recall to his memory the promise of God to David, that of [p. 48] his seed should Christ be born.

Chrys.: But by saying, “Be not afraid,” he shews him to be in fear that he had offended God, by having an adulteress; for only as such would he have ever thought of putting her away.

Chrysologus: As her betrothed husband also he is admonished not to be afraid; for the mind that compassionates has most fear; as though he were to say, Here is no cause of death, but of life; she that brings forth life, does not deserve death.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Also by the words, “Fear not,” he desired to shew that he knew the heart; that by this he might have the more faith in those good things to come, which he was about to speak concerning Christ.

Ambrose, in Luc., ii, 5: Be not troubled that he calls her his wife; for she is not herein robbed of her virginity, but her wedlock is witnessed to, and the celebration of her marriage is declared.

Jerome: But we are not to think that she ceased to be betrothed, because she is here called wife, since we know that this is the Scripture manner to call the man and woman, when espoused, husband and wife; and this is confirmed by that text in Deuteronomy, “If one finds a virgin that is betrothed to a man in the field, and offer violence to her, and lie with her, he shall die, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife.” [Deut 22:25]

Chrys.: He says, “Fear not to take unto thee;” that is, to keep at home; for in thought she was already dismissed.

Raban.: Or, “to take her,” that is, in marriage union and continual converse.

Pseudo-Chrys.: There were three reasons why the Angel appeared to Joseph with this message. First, that a just man might not be led into an unjust action, with just intentions. Secondly, for the honour of the mother herself, for had she been put away, she could not have been free from evil suspicion among the unbelievers. Thirdly, that Joseph, understanding the holy conception, might keep himself from her with more care than before.

He did not appear to Joseph before the conception, that he should not think those things that Zacharias thought, nor suffer what he suffered in falling into the sin of unbelief concerning the conception of his wife in her old age. For it was yet more incredible that a virgin should conceive, than that a woman past the age should conceive.

Chrys.: Or, The Angel appeared to Joseph when he was in this perplexity, that his wisdom might be apparent to Joseph, and that this [p. 49] might be a proof to him of those things that he spoke. For when he heard out of the mouth of the Angel those very things that he thought within himself, this was an undoubted proof, that he was a messenger from God, who alone knows the secrets of the heart.

Also the account of the Evangelist is beyond suspicion, as he describes Joseph feeling all that a husband was likely to feel. The Virgin also by this was more removed from suspicion, in that her husband had felt jealousy, yet took her home, and kept her with him after her conception. She had not told Joseph the things that the Angel had said to her, because she did not suppose that she should be believed by her husband, especially as he had begun to have suspicions concerning her.

But to the Virgin the Angel announced her conception before it took place, lest if he should defer it till afterwards she should be in straits. And it behoved that Mother who was to receive the Maker of all things to be kept free from all trouble. Not only does the Angel vindicate the Virgin from all impurity, but shews that the conception was supernatural, not removing his fears only, but adding matter of joy; saying, “That which is born in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

Gloss. ord: To be “born in her,” and “born of her,” are two different things; to be born of her is to come into the world; to be born in her, is the same as to be conceived. Or the word, “born,” is used according to the foreknowledge of the Angel which he has of God, to whom the future is as the past.

Pseudo-Aug., Hil. Quaest. N. et V. Test. q. 52: But if Christ was born by the agency of the Holy Ghost, how is that said, “Wisdom hath built herself an house?” [Prov 9:1]

That house may be taken in two meanings. First, the house of Christ is the Church, which He built with His own blood; and secondly, His body may be called His house, as it is called His temple. But the work of the Holy Spirit, is also the work of the Son of God, because of the unity of their nature and their will; for whether it be the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit, that doeth it, it is the Trinity that works, and what the Three do, is of One God.

Aug., Enchir., 38: But shall we therefore say that the Holy Spirit is the Father of the man Christ, that as God the Father begot the Word, so the Holy Spirit begot the man? This is such an absurdity, that the ears of the faithful cannot bear it. [p. 50]

How then do we say that Christ was born by the Holy Spirit, if the Holy Spirit did not beget Him? Did He create Him? For so far as He is man He was created, as the Apostle speaks; “He was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” [Rom 1:3] For though God made the world, yet is it not right to say that it is the Son of God, or born by Him, but that it was made, or created, or formed by Him. But seeing that we confess Christ to have been born by the Holy Spirit, and of the Virgin Mary, how is He not the Son of the Holy Spirit, and is the Son of the Virgin? It does not follow, that whatever is born by any thing, is therefore to be called the son of that thing; for, not to say that of man is born in one sense a son, in another a hair, or vermin, or a worm, none of which are his son, certainly those that are born of water and the Spirit none would call sons of water; but sons of God their Father, and their Mother the Church. Thus Christ was born of the Holy Spirit, and yet is the Son of God the Father, not of the Holy Spirit.


21. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.


Chrys.: What the Angel thus told Joseph, was beyond human thought, and the law of nature, therefore he confirms his speech not only be revealing to him what was past, but also what was to come; “She shall bring forth a Son.”

Gloss., ap Anselm: That Joseph should not suppose that he was no longer needed in this wedlock, seeing the conception had taken place without his intervention, the Angel declares to him, that though there had been no need of him in the conception, yet there was need of his guardianship; for the Virgin should bear a Son, and then he would be necessary both to the Mother and her Son; to the Mother to screen her from disgrace, to the Son to bring Him up and to circumcise Him. The circumcision is meant when he says, “And thou shalt call His name Jesus;” for it was usual to give the name in circumcision.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He said not, “Shall bear thee a Son,” as to Zacharias, “Behold, Elisabeth thy wife shall bear thee a son.” For the woman who conceives of her husband, [p. 51] bears the son to her husband, because he is more of him than of herself; but she who had not conceived of man, did not bear the Son to her husband, but to herself.

Chrys.: Or, he left it unappropriated, to shew that she bare Him to the whole world.

Raban.: “Thou shalt call His name,” he says, and not, “shalt give Him a name,” for His name had been given from all eternity.

Chrys.: This further shews that this birth should be wonderful, because it is God that sends down His name from above by His Angel; and that not any name, but one which is a treasure of infinite good. Therefore also the Angel interprets it, suggesting good hope, and by this induces him to believe what was spoken. For we lean more easily to prosperous things, and yield our belief more readily to good fortune.

Jerome: Jesus is a Hebrew word, meaning Saviour. He points to the etymology of the name, saying, “For He shall save His people from this sins.”

Remig.: He shews the same man to be the Saviour of the whole world, and the Author of our salvation. He saves indeed not the unbelieving, but His people; that is, He saves those that believe on Him, not so much from visible as from invisible enemies; that is, from their sins, not by fighting with arms, but by remitting their sins.

Chrysologus: Let them approach to hear this, who ask, Who is He that Mary bare? “He shall save His people;” not any other man’s people; from what? “from their sins.” That it is God that forgives sins, if you do not believe the Christians so affirming, believe the infidels, or the Jews who say, “None can forgive sins but God only.” [Luke 5:1]


22. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

23. Behold, a Virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His Name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.


Remig.: It is the custom of the Evangelist to confirm what he says out of the Old Testament, for the sake of those Jews who believed on Christ, that they might recognize as fulfilled in the grace of the Gospel, the things that were foretold in the Old Testament; therefore he adds, “Now all this was done.” [p. 52]

Here we must enquire why he should say “all this was done,” when above he has only related the conception. It should be known that he says this to shew, that in the presence of God “all this was done” before it was done among men. Or he says, “all” this was done, because he is relating past events; for when he wrote, it was all done.

Gloss., ap Anselm: Or, he says, “all this was done,” meaning, the Virgin was betrothed, she was kept chaste, she was found with child, the revelation was made by the Angel, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken. For that the Virgin should conceive and should bring forth would never have been fulfilled, had she not been espoused that she should not be stoned; and had not her secret been disclosed by the Angel, and so Joseph taken her unto him, that she was not dismissed to disgrace and to perish by stoning. So had she perished before the birth, that prophecy would have been made void which says, “She shall bring forth a Son.” [Isa 7:14]

Gloss: Or it may be said, that the word “that” does not here denote the cause; for the prophecy was not fulfilled merely because it was to be fulfilled. But it is put consecutively, as in Genesis, “He hung the other on the gallows, that the truth of the interpreter might be proved;” [Gen 40:22] since by the weighing of one, truth is established. So also in this place we must understand it as if it were, that which was foretold being done, the prophecy was accomplished.

Chrys.: Otherwise; the Angel seeing the depths of the Divine mercy, the laws of nature broken through and reconciliation made, He who was above all made lower than all; all these wonders, all this he comprises in that one saying, “Now all this hath happened;” as though he had said, Do not suppose that this is newly devised of God, it was determined of old. And he rightly cites the Prophet not to the Virgin, who as a maiden was untaught in such things, but to Joseph, as to one much versed in the Prophets.

And at first he had spoken of Mary as “thy wife,” but now in the words of the Prophet he brings in the word, “Virgin,” that he might hear this from the Prophet, as a thing long before determined. Therefore to confirm what he had said, he introduces Isaiah, or rather God; for he does not say, Which was spoken by Isaiah, but, “Which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet.”

Jerome, in Isa 7:14; Since it is introduced in the Prophet by the words, [p. 53] “The Lord Himself shall give you a sign,” it ought to be something new and wonderful. But if it be, as the Jews will have it, a young woman, or a girl shall bring forth, and not a virgin, what wonder is this, since these are words signifying age and not purity?

Indeed the Hebrew word signifying “Virgin” (Bethula) is not used in this place, but instead the word, ‘Halma,’ [ed. note, a: עןלמה, &c.] which except the LXX all render ‘girl.’ But the word, ‘Halma,’ has a twofold meaning; it signifies both ‘girl,’ and ‘hidden;’ therefore ‘Halma’ denotes not only ‘maiden’ or ‘virgin,’ but ‘hidden,’ ‘secret;’ that is, one never exposed to the gaze of men, but kept under close custody by her parents.

In the Punic tongue also, which is said to be derived from Hebrew sources, a virgin is properly called ‘Halma.’ In our tongue also ‘Halma’ means holy; and the Hebrews use words of nearly all languages; and as far as my memory will serve me, I do not think I ever met with Halma used of a married woman, but of her that is a virgin, and such that she be not merely a virgin, but in the age of youth; for it is possible for an old woman to be a maid. But this was a virgin in years of youth, or at least a virgin, and not a child too young for marriage.

For that which Matthew the Evangelist says, “Shall have in her womb,” the Prophet who is foretelling something future, writes, “shall receive.” The Evangelist, not foretelling the future but describing the past, changes “shall receive,” into “shall have;” but he who has, cannot after receive that he has. He says, “Lo, a Virgin shall have in her womb, and shall bear a Son.”

Leo, Serm. 23, 1: The conception was by the Holy Spirit within the womb of the Virgin; who, as she conceived in perfect chastity, in like manner brought forth her Son.

Pseudo-Aug., in App. s. 123: He, who by a touch could heal the severed limbs of others, how much more could He, in His own birth, preserve whole that which He found whole? In this parturition, soundness of the Mother’s body was rather strengthened than weakened, and her virginity rather confirmed than lost.

Theodotus, Hom. 1 and 2. in Conc. Eph. ap. Hard. t. i. pp. 1643, 1655: Inasmuch as Photinus affirms that He that was now born was mere man, not allowing the divine birth, and maintains that He who now issued from the womb was the man separate from the God; let him shew how it was possible that human nature, born of the Virgin’s womb, should have preserved the [p. 54] virginity of that womb uncorrupted; for the mother of no man ever yet remained a virgin.

But forasmuch as it was God the Word who was now born in the flesh, He shewed Himself to be the Word, in that He preserved His mother’s virginity. For as our word when it is begot does not destroy the mind, so neither does God the Word in choosing His birth destroy the virginity.

Chrys.: As it is the manner of Scripture to convey a knowledge of events under the form of a name, so here, “They shall call His name Emmanuel,” means nothing else than, They shall see God among men. Whence he says not, ‘Thou shalt call,’ but “They shall call.”

Raban.: First, Angels hymning, secondly, Apostles preaching, then Holy Martyrs, and lastly, all believers.

Jerome, in Isa 7:14; The LXX and three others translate, ‘Thou shalt call,’ instead of which we have here, “They shall call,” which is not so in the Hebrew; for the word, ‘Charathi,’ [ed. note: קראת] which all render “Thou shalt call,” may mean, ‘And she shall call,’ that is, The Virgin that shall conceive and shall bear Christ, shall call His name Emmanuel, which is interpreted, ‘God with us.’

Remig.: It is a question who interpreted this name? The Prophet, or the Evangelist, or some translator? It should be known then, that the Prophet did not interpret it; and what need had the Holy Evangelist to do so, seeing he wrote in the Hebrew tongue? Perhaps that was a difficult and rare word in Hebrew, and therefore needed interpretation. It is more probable that some translator interpreted it, that the Latins might not be perplexed by an unintelligible word.

In this name are conveyed at once the two substances, the Divinity and Humanity in the one Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He who before all time was begot in an unspeakable manner by God the Father, the same in the end of time was made “Emmanuel,” that is, “God with us,” of a Virgin Mother. This “God with us” may be understood in this way. He was made with us, passible, mortal, and in all things like unto us without sin; or because our frail substance which He took on Him, He joined in one Person to His Divine substance.

Jerome: It should be known, that the Hebrews believe this prophecy to refer to Ezekias, the son of Ahaz, because in his reign Samaria was taken; but this cannot be established. Ahaz [p. 55] son of Jotham reigned over Judaea and Jerusalem sixteen years, and was succeeded by his son Ezekias, who was twenty-three years old, and reigned over Judaea and Jerusalem twenty-nine years; how then can a prophecy prophesied in the first year of Ahaz refer to the conception and birth of Ezekias, when he was already nine years of age? Unless perhaps the sixth year of the reign of Ezekias, in which Samaria was taken, they think is here called his infancy, that is, the infancy of his reign, not of his age; which even a fool must see to be hard and forced.

A certain one of our interpreters contends, that the Prophet Isaiah had two sons, Jashub and Emmanuel; and that Emmanuel was born of his wife the Prophetess as a type of the Lord and Saviour. But this is a fabulous tale.

Petrus Alfonsus, Dial. tit. 7: For we know not that any man of that day was called Emmanuel. But the Hebrew objects, How can it be that this was said on account of Christ and Mary, when many centuries intervened between Ahaz and Mary? But though the Prophet was speaking to Ahaz, the prophecy was yet not spoken to him only or of his time only; for it is introduced, “Hear, O house of David;” [Isa 7:13] not, ‘Hear, O Ahaz.’

Again, “The Lord Himself shall give you a sign;” meaning He, and none other; from which we may understand that the Lord Himself should be the sign. And that he says “to you,” (plur.) and not ‘to thee,’ shews that this was not spoken to Ahaz, or on his account only.

Jerome: What is spoken to Ahaz then is to be thus understood. This Child, that shall be born of a Virgin of the house of David, shall now be called Emmanuel, that is, God with us, because the events (perhaps delivery from the two hostile kings) will make it appear that you have God present with you. But after He shall be called Jesus, that is, Saviour, because He shall save the whole human race. Wonder not, therefore, O house of David, at the newness of this thing, that a Virgin should bring forth a God, seeing He has so great might that though yet to be born after a long while, He delivers you now when you call upon Him.

Aug., Cont. Faust., 12, 45, and 13, 7: Who so mad as to say with Manichaeus, that it is a weak faith not to believe i Christ without a witness; whereas the Apostle says, “How shall they believe on Him of whom they have not heard? Or how shall they hear without a preacher?” [Rom 10:14]

That those things which were preached by the Apostle might [p. 56] not be contemned, nor thought to be fables, they are proved to have been foretold by the Prophets. For though attested by miracles, yet there would not have been wanting men to ascribe them all to magical power, had not such suggestions been overcome by the additional testimony of prophecy.

For none could suppose that long before He was born, He had raised up by magic prophets to prophesy of Him. For if we say to a Gentile, Believe on Christ that He is God, and he should answer, Whence is it that I should believe on Him? we might allege the authority of the Prophets. Should he refuse assent to this, we establish their credit from their having foretold things to come, and those things having truly come to pass. I suppose he could not but know how great persecutions the Christian religion has formerly suffered from the Kings of this world; let him now behold those very Kings submitting to the kingdom of Christ, and all nations serving the same; all which things the Prophets foretold. He then hearing these things out of the Scriptures of the Prophets, and beholding them accomplished throughout the whole earth, would be moved to faith.

Gloss, in Anselm: This error then is barred by the Evangelist saying, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet.”

Now one kind of prophecy is by the preordination of God, and must needs be fulfilled, and that without any free choice on our part. Such is that of which we now speak; wherefore he says, “Lo,” to shew the certainty of prophecy.

There is another kind of prophecy which is by the foreknowledge of God, and with this our free will is mixed up; wherein by grace working with us we obtain reward, or if justly deserted by it, torment.

Another is not of foreknowledge, but is a kind of threat made after the manner of men; as that, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown;” [Jonah 3] understanding, unless the Ninevites amend themselves.


24. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

25. And knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born Son: and he called his name, Jesus.


[p. 57]

Remig.: Life returned by the same entrance through which death had entered in. By Adam’s disobedience we were ruined, by Joseph’s obedience we all begin to be recalled to our former condition; for in these words is commended to us the great virtue of obedience, when it is said, “And Joseph rising from sleep, did as the Angel of the Lord had commanded him.”

Gloss. ord. et ap. Anselm ex Beda cit.: He not only did what the Angel commanded, but as he commanded it. Let each one who is warned of God, in like manner, break off all delays, rise from sleep, and do that which is commanded him.

Pseudo-Chrys.: “Took unto him” not took home to him; for he had not sent her away; he had put her away in thought only, and now took her again in thought.

Remig.: Or, Took her so far, as that the nuptial rites being complete, she was called his wife; but not so far as to lie with her, as it follows, “And knew her not.”

Jerome, Cont. Helvid. c. 5: Helvidius is at much superfluous trouble to make this word “know” refer to carnal knowledge rather than to acquaintance, as though any had ever denied that; or as if the follies to which he replies had ever occurred to any person of common understanding. He then goes on to say, that the adverb, ‘until,’ denotes a fixed time when that should take place, which had not taken place before; so that here from the words, “He knew her not until she had brought forth her first-born Son,” it is clear, he says, that after that he did know her. And in proof of this he heaps together many instances from Scripture.

To all this we answer, that the word ‘until’ is to be understood in two senses in Scripture. And concerning the expression, “knew her not,” he has himself shewn, that it must be referred to carnal knowledge, none doubting that it is often used of acquaintance, as in that, “The child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem, and His parents knew not of it.” [Luke 2:43]

In like manner, ‘until’ often denotes in Scripture, as he has shewn, a fixed period, but often also an infinite time, as in that, “Even to your old age I am He.” [Isa 46:4] Will God then cease to be when they are grown old? Also the Saviour in the Gospel, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of this world.” [Matt 28:20] Will He then leave His disciples at the end of the world? Again, the Apostle says, “He must reign till He has put His enemies under His feet.” [1 Cor 15:25]

Be it understood then, that which if it had not been written might have been [p. 58] doubted, is expressly declared to us; other things are left to our own understanding.

[ed. note: In other words, “till,” need not imply a termination at a certain point of time, but may be giving us information up to a point from which onwards there is already no doubt. Supposing an Evangelist thought the very notion shocking that Joseph should have considered the Blessed Virgin as his wife after he was a witness of her bearing God the Son, he would only say that the vision had its effect upon him up to that time when it was no longer necessary. Just as if, in speaking of a man like Augustine, one said, that, in consequence of some awful occurrence, he was in the habit of saying prayers till the time of his conversion, no one would suppose that he left them off on being converted.]

So here the Evangelist informs us, in that wherein there might have been room for error, that she was not known by her husband until the birth of her Son, that we might thence infer that much less was she known afterwards.

Pseudo-Chrys.: As one might say, ‘He told it not so long as he lived;’ would this imply that he told it after his death? Impossible. So it were credible that Joseph might have known her before the birth, while he was yet ignorant of the great mystery; but after that he understood how she had been made a temple of the Only-begotten of God, how could he occupy that? The followers of Eunomius think, as they have dared to assert this, that Joseph also dared to do it, just as the insane think all men equally mad with themselves.

Jerome, cont. Hevlid. 8: Lastly, I would ask, Why then did Joseph abstain at all up to the day of birth? He will surely answer, Because of the Angel’s words, “That which is born in her, &c.” He then who gave so much heed to a vision as not to dare to touch his wife, would he, after he had heard the shepherds, seen the Magi, and known so many miracles, dare to approach the temple of God, the seat of the Holy Ghost, the Mother of his Lord?

Pseudo-Chrys.: It may be said, that “know” here signifies simply, to understand; that whereas before he had not understood how great her dignity, after the birth he then “knew” that she had been made more honourable and worthy than the whole world, who had carried in her womb Him whom the whole world could not contain.

Gloss: Otherwise; On account of the glorification of the most holy Mary, she could not be known by Joseph until the birth; for she who had the Lord of glory in her womb, how should she be known? If the face of Moses talking with God was made glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look thereon, how much [p. 59] more could not Mary be known, or even looked upon, who bare the Lord of glory in her womb? After the birth she was known of Joseph to the beholding of her face, but not to be approached carnally.

Jerome: From the words, “her first-born Son,” some most erroneously suspect that Mary had other sons, saying that first-born can only be said of one that has brethren. But this is the manner of Scripture, to call the first-born not only one who is followed by brethren, but the first-birth of the mother.

Jerome, Cont. Helvid. 10: For if he only was first-born who was followed by other brethren, then no first-birth could be due to the Priests, till such time as the second birth took place.

Gloss. ord.: Or; He is “first-born” among the elect by grace; but by nature the Only-begotten of God the Father, the only Son of Mary. “And called His name Jesus,” on the eighth day on which the circumcision took place, and the Name was given.

Remig.: It is clear that this Name was well known to the Holy Fathers and the Prophets of God, but to him above all, who spake, “My soul fainted for Thy salvation;” [Ps 119:81] and, “My soul hath rejoiced in Thy salvation.” [Ps 13:5] Also to him who spake, “I will joy in God my Saviour.” [Heb 3:18]

 

Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 2

[p. 60]

1. Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

2. Saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.


Aug.: After the miraculous Virgin-birth, a God-man having by Divine power proceeded from a virgin womb; in the obscure shelter of such a cradle, a narrow stall, wherein lay Infinite Majesty in a body more narrow, a God was suckled and suffered the wrapping of vile rags - amidst all this, on a sudden a new star shone in the sky upon the earth, and driving away the darkness of the world, changed night into day; that the day-star should not be hidden by the night.

Hence it is that the Evangelist says, “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem.”

Remig.: In the beginning of this passage of the Gospel he puts three several things; the person, “When Jesus was born,” the place, “in Bethlehem of Judaea,” and the time, “in the days of Herod the king.” These three circumstances verify his words.

Jerome: We think the Evangelist first wrote, as we read in the Hebrew, ‘Judah,’ not ‘Judaea.’ For in what other country is there a Bethlehem, that this needs to be distinguished as in ‘Judaea?’ But ‘Judah’ is written, because there is another Bethlehem in Galilee.

Gloss. ord.: There are two Bethlehems; [Josh 19:15] one in the tribe of Zabulon, the other in the tribe of Judah, which was before called Ephrata.

Aug., de Cons. Evan., 2, 15: Concerning the place, Bethlehem, Matthew and Luke agree; but the cause and manner of their being there, Luke relates, Matthew omits. Luke again omits the account of the Magi, which Matthew gives. [p. 61]

Pseudo-Chrys.: Let us see to what serves this designation of time, “In the days of Herod the king.” It shews the fulfilment of Daniel’s prophecy, wherein he spake that Christ should be born after seventy weeks of years. For from the time of the prophecy to the reign of Herod, the years of seventy weeks were accomplished.

Or again, as long as Judaea was ruled by Jewish princes, though sinners, so long prophets were sent for its amendment; but now, whereas God’s law was held under the power of an unrighteous king, and the righteousness of God enslaved by the Roman rule, Christ is born; the most desperate sickness required the better physician.

Rabanus: Otherwise, he mentions the foreign king to shew the fulfilment of the prophecy. “The Sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a Lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come.” [Gen 49:10]

Ambrose, in Luc., iii, 41: It is said, that some Idumaean robbers coming to Ascalon, brought with them among other prisoners Antipater. [ed. note: The same account of Herod’s parentage is given by Africanus, Euseb. Hist. i. 7. but Josephus says (Antiq. xiv. 1. n. 3. de Bell. Jud. i. 6. n. 2.) that Herod was an Idumaean, of noble birth, and that his father Antipas was governor of Idumaea under Alexander Jannaeus.] He was instructed in the law and customs of the Jews, and acquired the friendship of Hyrcanus, king of Judaea, who sent him as his deputy to Pompey. He succeeded so well in the object of his mission, that he laid claim to a share of the throne. He was put to death, but his son Herod was under Antony appointed king of Judaea, by a decree of the Senate; so it is clear that Herod sought the throne of Judaea without any connection or claim of birth.

Chrys.: “Herod the king,” mentioning his dignity, because there was another Herod who put John to death.

Pseudo-Chrys.: “When He was born . . . behold wise men,” that is, immediately on His birth, shewing that a great God existed in a little one of man.

Rabanus: The Magi are men who enquire into the nature of things philosophically, but common speech uses Magi for wizards. In their own country, however, they are held in other repute, being the philosophers of the Chaldaeans, in whose lore kings and princes of that nation are taught, and by which themselves knew the birth of the Lord.

Aug., Serm. 202: What were these Magi but the first [p. 62] fruits of the Gentiles? Israelitish shepherds, gentile Magians, one from far, the other from near, hastened to the one Corner-stone.

Aug., Serm. 200: Jesus then was manifested neither to the learned nor the righteous; for ignorance belonged to the shepherds, impiety to the idolatrous Magi. Yet does that Corner-stone attract them both to Itself, seeing He came to choose the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, and not to call the righteous, but sinners; that nothing great should exalt himself, none weak should despair.

Gloss: These Magi were kings, and though their gifts were three, it is not to be thence inferred that themselves were only three in number, but in them was prefigured the coming to the faith of the nations sprung from the three sons of Noah.

Or, the princes were only three, but each brought a large company with him. They came not after a year’s end, for He would then have been found in Egypt, not in the manger, but on the thirteenth day. To shew whence they came it is said, “from the East.”

Remig.: It should be known that opinions vary respecting the Magi. Some say they were Chaldaeans, who are known to have worshipped a star as God; thus their fictitious Deity shewed them the way to the true God. Others think that they were Persians; others again, that they came from the utmost ends of the earth. Another and more probable opinion is, that they were descendants of Balaam, who having his prophecy, “There shall rise a Star out of Jacob,” [Num 24:17] as soon as they saw the star, would know that a King was born.

Jerome: They knew that such a star would rise by the prophecy of Balaam, whose successors they were. But whether they were Chaldaeans, or Persians, or came from the utmost ends of the earth, how in so short a space of time could they arrive at Jerusalem?

Remig.: Some used to answer, ‘No marvel if that boy who was then born could draw them so speedily, though it were from the ends of the earth.’

Gloss: Or, they had dromedaries and Arabian horses, whose great swiftness brought them to Bethlehem in thirteen days.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, they had set out two years before the Saviour’s birth, and though they travelled all that time, neither meat nor drink failed in their scrips.

Remig.: Or, if they were the descendants of Balaam, their kings are not far distant from the land of promise, and [p. 63] might easily come to Jerusalem in that so short time.

But why does he write “From the East?” Because surely they came from a country eastward of Judaea. But there is also great beauty in this, They “came out of the East,” seeing all who come to the Lord, come from Him and through Him; as it is said in Zechariah, “Behold the Man whose name is the East.” [Zech 6:12]

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, whence the day springs, thence came the first-fruits of the faith; for faith is the light of the soul. Therefore they came from the East, but to Jerusalem.

Remig.: Yet was not the Lord born there; thus they knew the time but not the place of His birth. Jerusalem being the royal city, they believed that such a child could not be born in any other.

Or it was to fulfil that Scripture, “The Law shall go out of Sion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” [Isa 2:3] And there Christ was first preached.

Or it was to condemn the backwardness of the Jews.

Pseudo-Aug., Append. Serm. 132: Many kings of Judaea had been born and died before, yet had Magi ever sought out any of them for adoration? No, for they had not been taught that any of these spoke from heaven. To no ordinary King of Judaea had these men, aliens from the land of Judaea, ever thought such honour due. But they had been taught that this Child was one, in worshipping whom they would certainly secure that salvation which is of God. Neither His age was such as attracts men’s flattery; His limbs not robed in purple, His brow not crowned with a diamond, no pompous train, no awful army, no glorious fame of battles, attracted these men to Him from the remotest countries, with such earnestness of supplication. There lay in a manger a Boy, newly born, of infantine size, of pitiable poverty. But in that small Infant lay hid something great, which these men, the first-fruits of the Gentiles, had learned not of earth but of heaven; as it follows, “We have seen His star in the east.” They announce the vision and ask, they believe and enquire, as signifying those who walk by faith and desire sight.

Greg., M. in Evan., i. 10. n. 4: It should be known that the Priscillianists, heretics who believe every man to be born under the aspect of some planet. cite this text in support of their error; the new star which appeared at the Lord’s birth they consider to have been his fate.

Aug., contr. Faust, ii, 1: And, according to Faustus this [p. 64] introduction of the account of the star would lead us rather to call this part of the history, ‘The Nativity,’ than ‘The Gospel.’

Gregory: But far be it from the hearts of the faithful to call any thing, ‘fate.’

Aug., City of God, book v, ch. 1: For by the word, ‘fate,’ in common acceptation, is meant the disposition of the stars at the moment of a person’s birth or conception; to which some assign a power independent of the will of God. These must be kept at a distance from the ears of all who desire to be worshippers of Gods of any sort. But others think the stars have this virtue committed to them by the great God; wherein they greatly wrong the skies, in that they impute to their splendent host the decreeing of crimes, such as should any earthly people decree, their city should in the judgment of mankind deserve to be utterly destroyed.

Pseudo-Chrys.: If then any should become an adulterer or homicide through means of the planets, how great is the evil and wickedness of those stars, or rather of Him who made them? For as God knows things to come, and what evils are to spring from those stars; if He would not hinder it, He is not good; if He would but could not, He is weak.

Again, if it be of the star that we are either good or bad, we have neither merit nor demerit, as being involuntary agents; and why should I be punished for sin which I have done not wilfully, but by necessity? The very commands of God against sin, and exhortations to righteousness, overthrow such folly. For where a man has not power to do, or where he has not power to forbear, who would command him either to do or to forbear?

Gregory Nyss.: How vain moreover is prayer for those who live by fate; Divine Providence is banished from the world together with piety, and man is made the mere instrument of the sidereal motions. For these they say move to action, not only the bodily members, but the thoughts of the mind. In a word, they who teach this, take away all that is in us, and the very nature of a contingency; which is nothing less than to overturn all things. For where will there be free will? but that which is in us must be free.

Augustine, City of God, Book 5, ch. 6: It cannot be said to be utterly absurd to suppose that sidereal afflatus should influence the state of the body, when we see that it is by the approach and departure of the sun that the seasons of the year are [p. 65] varied, and that many things, as shells and the wonderful tides of the Ocean, increase or decrease as the moon waxes or wanes. But not so, to say that the dispositions of the mind are subject to sidereal impulse. Do they say that the stars rather foreshew than effect these results? how then do they explain, that in the life of twins, in their actions, their successes, professions, honours, and all other circumstances of life, there will often be so great diversity, that men of different countries are often more alike in their lives than twins, between whose birth there was only a moment’s, and between whose conception in the womb there was not a moment’s, interval.

And the small interval between their births is not enough to account for the great difference between their fates. Some give the name of fate not only to the constitution of the stars, but to all series of causes, at the same time subjecting all to the will and power of God.

This sort of subjection of human affairs and fate is a confusion of language which should be corrected, for fate is strictly the constitution of the stars. The will of God we do not call ‘fate,’ unless indeed we will derive the word from ‘speaking;’ as in the Psalms, “God hath spoken once, twice have I heard the same.” [Ps 62:11] There is then no need of much contention about what is merely a verbal controversy.

Aug., cont. Faust. ii, 5: But if we will not subject the nativity of any man to the influence of the stars, in order that we may vindicate the freedom of the will from any chain of necessity; how much less must we suppose sidereal influences to have ruled at His temporal birth, who is eternal Creator and Lord of the universe? The star which the Magi saw, at Christ’s birth according to the flesh, did not rule His fate, but ministered as a testimony to Him. Further, this was not of the number of those stars, which from the beginning of the creation observe their paths of motion according to the law of their Maker; but a star that first appeared at the birth, ministering to the Magi who sought Christ, by going before them till it brought them to the place where the infant God the Word was.

According to some astrologers such is the connexion of human fate with the stars, that on the birth of some men stars have been known to leave their courses, and go directly to the new-born. The fortune indeed of him [p. 66] that is born they suppose to be bound up with the course of the stars, not that the course of the stars is changed after the day of any man’s birth.

If then this star were of the number of those that fulfil their courses in the heavens, how could it determine what Christ should do, when it was commanded at His birth only to leave its own course? If, as is more probable, it was first created at His birth, Christ was not therefore born because it arose, but the reverse; so that if we must have fate connected with the stars, this star did not rule Christ’s fate, but Christ the stars.

Chrys.: The object of astrology is not to learn from the stars the fact of one’s birth; but from the hour of their nativity to forecast the fate of those that are born. But these men knew not the time of the nativity to have forecast the future from it, but the converse.

Gloss. interlin.: ‘His star,’ i.e. the star He created for a witness of Himself.

Gloss. ord.: To the Shepherds, Angels, and the Magians, a star points out Christ; to both speaks the tongue of Heaven, since the tongue of the Prophets was mute. The Angels dwell in the heavens, the stars adorn it, to both therefore “the heavens declare the glory of God.”

Greg., Hom. in Ev. Lib. i. Hom. 10: To the Jews who used their reason, a rational creature, i.e. an Angel, ought to preach. But the Gentiles who knew not to use their reason are brought to the knowledge of the Lord, not by words, but by signs; to the one prophecy, as to the faithful; to the other signs, as to the unbelievers. One and the same Christ is preached, when of perfect age, by Apostles; when an infant, and not yet able to speak, is announced by a star to the Gentiles; for so the order of reason required; speaking preachers proclaimed a speaking Lord, mute signs proclaimed a mute infant.

Leo, Serm. 33, 2: Christ Himself, the expectation of the nations, that innumerable posterity once promised to the most blessed patriarch Abraham, but to be born not after the flesh, but by the Spirit, therefore likened to the stars for multitude, that from the father of all nations, not an earthly but an heavenly progeny might be looked for.

Thus the heirs of that promised posterity, marked out in the stars, are roused to the faith by the rise of a new star, and where the heavens had been at first called in to witness, the aid of Heaven is continued. [p. 67]

Chrys.: This was manifestly not one of the common stars of Heaven. First, because none of the stars moves in this way, from east to south, and such is the situation of Palestine with respect to Persia. Secondly, from the time of its appearance, not in the night only, but during the day. Thirdly, from its being visible and then again invisible; when they entered Jerusalem it hid itself, and then appeared again when they left Herod. Further, it had no stated motion, but when the Magi were to go on, it went before them; when to stop, it stopped like the pillar of cloud in the desert. Fourthly, it signified the Virgin’s delivery, not by being fixed aloft, but by descending to earth, shewing herein like an invisible virtue formed into the visible appearance of a star.

Remig.: Some affirm this star to have been the Holy Spirit; He who descended on the baptized Lord as a dove, appearing to the Magi as a star. Others say it was an Angel, the same who appeared to the shepherds.

Gloss. ord: “In the east.” It seems doubtful whether this refers to the place of the star, or of those that saw it; it might have risen in the east, and gone before them to Jerusalem.

Aug., Serm. 374: Will you ask, from whom had they learned that such an appearance as a star was to signify the birth of Christ? I answer from Angels, by the warning of some revelation. Do you ask, was it from good or ill Angels? Truly even wicked spirits, namely the daemons, confessed Christ to be the Son of God. But why should they not have heard it from good Angels, since in this their adoration of Christ their salvation was sought, not their wickedness condemned? The Angels might say to them, ‘The Star which ye have seen is the Christ. Go ye, worship Him, where He is now born, and see how great is He that is born.’

Leo, Sermon 34, 3: Besides that star thus seen with the bodily eye, a yet brighter ray of truth pierced their hearts; they were enlightened by the illumination of the true faith.

Pseudo-Aug., Hil. Quaest. V. and N. Test. q. 63: They might think that a king of Judaea was born, since the birth of temporal princes is sometimes attended by a star. These Chaldean Magi inspected the stars, not with malevolence, but with the true desire of knowledge; following, it may be supposed, the tradition from Balaam; so that [p. 68] when they saw this new and singular star, they understood it to be that of which Balaam had prophesied, as marking the birth of a King of Judaea.

Leo: What they knew and believed might have been sufficient for themselves, that they needed not to seek to see with the bodily eye, what they saw so clearly with the spiritual. But their earnestness and perseverance to see the Babe was for our profit. It profited us that Thomas, after the Lord’s resurrection, touched and felt the marks of his wounds, and so for our profit the Magians’ eyes looked on the Lord in His cradle.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Were they then ignorant that Herod reigned in Jerusalem? Or that it is a capital treason to proclaim another King while one yet lives? But while they thought on the King to come, they feared not the king that was; while as yet they had not seen Christ, they were ready to die for Him. O blessed Magi! who before the face of a most cruel king, and before having beheld Christ, were made His confessors.


3. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

4. And when he had gathered all the Chief Priests and Scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

5. And they said unto him, “In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

6. ‘And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.’ “


Aug.: As the Magi seek a Redeemer, so Herod fears a successor.

Gloss. ord.: “The King,” he is called, though in comparison with him whom they are seeking he is an alien and a foreigner.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Herod “was troubled” when he heard that a King was born of Jewish lineage, lest, himself being an Idumaean, the kingdom should return again to native princes, and himself be expelled, and his seed after [p. 69] him.

Great station is ever obnoxious to great fears; as the boughs of trees planted in high ground move when never so little wind blows, so high men are troubled with little rumours; while the lowly, like trees in the valley, remain at peace.

Aug., Serm. 200, 2: If His birth as an infant makes proud kings tremble, what will His tribunal as a Judge do? Let princes fear Him sitting at the right hand of His Father, whom this impious king feared while He hanged yet on His mother’s breast.

Leo: Thou art troubled, Herod, without cause. Thy nature cannot contain Christ, nor is the Lord of the world content with the narrow bounds of thy dominion. He, whom thou wouldest not should reign in Judaea, reigns every where.

Gloss. ord.: Perhaps he was troubled not on his own account, but for fear of the displeasure of the Romans. They would not allow the title of King or of God to any without their permission.

Greg., Hom. in Evan., 1, 10: At the birth of a King of Heaven, a king of earth is troubled; surely, earthly greatness is confounded, when heavenly greatness shews itself.

Leo, Serm. 36, 2: Herod represents the Devil; who as he then instigated him, so now he unweariedly imitates him. For he is grieved by the calling of the Gentiles, and by the daily ruin of his power.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Both have their own causes of jealousy, both fear a successor in their kingdom; Herod an earthly successor, the Devil a spiritual. Even Jerusalem is troubled, which should have rejoiced at that news, when a Jewish King was said to be risen up. But they were troubled, for the wicked cannot rejoice at the coming of the good. Or perhaps it was in fear that Herod should wreak his wrath against a Jewish King on his race.

Gloss. ord.: “Jerusalem was troubled with him,” as willing to favour him whom it feared; the vulgar always pay undue honour to one who tyrannizes over it. Observe the diligence of his enquiry. If he should find him, he would do to him as he shewed afterwards his disposition; if he should not, he would at least be excused to the Romans.

Remig.: They are called Scribes, not from the employment of writing, but from the interpretation of the Scriptures, for they were doctors of the law. Observe, he does not enquire where Christ is born, but where He should be born; the subtle purpose of this was to see if they would shew pleasure at [p. 70] the birth of their King. He calls Him Christ, because he knew that the King of the Jews was anointed.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Why does Herod make this enquiry, seeing he believed not the Scriptures? Or if he did believe, how could he hope to be able to kill Him whom the Scriptures declared should be King? The Devil instigated Herod; who believed that Scripture lies not. Such is the faith of devils, who are not permitted to have perfect belief, even of that which they do believe. That they do believe, it is the force of truth constrains them; that they do not believe, it is that they are blinded by the enemy. If they had perfect faith, they would live as about to depart from this world soon, not as to possess it for ever.

Leo, Serm. 31, 2: The Magi, judging as men, sought in the royal city for Him, whom they had been told was born a King. But He who took the form of a servant, and came not to judge but to be judged, chose Bethlehem for His birth, Jerusalem for His death.

Theodotus, Serm. 1, ap. Conc. Eph.: Had He chosen the mighty city of Rome, it might have been thought that this change of the world had been wrought by the might of her citizens; had He been the son of the emperor, his power might have aided Him. But what was His choice? All that was mean, all that was in low esteem, that in this transformation of the world, divinity might at once be recognized. Therefore He chose a poor woman for His mother, a poor country for His native country; He has no money, and this stable is His cradle.

Gregory, Hom. in Evan., 8, 1: Rightly is He born in Bethlehem, which signifies the house of bread, who said, “I am the living bread, who came down from heaven.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: When they should have kept secret the mystery of the King appointed of God, especially before a foreign king, straightway they became not preachers of the word of God, but revealers of His mystery. And they not only display the mystery, but cite the passage of the prophet, viz. Micah.

Gloss. ord.: He quotes this prophecy as they quote who give the sense and not the words.

Jerome, Epist. 57: The Jews are here blamed for ignorance; for whereas the prophecy says, “Thou Bethlehem Ephrata;” they said, ‘Bethlehem in the land of Judah.’

Pseudo-Chrys.: By cutting short the prophecy, they became the cause of the murder of [p. 71] the Innocents. For the prophecy proceeds, “From thee shall go forth a King who shall feed My people Israel, and His day shall be from everlasting.” Had they cited the whole prophecy, Herod would not have raged so madly, considering that it could not be an earthly King whose days were spoken of as “from everlasting.”

Jerome, in Mich. v. 2: The following is the sense of the prophecy. Thou, Bethlehem, of the land of Judah, or Ephrata, (which is added to distinguish it from another Bethlehem in Galilee,) though thou art a small village among the thousand cities of Judah, yet out of thee shall be born Christ, who shall be the Ruler of Israel, who according to the flesh is of the seed of David, but was born of Me before the worlds; and therefore it is written, “His goings forth are of old. In the beginning was the Word.”

Gloss: This latter half of the prophecy the Jews dropped; and other parts they altered, either through ignorance, (as was said above,) or for perspicuity, that Herod who was a foreigner might better understand the prophecy; thus for “Ephrata,” they said, “land of Judah;” and for “little among the thousands of Judah,” which expresses its smallness contrasted with the multitude of the people, they said, “not the least among the princes,” willing to shew the high dignity that would come from the birth of the Prince. As if they had said, “Thou art great among cities from which princes have come.”

Remig.: Or the sense is; though little among cities that have dominion, yet art thou not the least, for “out of thee shall come the Ruler, who shall rule My people Israel;” this Ruler is Christ, who rules and guides His faithful people.

Chrys.: Observe the exactness of the prophecy; it is not He shall be in Bethlehem, but shall come out of Bethlehem; shewing that He should be only born there. What reason is there for applying this to Zorobabel, as some do? For his goings forth were not from everlasting; nor did he go forth from Bethlehem, but was born in Babylonia. The expression, “art not the least,” is a further proof, for none but Christ could make the town where He was born illustrious.

And after that birth, there came men from the utmost ends of the earth to see the stable and manger. He calls Him not ‘the Son of God,’ but “the Ruler who shall govern My people Israel;” [p. 72] for thus He ought to condescend at the first, that they should not be scandalized, but should preach such things as more pertained to salvation, that they might be gained.

“Who shall rule My people Israel,” is said mystically, for those of the Jews who believed; for if Christ ruled not all the Jews, theirs is the blame. Meanwhile he is silent respecting the Gentiles, that the Jews might not be scandalized. Mark this wonderful ordinance; Jews and Magi mutually instruct each other; the Jews learn of the Magi that a star had proclaimed Christ in the east, the Magi from the Jews that the Prophets had spoken of Him of old. Thus confirmed by a twofold testimony, they would look with more ardent faith for One whom the brightness of the star and the voice of the Prophets equally proclaimed.

Aug., Serm. 374. 2, 373. 4: The star that guided the Magi to the spot where was the Infant God with His Virgin Mother, might have conducted them straight to the town; but it vanished, and shewed not itself again to them till the Jews themselves had told them “the place where Christ should be born;” Bethlehem of Judaea.

Like in this to those who built the ark for Noah, providing others with a refuge, themselves perished in the flood; or like to the stones by the road that shew the miles, but themselves are not able to move.

The enquirers heard and departed; the teachers spake and remained still. Even now the Jews shew us something similar; for some Pagans, when clear passages of Scripture are shewn them, which prophesy of Christ, suspecting them to be forged by the Christians, have recourse to Jewish copies. Thus they leave the Jews to read unprofitably, and go on themselves to believe faithfully.


7. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

8. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, “Go and search diligently for the young Child; and when ye have found Him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship Him also.”

9. Whey they had heard the king, they departed.


[p. 73]

Pseudo-Chrys.: As soon as Herod had heard the answer, though doubly authenticated, both by the authority of the Priests, and the passage from the Prophets, he yet turned not to worship the King that was to be born, but sought how he might put Him to death by subtilty. He saw that the Magi were neither to be won by flattery, nor awed by threats, nor bribed by gifts, to consent to this murder; he sought therefore to deceive them; “he privily called the wise men;” that the Jews, whom he suspected, might not know of it. For he thought they would incline the rather to a King of their own nation.

Remig.: “Diligently enquired;” craftily, for he feared they would not return to him, and then he should know how he should do to put the young Child to death.

Pseudo-Aug., Serm. in App. 131, 3: The star had been seen, and with great wonder, nearly two years before. We are to understand that it was signified to them whose the star was, which was visible all that time till He, whom it signified, was born. Then as soon as Christ was made known to them they set out, and came and worshipped Him in thirteen days from the east. [ed. note: This is written upon the notion that the Magi presented themselves to Christ twelve days after His birth, according to the Latin date for celebrating the event. It seems really to have taken place after the Purification, on the return of St. Mary to Bethlehem. However, Aug. (Cons. Evan., ii. 11) places it before the Purification.]

Chrys.: Or, the star appeared to them long time before, because the journey would take up some time, and they were to stand before Him immediately on His birth, that seeing Him in swaddling clothes, He might seem the more wonderful.

Gloss: According to others, the star was first seen on the day of the nativity, and having accomplished its end, ceased to be. Thus Fulgentius [margin note: Serm. de Epiph.] says, “The Boy at His birth created a new star.” Though they now knew both time and place, he still would not have them ignorant of the person of the Child, “Go,” he says, “and enquire diligently of the young Child;” a commission they would have executed even if he had not commanded it.

Chrys.: “Concerning the young Child,” he says, not ‘of the King;’ he envies Him the regal title.

Pseudo-Chrys.: To induce them to do this, he put on the colour of devotion, beneath which he whetted the sword, hiding the malice of his heart under colour of [p. 74] humility. Such is the manner of the malicious, when they would hurt any one in secret, they feign meekness and affection.

Greg., Hom. in Ev. i. 10. 3: He feigns a wish of worshipping Him only that he may discover Him, and put him to death.

Remig.: The Magi obeyed the King so far as to seek the Lord, but not to return to Herod. Like in this to good hearers; the good they hear from wicked preachers, that they do; but do not imitate their evil lives.


9. And, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.


Pseudo-Chrys.: This passage shews, that when the star had brought the Magi nearly to Jerusalem, it was hidden from them, and so they were compelled to ask in Jerusalem, “where Christ should be born?” and thus to manifest Him to them; on two accounts, first, to put to confusion the Jews, inasmuch as the Gentiles instructed only by sight of a star sought Christ through strange lands, while the Jews who had read the Prophets from their youth did not receive Him, though born in their country.

Secondly, that the Priests, when asked where Christ should be born, might answer to their now condemnation, and while they instructed Herod, they were themselves ignorant of Him.

“The star went before them,” to shew them the greatness of the King.

Aug.: To perform its due service to the Lord, it advanced slowly, leading them to the spot. It was ministering to Him, and not ruling His fate; its light shewed the suppliants and filled the inn, shed over the walls and roof that covered the birth; and thus it disappeared.

Pseudo-Chrys.: What wonder that a divine star should minister to the Sun of righteousness about to rise. It stood over the Child’s head, as it were, saying, ‘This is He;’ proving by its place what it had no voice to utter.

Gloss. Anselm: It is evident that the star must have been in the air, and close above the house where the Child was, else it would not have pointed out the exact house.

Ambrose, in Luc. 2, 45: The star is the way, and the way is Christ; and according to the mystery of the incarnation, Christ is a [p. 75] star. He is a blazing and a morning-star. Thus where Herod is, the star is not seen; where Christ is, there it is again seen, and points out the way.

Remig.: Or, the star figures the grace of God, and Herod the Devil. He, who by sin puts himself in the Devil’s power, loses that grace; but if he return by repentance, he soon finds that grace again which leaves him not till it have brought him to the young Child’s house, i.e. the Church.

Gloss. ord.: Or, the star is the illumination of faith, which leads him to the nearest aid; while they turn aside to the Jews, the Magi lose it; so those who seek counsel of the bad, lose the true light.


10. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down, and worshipped Him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.


Gloss: This service of the star is followed by the rejoicing of the Magi.

Remig.: And it was not enough to say, “They rejoiced,” but “they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: They rejoiced, because their hopes were not falsified but confirmed, and because the toil of so great travel had not been undertaken in vain.

Gloss. ord.: He rejoices indeed who rejoices on God’s account, who is the true joy. “With great joy,” he says, for they had great cause.

Pseudo-Chrys.: By the mystery of this star they understood that the dignity of the King then born exceeded the measure of all worldly kings.

Remig.: He adds, “greatly,” shewing that men rejoice more over what they have lost than over what they possess.

Leo, Serm. in Epiph., 4. 3: Though in stature a babe, needing the aid of others, unable to speak, and different in nothing from other infants, yet such faithful witnesses, shewing the unseen Divine Majesty which was in Him, ought to have proved most certainly that was the Eternal Essence of the Son of [p. 76] God that had taken upon Him the true human nature.

Pseudo-Chrys.: “Mary His mother,” not crowned with a diadem or laying on a golden couch; but with barely one garment, not for ornament but for covering, and that such as the wife of a carpenter when abroad might have. Had they therefore come to seek an earthly king, they would have been more confounded than rejoiced, deeming their pains thrown away.

But now they looked for a heavenly King; so that though they saw nought of regal state, that star’s witness sufficed them, and their eyes rejoiced to behold a despised Boy, the Spirit shewing Him to their hearts in all His wonderful power, they fell down and worshipped, seeing the man, they acknowledged the God.

Rabanus: Joseph was absent by Divine command, that no wrong suspicions might occur to the Gentiles.

Gloss, Anselm: in these offerings we observe their national customs, gold, frankincense, and various spices abounding among the Arabians; yet they intended thereby to signify something in mystery.

Greg., Hom. in Evan., 1, 106: Gold, as to a King; frankincense, as sacrifice to God; myrrh, as embalming the body of the dead.

Aug.: Gold, as paid to a mighty King; frankincense, as offered to God; myrrh, as to one who is to die for the sins of all.

Pseudo-Chrys.: And though it were not then understood what these several gifts mystically signified, that is no difficulty; the same grace that instigated them to the deed, ordained the whole.

Remig.: And it is to be known that each did not offer a different gift, but each one the three kings, each one thus proclaiming the King, the God, and the man.

Chrys.: Let Marcion and Paul of Samosata then blush, who will not see what the Magi saw, those progenitors of the Church adoring God in the flesh. That He was truly in the flesh, the swaddling clothes and the stall prove; yet that they worshipped Him not as mere man, but as God, the gifts prove which it was becoming to offer to a God. Let the Jews also be ashamed, seeing the Magi coming before them, and themselves not even earnest to tread in their path.

Greg.: Something further may yet be meant here. Wisdom is typified by gold; as Solomon saith in the Proverbs, “A treasure to be desired is in the mouth of the wise.”

By frankincense, which is burnt before God, the power of prayer [p. 77] is intended, as in the Psalms, “Let my speech come before thee as incense.” [Ps 141:2] In myrrh is figured mortification of the flesh. To a king at his birth we offer gold, if we shine in his sight with the light of wisdom; we offer frankincense, if we have power before God by the sweet savour of our prayers; we offer myrrh, when we mortify by abstinence the lusts of the flesh.

Gloss, Anselm: The three men who offer, signify the nations who come from the three quarters of the earth. They open their treasures, i.e. manifest the faith of their hearts by confession. Rightly “in the house,” teaching that we should not vaingloriously display the treasure of a good conscience. They bring “three” gifts, i.e. the faith in the Holy Trinity. Or opening the stores of Scripture, they offer its threefold sense, historical, moral and allegorical; or Logic, Physic, and Ethics, making them all serve the faith.


12. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.


Aug.: The wicked Herod, now made cruel by fear, will needs do a deed of horror. But how could he ensnare him who had come to cut off all fraud? His fraud is escaped as it follows, “And being warned.”

Jerome: They had offered gifts to the Lord, and receive a warning corresponding to it. This warning (in the Greek ‘having received a response’) is given not by an Angel, but by the Lord Himself, to shew the high privilege granted to the merit of Joseph.

Gloss. ord.: This warning is given by the Lord Himself; it is none other that now teaches these Magi the way they should return, but He who said, “I am the way.” [John 14:6] Not that the Infant actually speaks to them, that His divinity may not be revealed before the time, and His human nature may be thought real. But he says, “having received an answer,” for as Moses prayed silently, so they with pious spirit had asked what the Divine will bade. “By another way,” for they were not to be mixed up with the unbelieving Jews.

Chrys., Hom. 8: See the faith of the Magi; they were not offended, nor said within themselves, What need now of flight? or [p. 78] of secret return, if this Boy be really some great one? Such is true faith; it asks not the reason of any command, but obeys.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Had the Magi sought Christ as an earthly King, they would have remained with Him when they had found Him; but they only worship, and go their way. After their return, they continued in the worship of God more steadfast than before, and taught many by their preaching. And when afterwards Thomas reached their country, they joined themselves to him, and were baptized, and did according to his preaching. [ed. note: S. Thomas is said to have preached to the Parthians, Persians, or Indians. Euseb. Hist. iii. 1. Clem. Recogn. ix. 29. Greg. Naz. Or. 25. p. 438. The Margi are mentioned, Pseudo-Hippol. de Duod. Apost. (ed. Fabr. Append. p. 30) Combefis conjecturing Mardi.]

Greg., Hom. in Ev. i. 10. 7: We may learn much from this return of the Magi another way. Our country is Paradise, to which, after we have come to the knowledge of Christ we are forbidden to return the way we came. We have left this country by pride, disobedience, following things of sight, tasting, forbidden food; and we must return to it by repentance, obedience, by contemning things of sight, and overcoming carnal appetite.

Pseudo-Chrys.: It was impossible that they, who left Herod to go to Christ, should return to Herod. They who have by sin left Christ and passed to the devil, often return to Christ; for the innocent, who knows not what is evil, is easily deceived, but having once tasted the evil he has taken up, and remembering the good he has left, he returns in penitence to God. He who has forsaken the devil and come to Christ, hardly returns to the devil; for rejoicing in the good he has found, and remembering the evil he has escaped, with difficulty returns to that evil.


13. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him. [p. 79]

14. When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

15. And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt have I called my Son.”


Rabanus: Here Matthew omits the day of purification when the first-born must be presented in the Temple with the lamb, or a pair of turtle doves, or pigeons. Their fear of Herod did not make them bold to transgress the Law, that they should not present the Child in the temple. As soon then as the rumour concerning the Child begins to be spread abroad, the Angel is sent to bid Joseph carry Him into Egypt.

Remig.: by this that the Angel appears always to Joseph in sleep, is mystically signified that they who rest from mundane cares and secular pursuits, deserve angelic visitations.

Hilary: The first time when he would teach Joseph that she was lawfully espoused, the Angel called the Virgin his espoused “wife;” but after the birth she is only spoken of as the Mother of Jesus. As wedlock was rightfully imputed to her in her virginity, so virginity is esteemed venerable in her as the mother of Jesus.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He says not, ‘the Mother and her young Child,’ but, “the young Child and His mother;” for the Child was not born for the mother, but the mother prepared for the Child. How is this that the Son of God flies from the face of man? or who shall deliver from the enemy’s hand, if He Himself fears His enemies?

First; He ought to observe, even in this, the law of that human nature which He took on Him; and human nature and infancy must flee before threatening power.

Next, that Christians when persecution makes it necessary should not be ashamed to fly. But why into Egypt? The Lord, “who keepeth not His anger for ever,” remembered the woes He had brought upon Egypt, and therefore sent His Son thither, and gives it this sign of great reconciliation, that with this one remedy He might heal the ten plagues of Egypt, and the nation that had been the persecutor of this first-born people, might be the guardian of His first-born Son. As formerly [p. 80] they had cruelly tyrannized, now they might devoutly serve; nor go to the Red Sea to be drowned, but be called to the waters of baptism to receive life.

Aug.: Hear the sacrament of a great mystery. Moses before had shut up the light of day from the traitors the Egyptians; Christ by going down thither brought back light to them that sat in darkness. He fled that he might enlighten them, not that he might escape his foes.

Aug., Serm. 218, App.: The miserable tyrant supposed that by the Saviour’s coming he should be thrust from his royal throne. But it was not so; Christ came not to hurt others’ dignity, but to bestow His own on others.

Hilary: Egypt full of idols; for after this enquiry for Him among the Jews, Christ leaving Judaea goes to be cherished among nations given to the vainest superstitions.

Jerome: When he takes the Child and His mother to go into Egypt, it is in the night and darkness, when to return into Judaea, the Gospel speaks of no light, no darkness.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The straitness of every persecution may be called night - the relief from it in like manner, day.

Rabanus: For when the true light withdraws, they who hate the light are in darkness, when it returns they are again enlightened.

Chrys.: See how immediately on His birth the tyrant is furious against Him, and the mother with her Child is driven into foreign lands. So should you in the beginning of your spiritual career seem to have tribulation, you need not to be discouraged, but bear all things manfully, having this example.

Bede, Hom. in Nat. Innocent: The flight into Egypt signifies that the elect are often by the wickedness of the bad driven from their homes, or sentenced to banishment. Thus He, who, we shall see below, gave the command to His own, “When they shall persecute you in one city, flee ye to another,” first practised what He enjoined, as a man flying before the face of man on earth. He whom but a little before a star had proclaimed to the Magi to be worshipped as from heaven.

Remig.: Isaiah had foretold this flight into Egypt. “Lo! the Lord shall ascend on a light cloud, and shall come into Egypt, and shall scatter the idols of Egypt.” [Isa 19:1] It is the practice of this Evangelist to confirm all he says; and that because he is writing to the Jews, therefore he adds, “that it might be fulfilled, &c.”

Jerome, Epist., 57. 7: This is not in the LXX; but in Osee according to the genuine [p. 81] Hebrew text we read; “Israel is my child, and I have loved him,” and “from Egypt have I called my Son;” where the LXX render, “Israel is my child, and I have loved him, and called my sons out of Egypt.”

Jerome, in Osee, 11, 2: The Evangelist cites this text because it refers to Christ typically. For it is to be observed, that in this Prophet and in others, the coming of Christ and the call of the Gentiles are foreshewn in such a manner, that the thread of history is never broken.

Chrys.: It is a law of prophecy, that in a thousand places many things are said of some and fulfilled of others. As it is said of Simeon and Levi, “I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel;” [Gen 49:7] which was fulfilled not in themselves, but in their descendants. So here Christ is by nature the Son of God, and so the prophecy is fulfilled in Him.

Jerome: Let those who deny the authenticity of the Hebrew copies, shew us this passage in the LXX, and when they have failed to find it, we will shew it them in the Hebrew. We may also explain it in another way, by considering it as quoted from Numbers, “God brought him out of Egypt; his glory is as it were that of a unicorn.” [Num 23:22]

Remig.: In Joseph is figured the order of preachers, in Mary Holy Scripture; by the Child the knowledge of the Saviour; by the cruelty of Herod the persecution which the Church suffered in Jerusalem; by Joseph’s flight into Egypt the passing of the preachers to the unbelieving Gentiles, (for Egypt signifies darkness;) by the time that he abode in Egypt the space of time between the ascension of the Lord and the coming of Anti-Christ; by Herod’s death the extinction of jealousy in the hearts of the Jews.


16. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.


Pseudo-Chrys.: When the infant Jesus had subdued the Magi, not by the might of His flesh, but the grace of His [p. 82] Spirit, Herod “was exceeding wrath,” that they whom he, sitting on his throne, had no power to move, were obedient to an Infant lying in a manger. Then by their contempt of him the Magi gave further cause of wrath. For when kings’ wrath is stirred by fear for their crowns, it is a great and inextinguishable wrath.

But what did he? “He sent and slew all the children.” As a wounded beast rends whatsoever meeteth it as if the cause of its smart, so he mocked by the Magi spent his fury on children. He said to himself in his fury, ‘Surely the Magi have found the Child whom they said should be King;’ for a king in fear for his crown fears all things, suspects all. Then he sent and slew all those infants, that he might secure one among so many.

Aug.: And while he thus persecutes Christ, he furnished an army (or martyrs) clothed in white robes of the same age as the Lord.

Aug., Serm. 220. App.: Behold how this unrighteous enemy never could have so much profited these infants by his love, as he did by his hate; for as much as iniquity abounded against them, so much did the grace of blessing abound on them.

Aug., Serm. 373, 3: O blessed infants! He only will doubt of your crown in this your passion for Christ, who doubts that the baptism of Christ has a benefit for infants. He who at His birth had Angels to proclaim Him, the heavens to testify, and Magi to worship Him, could surely have prevented that these should not have died for Him, had He not known that they died not in that death, but rather lived in higher bliss. Far be the thought, that Christ who came to set men free, did nothing to reward those who died in His behalf, when hanging on the cross He prayed for those who put Him to death.

Rabanus: He is not satisfied with the massacre at Bethlehem, but extends it to the adjacent villages; sparing no age from the child of one night old, to that of two years.

Aug., Serm. 132, App.: The Magi had seen this unknown star in the heavens, not a few days, but two years before, as they had informed Herod when he enquired. This caused him to fix “two years old and under;” as it follows, “according to the time he had enquired of the Magi.”

Gloss. ord.: Or because he feared that the Child to whom even stars ministered, might transform His appearance to greater or under that of His own age, or might conceal all those of that age: hence it [p. 83] seems to be that he slew all from one day to two years old.

Aug., de Cons. Evan., 2, 11: Or, disturbed by pressure of still more imminent dangers, Herod’s thoughts are drawn to other thoughts than the slaughter of children, he might suppose that the Magi, unable to find Him whom they had supposed born, were ashamed to return to him. So the days of purification being accomplished, they might go up in safety to Jerusalem. And who does not see the one day they may have escaped the attention of a King occupied with so many cares, and that afterwards when the things done in the Temple came to be spread abroad, then Herod discovered that he had been deceived by the Magi, and then sent and slew the children.

Bede, Hom. in Nat. Innocent: In this death of the children the precious death of all Christ’s martyrs is figured; that they were infants signifies, that by the merit of humility alone can we come to the glory of martyrdom; that they were slain in Bethlehem and the coasts thereof, that the persecution shall be both in Jerusalem whence the Church originated, and throughout the world; in those of two years old are figured the perfect in doctrine and works; those under that age the neophytes; that they were slain while Christ escaped, signifies that the bodies of the martyrs may be destroyed by the wicked, but that Christ cannot be taken from them.


17. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,

18. In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.


Chrys., Hom. ix: The Evangelist by this history of so bloody a massacre, having filled the reader with horror, now again sooths his feelings, shewing that these things were not done because God could not hinder, or knew not of them; but as the Prophet had foretold.

Jerome, In Hierem, 31, 15: This passage of Jeremiah has been quoted by Matthew neither according to the Hebrew nor the LXX version. This shews that the [p. 84] Evangelists and Apostles did not follow any one’s translation, but according to the Hebrew manner expressed in their own words what they had read in Hebrew.

By Ramah we need not suppose that the town of that name near Gibeah is meant; but take it as signifying ‘high.’ A voice was heard ‘aloft,’ that is, spread far and wide.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, it was heard on high, because uttered for the death of the innocent, according to that, “The voice of the poor entereth into the heavens.” The ‘weeping’ means the cries of the children; ‘lamentation,’ refers to the mothers. In the infants themselves their death ends their cries, in the mothers it is continually renewed by the remembrance of their loss.

Jerome: Rachel’s son was Benjamin, in which tribe Bethlehem is not situated. How then does Rachel weep for the children of Judah as if they were her own? We answer briefly. She was buried near Bethlehem in Ephrata, and was regarded as the mother, because her body was there entertained. Or, as the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin were contiguous, and Herod’s command extended to the coasts of Bethlehem as well as to the town itself, we may suppose that many were slain in Benjamin.

Pseudo-Aug., Hil. Quaest. N. and N. Test. 9. 62: Or, The sons of Benjamin, who were akin to Rachel, were formerly cut off by the other tribes, and so extinct both then and ever after. Then therefore Rachel began to mourn her sons, when she saw those of her sister cut off in such a cause, that they should be heirs of eternal life; for he who has experienced any misfortune, is made more sensible of his losses by the good fortune of a neighbour.

Remig.: The sacred Evangelist adds, to shew the greatness of the mourning, that even the dead Rachel was roused to mourn her sons; and “would not be comforted because they were not.”

Jerome: This may be understood in two ways; either she thought them dead for all eternity, so that no consolation could comfort her; or, she desired not to receive any comfort for those who she knew had gone into life eternal.

Hilary: It could not be that they “were not” who seemed now dead, but by glorious martyrdom they were advanced to eternal life; and consolation is for those who have suffered loss, not for those who have reaped a gain. Rachel affords a type of the Church long barren now at length fruitful. [p. 85] She is heard weeping for her children, not because she mourned them dead, but because they were slaughtered by those whom she would have retained as her first-born sons.

Rabanus: Or, The Church weeps the removal of the saints from this earth, but wishes not to be comforted as though they should return again to the struggles of life, for they are not to be recalled into life.

Gloss. ord.: She “will not be comforted” in this present life, for that they are not, but transfers all her hope and comfort to the life to come.

Rabanus: Rachel is well set for a type of the Church, as the word signifies ‘a sheep’ or ‘seeing;’ [margin note: see Ch. 1, note i, p. 19] her whole thought being to fix her eye in contemplation of God; and she is the hundredth sheep that the shepherd layeth on his shoulder.


19. But when Herod was dead, behold, an Angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

20. Saying, “Arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for they are dead which sought the young Child’s life.


Euseb., Eccles. Hist., 1, 8: For the sacrilege which Herod had committed against the Saviour, and his wicked slaughter of the infants of the same age, the Divine vengeance hastened his end; and his body, as Josephus relates, was attacked by a strange disease; so that the prophets declared that they were not human ailments, but visitations of Divine vengeance. Filled with mad fury, he gives command to seize and imprison the heads and nobles out of all parts of Judaea; ordering that as soon as ever he should breathe his last, they should be all put to death, that so Judaea, though unwillingly, might mourn at his decease.

Just before he died he murdered his son, Antipater,(besides two boys put to death before, Alexander and Aristobulus.) Such was the end of Herod, noticed in those words of the Evangelist, “when Herod was dead,” and such the punishment inflicted.

Jerome: Many here err from ignorance of history, supposing the Herod who mocked our [p. 86] Lord on the day of His passion, and the Herod whose death is here related, were the same. But the Herod who was then made friends with Pilate was son of this Herod and brother to Archelaus; for Archelaus was banished to Lyons in Gaul, and his father Herod made king in his room, as we read in Josephus.

Pseudo-Dionysius, Dion. De Cael. Hierarch. 4: See how Jesus Himself, though far above all celestial beings, and coming unchanged to our nature, shunned not that ordinance of humanity which He had taken on Him, but was obedient to the dispositions of His Father made known by Angels. For even by Angels is declared to Joseph the retreat of the Son into Egypt, so ordained of the Father, and His return again to Judaea.

Pseudo-Chrys.: See how Joseph was set for ministering to Mary; when she went into Egypt and returned, who would have fulfilled to her this so needful ministry, had she not been betrothed? For to outward view, Mary nourished and Joseph defended the Child; but in truth the Child supported His mother and protected Joseph.

“Return into the land of Israel;” for He went down into Egypt as a physician, not to abide there, but to succour it sick with error. But the reason of the return is given in the words, “They are dead, &c.”

Jerome: From this we see that not Herod only, but also the Priests and Scribes had sought the Lord’s death at that time.

Remig.: But if they were many who sought his destruction, how came they all to have died in so short a time? As we have related above, all the great men among the Jews were slain at Herod’s death.

Pseudo-Chrys.: And that is said to have been done by the counsel of God for their conspiring with Herod against the Lord; as it is said, “Herod was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”

Remig.: Or the Evangelist uses a figure of speech, by which the plural is used for the singular. These words, “the Child’s life,” overthrow those heretics [margin note: or “soul,” i.e. the Apollinarians] who taught that Christ did not take a soul, but had His Divinity in place of a soul.

Bede, Hom. in Nat. Innocent: This slaughter of the infants for the Lord’s sake, the death of Herod soon after, and Joseph’s return with the Lord and his mother to the land of Israel, is a figure shewing that all the persecutions moved against the Church will be avenged by the death of the persecutor, peace restored to the Church, [p. 87] and the saints who had concealed themselves return to their own places. Or the return of Jesus to the land of Israel on the death of Herod shews, that, at the preaching of Enoch and Elijah [see note, c, below], the Jews, when the fire of modern jealousy shall be extinguished, shall receive the true faith.

[ed. note, c: That Enoch and especially Elias will come at the end of the world and by their preaching convert the Jews is affirmed by Tertullian, (de Anima 35. de Resur. c. 22) Origen, (in Joann, i. tom. 5. in Matt. tom. 13) Hilary, (in Matt. xx. 10. xxvi. 5) Chrysostom, (in Matt. xvii. 10) Augustine, (City of God 20, 29. Op. Imp. contra Julian. vi. 30) Pope Gregory, (in Job. lib. xiv. 23. in Joann. Hom. vii. 1) and Damascene, (de Fid. Orth. iv. 26 fin]


21. And he arose, and took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.

22. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

23. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.


Gloss: Joseph was not disobedient to the angelic warning, but “he arose, and took the young Child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.”

The Angel had not fixed the particular place, so that while Joseph hesitates, the Angel returns, and by the often visiting him confirms his obedience.

Josephus: Herod had nine wives, by seven of whom he had a numerous issue. By Josida, his first born Antipater - by Mariamine, Alexander and Aristobulus - by Mathuca, a Samaritan woman, Archelaus - by Cleopatra of Jerusalem, Herod, who was afterwards tetrarch, and Philip. The three first were put to death by Herod; and after his death, Archelaus seized the throne by occasion of his father’s will, and the question of the succession was carried before Augustus Caesar. After some delay, he made a distribution of the whole of Herod’s dominions in accordance with the Senate’s advice. [p. 88] To Archelaus he assigned one half, consisting of Idumaea and Judaea, with the title of tetrarch, and a promise of that of king if he shewed himself deserving of it. The rest he divided into two tetrarchates, giving Galilee to Herod the tetrarch, Ituraea and Trachonitis to Philip. Thus Archelaus was after his father’s death a duarch, which kind of sovereignty is here called a kingdom.

Aug., De Con. Evan. ii. 10: Here is may be asked, How then could his parents go up every year of Christ’s childhood to Jerusalem, as Luke relates, if fear of Archelaus now prevented them from approaching it? This difficulty is easily solved. At the festival they might escape notice in the crowd, and by returning soon, where in ordinary times they might be afraid to live. So they neither became irreligious by neglecting the festival, nor notorious by dwelling continually in Jerusalem.

Or it is open to us to understand Luke when he says, they “went up every year,” as speaking of a time when they had nothing to fear from Archelaus, who, as Josephus relates, reigned only nine years.

There is yet a difficulty in what follows; “Being warned in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee.” If Joseph was afraid to go into Judaea because one of Herod’s sons, Archelaus, reigned there, how could he go into Galilee, where another of his sons Herod was tetrarch, as Luke tells us? As if the times of which Luke is speaking were times in which there was any longer need to fear for the Child, when even in Judaea things were so changed, that Archelaus no longer ruled there, but Pilate was governor.

Gloss. ord.: But then we might ask, why was he not afraid to go into Galilee, seeing Archelaus ruled there also? He could be better concealed in Nazareth than in Jerusalem, which was the capital of the kingdom, and where Archelaus was constantly resident.

Chrys.: And when he had once left the country of His birth, all the occurrences passed out of mind; the rage of persecution had been spent in Bethlehem and its neighbourhood. By choosing Nazareth therefore, Joseph both avoided danger, and returned to his country.

Aug., de Con. Evan., ii, 9: This may perhaps occur to some, that Matthew says His parents went with the Child Jesus to Galilee because they feared Archelaus, when it should seem most probable that they chose Galilee because Nazareth was [p. 89] their own city, as Luke has not forgot to mention. We must understand, that when the Angel in the vision in Egypt said to Joseph, “Go into the land of Israel,” Joseph understood the command to be that he should go straight into Judaea, that being properly “the land of Israel.” But finding Archelaus ruling there, he would not court the danger, as “the land of Israel” might be interpreted to extend to Galilee, which was inhabited by children of Israel.

Or we may suppose His parents supposed that Christ should dwell no where but in Jerusalem, where was the temple of the Lord, and would have gone thither had not the fear of Archelaus hindered them. And they had not been commanded from God to dwell positively in Judaea, or Jerusalem, so as that they should have despised the fear of Archelaus, but only in the land of Israel generally, which they might understand of Galilee.

Hilary: But the figurative intepretation holds good any way. Joseph represents the Apostles, to whom Christ is entrusted to be borne about. These, as though Herod were dead, that is, his people being destroyed in the Lord’s passion, are commanded to preach the Gospel to the Jews; they are sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But finding the seed of their hereditary unbelief still abiding, they fear and withdraw; admonished by a vision, to wit, seeing the Holy Ghost poured upon the Gentiles, they carry Christ to them.

Rabanus: Or, we may apply it to the last times of the Jewish Church, when many Jews having turned to the preaching of Enoch and Elijah, the rest filled with the spirit of Antichrist shall fight against the faith. So that part of Judaea where Archelaus rules, signifies the followers of Antichrist; Nazareth of Galilee, whither Christ is conveyed, that part of the nation that shall embrace the faith. Galilee means, ‘removal;’ Nazareth, ‘the flower of virtues;’ for the Church the more zealously she removes from the earthly to the heavenly, the more she abounds in the flower and fruit of virtues.

Gloss: To this he adds the Prophet’s testimony, saying, “That is might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Prophets, &c.”

Jerome: Had he meant to quote a particular text, he would not have written ‘Prophets,’ but ‘the Prophet.’ By thus using the plural he evidently [p. 90] does not take the words of any one passage in Scripture, but the sense of the whole. Nazarene is interpreted, ‘Holy,’ [ed. note, d: נדר] and that the Lord would be Holy, all Scripture testifies.

Otherwise we may explain that it is found in Isaiah rendered to the strict letter of the Hebrew. [margin note: c. 11. 1] “There shall come a Rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Nazarene shall grow out of His roots.” [ed. note, e: As if נצר]

Pseudo-Chrys.: They might have read this in some Prophets who are not in our canon, as Nathan or Esdras. That there was some prophecy to this purport is clear from what Philip says to Nathanael. “Him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth.” [John 1:15] Hence the Christians were at first called Nazarenes, at Antioch their name was changed to that of ‘Christians.’

Aug., de Con. Evan., ii, 5: The whole of this history, from the account of the Magi inclusively, Luke omits. Let it be here noticed once for all, that each of the Evangelists writes as if he were giving a full and complete history, which omits nothing; where he really passes over any thing, he continues his thread of history as if he had told all. Yet by a diligent comparison of their several narratives, we can be at no loss to know where to insert any particular that is mentioned by one and not by the other.

 

Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 3

[p. 91]

1. In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

2. And saying, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

3. For this is he that was spoken of by the Prophet Esaias, saying, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.”


Pseudo-Chrys.: The Sun as he approaches the horizon, and before he is yet visible, sends out his rays and makes the eastern sky to glow with light, that Aurora going before may herald the coming day. Thus the Lord at His birth in this earth, and before He shews Himself, enlightens John by the rays of His Spirit’s teaching, that he might go before and announce the Saviour that was to come. Therefore after having related the birth of Christ, before proceeding to His teaching and baptism, (wherein he received such testimony,) he first premises somewhat of the Baptist and forerunner of the Lord.

“In those days, &c.”

Remig.: In these words we have not only time, place, and person, respecting St. John, but also his office and employment. First the time, generally; “In those days.”

Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 6: Luke describes the time by the reigning sovereigns. [Luke 3:1] But Matthew must be understood to speak of a wider space of time by the phrase ‘those days,’ than the fifteenth year of Tiberius. Having related Christ’s return from Egypt, which must be placed in early boyhood or even infancy, to make it agree with what Luke has told of His being in the [p. 92] temple at twelve years old, he adds directly, “In those days,” not intending thereby only the days of His childhood, but all the days from His birth to the preaching of John.

Remig.: The man is mentioned in the words “came John,” that is, shewed himself, having abode so long in obscurity.

Chrys.: But why must John thus go before Christ with a witness of deeds preaching Him? First; that we might hence learn Christ’s dignity, that He also, as the Father has, has prophets, in the words of Zacharias, “And thou, Child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest.” [Luke 1:76]

Secondly; That the Jews might have no cause for offence; as He declared, “John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a gluttonous man.” [Luke 7:33-34]

It needeth moreover that the things concerning Christ should be told by some other first, and not by Himself; or what would the Jews have said, who after the witness of John made complaint, “Thou bearest witness of thyself, thy witness is not true.” [John 8:!3]

Remig., ap. Anselm: His office; “the Baptist;” in this he prepared the way of the Lord, for had not men been used to be baptized, they would have shunned Christ’s baptism.

His employment; “Preaching.”

Rabanus: For because Christ was to preach, as soon as it seemed the fit time, that is, about thirty years of age, he began by his preaching to make ready the way for the Lord.

Remig.: The place; “the desert of Judaea.”

Maximus, Hom. in Joan. Bap. nat. 1: Where neither a noisy mob would interrupt his preaching, and whither no unbelieving hearer would retire; but those only would hear, who sought to his preaching from motives of divine worship.

Jerome, in Isa 40. 3: consider how the salvation of God, and the glory of the Lord, is preached not in Jerusalem, but in the solitude of the Church, in the wilderness to multitudes.

Hilary: Or, he came to Judaea, desert by the absence of God, not of population, that the place of preaching might witness the few to whom the preaching was sent.

Gloss. ap. Anselm: The desert typically means a life removed from the temptations of the world, such as befits the penitent.

Aug. Serm.: Unless one repent him of his former life, he cannot begin a new life.

Hilary: He therefore preaches repentance when the Kingdom of Heaven approaches; by which [p. 93] we return from error, we escape from sin, and after shame for our faults, we make profession of forsaking them.

Pseudo-Chrys.: In the very commencement he shews himself the messenger of a merciful Prince; he comes not with threats to the offender, but with offers of mercy. It is a custom with kings to proclaim a general pardon on the birth of a son, but first they send throughout their kingdom officers to exact severe fines. But God willing at the birth of His Son to give pardon of sins, first sends His officer proclaiming, “Repent ye.” O exaction which leaves none poor, but makes many rich! For even when we pay our just debt of righteousness we do God no service, but only gain our own salvation. Repentance cleanses the heart, enlightens the sense, and prepares the human soul for the reception of Christ, as he immediately adds, “For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

Jerome: John Baptist is the first to preach the Kingdom of Heaven, that the forerunner of the Lord may have this honourable privilege.

Chrys.: And he preaches what the Jews had never heard, not even from the Prophets, Heaven, namely, and the Kingdom that is there, and of the kingdoms of the earth he says nothing. Thus by the novelty of those things of which he speaks, he gains their attention to Him whom he preaches.

Remig.: “The Kingdom of Heaven” has a fourfold meaning. It is said, of Christ, as “The Kingdom of God is within you.” [Luke 17:21] Of Holy Scripture, as, “The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” [Matt 21:43] Of the Holy Church, as, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto ten virgins.” [Matt 25:1] Of the abode above, as, “Many shall come from the East and the West, and shall sit down in the Kingdom of Heaven.” [Matt 8:11] And all these significations may be here understood.

Gloss. ord.: “The Kingdom of Heaven” shall come nigh you; for if it approached not, none would be able to gain it; for weak and blind they had not the way, which was Christ.

Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 12: The other Evangelists omit these words of John. What follows, “This is He, &c.” it is not clear whether the Evangelist speaks them in his own person, or whether they are part of John’s preaching, and the whole from “Repent ye,” to “Esaias the prophet,” is to be assigned to John. It is of no importance [p. 94] that he says, “This is he,” and not, “I am he;” for Matthew speaking of himself says, “He found a man sitting at the toll-office;” [Matt 9:9] not “He found me.” Though when asked what he said of himself, he answered, as is related by John the Evangelist, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.”

Greg., Hom. in Ev., i. 7: It is well known that the Only-begotten Son is called the Word of the Father; as in John, “In the beginning was the Word.” [John 1:1] But it is by our own speech that we are known; the voice sounds that the words may be heard. Thus John the forerunner of the Lord’s coming is called, “The voice,” because by his ministry the voice of the Father is heard by men.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The voice is a confused sound, discovering no secret of the heart, only signifying that he who utters it desires to say somewhat; it is the word that is the speech that openeth the mystery of the heart. Voice is common to men and other animals, word peculiar to man. John then is called the voice and not the word, because God did not discover His counsels through him, but only signified that He was about to do something among men; but afterwards by His Son he fully opened the mystery of his will.

Rabanus: He is rightly called, “The voice of one crying,” on account of the loud sound of his preaching. Three things cause a man to speak loud; when the person he speaks to is at a distance, or is deaf, or if the speaker be angry; and all these three were then found in the human race.

Gloss: John then is, as it were, the voice of the word crying. The word is heard by the voice, that is, Christ by John.

Bede, Gloss. ord. in cap. iv. 1: In like manner has He cried from the beginning through the voice of all who have spoken aught by inspiration. And yet is John only called, “The voice;” because the Word which others shewed after off, he declares as nigh.

Greg., Hom. in Ev., i. 7. 2: “Crying in the desert,” because he shews to deserted and forlorn Judaea the approaching consolation of her Redeemer.

Remig.: Though as far as historical fact is concerned, he chose the desert, to be removed from the crowds of people. What the purport of his cry was is insinuated, when he adds, “Make ready the way of the Lord.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: As a great King going on a progress is preceded by couriers to cleanse what is foul, repair what is broken down; so John preceded the Lord to cleanse the human heart from the filth [p. 95] of sin, by the besom of repentance, and to gather by an ordinance of spiritual precepts those things which had been scattered abroad.

Greg., Hom. in Ev. i. 20. 3: Every one who preacheth right faith and good works, prepares the Lord’s way to the hearts of the hearers, and makes His paths straight, in cleansing the thoughts by the word of good preaching.

Gloss. interlin.: Or, faith is the way by which the word reaches the heart; when the life is amended the paths are made straight.


4. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.


Pseudo-Chrys.: Having said that he is the voice of one crying in the desert, the Evangelist well adds, “John had his clothing of camel’s hair;” thus shewing what his life was; for he indeed testified of Christ, but his life testified of himself. No one is fit to be another’s witness till he has first been his own.

Hilary: For the preaching of John no place more suitable, no clothing more useful, no food more fitted.

Jerome: His raiment of camel’s hair, not of wool - the one the mark of austerity in dress, the other of a delicate luxury.

Pseudo-Chrys.: It becomes the servants of God to use a dress not for elegant appearance, or for cherishing of the body, but for a covering of the nakedness. Thus John wears a garment not soft and delicate, but hairy, heavy, rough, rather wounding the skin than cherishing it, that even the very clothing of his body told of the virtue of his mind. It was the custom of the Jews to wear girdles of wool; so he desiring something less indulgent wore one of skin.

Jerome: Food moreover suited to a dweller in the desert, no choice viands, but such as satisfied the necessities of the body.

Rabanus: Content with poor fare; to wit, small insects and honey gathered from the trunks of trees. In the sayings of Arnulphus [ed. note: Arnulphus, who visited Palestine 705; his travels to the Holy Land written from his mouth by Adamannus, Abbot of Lindisferne, are still extant.], Bishop of Gaul, we find that there was a very small kind of locust in the deserts of Judaea, with bodies about the thickness of a finger and short; they are easily taken among the grass, and when cooked in oil form a poor [p. 96] kind of food.

He also relates, that in the same desert there is a kind of tree, with a large round leaf, of the colour of milk and taste of honey, so friable as to rub to powder in the hand, and this is what is intended by wild honey.

Remig.: In this clothing and this poor food, he shews that he sorrows for the sins of the whole human race.

Rabanus: His dress and diet express the quality of his inward conversation. His garment was of an austere quality, because he rebuked the sinner’s life.

Jerome: His girdle of skin, which Elias also bare, is the mark of mortification.

Rabanus: He ate locusts and honey, because his preaching was sweet tot he multitude, but was of short continuance; and honey has sweetness, locusts a swift flight but soon fall to the ground.

Remig.: In John (which name is interpreted ‘the grace of God,’) is figured Christ who brought grace into the world; in his clothing, the Gentile Church.

Hilary: The preacher of Christ is clad in the skins of unclean beasts, to which the Gentiles are compared, and so by the Prophets’ dress is sanctified whatever in them was useless or unclean. The girdle is a thing of much efficacy to every good work, that we may be girt for every ministry of Christ. For his food are chosen locusts, which fly the face of man, and escape from every approach, signifying ourselves who were borne away from every word or speech of good by a spontaneous motion of the body, weak in will, barren in works, fretful in speech, foreign in abode, are now become the food of the Saints, chosen to fill the Prophets’ desire, furnishing our most sweet food not from the hives of the law, but from the trunks of wild trees.


5. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,

6. And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.


Pseudo-Chrys.: Having described the preaching of John, he goes on to say, “There went out to him,” for his severe life preached yet more loudly in the desert than the voice of his crying.

Chrys.: For it was wonderful to see such [p. 97] fortitude in a human body; this it was that chiefly attracted the Jews, seeing in him the great Elias. It also contributed to fill them with wonder that the grace of Prophecy had long failed among them, and now seemed to have at length revived.

Also the manner of his preaching being other than that of the old prophets had must effect; for now they heard not such things as they were wont to hear, such as wars, and conquests of the king of Babylon, or of Persia; but of Heaven and the Kingdom there, and the punishment of hell.

Gloss. interlin.: This baptism was only a forerunning of that to come, and did not forgive sins. [ed. note: Tertullian (de Bapt. 10. 11) S. Jerome (adv. Lucifer. 7) S. Gregory (Hom. in Evang. vii. 3) Theophylact in Marc. ch. i. S. Augustine (de Bapt. e Donat. v. 10) considered that S. John’s baptism gave a sort of suspensive or implicit remission, to be realized in the Atonement; and S. Cyril. Hieros. Cat. iii. 7-9. S. Greg. Nyss. in laud. Bas. t. 3. p. 482. vid. Dr. Pusey on Baptism, Ed. 2. pp. 242-271]

Remig.: The baptism of John bare a figure of the catechumens. As children are only catechized that they may become meet for the sacrament of Baptism; so John baptized, that they who were thus baptized might afterwards by a holy life become worthy of coming to Christ’s baptism. He baptized in Jordan, that the door of the Kingdom of Heaven might be there opened, where an entrance had been given to the children of Israel into the earthly kingdom of promise.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Compared with the holiness of John, who is there that can think himself righteous? As a white garment if placed near snow would seem foul by the contrast; so compared with John every man would seem impure; therefore they confessed their sins. Confession of sin is the testimony of a conscience fearing God. And perfect fear takes away all shame. But there is seen the shame of confession where there is no fear of the judgment to come. But as shame itself is a heavy punishment, God therefore bids us confess our sins that we may suffer this shame as punishment; for that itself is a part of the judgment.

Rabanus: Rightly are they who are to be baptized said to go out to the Prophet; for unless one depart from sin, and renounce the pomp of the Devil, and the temptations of the world, he cannot receive a healing baptism.

Rightly also in Jordan, which means their [p. 98] descent, because they descended from the pride of life to the humility of an honest confession. Thus early was an example given to them that are to be baptized of confessing their sins and professing amendment.


7. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8. Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

9. And think not to say within yourselves, ‘We have Abraham to our father:’ for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

10. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”


Greg., De Cur. Past., iii, prologue: The words of the teachers should be fitted to the quality of the hearers, that in each particular it should agree with itself and yet never depart from the fortress of general edification.

Gloss: It was necessary that after the teaching which he used to the common people, the Evangelist should give an example of the doctrine he delivered to the more advanced; therefore he says, “Seeing many of the Pharisees, &c.”

Isid. Hisp. Orig. 8. 4: The Pharisees and Sadducees opposed to one another; Pharisee in the Hebrew signifies, ‘divided;’ because choosing the justification of traditions and observances they were ‘divided’ or ‘separated’ from the people by this righteousness.

Sadducee in the Hebrew means ‘just;’ for these laid claim to be what they were not, denied the resurrection of the body, and taught that the soul perished with the body; they only received the Pentateuch, and rejected the Prophets.

Gloss: When John saw those who seemed to be of great consideration among the Jews come to his baptism, he said [p. 99] to them, “O generation of vipers, &c.”

Remig.: The manner of Scripture is to give names from the imitation of deeds, according to that of Ezekiel, “Thy father was an Amorite;” [Ezek 16:3] so these from following vipers are called “generation of vipers.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: As a skilful physician from the colour of the skin infers the sick man’s disease, so John understood the evil thoughts of the Pharisees who came to him. They thought perhaps, We go, and confess our sins; he imposes no burden on us, we will be baptized, and get indulgence for sin. Fools! if ye have eaten of impurity, must ye not needs take physic? So after confession and baptism, a man needs much diligence to heal the wound of sin; therefore he says, “Generation of vipers.”

It is the nature of the viper as soon as it has bit a man to fly to the water, which, if it cannot find it, straightway dies; so this “progeny of vipers,” after having committed deadly sin, ran to baptism, that, like vipers, they might escape death by means of water.

Moreover it is the nature of vipers to burst the insides of their mothers, and so to be born. The Jews then are therefore called “progeny of vipers,” because by continual persecution of the prophets they had corrupted their mother the Synagogue. Also vipers have a beautiful and speckled outside, but are filled with poison within. So these men’s countenances wore a holy appearance.

Remig.: When then he asks, “who will shew you to flee from the wrath to come,” - ‘except God’ must be understood.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or “who hath shewed you?” Was it Esaias? Surely no; had he taught you, you would not put your trust in water only, but also in good works; he thus speaks, “Wash you, and be clean; put your wickedness away from your souls, learn to do well.” [Isa 1:16]

Was it then David? who says, “Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow;” [Ps 51:7] surely not, for he adds immediately, “The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit.” If then ye had been the disciple of David, ye would have come to baptism with mournings.

Remig.: But if we read, “shall shew,” in the future, this is the meaning, ‘What teacher, what preacher, shall be able to give you such counsel, as that ye may escape the wrath of everlasting damnation?’

Aug., City of God, book 9, ch. 5: God is described in Scripture, from some likeness of effects, not from being subject to such weakness, as being angry, and yet is He never moved by any passion. [p. 100] The word, ‘wrath,’ is applied to the effects of his vengeance, not that god suffers any disturbing affection.

Gloss: If they ye would escape this wrath, “Bring forth fruits meet for repentance.”

Greg., Hom. in Ev. 20. 8: Observe, he says not merely “fruits of repentance,” but “fruits meet for repentance.” For he who has never fallen into things unlawful, is of right allowed the use of all thing lawful; but if any hath fallen into sin, he ought so far to put away from him even things lawful, as far as he is conscious of having used unlawful things. It is left then to such man’s conscience to seek so much the greater gains of good works by repentance, the greater loss he has brought on himself by sin.

The Jews who gloried in their race, would not own themselves sinners because they were Abraham’s seed. “Say not among yourselves we are Abraham’s seed.”

Chrys., Hom. 11: He does not forbid them to “say” they are his, but to trust in that, neglecting virtues of the soul.

Pseudo-Chrys.: What avails noble birth to him whose life is disgraceful? Or, on the other hand, what hurt is a low origin to him who has the lustre of virtue? It is fitter that the parents of such a son should rejoice over him, than he over his parents. So do not you pride yourselves on having Abraham for your father, rather blush that you inherit his blood, but not his holiness. He who has no resemblance to his father is possibly the offspring of adultery. These words then only exclude boasting on account of birth.

Rabanus: Because as a preacher of truth he wished to stir them up, to “bring forth fruit meet for repentance,” he invites them to humility, without which no one can repent.

Remig.: There is a tradition, that John preached at that place of the Jordan, where the twelve stones taken from the bed of the river had been set up by command of God. He might then be pointing to these, when he said, “Of these stones.”

Jerome: He intimates God’s great power, who, as he made all things out of nothing, can make men out of the hardest stone.

Gloss. ord.: It is faith’s first lesson to believe that God is able to do whatever He will.

Chrys.: That men should be made out of stones, is like Isaac coming from Sarah’s womb; “Look into the rock,” says Isaiah, “whence ye were hewn.” Reminding them thus of this prophecy, he shews that it is possible that the like might even how happen.

Rabanus: [p. 101] Otherwise; the Gentiles may be meant who worshipped stones.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Stone is hard to work, but when wrought to some shape, it loses it not; so the Gentiles were hardly brought to the faith, but once brought they abide in it for ever.

Jerome: “These stones” signify the Gentiles because of their hardness of heart. See Ezekiel, “I will take away from you the heart of stone, and give you the heart of flesh.” Stone is emblematic of hardness, flesh of softness.

Rabanus: Of stones there were sons raised up to Abraham; forasmuch as the Gentiles by believing in Christ, who is Abraham’s seed, because his sons to whose seed they were united.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The axe is that most sharp fury of the consummation of all things, that is to hew down the whole world. But if it be already laid, how hath it not yet cut down? Because these trees have reason and free power to do good, or leave undone; so that when they see the axe laid to their root, they may fear and bring forth fruit.

This denunciation of wrath then, which is meant by the laying of the axe to the root, though it have no effect on the bad, yet will sever the good from the bad.

Jerome: Or, the preaching of the Gospel is meant, as the Prophet Jeremiah also compares the Word of the Lord to an axe cleaving the rock. [Jer 23:29]

Greg., Hom. in Ev., 20. 9: Or, the axe signifies the Redeemer, who as an axe of halt and blade, so consisting of the Divine and human nature, is held by His human, but cuts by His Divine nature. And though this axe be laid at the root of the tree waiting in patience, it is yet seen what it will do; for each obstinate sinner who here neglects the fruit of good works, finds the fire of hell ready for him. Observe, the axe is laid to the root, not to the branches; for that when the children of wickedness are removed, the branches only of the unfruitful tree are cut away. But when the whole offspring with their parent is carried off, the unfruitful tree is cut down by the root, that there remain not whence the evil shoots should spring up again.

Chrys.: By saying, “Every,” he cuts off all privilege of nobility: as much as to say, Though thou be the son of Abraham, if thou abide fruitless thou shalt suffer the punishment.

Rabanus: There are four sorts of tree; the first totally withered, to which the Pagans may be likened; [p. 102] the second, green but unfruitful, as the hypocrites; the third, green and fruitful, but poisonous, such are heretics; the fourth, green and bringing forth good fruit, to which are like the good Catholics.

Greg.: “Therefore every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be cut down, and cast into the fire,” because he who here neglects to bring forth the fruit of good works finds a fire in hell prepared for him.


11. “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

12. Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”


Gloss. non occ.: As in the preceding words John had explained more at length what he had shortly preached in the words, “Repent ye,” so now follows a more full enlargement of the words, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Greg., Hom. in Ev., 7. 3: John baptizes not with the Spirit but with water, because he had no power to forgive sins; he washes the body with water, but not at the same time the soul with pardon of sin.

Chrys., Hom. 10, 1: For while as yet the sacrifice had not been offered, nor remission of sin sent, nor the Spirit had descended on the water, how could sin be forgiven? But since the Jews never perceived their own sin, and this was the cause of all their evils, John came to bring them to a sense of them by calling them to repentance.

Greg.: Why then does he baptize who could not remit sin, but that he may preserve in all things the office of forerunner? As his birth had preceded Christ’s birth, so his baptism should precede the Lord’s baptism.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, John was sent to baptize, that to such as came to his baptism he might announce the presence among them of the Lord in the flesh, as himself testifies in another place, “That He might be manifested to Israel, therefore am I come to baptise with water.” [John 1:31]

Aug., in Joann. Tract. v. 5: Or, he baptizes, because it behoved Christ [p. 103] to be baptized. But if indeed John was sent only to baptize Christ, why was not He alone baptized by John? Because had the Lord alone been baptized by John, there would not have lacked who should insist that John’s baptism was greater than Christ’s, inasmuch as Christ alone had the merit to be baptized by it.

Rabanus: Or, by this sign of baptism he separates the penitent from the impenitent, and directs them to the baptism of Christ.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Because then he baptized on account of Christ, therefore to them who came to him for baptism he preached that Christ should come, signifying the eminence of His power in the words, “He who cometh after me is mightier than I.”

Remig.: There are five points in which Christ comes after John, His birth, preaching, baptism, death, and descent into hell. A beautiful expression is that, “mightier than I,” because he is mere man, the other is God and man.

Rabanus: As though he had said, I indeed am mighty to invite to repentance, He to forgive sins; I to preach the kingdom of heaven, He to bestow it; I to baptize with water, He with the Spirit.

Chrys.: When you hear “for He is mightier than I,” do not suppose this to be said by way of comparison, for I am not worthy to be numbered among his servants, that I might undertake the lowest office.

Hilary: Leaving to the Apostles the glory of bearing about the Gospel, to whose beautiful feet was due the carrying the tidings of God’s peace.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, by the feet of Christ we may understand Christians, especially the Apostles, and other preachers, among whom was John Baptist; and the shoes are the infirmities with which he loads the preachers. These shoes all Christ’s preachers wear; and John also wore them; but declares himself unworthy, that he might shew the grace of Christ, and be greater than his deserts.

Jerome: In the other Gospels it is, “whose shoe latchet I am not worthy to loose.” Here his humility, there his ministry is intended; Christ is the Bridegroom, and John is not worthy to loose the Bridegroom’s shoe, that his house be not called according to the Law of Moses and the example of Ruth, “The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.” [Deut 25:10]

Pseudo-Chrys.: But since no one can give a benefit more worthy than he himself is, nor to make another what himself is not, he adds, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” [p. 104]

John who is carnal cannot give spiritual baptism; he baptizes with water, which is matter; so that he baptizes matter with matter. Christ is Spirit, because He is God; the Holy Ghost is Spirit, the soul is spirit; so that Spirit with Spirit baptizes our spirit. The baptism of the Spirit profits as the Spirit enters and embraces the mind, and surrounds it as it were with an impregnable wall, not suffering fleshly lusts to prevail against it. It does not indeed prevail that the flesh should not lust, but holds the will that it should not consent with it.

And as Christ is Judge, He baptizes in fire, i.e. temptation; mere man cannot baptize in fire. He alone is free to tempt, who is strong to reward. This baptism of tribulation burns up the flesh that it does not generate lust, for the flesh does not fear spiritual punishment, but only such as is carnal. The Lord therefore sends carnal tribulation on his servants, that the flesh fearing its own pains, may not lust after evil. See then how the Spirit drives away lust, and suffers it not to prevail, and the fire burns up its very roots.

Jerome: Either the Holy Ghost Himself is a fire, as we learn from the Acts, when there sat as it were fire on the tongues of the believers; and thus the word of the Lord was fulfilled who said, “I am come to send fire on the earth, I will that it burn.” [Luke 12:49]

Or, we are baptized now with the Spirit, hereafter with fire; as the Apostle speaks, “Fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is.” [1 Cor 3:13] [ed. note, e: The fire here spoken of is interpreted by S. Austin, (Enchir. 68) and Pope Gregory, (Dial. iv. 40) of the “troubles of this life;” by S. Ambrose, (in Ps. 118, 20. n. 15. apparently, Hil. in Ps. 118, 3. n. 12) of the “severity of the divine judgment;” by S. Chrysostom, and Theophylact, (in loc.) and Pseudo-Athanasius, (Quaest. in Ep. Paul. 98. t. 2. p. 328. Ed. Ben.) of “hell-fire;” by Ambrosiaster, (in loc.) S. Jerome, perhaps, (in Isa. 1. fin.) and also by S. Austin and Pope Gregory, of a “purgatorial fire.”]

Chrys.: He does not say, shall give you the Holy Ghost, but “shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost,” shewing in metaphor the abundance of the grace.

This further shews, that even under the faith there is need of the will alone for justification, not of labours and toilings; and even as easy a thing as it is to be baptized, even so easy a thing it is to be changed and made better. [ed. note, f: This sentence is not here found in the original.]

By fire he signifies the strength of grace which cannot be overcome, and that it may be understood that He makes His own people at once [p. 105] like to the great and old prophets, most of the prophetic visions were by fire.

Pseudo-Chrys.: It is plain then that the baptism [ed. note: Two sentences about rebaptizing, wanting in some copies of the original, are omitted by Aquinas. This comment on St. Matthew has apparently passed successively through the hands of opposite controversialists upon the Arian question. It may be observed that the Eunomians rebaptized, and that the second General Council rejects their baptism.] of Christ does not undo the baptism of John, but includes it in itself; he who is baptized in Christ’s name hath both baptisms, that of water and that of the Spirit. for Christ is Spirit, and hath taken to Him the body that He might give both bodily and spiritual baptism.

John’s baptism does not include in it the baptism of Christ, because the less cannot include the greater. Thus the Apostle having found certain Ephesians baptized with John’s baptism, baptized them again in the name of Christ, because they had not been baptized in the Spirit: thus Christ baptized a second time those who had been baptized by John, as John himself declared he should, “I baptize you with water; but He shall baptize you with the Spirit.”

And yet they were not baptized twice but once; for as the baptism of Christ was more than that of John, it was a new one given, not the same repeated.

Hilary: He marks the time of our salvation and judgment in the Lord; those who are baptized in the Holy Ghost it remains that they be consummated by the fire of judgment.

Rabanus: By the fan is signified the separation of a just trial; that it is in the Lord’s hand, means, ‘in His power,’ as it is written, “The Father hath committed all judgment to the Son.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: “The floor,” is the Church, “the barn,” is the kingdom of heaven, “the field,” is the world. The Lord sends forth His Apostles and other teachers, as reapers to reap all nations of the earth, and gather them into the floor of the Church. Here were must be threshed and winnowed, for all men are delighted in carnal things as grain delights in the husk. But whoever is faithful and has the marrow of a good heart, as soon as he has a light tribulation, neglecting carnal things runs to the Lord; but if his faith be feeble, hardly with heavy sorrow; and he who is altogether void of faith, however he may be troubled, passes not over to God.

The wheat when first thrashed lies in one heap with chaff and straw, and is after winnowed to separate it; so the [p. 106] faithful are mixed up in one Church with the unfaithful; but persecution comes as a wind, that, tossed by Christ’s fan, they whose hearts were separate before, may be also now separated in place. He shall not merely cleanse, but “thoroughly cleanse;” therefore the Church must needs be tried in many ways till this be accomplished.

And first the Jews winnowed it, then the Gentiles, now the heretics, and after a time shall Antichrist thoroughly winnow it. For as when the blast is gentle, only the lighter chaff is carried off, but the heavier remains; so a slight wind of temptation carries off the worst characters only; but should a greater storm arise, even those who seem steadfast will depart. There is need then of heavier persecution that the Church should be cleansed.

Remig.: This His floor, to wit, the Church, the Lord cleanses in this life, both when by the sentence of the Priests the bad are put out of the Church, and when they are cut off by death.

Rabanus: The cleansing of the floor will then be finally accomplished, when the Son of Man shall send His Angels, and shall gather all offences out of His kingdom.

Greg., Mor. 34. 5: After the threshing is finished in this life, in which the grain now groans under the burden of the chaff, the fan of the last judgment shall so separate between them, that neither shall any chaff pass into the granary, nor shall the grain fall into the fire which consumes the chaff.

Hilary: The wheat, i.e. the full and perfect fruit of the believer, he declares, shall be laid up in heavenly barns; by the chaff he means the emptiness of the unfruitful.

Rabanus: There is this difference between the chaff and the tares, in that the chaff is produced of the same seed as the wheat, but the tares from one of another kind. The chaff therefore are those who enjoy the sacraments of the faith, but are not solid; the tares are those who in profession as well as in works are separated from the lot of the good.

Remig.: The unquenchable fire is the punishment of eternal damnation; either because it never totally destroys or consumes those it has once seized on, but torments them eternally; or to distinguish it from purgatorial fire which is kindled for a time and again extinguished.

Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii. 12: If any asks which were the actual words spoken by John, whether those reported by Matthew, or by Luke, or by [p. 107] Mark, it may be shewn, that there is no difficulty here to him who rightly understands that the sense is essential to our knowledge of the truth, but the words indifferent. And it is clear we ought not to deem any testimony false, because the same fact is related by several persons who were present in different words and different ways.

Whoever thinks that the Evangelists might have been so inspired by the Holy Ghost that they should have differed among themselves neither in the choice, nor the number, nor the order of their words, he does not see that by how much the authority of the Evangelists is preeminent, so much the more is to be by them established the veracity of other men in the same circumstances. But the discrepancy may seem to be in the thing, and not only in words, between, “I am not worthy to bear His shoes,” and “to loose His shoe-latchet.” Which of these two expressions did John use? He who has reported the very words will seem to have spoken truth; he who has given other words, though he have not hid, or been forgetful, yet had he said one thing for another.

But the Evangelists should be clear of every kind of falseness, not only that of lying, but also that of forgetfulness. If then this discrepancy be important, we may suppose John to have used both expressions, either at different times, or both at the same time. But if he only meant to express the Lord’s greatness and his own humility, whether he used one or the other the sense is preserved, though any one should in his own words repeat the same profession of humility using the figure of the shoes; their will and intention does not differ.

This then is a useful rule and one to be remembered, that it is no lie, when one fairly represents his meaning whose speech one is recounting, though one uses other words; if only one shews our meaning to be the same with his. Thus understood it is a wholesome direction that we are to enquire only after the meaning of the speaker.


13. Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

14. But John forbad Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?” [p. 108]

15. And Jesus answering said unto him, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” Then he suffered Him.


Gloss., non occ.: Christ having been proclaimed to the world by the preaching of His forerunner, now after long obscurity will manifest Himself to men.

Remig.: In this verse is contained person, place, time, and office. Time, in the word, “Then.”

Rabanus: That is, when He was thirty years old, shewing that none should be ordained priest, or even to preach till He be of full age. Joseph at thirty years was made governor of Egypt; David began to reign, and Ezekiel his prophesying at the same age.

Chrys., Hom. 10, 1: Because after his baptism Christ was to put an end to the Law, He therefore came to be baptized at this age, that having so kept the Law, it might not be said that He cancelled it, because He could not observe it.

Pseudo-Chrys.: “Then,” that is when John preached, that He might confirm his preaching, and Himself receive his witness. But as when the morning-star has risen, the sun does not wait for that star to set, but rising as it goes forward, gradually obscures its brightness; so Christ waited not for John to finish his course, but appeared while he yet taught.

Remig.: The Persons are described in the words, “came Jesus to John;” that is, God to man, the Lord to His servant, the King to His soldier, the Light to the lamp. The Place, “from Galilee to Jordan.” Galilee means ‘transmigration.’ Whoso then will be baptized, must pass from vice to virtue, and humble himself in coming to baptism, for Jordan means, ‘descent.’

Ambrose, Ambrosiaster. Serm. x. 5: Scripture tells of many wonders wrought at various times in this river; as that, among others, in the Psalms, “Jordan was driven backwards;” [Ps 114:3] before the water was driven back, now sins are turned back in its current; as Elijah divided the waters of old, so Christ the Lord wrought in the same Jordan the separation of sin.

Remig.: The office to be performed; “that He might be baptized of him;” not baptism to the remission of sins, but to leave the water sanctified for those after to be baptized.

Aug., non occ., cf. Ambrosiaster, Serm. 12. 4: The Saviour willed to be baptized not that He might [p. 109] Himself be cleansed, but to cleanse the water for us. [ed. note: This is the doctrine of S. Austin, in Joan. iv. 14. Op. Imp. contr. Julian iv. 63. Ambros. in Luke ii, 83, &c. &c. vid. Pusey on Baptism, p. 279. ed. 2]

From the time that Himself was dipped in the water, from that time has He washed away all our sins in water. And let none wonder that water, itself corporeal substance, is said to be effectual to the purification of the soul; it is so effectual, reaching to and searching out the hidden recesses of the conscience. Subtle and penetrating in its own nature, made yet more so by Christ’s blessing, it touches the hidden springs of life, the secret places of the soul, by virtue of its all-pervading dew. The course of blessing is even yet more penetrating than the flow of waters. Thus the blessing which like a spiritual river flows on from the Saviour’s baptism, hath filled the basins of all pools, and the courses of all fountains.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He comes to baptism, that He who has taken upon Him human nature, may be found to have fulfilled the whole mystery of that nature; not that He is Himself a sinner, but He has taken on Him a nature that is sinful. And therefore though He needed not baptism Himself, yet the carnal nature in others needed it.

Ambrose, Ambrosiaster, Serm. 12. 1: Also like a wise master inculcating His doctrines as much by His own practice, as by word of mouth, He did that which He commanded all His disciples to do.

Aug., in Joann. Tract. v. 2: He deigned to be baptized of John that the servants might see with what readiness they ought to run to the baptism of the Lord, when He did not refuse to be baptized of His servant.

Jerome: Also that by being Himself baptized, He might sanction the baptism of John.

Chrys., Hom. 12: But since John’s baptism was to repentance, and therefore shewed the presence of sin, that none might suppose Christ’s coming to the Jordan to have been on this account, John cried to Him, “I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?”

As if he had said,

Pseudo-Chrys.: That Thou shouldest baptize me there is good cause, that I may be made righteous and worthy of heaven; but that I should baptize Thee, what cause is there? Every good gift comes down from heaven upon earth, not ascends from earth to heaven.

Hilary: John reject Him from baptism as God; He teaches him, [p. 110] that it ought to be performed on Him as man.

Jerome: Beautifully said is that “now,” to shew that as Christ was baptized with water by John, so John must be baptized by Christ with the Spirit.

Or, suffer now that I who have taken the form of a servant should fulfil all that low estate; otherwise know that in the day of judgment thou must be baptized with my baptism.

Or, the Lord says, ‘Suffer this now; I have also another baptism wherewithal I must be baptized; thou baptizest Me with water, that I may baptize thee for Me with thy own blood.’

Pseudo-Chrys.: In this he shews that Christ after this baptized John; which is expressly told in some apocryphal books. [ed. note: Apocryphis ap. Aquin. in secretioribus libris, in the present text of Pseudo-Chrysost. The same opinion is imputed to S. Gregory Naz. S. Austin, &c. but apparently without reason, vid. Tillemont Memoirs St. Joan. B. note 7. It was an objection familiar with the heretics whether the Apostles were baptized, vid. Tertull. in Bapt. 12]

Suffer now that I fulfil the righteousness of baptism in deed, and not only in word; first submitting to it, and then preaching it; for “so it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” Not that by being baptized He fulfils all righteousness, but “so,” in the same manner, that is, as He first fulfilled the righteousness of baptism by His deeds, and after preached it, so He might all other righteousness, according to that of the Acts, “All things that Jesus began both to do and to teach.” [Acts 1:1]

Or thus, “all righteousness,” according to the ordinance of human nature; as He had before fulfilled the righteousness of birth, growth, and the like.

Hilary: For by Him must all righteousness have been fulfilled, by whom alone the Law could be fulfilled.

Jerome: “Righteousness;” but he adds neither ‘of the Law;’ nor ‘of nature,’ that we may understand it of both.

Remig.: Or thus; “It becometh us to fulfil all righteousness,” that is, to give an example of perfect justification in baptism, without which the gate of the kingdom of heaven is not opened. Hence let the proud take an example of humility, and not scorn to be baptized by My humble members when they see Me baptized by John My servant. That is true humility which obedience accompanies; as it continues, “then he suffered Him,” that is, at last consented to baptize Him.


16. And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him.


Ambrose, Ambrosiaster, Serm. 12. 4: For, as we have said, when the Saviour was washed, then the water was cleansed for our baptism, that a laver might be ministered to the people who were to come. Moreover, it behoved that in Christ’s baptism should be signified those things which the faithful obtain by baptism.

Pseudo-Chrys.: This action of Christ’s has a figurative meaning pertaining to all who were after Him to be baptized; and therefore he says, “straightway He ascended,” and not simply “He ascended,” for all who are worthily baptized in Christ, straightway ascend from the water; that is, make progress in virtues, and are carried on towards a heavenly dignity. They who had gone down to the water carnal and sinful sons of Adam, straightway ascend from the water spiritual sons of God. But if some by their own faults make no progress after baptism, what is that to the baptism?

Rabanus: As by the immersion of His body He dedicated the laver of baptism, He has shewn that to us also, after baptism received, the entrance to heaven is open and the Holy Spirit is given, as it follows, “and the heavens were opened.”

Jerome: Not by an actual cleaving of the visible element, but to the spiritual eye, as Ezekiel also in the beginning of his book relates that he saw them.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For had the actual creation of the heavens been opened, he would not have said, “were opened to Him,” for a physical opening would have been open to all.

But some one will say, What, are the heavens then closed to the eye of the Son of God, who even when on earth is present in heaven? But it must be known, that as He was baptized according to the ordinance of humanity that He had taken on Him, so the heavens were opened to His sight as to His human nature, though as to His divine He was in heaven.

Remig.: But was this then the first time that the heavens were opened to Him according to His human nature? The faith of the Church both believes and holds that the heavens were no less open to him before than after. [p. 112] It is therefore said here, that the heavens were opened, because to all them who are born again the door of the kingdom of heaven is opened.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Perhaps there were before some unseen obstacles which hindered the souls of the dead from entering the skies. I suppose that since Adam’s sin no soul had mounted the skies, but the heavens were continually closed. When, lo! on Christ’s baptism they were again opened; after He had overcome by the Cross the great tyrant death, henceforward the heaven, never more to be closed, needed not gates, so that the Angels say not, ‘Open ye gates,’ for they were open, but “take away the gates.” [Ps 24:7]

Or the heavens are opened to the baptized, and they see those things which are in heaven, not by seeing them with the bodily eye, but by believing with the spiritual eye of faith.

Or thus; The heavens are the divine Scriptures, which all read but all do not understand, except they who have been so baptized as to receive the Holy Spirit. Thus the Scriptures of the Prophets were at the first sealed to the Apostles, but after they had received the Holy Spirit, all Scripture was opened to them.

However, in whatever way we interpret, the heavens were opened to Him, that is to all, on His account; as if the Emperor were to say to any one preferring a petition for another, This boon I grant not to him but to you; that is, to him, for your sake.

Gloss. non occ.: Or, so bright a glory shone round about Christ, that the blue concave seemed to be actually cloven.

Chrys.: But though you see it not, be not therefore unbelieving, for in the beginnings of spiritual matters sensible visions are always offered, for their sakes who can form no idea of things that have no body; which if they occur not in later times, yet faith may be established by those wonders once wrought.

Remig.: As to all those who by baptism are born again, the door of the kingdom of heaven is opened, so all in baptism receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Aug., App. Serm. 135. 1: Chris after He had been once born among men, is born a second time in the sacraments, that as we adore Him then born of a pure mother, so we may now receive Him immersed in pure water. His mother brought forth her Son, and is yet virgin; the wave washed Christ, and is holy. Lastly, that Holy Spirit which was present to Him in the [p. 113] womb, now shone round Him in the water, He who then made Mary pure, now sanctifies the waters.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The Holy Ghost took the likeness of a dove, as being more than other animals susceptible of love. All other forms of righteousness which the servants of God have in truth and verity, the servants of the Devil have in spurious imitation; the love of the Holy Spirit alone an unclean spirit cannot imitate. And the Holy Ghost has therefore reserved to Himself this special manifestation of love, because by no testimony is it so clearly seen where He dwells as by the grace of love.

Rabanus, ap. Anselm: Seven excellencies in the baptized are figured by the dove. The dove has her abode near the rivers, that when the hawk is seen, she may dive under water and escape; she chooses the better grains of corn; she feeds the young of other birds; she does not tear with her beak; she lacks a gall; she has her rest in the caverns of the rocks; for her song she has a plaint.

Thus the saints dwell beside the streams of Divine Scripture, that they may escape the assaults of the Devil; they choose wholesome doctrine, and not heretical for their food; they nourish by teaching and example, men who have been the children of the Devil, i.e. the imitators; they do not pervert good doctrine by tearing it to pieces as the heretics do; they are without hate irreconcileable; they build their nest in the wounds of Christ’s death, which is to them a firm rock, that is their refuge and hope; as others delight in song, so do they in groaning for their sin.

Chrys.: It is moreover an allusion to ancient history; for in the deluge this creature appeared bearing an olive branch, and tidings of rest to the world. All which things were a type of things to come. For now also a dove appears pointing out to us our liberator, and for an olive branch bringing the adoption of the human race.

Aug., de Trin., ii, 5: It is easy to understand how the Holy Ghost should be said to be sent, when as it were a dove in visible shape descended on the Lord; that is, there was created a certain appearance for the time in which the Holy Spirit might be visibly shewn. And this operation thus made visible and offered to mortal view, is called the mission of the Holy Spirit, not that His invisible substance was seen, but that the hearts of men might be roused by the external appearance to contemplate [p. 114] the unseen eternity.

Yet this creature in the shape of which the Spirit appeared, was not taken into unity of person, as was that human shape taken of the Virgin. For neither did the Spirit bless the dove, nor unite it with Himself for all eternity, in unity of person. Further, though that dove is called the Spirit, so far as to shew that in this dove was a manifestation of the Spirit, yet can we not say of the Holy Spirit that He is God and dove, as we say of the Son that He is God and man; and yet it is not as we say of the Son that He is “the Lamb of God,” as not only has John Baptist declared, but as John the Evangelist saw the vision of the Lamb slain in the Apocalypse. For this was a prophetic vision, not put before the bodily eyes in bodily shape, but seen in the Spirit in spiritual images.

But concerning this dove none ever doubted that is was seen with the bodily eye; not that we say the Spirit is a dove as we say Christ is a Rock; (for “that Rock was Christ.) [1 Cor 10:4] For that Rock already existed as a creature, and from the resemblance of its operation was called by the name of Christ, (whom it figured;) not so this dove, which was created at the moment for this single purpose.

It seems to me to be more like the flame which appeared to Moses in the bush, or that which the people followed in the wilderness, or to the thunderings and lightnings which were when the Law was given from the mount. For all these were visible objects intended to signify something, and then to pass away. For that such forms have been from time to time seen, the Holy Spirit is said to have been sent; but these bodily forms appeared for the time to shew what was required, and then ceased to be.

Jerome: It sat on the head of Jesus, that none might suppose the voice of the Father spoken to John, and not to the Lord.


17. And lo a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”


Aug., non occ.: Not as before by Moses and the Prophets, neither in type or figure did the Father teach that the Son should come, but openly shewed Him to be already come, “This is my Son.”

Hilary: Or, that from these things thus fulfilled upon Christ, we might learn that after the washing of water [p. 115] the Holy Spirit also descends on us from the heavenly gates, on us also is shed an unction of heavenly glory, and an adoption to be the sons of God, pronounced by the Father’s voice.

Jerome: The mystery of the Trinity is shewn in this baptism. the Lord is baptized; the Spirit descends in the shape of a dove; the voice of the Father is heard giving testimony to the Son.

Ambrose, Ambrosiaster, Serm. 10. 1: And no wonder that the mystery of the Trinity is not wanting to the Lord’s laver, when even our laver contains the sacrament of the Trinity. The Lord willed to shew in His own case what He was after to ordain for men.

Pseudo-Aug., Fulgent. de Fide ad Petrum. c. 9: Though Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one nature, yet do thou hold most firmly that They be Three Persons; that it is the Father alone who said, “this is my beloved Son;” the Son alone over whom that voice of the Father was heard; and the Holy Ghost alone who in the likeness of a dove descended on Christ at His baptism.

Aug., de Trin. 4. 21: Here are deeds of the whole Trinity. In their own substance indeed Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are One without interval of either place or time; but in my mouth they are three separate words, and cannot be pronounced at the same time, and in written letters they fill each their several places. By this comparison may be understood how the Trinity in Itself indivisible may be manifested dividedly in the likeness of a visible creation. That the voice is that of the Father only is manifest from the words, “This is my Son.”

Hilary, de Trin. iii. 11: He witnesses that He is His Son not in name merely, but in very kindred. Sons of God are we many of us; but not as He is a Son, a proper and true Son, in verity, not in estimation, by birth, not adoption.

Aug., in Joann. tr. 14. 11: The Father loves the Son, but as a father should, not as a master may love a servant; and that as an own Son, not an adopted; therefore He adds, “in whom I am well-pleased.”

Remig.: Or if it be referred to the human nature of Christ, the sense is, I am pleased in Him, whom alone I have found without sin. Or according to another reading, “It hath pleased me” to appoint Him, by whom to perform those things I would perform, i.e. the redemption of the human race.

Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 14: These words Mark and Luke give in the same way; in the words of the voice that came from Heaven, their expression varies though the sense is the [p. 116] same. For both the words as Matthew gives them, “This is my beloved Son,” and as the other two, “Thou art my beloved Son,” express the same sense in the speaker; (and the heavenly voice, no doubt, uttered one of these,) but one shews an intention of addressing the testimony thus borne to the Son to those who stood by; the other of addressing it to Himself, as if speaking to Christ He had said, “This is my Son.” Not that Christ was taught what He knew before, but they who stood by heard it, for whose sake the voice came.

Again, when one says, “in whom I am well-pleased;” another, “in thee it hath pleased me,” if you ask which of these was actually pronounced by that voice; take which you will, only remembering that those who have not related the same words as were spoken have related the same sense. That God is well-pleased with His Son is signified in the first; that the Father is by the Son pleased with men is conveyed in the second form, “in thee it hath well-pleased me.”

Or you may understand this to have been the one meaning of all the Evangelists, In Thee have I put My good pleasure, i.e. to fulfil all My purpose.

 

Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 4

[p. 117]

1. Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil.

2. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward hungry.


Pseudo-Chrys.: The Lord being baptized by John with water, is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be baptized by the fire of temptation. ‘Then,’ i.e. when the voice of the Father had been given from heaven.

Chrys., Hom. 13: Whoever thou art then that after thy baptism sufferest grievous trials, be not troubled thereat; for this thou receivedst arms, to fight, not to sit idle. God does not hold all trial from us; first, that we may feel that we are become stronger; secondly, that we may not be puffed up by the greatness of the gifts we have received; thirdly, that the Devil may have experience that we have entirely renounced him; fourthly, that by it we may be made stronger; fifthly, that we may receive a sign of the treasure entrusted to us; for the Devil would not come upon us to tempt us, did he not see us advanced to greater honours.

Hilary: The Devil’s snares are chiefly spread for the sanctified, because a victory over the saints is more desired than over others.

Greg., Hom. in Ev., 16, 1: Some doubt what Spirit it was that led Jesus into the desert, for that it is said after, “The Devil took him into the holy city.” But true and without question agreeable to the context is the received opinion, that it was the Holy Spirit; that His own Spirit should lead Him thither where the evil spirit should find Him and try Him.

Aug., de Trin., 4, 13: Why did He offer Himself to temptation? That He might be our mediator in vanquishing temptation not by aid only, but by example.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He was led by the Holy Spirit, not as an [p. 118] inferior at the bidding of a greater. For we say, “led,” not only of him who is constrained by a stronger than he, but also of him who is induced by reasonable persuasion; as Andrew “found his brother Simon, and brought him to Jesus.”

Jerome: “Led,” not against His will, or as a prisoner, but as by a desire for the conflict.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The Devil comes against men to tempt them, but since He could not come against Christ, therefore Christ came against the Devil.

Greg.: We should know that there are three modes of temptation; suggestion, delight, and consent; and we when we are tempted commonly fall into delight or consent, because being born of the sin of the flesh, we bear with us whence we afford strength for the contest; but God who incarnate in the Virgin’s womb came into the world without sin, carried within Him nothing of a contrary nature. He could then be tempted by suggestion; but the delight of sin never gnawed His soul, and therefore all that temptation of the Devil was without not within Him.

Chrys.: The Devil is wont to be most urgent with temptation, when he sees us solitary; thus it was in the beginning he tempted the woman when he found her without the man, and now too the occasion is offered to the Devil, by the Saviour’s being led into the desert.

Gloss. ap. Anselm: This desert is that between Jerusalem and Jericho, where the robbers used to resort. It is called Hammaim, i.e. ‘of blood,’ from the bloodshed which these robbers caused there; hence the man was said (in the parable) to have fallen among robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, being a figure of Adam, who was overcome by daemons. It was therefore fit that the place where Christ overcame the Devil, should be the same in which the Devil in the parable overcomes man.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Not Christ only is led into the desert by the Spirit, but also all the sons of God who have the Holy Spirit. For they are not content to sit idle, but the Holy Spirit stirs them to take up some great work, i.e. to go out into the desert where they shall meet with the Devil; for there is no righteousness wherewith the Devil is pleased.

For all good is without the flesh and the world, because it is not according to the will of the flesh and the world. To such a desert then all [p. 119] the sons of God go out that they may be tempted.

For example, if you are unmarried, the Holy Spirit has by that led you into the desert, that is, beyond the limits of the flesh and the world, that you may be tempted by lust. But he who is married is unmoved by such temptation. Let us learn that the sons of God are not tempted but when they have gone forth into the desert, but the children of the Devil whose life is in the flesh and the world are then overcome and obey; the good man, having a wife is content; the bad, though he have a wife is not therewith content, and so in all other things.

The children of the Devil go not out to the Devil that they may be tempted. For what need that he should seek the strife who desires not victory? But the sons of God having more confidence and desirous of victory, go forth against him beyond the boundaries of the flesh. For this cause then Christ also went out to the Devil, that He might be tempted of him.

Chrys.: But that you may learn how great a good is fasting, and what a mighty shield against the Devil, and that after baptism you ought to give attention to fasting and not to lusts, therefore Christ fasted, not Himself needing it, but teaching us by His example.

Pseudo-Chrys.: And to fix the measure of our quadragesimal fast, be fasted forty days and forty nights.

Chrys.: But He exceeded not the measure of Moses and Elias, lest it should bring into doubt the reality of His assumption of the flesh.

Greg., Hom. in Ev., 16, 5: The Creator of all things took no food whatever during forty days. We also, at the season of Lent as much as in us lies afflict our flesh by abstinence. The number forty is preserved, because the virtue of the decalogue is fulfilled in the books of the holy Gospel; and ten taken four times amounts to forty.

Or, because in this mortal body we consist of four elements by the delights of which we go against the Lord’s precepts received by the decalogue. And as we transgress the decalogue through the lusts of this flesh, it is fitting that we afflict the flesh forty-fold.

Or, as by the Law we offer the tenth of our goods, so we strive to offer the tenth of our time. And from the first Sunday of Lent to the rejoicing of the paschal festival is a space of six weeks, or forty-two days, subtracting from which the six Sundays which are not kept there remain thirty-six. Now as the year [p. 120] consists of three hundred and sixty-five, by the affliction of these thirty-six we give the tenth of our year to God.

Aug., Lib. 83. Quest. q. 81: Otherwise; The sum of all wisdom is to be acquainted with the Creator and the creature. The Creator is the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; the creature is partly invisible, - as the soul to which we assign a threefold nature, (as in the command to love God with the whole heart, mind, and soul,) - partly visible as the body, which we divide into four elements; the hot, the cold, the liquid, the solid. The number ten then, which stands for the whole law of life, taken four times, that is, multiplied by that number which we assign for the body, because by the body the law is obeyed or disobeyed, makes the number forty. All the aliquot parts in this number, viz. 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 20, taken together make up the number 50. Hence the time of our sorrow and affliction is fixed at forty days; the state of blessed joy which shall be hereafter is figured in the quinquagesimal festival, i.e. the fifty days from Easter to Pentecost.

Aug., Serm. 210, 2: Not however because Christ fasted immediately after having received baptism, are we to suppose that He established a rule to be observed, that we should fast immediately after His baptism. But when the conflict with the tempter is sore, then we ought to fast, that the body may fulfil its warfare by chastisement, and the soul obtain victory by humiliation.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The Lord knew the thoughts of the Devil, that he sought to tempt Him; he had heard that Christ had been born into this world with the preaching of Angels, the witness of shepherds, the inquiry of the Magi, and the testimony of John. Thus the Lord proceeded against him, not as God, but as man, or rather both as God and man. For in forty days of fasting not to have been “an hungred” was not as man; to be ever “an hungred” was not as God. He was “an hungred” then that the God might not be certainly manifested, and so the hopes of the Devil in tempting Him be extinguished, and His own victory hindered.

Hilary: He was “an hungred,” not during the forty days, but after them. Therefore when the Lord hungred, it was not that the effects of abstinence then first came upon Him, but that His humanity was left to its own strength. For the Devil was to be overcome, not by the God, but by the flesh. By this [p. 121] was figured, that after those forty days which He was to tarry on earth after His passion were accomplished, He should hunger for the salvation of man, at which time He carried back again to God His Father the expected gift, the humanity which He had taken on Him.


3. And when the Tempter came to Him, he said, “If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.”

4. But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ “


Pseudo-Chrys.: The Devil who had begun to despair when he saw that Christ fasted forty days, now again began to hope when he saw that “he was an hungred;” and “then the tempter came to him.” If then you shall have fasted and after been tempted, say not, I have lost the fruit of my fast; for though it have not availed to hinder temptation, it will avail to hinder you from being overcome by temptation.

Greg.: If we observe the successive steps of the temptation, we shall be able to estimate by how much we are freed from temptation. The old enemy tempted the first man through his belly, when he persuaded him to eat of the forbidden fruit; through ambition when he said, “Ye shall be as gods;” through covetousness when he said, “Knowing good and evil;” for there is a covetousness not only of money, but of greatness, when a high estate above our measure is sought.

By the same method in which he had overcome the first Adam, in that same was he overcome when he tempted the second Adam. He tempted through the belly when he said, “Command that these stones become loaves;” through ambition when he said, “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence;” through covetousness of lofty condition in the words, “All these things will I give thee.”

Ambrose, Ambros. in Luc., c. 4. 3: He begins with that which had once been the means of his victory, the palate; “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves.” What means such a beginning as this, but that he knew that the Son of God was to come, yet believed not that He was come on account of His fleshly [p. 122] infirmity. His speech is in part that of an enquirer, in part that of a tempter; he professes to believe Him God, he strives to deceive Him as man.

Hilary: And therefore in the temptation he makes a proposal of such a double kind by which His divinity would be made known by the miracle of the transformation, the weakness of the man deceived by the delight of food.

Jerome: But thou art caught, O Enemy, in a dilemma. If these stones can be made bread at His word, your temptation is vain against one so mighty. If He cannot make them bread, your suspicions that this is the Son of God must be vain.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But as the Devil blinds all men, so is he now invisibly made blind by Christ. He found Him “an hungred” at the end of forty days, and knew not that He had continued through those forty without being hungry. When he suspected Him not to be the Son of God, he considered not that the mighty Champion can descend to things that be weak, but the weak cannot ascend to things that are high.

We may more readily infer from His not being “an hungred” for so many days that He is God, than from His being “an hungred” after that time that He is man. But it may be said, Moses and Elias fasted forty days, and were men. But they hungred and endured, He for the space of forty days hungred not, but afterwards. To be hungry and yet refuse food is within the endurance of man; not be hungry belongs to the Divine nature only.

Jerome: Christ’s purpose was to vanquish by humility;

Leo, Serm. 39, 3: hence he opposed the adversary rather by testimonies out of the Law, than by miraculous powers; thus at the same time giving more honour to man, and more disgrace to the adversary, when the enemy of the human race thus seemed to be overcome by man rather than by God.

Greg.: So the Lord when tempted by the Devil answered only with precepts of Holy Writ, and He who could have drowned His tempter in the abyss, displayed not the might of His power; giving us an example, that when we suffer any thing at the hands of evil men, we should be stirred up to learning rather than to revenge.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He said not, ‘I live not,’ but, “Man doth not live by bread alone,” that the Devil might still ask, “If thou be the Son of God.” If He be God, it is as though He shunned [p. 123] to display what He had power to do; if man, it is a crafty will that His want of power should not be detected.

Rabanus: This verse is quoted from Deuteronomy. [margin note: c. 8. 3] Whoso then feeds not on the Word of God, he lives not; as the body of man cannot live without earthly food, so cannot his soul without God’s word. This word is said to proceed out of the mouth of God, where he reveals His will by Scripture testimonies.


5. Then the Devil taketh Him up into the holy city, and setteth Him on a pinnacle of the temple,

6. And saith unto Him, “If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down; for it is written, ‘He shall give His Angels charge concerning Thee:’ and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.”

7. Jesus said unto Him, “It is written again, ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’ “


Pseudo-Chrys.: From this first answer of Christ, the Devil could learn nothing certain whether He were God or man; he therefore betook him to another temptation, saying within himself; This man who is not sensible of the appetite of hunger, if not the Son of God, is yet a holy man; and such do attain strength not to be overcome by hunger; but when they have subdued every necessity of the flesh, they often fall by desire of empty glory. Therefore he began to tempt Him by this empty glory.

Jerome: “Took him,” not because the Lord was weak, but the enemy proud; he imputed to a necessity what the Saviour did willingly.

Rabanus: Jerusalem was called the Holy City, for in it was the Temple of God, the Holy of holies, and the worship of the one God according to the law of Moses.

Remig.: This shews that the Devil lies in wait for Christ’s faithful people even in the sacred places.

Gregory: Behold when it is said that this God was taken by the Devil into the holy city, pious ears tremble to hear, and yet the Devil is head and chief among the wicked; what wonder that He suffered Himself to be led up a mountain by the wicked one himself, who suffered Himself to be crucified by his members. [p. 124]

Gloss. ord.: The Devil places us on high places by exalting with pride, that he may dash us to the ground again.

Remig.: The “pinnacle” is the seat of the doctors; for the temple had not a pointed roof like our houses, but was flat on the top after the manner of the country of Palestine, and in the temple were three stories. It should be known that “the pinnacle” was on the floor, and in each story was one pinnacle. Whether then he placed Him on the pinnacle in the first story, or that in the second, or the third, he placed Him whence a fall was possible.

Gloss. ord.: Observe here that all these things were done with bodily sense, and by careful comparison of the context it seems probable that the Devil appeared in human form.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Perhaps you may say, How could he in the sight of all place Him bodily upon the temple? Perhaps the Devil so took Him as though He were visible to all, while He, without the Devil being aware of it, made Himself invisible.

Gloss, ap. Anselm: He set Him on a pinnacle of the temple when he would tempt Him through ambition, because in this seat of the doctors he had before taken many through the same temptation, and therefore thought that when set in the same seat, He might in like manner be puffed up with vain pride.

Jerome: In the several temptations the single aim of the Devil is to find if He be the Son of God, but he is so answered as at last to depart in doubt; He says, “Cast thyself,” because the voice of the Devil, which is always called men downwards, has power to persuade them, but may not compel them to fall.

Pseudo-Chrys.: How does he expect to discover by this proposition whether He be the Son of God or not? For to fly through the air is not proper to the Divine nature, for it is not useful to any. If then any were to attempt to fly when challenged to it, he would be acting from ostentation, and would belong rather to the Devil than to God. If it is enough to a wise man to be what he is, and he has no wish to seem what he is not, how much more should the Son of God hold it not necessary to shew what He is; He of whom none can know so much as He is in Himself?

Ambrose: But as Satan transfigures himself into an Angel of light, and spreads a snare for the faithful, even from the divine Scriptures, so now he uses its texts, not to instruct [p. 125] but to deceive.

Jerome: This verse we read in the ninetieth Psalm, [Ps 91:11] but that is a prophecy not of Christ, but of some holy man, so the Devil interprets Scripture amiss.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For the Son of God in truth is not borne of Angels, but Himself bears them, or if He be borne in their arms, it is not from weakness, lest He dash His foot against a stone, but for the honour. O thou Devil, thou hast read that the Son of God is borne in Angels’ arms, hast thou not also read that He shall tread upon the asp and basilisk? But the one text he brings forward as proud, the other he omits as crafty.

Chrys.: Observe that Scripture is brought forward by the Lord only with an apt meaning, but by the Devil irreverently; for that where it is written, “He shall give his Angels charge over thee,” is not an exhortation to cast Himself headlong.

Gloss. ap. Anselm: We must explain thus; Scripture says of any good man, that He has given it in charge to His Angels, that is to His ministering spirits, to bear him in their hands, i.e. by their aid to guard him that he dash not his foot against a stone, i.e. keep his heart that it stumble not at the old law written in tables of stone.

Or by the stone may be understood every occasion of sin and error.

Rabanus: It should be noted, that though our Saviour suffered Himself to be placed by the Devil on a pinnacle of the temple, yet refused to come down also at his command, giving us an example, that whosoever bids us ascend the strait way of truth we should obey. But if he would again cast us down from the height of truth and virtue to the depth of error we should not hearken to him.

Jerome: The false Scripture darts of the Devil He brands with the true shield of Scripture.

Hilary: Thus beating down the efforts of the Devil, He professes Himself both God and Lord.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Yet He says not, Thou shalt not tempt me thy Lord God; but, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God;” which every man of God when tempted by the Devil might say; for whoso tempts a man of God, tempts God.

Rabanus: Otherwise, it was a suggestion to Him, as man, that He should seek by requiring some miracle to know the greatness of God’s power.

Aug., contr. Faust., 22, 36: It is a part of sound doctrine, that when man has any other means, he should not tempt the Lord his God.

Theod. non occ.: And it is to tempt [p. 126] God, in any thing to expose one’s self to danger without cause.

Jerome: It should be noted, that the required texts are taken from the book of Deuteronomy only, that He might shew the sacraments of the second Law.


8. Again, the Devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

9. And saith unto Him, “All these things will I give Thee, if Thee wilt fall down and worship me.”

10. Then saith Jesus unto him, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.’ “

11. Then the Devil leaveth Him, and, behold Angels came and ministered unto Him.


Pseudo-Chrys.: The Devil, left in uncertainty by this second reply, passes to a third temptation. Christ had broken the nets of appetite, had passed over those of ambition, he now spreads for Him those of covetousness; “He taketh him up into a very high mountain,” such as in going round about the earth he had noticed rising above the rest. The higher the mountain, the wider the view from it.

He shews Him not so as that they truly saw the very kingdoms, cities, nations, their silver and their gold; but the quarters of the earth where each kingdom and city lay. As suppose from some high ground I were to point out to you, see there lies Rome, there Alexandria; you are not supposed to see the towns themselves, but the quarter in which they lie. Thus the Devil might point out the several quarters with his finger, and recount in words the greatness of each kingdom and its condition; for that is said to be shewn which is in any way presented to the understanding.

Origen, in Luc., Hom. 30: We are not to suppose that when he shewed him the kingdoms of the world, he presented before Him the kingdom of Persia, for instance, or India; but he shewed his own kingdom, how he reigns in the world, that is, how some are governed by fornication, some by avarice.

Remig.: By “their glory,” [p. 127] is meant, their gold and silver, precious stones and temporal goods.

Rabanus: The Devil shews all this to the Lord, not as though he had power to extend his vision or shew Him any thing unknown. But setting forth in speech as excellent and pleasant, that vain worldly pomp wherein himself delighted, he thought by suggestion of it, to create in Christ a love of it.

Gloss. ord.: He saw not, as we see, with the eye of lust, but as a physician looks on disease without receiving any hurt.

Jerome: An arrogant and vain vaunt; for he hath not the power to bestow all kingdoms, since many of the saints have, we know, been make kings of God.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But such things as are gotten by iniquity in this world, as riches, for instance, gained by fraud or perjury, these the Devil bestows. The Devil therefore cannot give riches to whom he will, but to those only who are willing to receive them of him.

Remig.: Wonderful infatuation in the Devil! To promise earthly kingdoms to Him who gives heavenly kingdoms to His faithful people, and the glory of earth to Him who is Lord of the glory of heaven!

Ambrose, in Luc., c. iv, 11: Ambition has its dangers at home; that it may govern, it is first others’ slave; it bows in flattery that it may rule in honour; and while it would be exalted, it is made to stoop.

Gloss. non occ.: See the Devil’s pride as of old. In the beginning he sought to make himself equal with God, now he seeks to usurp the honours due to God, saying, “If thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Who then worships the Devil must first fall down.

Pseudo-Chrys.: With these words He puts an end to the temptations of the Devil, that they should proceed not further.

Jerome: The Devil and Peter are not, as many suppose, condemned to the same sentence. To Peter it is said, “Get thee behind me, Satan;” i.e. follow thou behind Me who art contrary to My will. But here it is, “Go, Satan,” and is not added, ‘behind Me,’ that we may understand “into the fire prepared for thee and thy angels.”

Remig.: Other copies read, “Get thee behind me;” i.e. remember thee in what glory thou wast created, and into what misery thou hast fallen.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Observe how Christ when Himself suffered wrong at the hands of the Devil, being tempted of him, saying, “If thou be the Son of God, cast [p. 128] thyself down,” yet was not moved to chide the Devil. But now when the Devil usurps the honour of God, he is wroth, and drives him away, saying, “Go thy way, Satan;” that we may learn by His example to bear injuries to ourselves with magnanimity, but wrongs to God, to endure not so much as to hear; for to be patient under our own wrongs is praiseworthy, to dissemble when God is wronged is impiety.

Jerome: When the Devil says to the Saviour, “If thou wilt fall down and worship me,” he is answered by the contrary declaration, that it more becomes him to worship Jesus as his Lord and God.

Aug., cont. Serm. Arian, 29: The one Lord our God is the Holy Trinity, to which alone we justly owe the service of piety.

Aug., City of God, book 10, ch. 1: By service is to be understood the honour due to God; as our version renders the Greek words, ‘latria,’ wherever it occurs in Scripture, by ‘service’ (servitus), but that service which is due to men (as where the Apostle bids slaves be subject to their master) is in Greek called ‘dulia;’ while ‘latria,’ always, or so often that we say always, is used of that worship which belongs to God.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The Devil, we may fairly suppose, did not depart in obedience to the command, but the Divine nature of Christ, and the Holy Spirit which was in Him drove him thence, and “then the Devil left him.” Which also serves for our consolation, to see that the Devil does not tempt the men of God so long as he wills, but so long as Christ suffers. And though He may suffer him to tempt for a short time, yet in the end He drives him away because of the weakness of our nature.

Aug., City of God, book 9, ch. 21: After the temptation the Holy Angels, to be dreaded of all unclean spirits, ministered to the Lord, by which it was made yet more manifest to the daemons how great was His power.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He says not ‘Angels descended from heaven,’ that it may be known that they were ever on the earth to minister to Him, but had now by the Lord’s command departed from Him, to give opportunity for the Devil to approach, who perhaps when he saw Him surrounded by Angels would not have come near Him.

But in what matters they ministered to Him, we cannot know, whether in the healing diseases, or purifying souls, or casting out daemons; for all these things He does by the ministration of Angels, so that what they do, Himself [p. 129] appears to do. However it is manifest, that they did not now minister to Him because His weakness needed it, but for the honour of His power; for it is not said that they ‘succoured Him,’ but that they “ministered to Him.”

Gregory, non occ. vid. in Ezek. i. 8. n. 24. in 1 Reg. i. I. n. 1. 2: In these things is shewn the twofold nature in one person; it is the man whom the Devil tempts; the same is God to whom Angels minister.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Now let us shortly review what is signified by Christ’s temptations. The fasting is abstinence from things evil, hunger is the desire of evil, bread is the gratification of the desire. He who indulges himself in any evil thing, turns stones into bread. Let him answer to the Devil’s persuasions that man does not live by the indulgence of desire alone, but by keeping the commands of God. When any is puffed up as though he were holy he is led to the temple, and when he esteems himself to have reached the summit of holiness he is set on a pinnacle of the temple. And this temptation follows the first, because victory over temptation begets conceit.

But observe that Christ had voluntarily undertaken the fasting; but was led to the temple by the Devil; therefore do you voluntarily use praiseworthy abstinence, but suffer yourself not to be exalted to the summit of sanctity; fly high-mindedness, and you will not suffer a fall.

The ascent of the mountain is the going forward to great riches, and the glory of this world which springs from pride of heart. When you desire to become rich, that is, to ascend the mountain, you begin to think of the ways of gaining wealth and honours, then the prince of this world is shewing you the glory of his kingdom.

In the third place He provides you reasons, that if you seek to obtain all these things, you should serve him, and neglect the righteousness of God.

Hilary: When we have overcome the Devil and bruised his head, we see that Angels’ ministry and the offices of heavenly virtues will not be wanting in us.

Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 16: Luke has not given the temptations in the same order as Matthew; so that we do not know whether the pinnacle of the temple, or the ascent of the mountain, was first in the action; but it is of no importance, so long as it is only clear that all of them were truly done.

Gloss. ap. Anselm: Though Luke’s order seems the more historical; Matthew relates the temptations as they were done to Adam.


12. Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee;

13. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:

14. That is might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaeas the prophet, saying,

15. “The land of Zabulon, and the land of Naphthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;

16. The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.


Rabanus: Matthew having related the forty days’ fast, the temptation of Christ, and the ministry of Angels, proceeds, “Jesus having heard that John was cast into prison.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: By God without doubt, for none can effect any thing against a holy man, unless God deliver him up. “He withdrew into Galilee,” that is, out of Judaea; both that He might reserve His passion to the fit time, and that He might set us an example of flying from danger.

Chrys.: It is not blameworthy not to throw one’s self into peril, but when one has fallen into it, not to endure manfully. He departed from Judaea both to soften Jewish animosity, and to fulfil a prophecy, seeking moreover to fish for those masters of the world who dwelt in Galilee.

Note also how when He would depart to the Gentiles, He received good cause from the Jews; His forerunner was thrown into prison, which compelled Jesus to pass into Galilee of the Gentiles.

Gloss. ap. Anselm: He came as Luke writes to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and there entering into the synagogue, He read and spoke many things, for which they sought to throw Him down from the rock, and thence He went to Capernaum; for which Matthew has only, “And leaving the town of Nazareth, He came and dwelt at Capernaum.”

Gloss. ord.: Nazareth is a village in Galilee near Mount Tabor; Capernaum a town in Galilee of the Gentiles near the Lake of Gennesaret; and [p. 131] this is the meaning of the word, “on the sea coast.”

He adds further “in the borders of Zabulon and Naphtali,” where was the first captivity of the Jews by the Assyrians. Thus where the Law was first forgotten, there the Gospel was first preached; and from a place as it were between the two it was spread both to Jews and Gentiles.

Remig.: He left one, viz. Nazareth, that He might enlighten more by His preaching and miracles. Thus leaving an example to all preachers that they should preach at a time and in places where they may do good, to as many as possible. In the prophecy, the words are these - “At that first time the land of Zabulon and the land of Naphtali was lightened, and at the last time was increased the way of the sea beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.” [Isa 9:1]

Jerome, Hieron. in Esai. c. 9. 1: They are said at the first time to be lightened from the burden of sin, because in the country of these two tribes, the Saviour first preached the Gospel; “at the last time” their faith “was increased,” most of the Jews remaining in error.

By the sea here is meant the Lake of Gennesaret, a lake formed by the waters of the Jordan, on its shores are the towns of Capernaum, Tiberias, Bethsaida, and Corozaim, in which district principally Christ preached.

Or, according to the interpretation of those Hebrews who believe in Christ, the two tribes Zabulon and Naphtali were taken captive by the Assyrians, and Galilee was left desert; and the prophet therefore says that it was lightened, because it had before suffered the sins of the people; but afterwards the remaining tribes who dwelt beyond Jordan and in Samaria were led into captivity; and Scripture here means that the region which had been the first to suffer captivity, now was the first to see the light of Christ’s preaching.

The Nazarenes again interpret that this was the first part of the country that, on the coming of Christ, was freed from the errors of the Pharisees, and after by the Gospel of the Apostle Paul, the preaching was increased or multiplied throughout all the countries of the Gentiles.

Gloss. ap. Anselm: But Matthew here so quotes the passage as to make them all nominative cases referring to one verb. The land of Zabulon, and the land of Naphtali, which is the way of the sea, and which is beyond Jordan, viz. the people of Galilee of the Gentiles, the people which walked in darkness. [p. 132]

Gloss. ord.: Note that there are two Galilees; one of the Jews, the other of the Gentiles. This division of Galilee had existed from Solomon’s time, who gave twenty cities in Galilee to Hyram, King of Tyre; this part was afterwards called Galilee of the Gentiles; the remained, of the Jews.

Jerome, Hieron.: Or we must read, “beyond Jordan, of Galilee of the Gentiles;” so, I mean, that the people who either sat, or walked in darkness, have seen light, and that not a faint light, as the light of the Prophets, but a great light, as of Him who in the Gospel speaks thus, “I am the light of the world.”

Between death and the shadow of death I suppose this difference; death is said of such as have gone down to the grave with the works of death; the shadow of such as live in sin, and have not yet departed from this world; these may, if they will, yet turn to repentance.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise, the Gentiles who worshipped idols, and daemons, were they who sat in the region of the shadow of death; the Jews, who did the works of the Law, were in darkness, because the righteousness of God was not yet manifested to them.

Chrys.: But that you may learn that he speaks not of natural day and night, he calls the light, “a great light,” which is in other places called “the true light;” and he adds, “the shadow of death,” to explain what he means by darkness. The words “arose,” and “shined,” shew, that they found it not of their own seeking, but God Himself appeared to them, they did not first run to the light; for men were in the greatest miseries before Christ’s coming; they did not walk but safe in darkness; which was a sign that they hoped for deliverance; for as not knowing what way they should go, shut in by darkness they sat down, having now no power to stand. By darkness he means here, error and ungodliness.

Rabanus, ap. Anselm: In allegory, John and the rest of the Prophets were the voice going before the Word. When prophecy ceased and was fettered, then came the Word, fulfilling what the Prophet had spoken of it, “He departed into Galilee,” i.e. from figure to verity.

Or, into the Church, which is a passing from vice to virtue. Nazareth is interpreted ‘a flower,’ Capernaum, ‘the beautiful village;’ He left therefore the flower of figure, (in which was mystically intended the fruit of the Gospel,) and came [p. 133] into the Church, which was beautiful with Christ’s virtues.

It is “by the sea-coast,” because placed near the waves of this world, it is daily beaten by the storms of persecution.

It is situated between Zabulon and Naphtali, i.e. common to Jews and Gentiles. Zabulon is interpreted, ‘the abode of strength;’ because the Apostles, who were chosen from Judaea, were strong. Nephtali, ‘extension,’ because the Church of the Gentiles was extended through the world.

Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 17: John relates in his Gospel the calling of Peter, Andrew, and Nathanael, and the miracle of Cana, before Jesus’ departure into Galilee; all these things the other Evangelists have omitted, carrying on the thread of their narrative with Jesus’ return into Galilee. We must understand then that some days intervened, during which the things took place concerning the calling of the disciples which John relates.

Remig.: But this should be considered with more care, viz. that John says that the Lord went into Galilee, before John the Baptist was thrown into prison. According to John’s Gospel after the water turned into wine, and his going down to Capernaum, and after his going up to Jerusalem, he returned to Judaea and baptized, and John was not yet cast into prison. But here it is after John’s imprisonment that He retires into Galilee, and with this Mark agrees. But we need not suppose any contradiction here. John speaks of the Lord’s first coming into Galilee, which was before the imprisonment of John. He speaks in another place of His second coming into Galilee [John 4:3], and the other Evangelists mention only this second coming into Galilee which was after John’s imprisonment.

Euseb., H. E. iii. 24: It is related that John preached the Gospel almost up to the close of his life without setting forth any thing in writing, and at length came to write for this reason.

The three first written Gospels having come to his knowledge, he confirmed the truth of their history by his own testimony; but there was yet some things wanting, especially an account of what the Lord had done at the first beginning of His preaching. And it is true that the other three Gospels seem to contain only those things which were done in that year in which John the Baptist was put into prison, or executed. For Matthew, after the [p. 134] temptation, proceeds immediately, “Hearing that John was delivered up;” and Mark in like manner. Luke again, even before relating one of Christ’s actions, tells that “Herod had shut up John in prison.” The Apostle John then was requested to put into writing what the preceding Evangelists had left out before the imprisonment of John; hence he says in his Gospel, “this beginning of miracles did Jesus.”


17. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, “Repent: for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”


Pseudo-Chrys.: Christ’s Gospel should be preached by him who can control his appetites, who contemns the goods of this life, and desires not empty honours. “From this time began Jesus to preach,” that is, after having been tempted, He had overcome hunger in the desert, despised covetousness on the mountain, rejected ambitious desires in the temple.

Or from the time that John was delivered up; for had He begun to preach while John was yet preaching, He would have made John be lightly accounted of, and John’s preaching would have been though superfluous by the side of Christ’s teaching; as when the sun rises at the same time with the morning star, the star’s brightness is hid.

Chrys.: For another cause also He did not preach till John was in prison, that the multitude might not be split into two parties; or as John did no miracle, all men would have been drawn to Christ by His miracles.

Rabanus: In this He further teaches that none should despise the words of a person inferior to Him; as also the Apostle, “If any thing be revealed to him that sits, let the first hold his peace.” [1 Cor 14:30]

Pseudo-Chrys.: He did wisely in making now the beginning of His preaching, that He should not trample upon John’s teaching, but that He might the rather confirm it and demonstrate him to have been a true witness.

Jerome: Shewing also thereby that He was Son of that same God whose prophet John was; and therefore He says, “Repent ye.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: He does not straightway preach righteousness which all knew, but repentance, which all needed. Who then dared to say, ‘I desire to be good, but am not able?” [p. 135]

For repentance corrects the will; and if ye will not repent through fear of evil, at least ye may for the pleasure of good things; hence He says, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand;” that is, the blessings of the heavenly kingdom. As if He has said, Prepare yourselves by repentance, for the time of eternal reward is at hand.

Remig.: And note, He does not say the kingdom of the Canaanite, or the Jebusite, is at hand; the “the kingdom of heaven.” The law promised worldly goods, but the Lord heavenly kingdoms.

Chrys.: Also observe how that in this His first address He says nothing of Himself openly; and that very suitably to the case, for they had yet no right opinion concerning Him. In this commencement moreover He speaks nothing severe, nothing burdensome, as John had concerning the axe laid to the root of the condemned tree, and the lie; but he puts first things merciful, preaching the glad tidings of the kingdom of heaven.

Jerome: Mystically interpreted, Christ begins to preach as soon as John was delivered to prison, because when the Law ceased, the Gospel commenced.


18. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

19. And He saith unto them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

20. And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him.

21. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them.

22. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him.


Pseudo-Chrys.: Before He spoke or did any thing, Christ called Apostles, that neither word nor deed of His should be [p. 136] hid from their knowledge, so that they may afterwards say with confidence, “What we have seen and heard, that we cannot but speak.” [Acts 4:20]

Rabanus: The sea of Galilee, the lake of Gennesaret, the sea of Tiberias, and the salt lake, are one and the same.

Gloss. ord.: He rightly goes on fishing places, when about to fish for fishermen.

Remig.: “Saw,” that is, not so much with the bodily eye, as spiritually viewing their hearts.

Chrys.: He calls them while actually working at their employment, to shew that to follow Him ought to be preferred to all occupations. They were just then “casting a net into the sea,” which agreed with their future office.

Aug., Serm. 197, 2: He chose not kings, senators, philosophers, or orators, but he chose common, poor, and untaught fishermen.

Aug., Tract. in Joann. 8, 7: Had one learned been chosen, he might have attributed the choice to the merit of his learning. But our Lord Jesus Christ, willing to bow the necks of the proud, sought not to gain fishermen by orators, but gained an Emperor by a fisherman. Great was Cyprian the pleader, but Peter the fisherman was before him.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The operations of their secular craft were a prophecy of their future dignity. As he who casts his net into the water knows not what fishes he shall take, so the teacher casts the net of the divine word upon the people, not knowing who among them will come to God. Those whom God shall stir abide in his doctrine.

Remig.: Of these fishermen the Lord speaks by Jeremiah. “I will send my fishers among you, and they shall catch you.” [Jer 16:16]

Gloss. interlin.: “Follow me,” not so much with your feet as in your hearts and your life.

Pseudo-Chrys.: “Fishers of men,” that is, teachers, that with the net of God’s word you may catch men out of this world of storm and danger, in which men do not walk but are rather borne along, the Devil by pleasure drawing them into sin where men devour one another as the stronger fishes do the weaker, withdrawn from hence they may live upon the land, being made members of Christ’s body.

Greg., Hom. in Evan., v. 1: Peter and Andrew had seen Christ work no miracle, had heard from him no word of the promise of the eternal reward, yet at this single bidding of the Lord they forgot all that they had seemed to possess, and “straightway left their nets, and followed Him.” In which deed we ought rather to consider their wills than [p. 137] the amount of their property. He leaves much who keeps nothing for himself, he parts with much, who with his possessions renounces his lusts.

Those who followed Christ gave up enough to be coveted by those who did not follow. Our outward goods, however small, are enough for the Lord; He does not weight the sacrifice by how much is offered, but out of how much it is offered. The kingdom of God is not to be valued at a certain price, but whatever a man has, much or little, is equally available.

Pseudo-Chrys.: These disciples did not follow Christ from desire of the honour of a doctor, but because they coveted the labour itself; they knew how precious is the soul of man, how pleasant to God is his salvation, and how great its reward.

Chrys.: To so great a promise they trusted, and believed that they should catch others by those same words by which themselves had been caught.

Pseudo-Chrys.: These were their desires, for which they “left all and followed;” teaching us thereby that none can possess earthly things and perfectly attain to heavenly things.

Gloss. ap. Anselm: These last disciples were an example to such as leave their property for the love of Christ; now follows an example of others who postponed earthly affection to God. Observe how He calls them two and two, and He afterwards sent them two and two to preach.

Greg., Hom. in Ex., 17, 1: Hereby we are also silently admonished, that he who wants affection towards others, ought not to take on him the office of preaching. The precepts of charity are two, and between less than two there can be no love.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Rightly did He thus build the foundations of the brotherhood of the Church on love, that from such roots a copious sap of love might flow to the branches; and that too on natural or human love, that nature as well as grace might bind their love more firmly. They were moreover “brothers;” and so did God in the Old Testament lay the foundations of His building on Moses and Aaron, brothers.

But as the grace of the New Testament is more abundant than that of the Old, therefore the first people were built upon one pair of brethren, but the new people upon two.

They were “washing their nets,” a proof of the extremest indigence; they repaired the old because they had not whence they should buy new. And [p. 138] what shews their great filial piety, in this their great poverty they deserted not their father, but carried him with them in their vessel, not that he might aid in their labour, but have the enjoyment of his sons’ presence.

Chrys.: It is no small sign of goodness, to bear poverty easily, to live by honest labour, to be bound together by virtue of affection, to keep their poor father with them, and to toil in his service.

Pseudo-Chrys.: We may not dare to consider the former disciples as more quick to preach, because they were “casting their nets;” and these latter as less active, because they were yet making ready only; for it is Christ alone that may know their differences.

But, perhaps we may say that the first were “casting their nets,” because Peter preached the Gospel, but committed it not to paper - the others were making ready their nets, because John composed a Gospel.

He “called them” together, for by their abode they were fellow-townsmen, in affection attached, in profession agreed, and united by brotherly tenderness. He called them then at once, that united by so many common blessings they might not be separated by a separate call.

Chrys.: He made no promise to them when He called them, as He had to the former, for the obedience of the first had made the way plain for them. Besides, they had heard many things concerning Him, as being friends and townsmen of the others.

Pseudo-Chrys.: There are three things which we must leave who would come to Christ; carnal actions, which are signified in the fishing nets; worldly substance, in the ship; parents, which are signified in their father. They left their own vessel, that they might become governors of the vessel of the Church; they left their nets, as having no longer to draw out fishes on to the earthly shore, but men to the heavenly; they left their father, that they might become the spiritual fathers of all.

Hilary: By this that they left their occupation and their father’s house we are taught, that when we would follow Christ we should not be holden of the cares of secular life, or of the society of the paternal mansion.

Remig.: Mystically, by the sea is figured this world, because of its bitterness and its tossing waves. Galilee is interpreted, ‘rolling,’ or ‘a wheel,’ and shews the changeableness of the world. [p. 139] Jesus “walked by the sea” when He came to us by incarnation, for He took on Him of the Virgin not the flesh of sin, but the likeness of the flesh of sin.

By the two brothers, two people are signified born of one God their Father; He “saw” them when He looked on them in His mercy. In Peter, (which is interpreted ‘owning,’) who is called Simon, (i.e. obedient,) is signified the Jewish nation, who acknowledged God in the Law, and obeyed His commandments; Andrew, which is interpreted ‘manly’ or ‘graceful,’ signifies the Gentiles, who after they had come to the knowledge of God, manfully abode in the faith. He called us His people when He sent the preachers into the world, saying, “Follow me;” that is, leave the deceiver, follow your Creator. Of both people there were made fishers of men, that is, preachers. Leaving their ships, that is, carnal desires, and their nets, that is, love of the world, they followed Christ. By James is understood the Jewish nation, which through their knowledge of God overthrew the Devil; by John the Gentile world, which was saved of grace alone. Zebedee whom they leave, (the name is interpreted flying or falling,) signifies the world which passes away, and the Devil who fell from Heaven. By Peter and Andrew casting their net into the sea, are meant those who in their early youth are called by the Lord, while from the vessel of their body they cast the nets of carnal concupiscence into the sea of this world. By James and John mending their nets are signified those who after sin before adversity come to Christ recovering what they had lost.

Rabanus: The two vessels signify the two Churches; the one was called out of the circumcision, the other out of the uncircumcision. Any one who believes becomes Simon, i.e. obedient to God; Peter by acknowledging his sin, Andrew by enduring labours manfully, James by overcoming vices,

Gloss. ap. Anselm: and John that he may ascribe the whole to God’s grace. The calling of four only is mentioned, as those preachers by whom God will call the four quarters of the world.

Hilary: Or, the number that was to be of the Evangelists is figured.

Remig.: Also, the four principal virtues are here designed; Prudence, in Peter, from his [p. 140] confession of God; Justice, we may refer to Andrew for his manful deeds; Fortitude, to James, for his overthrow of the Devil; Temperance, to John, for the working in him of divine grace.

Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 17: It might move enquiry, why John relates that near Jordan, not in Galilee, Andrew followed the Lord with another whose name he does not mention; and again, that Peter received that name from the Lord. Whereas the other three Evangelists write that they were called from their fishing, sufficiently agreeing with one another, especially Matthew and Mark; Luke not naming Andrew, who is however understood to have been in the same vessel with him.

There is a further seeming discrepancy, that in Luke it is to Peter only that it is said, “Henceforth thou shalt catch men;” Matthew and Mark write that is was said to both. As to the different account in John, it should be carefully considered, and it will be found that it is a different time, place, and calling that is there spoken of. For Peter and Andrew had not so seen Jesus at the Jordan that they adhered inseparably ever after, but so as only to have known who He was, and wondering at Him to have gone their way. Perhaps he is returning back to something he had omitted, for he proceeds without marking any difference of time, “As he walked by the sea of Galilee.”

It may be further asked, how Matthew and Mark relate that He called them separately two and two, when Luke relates that James and John being partners of Peter were called as it were to aid him, and bringing their barks to land followed Christ. We may then understand that the narrative of Luke relates to a prior time, after which they returned to their fishing as usual. For it had not been said to Peter that he should no more catch fish, as he did do so again after the resurrection, but that he “should catch men.” Again, at a time after this happened that call of which Matthew and Mark speak; for they draw their ships to land to follow Him, not as careful to return again, but only anxious to follow Him when He bids them.


23. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of [p. 141] the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

24. And His fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and He healed them.

25. And there followed Him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.


Pseudo-Chrys.: Kings, when about to go to war with their enemies, first gather an army, and so go out to battle; thus the Lord when about to war against the Devil, first collected Apostles, and then began to preach the Gospel.

Remig.: An example of life for doctors; that they should not be inactive, they are instructed in these words, “And Jesus went about.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: Because they being weak could not come to their physician, He as a zealous Physician went about to visit those who had any grievous sickness. The Lord went round the several regions, and after His example the pastors of each region ought to go round to study the several dispositions of their people, that for the remedy of each disease some medicine may be found in the Church.

Remig.: That they should not be acceptors of persons the preachers are instructed in what follows, “the whole of Galilee.” That they should not go about empty, by the word, “teaching.” That they should seek to benefit not few but many, in what follows, “in their synagogues.”

Chrys.: [ed. note: A passage is here inserted in Nicolai’s edition which is not in the original. It is of no doctrinal importance.] By which too He shewed the Jews that He came not as an enemy of God, or a seducer of souls, but as consenting with his Father.

Remig.: That they should not preach error nor fable, but sound doctrine, is inculcated in the words, “preaching the Gospel of the kingdom.” ‘Teaching’ and ‘preaching’ [p. 142] differ; teaching refers to things present, preaching to things to come; He taught present commandments and preached future promises.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, He taught natural righteousness, those things which natural reason teaches, as chastity, humility, and the like, which all men of themselves see to be goods. Such things are necessary to be taught not so much for the sake of making them known as for stirring the heart.

For beneath the prevalence of carnal delights the knowledge of natural righteousness sleeps forgotten. When then a teacher begins to denounce carnal sins, his teaching does not bring up a new knowledge, but recalls to memory one that had been forgotten. But He preached the Gospel, in telling of good things which the ancients had manifestly not heard of, as the happiness of heaven, the resurrection of the dead, and the like.

Or, He taught by interpreting the prophecies concerning Himself; He preached by declaring the benefits that were to come from Himself.

Remig.: That the teacher should study to commend his teaching by his own virtuous conduct is conveyed in those words, “healing every sort of disease and malady among the people;” maladies of the body, diseases of the soul.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, by disease we may understand any passion of the mind, as avarice, lust, and such like, by malady unbelief, that is, weakness of faith.

Or, the diseases are the more grievous pains of the body, the maladies the slighter. As He cured the bodily pains by virtue of His divine power, so He cured the spiritual by the word of His mercy.

He first teaches, and then performs the cures, for two reasons. First, that what is needed most may come first; for it is the word of holy instruction, and not miracles, that edify the soul. Secondly, because teaching is commended by miracles, not the converse.

Chrys.: We must consider that when some great change is being wrought, as the introduction of a new polity, God is wont to work miracles, giving pledges of His power to those who are to receive His laws.

Thus when He would make man, He first created a world, and then at length gave man in paradise a law. When He would dispense a law to the holy Noah, he shewed truly great wonders; and again when He was about to ordain the Law for the Jews, He first shewed great prodigies, and then at [p. 143] length gave them the commandments. So now when about to introduce a sublime discipline of life, He first provided a sanction to His instructions by mighty signs, because the eternal kingdom He preached was not seen, by the things which did appear, He made sure that which as yet did not appear.

Gloss. ap. Anselm: Because preachers should have good testimony from those who are without, lest if their life is open to censure, their preaching be contemned, he adds, “And the fame of him went abroad through all Syria.”

Rabanus: Syria here is all the region from Euphrates to the Great sea, from Cappodocia to Egypt, in which is the country of Palestine, inhabited by Jews.

Chrys.: Observe the reserve of the Evangelist; he does not give an account of any one of the various cases of healing, but passes in one brief phrase an abundance of miracles, “they brought to him all their sick.”

Remig.: By these he would have us understand various but slighter diseases; but when he says, “seized with divers sicknesses and torments,” he would have those understood, of whom it is subjoined, “and who had daemons.”

Gloss: ‘Sickness’ means a lasting ailment; ‘torment’ is an acute pain, as pleurisy, and such like; they “who had daemons” are they who were tormented by the daemons.

Remig.: ‘Lunatics’ are so called from the moon; for as it waxes in its monthly seasons they are tormented.

Jerome: Not really smitten by the moon, but who were believed to be so through the subtlety of the daemons, who by observing the seasons of the moon, sought to bring an evil report against the creature, that is might redound to the blasphemy of the Creator.

Aug., City of God, book 21, ch. 6: Daemons are enticed to take up their abode in many creatures, (created not by themselves but God,) by delights adapted to their various natures; not that they are animals, drawn by meats; but spirits attracted by signs which agree with each one’s taste.

Rabanus: Paralytics are those whose bodies have their nerves slackened or resolved from a Greek word, signifying this.

Pseudo-Chrys.: In some places it is, “He cured many;” but here, “He cured them,” meaning, ‘all;’ as a new physician first entering a town cures all who come to him to beget a good opinion concerning himself.

Chrys.: He requires no direct profession of faith from them, both because He had not yet given them any proofs of His miraculous [p. 144] power, and because in bringing their sick from far they had shewn no small faith.

Rabanus: The crowds that followed Him consisted of four sorts of men. Some followed for the heavenly teaching as disciples, some for the curing of their diseases, some from the reports concerning Him alone, and curiosity to find whether they were true; others from envy, wishing to catch Him in some matter that they might accuse Him.

Mystically, Syria is interpreted ‘lofty,’ Galilee, ‘turning:’ or ‘a wheel;’ that is, the Devil and the world; the Devil is both proud and always turned round to the bottom; the world in which the fame of Christ went abroad through preaching: the daemoniacs are the idolaters; the lunatics, the unstable; the paralytics, the slow and careless.

Gloss. ap. Anselm: The crowds that follow the Lord, are they of the Church, which is spiritually designated by Galilee, passing to virtuousness; Decapolis is he who keeps the Ten Commandments; Jerusalem and Judaea, he who is enlightened by the vision of peace and confession; and beyond Jordan, he who having passed the waters of Baptism enters the land of promise.

Remig.: Or, they follow the Lord “from Galilee,” that is, from the unstable world; from Decapolis, (the country of ten towns,) signifying those who break the Ten Commandments; “and from Jerusalem,” because before it was preserved unhurt in peace; “and from Jordan,” that is, from the confession of the Devil; “and from beyond Jordan,” they who were first planted in paganism, but passing the water of Baptism came to Christ.

 

Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 5

[p. 145]

1. And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him.

2. And He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying,

3. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their is the kingdom of heaven.”


Pseudo-Chrys.: Every man in his own trade or profession rejoices when he sees an opportunity of exercising it; the carpenter if he sees a goodly tree desires to have it to cut down to employ his skill on, and the Priest when he sees a full Church, his heart rejoices, he is glad of the occasion to teach. So the Lord seeing a great congregation of people was stirred to teach them.

Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 19: Or He may be thought to have sought to shun the thickest crowd, and to have ascended the mountain that He might speak to His disciples alone.

Chrys., Hom. 4: By not choosing His seat in the city, and the market place, but on a mountain in a desert, He has taught us to do nothing with ostentation, and to depart from crowds, above all when we are to be employed in philosophy, or in speaking of serious things.

Remig.: This should be known, that the Lord had three places of retirement that we read of, the ship, the mountain, and the desert; to one of these He was wont to withdraw whenever He was pressed by the multitude.

Jerome: Some of the less learned brethren suppose the Lord to have spoken what follows from the Mount of Olives, which is by no means the case; what went before and what follows fixes the place in Galilee - Mount Tabor, [ed. note: Mount Tabor is asserted by the Fathers and by tradition coming down to the present day to be the scene of the Transfiguration. But S. Jerome seems to be the only author who speaks of it as the scene of the Sermon on the Mount. The mount of the Beatitudes according to modern travellers lies near to Capernaum, and ten miles north of Mount Tabor. See Grewell Diss. vol. ii. 294. Pococke’s Descrip. of the East, vol. ii. 67] [p. 146] we may suppose, or any other high mountain.

Chrys.: “He ascended a mountain,” first, that He might fulfil the prophecy of Esaias, “Get thee up into a mountain;” [Isa 40:9] secondly, to shew that as well he who teaches, as he who hears the righteousness of God should stand on a high ground of spiritual virtues; for none can abide in the valley and speak from a mountain. If thou stand on the earth, speak of the earth; if thou speak of heaven, stand in heaven.

Or, He ascended into the mountain to shew that all who would learn the mysteries of the truth should go up into the Mount of the Church of which the Prophet speaks, “The hill of God is a hill of fatness.” [Ps 68:15]

Hilary: Or, He ascends the mountain, because it is placed in the loftiness of His Father’s Majesty that He gives the commands of heavenly life.

Aug., de Serm. Dom. in Mont. i. 1: Or, He ascends the mountain to shew that the precepts of righteousness given by God through the Prophets to the Jews, who were yet under the bondage of fear, were the lesser commandments; but that by His own Son were given the greater commandments to a people which He had determined to deliver by love.

Jerome: He spoke to them sitting and not standing, for they could not have understood Him had He appeared in His own Majesty.

Aug.: Or, to teach sitting is the prerogative of the Master. “His disciples came to him,” that they who is spirit approached more nearly to keeping His commandments, should also approach Him nearest with their bodily presence.

Rabanus: Mystically, this sitting down of Christ is His incarnation; had He not taken flesh on Him, mankind could not have come unto Him.

Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 19: It cause a thought how it is that Matthew relates this sermon to have been delivered by the Lord sitting on the mountain; Luke, as He stood in the plain. This diversity in their accounts would lead us to think that the occasions were different. Why should not Christ repeat once more what He said before, or do once more what He had done before? Although another method of reconciling the two may occur to us; namely, that our Lord was first with His disciples alone on some more lofty peak of the mountain when He chose the twelve; that He then descended with them not from the mountain entirely, but from the top to some expanse of level ground in the side, capable of holding [p. 147] a great number of people; that He stood there while the crowd was gathering around Him, and after when He had sat down, then His disciples came near to Him, and so to them and in the presence of the rest of the multitude He spoke the same sermon which Matthew and Luke give, in a different manner, but with equal truth of facts.

Greg., Moral., iv, 1: When the Lord on the mountain is about to utter His sublime precepts, it is said, “Opening his mouth he taught them,” He who had before opened the mouth of the Prophets.

Remig.: Wherever it is said that the Lord opened His mouth, we may know how great things are to follow.

Aug., de Serm. in Mount. i, 1: Or, the phrase is introductory of an address longer than ordinary.

Chrys.: Or, that we may understand that He sometimes teaches by opening His mouth in speech, sometimes by that voice which resounds from His works.

Aug.: Whoever will take the trouble to examine with a pious and sober spirit, will find in this sermon a perfect code of the Christian life as far as relates to the conduct of daily life. Accordingly the Lord concludes it with the words, “Every man who heareth these words of mine and doeth them, I will liken him to a wise man, &c.”

Aug., City of God, book 19, ch. 1: The chief good is the only motive of philosophical enquiry; but whatever confers blessedness, that is the chief good; therefore He begins, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

Aug., de Serm. in Mont., i, 1: Augmentation of ‘spirit’ generally implies insolence and pride. For in common speech the proud are said to have a great spirit, and rightly - for wind is a spirit, and who does not know that we say of proud men that they are ‘swollen,’ ‘puffed up.’ Here therefore by “poor in spirit” are rightly understood ‘lowly,’ ‘fearing God,’ not having a puffed up spirit.

Chrys.: Or, He here calls all loftiness of soul and temper spirit; for as there are many humble against their will, constrained by their outward condition, they have no praise; the blessing is on those who humble themselves by their own choice. Thus He begins at once at the root, pulling up pride which is the root and source of all evil, setting up as its opposite humility as a firm foundation. If this be well laid, other virtues may be firmly built thereon; if that be sapped, whatever good you gather upon it perishes. [p. 148]

Pseudo-Chrys.: “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” [ed. note, a: The Bened. ed. reads ‘beati egeni’ - and has this marginal note, ‘Hinc sequitur hune Graece non scripsisse’ - but S. Thos. reads ‘beati πτωχοι ptochi;’ it may be remarked moreover that the author follows the order of verses 4 and 5 according to the Greek; all the Latin Fathers (with the single exception of Hilary on Ps. 118) following the order of the Vulgate.] or, according to the literal rendering of the Greek, ‘they who beg,’ that the humble may learn that they should be ever begging at God’s almshouse. For there are many naturally humble and not of faith, who do not knock at God’s almshouse; but they alone are humble who are so of faith.

Chrys.: Or, the poor in spirit may be those who fear and tremble at God’s commandments, whom the Lord by the Prophet Isaiah commends. Though why more than simply humble? Of the humble there may be in this place but few, in that again an abundance.

Aug.: The proud seek an earthly kingdom, of the humble only is the kingdom of Heaven.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For as all other vices, but chiefly pride, casts down to hell; so all other virtues, but chiefly humility, conduct to Heaven; it is proper that he that humbles himself should be exalted.

Jerome: The “poor in spirit” are those who embrace a voluntary poverty for the sake of the Holy Spirit.

Ambrose, de Officiis, i, 16: In the eye of Heaven blessedness begins there where misery begins in human estimation.

Gloss. interlin.: The riches of Heaven are suitably promised to those who at this present are in poverty.


5. “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”


[ed. note, b: Verses 4 and 5 are transposed in the Vulgate.]

Ambrose, in Luc. c. v. 20: When I have learned contentment in poverty, the next lesson is to govern my heart and temper. For what good is it to me to be without worldly things, unless I have besides a meek spirit? It suitably follows therefore, “Blessed are the meek.”

Aug., Serm. in Mont. i, 2: The meek are they who resist not wrongs, and give way to evil; but overcome evil of good.

Ambrose: Soften therefore your temper that you be not angry, at least that you “be angry, and sin not.” It is a noble thing to govern passion by reason; [p. 149] nor is it a less virtue to check anger, than to be entirely without anger, since one is esteemed the sign of a weak, the other of a strong, mind.

Aug.: Let the unyielding then wrangle and quarrel about earthly and temporal things, “the meek are blessed, for they shall inherit the earth,” and not be rooted out of it; that earth of which it is said in the Psalms, “Thy lot is in the hand of the living,” [Ps 142:5] meaning the fixedness of a perpetual inheritance, in which the soul that hath good dispositions rests as in its own place, as the body does in an earthly possession, it is fed by its own food, as the body by the earth; such is the rest and the life of the saints.

Pseudo-Chrys.: This earth as some interpret, so long as it is in its present condition is the land of the dead, seeing it is “subject to vanity;” but when it is freed from corruption it becomes the land of the living, that the mortal may inherit an immortal country.

I have read another exposition of it, as if the heaven in which the saints are to dwell is meant by “the land of the living,” because compared with the regions of death it is heaven, compared with the heaven above it is earth. Others again say, that this body as long as it is subject to death is the land of the dead, when it shall be made like unto Christ’s glorious body, it will be the land of the living.

Hilary: Or, the Lord promises the inheritance of the earth to the meek, meaning of that Body, which Himself took on Him as His tabernacle; and as by the gentleness of our minds Christ dwells in us, we also shall be clothed with the glory of His renewed body.

Chrys.: Otherwise; Christ here has mixed things sensible with things spiritual. Because it is commonly supposed that he who is meek loses all that he possesses, Christ here gives a contrary promise, that he who is not forward shall possess his own in security, but that he of a contrary disposition many times loses his soul and his paternal inheritance. But because the Prophet had said, “The meek shall inherit the earth,” [Ps 36:11] He used these well known words in conveying His meaning.

Gloss. ord.: The meek, who have possessed themselves, shall possess hereafter the inheritance of the Father; to possess is more than to have, for we have many things which we lose immediately.


4. “Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.”


Ambrose: When you have done thus much, attained both poverty and meekness, remember that you are a sinner, mourn your sins, as He proceeds, “Blessed are they that mourn.” And it is suitable that the third blessing should be of those that mourn for sin, for it is the Trinity that forgives sin.

Hilary: Those that mourn, that is, not loss of kindred, affronts, or losses, but who weep for past sins.

Pseudo-Chrys.: And they who weep for their own sins are blessed, but much more so who weep for others’ sins; so should all teachers do.

Jerome: For the mourning here meant is not for the dead by common course of nature, but for the dead in sins, and vices. Thus Samuel mourned for Saul, thus the Apostle Paul mourned for those who had not performed penance after uncleanness.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The “comfort” of mourners is the ceasing of their mourning; they then who mourn their own sins shall be consoled when they have received remittance thereof.

Chrys.: And though it were enough for such to receive pardon, yet He rests not His mercy only there, but makes them partakers of many comforts both here and hereafter. God’s mercies are always greater than our troubles.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But they also who mourn for others’ sin shall be comforted, inasmuch as they shall own God’s providence in that worldly generation, understanding that they who had perished were not of God, out of whose hand none can snatch. For these leaving to mourn, they shall be comforted in their own blessedness.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 2: Otherwise; mourning is sorrow for the loss of what is dear; but those that are turned to God lose the things that they held dear in this world; and as they have now no longer any joy in such things as before they had joy in, their sorrow may not be healed till there is formed within them a love of eternal things. They shall then be comforted by the Holy Spirit, who is therefore chiefly called, The Paraclete, that is, “Comforter;’ so that for the loss of their temporal joys, they shall gain eternal joys.

Gloss. ap. Anselm: Or, by mourning, two kinds of sorrow are intended; one for the miseries of this world, one for lack of heavenly things; so Caleb’s [p. 151] daughter asked both “the upper and the lower springs.” This kind of mourning none have but the poor and the meek, who as not loving the world acknowledge themselves miserable, and therefore desire heaven.

Suitably, therefore, consolation is promised to them that mourn, that he who has sorrow at this present may have joy hereafter. But the reward of the mourner is greater than that of the poor or the meek, for “to rejoice” in the kingdom is more than to have it, or to possess it; for many things we possess in sorrow.

Chrys.: We may remark that this blessing is given not simply, but with great force and emphasis; it is not simply, ‘who have grief,’ but “who mourn.” And indeed this command is the sum of all philosophy. For if they who mourn for the death of children or kinsfolk, throughout all that season of their sorrow, are touched with no other desires, as of money, or honour, burn not with envy, feel not wrongs, nor are open to any other vicious passion, but are solely given up to their grief; much more ought they, who mourn their own sins in such manner as they ought to mourn for them, to shew this higher philosophy.


6. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”


Ambrose: As soon as I have wept for my sins, I begin to hunger and thirst after righteousness. He who is afficted with any sort disease, hath ho hunger.

Jerome: It is not enough that we desire righteousness, unless we also suffer hunger for it, by which expression we may understand that we are never righteous enough, but always hunger after works of righteousness.

Pseudo-Chrys.: All good which men do not from love of the good itself is unpleasing before God. He hungers after righteousness who desires to walk according to the righteousness of God; he thirsts after righteousness who desires to get the knowledge thereof.

Chrys.: He may mean either general righteousness, or that particular virtue which is the opposite of covetousness. As He was going on to speak of mercy, He shews before hand of what kind our mercy should be, that it should not be of the gains of plunder or covetousness, hence He ascribes to righteousness that [p. 152] which is peculiar to avarice, namely, to hunger and thirst.

Hilary: The blessedness which He appropriates to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shews that the deep longing of the saints for the doctrine of God shall receive perfect replenishment in heaven; then “they shall be filled.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: Such is the bounty of a rewarding God, that His gifts are greater than the desires of the saints.

Aug.: Or He speaks of food with which they shall be filled at this present; to wit, that food of which the Lord spake, “My food is to do the will of my Father,” that is, righteousness, and that water of which whoever drinks it shall be in him “a well of water springing up to life eternal.”

Chrys.: Or, this is again a promise of a temporal reward; for as covetousness is thought to make many rich, He affirms on the contrary that righteousness rather makes rich, for He who loves righteousness possesses all things in safety.


7. “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”


Gloss.: Justice and mercy are so united, that the one ought to be mingled with the other; justice without mercy is cruelty; mercy without justice, profusion - hence He goes on to the one from the other.

Remig.: The merciful is he who has a sad heart; he counts others’ misery his own, and is sad at their grief as at his own.

Jerome: Mercy here is not said only of alms, but is in every sin of a brother, if we bear one another’s burdens.

Aug.: He pronounces those blessed who succour the wretched, because they are rewarded in being themselves delivered from all misery; as it follows, “for they shall obtain mercy.”

Hilary: So greatly is God pleased with our feelings of benevolence towards all men, that He will bestow His own mercy only on the merciful.

Chrys.: The reward here seems at first to be only an equal return; but indeed it is much more; for human mercy and divine mercy are not to be put on an equality.

Gloss. ap. Anselm: Justly is mercy dealt out to the merciful, that they should receive more than they had deserved; and as he who has more than enough receives more than he who has [p. 153] only enough, so the glory of mercy is greater than of the things hitherto mentioned.


8. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”


Ambrose, in Luc., vi, 22: The merciful loses the benefit of his mercy, unless he shews it from a pure heart; for if he seeks to have whereof to boast, he loses the fruit of his deeds; the next that follows therefore is, “Blessed are the pure of heart.”

Gloss. ap. Anselm: Purity of heart comes properly in the sixth place, because on the sixth day man was created in the image of God, which image was shrouded by sin, but is formed anew in pure hearts by grace. It follows rightly the beforementioned graces, because if they be not there, a clean heart is not created in a man.

Chrys.: By the pure are here meant those who possess a perfect goodness, conscious to themselves of no evil thoughts, or again those who live in such temperance as is mostly necessary to seeing God according to that of St. Paul, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see God.” For as there are many merciful, yet unchaste, to shew that mercy alone is not enough, he adds this concerning purity.

Jerome: The pure is known by purity of heart, for the temple of God cannot be impure.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He who in thought and deed fulfils all righteousness, “sees God” in his heart, for righteousness is an image of God, for God is righteousness. So far as any one has rescued himself from evil, and works things that are good, so far does he “see God,” either hardly, or fully, or sometimes, or always, according to the capabilities of human nature. But in that world to come the pure in heart shall see God face to face, not in a glass, and in enigma as here.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 2: They are foolish who seek to see God with the bodily eye, seeing He is seen only by the heart, as it is elsewhere written, “In singleness of heart seek ye Him;” the single heart is the same as is here called the pure heart.

Aug., City of God, book 22, ch. 29: But if spiritual eyes in the spiritual body shall be able only to see so much as they we now have can see, undoubtedly God will not be able to be seen of them.

Aug., de Trin., i, 8: This seeing God is the reward of faith; to which end our [p. 154] hearts are made pure by faith, as it is written, “cleansing their hearts by faith;” [Acts 15:9] but the present verse proves this still more strongly.

Aug., de Genesi ad Literam. xii. 26: No one seeing God can be alive with the life men have on earth, or with these our bodily senses. Unless one die altogether out of this life, either by totally departing from the body, or so alienated from carnal lusts that he may truly say with the Apostle, “whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell,” he is not translated that he should see this vision.

Gloss. non occ.: The reward of these is greater than the reward of the first; being not merely to dine in the King’s court, but further to see His face.


9. “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”


Ambrose: When you have made your inward parts clean from every spot of sin, that dissentions and contentions may not proceed from your temper, begin peace within yourself, that so you may extend it to others.

Aug., City of God, book 19, ch. 13: Peace is the fixedness of order; by order, I mean an arrangement of things like and unlike giving to each its own place. And as there is no man who would not willingly have joy, so is there no man who would not have peace; since even those who go to war desire nothing more than by war to come to a glorious peace.

Jerome: The peacemakers [margin note: pacifici] are pronounced blessed, they namely who make peace first within their own hearts, then between brethren at variance. For what avails it to make peace between others, while in your own heart are wars of rebellious vices.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 2: The peacemakers within themselves are they who having stilled all disturbances of their spirits, having subjected them to reason, have overcome their carnal desires, and become the kingdom of God. There all things are so disposed, that that which is most chief and excellent in man, governs those parts which we have in common with the brutes, though they struggle against it; nay even that in man which is excellent is subjected to a yet greater, namely, the very Truth, the Son of God. For it would not be able to govern what is inferior to it, if it were not subject to what is above [p. 155] it. And this is the peace which is given on earth to men of good will.

Aug., Retract., i, 19: No man can attain in this life that there be not in his members a law resisting the law of his mind. But the peacemakers attain thus far by overcoming the lusts of the flesh, that in time they come to a most perfect peace.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The peacemakers with others are not only those who reconcile enemies, but those who unmindful of wrongs cultivate peace. That peace only is blessed which is lodged in the heart, and does not consist only in words. And they who love peace, they are the sons of peace.

Hilary: The blessedness of the peacemakers is the reward of adoption, “they shall be called the sons of God.” For God is our common parent, and no other way can we pass into His family than by living in brotherly love together.

Chrys.: Or, if the peacemakers are they who do not contend one with another, but reconcile those that are at strife, they are rightly called the sons of God, seeing this was the chief employment of the Only-begotten Son, to reconcile things separated, to give peace to things at war.

Aug.: Or, because peace is then perfect when there is no where any opposition, the peacemakers are called the sons of God, because nothing resists God, and the children ought to bear the likeness of their Father.

Gloss. ap. Anselm: The peacemakers have thus the place of highest honour, inasmuch as he who is called the king’s son, is the highest in the king’s house. This beatitude is placed the seventh in order, because in the sabbath shall be given the repose of true peace, the six ages being passed away.


10. “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”


Chrys.: “Blessed are they who suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake,” that is for virtue, for defending others, for piety, for all these things are spoken of under the title of righteousness. This follows the beatitude upon the peacemakers, that we may not be led to suppose that it is good to seek peace at all times.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 2: When peace is once firmly established within, [p. 156] whatever persecutions he who has been cast without raises, or carries on, he increases that glory which is in the sight of God.

Jerome: “For righteousness’ sake” He adds expressly, for many suffer persecution for their sins, and are not therefore righteous. Likewise consider how the eighth beatitude of the true circumcision is terminated by martyrdom. [margin note: vid. Phil. 3:2-3]

Pseudo-Chrys.: He said not, Blessed are they who suffer persecution of the Gentiles; that we may not suppose the blessing pronounced on those only who are persecuted for refusing to sacrifice to idols; yea, whoever suffers persecution of heretics because he will not forsake the truth is likewise blessed, seeing he suffers for righteousness.

Moreover, if any of the great ones, who seem to be Christians, being corrected by you on account of his sins, shall persecute you, you are blessed with John the Baptist. For if the Prophets are truly martyrs when they are killed by their own countrymen, without doubt he who suffers in the cause of God has the reward of martyrdom though he suffers from his own people.

Scripture therefore does not mention the persons of the persecutors, but only the cause of persecution, that you may learn to look, not by whom, but why you suffer.

Hilary: Thus, lastly, He includes those in the beatitude whose will is ready to suffer all things for Christ, who is our righteousness. For these then also is the kingdom preserved, for they are in the contempt of this world poor in spirit.

Aug.: Or, the eighth beatitude, as it were, returns to the commencement, because it shews the perfect complete character. In the first then and the eighth, the kingdom of heaven is named, for the seven go to make the perfect man, the eighth manifests and proves his perfectness, that all may be conducted to perfection by these steps.

Ambrose, in Luc., vi. 23: Otherwise; the first kingdom of heaven was promised to the Saints, in deliverance from the body; the second, that after the resurrection they should be with Christ. For after your resurrection you shall begin to possess the earth delivered from death, and in that possession shall find comfort.

Pleasure follows comfort, and Divine mercy pleasure. But on whom God has mercy, him He calls, and he whom He calls, beholds Him that called him. He who beholds God is adopted into the rights of divine birth, and then at length [p. 157] as the son of God is delighted with the riches of the heavenly kingdom. The first then begins, the last is perfected.

Chrys.: Wonder not if you do not hear ‘the kingdom’ mentioned under each beatitude; for in saying “shall be comforted, shall find mercy,” and the rest, in all these the kingdom of heaven is tacitly understood, so that you must not look for any of the things of sense. For indeed he would not be blessed who was to be crowned with those things which depart with this life.

Aug.: The number of these sentences should be carefully attended to; to these seven degrees of blessedness agree the operation of that seven-form Holy Spirit which Isaiah described. But as He began from the highest, so here He begins from the lowest; for there we are taught that the Son of God will descend to the lowest; here that man will ascend from the lowest to the likeness of God.

Here the first place is given to fear, which is suitable for the humble, of whom it is said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” that is, those who think not high things, but who fear.

The second is piety, which belongs to the meek; for he who seeks piously, reverences, does not find fault, does not resist; and this is to become meek.

The third is knowledge, which belongs to those that mourn, who have learned to what evils they are enslaved which they once pursued as goods.

The fourth, which is fortitude, rightly belongs to those who hunger and thirst, who seeking joy in true goods, labour to turn away from earthly lusts.

The fifth, counsel, is appropriate for the merciful, for there is one remedy to deliver from so great evils, viz. to give and to distribute to others.

The sixth is understanding, and belongs to the pure in heart, who with purged eye can see what eye seeth not.

The seventh is wisdom, and may be assigned to the peacemakers, in whom is no rebellious motion, but they obey the Spirit.

Thus the one reward, the kingdom of heaven, is put forth under various names. In the first, as was right, is placed the kingdom of heaven, which is the beginning of perfect wisdom; as if it should be said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” To the meek, an inheritance, as to those who with piety seek the execution of a father’s will. To those that mourn, comfort, as to persons who know what they had lost, and in what they were immersed. To the hungry, [p. 158] plenty, as a refreshment to those who labour for salvation. To the merciful, mercy, that to those who have followed the best counsel, that may be shewed which they have shewed to others. To the pure in heart the faculty of seeing God, as to men bearing a pure eye to understand the things of eternity. To the peacemakers, the likeness of God. And all these things we believe may be attained in this life, as we believe they were fulfilled in the Apostles; for as to the things after this life they cannot be expressed in any words.


11. “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake.

12. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”


Rabanus: The preceding blessings were general; He now begins to address His discourse to them that were present, foretelling them the persecutions which they should suffer for His name.

Aug.: It may be asked, what difference there is between ‘they shall revile you,’ and ‘shall speak all manner of evil of you;’ to revile, it may be said, being but to speak evil of. But a reproach thrown with insult in the face of one present is a different thing from a slander cast on the character of the absent. To persecute includes both open violence and secret snares.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But if it be true that he who offers a cup of water does not lose his reward, consequently he who has been wronged but by a single word of calumny, shall not be without a reward. But that the reviled may have a claim to this blessing, two things are necessary, it must be false, and it must be for God’s sake; otherwise he has not the reward of this blessing; therefore He adds, “falsely for my sake.”

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 5: This I suppose was added because of those who wish to boast of persecutions and evil reports of their shame, and therefore claim to belong to Christ because many evil things are said of them; but either these [p. 159] are true, or when false yet they are not for Christ’s sake.

Greg., Hom. in Ezech. i. 9, 17: What hurt can you receive when men detract from you, though you have no defence but only your own conscience? But as we ought not to stir up wilfully the tongues of slanderers, lest they perish for their slander, yet when their own malice has instigated them, we should endure it with equanimity, that our merit may be added to.

“Rejoice,” He says, “and exult, for your reward is abundant in heaven.”

Gloss. ap. Anselm: Rejoice, that is, in mind, exult with the body, for your reward is not great only but “abundant in heaven.”

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 5: Do not suppose that by heaven here is meant the upper regions of the sky of this visible world, for your reward is not to be placed in things that are seen, but by “in heaven” understand the spiritual firmament, where everlasting righteousness dwells. Those then whose joy is in things spiritual will even here have some foretaste of that reward; but it will be made perfect in every part when this mortal shall have put on immortality.

Jerome: This it is in the power of any one of us to attain, that when our good character is injured by calumny, we rejoice in the Lord. He only who seeks after empty glory cannot attain this. Let us then rejoice and exult, that our reward may be prepared for us in heaven.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For by how much any is pleased with the praise of men, by so much is he grieved with their evil speaking. But if you seek your glory in heaven, you will not fear any slanders on earth.

Gregory, Hom. in Ezech., i, 9, 17: Yet ought we sometimes to check our defamers, lest by spreading evil reports of us, they corrupt the innocent hearts of those who might hear good from us.

Gloss. non occ.: He invites them to patience not only by the prospect of reward, but by example, when He adds, “for so persecuted they the Prophets who were before you.”

Remig.: For a man in sorrow receives great comfort from the recollection of the sufferings of others, who are set before him as an example of patience; as if He had said, Remember that ye are His Apostles, of whom also they were Prophets.

Chrys.: At the same time He signifies His equality in honour with His Father, as if He had said, As they suffered for my Father, so shall ye suffer for me. And in saying, “The Prophets who were before you,” He teaches that they themselves are already become Prophets. [p. 160]

Aug.: “Persecuted” He says generally, comprehending both reproaches and defamation of character.


13. “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”


Chrys.: When He had delivered to His Apostles such sublime precepts, so much greater than the precepts of the Law, that they might not be dismayed and say, How shall we be able to fulfil these things? He sooths their fears by mingling praises with His instructions, saying, “Ye are the salt of the earth.” This shews them how necessary were these precepts for them. Not for your own salvation merely, or for a single nation, but for the whole world is this doctrine committed to you. It is not for you then to flatter and deal smoothly with men, but, on the contrary, to be rough and biting as salt is. When for thus offending men by reproving them ye are reviled, rejoice; for this is the proper effect of salt to be harsh and grating to the depraved palate. Thus the evil-speaking of others will bring you no inconvenience, but will rather be a testimony of your firmness.

Hilary: There may be here seen a propriety in our Lord’s language which may be gathered by considering the Apostle’s office, and the nature of salt. This, used as it is by men for almost every purpose, preserves from decay those bodies which are sprinkled with it; and in this, as well as in every sense of its flavour as a condiment, the parallel is most exact.

The Apostles are preachers of heavenly things, and thus, as it were, salters with eternity; rightly called “the salt of the earth,” as by the virtue of their teaching, they, as it were, salt and preserve bodies for eternity.

Remig.: Moreover, salt is changed into another kind of substance by three means, water, the heat of the sun, and the breath of the wind. Thus Apostolic men also were changed into spiritual regeneration by the water of baptism, the heat of love, and the breath of the Holy Spirit. That heavenly wisdom also, which the Apostles preached, dries [p. 161] up the humours of carnal works, removes the foulness and putrefaction of evil conversation, kills the work of lustful thoughts, and also that worm of which it is said “their worm dieth not.” [Isa 66:24]

Remig.: The Apostles are “the salt of the earth,” that is, of worldly men who are called the earth, because they love this earth.

Jerome: Or, because by the Apostles the whole human race is seasoned.

Pseudo-Chrys.: A doctor when he is adorned with all the preceding virtues, then is like good salt, and his whole people are salted by seeing and hearing him.

Remig.: It should be known, that in the Old Testament no sacrifice was offered to God unless it were first sprinkled with salt, for none can present an acceptable sacrifice to God without the flavour of heavenly wisdom.

Hilary: And because man is ever liable to change, He therefore warns the Apostles, who have been entitled “the salt of the earth,” to continue steadfast in the might of the power committed to them, when He adds, “If the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?”

Jerome: That is, if the doctor have erred, by what other doctor shall he be corrected?

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 6: If you by whom the nations are to be salted shall lose the kingdom of heaven through fear of temporal persecution, who are they by whom your error shall be corrected? Another copy has, “If the salt have lost all sense,” shewing that they must be esteemed to have lost their sense, who either pursuing abundance, or fearing lack of temporal goods, lose those which are eternal, and which men can neither give nor take away.

Hilary: But if the doctors having become senseless, and having lost all the savour they once enjoyed, are unable to restore soundness to things corrupt, they are become useless; and “are thenceforth fit only to be cast out and trodden by men.”

Jerome: The illustration is taken from husbandry. Salt, though it be necessary for seasoning of meats and preserving flesh, has no further use. Indeed we read in Scripture of vanquished cities sown with salt by the victors, that nothing should thenceforth grow there.

Gloss. ap. Anselm: When then they who are the heads have fallen away, they are fit for no use but to be cast out from the office of teacher.

Hilary: Or even cast out from the Church’s store rooms to be trodden under foot by those that walk.

Aug.: Not he that suffers persecution [p. 162] is trodden under foot of men, but he who through fear of persecution falls away. For we can tread only on what is below us; but he is no way below us, who however much he may suffer in the body, yet has his heart fixed in heaven.


14. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”


Gloss: As the doctors by their good conversation are the salt with which the people is salted; so by their word of doctrine they are the light by which the ignorant are enlightened.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But to live well must go before to teach well; hence after He had called the Apostles “the salt,” He goes on to call them “the light of the world.”

Or, for that salt preserves a thing in its present state that it should not change for the worse, but that light brings it into a better state by enlightening it; therefore the Apostles were first called salt with respect to the Jews and that Christian body which had the knowledge of God, and which they keep in that knowledge; and now light with respect to the Gentiles whom they bring to the light of that knowledge.

Aug.: By the world here we must not understand heaven and earth, but the men who are in the world; or those who love the world for whose enlightenment the Apostles were sent.

Hilary: It is the nature of a light to emit its rays whithersoever it is carried about, and when brought into a house to dispel the darkness of that house. Thus the world, placed beyond the pale of the knowledge of God, was held in the darkness of ignorance, till the light of knowledge was brought to it by the Apostles, and thenceforward the knowledge of God shone bright, and from their small bodies, whithersoever they went about, light is ministered to the darkness.

Remig.: For as the sun sends forth his beams, so the Lord, the Sun of righteousness, sent forth his Apostles to dispel the night of the human race.

Chrys.: Mark how great His promise to them, men who were scarce known in their own country that the fame of them should reach to the ends of the earth. The persecutions which He had foretold, were not able to dim their light, yea they made it but more conspicuous.

Jerome: He instructs them what should be the boldness of their preaching, that as [p. 163] Apostles they should not be hidden through fear, like lamps under a corn-measure, but should stand forth with all confidence, and what they have heard in the secret chambers, that declare upon the house tops.

Chrys.: Thus shewing them that they ought to be careful of their own walk and conversation, seeing they were set in the eyes of all, like a city on a hill, or a lamp on a stand.

Pseudo-Chrys.: This city is the Church of which it is said, “Glorious things are spoken of thee, thou city of God.” [Ps 87:3] Its citizens are all the faithful, of whom the Apostle speaks, “Ye are fellow-citizens of the saints.” [Eph 2:19] It is built upon Christ the hill, of whom Daniel thus, “A stone hewed without hands” [Dan 2:34] became a great mountain.

Aug.: Or, the mountain is the great righteousness, which is signified by the mountain from which the Lord is now teaching.

Pseudo-Chrys.: “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” though it would; the mountain which bears makes it to be seen of all men; so the Apostles and Priests who are founded on Christ cannot be hidden even though they would, because Christ makes them manifest.

Hilary: Or, the city signifies the flesh which He had taken on Him; because that in Him by this assumption of human nature, there was as it were a collection of the human race, and we by partaking in His flesh become inhabitants of that city. He cannot therefore be hid, because being set in the height of God’s power, He is offered to be contemplated of all men in admiration of his works.

Pseudo-Chrys.: How Christ manifests His saints, suffering them not to be hid, He shews by another comparison, adding, “Neither do men light a lamp to put it under a corn-measure,” but on a stand.

Chrys.: Or, in the illustration of the city, He signified His own power, by the lamp He exhorts the Apostles to preach with boldness; as though He said, ‘I indeed have lighted the lamp, but that it continue to burn will be your care, not for your own sakes only, but both for others who shall receive its light and for God’s glory.’

Pseudo-Chrys.: The lamp is the Divine word, of which it is said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet.” [Ps 119:105] They who light this lamp are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Aug.: With what meaning do we suppose the words, “to put it under a corn-measure,” were said? To express concealment simply, or that the “corn-measure” has a special [p. 164] signification? The putting the lamp under the corn-measure means the preferring bodily ease and enjoyment to the duty of preaching the Gospel, and hiding the light of good teaching under temporal gratification. The corn-measure aptly denotes the things of the body, whether because our reward shall be measured out to us, [2 Cor 5:10] as each one shall receive the things done in the body; or because worldly goods which pertain to the body come and go within a certain measure of time, which is signified by the corn-measure, whereas things eternal and spiritual are contained within no such limit.

He places his lamp upon a stand, who subdues his body to the ministry of the word, setting the preaching of the truth highest, and subjecting the body beneath it. For the body itself serves to make doctrine shine more clear, while the voice and other motions of the body in good works serve to recommend it to them that learn.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, men of the world may be figured in the “corn-measure” as these are empty above, but full beneath, so worldly men are foolish in spiritual things, but wise in earthly things, and therefore like a corn-measure they keep the word of God hid, whenever for any worldly cause he had not dared to proclaim the word openly, and the truth of the faith. The stand for the lamp is the Church which bears the word of life, and all ecclesiastical persons. [margin note: Phil 2:15]

Hilary: Or, the Lord likened the Synagogue to a corn-measure, which only receiving within itself such fruit as was raised; contained a certain measure of limited obedience.

Ambrose. non occ.: And therefore let none shut up his faith within the measure of the Law, but have recourse to the Church in which the grace of the sevenfold Spirit shines forth.

Bede, in Loc. quoad sens.: Or, Christ Himself has lighted this lamp, when He filled the earthen vessel of human nature with the fire of His Divinity, which He would not either hide from them that believe, nor put under a bushel that is shut up under the measure of the Law, or confine within the limits of any one oration. The lampstand is the Church, on which He set the lamp, when He affixed to our foreheads the faith of His incarnation.

Hilary: Or, the lamp, i.e. Christ Himself, is set on its stand when He was suspended on the Cross in His passion, to give light for ever to those that dwell in the Church; “to give light,” He says, “to all that are in the house.”

Aug.: For it [p. 165] is not absurd if any one will understand “the house” to be the Church.

Or, “the house” may be the world itself, according to what He said above, “Ye are the light of the world.”

Hilary: He instructs the Apostles to shine with such a light, that in the admiration of their work God may be praised, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: That is, teaching with so pure a light, that men may not only hear your words, but see your works, that those whom as lamps ye have enlightened by the word, as salt ye may season by your example. For by those teachers who do as well as teach, God is magnified; for the discipline of the master is seen in the behavior of the family.

And therefore it follows, “and they shall glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 7: Had He only said, “That they may see your good works,” He would have seemed to have set up as an end to be sought the praised of men, which the hypocrites desire; but by adding, “and glorify your Father,” he teaches that we should not seek as an end to please men with our good works, but referring all to the glory of God, therefore seek to please men, that in that God may be glorified.

Hilary: He means not that we should seek glory of men, but that though we conceal it, our work may shine forth in honour of God to those among whom we live.


17. “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

18. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

19. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”


Gloss. ord.: Having now exhorted His hearers to undergo all things for righteousness’ sake, and also not to hide what they should receive, but to learn more for others’ sake, that they [p. 166] may teach others, He now goes on to tell them what they should teach, as though He had been asked, ‘What is this which you would not have hid, and for which you would have all things endured? Are you about to speak any thing beyond what is written in the Law and the Prophets;’ hence it is He says, “Think not that I am come to subvert the Law or the Prophets.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: And that for two reasons. First, that by these words He might admonish His disciples, that as He fulfilled the Law, so they should strive to fulfil it. Secondly, because the Jews would falsely accuse them as subverting the Law, therefore he answers the calumny beforehand, but in such a manner as that He should not be thought to come simply to preach the Law as the Prophets had done.

Remig.: He here asserts two things; He denies that He was come to subvert the Law, and affirms that He was come to fulfil it.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 8: In this last sentence again there is a double sense; to fulfil the Law, either by adding something which it had not, or by doing what it commands.

Chrys., Hom. 16: Christ then fulfilled the Prophets by accomplishing what was therein foretold concerning Himself - and the Law, first, by transgressing none of its precepts; secondly, by justifying by faith, which the Law could not do by the letter.

Aug., cont. Faust., 19, 7. et seq.: And lastly, because even for them who were under grace, it was hard in this mortal life to fulfil that of the Law, “Thou shalt not lust,” He being made a Priest by the sacrifice of His flesh, obtained for us this indulgence, even in this fulfilling the Law, that where through our infirmity we could not, we should be strengthened through His perfection, of whom as our head we all are members.

For so I think must be taken these words, “to fulfil” the Law, by adding to it, that is, such things as either contribute to the explanation of the old glosses, or to enable to keep them. For the Lord has shewed us that even a wicked motion of the thoughts to the wrong of a brother is to be accounted a kind of murder.

The Lord also teaches us, that it is better to keep near to the truth without swearing, than with a true oath to come near to blasphemy.

But how, ye Manichaeans, do you not receive the Law and the Prophets, seeing Christ here says, that He is come not to subvert but to fulfil them? To this the heretic [p. 167] Faustus replies [ed. note: Faustus was of Milevis in Africa and a Bishop and controversialist of the Manichees. He was a man of considerable abilities. Augustine was first his hearer, and in after years his opponent; and in his work against him he answers him seriatim. In this way the treatise of Faustus is preserved to us.], Whose testimony is there that Christ spoke this? That of Matthew.

How was it then that John does not give this saying, who was with Him in the mount, but only Matthew, who did not follow Jesus till after He had come down from the mount? To this Augustine replies, If none can speak truth concerning Christ, but who saw and heard Him, there is no one at this day who speaks truth concerning Him.

Why then could not Matthew hear from John’s mouth the truth as Christ had spoken, as well as we who are born so long after can speak the truth out of John’s book? In the same manner also it is, that not Matthew’s Gospel, but also these of Luke and Mark are received by us, and on no inferior authority. And, that the Lord Himself might have told Matthew the things He had done before He called him.

But speak out and say that you do not believe the Gospel, for they who believe nothing in the Gospel but what they wish to believe, believe themselves rather than the Gospel. To this Faustus rejoins, We will prove that this was not written by Matthew, but by some other hand, unknown, in his name. For below he says, “Jesus saw a man sitting at the toll-office, Matthew by name.” [Matt 9:9] Who writing of himself say, ‘saw a man,’ and not rather, ‘saw me?’ Augustine; Matthew does no more than John does, when he says, “Peter turning round saw that other disciple whom Jesus loved;” as it is well known that this is the common manner of Scripture writers, when writing their own actions.

Faustus again, But what say you to this, that the very assurance that He was not come to destroy the Law and the Prophets, was the direct way to rouse their suspicions that He was? For He had yet done nothing that could lead the Jews to think that this was His object. Augustine; This is a very weak objection, for we do not deny that to the Jews who had no understanding, Christ might have appeared as threatening the destruction of the Law and the Prophets.

Faustus; But what if the Law and the Prophets do not accept this fulfilment, according to that in Deuteronomy, “These commandments [p. 168] I give unto thee, thou shalt keep, thou shalt not add any thing to them, nor take away.” Augustine; Here Faustus does not understand what it is to fulfil the Law, when he supposes that it must be taken of adding words to it. The fulfilment of the Law is love, which the Lord hath given in sending His Holy Spirit. The Law is fulfilled either when the things there commanded are done, or when the things there prophesied come to pass.

Faustus; But in that we confess that Jesus was author of a New Testament, what else is it than to confess that He has done away with the Old? Augustine; In the Old Testament were figure of things to come, which, when the things themselves were brought in by Christ, ought to have been taken away, that in that very taking away the Law and the Prophets might be fulfilled wherein it was written that God gave a New Testament.

Faustus; Therefore if Christ did say this thing, He either said it with some other meaning, or He spoke falsely, (which God forbid,) or we must take the other alternative, He did not speak it at all. But that Jesus spoke falsely none will aver, therefore He either spoke it with another meaning, or He spake it not at all. For myself I am rescued from the necessity of this alternative by the Manichaean belief, which from the first taught me not to believe all those things which are read in Jesus’ name as having been spoken by Him; for that there be many tares which to corrupt the good seed some nightly sower has scattered up and down through nearly the whole of Scripture.

Augustine; Manichaeus taught an impious error, that you should receive only so much of the Gospel as does not conflict with your heresy, and not receive whatever does conflict with it. We have learned of the Apostle that religious caution, “Whoever preaches unto you another Gospel than that we have preached, let him be accursed.” [Gal 1:8] The Lord also has explained what the tares signify, not things false mixed with the true Scriptures, as you interpret, but men who are children of the wicked one.

Faustus; Should a Jew then enquire of you why you do not keep the precepts of the Law and the Prophets which Christ here declares He came not to destroy but to fulfil, you will be driven either to accept an empty superstition, or to repudiate [p. 169] this chapter as false, or to deny that you are Christ’s disciple.

Augustine; The Catholics are not in any difficulty on account of this chapter as though they did not observe the Law and the Prophets; for they do cherish love to God and their neighbour, “on which hang all the Law and the Prophets.” And whatever in the Law and the Prophets was foreshewn, whether in things done, in the celebration of sacramental rites, or in forms of speech, all these they know to be fulfilled in Christ and the Church. Wherefore we neither submit to a false superstition, nor reject the chapter, nor deny ourselves to be Christ’s disciples. He then who says, that unless Christ had destroyed the Law and the Prophets, the Mosaic rites would have continued along with the Christian ordinances, may further affirm, that unless Christ had destroyed the Law and the Prophets, He would yet be only promised as to be born, to suffer, to rise again. But inasmuch as He did not destroy, but rather fulfil them, His birth, passion, and resurrection, are now no more promised as things future, which were signified by the Sacraments of the Law; but He is preached as already born, crucified, and risen, which are signified by the Sacraments now celebrated by Christians.

It is clear then how great is the error of those who suppose, that when the signs or sacraments are changed, the things themselves are different, whereas the same things which the Prophetic ordinance had held forth as promises, the Evangelic ordinance points to as completed.

Faustus: Supposing these to be Christ’s genuine words, we should enquire what was His motive for speaking thus, whether to soften the blind hostility of the Jews, who when they saw their holy things trodden under foot by Him, would not have so much as given Him a hearing; or whether He really said them to instruct us, who of the Gentiles should believe, to submit to the yoke of the Law. If this last were not His design, then the first must have been; nor was there any deceit or fraud in such purpose.

For of laws there be three sorts. The first that of the Hebrews, called the “law of sin and death,” [Rom 8:2] by Paul; the second that of the Gentiles, which he calls the law of nature, saying, “By nature the Gentiles do the deeds of the law;” [Rom 2:14] the third, the law of [p. 170] truth, which he means, “The law of the Spirit of life.” Also there are Prophets some of the Jews, such as are well known; others of the Gentiles as Paul speaks, “A prophet of their own hath said;” [Tit 1:12] and others of the truth of whom Jesus speaks, “I send unto you wise men and prophets.” [Matt 23:34]

Now had Jesus in the following part of this Sermon brought forward any of the Hebrew observances to shew how he had fulfilled them, no one would have doubted that it was of the Jewish Law and Prophets that He was now speaking; but when He brings forward in this way only those more ancient precepts, “Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery,” which were promulged of old to Enoch, Seth, and the other righteous men, who does not see that He is here speaking of the Law and Prophets of truth? Wherever He has occasion to speak of any thing merely Jewish, He plucks it up by the very roots, giving precepts directly the contrary; for example, in the case of that precept, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”

Augustine; Which was the Law and which the Prophets, that Christ came “not to subvert but to fulfil,” is manifest, to wit, the Law given by Moses. And the distinction which Faustus draw between the precepts of the righteous men before Moses, and the Mosaic Law, affirming that Christ fulfilled that one but annulled the other, is not so. We affirm that the Law of Moses was both well suited to its temporary purpose, and was not now subverted, but fulfilled by Christ, as will be seen in each particular. This was not understood by those who continued in such obstinate error, that they compelled the Gentiles to Judaize - those heretics, I mean, who were called Nazarenes.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But since all things which should befall from the very beginning of the world to the end of it, were in type and figure foreshewn in the Law, that God may not be thought to be ignorant of any of those things that take place, He therefore here declares, that heaven and earth should not pass till all things thus foreshewn in the Law should have their actual accomplishment.

Remig.: “Amen” is a Hebrew word, and my be rendered in Latin, ‘vere,’ ‘fidenter,’ or ‘fiat;’ that is, ‘truly,’ ‘faithfully,’ or ‘so be it.’ [p. 171] The Lord uses it either because of the hardness of heart of those who were slow to believe, or to attract more particularly the attention of those that did believe.

Hilary: From the expression here used, “pass,” we may suppose that the constituting elements of heaven and earth shall not be annihilated. [ed. note: The text of Hil. has ‘maxima, ut arbitramur, elementa esse solvends.’]

Remig.: But shall abide in their essence, but “pass” through renewal.

Aug., Serm. in Mont. i, 8: By the words “one iota or one point shall not pass from the Law,” we must understand only a strong metaphor of completeness, drawn from the letters of writing, iota being the least of the letters, made with one stroke of the pen, and a point being a slight dot at the end of the same letter. The words there shew that the Law shall be completed to the very least matter.

Rabanus: He fitly mentions the Greek iota, and not the Hebrew job, because the iota stands in Greek for the number ten, and so there is an allusion to the Decalogue of which the Gospel is the point and perfection.

Pseudo-Chrys.: If even an honourable man blushes to be found in a falsehood, and a wise man lets not fall empty any word he has once spoken, how could it be that the words of heaven should fall to the ground empty? Hence He concludes, “Whoso shall break the least of these commandments, &c.” And, I suppose, the Lord goes on to reply Himself to the question, Which are the least commandments? Namely, these which I am now about to speak.

Chrys.: He speaks not this of the old laws, but of those which He was now going to enact, of which he says, “the least,” though they were all great. For as He so oft spoke humbly of Himself, so does He now speak humbly of His precepts.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; the precepts of Moses are easy to obey; “Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery.” The very greatness of the crime is a check upon the desire of committing it; therefore the reward of observance is small, the sin of transgression great.

But Christ’s precepts, “Thou shalt not be angry, Thou shalt not lust,” are hard to obey, and therefore in their reward they are great, in their transgression, ‘least.’ It is thus He speaks of these precepts of Christ, such as “Thou shalt not be angry, Thou shalt not lust,’ as ‘the least;’ and [p. 172] they who commit these lesser sins, are the least in the kingdom of God; that is, he who has been angry and not sinned grievously is secure from the punishment of eternal damnation; yet he does not attain that glory which they attain who fulfil even these least.

Aug.: Or, the precepts of the Law are called ‘the least,’ as opposed to Christ’s precepts which are great. The least commandments are signified by the iota and the point. “He,” therefore, “who breaks them, and teaches men so,” that is, to do as he does, “shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” Hence we may perhaps conclude, that it is not true that there shall none be there except they be great.

Gloss. ord.: By ‘break,’ is meant, the not doing what one understands rightly, or the not understanding what one has corrupted, or the destroying the perfectness of Christ’s additions.

Chrys.: Or, when you hear the words, “least in the kingdom of heaven,” imagine nothing less than the punishment of hell. For He oft uses the word ‘kingdom,’ not only of the joys of heaven, but of the time of the resurrection, and of the terrible coming of Christ.

Greg., Hom. in Ev., 12, 1: Or, by the kingdom of heaven is to be understood the Church, in which that teacher who breaks a commandment is called least, because he whose life is despised, it remains that his preaching be also despised.

Hilary: Or, He calls the passion, and the cross, the least, which if one shall not confess openly, but be ashamed of them, he shall be least, that is, last, and as it were no man; but to him that confesses it He promises the great glory of a heavenly calling.

Jerome: This head is closely connected with the preceding. It is directed against the Pharisees, who, despising the commandments of God, set up traditions of their own, and means that their teaching the people would not avail themselves, if they destroyed the very least commandment in the Law.

We may take it in another sense. The learning of the master if joined with sin however small, loses him the highest place, nor does it avail any to teach righteousness, if he destroys it in his life. Perfect bliss is for him who fulfils in deed what he teaches in word.

Aug.: Otherwise; “he who breaks the least of these commandments,” that is, of Moses’ Law, “and teaches men so, shall be called the least; but he who shall do (these least), and so teach,” shall not indeed [p. 173] be esteemed great, yet not so little as he who breaks them. That he should be great, he ought to do and to teach the things which Christ now teaches.


20. “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

21. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

22. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”


Hilary: Beautiful entrance He here makes to a teaching beyond the works of the Law, declaring to the Apostles that they should have no admission to the kingdom of heaven without a righteousness beyond that of Pharisees.

Chrys.: By righteousness is here meant universal virtue. But observe the superior power of grace, in that He requires of His disciples who were yet uninstructed to be better than those who were masters unto the Old Testament. Thus He does not call the Scribes and Pharisees unrighteous, but speaks of “their righteousness.” And see how ever herein He confirms the Old Testament that He compares it with the New, for the greater and the less are always of the same kind.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees are the commandments of Moses; but the commandments of Christ are the fulfilment of that Law. This then is His meaning; Whosoever in addition to the commandments of the Law shall not fulfil My commandments, shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. For those indeed save from the punishment due to transgressors of the Law, but do not bring into the kingdom; but My commandments both deliver from punishment, [p. 174] and bring into the kingdom.

But seeing that to break the least commandments and not to keep them are one and the same, why does He say above of him that breaks the commandments, that “he shall be the least in the kingdom of heaven,” and here of him who keeps them not, that he “shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven?” See how to be the least in the kingdom is the same with not entering into the kingdom. For a man to be in the kingdom is not to reign with Christ, but only to be numbered among Christ’s people; what He says then of him that breaks the commandments is, that he shall indeed be reckoned among Christians, yet the least of them. but he who enters into the kingdom, becomes partaker of His kingdom with Christ. Therefore he who does not enter into the kingdom of heaven, shall not indeed have a part of Christ’s glory, yet shall he be in the kingdom of heaven, that is, in the number of those over whom Christ reigns as King of heaven.

Aug., City of God, book 20, ch. 9: Otherwise, “unless your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees,” that is, exceed that of those who break what themselves teach, as it is elsewhere said of them, “They say, and do not;” [Matt 23:3] just as if He had said, Unless your righteousness exceed in this way that ye do what ye teach, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.

We must therefore understand something other than usual by the kingdom of heaven here, in which are to be both he who breaks what he teaches, and he who does it, but the one “least,” the other, “great;” this kingdom of heaven is the present Church. In another sense is the kingdom of heaven spoken of that place where none enters but he who does what he teaches, and this is the Church as it shall be hereafter.

Aug., cont. Faust., 19, 31: This expression, the kingdom of heaven, so often used by our Lord, I know not whether any one would find in the books of the Old Testament. It belongs properly to the New Testament revelation, kept for His mouth whom the Old Testament figured as a King that should come to reign over His servants. This end, to which its precepts were to be referred, was hidden in the Old Testament, though even that had its saints who looked forward to the revelation that should be made.

Gloss. non occ.: Or, we may explain by referring to the way in which the Scribes and Pharisees understood the Law, not to [p. 175] the actual contents of the Law.

Aug., cont. Faust., 19, 30: For almost all the precepts which the Lord gave, saying, “But I say unto you,” are found in those ancient books. But because they knew not of any murder, besides the destruction of the body, the Lord shews them that every evil thought to the hurt of a brother is to be held for a kind of murder.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Christ willing to shew that He is the same God who spoke of old in the Law, and who now gives commandments in grace, now puts first of all his commandments, [margin note: vid. Matt 19:18] that one which was the first in the Law, first, at least, of all those that forbade injury to our neighbour.

Aug., City of God, book 1, ch. 20: We do not, because we have heard that, “Thou shalt not kill,” deem it therefore unlawful to pluck a twig, according to the error of the Manichees, nor consider it to extend to irrational brutes; by the most righteous ordinance of the Creator their life and death is subservient to our needs.

There remains, therefore, only man of whom we can understand it, and that not any other man, nor you only; for he who kills himself does nothing else but kill a man. Yet have not they in any way done contrary to this commandment who have waged wars under God’s authority, or they who charged with the administration of civil power have by most just and reasonable orders inflicted death upon criminals. Also Abraham was not charged with cruelty, but even received the praise of piety, for that he was willing to obey God in slaying his son.

Those are to be excepted from this command whom God commands to be put to death, either by a general law given, or by particular admonition at any special time. For he is not the slayer who ministers to the command, like a hilt to one smiting with a sword, nor is Samson otherwise to be acquitted for destroying himself along with his enemies, than because he was so instructed privily of the Holy Spirit, who through him wrought the miracles.

Chrys.: This, “it was said by them of old time,” shews that it was long ago that they had received this precept. He says this that He might rouse His sluggish hearers to proceed to more sublime precepts, as a teacher might say to an indolent boy, Know you not how long time you have spent already in merely learning to spell? In that, “I say unto you,” mark the authority of the legislator, none of the old Prophets spoke thus; but [p. 176] rather, “Thus saith the Lord.” They as servants repeated the commands of their Lord; He as a Son declared the will of His Father, which was also His own. They preached to their fellow servants; He as master ordained a law for his slaves.

Aug., City of God, 4, 4: There are two different opinions among philosophers concerning the passions of the mind: the Stoics do not allow that any passion is incident to the wise man; the Peripatetics affirm that they are incident to the wise man but in a moderate degree and subject to reason; as, for example, when mercy is shewn in such a manner that justice is preserved. But in the Christian rule we do not enquire whether the mind is first affected with anger or with sorrow, but whence.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He who is angry without cause shall be judged; but he who is angry with cause shall not be judged. For if there were no anger, neither teaching would profit, nor judgments hold, nor crimes be controlled. So that he who on just cause is not angry, is in sin; for an unreasonable patience sows vices, breeds carelessness, and invites the good as well as the bad to do evil.

Jerome: Some copies add here the words, without cause; but by the true reading [ed. note: Vid. also in Eph. iv. 31. Augustine says the same speaking of Greek codd. Retract. i. 19. Cassian rejects it too, Institut. viii. 20. Erasmus, Bengel. follow. vid. Wetstein. in loc. who would keep the word on the ground of a “consensus,” of Greek and Latin Fathers and Versions. There is an agreement of existed MSS. also.] the precept is made unconditional, and anger altogether forbidden. For when we are told to pray for them that persecute us, all occasion of anger is taken away. The words “without cause” then must be erased, for “the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: Yet that anger which arises from just cause is indeed not anger, but a sentence of judgment. For anger properly means a feeling of passion; but he whose anger arises from just cause does not suffer any passion, and is rightly said to sentence, not to be angry with.

Aug., Retract., i, 19: This also we affirm should be taken into consideration, what is being angry with a brother; for he is not angry with a brother who is angry at his offence. He then it is who is angry without cause, who is angry with his brother, and not with the offence.

Aug., City of God, book 14, ch. 9: But to be angry with a brother to the end that he may be corrected, there is [p. 177] no man of sound mind who forbids. Such sort of motions as come of love of good and of holy charity, are not to be called vices when they follow right reason.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But I think that Christ does not speak of anger of the flesh, but anger of the heart; for the flesh cannot be so disciplined as not to feel the passion. When then a man is angry but refrains from doing what his anger prompts him, his flesh is angry, but his heart is free from anger.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 9: And there is this same distinction between the first case here put by the Saviour and the second: in the first case there is one thing, the passion; in the second two, anger and speech following thereupon, “He who saith to his brother, Raca, is in danger of the council.” Some seek the interpretation of this word in the Greek, and think that “Raca” means ragged, from the Greek ραχος, a rag. But more probably it is not a word of any meaning, but a mere sound expressing the passion of the mind, which grammarians call an interjection, such as the cry of pain, ‘hen.’

Chrys.: Or, Racha is a word signifying contempt, and worthlessness. For where we in speaking to servants or children say, Go thou, or, Tell thou him; in Syriac they would say Racha for ‘thou.’ For the Lord descends to the smallest trifles even of our behaviour, and bids us treat one another with mutual respect.

Jerome: Or, Racha is a Hebrew word signifying, ‘empty,’ ‘vain;’ as we might say in the common phrase of reproach, ‘empty-pate.’ Observe that He says brother; for who is our brother, but he who has the same Father as ourselves?

Pseudo-Chrys.: And it were an unworthy reproach to him who has in him the Holy Spirit to call him ‘empty.’

Aug.: In the third case are three things; anger, the voice expressive of anger, and a word of reproach, “Thou fool.” Thus here are three different degrees of sin; in the first when one is angry, but keeps the passion in his heart without giving any sign of it. If again he suffers any sound expressive of the passion to escape him, it is more than had he silently suppressed the rising anger; and if he speaks a word which conveys a direct reproach, it is a yet greater sin.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But as none is empty who has the Holy Spirit, so none is a fool who has the knowledge of Christ; and if Racha signifies ‘empty,’ it is one and the same thing, as far as the [p. 178] meaning of the word goes, to say Racha, or ‘thou fool.’

But there is a difference in the meaning of the speaker; for Racha was a word in common use among the Jews, not expressing wrath or hate, but rather in a light careless way expressing confident familiarity, not anger. But you will perhaps say, if Racha is not an expression of wrath, how is it then a sin? Because it is said for contention, not for edification; and if we ought not to speak even good words but for the sake of edification, how much more not such as are in themselves bad?

Aug.: Here we have three arraignments, the judgement, the council, and hell-fire, being different stages ascending from the lesser to the greater. For in the judgment there is yet opportunity for defence; to the council belongs the respite of the sentence, what time the judges confer among themselves what sentence ought to be inflicted; in the third, hell-fire, condemnation is certain, and the punishment fixed. Hence is seen what a difference is between the righteousness of the Pharisees and Christ; in the first, murder subjects a man to judgment; in the second, anger alone, which is the least of the three degrees of sin.

Rabanus: The Saviour here names the torments of hell, Gehenna, a name thought to be derived from a valley consecrated to idols near Jerusalem, and filled of old with dead bodies, and defiled by Josiah, as we read in the Book of Kings.

Chrys.: This is the first mention of hell, though the kingdom of Heaven had been mentioned some time before, which shews that the gifts of the one come of His love, the condemnation of the other of our sloth.

Many thinking this a punishment too severe for a mere word, say that this was said figuratively. But I fear that if we thus cheat ourselves with words here, we shall suffer punishment in deed there. Think not then this too heavy a punishment, when so many sufferings and sins have their beginning in a word; a little word has often begotten a murder, and overturned whole cities. And yet it is not to be thought a little word that denies a brother reason and understanding by which we are men, and differ from the brutes.

Pseudo-Chrys.: “In danger of the council;” that is, (according to the interpretation given by the Apostles in the Constitutions,) [p. 179] in danger of being one of that Council which condemned Christ. [ed. note, e: This remark is not found in the Apostolical Constitutions as we now have them. The text in question, however, is quoted in ii. 32 and 50. So again the comment on Matt. vi. 3. is not found in the Constitutions, though the text is quoted. vid. Coteler, in Constit. iii. 14. The passage quoted in Matt. xxvi. 18, is found in Constit. viii. 2. vid. also Usser. Dissert. ix. Pearson. Vind. Ign. p. 1. c. 4 fin.]

Hilary: Or, he who reproaches with emptiness one full of the Holy Spirit, will be arraigned in the assembly of the Saints, and by their sentence will be punished for an affront against that Holy Spirit Himself.

Aug.: Should any ask what greater punishment is reserved for murder, if evil-speaking is visited with hell-fire? This obliges us to understand, that there are degrees in hell.

Chrys.: Or, “the judgment,” and “the council” denote punishment in this word; “hell-fire” future punishment. He denounces punishment against anger, yet does not mention any special punishment, shewing therein that it is not possible that a man should be altogether free from the passion. The Council here means the Jewish senate, for He would not seem to be always superseding all their established institutions, and introducing foreign. [ed. note, f: In this quotation only the last sentence is found in Chrys.]

Aug.: In all these three sentences there are some words understood. In the first indeed, as many copies read “without cause,” there is nothing to be supplied. In the second, “He who saith to his brother, Racha,” we must supply the words, “without cause;” and again, in “He who says, Thou fool,” two things are understood, “to his brother,” and, “without cause.” All this forms the defence of the Apostle, when he calls the Galatians fools, though he considers them his brethren; for he did it not without cause.


23. “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

24. Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”


Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 10: If it be not lawful to be angry with a brother, [p. 180] or to say to him Racha, or Thou fool, much less is it lawful to keep in the memory any thing which might convert anger into hate.

Jerome: It is not, If thou hast ought against thy brother; but “If thy brother has ought against thee,” that the necessity of reconciliation may be more imperative.

Aug.: And he has somewhat against us when we have wronged him; and we have somewhat against him when he has wronged us, in which case there were no need to go to be reconciled to him, seeing we had only to forgive him, as we desire the Lord to forgive us.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But if it is he that hath done you the wrong, and yet you be the first to seek reconciliation, you shall have a great reward.

Chrys.: If love alone is not enough to induce us to be reconciled to our neighbour, the desire that our work should not remain imperfect, and especially in the holy place, should induce us.

Greg., Hom. 1 in Ezech. viii. 9: Lo He is not willing to accept sacrifice at the hands of those who are at variance. Hence then consider how great an evil is strife, which throws away what should be the means of remission of sin.

Pseudo-Chrys.: See the mercy of God, that He thinks rather of man’s benefit than of His own honour; He loves concord in the faithful more than offering at His altar; for so long as there are dissensions among the faithful, their gift is not looked upon, their prayer is not heard. For no one can be a true friend at the same time to two who are enemies to each other. In like manner, we do not keep our fealty to God, if we do not love His friends and hate His enemies. But such as was the offence, such should also be the reconciliation. If you have offended in thought, be reconciled in thought; if in words, be reconciled in words; if in deeds, in deeds by reconciled. For so it is in every sin, in whatsoever kind it was committed, in that kind is the penance done.

Hilary: He bids us when peace with our fellow-men is restored, then to return to peace with God, passing from the love of men to the love of God; “Then go and offer thy gift.”

Aug.: If this direction be taken literally, it might lead some to suppose that this ought indeed to be so done if our brother is present, for that no long time can be meant when we are bid to leave our offering there before the altar. For if he be [p. 181] absent, or possibly beyond sea, it is absurd to suppose that the offering must be left before the altar, to be offered after we have gone over land and sea to seek him.

Wherefore we must embrace an inward, spiritual sense of the whole, if we would understand it without involving any absurdity. The gift which we offer to God, whether learning, or speech, or whatever it be, cannot be accepted of God unless it be supported by faith. If then we have in aught harmed a brother, we must go and be reconciled with him, not with the bodily feet, but in thoughts of the heart, when in humble contrition you may cast yourself at your brother’s feet in sight of Him whose offering you are about to offer. For thus in the same manner as though He were present, you may with unfeigned heart seek His forgiveness; and returning thence, that is, bringing back again your thoughts to what you had first begun to do, may make your offering.


25. “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

26. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.”


Hilary: The Lord suffers us at no time to be wanting in peaceableness of temper, and therefore bids us be reconciled to our adversary quickly, while on the road to life, lest we be cast into the season of death before peace by joined between us.

Jerome: The word here in our Latin books is ‘consentiens,’ in Greek, ευνοων, which means, ‘kind,’ ‘benevolent.’

Aug., Serm. in Mont, i, 11: Let us see who this adversary is to whom we are bid to be benevolent. It may then be either the Devil, or man, or the flesh, or God, or His commandments. But I do not see how we can be bid be benevolent, or agreeing with the Devil; for where there is good will, there is friendship, and no one will say that friendship should be made with the Devil, or that it is well to agree with him, having [p. 182] once proclaimed war against him when we renounced him; nor ought we to consent with him, with whom had we never consented, we had never come into such circumstances.

Jerome: Some, from that verse of Peter, “Your adversary the Devil, &c.” [1 Pet 5:8] will have the Saviour’s command to be, that we should be merciful to the Devil, not causing him to endure punishment for our sakes. For as he puts in our way the incentives to vice, if we yield to his suggestions, he will be tormented for our sakes.

Some follow a more forced interpretation, that in baptism we have each of us made a compact with the Devil by renouncing him. If we observe this compact, then we are agreeing with our adversary, and shall not be cast into prison.

Aug.: I do not see again how it can be understood of man. For how can man be said to deliver us to the Judge, when we know only Christ as the Judge, before whose tribunal all must be sisted [?]. How then can he deliver to the Judge, who has himself to appear before Him? Moreover if any has sinned against any by killing him, he has no opportunity of agreeing with him in the way, that is in this life; and yet that hinders not but that he may be rescued from judgment by repentance. Much less do I see how we can be bid be agreeing with the flesh; for they are sinners rather who agree with it; but they who bring it into subjection, do not agree with it, but compel it to agree with them.

Jerome: And how can the body be cast into prison if it agree not with the spirit, seeing soul and body must go together, and that the flesh can do nothing but what the soul shall command?

Aug.: Perhaps then it is God with whom we are here enjoined to agree. He may be said to be our adversary, because we have departed from Him by sin, and “He resisteth the proud.” Whosoever then shall not have been reconciled in this life with God through the death of His Son, shall be by Him delivered to the Judge, that is, the Son, to whom He has committed all judgment. And man may be said to be “in the way with God,” because He is every where.

But if we like not to say that the wicked are with God, who is every where present, as we do not say that the blind are with that light which is every where around them, there only remains the law of God which we can understand by our adversary. For this law is an adversary [p. 183] to such as love to sin, and is given us for this life that it may be with us in the way. To this we ought to agree quickly, by reading, hearing, and bestowing on it the summit of authority, and that when we understand it, we hate it not because it opposes our sins, but rather love it because it corrects them; and when it is obscure, pray that we may understand it.

Jerome: But from the context the sense is manifest; the Lord is exhorting us to peace and concord with our neighbour; as it was said above, Go, be reconciled to thy brother.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The Lord is urgent with us to hasten to make friends with our enemies while we are yet in this life, knowing how dangerous for us that one of our enemies should die before peace is made with us. For if death bring us while yet at enmity to the Judge, he will deliver us to Christ, proving us guilty by his judgment. Our adversary also delivers us to the Judge, when he is the first to seek reconciliation; for he who first submits to his enemy, brings him in guilty before God.

Hilary: Or, the adversary delivers you to the Judge, when the abiding of your wrath towards him convicts you.

Aug.: by the Judge I understand Christ, for, “the Father hath committed all judgment to the Son;” [John 5:22] and by the officer, or minister, an Angel, for “Angels came and ministered unto Him;” and we believe that He will come with his Angels to judge.

Pseudo-Chrys.: “The officer,” that is, the ministering Angel of punishment, and he shall cast you into the prison of hell.

Aug.: By the prison I understand the punishment of the darkness. And that none should despise that punishment, He adds, “Verily I say unto thee, thou shalt not come out thence till thou hast paid the very last farthing.”

Jerome: A farthing is a coin containing two mites. What He says then is, ‘Thou shalt not go forth thence till thou hast paid for the smallest sin.’

Aug.: Or it is an expression to denote that there is nothing that shall go unpunished; as we say ‘To the dregs,’ when we are speaking of any thing so emptied that nothing is left in it.

Or by “the last farthing” [margin note: quadrans] may be denoted earthly sins. For the fourth and last element of this world is earth.

“Paid,” that is in eternal punishment; and “until” used in the same sense as in that, “Sit thou on my right hand until I make thy enemies thy footstool;” [Ps 110:1] for He does not cease to reign [p. 184] when His enemies are put under His feet. So here, “until thou hast paid,” is as much as to say, thou shalt never come out thence, for that he is always paying the very last farthing while he is enduring the everlasting punishment of earthly sins.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, If you will make your peace yet in this world, you may receive pardon of even the heaviest offences; but if once damned and cast into the prison of hell, punishment will be exacted of you not for grievous sins only, but for each idle word, which may be denoted by “the very last farthing.”

Hilary: For because “charity covereth a multitude of sins,” we shall therefore pay the last farthing of punishment, unless by the expense of charity we redeem the fault of our sin.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, the prison is worldly misfortune which God often sends upon sinners.

Chrys.: Or, He here speaks of the judges of this world, of the way which leads to this judgment, and of human prisons; thus not only employing future but present inducements, as those things which are before the eyes affect us most, as St. Paul also declares, “If thou doest evil fear the power, for he beareth not the sword in vain.” [Rom 13:4]


27. “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery:’

28. But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”


Chrys., Hom. xvii: The Lord having explained how much is contained in the first commandment, namely, “Thou shalt not kill,” proceeds in regular order to the second.

Aug., Serm. ix, 3 and 10: “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” that is, Thou shalt go no where but to thy lawful wife. For if you exact this of your wife, you ought to do the same, for the husband ought to go before the wife in virtue. It is a shame for the husband to say that this is impossible. Why not the husband as well as the wife? And let not him that is unmarried suppose that he does not break this commandment by fornication; you know the price wherewith you have been bought, you know what [p. 185] you eat and what your drink [ed. note, g: Nic. inserts here, from the original, ‘immo quem manduces, quem bibas.’] therefore keep yourself from fornications. Forasmuch as all such acts of lust pollute and destroy God’s image, (which you are,) the Lord who knows what is good for you, gives you this precept that you may not pull down His temple which you have begun to be.

Aug., cont. Faust. 19, 23: He then goes on to correct the error of the Pharisees, declaring, “Whoso looketh upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery already with her in his heart.” For the commandment of the Law, “Thou shalt not lust after thy neighbour’s wife,” [Ex 20:17] the Jews understood of taking her away, not of committing adultery with her.

Jerome: Between παθος and προπαθεια, that is between actual passion and the first spontaneous movement of the mind, there is this difference: passion is at once a sin; the spontaneous movement of the mind, though it partakes of the evil of sin, is yet not held for an offence committed. [ed. note, h: In this passage S. Jerome, who seems to have introduced the word propassio, προπαθεια, into theology, uses it somewhat in a sense of his own; viz. as involving something of the nature of sin; vid. also Comm. in Ezek. xviii, 1, 2. The word is more commonly applied to our Lord, as denoting the mode and extent in which His soul was affected by what in others became παθος. In us passion precedes reason, in Him it followed, or was a προπαθεια. vid. S. Jerome in Matt. xxvi. 37. Leon. Ep. 35. Damasc. F. O. iii. 20 &c. &c.]

When then one looks upon a woman, and his mind is therewith smitten, there is propassion; if he yields to this he passes from propassion to passion, and then it is no longer the will but the opportunity to sin that is wanting. “Whosoever,” then, “looketh on a woman to lust after her,” that is, so looks on her as to lust, and cast about to obtain, he is rightly said to commit adultery with her in his heart.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 12: For there are three things which make up a sin; suggestion either through the memory, or the present sense; if the thought of the pleasure of indulgence follows, that is an unlawful thought, and to be restrained; if you consent then, the sin is complete. For prior to the first consent, the pleasure is either none or very slight, the consenting to which makes the sin. But if consent proceeds on into overt act, then desire seems to be satiated and quenched. And when suggestion is again repeated, the contemplated pleasure is greater, which previous to habit formed was but small, but now more difficult to overcome.

Greg., Mor., xxi, 2: But whoso casts his eyes about without caution [p. 186] will often be taken with the pleasure of sin, and ensnared by desires begins to wish for what he would not. Great is the strength of the flesh to draw us downwards, and the charm of beauty once admitted to the heart through the eye, is hardly banished by endeavour. We must therefore take heed at the first, we ought not to look upon what it is unlawful to desire. For that the heart may be kept pure in thought, the eyes, as being on the watch to hurry us to sin, should be averted from wanton looks.

Chrys.: If you permit yourself to gaze often on fair countenances you will assuredly be taken, even though you may be able to command your mind twice or thrice. For you are not exalted above nature and the strength of humanity. She too who dresses and adorns herself for the purpose of attracting men’s eyes to her, though her endeavor should fail, yet shall she be punished hereafter; seeing she mixed the poison and offered the cup, though none was found who would drink thereof. For what the Lord seems to speak only to the man, is of equal application to the woman; inasmuch as when He speaks to the head, the warning is meant for the whole body.


29. “And if they right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

30. And if they right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”


Gloss, non occ.: Because we ought not only to avoid actual sin, but even put away every occasion of sin, therefore having taught that adultery is to be avoided not in deed only, but in heart, He next teaches us to cut off the occasions of sin.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But if according to that of the Prophet, “there is no whole part in our body,” [Ps 38:3] it is needful that we cut off every limb that we have that the punishment [p. 187] may be equal to the depravity of the flesh.

Is it then possible to understand this of the bodily eye or hand? As the whole man when he is turned to God is dead to sin, so likewise the eye when it has ceased to look evil is cut off from sin. But this explanation will not suit the whole; for when He says, “thy right eye offends thee,” what does the left eye? Does it contradict the right eye, and it is preserved innocent?

Jerome: Therefore by the right eye and the right hand we must understand the love of brethren, husbands and wives, parents and kinsfolk; which if we find to hinder our view of the true light, we ought to sever from us.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 13: As the eye denotes contemplation, so the hand aptly denotes action. By the eye we must understand our most cherished friend, as they are wont to say who would express ardent affection, ‘I love him as my own eye.’ And a friend too who gives counsel, as the eye shews us our way. The “right eye,” perhaps, only means to express a higher degree of affection, for it is the one which men most fear to lose.

Or, by the right eye may be understood one who counsels us in heavenly matters, and by the left one who counsels in earthly matters. And this will be the sense; Whatever that is which you love as you would your own right eye, if it “offend you,” that is, if it be an hindrance to your true happiness, “cut it off and cast it from you.” For if the right eye was not to be spared, it was superfluous to speak of the left. The right hand also is to be taken of a beloved assistant in divine actions, the left hand in earthly actions.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; Christ would have us careful not only of our own sin, but likewise that even they who pertain to us should keep themselves from evil. Have you any friend who looks to your matters as your own eye, or manages them as your own hand, if you know of any scandalous or base action that he has done, cast him from you, he is an offence; for we shall give account not only of our own sins, but also of such of those of our neighbours as it is in our power to hinder.

Hilary: Thus a more lofty step of innocence is appointed us, in that we are admonished to keep free, not only from sin ourselves, but from such as might touch us [p. 188] from without.

Jerome: Otherwise; As above He had placed lust in the looking on a woman, so now the thought and sense straying hither and thither He calls ‘the eye.’ By the right hand and the other parts of the body, He means the initial movements of desire and affection.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The eye of flesh is the mirror of the inward eye. The body also has its own sense, that is, the left eye, and its own appetite, that is, the left hand. But the parts of the soul are called right, for the soul was created both with free-will and under the law of righteousness, that it might both see and do rightly.

But the members of the body being not with free-will, but under the law of sin, are called the left. Yet He does not bid us cut off the sense or appetite of the flesh; we may retain the desires of the flesh, and yet not do thereafter, but we cannot cut off the having the desires. But when we wilfully purpose and think of evil, then our right desires and right will offend us, and therefore He bids us cut them off. And these we can cut off, because our will is free.

Or otherwise; Every thing, however good in itself that offends ourselves or others, we ought to cut off from us. For example, to visit a woman with religious purposes, this good intent towards her may be called a right eye, but if often visiting her I have fallen into the net of desire, or if any looking on are offended, then the right eye, that is, something in itself good, offends me. For the “right eye” is good intention, the “right hand” is good desire.

Gloss. ord.: Or, the “right eye” is the contemplative life which offends by being the cause of indolence or self-conceit, or in our weakness that we are not able to support it unmixed. The “right hand” is good works, or the active life, which offends us when we are ensnared by society and the business of life.

If then any one is unable to sustain the contemplative life, let him not slothfully rest from all action; or on the other hand while he is taken up with action, dry up the fountain of sweet contemplation.

Remig.: The reason why the right eye and the right hand are to be cast away is subjoined in that, “For it is better, &c.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: For as we are every one members one of another, it is better that we should be saved without some one of these members, [p. 189] than that we perish together with them. Or, it is better that we should be saved without one good purpose, or one good work, than that while we seek to perform all good works we perish together with all.


31. “It hath been said, ‘Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:’

32. But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”


Gloss, non occ.: The Lord had taught us above that our neighbour’s wife was not to be coveted, He now proceeds to teach that our own wife is not to be put away.

Jerome: For touching Moses’ allowance of divorce, the Lord and Saviour more fully explains in conclusion, that it was because of the hardness of the hearts of the husbands, not so much sanctioning discord, as checking bloodshed.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For when Moses brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, they were indeed Hebrews in race, but Egyptians in manners. And it was caused by the Gentile manners that the husband hated the wife; and if he was not permitted to put her away, he was ready either to kill her or ill-treat her. Moses therefore suffered a bill of divorcement, not because it was a good practice in itself, but was the prevention of a worse evil.

Hilary: But the Lord who brought peace and goodwill on earth, would have it reign especially in the matrimonial bond.

Aug., cont. Faust., xix, 26: The Lord’s command here that a wife is not to be put away, is not contrary to the command in the Law, as Manichaeus affirmed. Had the Law allowed any who would to put away his wife, to allow none to put away were indeed the very opposite of that. But the difficulty which Moses is careful to put in the way, shews that he was no good friend to the practice at all. For he required a bill of divorcement, the delay and difficulty of drawing out which would often cool headlong rage and disagreement, especially as by the Hebrew custom, it was the Scribes alone who were permitted to use the Hebrew letters, in [p. 190] which they professed a singular skill.

To these then the law would send him whom it bid to give a writing of divorcement, when he would put away his wife, who mediating between him and his wife, might set them at one again, unless in minds too wayward to be moved by counsels of peace. Thus then He neither completed, by adding words to it, the law of them of old time, nor did He destroy the Law given by Moses by enacting things contrary to it, as Manichaeus affirmed; but rather repeated and approved all that the Hebrew Law contained, so that whatever He spoke in His own person more than it had, had in view either explanation, which in divers obscure places of the Law was greatly needed, or the more punctual observance of its enactments.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 14: By interposing this delay in the mode of putting away, the lawgiver shewed as clearly as it could be shewn to hard hearts, that he hated strife and disagreement. The Lord then so confirms this backwardness in the Law, as to except only one case, “the cause of fornication;” every other inconvenience which may have place, He bids us bear with patience in consideration of the plighted troth of wedlock.

Pseudo-Chrys.: If we ought to bear the burdens of strangers, in obedience to that of the Apostles, “Bear ye one another’s burdens,” [Gal 6:2] how much more that of our wives and husbands? The Christian husband ought not only to keep himself from any defilement, but to be careful not to give others occasion of defilement; for so is their sin imputed to him who gave the occasion. Whoso then by putting away his wife gives another man occasion of committing adultery, is condemned for that crime himself.

Aug.: Yea, more, He declares the man who marries her who is put away an adulterer.

Chrys.: Say not here, It is enough her husband has put her away; for even after she is put away she continues the wife of him that put her away.

Aug.: The Apostle has fixed the limit here, requiring her to abstain from a fresh marriage as long as her husband lives. After his death he allows her to marry. But if the woman may not marry while her former husband is alive, much less may she yield herself to unlawful indulgences. But this command of the Lord, forbidding to put away a wife, is not broken by him who lives with her not carnally [p. 191] but spiritually, in that more blessed wedlock of those that keep themselves chaste.

A question also here arises as to what is that fornication which the Lord allows as a cause of divorce; whether carnal sin, or, according to the Scripture use of the word, any unlawful passion, as idolatry, avarice, in short all transgression of the Law by forbidden desires. For if the Apostle permits the divorce of a wife if she be unbelieving, (though indeed it is better not to put her away,) and the Lord forbids any divorce but for the cause of fornication, unbelief even must be fornication. And if unbelief be fornication, and idolatry unbelief, and covetousness idolatry, it is not to be doubted that covetousness is fornication. And if covetousness be fornication, who may say of any kind of unlawful desire that it is not a kind of fornication?

Aug., Retract., i, 19, 6: Yet I would not have the reader think this disputation of ours sufficient in a matter so arduous; for not every sin is spiritual fornication, nor does God destroy every sinner, for He hears His saints daily crying to Him, “Forgive us our debts;” but every man who goes a whoring and forsakes Him, him He destroys.

Whether this be the fornication for which divorce is allowed is a most knotty question - for it is no question at all that it is allowed for the fornication by carnal sin.

Aug., lib. 83, Quaest. q. ult.: If any affirm that the only fornication for which the Lord allows divorce is that of carnal sin, he may see that the Lord has spoken of believing husbands and wives, forbidding either to leave the other except for fornication.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 16: Not only does He permit to put away a wife who commits fornication, but whoso puts away a wife by whom he is driven to commit fornication, puts her away for the cause of fornication, both for his own sake and hers.

Aug., de Fid. et Op. 16: He also rightly puts away his wife to whom she shall say, I will not be your wife unless you get me money by robbery; or should require any other crime to be done by him. If the husband here be truly penitent, he will cut off the limb that offends him.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 16: Nothing can be more unjust than to put away a wife for fornication, and yourself to be guilty of that sin, for then is that happened, “Wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself.” [Rom 2:1] When He says, “And he who marrieth her who is put away, committeth adultery,” a question arises, does the woman also in this case [p. 192] commit adultery? For the Apostle directs either that she remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband. There is this difference in the separation, namely, which of them was the cause of it. If the wife put away the husband and marry another, she appears to have left her first husband with the desire of change, which is an adulterous thought. But if she have been put away by her husband, yet he who marries her commits adultery, how can she be quit of the same guilt? And further, if he who marries her commits adultery, she is the cause of his committing adultery, which is what the Lord is here forbidding.


33. “Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, ‘Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:’

34. But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by Heaven; for it is God’s throne;

35. Nor by the earth; for it is His footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.

36. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.

37. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”


Gloss. non occ.: The Lord has hitherto taught to abstain from injuring our neighbour, forbidding anger with murder, lust with adultery, and the putting away a wife with a bill of divorce. He now proceeds to teach to abstain from injury to God, forbidding not only perjury as an evil in itself, but even all oaths as the cause of evil, saying, “Ye have heard it said by them of old, Thou shalt not forswear thyself.”

It is written in Leviticus, “Thou shalt not forswear thyself in my name;” [Lev 19:12] and that they should not make gods of the creature, they are commanded to render to God their oaths, and not to swear by any creature, “Render to the Lord thy oaths;” that is, if you shall have occasion to swear, you shall swear by [p. 193] the Creator and not by the creature. As it is written in Deuteronomy, “Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and shalt swear by his name.” [Deut 6:13]

Jerome: This was allowed under the Law, as to children; as they offered sacrifice to God, that they might not do it to idols, so they were permitted to swear by God; not that the thing was right, but that it were better done to God than to daemons.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For no man can swear often, but he must sometimes forswear himself; as he who has a custom of much speaking will sometimes speak foolishly.

Aug., cont. Faust., xix. 23: Inasmuch as the sin of perjury is a grievous sin, he must be further removed from it who uses no oath, than he who is ready to swear on every occasion, and the Lord would rather that we should not swear and keep close to the truth, than that swearing we should come near to perjury.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 17: This precept also confirms the righteousness of the Pharisees, not to forswear; inasmuch as he who swears not at all cannot forswear himself. But as to call God to witness is to swear, does not the Apostle break this commandment when he says several times to the Galatians, “The things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.” [Gal 1:20] So the Romans, “God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit.” [Rom 1:9]

Unless perhaps some one may say, it is no oath unless I use the form of swearing by some object; and that the Apostle did not swear in saying, “God is my witness.” It is ridiculous to make such a distinction; yet the Apostle has used even this form, “I die daily, by your boasting.” [1 Cor 15:31] That this does not mean, your boasting has caused my dying daily, but is an oath, is clear from the Greek, which is .

Aug., de Mendac. 15: But what we could not understand by mere words, from the conduct of the saints we may gather in what sense should be understood what might easily be drawn the contrary way, unless explained by example. The Apostle has used oaths in his Epistles, and by this shews us how that ought to be taken, “I say unto you, Swear not at all,” namely, lest by allowing ourselves to swear at all we come to readiness in swearing, from readiness we come to a habit of swearing, and from a habit of swearing we fall into perjury. And so the Apostle is not found to have used an oath but only in writing, the greater thought and caution which that requires not allowing of slip of the tongue.

Yet is the [p. 194] Lord’s command so universal, “Swear not at all,” that He would seem to have forbidden it even in writing. But since it would be an impiety to accuse Paul of having violated this precept, especially in his Epistles, we must understand the word “at all” as implying that, as far as lays in your power, you should not make a practice of swearing, not aim at it as a good thing in which you should take delight.

Aug., cont. Faust., xix, 23: Therefore in his writings, as writing allows of greater circumspection, the Apostle is found to have used an oath in several places, that none might suppose that there is any direct sin in swearing what is true; but only that our weak hearts are better preserved from perjury by abstaining from all swearing whatever.

Jerome: Lastly, consider that the Saviour does not here forbid to swear by God, but by the Heaven, the Earth, by Jerusalem, by a man’s head. For this evil practice of swearing by the elements the Jews had always, and are thereof often accused in the prophetic writings. For he who swears, shew either reverence or love for that by which he swears. Thus when the Jews swore by the Angels, by the city of Jerusalem, by the temple and the elements, they paid to the creature the honour and worship belonging to God; for it is commanded in the Law that we should not swear but by the Lord our God.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 17: Or; It is added, “By the Heaven, &c.” because the Jews did not consider themselves bound when they swore by such things. As if He had said, When you swear by the Heaven and the Earth, think not that you do not owe your oath to the Lord your God, for you are proved to have sworn by Him whose throne the heaven is, and the earth His footstool; which is not meant as though God had such limbs set upon the heaven and the earth, after the manner of a man who is sitting; but that seat signifies God’s judgment of us. And since in the whole extent of this universe it is the heaven that has the highest beauty, God is said to sit upon the heavens as shewing divine power to be more excellent than the most surpassing show of beauty; and He is said to stand upon the earth, as putting to lowest use a lesser beauty.

Spiritually by the heavens are denoted holy souls, by the earth the sinful, seeing “He that is spiritual judgeth all things.” [1 Cor 2:15] But to the sinner it is said, “Earth thou [p. 195] art, and unto earth thou shalt return.” [Gen 3:19] And he who would abide under a law, is put under a law, and therefore He adds, “it is the footstool of His feet. Neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King;” this is better said than ‘it is mine;’ though it is understood to mean the same. And because He is also truly Lord, whoso swears by Jerusalem, owes his oath to the Lord. “Neither by thy head.” What could any think more entirely his own property than his own head? But how is it ours when we have not power to make one hair black or white? Whoso then swears by his own head also owes his vows to the Lord; and by this the rest may be understood.

Chrys.: Note how He exalts the elements of the world, not from their own nature, but from the respect which they have to God, so that there is opened no occasion of idolatry.

Rabanus: Having forbidden swearing, He instructs us how we ought to speak, “Let your speech be yea, yea; nay, nay.” That is, to affirm any thing it is sufficient to say, ‘It is so;’ to deny, to say, ‘It is not so.’

Or, “yea, yea; nay, nay,” are therefore twice repeated, that what you affirm with the mouth you should prove in deed, and what you deny in word, you should not establish by your conduct.

Hilary: Otherwise; They who live in the simplicity of the faith have not need to swear, with them ever, what is is, what is not is not; by this their life and their conversation are ever preserved in truth.

Jerome: Therefore Evangelic verity does not admit an oath, since the whole discourse of the faithful is instead of an oath.

Aug.: And he who has learned that an oath is to be reckoned not among things good, but among things necessary, will restrain himself as much as he may, not to use an oath without necessity, unless he sees men loth to believe what it is for their good they should believe, without the confirmation of an oath.

This then is good and to be desired, that our conversation be only, “yea, yea; nay, nay; for what is more than this cometh of evil.” That is, if you are compelled to swear, you know that it is by the necessity of their weakness to whom you would persuade any thing; which weakness is surely an evil. What is more than this is thus evil; not that you do evil in this just use of an oath to [p. 196] persuade another to something beneficial for him; but it is an evil in him whose weakness thus obliges you to use an oath.

Chrys.: Or; “of evil,” that is, from their weakness to whom the Law permitted the use of an oath. Not that by this the old Law is signified to be from the Devil, but He leads us from the old imperfection to the new abundance.


38. “Ye have heard that it hath been said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:’

39. But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

40. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

41. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

42. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”


Gloss. non occ.: The Lord having taught that we are not to offer injury to our neighbour, or irreverence to the Lord, now proceeds to shew how the Christian should demean himself to those that injure him.

Aug., cont. Faust., xix, 25: This law, “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth,” was enacted to repress the flames of mutual hate, and to be a check on their undisciplined spirits. For who when he would take revenge, was ever content to return just so much harm as he had received? Do we not see men who have suffered some trifling hurt, straightway plot murder, thirst for blood, and hardly find evil enough that they can do to their enemies for the satisfying their rage?

To this immeasured and cruel fury the Law puts bounds when it enacts a “lex talionis;” that is, that whatever wrong or hurt any man has done to another, he should suffer just the same in return. This is not to encourage but to check rage; for it does not rekindle what was extinguished, but hinders the flames already kindled from further spread. It enacts a just [p. 197] retaliation, properly due to him who has suffered the wrong.

But that mercy forgives any debt, does not make it unjust that payment had been sought. Since then he sins who seeks an unmeasured vengeance, but he does not sin who desires only a just one; he is therefore further from sin who seeks no retribution at all.

I might state it yet thus; It was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not take unequal retaliation; But I say unto you, Ye shall not retaliate; this is a completion of the Law, if in these words something is added to the Law which was wanting to it; yea, rather that which the Law sought to do, namely, to put an end to unequal revenge, is more safely secured when there is no revenge at all.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For without this command, the commands of the Law could not stand. For if according to the Law we begin all of us to render evil for evil, we shall all become evil, since they that do hurt abound. But if according to Christ we resist not evil, though they that are evil be not amended, yet they that are good remain good.

Jerome: Thus our Lord by doing away all retaliation, cuts off the beginnings of sin. So the Law corrects faults, the Gospel removes their occasions.

Gloss, non occ.: Or it may be said that the Lord said this, adding somewhat to the righteousness of the old Law.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 19: For the righteousness of the Pharisees is a less righteousness, not to transgress the measure of equal retribution; and this is the beginning of peace; but perfect peace is to refuse all such retribution. Between that first manner than, which was not according to the Law, to wit, that a greater evil should be returned for a less, and this which the Lord enjoins to make His disciples perfect, to wit, that no evil should be returned for evil, a middle place is held by this, that an equal evil should be returned, which was thus the passage from extremest discord to extremest peace.

Whoso then first does evil to another departs furthest from righteousness; and who does not first do any wrong, but when wronged repays with a heavier wrong, has departed somewhat from the extreme injustice; he who repays only what he has received, gives up yet something more, for it were but strict right that he who is the first aggressor should receive a greater hurt than he inflicted.

This righteousness thus partly begun, He perfects, who is [p. 198] come to fulfil the Law. The two steps that intervene He leaves to be understood; for there is who does not repay so much, but less; and there is yet above him, he who repays not at all; yet this seems too little to the Lord, if you be not also ready to suffer wrong.

Therefore He says not, “Render not evil for evil,” but, “Resist not against evil,” not only repay not what is offered to you, but do not resist that it should not be done to you. For thus accordingly He explains that saying, “If any man smite thee on thy right cheek, offer to him the left also.” Which as being a high part of mercy, is known to those who serve such as they love much; from whom, being morose, or insane, they endure many things, and if it be for their health they offer themselves to endure more.

The Lord then, the Physician of souls, teaches His disciples to endure with patience the sicknesses of those for whose spiritual health they should provide. For all wickedness comes of a sickness of the mind; nothing is more innocent than he who is sound and of perfect health in virtue.

Aug., de Mendac., 15: The things which are done by the Saints in the New Testament profit for examples of understanding those Scriptures which are modelled into the form of precepts. Thus we read in Luke; “Whoso smiteth thee on the one cheek, turn to him the other also.” [Luke 6:29] Now there is no example of patience more perfect than that of the Lord; yet He, when He was smitten, said not, ‘Behold the other cheek,’ but, “If I have spoken amiss, accuse me wherein it is amiss; but if well, why smitest thou me? [John 18:23] hereby shewing us that turning of the other cheek should be in the heart.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 19: For the Lord was ready not only to be smitten on the other cheek for the salvation of men, but to be crucified with His whole body. It may be asked, What does the right cheek expressly signify? As the face is that whereby any man is known, to be smitten of the face is according to the Apostle to be contemned and despised. But as we cannot say ‘right face,’ and ‘left face,’ and yet we have a name twofold, one before God, and one before the world, it is distributed as it were into the right cheek, and left cheek, that whoever of Christ’s disciples is despised for that he is a Christian, may be ready to be yet more [p. 199] despised for any of this world’s honours that he may have.

All things wherein we suffer any wrong are divided into two kinds, of which one is what cannot be restored, the other what may be restored. In that kind which cannot be restored, we are wont to seek the solace of revenge. For what does it boot if when smitten you smite again, is the hurt done to your body thereby repaid to you? But the mind swollen with rage seeks such assuagements.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or has your return blow at all restrained him from striking you again? It has rather roused him to another blow. For anger is not checked by meeting anger, but is only more irritated.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 20: Whence the Lord judges that others’ weakness should rather be borne with compassion, than that our own should be soothed by others’ pain. For that retribution which tends to correction is not here forbidden, for such is indeed a part of mercy; nor does such intention hinder that he, who seeks to correct another, is not at the same time ready himself to take more at his hands.

But it is required that he should inflict the punishment to whom the power is given by the course of things, and with such a mind as the father has to a child in correcting him whom it is impossible he should hate. And holy men have punished some sins with death, in order that a wholesome fear might be struck into the living, and so that not his death, but the likelihood of increase of his sin had he lived, was the hurt of the criminal.

Thus Elias punished many with death, and when the disciples would take example from him they were rebuked by the Lord, who did not censure this example of the Prophet, but their ignorant use of it, seeing them to desire the punishment not for correction’s sake, but from angry hate.

But after He had inculcated love of their neighbour, and had given them the Holy Spirit, there wanted not instances of such vengeance; as Ananias and his wife who fell down dead at the words of Peter, and the Apostle Paul delivered some to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. Yet do some, with a kind of blind opposition, rage against the temporal punishments of the Old Testament, not knowing with what mind they were inflicted.

Aug., Epist. 185, 5: But who that is of sober mind would say to kings, It is nothing [p. 200] of your concern who will live religiously, or who profanely? It cannot even be said to them, that it is not their concern who will live chastely, or who unchastely. It is indeed better that men should be led to serve God by right teaching than by penalties; yet has it benefitted many, as experience has approved to us, to be first coerced by pain and fear, that they might be taught after, or to be made to conform in deed to what they had learned in words. The better men indeed are led of love, but the more part of men are wrought by fear. Let them learn in the case of the Apostle Paul, how Christ first constrained, and after taught him.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 20: Therefore in this kind of injuries which are wont to rouse vengeance Christians will observe such a mean, that hate shall not be caused by the injuries they may receive, and yet wholesome correction be not foregone by Him who has right of either counsel or power.

Jerome: Mystically interpreted; When we are smitten on the right cheek, He said not, offer to him thy left, but “the other;” for the righteous has not a left. That is, if a heretic has smitten us in disputation, and would wound us in a right hand doctrine, let him be met with another testimony from Scripture.

Aug.: The other kind of injuries are those in which full restitution can be made, of which there are two kinds; one relates to money, the other to work; of the first of these it is He speaks when He continues, “Whoso will sue thee for thy coat, let him have thy cloak likewise.” As by the cheek are denoted such injuries of the wicked as admit of no restitution but revenge, so by this similitude of the garments is denoted such injury as admits restitution. And this, as the former, is rightly taken of preparation of the heart, not of the show of the outward action.

And what is commanded respecting our garments, is to be observed in al things that by any right we call our own in worldly property. For if the command be expressed in these necessary articles of life, how much more does it hold in the case of superfluities and luxuries? And when He says, “He who will sue thee,” He clearly intends to include every thing for which it is possible that we should be sued.

It may be made a question whether it [p. 201] is to be understood of slaves, for a Christian ought not to possess his slave on the same footing as his horse; though it might be that the horse was worth the more money. And if your slave have a milder master in you than he would have in him who seeks to take him from you, I do not know that he ought to be given up as lightly as your coat.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For it were an unworthy thing that a believer should stand in his cause before an unbelieving judge. Or if one who is a believer, though (as he must be) a worldly man, though he should have reverenced you for the worthiness of the faith, sues you because the cause is a necessary one, you will lose the worthiness of Christ for the business of the world. Further, every lawsuit irritates the heart and excites bad thoughts; for when you see dishonesty or bribery employed against you, you hasten to support your own cause by like means, though originally you might have intended nothing of the sort.

Aug., Enchir., 78: The Lord here forbids his disciples to have lawsuits with others for worldly property. Yet as the Apostle allows such kind of causes to be decided between brethren, and before arbiters who are brethren, but utterly disallows them without the Church, it is manifest what is conceded to infirmity as pardonable.

Greg., Mor., xxxi, 13: There are, who are so far to be endured, as they rob us of our worldly goods; but there are whom we ought to hinder, and that without breaking the law of charity, not only that we may not be robbed of what is ours, but lest they by robbing others destroy themselves. We ought to fear much more for the men who rob us, than to be eager to save the inanimate things they take from us. When peace with our neighbour is banished the heart on the matter of worldly possession, it is plain that our estate is more loved than our neighbour.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 19: The third kind of wrongs, which is in the matter of labour, consists of both such as admit restitution, and such as do not - or with or without revenge - for he who forcibly presses a man’s service, and makes him give him aid against his will, can either be punished for his crime, or return the labour. In this kind of wrongs then, the Lord teaches that the Christian mind is most patient, and prepared to endure yet more than is offered; “If a man constrain thee to go with [p. 202] him a mile, go with him yet other two.” This likewise is meant not so much of actual service with your feet, as of readiness of mind.

Chrys., Hom. xviii: The word here used signifies to drag unjustly, without cause, and with insult.

Aug.: Let us suppose it therefore said, “Go with him other two,” that the number three might be completed; by which number perfection is signified; that whoever does this might remember that he is fulfilling perfect righteousness. For which reason he conveys this precept under three examples, and in this third example, he adds a twofold measure to the one single measure, that the threefold number may be complete.

Or we may so consider as though in enforcing this duty, He had begun with what was easiest to bear, and had advanced gradually. For first He commanded that when the right cheek was smitten we should turn the other also; therein shewing ourselves ready to endure another wrong less than that you have already received. Secondly, to him that would take your coat, he bids you part with your cloak, (or “garment,” as some copies read,) which is either just as great a loss, or perhaps a little greater. In the third He doubles the additional wrong which He would have us ready to endure. And seeing it is a small thing not to hurt unless you further shew kindness, He adds, “To him that asketh of thee, give.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: Because wealth is not ours but God’s; God would have us stewards of His wealth, and not lords.

Jerome: If we understand this only of alms, it cannot stand with the estate of the most part of men who are poor; even the rich if they have been always giving, will not be able to continue always to give.

Aug.: Therefore, He says not, ‘Give all things to him that asks;’ but, “Give to every one that asketh;” that you should only give what you can give honestly and rightly. For what if one ask for money to employ in oppressing the innocent man? What if he ask your consent to unclean sin? We must give then only what will hurt neither ourselves or others, as far as man can judge; and when you have refused an inadmissible request, that you may not send away empty him that asked, shew the righteousness of your refusal; and such correction of the unlawful petitioner will often be a better gift than the granting his suit.

Aug., Epist., 93, 2: For with more benefit is food taken from the hungry, if [p. 203] certainty of provision causes him to neglect righteousness, than that food should be supplied to him that he may consent to a deed of violence and wrong.

Jerome: But it may be understood of the wealth of doctrine: wealth which never fails but the more of it is given away, the more it abounds.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 20: That He commands, “And from him that would borrow of thee, turn not away,” must be referred to the mind; for “God loveth a cheerful giver.” [2 Cor 9:7] And every one that receives, indeed borrows, though it is not he that shall pay, but God, who restores to the merciful many fold.

Or, if you like to understand by borrowing, only taking with promise to repay, we must understand the Lord’s command as embracing both these kinds of affording aid; whether we give outright, or lend to receive again. And of this last kind of shewing mercy it is well said, “Turn not away,” that is, do not be therefore backward to lend, as though, because man shall repay you, therefore God shall not; for what you do by God’s command cannot be without fruit.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Christ bids us lend but not on usury; for he who gives on such terms does not bestow his own, but takes of another; he looses from one chain to bind with many, and gives not for God’s righteousness sake, but for his own gain. For money taken on usury is like the bite of an asp; as the asp’s poison secretly consumes the limbs, so usury turns all our possessions into debt.

Aug., Epist., 138, 2: Some object that this command of Christ is altogether inconsistent with civil life in Commonwealths; Who, say they, would suffer, when he could hinder it, the pillage of his estate by an enemy; or would not repay the evil suffered by a plundered province of Rome on the plunderers according to the rights of war? But these precepts of patience are to be observed in readiness of the heart, and that mercy, not to return evil for evil, must be always fulfilled by the will.

Yet must we often use a merciful sharpness in dealing with the headstrong. And in this way, if the earthly commonwealth will keep the Christian commandments, even war will not be waged without good charities, to the establishing among the vanquished peaceful harmony of godliness and righteousness. For that victory is beneficial to him from whom it snatches license to sin; since nothing is more unfortunate for sinners, than the good [p. 204] fortune of their sins, which nourishes an impunity that brings punishment after it, and an evil will is strengthened, as it were some internal enemy.


43. “Ye have heard that it hath been said, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.’

44. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you;

45. That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

46. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the Publicans the same?

47. And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the Publicans so?

48. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”


Gloss., non occ.: The Lord has taught above that we must not resist one who offers any injury, but must be ready even to suffer more; He now further requires us to shew to them that do us wrong both love and its effects. And as the things that have gone before pertain to the completion of the righteousness of the Law, in like manner this last precept is to be referred to the completion of the law of love, which, according to the Apostle, is the fulfilling of the Law.

Aug., de Doctr. Christ., i, 30: That by the command, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour,” all mankind were intended, the Lord shewed in the parable of the man who was left half dead, which teaches us that our neighbour is every one who may happen at any time to stand in need of our offices of mercy; and this who does not see must be denied to [p. 205] none, when the Lord says, “Do good to them that hate you.”

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 21: That there were degrees in the righteousness of the Pharisees which was under the old Law is seen herein, that many hated even those by whom they were loved. He therefore who loves his neighbour, has ascended one degree, though as yet he hate his enemy; which is expressed in that, “and shalt hate thy enemy;” which is not to be understood as a command to the justified, but a concession to the weak.

Aug., cont. Faust., xix, 24: I ask the Manichaeans why they would have this peculiar to the Mosaic Law, that was said by them of old time, “thou shalt hate thy enemy?” Has not Paul said of certain men that they were hateful to God? We must enquire then how we may understand that, after the example of God, to whom the Apostle here affirms some men to be hateful, our enemies are to be hated; and again after the same pattern of Him “Who maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good,” our enemies are to be loved.

Here then is the rule by which we may at once hate our enemy for the evil’s sake that is in him, that is, his iniquity, and love him for the good’s sake that is in him, that is, his rational part. This then, thus uttered by them of old, being heard, but not understood, hurried men on to the hatred of men, when they should have hated nothing but vice.

Such the Lord corrects as He proceeds, saying, “I say unto you, Love your enemies.” He who had just declared that He came “not to subvert the Law, but to fulfil it,” by bidding us love our enemies, brought us to the understanding of how we may at once hate the same man for his sins whom we love for his human nature.

Gloss. ord.: But it should be known, that in the whole body of the Law it is no where written, Thou shalt hate thy enemy. But it is to be referred to the tradition of the Scribes, who thought good to add this to the Law, because the Lord bade the children of Israel pursue their enemies, and destroy Amalek from under heaven.

Pseudo-Chrys.: As that, Thou shalt not lust, was not spoken to the flesh, but to the spirit, so in this the flesh indeed is not able to love its enemy, but the spirit is able; for the love and hate of the flesh is in the sense, but of the spirit is in the understanding. If then we feel hate to one who [p. 206] has wronged us, and yet will not to act upon that feeling, know that our flesh hates our enemy, but our soul loves him.

Greg., Mor., xxii, 11: Love to an enemy is then observed when we are not sorrowful at his success, or rejoice in his fall. We hate him whom we wish not to be bettered, and pursue with ill-wishes the prosperity of the man in whose fall we rejoice. Yet it may often happen that without any sacrifice of charity, the fall of an enemy may gladden us, and again his exaltation make us sorrowful without any suspicion of envy; when, namely, by his fall any deserving man is raised up, or by his success any undeservedly depressed.

But herein a strict measure of discernment must be observed, lest in following out our own hates, we hide it from ourselves under the specious pretence of others’ benefit. We should balance how much we owe to the fall of the sinner, how much to the justice of the Judge. For when the Almighty has struck any hardened sinner, we must at once magnify His justice as Judge, and feel with the other’s suffering who perishes.

Gloss. ord.: They who stand against the Church oppose her in three ways; with hate, with words, and with bodily tortures. The Church on the other hand loves them, as it is here, “Love your enemies;” does good to them, as it is, “Do good to them that hate you;” and prays for them, as it is, “Pray for them that persecute you and accuse you falsely.”

Jerome: Many measuring the commandments of God by their own weakness, not by the strength of the saints, hold these commands for impossible, and say that it is virtue enough not to hate our enemies; but to love them is a command beyond human nature to obey. But it must be understood that Christ enjoins not impossibilities but perfection. Such was the temper of David towards Saul and Absalom; the Martyr Stephen also prayed for his enemies while they stoned him, and Paul wished himself anathema for the sake of his persecutors. [Rom 9:3] Jesus both taught and did the same, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” [Luke 23:34]

Aug., Enchir., 73: These indeed are examples of the perfect sons of God; yet to this should every believer aim, and seek by prayer to God, and struggles with himself to raise his human spirit to this [p. 207] tempter. Yet this so great blessing is not given to all those multitudes which we believe are heard when they pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 21: Here arises a question, that this commandment of the Lord, by which He bids us pray for our enemies, seems opposed by many other parts of Scripture. In the Prophets are found many imprecations upon enemies; such as that in the 108th Psalm, “Let his children be orphans.” [Ps 109:9]

But it should be known, that the Prophets are wont to foretell things to come in the form of a prayer or wish. This has more weight as a difficulty that John say, “There is a sin unto death, I say not that he shall pray for it;” [1 John 5:16] plainly shewing, that there are some brethren for whom he does not bid us pray; for what went before was, “If any know his brother sin a sin, &c.”

Yet the Lord bids us pray for our persecutors. This question can only be resolved, if we admit that there are some sins in brethren more grievous than the sin of persecution in our enemies. For thus Stephen prays for those that stoned him, because they had not yet believed on Christ; but the Apostle Paul does not pray for Alexander though he was a brother [2 Tim 4:14], but had sinned by attacking the brotherhood through jealousy.

But for whom you pray not, you do not therein pray against him. What must we say then of those against whom we know that the saints have prayed, and that not that they should be corrected, (for that would be rather to have prayed for them), but for their eternal damnation; not as that prayer of the Prophet against the Lord’s betrayer, for that is a prophecy of the future, not an imprecation of punishment; but as when we read in the Apocalypse the Martyrs’ prayer that they may be avenged. [Rev 6:10]

But we ought not to let this affect us. For who may dare to affirm that they prayed against those persons themselves, and not against the kingdom of sin? For that would be both a just and a merciful avenging of the Martyrs, to overthrow that kingdom of sin, under the continuance of which they endured all those evils. And it is overthrown by correction of some, and damnation of such as abide in sin. Does not Paul seem to you to have avenged Stephen on his own body, as he speaks, “I chastise my body, and bring [p. 208] it into subjection.” [1 Cor 9:27]

Pseudo-Aug., Hil. Quaest. V. and N. Test. q. 68: And the souls of them that are slain cry out to be avenged; as the blood of Abel cried out of the ground not with a voice, but in spirit [margin note: ratione]. As the work is said to laud the workman, when he delights himself in the view thereof; for the saints are not so impatient as to urge on what they know will come to pass at the appointed time.

Chrys.: Note through what steps we have now ascended hither, and how He has set us on the very pinnacle of virtue. The first step is, not to begin to do wrong to any; the second, that in avenging a wrong done to us we be content with retaliating equal; the third, to return nothing of what we have suffered; the fourth, to offer one’s self to the endurance of evil; the fifth, to be ready to suffer even more evil than the oppressor desires to inflict; the sixth, not to hate him of whom we suffer such things; the seventh, to love him; the eighth, to do him good; the ninth, to pray for him. And because the command is great, the reward proposed is also great, namely, to be made like unto God, “Ye shall be the sons of your Father which is in heaven.”

Jerome: For whoso keeps the commandments of God is thereby made the son of God; he then of whom he here speaks is not by nature His son, but by his own will.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 23: After that rule we must here understand of which John speaks, “He gave them power to be made the sons of God.” One is His Son by nature; we are made sons by the power which we have received; that is, so far as we fulfil those things that we are commanded. So He says not, Do these things because ye are sons; but, do these things that ye may become sons.

In calling us to this then, He calls us to His likeness, for He saith, “He maketh His sun to rise on the righteous and the unrighteous.” By the sun we may understand not this visible, but that of which it is said, “To you that fear the name of the Lord, the Sun of righteousness shall arise;” [Mal 4:2] and by the rain, the water of the doctrine of truth; for Christ was seen, and was preached to good as well as bad.

Hilary: Or, the sun and rain have reference to the baptism with water and Spirit.

Aug.: Or we may take it of this visible sun, and of the rain by which the fruits are nourished, as the wicked mourn in the book of Wisdom, [p. 209] “The Sun has not risen for us.” [Wis 5:6] And of the rain it is said, “I will command the clouds that they rain not on it.” [Isa 5:6] But whether it be this or that, it is of the great goodness of God, which is set forth for our imitation. He says not, ‘the sun,’ but, “His sun,” that is, the sun which Himself has made, that hence we may be admonished with how great liberality we ought to supply those things that we have not created, but have received as a boon from Him.

Aug., Epist., 93, 2: But as we laud Him for His gifts, let us also consider how He chastises those whom He loves. For not every one who spares is a friend, nor every one who chastises an enemy; it is better to love with severity, than to use lenity wherewith to deceive [margin note: see Prov. 27:6].

Pseudo-Chrys.: He was careful to say, “On the righteous and the unrighteous;’ for God gives all good gifts not for men’s sake, but for the saints’ sake, as likewise chastisements for the sake of sinners. In bestowing His good gifts, He does not separate the sinners from the righteous, that they should not despair; so in His inflictions, not the righteous from sinners that they should be made proud; and that the more, since the wicked are not profited by the good things they receive, but turn them to their hurt by their evil lives; nor are the good hurt by the evil things, but rather profit to increase of righteousness.

Aug., City of God, book 1, ch. 8: For the good man is not puffed up by worldly goods, nor broken by worldly calamity. But the bad man is punished in temporal losses, because he is corrupted by temporal gains. Or for another reason He would have good and evil common to both sorts of men, that good things might not be sought with vehement desire, when they were enjoyed even by the wicked; nor the evil things shamefully avoided, when even the righteous are afflicted by them.

Gloss, non occ.: To love one that loves us is of nature, but to love our enemy of charity. “If ye love them who love you, what reward have ye?” to wit, in heaven. None truly, for of such it is said, “Ye have received your reward.” But these things we ought to do, and not leave the other undone.

Rabanus: If then sinners be led by nature to shew kindness to those that love them, with how much greater shew of affection ought you not to embrace even those that do not love you?

For it follows, “Do not even the publicans so?” [p. 210] “The publicans” are those who collect the public imposts; or perhaps those who pursue the public business or the gain of this world.

Gloss. non occ.: But if you only pray for them that are your kinsfolk, what more has your benevolence than that of the unbelieving? Salutation is a kind of prayer.

Rabanus: Ethnici, that is, the Gentiles, for the Greek word  is translated ‘gens’ in Latin; those, that is, who abide such as they were born, to wit, under sin.

Remig.: Because the utmost perfection of love cannot go beyond the love of enemies, therefore as soon as the Lord has bid us love our enemies, He proceeds, “Be ye then perfect, as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” He indeed is perfect, as being omnipotent; man, as being aided by the Omnipotent. For the word ‘as’ is used in Scripture, sometimes for identity, and equality, as in that, “As I was with Moses, so will I be with thee;” [Josh 1:5] sometimes to express likeness only as here.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For as our sons after the flesh resemble their fathers in some part of their bodily shape, so do spiritual sons resemble their father God, in holiness.

 

Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 6

[p. 211]

1. “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in Heaven.”


Gloss., non occ.: Christ having now fulfilled the Law in respect of commandments, begins to fulfil it in respect of promises, that we may do God’s commandments for heavenly wages, not for the earthly which the Law held out. All earthly things are reduced to two main heads, viz. human glory, and abundance of earthly goods, both of which seem to be promised in the Law. Concerning the first is that spoken in Deuteronomy, “The Lord shall make thee higher than all the nations who dwell on the face of the earth.” [Deut 28:1] And in the same place it is added of earthly wealth, “The Lord shall make thee abound in all good things.” Therefore the Lord now forbids these two things, glory and wealth, to the attention of believers.

Chrys., Hom. xix: Yet be it known that the desire of fame is near a kin to virtue.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For when any thing truly glorious is done, there ostentation has its readiest occasion; so the Lord first shuts out all intention of seeking glory; as He knows that this is of all fleshly vices the most dangerous to man. The servants of the Devil are tormented by all kinds of vices; but it is the desire of empty glory that torments the servants of the Lord more than the servants of the Devil.

Aug., Prosper. Lib. Sentent. 318: How great strength the love of human glory has, none feels, but he who has proclaimed war against it. For though it is easy for any not to wish for praise when it is denied him, it is difficult not to be pleased with it when it is offered.

Chrys.: Observe how He has begun as it were describing some beast hard to be discerned, [p. 212] and ready to steal upon him who is not greatly on his guard against it; it enters in secretly, and carries off insensibly all those things that are within.

Pseudo-Chrys.: And therefore he enjoins this to be more carefully avoided, “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men.” It is our heart we must watch, for it is an invisible serpent that we have to guard against, which secretly enters in and seduces; but if the heart be pure into which the enemy has succeeded in entering in, the righteous man soon feels that he is prompted by a strange spirit; but if his heart were full of wickedness, he does not readily perceive the suggestion of the Devil, and therefore He first taught us, “Be not angry, Lust not,” for that he who is under the yoke of these evils cannot attend to his own heart.

But how can it be that we should not do our alms before men. Or if this may be, how can they be so done that we should not know of it. For if a poor man come before us in the presence of any one, how shall we be able to give him alms in secret? If we lead him aside, it must be seen that we shall give him. Observe then that He said not simply, “Do not before men,” but added, “to be seen of them.” He then who does righteousness not from this motive, even if he does it before the eyes of men, is not to be thought to be herein condemned; for he who does any thing for God’s sake, sees nothing in his heart but God, for whose sake he does it; as a workman has always before his eyes him who has entrusted him with the work to do.

Greg., Mor., viii, 48: If then we seek the fame of giving, we make even our public deeds to be hidden in His sight; for if herein we seek our own glory, then they are already cast out of His sight, even though there be many by whom they are yet unknown. It belongs only to the thoroughly perfect, to suffer their deeds to be seen, and to receive the praise of doing them in such sort that they are lifted up with no secret exultation; whereas they that are weak, because they cannot attain to this perfect contempt of their own fame, must needs hide those good deeds that they do.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 1: In saying only, “That ye be seen of men,” without any addition, He seems to have forbidden that we should make that the end of our actions. For the Apostle who declared, “If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ;” [Gal 1:10] says in another place, “I please [p. 213] all men in all things. [1 Cor 10:33] This he did not that he might please men, but God, to the love of whom he desires to turn the hearts of men by pleasing them. As we should not think that he spoke absurdly, who should say, In this my pains in seeking a ship, it is not the ship I seek, but my country.

Aug., Serm. 54. 2: He says this, “that ye be seen of men,” because there are some who so do their righteousness before men that themselves may not be seen, but that the works themselves may be seen, and their Father who is in heaven may be glorified; for they reckon not their own righteousness, but His, in the faith of whom they live.

Aug., Serm. in Mont.: That He adds, “Otherwise ye shall not have your reward before your Father who is in heaven,” signifies no more than that we ought to take heed that we seek not praise of men in reward of our words.

Pseudo-Chrys.: What shall you receive from God, who have given God nothing? What is done for God’s sake is given to God, and received by Him; but what is done because of men is cast to the winds. But that wisdom is it, to bestow our goods, to reap empty words, and to have despised the reward of God? Nay you deceive the very man for whose good word you look; for he thinks you do it for God’s sake, otherwise he would rather reproach then command you.

Yet must we think him only to have done his work because of men, who does it with his whole will and intention governed by the thought of them. But if an idle thought, seeking to be seen of men, mount up in any one’s heart, but is resisted by the understanding spirit, he is not thereupon to be condemned of man-pleasing; for that the thought came to him was the passion of the flesh, what he chose was the judgment of his soul.


2. “Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

3. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

[p. 214]

4. That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly.


Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 2: Above the Lord had spoken of righteousness in general. He now pursues it through its different parts.

Pseudo-Chrys., Hom. xv: He opposes three chief virtues, alms, prayer, and fasting, to three evil things against which the Lord undertook the war of temptation. For He fought for us in the wilderness against gluttony; against covetousness on the mount; against false glory on the temple. It is alms that scatter abroad against covetousness which heaps up; fasting against gluttony which is its contrary; prayer against false glory, seeing that all other evil things come out of evil, this alone comes out of good; and therefore it is not overthrown but rather nourished of good, and has no remedy that may avail against it but prayer only.

Ambrosiaster, Comm. in Tim. 4, 8: The sum of all Christian discipline is comprehended in mercy and piety, for which reason He begins with almsgiving.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The trumpet stands for every act or word that tends to a display of our works; for instance, to do alms if we know that some other person is looking on, or at the request of another, or to a person of such condition that he may make us return; and unless in such cases not to do them.

Yea, even if in some secret place they are done with intent to be thought praiseworthy, then is the trumpet sounded.

Aug.: Thus what He says, “Do not sound a trumpet before thee,” refers to what He had said above, “Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men.”

Jerome: He who sounds a trumpet before him when he does alms is a hypocrite. Whence he adds, “as the hypocrites do.”

Isid., Etym. x. ex Aug. Serm.: The name ‘hypocrite’ is derived from the appearance of those who in the shows are disguised in masks, variously coloured according to the character they represent, sometimes male, sometimes female, to impose on the spectators while they act in the games.

Aug.: As then the hypocrites, (a word meaning ‘one who feigns,’) as personating the characters of other men, act parts which are not naturally their own - for he who personates Agamemnon, is not really [p. 215] Agamemnon, but feigns to be so - so likewise in the Churches, whosoever in his whole conduct desires to seem what he is not, is a hypocrite; he feigns himself righteous and is not really so, seeing his only motive is praise of men.

Gloss., non occ.: In the words, “in the streets and villages,” he marks the public places which they selected; and in those, “that they may receive honour of men,” he marks their motive.

Greg., Mor., xxxi, 13: It should be known, that there are some who wear the dress of sanctity, and are not able to work out the merit of perfection, yet who must in no wise be numbered among the hypocrites, because it is one thing to sin from weakness, another from crafty affectation.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 2: And such sinners receive from God the Searcher of hearts none other reward than punishment of their deceitfulness; “Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.”

Jerome: A reward not of God, but of themselves, for they receive praise of men, for the sake of which it was that they practised their virtues.

Aug.: This refers to what He had said above, “Otherwise ye shall have no reward of your Father which is in heaven;” and He goes on to shew them that they should not do their alms as the hypocrites, but teaches them how they should do them.

Chrys.: “Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth,” is said as an extreme expression, as much as to say, If it were possible, that you should not know yourself, and that your very hands should be hid from your sight, that is what you should most strive after.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The Apostles in the book of the Constitutions, interpret thus; The right hand is the Christian people which is at Christ’s right hand; the left hand is all the people who are on His left hand. He means then, that when a Christian does alms, the unbeliever should not see it.

Aug.: But according to this interpretation, it will be no fault to have a respect to pleasing the faithful; and yet we are forbidden to propose as the end of any good work the pleasing of any kind of men. Yet if you would have men to imitate your actions which may be pleasing to them, they must be done before unbelievers as well as believers.

If again, according to another interpretation, we take the left hand to mean our enemy, and that our enemy should not know when we do our alms, why [p. 216] did the Lord Himself mercifully heal men when the Jews were standing round Him? And how too must we deal with our enemy himself according to that precept, “If thy enemy hunger, feed him.” [Prov 25:21]

A third interpretation is ridiculous; that the left hand signifies the wife, and that because women are wont to be more close in the matter of expense out of the family purse, therefore the charities of the husband should be secret from the wife, for the avoiding of domestic strife. But this command is addressed to women as well as to men, what then is the left hand, from which women are bid to conceal their alms? Is the husband also the left hand of the wife? And when it is commanded such that they enrich each other with good works, it is clear that they ought not to hide their good deeds; nor is a theft to be committed to do God service.

But if in any case something must needs be done covertly, from respect to the weakness of the other, though it is not unlawful, yet that we cannot suppose the wife to be intended by the left hand here is clear from the purport of the whole paragraph; no, not even such an one as he might well call left. But that which is blamed in hypocrites, namely, that they seek praise of men, this you are forbid to do; the left hand therefore seems to signify the delight in men’s praise; the right hand denotes the purpose of fulfilling the divine commands.

Whenever then a desire to gain honour from men mingles itself with the conscience of him that does alms, it is then the left hand knowing what the right hand, the right conscience, does. “Let not the left hand know,” therefore, “what the right hand doeth,” means, let not the desire of men’s praise mingle with your conscience.

But our Lord does yet more strongly forbid the left hand alone to work in us, than its mingling in the works of the right hand. The intent with which He said all this is shewn in that He adds, “that your alms may be in secret;” that is, in that your good conscience only, which human eye cannot see, nor words discover, though many things are said falsely of many. But your good conscience itself is enough for you towards deserving your reward, if you look for your reward from Him who alone can see your conscience. This is that He adds, “And you Father which [p. 217] seeth in secret shall reward you.” Many Latin copies have, “openly.” [ed. note: “openly” omit Clement. Hom. iii. 56. on verse 6. Origen on v. 6 (in Ezek. viii. 12) but retains in Joan. tom. 13. n. 45, Jerome in loc. &c. vid. Wetstein in loc. Augustine adds that the Greek manuscripts omit, but all the present Greek manuscripts retain. He omits it also in v. 18]

Pseudo-Chrys.: For it is impossible that God should leave in obscurity any good work of man; but He makes it manifest in this world, and glorifies it in the next world, because it is the glory of God; as likewise the Devil manifests evil, in which is shewn the strength of his great wickedness.

But God properly makes public every good deed only in that world the goods of which are not common to the righteous and the wicked; therefore to whomsoever God shall there shew favour, it will be manifest that it was as reward of his righteousness. But the reward of virtue is not manifested in this world, in which both bad and good are alike in their fortunes.

Aug.: But in the Greek copies, which are earlier, we have not the word, “openly.”

Chrys.: If therefore you desire spectators of your good deeds, behold you have not merely Angels and Archangels, but the God of the universe.


5. “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”


Pseudo-Chrys.: Solomon says, “Before prayer, prepare thy soul.” This he does who comes to prayer doing alms; for good works stir up the faith of the heart, and give the soul confidence in prayer to God. Alms then are a preparation for prayer, and therefore the Lord after speaking of alms proceeds accordingly to instruct us concerning prayer.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 3: He does not now bid us pray, but instructs us how we should pray; as above He did not command us to do alms, but shewed the manner of doing them.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Prayer is as it [p. 218] were a spiritual tribute which the soul offers of its own bowels. Wherefore the more glorious it is, the more watchfully ought we to guard that it is not made vile by being done to be seen of men.

Chrys.: He calls them hypocrites, because feigning that they are praying to God, they are looking round to men; and He adds, “they love to pray in the synagogues.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: But I suppose that it is not the place that the Lord here refers to, but the motive of him that prays; for it is praiseworthy to pray in the congregation of the faithful, as it is said, “in your Churches bless ye God.” [Ps. 68:26]

Whoever then so prays as to be seen of men does not look to God but to man, and so far as his purpose is concerned he prays in the synagogue. But he, whose mind in prayer is wholly fixed on God, though he pray in the synagogue, yet seems to pray with himself in secret. “In the corners of the streets,” namely, that they may seem to be praying retiredly, and thus earn a twofold praise, both that they pray, and that they pray in retirement.

Gloss. ord.: Or, “the corners of the streets,” are the places where one way crosses another, and makes four cross-ways.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He forbids us to pray in an assembly with the intent of being seen of that assembly, as He adds, “that they may be seen of men.” He that prays therefore should do nothing singular that might attract notice; as crying out, striking his breast, or reaching forth his hands.

Aug.: Not that the mere being seen of men is an impiety, but the doing this, in order to be seen of men.

Chrys.: It is a good thing to be drawn away from the thought of empty glory, but especially in prayer. For our thoughts are apt to stray of themselves; if then we address ourselves to prayer with this disease upon us, how shall we understand those things that are said by us?

Aug.: The privity of other men is to be so far shunned by us, as it leads us to do any thing with this mind that we look for the fruit of their applause.

Pseudo-Chrys.: “Verily I say unto you, they have received their reward,” for every man where he sows there he reaps, therefore they who pray because of men, not because of God, receive praise of men, not of God.

Chrys.: He says, have received, because God was ready to give them that reward which comes from Himself, but they prefer rather that which comes from men. He then goes on [p. 219] to teach how we should pray.

Jerome: This if taken in its plain sense teaches the hearer to shun all desire of vain honour in praying.

Pseudo-Chrys.: That none should be there present save he only who is praying, for a witness impedes rather than forwards prayer.

Cyprian, Tr. vii. 2: The Lord has bid us in His instructions to pray secretly in remote and withdrawn places, as best suited to faith; that we may be assured that God who is present every where hears and sees all, and in the fulness of His Majesty penetrates even hidden places.

Pseudo-Chrys.: We may also understand by “the door of the chamber,” the mouth of the body; so that we should not pray to God with loudness of tone, but with silent heart, for three reasons. First, because God is not to be gained by vehement crying, but by a right conscience, seeing He is a hearer of the heart; secondly, because none but thyself and God should be privy to your secret prayers; thirdly, because if you pray aloud, you hinder any other from praying near you.

Cassian, Collat. ix, 35: Also we should observe close silence in our prayers, that our enemies, who are ever most watchful to ensnare us at that time, may not know the purport of our petition.

Aug.: Or, by our chambers are to be understood our hearts, of which it is spoken in the fourth Psalm; “What things ye utter in your hearts, and wherewith ye are pricked in your chambers.” [Ps 4:4] “The door” is the bodily senses; without are al worldly things, which, enter into our thoughts through the senses, and that crowd of vain imaginings which beset us in prayer.

Cyprian, Tr. vii, 20: What insensibility is it to be snatched wandering off by light and profane imaginings, when you are presenting your entreaty to the Lord, as if there were aught else you ought rather to consider than that your converse is with God! How can you claim of God to attend to you, when you do not attend to yourself? This is altogether to make no provision against the enemy; this is when praying to God, to offend God’s Majesty by the neglectfulness of your prayer.

Aug.: The door then must be shut, that is, we must resist the bodily sense, that we may address our Father in such spiritual prayer as is made in the inmost spirit, where we pray to Him truly in secret.

Remig.: Let it be enough for you that He alone know your [p. 220] petitions, who knows the secrets of all hearts; for He Who sees all things, the same shall listen to you.

Chrys.: He said not ‘shall freely give thee,’ but, “shall reward thee;” thus He constitutes Himself your debtor.


7. “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

8. Be ye not therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.”


Aug.: As the hypocrites use to set themselves so as to be seen in their prayers, whose reward is to be acceptable to men; so the Ethnici (that is, the Gentiles) use to think that they shall be heard for their much speaking; therefore He adds, “When ye pray, do not ye use many words.”

Cassian, Collat. ix. 36: We should indeed pray often, but in short form, lest if we be long in our prayers, the enemy that lies in wait for us, might suggest something for our thoughts.

Aug., Epist., 130, 10: Yet to continue long in prayer is not, as some think, what is here meant, by “using many words.” For much speaking is one thing, and an enduring fervency another. For of the Lord Himself it is written, that He continued a whole night in prayer, and prayed at great length, setting an example to us. The brethren in Egypt are said to use frequent prayers, but those very short, and as it were hasty ejaculations, lest that fervency of spirit, which is most behoveful for us in prayer, should by longer continuance be violently broken off.

Herein themselves sufficiently shew, that this fervency of spirit, as it is not to be forced if it cannot last, so if it has lasted is not to be violently broken off. Let prayer then be without much speaking, but not without much entreaty, if this fervent spirit can be supported; for much speaking in prayer is to use in a necessary matter more words than necessary. But to entreat much, is to importune with enduring warmth the heart Him to whom our entreaty is made; for often is this business effected more by groans than words, by weeping more than speech.

Chrys.: Hereby He [p. 221] dissuades from empty speaking in prayer; as, for example, when we ask of God things improper, as dominions, fame, overcoming of our enemies, or abundance of wealth. He commands then that our prayers should not be long; long, that is, not in time, but in multitude of words. For it is right that those who ask should persevere in their asking; “being instant in prayer,” as the Apostle instructs; but does not thereby enjoin us to compose a prayer of ten thousand verses, and speak it all; which He secretly hints at, when He says, “Do not ye use many words.”

Gloss. ord.: What He condemns is many words in praying that come of want of faith; “as the Gentiles do.” For a multitude of words were needful for the Gentiles, seeing the daemons could not know for what they petitioned, until instructed by them; they think they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Aug.: And truly all superfluity of discourse has come from the Gentiles, who labour rather to practise their tongues than to cleanse their hearts, and introduce this art of rhetoric into that wherein they need to persuade God.

Greg., Mor. xxxiii. 23: True prayer consists rather in the bitter groans of repentance, than in the repetition of set forms of words.

Aug.: For we use many words then when we have to instruct one who is in ignorance, what need of them to Him who is Creator of all things; “Your heavenly Father knoweth what ye have need of before you ask Him”

Jerome: Or this there starts up a heresy of certain Philosophers [margin note: Epicureans] who taught the mistaken dogma that if God knows for what we shall pray, and, before we ask, knows what we need, our prayer is needlessly made to one who has such knowledge. To such we shortly reply, That in our prayers we do not instruct, but entreat; it is one thing to inform the ignorant, another to beg of the understanding: the first were to teach; the latter is to perform a service of duty.

Chrys.: You do not then pray in order to teach God your wants, but to move Him, that you may become His friend by the importunity of your applications to Him, that you may be humbled, that you may be reminded of your sins.

Aug.: Nor ought we to use words in seeking to obtain of God what we would, but to seek with intense and fervent application of mind, with pure love, and suppliant spirit.

Aug., Epist. 130. 9: But even with words we ought at certain periods [p. 222] to make prayer to God, that by these signs of things we may keep ourselves in mind, and may know what progress we have made in such desire, and may stir up ourselves more actively to increase this desire, that after it have begun to wax warm, it may not be chilled and utterly frozen up by divers cares, without our continual care to keep it alive.

Words therefore are needful for us that we should be moved by them, that we should understand clearly what it is we ask, not that we should think that by them the Lord is either instructed or persuaded.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 3: Still it may be asked, what is the use of prayer at all, whether made in words or in meditation of things, if God knows already what is necessary for us. The mental posture of prayer calms and purifies the soul, and makes it of more capacity to receive the divine gifts which are poured into it. For God does not hear us for the prevailing force of our pleadings; He is at all times ready to give us His light, but we are not ready to receive it, but prone to other things.

There is then in prayer a turning of the body to God, and a purging of the inward eye, whilst those worldly things which we desired are shut out, that the eye of the mind made single might be able to bear the single light, and in it abide with that joy with which a happy life is perfected.


9. “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in Heaven, Hallowed by thy name.”


Gloss: Amongst His other saving instructions and divine lessons, wherewith He counsels believers, He has set forth for us a form of prayer in few words; thus giving us confidence that will be quickly granted, for which He would have us pray so shortly.

Cyprian, Tr. vii, 1: He who gave to us to live, taught us also to pray, to the end, that speaking to the Father in the prayer which the Son hath taught, we may receive a readier hearing. It is praying like friends and familiars to offer up to God of His own. Let the Father recognize the Son’s words when we offer up our prayer; and seeing we have Him when we sin for an Advocate with the Father, let us put forward the words of our Advocate, [p. 223] when as sinners we make petition for our offences.

Gloss. ord.: Yet we do not confine ourselves wholly to these words, but use others also conceived in the same sense, with which our heart is kindled.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 4: Since in every entreaty we have first to propitiate the good favour of Him whom we entreat, and after that mention what we entreat for; and this we commonly do by saying something in praise of Him whom we entreat, and place it in the front of our petition; in this the Lord bids us say no more than only, “Our Father which art in Heaven.”

Mary things were said of them to the praise of God, yet do we never find it taught to the children of Israel to address God as ‘Our Father;’ He is rather set before them as a Lord over slaves. But of Christ’s people the Apostle says, “We have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father,” [Rom 8:15] and that not of our deservings, but of grace. This then we express in the prayer when we say, “Father;” which name also stirs up love. For what can be dearer than sons are to a father? And a suppliant spirit, in that men should say to God “Our Father.” And a certain presumption that we shall obtain; for what will He not give to His sons when they ask of Him, who has given them that first that they should be sons?

Lastly, how great anxiety possesses his mind, that having called God his Father, he should not be unworthy of such a Father. By this the rich and the noble are admonished when they have become Christians not to be haughty towards the poor or truly born, who like themselves may address God as “Our Father;” and they therefore cannot truly or piously say this unless they acknowledge such for brethren.

Chrys.: For what hurt does such kindred with those beneath us, when we are all alike kin to One above us? For who calls God Father, in that one title confesses at once the forgiveness of sins, the adoption, the heirship, the brotherhood, which he has with the Only-begotten, and the gift of the Spirit. For none can call God Father, but he who has obtained all these blessings. In a two-fold manner, therefore, he moves the feeling of them that pray, both by the dignity of Him who is prayed to, and the greatness of those benefits which we gain by prayer.

Cyprian, Tr. vii. 4: We say not My Father, but “Our Father,” for the teacher of peace and master [p. 224] of unity would not have men pray singly and severally, since when any prays, he is not to pray for himself only. Our prayer is general and for all, and when we pray, we pray not for one person, but for us all, because we all are one. So also He willed that one should pray for all, according as Himself in one did bear us all.

Pseudo-Chrys.: To pray for ourselves it is our necessity compels us, to pray for others brotherly charity instigates.

Gloss. ord.: Also because He is a common Father of all, we say, “Our Father;” not “My Father” which is appropriate to Christ alone, who is his Son by nature.

Pseudo-Chrys.: “Which are in heaven,” is added, that we may know that we have a heavenly Father, and may blush to immerse ourselves wholly in earthly things when we have a Father in heaven.

Cassian, Collat. ix. 18: And that we should speed with strong desire thitherward where our Father dwells.

Chrys.: “In heaven,” not confining God’s presence to that, but withdrawing the thoughts of the petitioner from earth and fixing them on things above.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 5: Or; “in heaven” is among the saints and the righteous men; for God is not contained in space. For the heavens literally are the upper parts of the universe, and if God be thought to be in them, then are the birds of more desert than men, seeing they must have their habitation nearer to God. But, “God is nigh,” [Ps. 34:18] it is not said to the men of lofty stature, or to the inhabitants of the mountain tops; but, “to the broken in heart.”

But as the sinner is called ‘earth,’ as “earth thou art, and unto earth thou must return,” [Gen 3:19] so might the righteous on the other hand be called ‘the heaven.’ Thus then it would be rightly said “Who art in heaven,” for there would seem to be as much difference spiritually between the righteous and sinners, as locally, between heaven and earth.

With the intent of signifying which thing it is, that we turn our faces in prayer to the east, not as though God was there only, deserting all other parts of the earth; but that the mind may be reminded to turn itself to that nature which is more excellent, that is to God, when his body, which is of earth, is turned to the more excellent body which is of heaven. For it is desirable that all, both small and great, should have right conceptions of God, and therefore for such as cannot fix their thought on spiritual natures, [p. 225] it is better that they should think of God as being in heaven than in earth.

Aug.: Having named Him to whom prayer is made and where He dwells, let us now see what things they are for which we ought to pray. But the first of all the things that are prayed for it, “Hallowed be thy name,” not implying that the name of God is not holy, but that it may be held sacred of men; that is, that God may be so known that nothing may be esteemed more holy.

Chrys.: Or, He bids us in praying beg that God may be glorified in our life; as if we were to say, Make us to live so that all things may glorify Thee through us. For “hallowed” signifies the same as glorified. It is a petition worthy to be made by man to God, to ask nothing before the glory of the Father, but to postpone all things to His praise.

Cyprian, Tr. vii, 7: Otherwise, we say this not as wishing for God to be made holy by our prayers, but asking of Him for His name to be kept holy in us. For seeing He Himself has said, “Be ye holy, for I also am holy,” [Lev. 20:7] it is this that we ask and request that we who have been sanctified in Baptism, may persevere such as we have begun.

Aug., De Don. Pers. 2: But why is this perseverance asked of God, if, as the Pelagians say, it is not given by God? Is it not a mocking petition to ask of God what we know is not given by Him, but is in the power of man himself to attain?

Cyprian: For this we daily make petition, since we need a daily sanctification, in order that we who sin day by day, may cleanse afresh our offences by a continual sanctification.


10. “Thy kingdom come.”


Gloss. ord.: It follows suitably, that after our adoption as sons, we should ask a kingdom which is due to sons.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 6: This is not so said as though God did not now reign on earth, or had not reigned over it always. “Come,” must therefore be taken for “be manifested to men.” For none shall then be ignorant of His kingdom, when His Only-begotten not in understanding only, but in visible shape shall come to judge the quick and dead. This day of judgment the Lord teaches shall then come, when the Gospel shall have been preached to all nations; which thing pertains to the hallowing of God’s [p. 226] name.

Jerome: Either it is a general prayer for the kingdom of the whole world that the reign of the Devil may cease; or for the kingdom in each of us that God may reign there, and that sin may not reign in our mortal body.

Cyprian, Tr. vii, 8: Or; it is that kingdom which was promised to us by God, and bought with Christ’s blood; that we who before in the world have been servants, may afterwards reign under the dominion of Christ.

Aug., Epist., 130, 11: For the kingdom of God will come whether we desire it or not. But herein we kindle our desires towards that kingdom, that it may come to us, and that we may reign in it.

Cassian, Collat., ix, 19: Or, because the Saint knows by the witness of his conscience, that when the kingdom of God shall appear, he shall be partaker therein.

Jerome: But be it noted, that it comes of high confidence, and of an unblemished conscience only, to pray for the kingdom of God, and not to fear the judgment.

Cyprian: The kingdom of God may stand for Christ Himself, whom we day by day wish to come, and for whose advent we pray that it may be quickly manifested to us. As He is our resurrection, because in Him we rise again, so may He be called the kingdom of God, because we are to reign in Him. Rightly we ask for God’s kingdom, that is, for the heavenly, because there is a kingdom of this earth beside. He, however, who has renounced the world, is superior to its honours and to its kingdom; and hence he who dedicates himself to God and to Christ, longs not for the kingdom of earth, but for the kingdom of Heaven.

Aug., De Don. Pers. 2: When they pray, “Let thy kingdom come,” what else do they pray for who are already holy, but that they may persevere in that holiness they now have given unto them? For no otherwise will the kingdom of God come, than as it is certain it will come to those that persevere unto the end.


10. ------- “Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven.”


Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 6: In that kingdom of blessedness the happy life will be made perfect in the Saints as it now is in the heavenly Angels; and therefore after the petition, “Thy kingdom come,” follows, “Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth.” That [p. 227] is, as by the Angels who are in Heaven Thy will is done so as that they have fruition of Thee, no error clouding their knowledge, no pain marring their blessedness; so may it be done by Thy Saints who are on earth, and who, as to their bodies, are made of earth. So that, “Thy will be done,” is rightly understood as, ‘Thy commands be obeyed;’ “as in heaven, so in earth,” that is, as by Angels, so by men; not that they do what God would have them do, but they do because He would have them do it; that is, they do after His will.

Chrys.: See how excellently this follows; having taught us to desire heavenly things by that which He said, “Thy kingdom come,” before we come to Heaven He bids us make this earth into Heaven, in that saying, “Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth.”

Jerome: Let them be put to shame by this text who falsely affirm that there are daily falls [margin note: ruinas] in Heaven. [ed. note: There were various opinions in the first ages about the indefectibility and perfection of good spirits, vid. Petav. de Angelis iii. 2, &c. Dissert. Bened. in Cyril. Hier. iii. 5. Huet. Origenian. ii. 5. n. 16. Nat. Alex. in prim. mund. aot. Diss. 7.]

Aug.: Or; as by the righteous, so by sinners; as if He had said, As the righteous do Thy will, so also may sinners; either by turning to Thee, or in receiving every man his just reward, which shall be in the last judgment.

Or, by the heaven and the earth we may understand the spirit and the flesh. As the Apostle says, “In my mind I obey the law of God,” [Rom 7:25] we see the will of God done in the spirit. But in that change which is promised to the righteous there, “Let thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth;” that is, as the spirit does not resist God, so let the body not resist the spirit.

Or; “as in heaven, so in earth,” as in Christ Jesus Himself, so in His Church; as in the Man who did His Father’s will, so in the woman who is espoused of Him. And heaven and earth may be suitably understood as husband and wife, seeing it is of the heaven that the earth brings forth her fruits.

Cyprian: We ask not that God may do His own will, but that we may be enabled to do what He wills should be done by us; and that it may be done in us we stand in need of that will, that is, of God’s aid and protection; for no man is strong by his own strength, but it safe in the indulgence and pity of God.

Chrys.: For [p. 228] virtue is not of our own efforts, but of grace from above. Here again is enjoined on each one of us prayer for the whole world, inasmuch as we are not to say, Thy will be done in me, or in us; but throughout the earth, that error may cease, truth be planted, malice be banished, and virtue return, and thus the earth not differ from heaven.

Aug., De Don. Pers., 3: From this passage is clearly shewn against the Pelagians that the beginning of faith is God’s gift, when Holy Church prays for unbelievers that they may begin to have faith. Moreover, seeing it is done already in the Saints, why do they yet pray that it may be done, but that they pray that they may persevere in that they have begun to be?

Pseudo-Chrys.: These words, “As in heaven so in earth,” must be taken as common to all three preceding petitions. Observe also how carefully it is worded; He said not, Father, hallow Thy name in us, Let Thy kingdom come on us, Do Thy will in us. Nor again; Let us hallow Thy name, Let us enter into Thy kingdom, Let us do Thy will; that it should not seem to be either God’s doing only, or man’s doing only. But He used a middle form of speech, and the impersonal verb; for as man can do nothing good without God’s aid, so neither does God work good in man unless man wills it.


11. “Give us this day our daily bread.”


Aug., Enchir., 115: These three things therefore which have been asked in the foregoing petitions, are begun here on earth, and according to our proficiency are increased in us; but in another life, as we hope, they shall be everlastingly possessed in perfection. In the four remaining petitions we ask for temporal blessings which are necessary to obtaining the eternal; the bread, which is accordingly the next petition in order, is a necessary.

Jerome: The Greek word here which we render, ‘supersubstantialis,’ is επιουσιος. The LXX often make use of the word, περιουσιος, by which we find, on reference to the Hebrew, they always render the word, sogola. [ed. note, c: סגלה on επιουσιος, vid. note c on Cyr. Cat. xxiii. 15. Tr. and Petav. Dogm. t. iv. pp. 200,201. ed. Antwerp. 1700.]

Symmachus translates it εξαιρετος, that is, [p. 229] ‘chief,’ or ‘excellent,’ though in one place he has interpreted ‘peculiar.’ When then we pray God to give us our ‘peculiar’ or ‘chief’ bread, we mean Him who says in the Gospel, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven.” [John 6:51]

Cyprian: For Christ is the bread of life, and this bread belongs not to all men, but to us. This bread we pray that it be given day by day, lest we who are in Christ, and who daily receive the Eucharist for food of salvation, should by the admission of any grievous crime, and our being therefore forbidden the heavenly bread, be separated from the body of Christ. Hence then we pray, that we who abide in Christ, may not draw back from His sanctification and His body.

Aug., De Don. Pers. 4: Here then the saints ask for perseverance of God, when they pray that they may not be separated from the body of Christ, but may abide in that holiness, committing no crime.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or by ‘supersubstantialis’ may be intended, ‘daily.’ [ed. note: Pseudo-Chrys. reads or translates ‘quotidianus,’ he does not introduce the word ‘supersubstantialis’ at all.]

Cassian, Coll., ix, 21: In that He says, “this day,” He shews that it is to be daily taken, and that this prayer should be offered at all seasons, seeing there is no day on which we have not need, by the receiving of this bread, to confirm the heart of the inward man.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 7: There is here a difficulty created by the circumstance of there being many in the East, who do not daily communicate in the Lord’s Supper. And they defend their practice on the ground of ecclesiastical authority, that they do this without offence, and are not forbidden by those who preside over the Churches, But not to pronounce any thing concerning them in either way, this ought certainly to occur to our thoughts, that we have here received of the Lord a rule for prayer which we ought not to transgress.

Who then will dare to affirm that we ought to use this prayer only once? Or if twice or thrice, yet only up to that hour at which we communicate on the Lord’s body? For after that we cannot say, “Give us this day,” that which we have already received. Or will any one on this account be able to compel us to celebrate this sacrament at the close of the day?

Cassian: Though the expression to-day may be understood of this present life; thus, Give us this bread [p. 230] while we abide in this world.

Jerome: We may also interpret the word ‘supersubstantialis’ otherwise, as that which is above all other substances, and more excellent than all creatures, to wit, the body of the Lord.

Aug.: Or by “daily” we may understand spiritual, namely, the divine precepts which we ought to meditate and work.

Greg., Mor., xxiv. 7: We call it our bread, yet pray that it may be given us, for it is God’s to give, and is made ours by our receiving it.

Jerome: Others understand it literally according to that saying of the Apostle, “Having food and raiment, let us therewith be content,” that the saints should have care only of present food; as it follows, “Take no thought for the morrow.”

Aug., Epist., 130, 11: So that herein we ask for a sufficiency of all things necessary under the one name of bread.

Pseudo-Chrys.: We pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” not only that we may have what to eat, which is common to both righteous and sinners; but that what we eat we may receive at the hand of God, which belongs only to the saints. For to him God giveth bread who earns it by righteous means; but to him who earns it by sin, the Devil it is that gives.

Or that inasmuch as it is given by God, it is received sanctified; and therefore He adds, “our,” that is, such bread as we have prepared for us, that do Thou give us, that by Thy giving it may be sanctified. Like as the Priest taking bread of the laic, sanctifies it, and then offers it to him; the bread indeed is his that brought it in offering, but that it is sanctified is the benefit from the Priest.

He says “Our” for two reasons. First, because all things that God gives us He gives through us to others, that of what we receive of Him we may impart to the helpless. Whoso then of what he gains by his own toil bestows nothing on others, eats not his own bread only, but others’ bread also. Secondly, he who eats bread got righteously, eats his own bread; but he who eats bread got with sin, eats others’ bread.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 7: Some one may perhaps find a difficulty in our here praying that we may obtain necessaries of this life, such as food and raiment, when the Lord has instructed us, “Be not ye careful what ye shall eat, or wherewithal ye shall be clothed.” But it is impossible not to be careful about that for the obtaining which we pray.

Aug., Epist., 130, 6: But to wish for the necessaries of life and no more, [p. 231] is not improper; for such sufficiency is not sought for its own sake, but for the health of the body, and for such garb and appliances of the person, as may make us to be not disagreeable to those with whom we have to live in all good reputation. For these things we may pray that they may be had when we are in want of them, that they may be kept when we have them.

Chrys.: It should be thought upon how when He had delivered to us this petition, “Thy will be done as in heaven so in earth,” then because He spake to men in the flesh, and not like angelic natures without passion or appetite, He now descends to the needs of our bodies. And He teaches us to pray not for money or the gratification of lust, but for daily bread; and as yet further restriction, He adds, “this day,” that we should not trouble ourselves with thought for the coming day.

Pseudo-Chrys.: And these words at first sight might seem to forbid our having it prepared for the morrow, or after the morrow. If this were so, this prayer could only suit a few; such as the Apostles who travelled hither and thither teaching - or perhaps none among us. Yet ought we so to adapt Christ’s doctrine, that all men may profit in it.

Cyprian, Tr. vii, 14: Justly therefore does the disciple of Christ make petition for today’s provision, without indulging excessive longings in his prayer. It were a self-contradicting and incompatible thing for us who pray that the kingdom of God may quickly come, to be looking unto long life in the world below.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or; He adds, “daily,” that a man may eat so much only as natural reason requires, not as the lust of the flesh urges. For if you expend on one banquet as much as would suffice you for a hundred days, you are not eating today’s provision, but that of many days.

Jerome: In the Gospel, entitled The Gospel according to the Hebrew, ‘supersubstantialis’ is rendered, ‘mohar,’ that is, ‘tomorrow’s; so that the sense would be, Give us today tomorrow’s bread; i.e. for the time to come.


12. “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”


Cyprian, Tr. vii, 15: After supply of food, next pardon of sin is asked for, that he who is fed of God may live in God, and not [p. 232] only the present and passing life be provided for, but the eternal also; whereunto we may come, if we receive the pardon of our sins, to which the Lord gives the name of debts, as he speaks further on, “I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me.” [Matt 18:32]

How well is it for our need, how provident and saving a thing, to be reminded that we are sinners compelled to make petition for our offences, so that in claiming God’s indulgence, the mind is recalled to a recollection of its guilt. That no man may plume himself with the pretence of innocence, and perish more wretchedly through self-exaltation, he is instructed that he commits sin every day by being commanded to pray for his sins.

Aug., De Don. Pers., 5: With this weapon the Pelagian heretics received their deathblow, who dare to say that a righteous man is free altogether from sin in this life, and that of such is at this present time composed a Church, “having neither spot nor wrinkle.”

Chrys.: That this prayer is meant for the faithful, both the laws of the Church teach, and the beginning of the prayer which instructs us to call God Father. In thus bidding the faithful pray for forgiveness of sin, He shews that even after baptism sin can be remitted (against the Novatians.)

Cyprian: He then who taught us to pray for our sins, has promised us that His fatherly mercy and pardon shall ensue. But He has added a rule besides, binding us under the fixed condition and responsibility, that we are to ask for our sins to be forgiven in such sort as we forgive them that are in debt to us.

Greg., Mor., x, 15: That good which in our penitence we ask of God, we should first turn and bestow on our neighbour.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 8: This is not said of debts of money only, but of all things in which any sins against us, and among these also of money, because that he sins against you, who does not return money due to you, when he has whence he can return it. Unless you forgive this sin you cannot say, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: With what hope then does he pray, who cherishes hatred against another by whom he has been wronged? As he prays with a falsehood on his lips, when he says, I forgive, and does not forgive, so he asks indulgence of God, but no indulgence is granted him. There are many who, being unwilling to forgive those that trespass against them, will not use this [p. 233] prayer.

How foolish! First, because he who does not pray in the manner Christ taught, is not Christ’s disciple; and secondly, because the Father does not readily hear any prayer which the Son has not dictated; for the Father knows the intention and the words of the Son, nor will He entertain such petitions as human presumption has suggested, but only those which Christ’s wisdom has set forth.

Aug., Enchir., 73: Forasmuch as this so great goodness, namely, to forgive debts, and to love our enemies, cannot be possessed by so great a number as we suppose to be heard in the use of this prayer; without doubt the terms of this stipulation are fulfilled; though one have not attained to such proficiency as to love his enemy; yet if when he is requested by one, who has trespassed against him, that he would forgive him, he do forgive him from his heart; for he himself desires to be forgiven then at least when he asks forgiveness. And if one have been moved by a sense of his sin to ask forgiveness of him against whom he has sinned, he is no more to be thought on as an enemy, that there should be any thing hard in loving him, as there was when he was in active enmity.


13. “And lead us not into temptation.”


Pseudo-Chrys.: As He had above put many high things into men’s mouths, teaching them to call God their Father, to pray that His kingdom might come; so now He adds a lesson of humility, when He says, “and lead us not into temptation.”

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 9: Some copies read, “Carry us not,” [margin note: inferas] an equivalent word, both being a translation of one Greek word, εισενενχεις. Many in interpreting say, ‘Suffer us not to be led into temptation,’ as being what is implied in the word, “lead.” For God does not of Himself lead a man, but suffer him to be led from whom He has withdrawn His aid.

Cyprian, Tr. vii, 17: Herein it is shewn that the adversary can nothing avail against us, unless God first permit him; so that all our fear and devotion ought to be addressed to God.

Aug.: But it is one thing to be led into temptation, another to be tempted; for without temptation none can be approved, either to himself or to another; but every man is fully known to God before all trial. Therefore [p. 234] we do not here pray that we may not be tempted, but that we may not be led into temptation. As if one who was to be burnt alive should pray not that he should not be touched by fire, but that he should not be burnt. For we are then led into temptation when such temptations befall us as we are not able to resist.

Aug., Epist., 130, 11: When then we say, “Lead us not into temptation,” what we ask is, that we may not, deserted by His aid, either consent through the subtle snares, or yield to the forcible might, or any temptation.

Cyprian: And in so praying we are cautioned of our own infirmity and weakness, lest any presumptuously exalt himself; that while a humble and submissive confession comes first, and all is referred to God, whatever we suppliantly apply for may by His gracious favour be supplied.

Aug., De Don. Pers., 5: When the Saints pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” what else do they pray for than that they may persevere in their sanctity. This once granted - and that it is God’s gift this, that of Him we ask it, shews - none of the Saints but holds to the end his abiding holiness; for none ceases to hold on his Christian profession, till he be first overtaken of temptation.

Therefore we seek not to be led into temptation that this may not happen to us; and if it does not happen, it is God that does not permit it to happen; for there is nothing done, but what He either does, or suffers to be done. He is therefore able to turn our wills from evil to good, to raise the fallen and to direct him into the way that is pleasing to Himself, to whom not in vain we plead, “Lead us not into temptation.”

For whoso is not led into temptation of his own evil will, is free of all temptation; for, “each man is tempted of his own lust.” [James 1:14] God would have us pray to Him that we may not be led into temptation, though He could have granted it without our prayer, that we might be kept in mind who it is from whom we receive all benefits. Let the Church therefore observe her daily prayers; she prays that the unbelieving may believe, therefore it is God that turns men to the faith; she prays that the believers may persevere; God gives them perseverance even unto the end.


13. ------- “But deliver us from evil. Amen.”


Aug.: We ought to pray not only that we may not be led [p. 235] into evil from which we are at present free; but further that we may be set free from that into which we have already been led.

Therefore it follows, “Deliver us from evil.”

Cyprian, Tr. vii. 18: After all these preceding petitions, at the conclusion of the prayer comes a sentence, comprising shortly and collectively the whole of our petitions and desires. For there remains nothing beyond for us to ask for, after petition made for God’s protection from evil; for that gained, we stand secure and safe against all things that the Devil and the world work against us. What fear hath he from this life, who has God through life for his guardian?

Aug., Epist., 130, 11: This petition with which the Lord’s Prayer concludes is of such extent, that a Christian man in whatever tribulation cast, will in this petition utter groans, in this shed tears, here begin and here end his prayer. And therefore follows “Amen,” by which is expressed the strong desire of him that prays.

Jerome: “Amen,” which appears here at the close, is the seal of the Lord’s Prayer. Aquila rendered ‘faithfully’ - we may perhaps ‘truly.’

Cyprian: We need not wonder, dearest brethren, that this is God’s prayer, seeing how His instruction comprises all our petitioning, in one saving sentence. This had already been prophesied by Isaiah the Prophet, “A short word will God make in the whole earth.” [Isa 10:22] For when our Lord Jesus Christ came unto all, and gather together the learned alike and the unlearned, did to every sex and age set forth the precepts of salvation, He made a full compendium of His instructions, that the memory of the scholars might not labour in the heavenly discipline, but accept with readiness whatsoever was necessary into a simple faith.

Aug., Epist., 130, 12: And whatever other words we may use, either introductory to quicken the affections, or in conclusion to add to them, we say nothing more than is contained in the Lord’s Prayer if we pray rightly and connectedly.

For he who says, “Glorify thyself in all nations, as thou art glorified among us,” what else does he say than, “Hallowed be thy name?” He who prays, “Shew thy face and we shall be safe,” [Ps 80:3] what is it but to say, “Let thy kingdom come?” To say, “Direct my steps according to thy word,” [Ps 119:133] what is it more than, “Thy will be done?” To say, “Give me neither poverty nor riches,” [Prov 30:8] what else is it than, “Give us this day our daily bread?” [p. 236] “Lord, remember David and all his mercifulness!” [Ps 131:1] and, “If I have returned evil for evil,” [Ps 7:4] what else but, “Forgive us our debts even as we forgive our debtors?” He who says, “Remove far from me all greediness of belly,” what else does he say, but “Lead us not into temptation?” He who says, “Save me, O my God, from my enemies,” [Ps 59:1] what else does he say but “Deliver us from evil?”

And if you thus go through all the words of the holy prayers, you will find nothing that is not contained in the Lord’s Prayer. Whoever then speaks such words as have no relation to this evangelic prayer, prays carnally; and such prayer I know not why we should not pronounce unlawful, seeing the Lord instructs those who are born again only to pray spiritually. But whoso in prayer says, Lord, increase my riches, add to my honours; and that from desire of such things, not with a view to doing men service after God’s will by such things; I think that he finds nothing in the Lord’s Prayer on which he may build such petitions.

Let such a one then be withheld by shame from praying for, if not from desiring, such things. But if he have shame at the desire, yet desire overcomes, he will do better to pray for deliverance from the evil of desire to Him to whom we say, “Deliver us from evil.”

Aug., Serm. in Mont. ii. 11: This number of petitions seems to answer to the seven-fold number of the beatitudes.

If it is the fear of God by which are made “blessed the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” let us ask that the name of God be hallowed among men, a reverent fear abiding for ever and ever.

If it be piety by which “the meek are blessed,” let us pray that His kingdom may come, that we may become meek, and not resist Him.

If it be knowledge by which “they that mourn are blessed,” let us pray that His will may be done as in heaven so in earth; for if the body consent with the spirit as does earth with heaven, we shall not mourn.

If fortitude be that by which “they that hunger are blessed,” let us pray that our daily bread be this day given us, by which we may come to full saturity.

If it is counsel by which “blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy,” let us forgive debts, that our debts may be forgiven us.

If it be understanding by which they of “pure heart are blessed,” let us pray that we be not led into temptation, lest we have a double heart [p. 237] in the pursuit of temporal and earthly things which are for our probation.

If it be wisdom by which “blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God,” let us pray to be delivered from evil; for that very deliverance will make us free as sons of God.

Chrys.: Having made us anxious by the mention of our enemy, in this that He has said, “Deliver us from evil,” He again restores confidence by that which is added in some copies, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,” since if His be the kingdom, none need fear, since even he who fights against us, must be His subject. But since His power and glory are infinite, He can not only deliver from evil, but also make glorious.

Pseudo-Chrys.: This is also connected with the foregoing. “Thine is the kingdom” has reference to “Thy kingdom come,” that none should therefore say, “God has no kingdom on earth. The power,” answers to “Thy will be done, as in earth so in heaven,” that none should say thereon that God cannot perform whatever He would. “And the glory,” answers to all that follows, in which God’s glory is shewn forth.


14. “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

15. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”


Rabanus: By the word, “Amen.” He shews that without doubt the Lord will bestow all things that are rightly asked, and by those that do not fail in observing the annexed condition, “For if ye forgive men their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you your sins.”

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 11: Here we should not overlook that of all the petitions enjoined by the Lord, He judged that most worthy of further enforcement, which relates to forgiveness of sins, in which He would have us merciful; which is the only means of escaping misery.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He does not say that God will first forgive us, and that we should after forgive our debtors. For God knows how treacherous the heart of man is, and that though they should have received forgiveness themselves, yet they do not forgive their debtors; therefore He instructs us first [p. 238] to forgive, and we shall be forgiven after.

Aug., Enchir., 74: Whoever does not forgive him that in true sorrow seeks forgiveness, let him not suppose that his sins are by any means forgiven of the Lord.

Cyprian, Tr. vii, 16: For no excuse will abide you in the day of judgment, when you will be judged by your own sentence, and as you have dealt towards others, will be dealt with yourself.

Jerome: But if that which is written, “I said, Ye are gods, but ye shall die like men,” [Ps 82:6-7] is said to those who for their sins deserve to become men instead of gods, then they to whom sins are forgiven are rightly called “men.”

Chrys.: He mentions heaven and the Father to claim our attention, for nothing so likens you to God, as to forgive him who has injured you. And it were indeed unmeet should the son of such a Father become a slave, and should one who has a heavenly vocation live as of this earth, and of this life only.


16. “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”


Pseudo-Chrys.: Forasmuch as that prayer which is offered in a humble spirit and contrite heart, shews a mind already strong and disciplined; whereas he who is sunk in self-indulgence cannot have a humble spirit and contrite heart; it is plain that without fasting prayer must be faint and feeble; therefore, when any would pray for any need in which they might be, they joined fasting with prayer, because it is an aid thereof. Accordingly the Lord, after His doctrine respecting prayer, adds doctrine concerning fasting, saying, “When ye fast, be not ye as the hypocrites, of sad countenance.” The Lord knew that vanity may spring from every good thing, and therefore bids us root out the bramble of vain-gloriousness which springs in the good soil, that it choke not the fruit of fasting. For though it cannot be that fasting should not be discovered in any one, yet is it better that fasting should shew you, than that you should shew your fasting.

But it is impossible [p. 239] that any in fasting should be gay, therefore He said not, Be not sad, but “Be not made sad;” for they who discover themselves by any false displays of their affliction, they are not sad, but make themselves; but he who is naturally sad in consequence of continued fasting, does not make himself sad, but is so.

Jerome: The word, “exterminare,” so often used in the ecclesiastical Scriptures though a blunder of the translators, has a quite different meaning from that in which it is commonly understood. It is properly said of exiles who are sent beyond the boundry of their country. Instead of this word, it would seem better to use the word, “demoliri,” ‘to destroy,’ in translating the Greek . The hypocrite destroys his face, in order that he may feign sorrow, and with a heart full of joy wears sorrow in his countenance.

Greg., Mor., viii, 44: For by the pale countenance, the trembling limbs, and the bursting sighs, and by all so great toil and trouble, nothing is in the mind but the esteem of men.

Leo, Serm. in Epiph., iv, 5: But that fasting is not pure, that comes not of reasons of continence, but of the arts of deceit.

Pseudo-Chrys.: If then he who fasts, and makes himself of sad countenance, is a hypocrite, how much more wicked is he who does not fast, yet assumes a fictitious paleness of face as a token of fasting.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 12: On this paragraph it is to be specially noted, that not only in outward splendor and pomp, but even in the dress of sorrow and mourning, is there room for display, and that the more dangerous, inasmuch as it deceives under the name of God’s services. For he who by inordinate pains taken with her person, or his apparel, or by the glitter of his other equipage, is distinguished, is easily proved by these very circumstances to be a follower of the pomps of this world, and no man is deceived by any semblance of a feigned sanctity in him. But when any one in the profession of Christianity draws men’s eyes upon him by unwonted beggary and slovenliness in dress, if this be voluntary and not compulsory, then by his other conduct may be seen whether he does this to be seen of men, or from contempt of the refinements of dress.

Remig.: The reward of the hypocrites’ fast is shewn, when it is added, “That they may seem to men to fast; verily I say unto you, They have their reward;” that is, that reward for which they looked.


17. “But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

18. That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”


Gloss. ap. Anselm: The Lord having taught us what we ought not to do, now proceeds to teach us what we ought to do, saying, “When thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face.”

Aug.: A question is here wont to be raised; for none surely would literally enjoin, that, as we wash our faces from daily habit, so we should have our heads anointed when we fast; a thing which all allow to be most disgraceful.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Also if He bade us not to be of sad countenance that we might not seem to men to fast, yet if anointing of the head and washing of the face are always observed in fasting, they will become tokens of fasting.

Jerome: But He speaks in accordance with the manner of the province of Palestine, where it is the custom on festival days to anoint the head. What He enjoins then is, that when we are fasting we should wear the appearance of joy and gladness.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Therefore the simple interpretation of this is, that is added as an hyperbolical explanation of the command; as though He had said, Yea, so far should ye be from any display of your fasting, that if it might be (which yet it may not be) so done, ye should even do such things as are tokens of luxury and feasting.

Chrys., Hom. xx: In almsgiving indeed, He did not say simply, ‘Do not your alms before men,’ but added, ‘to be seen of them.’ But in fasting and prayer He added nothing of this sort; because alms cannot be so done as to be altogether hid, fasting and prayer can be so done. The contempt of men’s praise is no small fruit, for thereby we are freed from the heavy slavery of human opinions, and become properly workers of virtue, loving it for itself and not for others. For as we esteem it an affront if we are loved not for ourselves but for others’ sake, so ought we not to follow virtue on the account of these men, nor to obey God for men’s sake but for His own.

Therefore it follows here, “But to thy Father which seeth in [p. 241] secret.”

Gloss.: That is, to thy heavenly Father, who is unseen, or who dwells in the heart through faith. He fasts to God who afflicts himself for the love of God, and bestows on others what he denies himself.

Remig.: For it is enough for you that He who sees your conscience should be your rewarder.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Spiritually interpreted - the face may be understood to mean the mental conscience. And as in the eyes of man a fair face has grace, so in the eyes of God a pure conscience has favour. This face the hypocrites, fasting on man’s account, disfigure, seeking thereby to cheat both God and man; for the conscience of the sinner is always wounded. If then you have cast out all wickedness from your heart, you have washed your conscience, and fast well.

Leo, Serm. in Quadr., vi, 2: Fasting ought to be fulfilled not in abstinence of food only, but much more in cutting off vices. For when we submit ourselves to that discipline in order to withdraw that which is the nurse of carnal desires, there is no sort of good conscience more to be sought than that we should keep ourselves sober from unjust will, and abstinent from dishonourable action. This is an act of religion from which the sick are not excluded, seeing integrity of heart may be found in an infirm body.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Spiritually again, “thy head” denotes Christ. Give the thirsty drink and feed the hungry, and therein you have anointed your head, that is, Christ, who cries out in the Gospel, “In that ye have done this to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me.” [Matt 25:40]

Greg., Hom. in Ev., xvi, 6: For God approves that fasting, which before His eyes opens the hands of alms. This then that you deny yourself, bestow on another, that wherein your flesh is afflicted, that of your needy neighbour may be refreshed.

Aug.: Or; by the head we rightly understand the reason, because it is preeminent in the soul, and rules the other members of the man. Now anointing the head has some reference to rejoicing. Let him therefore joy within himself because of his fasting, who in fasting turns himself from doing the will of the world, that he may be subject to Christ.

Gloss. ord.: Behold how every thing in the New Testament is not to be taken literally. It were ridiculous to be smeared with oil when fasting; but it is behoveful for the mind to be anointed with the spirit of His love, in whose sufferings we [p. 242] ought to partake by afflicting ourselves.

Pseudo-Chrys.: And truly we ought to wash our face, but to anoint, and not to wash, our head. For as long as we are in the body, our conscience is foul with sin. But Christ who is our head has done no sin.


19. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20. But lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”


Chrys.: When He has driven away the disease of vanity, He does well to bring in speech of contempt of riches. For there is no greater cause of desire of money than love of praise; for this men desire troops of slaves, horses accoutred in gold, and tables of silver, not for use or pleasure, but that they may be seen of many; therefore He says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasure on earth.”

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 13: For if any does a work with the mind of gaining thereby an earthly good, how will his heart be pure while it is thus walking on earth? For any thing that is mingled with an inferior nature is polluted therewith, though that inferior be in its kind pure. Thus gold is alloyed when mixed with pure silver; and in like manner our mind is defiled by lust of earthly things, though earth is in its own kind pure.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; As the Lord had above taught nothing concerning alms, or prayer, or fasting, but had only checked a pretence of them, He now proceeds to deliver a doctrine of three portions, according to the division which He had before made, in this order. First, a counsel that alms should be done; second, to shew the benefit of almsgiving; third, that the fear of poverty should be no hindrance to our purpose of almsgiving.

Chrys.: Saying, “Lay not up for yourselves treasure on earth,” He adds, “where rust and moth destroy,” in order to shew the insecurity of that treasure that is here, [p. 243] and the advantage of that which is in Heaven, both from the place, and from those things which harm. As though He had said; Why fear you that your wealth should be consumed, if you should give alms? Yea rather give alms, and they shall receive increase, for those treasures that are in Heaven shall be added to them, which treasures perish if ye do not give alms. He said not, You leave them to others, for that is pleasant to men.

Rabanus, ap. Anselm: Here are three precepts according to the three different kinds of wealth. Metals are destroyed by rust, clothes by moth; but as there are other things which fear neither rust nor moth, as precious stones, He therefore names a common damage, that by thieves, who may rob wealth of all kinds.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Another reading is, “Where moth and banqueting consume.” For a threefold destruction awaits all the goods of this life. They either decay and are eaten of moths as cloth; or are consumed by their master’s luxurious living; or are plundered by strangers, either by violence, or pilfering, or false accusation, or some other unjust doing. For all may be called thieves who hasten by any unlawful means to make other men’s goods their own.

But you will say, Do all who have these things, perforce lose them? I would answer by the way, that if all do not, yet many do. But ill-hoarded wealth, you have lost spiritually if not actually, because it profits you not to your salvation.

Rabanus: Allegorically; Rust denotes pride which obscures the brightness of virtue. Moth which privily eats out garments, is jealousy which frets into good intention, and destroys the bond of unity. Thieves denote heretics and demons, who are ever on the watch to rob men of their spiritual treasure.

Hilary: But the praise of Heaven is eternal, and cannot be carried off by invading thief, nor consumed by the moth and rust of envy.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 13: By heaven in this place I understand not the material heavens, for every thing that has a body is earthly. But it behoves that the whole world be despised by him who lays up his treasure in that Heaven, of which it is said, “The heaven of heavens is the Lord’s,” [Ps 115:16] that is, in the spiritual firmament. “For heaven and earth shall pass away;” [Matt 24:35] but we ought not to place our treasure in that which passes away, but in that [p. 244] which abides for ever.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Which then is better? To place it on earth where its security is doubtful, or in Heaven where it will be certainly preserved? What folly to leave it in this place whence you must soon depart, and not to send it before you thither, whither you are to go? Therefore place your substance there where your country is.

Chrys.: But forasmuch as not every earthly treasure is destroyed by rust or moth, or carried away by thieves, He therefore brings in another motive, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” As much as to say; Though none of these former losses should befall you, you will yet sustain no small loss by attaching your affections to things beneath, and becoming a slave to them, and in falling from Heaven, and being unable to think of any lofty thing.

Jerome: This must be understood not of money only, but of all our possessions. The god of a glutton is his belly; of a lover his lust; and so every man serves that to which he is in bondage; and has his heart there where his treasure is.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; He now teaches the benefit of almsgiving. He who places his treasure on earth has nothing to look for in Heaven; for why should he look up to Heaven where he has nothing laid up for himself? Thus he doubly sins; first, because he gathers together things evil; secondly, because he has his heart in earth; and so on the contrary he does right in a twofold manner who lays up his treasure in Heaven.


22. “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

23. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”


Chrys.: Having spoken of the bringing the understanding into captivity because it was not easy to be understood of many, He transfers it to a sensible instance, saying, “The light of thy body is thy eye.” As though He had said, If you do not know what is meant by the loss of the understanding, [p. 245] learn a parable of the bodily members; for what the eye is to the body, that the understanding is to the soul. As by the loss of the eyes we lose much of the use of the other limbs, so when the understanding is corrupted, your life is filled with many evils.

Jerome: That is an illustration drawn from the senses. As the whole body is in darkness, where the eye is not single, so if the soul has lost her original brightness, every sense, or that whole part of the soul to which sensation belongs, will abide in darkness.

Wherefore He says, “If then the light which is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” that is, if the senses which are the soul’s light be darkened by vice, in how great darkness do you suppose the darkness itself will be wrapped?

Pseudo-Chrys.: It seems that He is not here speaking of the bodily eye, or of the outward body that is seen, or He would have said, If thine eye be sound, or weak; but He says, “single,” and, “evil.” But if one have a benign yet diseased eye, is his body therefore in light? Or if an evil yet a sound, is his body therefore in darkness?

Jerome: Those who have thick eye-sight see the lights multiplied; but the single and clear eye sees them single and clear.

Chrys.: Or; The eye He speaks of is not the external but the internal eye. The light is the understanding, through which the soul sees God. He whose heart is turned to God, has an eye full of light; that is, his understanding is pure, not distorted by the influence of worldly lusts. The darkness in us is our bodily senses, which always desire the things that pertain to darkness.

Whoso then has a pure eye, that is, a spiritual understanding, preserves his body in light, that is, without sin; for though the flesh desires evil, yet by the might of divine fear the soul resists it. But whoever has an eye, that is, an understanding, either darkened by the influence of the malignant passions, or fouled by evil lusts, possesses his body in darkness; he does not resist the flesh when it lusts after evil things, because he has no hope in Heaven, which hope alone gives us the strength to resist desire.

Hilary: Otherwise; from the office of the light of the eye, He calls it the light of the heart; which if it continue single and brilliant, will confer on the body the brightness of the eternal light, and pour again into the corrupted flesh the splendor of [p. 246] its origin, that is, in the resurrection. But if it be obscured by sin, and evil in will, the bodily nature will yet abide subject to all the evils of the understanding.

Aug.: Otherwise; by the eye here we may understand our purpose; if that be pure and right, all our works which we work according thereto are good. These He here calls the body, as the Apostle speaks of certain works as members; “Mortify your members, fornication and uncleanness.” [Col 3:5]

We should look then, not to what a person does, but with what mind he does it. For this is the light within us, because by this we see that we do with good intention what we do. “For all which doth make manifest is light.” [Eph 5:13] But the deeds themselves, which go forth to men’s society, have a result to us uncertain, and therefore He calls them darkness; as when I give money to one in need, I know not what he will do with it.

If then the purport of your heart, which you can know, is defiled with the lust of temporal things, much more is the act itself, of which the issue is uncertain, defiled. For even though one should reap good of what you do with a purport not good, it will be imputed to you as you did it, not as it resulted to him. If however our works are done with a single purport, that is with the aim of charity, then are they pure and pleasing in God’s sight.

Aug., cont. Mendac., 7: But acts which are known to be in themselves sins, are not to be done as with a good purpose; but such works only as are either good or bad, according as the motives from which they are done are either good or bad, and are not in themselves sins; as to give food to the poor is good if it be done from merciful motives, but evil if it be done from ostentation. But such works as are in themselves sins, who will say that they are to be done with good motives, or that they are not sins? Who would say, Let us rob the rich, that we may have to give to the poor?

Greg., Mor., xxviii, 11: Otherwise; if the light that “is in thee,” that is, if what we have begun to do well, we overcloud with evil purpose, when we do things which we know to be in themselves evil, “how great is the darkness!”

Remig., ap. Gloss. ord.: Otherwise; faith is likened to a light, because by it the goings of the inner man, that is, action, are lightened, that he should not stumble according to that, “Thy word is a light to my feet.” [Ps 119:105] If that then be pure and single, the whole body is [p. 247] light; but if defiled, the whole body will be dark. Yet otherwise; by the light may be understood the ruler of the Church, who may be well called the eye, as he it is that ought to see that wholesome things be provided for the people under him, which are understood by the body. If then the ruler of the Church err, how much more will the people subject to him err?


24. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”


Pseudo-Chrys.: The Lord had said above, that he that has a spiritual mind is able to keep his body free from sin; and that he who has not, is not able. Of this He here gives the reason, saying, “No man can serve two masters.”

Gloss., non occ.: Otherwise; it had been declared above, that good things become evil, when done with a worldly purpose. It might therefore have been said by some one, I will do good works from worldly and heavenly motives at once. Against this the Lord says, “No man can serve two masters.”

Chrys., Hom xxi: Or otherwise; in what had gone before He had restrained the tyranny of avarice by many and weighty motives, but He now adds yet more. Riches do not only harm us in that they arm robbers against us, and that they cloud our understanding, but they moreover turn us away from God’s service.

This He proves from familiar notions, saying, “No man can serve two masters;” two, He means, whose orders are contrary; for concord makes one of many. This is proved by what follows, “for either he will hate the one.” He mentions two, that we may see that change for the better is easy. For if one were to give himself up in despair as having been made a slave to riches, namely, by loving them, he may hence learn, that it is possible for him to change into a better service, namely, by not submitting to such slavery, but by despising it.

Gloss., non occ.: Or; He seems to allude to two different kinds of servants; one kind who serve freely for love, another who serve servilely from fear. If then one [p. 248] serve two masters of contrary character from love, it must be that he hate the one; if from fear, while he trembles before the one, he must despise the other. But as the world or God predominate in a man’s heart, he must be drawn contrary ways; for God draws him who serves Him to things above; the earth draws to things beneath; therefore He concludes, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

Jerome: “Mammon,” - riches are so termed in Syriac. Let the covetous man who is called by the Christian name, hear this, that he cannot serve both Christ and riches. Yet He said not, he who has riches, but, he who is the servant of riches. For he who is the slave of money, guards his money as a slave; but he who has thrown off the yoke of his slavery, despenses them as a master.

Gloss. ord.: By “mammon” is meant the Devil, who is the lord of money, not that he can bestow them unless where God wills, but because by means of them he deceives men.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 14: Whoso serves “mammon,” (that is, riches,) verily serves him, who, being for desert of his perversity set over these things of earth, is called by the Lord, “The prince of this world.”

Or otherwise; who the two masters are He shews when He says, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon,” that is to say, God and the Devil. “Either” then man “will hate the one, and love the other,” namely, God; “or, he will endure the one and despise the other.” For he who is mammon’s servant endures a hard master; for ensnared by his own lust he has been made subject to the Devil, and loves him not. As one whose passions have connected him with another man’s handmaid, suffers a hard slavery, yet loves not him whose handmaid he loves. But He said, “will despise,” and not “will hate,” the other, for none can with a right conscience hate God. But he despises, that is, fears Him not, as being certain of His goodness.


25. “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”


Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 15: The Lord had taught above, that whoso desires to love God, and to take heed not to offend, should not think [p. 249] that he can serve two masters; lest though perhaps he may not look for superfluities, yet his heart may become double for the sake of very necessaries, and his thoughts bent to obtain them.

“Therefore I say unto you, Be not ye careful for your life what ye shall eat, or for your body what ye shall put on.”

Chrys.: He does not hereby mean that the spirit needs food, for it is incorporeal, but He speaks according to common usage, for the soul cannot remain in the body unless the body be fed.

Aug.: Or we may understand the soul in this place to be put for the animal life.

Jerome: Some manuscripts, add here, “nor what ye shall drink.” [ed. note, b: vid. Exod. xv. 34. and infra v. 31. The clause is also omitted by other versions, by Erasmus, Mill, and Bengel. Wetstein retains.] That which belongs naturally to all animals alike, to brutes and beasts of burden as well as to man, from all thought of this we are not freed. But we are bid not to be anxious what we should eat, for in the sweat of our face we earn our bread; the toil is to be undergone, the anxiety put away. This “Be not careful,” is to be taken of bodily food and clothing; for the food and clothing of the spirit it becomes us to be always careful.

Aug., De Haeres., 57: There are certain heretics called Euchitae [ed. note, c: The Euchites, who were so called from their profession of prayer, were properly fanatical Monks of the fourth and following centuries, but their name is often taken as synonymous with Mystics. They were of oriental origin, and disparaged, if not denied, the efficacy of Baptism.], who hold that a monk may not do any work even for his support; who embrace this profession that they may be freed from necessity of daily labour.

Aug., De Op. Monach. 1 et seq.: For they say the Apostle did not speak of personal labour, such as that of husbandmen or craftsmen, when he said, “Who will not work, neither let him eat.” [2 Thes 3:10] For he could not be so contrary to the Gospel where it is said, “Therefore I say unto you, Be not careful.” Therefore in that saying of the Apostle we are to understand spiritual works, of which it is elsewhere said, “I have planted, Apollos watereth.” [1 Cor 3:6]

And thus they think themselves obedient to the Apostolic precept, interpreting the Gospel to speak of not taking care for the needs of the body, and the Apostle to speak of spiritual labour and food. First let us prove that the Apostle meant that the servants of God should labour with the body. He had said, “Ye yourselves know how ye ought to imitate us in that we were not troublesome [p. 250] among you, nor did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but travailing in labour and weariness day and night, that we might not be burdensome to any of you. Not that we have not power, but that we might offer ourselves as a pattern to you which ye should imitate. For when we were among you, this we taught among you, that if a man would not work, neither should he eat.”

What shall we say to this, since he taught by his example when he delivered in precept, in that he himself wrought with his own hands. This is proved from the Acts [Acts 18:3], where it is said, that he abode with Aquila and his wife Priscilla, “labouring with them, for they were tent-makers.”

And yet to the Apostle, as a preacher of the Gospel, a soldier of Christ, a planter of the vineyard, a shepherd of his flock, the Lord had appointed that he should live of the Gospel, but he refused that payment which was justly his due, that he might present himself an example to those who exacted what was not due to them. Let those hear this who have not that power which he had; namely, of eating bread for nought, and only labouring with spiritual labour. If indeed they be Evangelists, if ministers of the Altar, if dispensers of the Sacraments, they have this power.

Or if they had in this world possessions, whereby they might without labour have supported themselves, and had on their turning to God distributed this to the needy, then were their infirmity to be believed and to be borne with. And it would not import whatever place it was in which he made the distribution, seeing there is but one commonwealth of all Christians.

But they who enter the profession of God’s service from the country life, from the workman’s craft, or the common labour, if they work not, are not to be excused. For it is by no means fitting that in that life in which senators become labourers, there should labouring men become idle; or that where lords of farms come having given up their luxuries, there should rustic slaves come to find luxury.

But when the Lord says, “Be not ye careful,” He does not mean that they should not procure such things as they have need of, wherever they may honestly, but that they should not look to these things, and should not for their sake do what they are commanded to do in preaching the Gospel; for this intention He had a [p. 251] little before called the eye.

Chrys.: Or we may connect the context otherwise; When the Lord had inculcated contempt of money, that none might say, How then shall we be able to live when we have given up our all? He adds, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life.”

Gloss. interlin.: That is, Be not withdrawn by temporal cares from things eternal.

Jerome: The command is therefore, “not to be anxious what we shall eat.” For it is also commanded, that in the sweat of our face we must eat bread. Toil therefore is enjoined, carking forbidden.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Bread may not be gained by carefulness of spirit, but by toil of body; and to them that will labour it abounds, God bestowing it as a reward of their industry; and is lacking to the idle, God withdrawing it as punishment of their sloth. The Lord also confirms our hope, and descending first from the greater to the less, says, “Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”

Jerome: He who has given the greater, will He not also give the less?

Pseudo-Chrys.: For had He not willed that which was should be preserved, He had not created it; but what He so created that it should be preserved by food, it is necessary that He give it food, as long as He would have it to be preserved.

Hilary: Otherwise; Because the thoughts of the unbelievers were ill-employed respecting care of things future, cavilling concerning what is to be the appearance of our bodies in the resurrection, what the food in the eternal life, therefore He continues, “Is not the life more than food?” He will not endure that our hope should hang in care for the meat and drink and clothing that is to be in the resurrection, lest there should be affront given to Him who has given us the more precious things, in our being anxious that He should also give us the lesser.


26. “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27. Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?”


Pseudo-Chrys.: Having confirmed our hope by this [p. 252] arguing from the greater to the less, He next confirms it by an argument from less to greater, “Behold the fowls of the air, they sow not, neither do they reap.”

Aug., De Op. Monach., 23: Some argue that they ought not to labour, because the fowls of the air neither sow nor reap. Why then do they not attend to that which follows, “neither gather into barns? Why do they seek to have their hands idle, and their storehouses full? Why indeed do they grind corn, and dress it? For this do not the birds.

Or even if they find men whom they can persuade to supply them day by day with victuals ready prepared, at least they draw water from the spring, and set on table for themselves, which the birds do not. But if neither are they driven to fill themselves vessels with water, then have they gone one new step of righteousness beyond those who were at that time at Jerusalem, [margin note: see Acts 11:29] who of corn sent to them of free gift, made, or caused to be made, loaves, which the birds do not. But not to lay up any thing for the morrow cannot be observed by those, who for many days together withdrawn from the sight of men, and suffering none to approach to them, shut themselves up, to live in much fervency of prayer.

What? will you say that the more holy men become, the more unlike the birds of the air in this respect they become? What He says respecting the birds of the air, He says to this end, that none of His servants should think that God has no thought of their wants, when they see Him so provide even for these inferior creatures. Neither is it not God that feeds those that earn their bread by their own labour; neither because God hath said, “Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee,” [Ps 50:15] ought the Apostle therefore not to have fled, but to have remained still to have been seized, that God might save him as He did the Three Children out of the midst of the fire.

Should any object in this sort to the saints in their flight from persecution, they would answer that they ought not to tempt God, and that God, if He pleased, would so do to deliver them as He had done Daniel from the lions, Peter from prison, then when they could no longer help themselves; but that in having made flight possible to them, should they be saved by flight, it was by God that they were saved. In like manner, such of God’s servants as have [p. 253] strength to earn their food by the labour of their hands, would easily answer any who should object to them this out of the Gospel concerning the birds of the air, that they neither sow nor reap; and would say, If we by sickness or any other hindrance are not able to work, He will feed us as He feeds the birds, that work not. But when we can work, we ought not to tempt God, seeing that even this our ability is His gift; and that we live here we live of His goodness that has made us able to live; He feeds us by whom the birds of the air are fed; as He says, “Your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much greater value?”

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 15: Ye are of more value, because a rational animal, such as man is, is higher in the scale of nature than an irrational, such as are the birds of the air.

Aug., City of God, xi, 16: Indeed a higher price is often given for a horse than a slave, for a jewel than for a waiting maid, but this not from reasonable valuation, but from the need of the person requiring, or rather from his pleasure desiring it.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For God created all animals for man, but man for himself; therefore by how much the more precious is the creation of man, so much the greater is God’s care for him. If then the birds without toiling find food, shall man not find, to whom God has given both knowledge of labour and hope of fruitfulness?

Jerome: There be some who, seeking to go beyond the limits of their fathers, and to soar into the air, sink into the deep and are drowned. These will have the birds of the air to mean the Angels, and the other powers in the ministry of God, who without any care of their own are fed by God’s providence.

But if this be indeed as they would have it, how follows it, said to men, “Are not ye of more worth than they?” It must be taken then in the plain sense; If birds that today are, and tomorrow are not, be nourished by God’s providence, without thought or toil of their own, how much more men to whom eternity is promised!

Hilary: It may be said, that under the name of birds, He exhorts us by the example of the unclean spirits, to whom, without any trouble of their own in seeking and collecting it, provision of life is given by the power of the Eternal Wisdom. And to lead us to refer this to the unclean spirits, He suitably adds, “Are not ye of much more value than they?” Thus shewing the great interval between piety [p. 254] and wickedness.

Gloss., non occ.: He teaches us not only by the instance of the birds, but adds a further proof, that to our being and life our own care is not enough, but Divine Providence therein works; saying, “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?”

Pseudo-Chrys.: For it is God who day by day works the growth of your body, yourself not feeling it. If then the Providence of God works thus daily in your very body, how shall that same Providence withhold from working in necessaries of life? And if by taking thought you cannot add the smallest part to your body, how shall you by taking thought be altogether saved?

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 15: Or it may be connected with what follows it; as though He should say, It was not by our care that our body was brought to its present stature; so that we may know that if we desired to add one cubit to it, we should not be able. Leave then the care of clothing that body to Him who made it to grow to its present stature.

Hilary: Otherwise; As by the example of the spirits He had fixed our faith in the supply of food for our lives, so now by a decision of common understanding He cuts off all anxiety about supply of clothing. Seeing that He it is who shall raise in one perfect man every various kind of body that ever drew breath, and is alone able to add one or two or three cubits to each man’s stature; surely in being anxious concerning clothing, that is, concerning the appearance of our bodies, we offer affront to Him who will add so much to each man’s stature as shall bring all to an equality.

Aug., City of God, book xxii, ch. 15: But if Christ rose again with the same stature with which He died, it is impious to say that when the time of the resurrection of all shall come, there shall be added to His body a bigness that it had not at His own resurrection, (for He appeared to His disciples with that body in which He had been known among them,) such that He shall be equalled to the tallest among men.

If again we say that all men’s bodies, whether tall or short, shall be alike brought to the size and stature of the Lord’s body, then much will perish from many bodies, though He has declared that “not a hair shall fall.” It remains therefore that each be raised in his own stature - that stature which he had in youth, if he died in old age; if in childhood that stature to which he would have attained [p. 255] had he lived. For the Apostle says not, ‘To the measure of the stature,’ but, “To the measure of the full age of Christ.” [Eph 4:13] For the bodies of the dead shall rise in youth and maturity to which we know that Christ attained. [ed. note: Hence the Roman Catholics teach that “men shall rise at a perfect age, which is thirty three;” vid. Bp. Doyle’s Christian Doctrine.]


28. “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29. And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?”


Chrys.: Hom., xxii: Having shewn that it is not right to be anxious about food, He passes to that which is less; (for raiment is not so necessary as food;) and asks, “And why are ye careful wherewith ye shall be clothed?” He uses not here the instance of the birds, when He might have drawn some to the point, as the peacock, or the swan, but brings forward the lilies, saying, “Consider the lilies of the field.” He would prove in two things the abundant goodness of God; to wit, the richness of the beauty with which they are clothed, and the mean value of the things so clothed with it.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 15: The things instanced are not to be allegorized so that we enquire what is denoted by the birds of the air, or the lilies of the field; they are only examples to prove God’s care for the greater from His care for the less.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For lilies within a fixed time are formed into branches, clothed in whiteness, and endowed with sweet odour, God conveying by an unseen operation, what the earth had not given to the root. But in all the same perfectness is observed, that they may not be thought to have been formed by chance, but may be known to be ordered by God’s providence. When He says, “They toil not,” He speaks for the comfort of men; “Neither do they spin,” for the women.

Chrys.: He forbids not labour [p. 256] but carefulness, both here and above when He spoke of sowing.

Gloss, non occ.: And for the greater exaltation of God’s providence in those things that are beyond human industry, He adds, “I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

Jerome: For, in sooth, what regal purple, what silk, what web of divers colours from the loom, may vie with flowers? What work of man has the red blush of the rose? the pure white of the lily? How the Tyrian dye yields to the violet, sight alone and not words can express.

Chrys.: As widely as truth differs from falsehood, so widely so our clothes differ from flowers. If then Solomon, who was more eminent than all other kings, was yet surpassed by flowers, how shall you exceed the beauty of flowers by your garments? And Solomon was exceeded by the flowers not once only, or twice, but throughout his whole reign; and this is that He says, “In all his glory;” for no one day was he arrayed as are the flowers.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or the meaning may be, that Solomon though he toiled not for his own raiment, yet he gave command for the making of it. But where command is, there is often found both offence of them that minister, and wrath of him that commands. When then any are without these things, then they are arrayed as are the lilies.

Hilary: Or; By the lilies are to be understood the eminences of the heavenly Angels, to whom a surpassing radiance of whiteness is communicated by God. “They toil not, neither do they spin,” because the angelic powers received in the very first allotment of their existence such a nature, that as they were made so they should ever continue to be; and when in the resurrection men shall be like unto Angels, He would have them look for a covering of angelic glory by this example of angelic excellence.

Pseudo-Chrys.: If God then thus provides for the flowers of the earth which only spring up, that they may be seen and die, shall He overlook men whom He has created not to be seen for a time, but that they should be for ever?

Jerome: Tomorrow in Scripture is put for time future in general. Jacob says, “So shall my righteousness answer for me tomorrow.” [Gen 30:33] And in the phantasm of Samuel, the Pythoness says to Saul, “Tomorrow shalt thou be with me.” [1 Sam 28:19]

Gloss: Some copies have [p. 257] “into the fire,” or, “into an heap,” which has the appearance of an oven.

Chrys.: He calls them no more lilies, but “the grass of the field,” to shew their small worth; and adds moreover another cause of their small value; “which today is.” And He said not, “and tomorrow is not,” but what is yet greater fall, “is cast into the oven.” In that He says “How much more you,” is implicitly conveyed the dignity of the human race, as though He had said, You to whom He has given a soul, for whom He has contrived a body, to whom He has sent Prophets and gave His Only-begotten Son.

Gloss: He says, “of little faith,” for that faith is little which is not sure of even the least things.

Hilary: Or, under the signification of grass the Gentiles are pointed to. If then an eternal existence is only therefore granted to the Gentiles, that they may soon be handed over to the judgment fires; how impious it is that the saints should doubt of attaining to eternal glory, when the wicked have eternity bestowed on them for their punishment.

Remig.: Spiritually, by the birds of the air are meant the Saints who are born again in the water of holy Baptism; [ed. note: Vid. the Breviary Hymn, Magnae Deus Potentiae] and by devotion raise themselves above the earth and seek the skies. The Apostles are said to be of more value than these, because they are the heads of the Saints.

By the lilies also may be understood the Saints, who without the toil of legal ceremonies pleased God by faith alone; of whom it is said, “My Beloved, who feedeth among the lilies.” [Cant 2:16] Holy Church also is understood by the lilies, because of the whiteness of its faith, and the odour of its good conversation, of which it is said in the same place, “As the lily among the thorns.”

By the grass are denoted the unbelievers, of whom it is said, “The grass hath dried up, and the flowers thereof faded.” [Isa 40:7]

By the oven eternal damnation; so that the sense be, If God bestows temporal goods on the unbelievers, how much more shall He bestow on you eternal goods!


31. “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? [p. 258]

32. (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”


Gloss, non occ.: Having thus expressly cut off all anxiety concerning food and raiment, by an argument drawn from observation of the inferior creation, He follows it up by a further prohibition; “Be not ye therefore careful, saying, What shall we eat, what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed?”

Remig.: The Lord repeated this, that He might shew how highly necessary this precept is, and that He might inculcate it more strongly on our hearts.

Rabanus: It should be observed that He does not say, Do not ye seek, or be thoughtful for, food drink, and raiment, but “what ye shall eat, what ye shall drink, or wherewithal ye shall be clothed.” Wherein they seem to me to be convicted, who, using themselves the usual food and clothing, require of those with whom they live either greater sumptuousness, or greater austerity in both.

Gloss, non occ.: There is also a further needless solicitude wherein men sin, when they lay by of produce or money more than necessity requires, and leaving spiritual things, are intent on these things, as though despairing of the goodness of God; this is what is forbidden; “for after all these things do the Gentiles seek.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: Since their belief is that it is Fortune and not Providence that has place in human affairs, and think not that their lives are directed by God’s counsel, but follow the uncertain chance, they accordingly fear and despair, as having none to guide them. But he who believes that he is guided by God’s counsel, entrusts his provision of food to God’s hand; as it follows, “for your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.”

Chrys.: He said not ‘God knoweth,’ but, “Your Father knoweth,” in order to lead them to higher hope; for if He be their Father, He will not endure to forget his children, since not even human fathers could do so. He says, “That ye have need of [p. 259] all these things,” in order that for that very reason, because they are necessary, ye may the more lay aside all anxiety. For he who denies his son bare necessaries, after what fashion is he a father? But for superfluities they have no right to look with the like confidence.

Aug., De Trin., xv, 13: God did not gain this knowledge at any certain time, but before all time, without beginning of knowledge, foreknew that the things of the world would be, and among others, both what and when we should ask of Him.

Aug., City of God, xii, 18: As to what some say that these things are so many that they cannot be compassed by the knowledge of God; they ought with like reason to maintain further that God cannot know all numbers which are certainly infinite. But infinity of number is not beyond the compass of His understanding, who is Himself infinite.

Therefore if whatever is compassed by knowledge, is bounded by the compass of him that has the knowledge, then is all infinity in a certain unspeakable way bounded by God, because it is not incomprehensible by His knowledge.

Nemesius, De Nat. Hom., 42: That there is a Providence, is shewn by such signs as the following; The continuance of all things, of those things especially which are in a state of decay and reproduction, and the place and order of all things that exist is ever preserved in one and the same state; and how could this be done unless by some presiding power? But some affirm that God does indeed care for the general continuance of all things in the universe, and provides for this, but that all particular events depend on contingency.

Now there are but three reasons that can be alleged for God exercising no providence of particular events; either God is ignorant that it is good to have knowledge of particular things; or He is unwilling; or He is unable. But ignorance is altogether alien from blessed substance; for how shall God not know what every wise man knows, that if particulars were destroyed, the whole would be destroyed? But nothing prevents all individuals from perishing; when no power watches over them. If again, He be unwilling, this must be from one of two reasons; inactivity, or the meanness of the occupation. But inactivity is produced by two things; either we are drawn aside by some pleasure, or hindered by some fear, neither of which can be piously supposed of God. If they affirm that it [p. 260] would be unbecoming, for that it is beneath such blessedness to stoop to things so trifling, how is it not inconsistent that a workman overseeing the whole of any machine, leaves no part however insignificant without attention, knowing the whole is but made up of the parts, and thus pronounce God the Creator of all things to be less wise than craftsmen? But if it be that He is unable, then is He unable to bestow benefits on us. But if we are unable to comprehend the manner of special Providence, we have not therefore any right to deny its operation; we might as well say that, because we did not know the number of mankind, therefore there were no men.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Thus then let him who believes himself to be under the rule of God’s counsel, commit his provision into God’s hand; but let him meditate of good and evil, which if he do not, he will neither shun the evil, nor lay hold of the good.

Therefore it is added, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” The kingdom of God is the reward of good works; His righteousness is the way of piety by which we go to that kingdom. If then you consider how great is the glory of the Saints, you will either through fear of punishment depart from evil, or through desire of glory hasten to good. And if you consider that is the righteousness of God, what He loves, and what He hates, the righteousness itself will shew you His ways, as it attends on those that love it. And the account we shall have to render is not whether we have been poor or rich, but whether we have done well or ill, which is in our own power.

Gloss., interlin.: Or, He says “his righteousness,” as though He were to say, ‘Ye are made righteous through Him, and not through yourselves.’

Pseudo-Chrys.: The earth for man’s sin is accursed that it should not put forth fruit, according to that in Genesis, “Cursed is the ground in thy works;” [Gen 3:17] but when we do well, then it is blessed. Seek righteousness therefore, and thou shalt not lack food. Wherefore it follows, “and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 16: To wit, these temporal goods which are thus manifestly shewn not to be such goods as those goods of ours for the sake of which we ought to do well; and yet they are necessary. The kingdom of God and His righteousness is our good which [p. 261] we ought to make our end.

But since in order to attain this end we are militant in this life, which may not be lived without supply of these necessaries, He promises, “These things shall be added unto you.” That He says, “first,” implies that these are to be sought second not in time, but in value; the one is our good, the other necessary to us.

For example, we ought not to preach that we may eat, for so we should hold the Gospel as of less value than our food; but we should therefore eat that we may preach the Gospel. But if we “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” that is, set this before all other things, and seek other things for the sake of this, we ought not to be anxious lest we should lack necessaries; and therefore He says, “All these things shall be added unto you;” that is, of course, without being an hindrance to you: that you may not in seeking them be turned away from the other, and thus set two ends before you.

Chrys.: And He said not, Shall be given, but, “Shall be added,” that you may learn that the things that are now, are nought to the greatness of the things that shall be.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 17: But when we read that the Apostle suffered hunger and thirst, let us not think that God’s promises failed him; for these things are rather aids. That Physician to whom we have entirely entrusted ourselves, knows when He will give and when He will withhold, as He judges most for our advantage. So that should these things ever be lacking to us, (as God to exercise us often permits,) it will not weaken our fixed purpose, but rather confirm it when wavering.


34. “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”


Gloss., ap. Anselm: Having forbid anxiety for the things of the day, He now forbids anxiety for future things, such a fruitless care as proceeds from the fault of men, in these words, “Be not ye anxious about the morrow.”

Jerome: Tomorrow in Scripture signifies time future, as Jacob in Genesis says, “Tomorrow shall my righteousness hear me.” [Gen 35:33] And in the phantasm of Samuel the Pythoness says to Saul, “Tomorrow [p. 262] shalt thou be with me.” [1 Sam 28:19]

He yields therefore unto them that they should care for things present, though He forbids them to take thought for things to come. For sufficient for us is the thought of time present; let us leave to God the future which is uncertain. And this is that He says, “The morrow shall be anxious for itself;” that is, it shall bring its own anxiety with it. “For sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” By evil He means here not that which is contrary to virtue, but toil, and affliction, and the hardships of life.

Chrys.: Nothing brings so much pain to the spirit as anxiety and cark. That He says, “The morrow shall be anxious for itself,” comes of desire to make more plain what He speaks; to that end employing a prosopopeia of time, after the practice of many in speaking to the rude populace; to impress them the more, He brings in the day itself complaining of its too heavy cares. Has not every day a burden enough of its own, in its own cares? why then do you add to them by laying on those that belong to another day?

Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; By “today” are signified such things as are needful for us in this present life; “Tomorrow” denotes those things that are superfluous. “Be not ye therefore anxious for the morrow,” thus means, Seek not to have aught beyond that which is necessary for your daily life, for that which is over and above, i.e. Tomorrow, shall care for itself.

“Tomorrow shall be anxious for itself,” is as much as to say, when you have heaped up superfluities, they shall care for themselves, you shall not enjoy them, but they shall find many lords who shall care for them. Why then should you be anxious about those things, the property of which you must part with?

“Sufficient for the day is its own evil,” as much as to say, The toil you undergo for necessaries is enough, do not toil for things superfluous.

Aug.: Or otherwise; Tomorrow is said only of time where future succeeds to past. When then we work any good work, we think not of earthly but of heavenly things. “The morrow shall be anxious for itself,” that is, Take food and the like, when you ought to take it, that is when necessity begins to call for it.

“For sufficient for the day is its own evil,” that is, it is enough that necessity shall compel to take these things; He calls it “evil,” because it is penal, inasmuch as it pertains to our mortality, which we earned [p. 263] by sinning. To this necessity then of worldly punishment, add not further weight, that you may not only fulfil it, but may even so fulfil it as to shew yourself God’s soldier.

But herein we must be careful, that, when we see any servant of God endeavouring to provide necessaries either for himself, or those committed to his care, we do not straight judge him to sin against this command of the Lord in being anxious for the morrow. For the Lord Himself, to whom Angels ministered, thought good to carry a bag for example sake. And in the Acts of the Apostles it is written, that food necessary for life was provided for future time, at a time when famine threatened. What the Lord condemns therefore, is not the provision of these things after the manner of men, but if a man because of these things does not fight as God’s soldier.

Hilary: This is further comprehended under the full meaning of the Divine words. We are commanded not to be careful about the future, because sufficient for our life is the evil of the days wherein we live, that is to say, the sins, that all our thought and pains be occupied in cleansing this away. And if our care be slack, yet will the future be careful for itself, in that there is held out to us a harvest of eternal love to be provided by God.

 

Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 7

[p. 264]

1. “Judge not, that ye be not judged.

2. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”


Aug.: Since when these temporal things are provided beforehand against the future, it is uncertain with what purpose it is done, as it may be with a single or double mind, He opportunely subjoins, “Judge not.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; He has drawn out thus far the consequences of his injunctions of almsgiving; He now takes up those respecting prayer. And this doctrine is in a sort of continuation of that of the prayer; as though it should run, “Forgive us our debts,” and then should follow, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

Jerome: But if He forbids us to judge, how then does Paul judge the Corinthian who had committed uncleanness? Or Peter convict Ananias and Sapphira of falsehood?

Pseudo-Chrys.: But some explain this place after a sense, as though the Lord did not herein forbid Christians to reprove others out of good will, but only intended that Christians should not despise Christians by making a show of their own righteousness, hating others often on suspicion alone, condemning them, and pursuing private grudges under the show of piety.

Chrys.: Wherefore He does not say, ‘Do not cause a sinner to cease,’ but do not judge; that is, be not a bitter judge; correct him indeed, but not as an enemy seeking revenge, but as a physician applying a remedy.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But that not even thus should Christians correct Christians is shewn by that expression, “Judge not.” [p. 265]

But if they do not thus correct, shall they therefore obtain forgiveness of their sins, because it is said, “and ye shall not be judged?” For who obtains forgiveness of a former sin, by not adding another thereto? This we have said, desiring to shew that this is not here spoken concerning not judging our neighbour who shall sin against God, but who may sin against ourselves. For whoso does not judge his neighbour who has sinned against him, him shall not God judge for his sin, but will forgive him his debt even as he forgave.

Chrys.: Otherwise; He does not forbid us to judge all sin absolutely, but lays this prohibition on such as are themselves full of great evils, and judge others for very small evils. In like manner Paul does not absolutely forbid to judge those that sin, but finds fault with disciples that judged their teacher, and instructs us not to judge those that are above us.

Hilary: Otherwise; He forbids us to judge God touching His promises; for as judgements among men are founded on things uncertain, so this judgment against God is drawn from somewhat that is doubtful. And He therefore would have us put away the custom from us altogether; for it is not here as in other cases where it is sin to have given a false judgment; but here we have begun to sin if we have pronounced any judgment at all.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 18: I suppose the command here to be no other than that we should always put the best interpretation on such actions as seem doubtful with what mind they were done. But concerning such as cannot be done with good purpose, as adulteries, blasphemies, and the like, He permits us to judge; but of indifferent actions which admit of being done with either good or bad purpose, it is rash to judge, but especially so to condemn.

There are two cases in which we should be particularly on our guard against hasty judgments, when it does not appear with what mind the action was done; and when it does not yet appear, what sort of man any one may turn out, who now seems either good or bad. Wherefore he should neither blame those things of which we know with what mind they are done, nor so blame those things which are manifest, as though we despaired of recovery.

Here one may think there is difficulty is what follows, “With what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged.” [p. 266] If we judge a hasty judgment, will God also judge us with the like? Or if we have measured with a false measure, is there with God a false measure whence it may be measured to us again? For by measure I suppose is here meant judgment. Surely this is only said, that the haste in which you punish another shall be itself your punishment. For injustice often does no harm to him who suffers the wrong; but must always hurt him who does the wrong.

Aug., City of God, xxi, 11: Some say, How is it true that Christ says, “And with what measure ye shall mete it shall be measured to you again,” if temporal sin is to be punished by eternal suffering? They do not observe that it is not said “the same measure,” because of the equal space of time, but because of the equal retribution - namely, that he who has done evil should suffer evil, though even in that sense it might be said of that of which the Lord spoke here, namely of judgments and condemnations. Accordingly, he that judges and condemns unjustly, if he is judged and condemned, justly receives in the same measure though not the same thing that he gave; by judgment he did what was unjust, by judgment he suffers what is just.


3. “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

4. Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

5. Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”


Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 18: The Lord having admonished us concerning hasty and unjust judgment; and because that they are most given to rash judgment, who judge concerning things uncertain; and they most readily find fault, who love rather to speak evil and to condemn than to cure and to correct; a fault that spring either from pride or jealousy - therefore He [p. 267] subjoins, “Why seest thou the mote in thy brother’s eye, and seest not the beam in thy own eye?”

Jerome: He speaks of such as though themselves guilty of mortal sin, do not forgive a trivial fault in their brother.

Aug.: As if he perhaps have sinned in anger, and you correct him with settled hate. For as great as is the difference between a beam and a mote, so great is the difference between anger and hatred. For hatred is anger become inveterate. It may be if you are angry with a man that you would have him amend, not so if you hate him.

Chrys.: Many do this, if they see a Monk having a superfluous garment, or a plentiful meal, they break out into bitter accusation, though themselves daily seize and devour, and suffer from excess of drinking.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; This is spoken to the doctors. For every sin is either a great or a small sin according to the character of the sinner. If he is a laic, it is small and a mote in comparison of the sin of a priest, which is the beam.

Hilary: Otherwise; The sin against the Holy Spirit is to take from God power which has influences, and from Christ substance which is of eternity, through whom as God came to man, so shall man likewise come to God. As much greater then as is the beam than the mote, so much greater is the sin against the Holy Spirit than all other sins. As when unbelievers object to others carnal sins, and secrete in themselves the burden of that sin, to wit, that they trust not the promises of God, their minds being blinded as their eye might be by a beam.

Pseudo-Chrys.: That is, with what face can you charge your brother with sin, when yourself are living in the same or a yet greater sin?

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 19: When then we are brought under the necessity of finding fault with any, let us first consider whether the sin be such as we have never had; secondly that we are yet men, and may fall into it; then, whether it be one that we have had, and are now without, and then let our common frailty come into our mind, that pity and not hate may go before correction. Should we find ourselves in the same fault, let us not reprove, but groan with the offender, and invite him to struggle with us. Seldom indeed and in cases of great necessity is reproof to be employed; and then only that the Lord may be served [p. 268] and not ourselves.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; “How sayest thou to thy brother;” that is, with what purpose? From charity, that you may save your neighbour? Surely not, for you would first save yourself. You desire therefore not to heal others, but by good doctrine to cover bad life, and to gain praise of learning from men, not the reward of edifying from God, and you are a hypocrite; as it follows, “Thou hypocrite, cast first the beam out of thine own eye.”

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 19: For to reprove sin is the duty of the good, which when the bad do, they act a part, dissembling their own character, and assuming one that does not belong to them.

Chrys.: And it is to be noted, that whenever He intends to denounce any great sin, He begins with an epithet of reproach, as below, “Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt;” [Matt 18:32] and so here, “Thou hypocrite, cast out first.” For each one knows better the things of himself than the things of others, and sees more the things that be great, then the things that be lesser, and loves himself more than his neighbour.

Therefore He bids him who is chargeable with many sins, not to be a harsh judge of another’s faults, especially if they be small. Herein not forbidding to arraign and correct; but forbidding to make light of our own sins, and magnify those of others. For it behoves you first diligently to examine how great may be your own sins, and then try those of your neighbour; whence it follows, “and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

Aug.: For having removed from our own eye the beam of envy, of malice, or hypocrisy, we shall see clearly to cast the beam out of our brother’s eye.


6. “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”


Aug.: Because the simplicity to which He had been directing in the foregoing precepts might lead some wrongly to conclude that it was equally wrong to hide the truth as to utter what was false, He well adds, “Give not that which is holy to the dogs, and cast not your pearls before swine.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; The Lord had commanded us to love our enemies, and to do good to those that sin against us. That from this Priests might not think themselves obliged to communicate also the things of God to such, He checked any such thought saying, “Give not that which is holy to the dogs;” as much as to say, I have bid you love your enemies, and do them good out of your temporal goods, but not out of My spiritual goods, without distinction. For they are your brethren by nature but not by faith, and God gives the good things of this life equally to the worthy and the unworthy, but not so spiritual graces.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 20: Let us see now what is the holy thing, what are the dogs, what the pearls, what the swine? The holy thing is all that it were impiety to corrupt; a sin which may be committed by the will, though the thing itself be undone. The pearls are all spiritual things that are to be highly esteemed. Thus though one and the same thing may be called both the holy thing and a pearl, yet it is called holy because it is not to be corrupted; and called a pearl because it is not be contemned.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; “That which is holy” denotes baptism, the grace of Christ’s body, and the like; but the mysteries of the truth are intended by the pearls. For as pearls are inclosed in shells, and such in the deeps of the sea, so the divine mysteries inclosed in words are lodged in the deep meaning of Holy Scripture.

Chrys.: And to those that are right-minded and have understanding, when revealed they appear good; but to those without understanding, they seem to be more deserving reverence because they are not understood.

Aug.: The dogs are those that assault the truth; the swine we may not unsuitably take for those that despise the truth. Therefore because dogs leap forth to rend in pieces, and what they rend, suffer not to continue whole, He said, “Give not that which is holy to the dogs;” because they strive to the utmost of their power to destroy the truth. The swine though they do not assault by biting as dogs, yet do they defile by trampling upon, and therefore He said, “Cast not your pearls before swine.”

Rabanus: Or; The dogs are returned to their vomit; the swine not yet returned, but wallowing in the mire of vices.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; [p. 270] The dog and the swine are unclean animals; the dog indeed in every respect, as he neither chews the cud, nor divides the hoof; but swine in one respect only, seeing they divide the hoof, though they do not chew the cud. Hence I think that we are to understand by the dog, the Gentiles who are altogether unclean, both in their life, and in their faith; but by the swine are to be understood heretics, because they seem to call upon the name of the Lord.

“Give not therefore that which is holy to the dogs,” for that baptism and the other sacraments are not to be given but to them that have the faith. In like manner the mysteries of the truth, that is, the pearls, are not to be given but to such as desire the truth and live with human reason. If then you cast them to the swine, that is, to such as are grovelling in impurity of life, they do not understand their preciousness, but value them like to other worldly fables, and tread them under foot with their carnal life.

Aug.: That which is despised is said to be trodden under foot: hence it is said, “Lest perchance they tread them under foot.”

Gloss. interlin.: He says, “Lest perchance,” because it may be that they will wisely turn from their uncleanness. [ed. note: the gloss. has ‘guia non possunt.’]

Aug.: That which follows, “Turn again and rend you,” He means not the pearls themselves, for these they tread under foot, and when they turn again that they may hear something further, then they rend him by whom the pearls on which they had trode had been cast. For you will not easily find what will please him who has despised things god by great toil. Whoever then undertake to teach such, I see not how they shall not be trode upon and rent by those they teach.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or; The swine not only trample upon the pearls by their carnal life, but after a little they turn, and by disobedience rend those who offend them. Yea often when offended they bring false accusation against them as sowers of new dogmas. The dogs also having trode upon holy things by their impure actions, by their disputings rend the preacher of truth.

Chrys.: Well is that said, “Lest they turn;” for they feign meekness that they may learn; and when they have learned, they attack.

Pseudo-Chrys.: With good reason He forbade pearls to be given to swine. For if they are not to be set before swine that are the less unclean, how much more are [p. 271] they to be withhold from dogs that are so much more unclean. But respecting the giving that which is holy, we cannot hold the same opinion; seeing we often give the benediction to Christians who live as the brutes; and that not because they deserve to receive it, but lest perchance being more grievously offended they should perish utterly.

Aug.: We must be careful therefore not to explain ought to him who does not receive it; for men the rather seek that which is hidden than that which is opened. He either attacks from ferocity as a dog, or overlooks from stupidity as swine.

But it does not follow that if the truth be kept hid, falsehood is uttered. The Lord Himself who never spoke falsely, yet sometimes concealed the truth, as in that, “I have yet many things to say unto you, the which ye are not now able to bear.” [John 16:12] But if any is unable to receive these things because of his filthiness, we must first cleanse him as far as lays in our power either by word or deed.

But in that the Lord is found to have said some things which many who heard Him did not receive, but either rejected or contemned them, we are not to think that therein He gave the holy thing to the dogs, or cast His pearls before swine. He gave to those who were able to receive, and who were in the company, whom it was not fit should be neglected for the uncleanness of the rest. And though those who tempted Him might perish in those answers which He gave to them, yet those who could receive them by occasion of these inquiries heard many useful things.

He therefore who knows what should be answered ought to make answer, for their sakes at least who might fall into despair should they think that the question proposed is one that cannot be answered. But this only in the case of such matters as pertain to instruction of salvation; of things superfluous or harmful nothing should be said; but it should then be explained for what reason we ought not to make answer in such points to the enquirer.


7. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

8. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.


[p. 272]

Jerome: Having before forbidden us to pray for things of the flesh, He now shews what we ought to ask, saying, “Ask, and it shall be given you.”

Aug.: Otherwise; when He commanded not to give the holy thing to dogs, and not to cast pearls before swine, the hearer conscious of his own ignorance might say, Why do you thus bid me not give the holy thing to dogs, when as yet I see not that I have any holy thing

He therefore adds in good season, “Ask, and ye shall receive.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; Having given them some commands for the sanctification of prayer, saying, “Judge not,” He adds accordingly, “Ask, and it shall be given unto you,” as though He were to say, If ye observe this mercy towards your enemies, whatever seems to your shut, “knock, and it shall be opened to you.”

Ask therefore in prayer, praying day and night; seek with care and toil; for neither by toiling only in the Scriptures do we gain knowledge without God’s grace, nor do we attain to grace without study, lest the gift of God should be bestowed on the careless. But knock with prayer, and fasting, and alms. For as one who knocks at a door, not only cries out with his voice, but strikes with his hand, so he who does good works, knocks with his works.

But you will say, this is what I pray that I may know and do, how then can I do it, before I receive? Do what you can that you may become able to do more, and keep what you know that you may come to know more.

Or otherwise; having above commanded all men to love their enemies, and after enjoined that we should not under pretext of love give holy things to dogs; He here gives good counsel, that they should pray God for them, and it shall be granted them; let them seek out those that are lost in sins, and they shall find them; let them knock at those who are shut up in errors, and God shall open to them that their word may have access to their souls.

Or otherwise; Since the precepts given above were beyond the reach of human virtue, He sends them to God to whose grace nothing is impossible, saying, “Ask, and it shall be given you,” that what cannot be performed by men may be fulfilled through the grace of God. For when God furnished the other animals with swift foot, or swift wing, with claws, teeth, or horns, He so made man that He Himself should be man’s only strength [margin note: virtus, see Ps. 18:1] that forced by reason of his own weakness [p. 273] he might always have need of his Lord.

Gloss. ord.: We ask with faith, we seek with hope, we knock with love. You must first ask that you may have; after that seek that you may find; and lastly, observe what you have found that you may enter in.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 21: Asking, is that we may get healthiness of soul that we may be able to fulfil the things commanded us; seeking, pertains to the discovery of the truth. But when any has found the true way, he will then come into actual possession, which however is only opened to him that knocks.

Aug., Retract., i, 19: How these three differ from one another, I have thought good to unfold with this travail; but it were better to refer them all to instant prayer; wherefore He afterwards concludes, saying, “He will give good things to them that ask him.”

Chrys.: And in that He adds “seek,” and “knock,” HE bids us ask with much importunateness and strength. For one who seeks, casts forth all other things from his mind, and is turned to that thing singly which he seeks; and he that knocks comes with vehemence and warm soul.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He had said, “Ask, and ye shall receive;” which sinners hearing might perchance say, The Lord herein exhorts them that are worthy, but we are unworthy. Therefore He repeats it that He may commend the mercy of God to the righteous as well as to sinners; and therefore declares that “every one that asketh receiveth;” that is, whether he be righteous or a sinner, let him not hesitate to ask; that it may be fully seen that none is neglected but he who hesitates to ask of God. For it is not credible that God should enjoin on men that work of piety which is displayed is doing good to our enemies, and should not Himself (being good) act so.

Aug., Tract. in Joan. 44, 13: Wherefore God hears sinners; for if He do not hear sinners, the Publican said in vain, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner;” [Luke 18:13] and by that confession merited justification.

Aug., Prosper, Sent. 212: He who in faith offers supplication to God for the necessities of this life is heard mercifully, and not heard mercifully. For the physician knows better than the sick man what is good for his sickness. But if he asks that which God both promises and commands, his prayer shall be granted, for love shall receive what truth provides.

Aug., Ep. 31, 1: But the Lord is good, who often gives us not what we would, that He may give us what we should rather prefer.

[p. 274]

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 21: There is need moreover of perseverance, that we may receive what we ask for.

Aug., Serm. 61. 5: In that God sometimes delays His gifts, He but recommends, and does not deny them. For that which is long looked for is sweeter when obtained; but that is held cheap, which comes at once. Ask then and seek things righteous. For by asking and seeking grows the appetite of taking. God reserves for you those things which He is not willing to give you at once, that you may learn greatly to desire great things. Therefore we ought always to pray and not to fail.


9. “Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

10. Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

11. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”


Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 21: As above He had cited the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, that our hopes may rise from the less to the greater; so also does He in this place, when He says, “Or what man among you?”

Pseudo-Chrys.: Lest perchance any one considering how great is the difference between God and man, and weighing his own sins should despair of obtaining, and so never take in hand to ask; therefore He proposes a comparison of the relation between father and son; that should we despair because of our sins, we may hope because of God’s fatherly goodness.

Chrys.: There are two things behoveful for one that prays; that he ask earnestly; and that he ask such things as he ought to ask. And those are spiritual things; as Solomon, because he asked such things as were right, received speedily.

Pseudo-Chrys.: And what are the things that we ought to ask, he shews under the likeness of a loaf, and a fish. The loaf is the word concerning the knowledge of God the Father. The stone is all falsehood that has a stumbling-block of offence to the soul.

Remig.: By the fish we may understand the word concerning Christ, by the serpent the Devil [p. 275] himself.

Or by the loaf may be understood spiritual doctrine; by the stone ignorance; by the fish the water of Holy Baptism; by the serpent the wiles of the Devil, or unbelief.

Rabanus: Or; bread which is the common food signifies charity, without which the other virtues are of no avail. The fish signifies faith, which is born of the water of baptism, is tossed in the midst of the waves of this life and yet lives. Luke adds a third thing, “an egg,” [Luke 11:12] which signifies hope; for an egg is the hope of the animal. To charity, He opposes “a stone,” that is, the hardness of hatred; to faith, “a serpent,” that is, the venom of treachery; to hope, “a scorpion,” that is, despair, which stings backward, as the scorpion.

Remig.: The sense therefore is: we need not fear that should we ask of God our Father bread, that is doctrine or love, He will give us a stone; that is, that He will suffer our heart to be contracted either by the frost of hatred or by hardness of soul; or that when we ask for faith, He will suffer us to die of the poison of unbelief.

Thence it follows, “If then ye being evil.”

Chrys.: This He said not detracting from human nature, nor confessing the whole human race to be evil; but He calls paternal love “evil” when compared with His own goodness. Such is the superabundance of His love towards men.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Because in comparison of God who is preeminently good, all men seem to be evil, as all light shews dark when compared with the sun.

Jerome: Or perhaps he called the Apostles evil, in their person condemning the whole human race, whose heart is set to evil from his infancy, as we read in Genesis. Nor is it any wonder that He should call this generation, “evil,” as the Apostle also speaks, “Seeing the days are evil.”

Aug.: Or He calls “evil” those who are lovers of this age; [margin note: Eph 5:16] whence also the good things which they give are to be called good according to their sense who esteem them as good; nay, even in the nature of things they are goods, that is, temporal goods, and such as pertain to this weak life.

Aug., Serm., 61, 3: For that good thing which makes men good is God. Gold and silver are good things not as making you good, but as with them you may do good. If then we be evil, yet as having a Father who is good let us not remain ever evil.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 21: If then we being evil, know how to give that which is asked [p. 276] of us, how much more is it to be hoped that God will give us good things when we ask Him?

Pseudo-Chrys.: He says “good things,” because God does not give all things to them that ask Him, but only good things.

Gloss. ord.: For from God we receive only such things as are good, of what kind soever they may seem to us when we receive them; for all things work together for good to His beloved.

Remig.: And be it known that where Matthew says, “He shall give good things,” Luke has, “shall give his Holy Spirit.” [Luke 11:13] But this ought not to seem contrary, because all the good things which man receives from God, are given by the grace of the Holy Spirit.


12. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets.”


Aug.: Firmness and strength of walking by the way of wisdom in good habits is thus set before us, by which men are brought to purity and simplicity of heart; concerning which having spoken a long time, He thus concludes, “All things whatsoever ye would, &c.” For there is no man who would that another should act towards him with a double heart.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; He had above commanded us in order to sanctify our prayers that men should not judge those who sin against them. Then breaking the thread of his discourse He had introduced various other matters, wherefore now when He returns to the command with which He had begun, He says, “All things whatsoever ye would, &c.” That is; I not only command that ye judge not, but “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye unto them;” and then you will be able to pray so as to obtain.

Gloss. ord.: Otherwise; The Holy Spirit is the distributor of all spiritual goods, that the deeds of charity may be fulfilled; whence He adds, “All things therefore, &c.”

Chrys.: Otherwise; The Lord desires to teach that men ought to seek aid from above, but at the same time to contribute what lays in their power; wherefore when He had said, “Ask, seek, and knock,” He proceeds to teach openly [p. 277] that men should be at pains for themselves, adding, “Whatsoever ye would &c.”

Aug., Serm., 61. 7: Otherwise; The Lord had promised that He would give good things to them that ask Him. But that He may own his petitioners, let us also own ours. For they that beg are in every thing, save having of substance, equal to those of whom they beg. What face can you have of making request to your God, when you do not acknowledge your equal? This is said in Proverbs, “Whoso stoppeth his ear to the cry of the poor, he shall cry and shall not be heard.” [Prov 21:13] What we ought to bestow on our neighbour when he asks of us, that we ourselves may be heard of God, we may judge by what we would have others bestow upon us; therefore He says, “All things whatsoever ye would.”

Chrys.: He says not, “All things whatsoever,” simply, but “All things therefore,” as though He should say, If ye will be heard, besides those things which I have now said to you, do this also. And He said not, Whatsoever you would have done for you by God, do that for your neighbour; lest you should say, But how can I? but He says, Whatsoever you would have done to you by your fellow-servant, do that also to your neighbour.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 22: Some Latin copies add here, “good things,” [ed. note: So also S. Cyprian de Orat. (Tr. vii. 18. fin.) and the Latin MSS.] which I suppose was inserted to make the sense more plain. For it occurred that one might desire some crime to be committed for his advantage, and should so construe this place, that he ought first to do the like to him by whom he would have it done to him. It were absurd to think that this man had fulfilled this command. Yet the thought is perfect, even though this be not added.

For the words, “All things whatsoever ye would,” are not to be taken in their ordinary and loose signification, but in their exact and proper sense. For there is no will but only in the good [margin note: but see Retract. i. 9. n. 4]; in the wicked it is rather named desire, and not will. Not that the Scriptures always observe this propriety; but where need is, there they retain the proper word so that none other need be understood.

Cyprian, Tr. vii: Since the Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ came to all men, He summed up all his commands in one precept, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them;” and adds, “for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: For whosoever [p. 278] the Law and the Prophets contain up and down through the whole Scriptures, is embraced in this one compendious precept, as the innumerable branches of a tree spring from one root.

Greg., Mor., x, 6: He that thinks he ought to do to another as he expects that others will do to him, considers verily how he may return good things for bad, and better things for good.

Chrys.: Whence what we ought to do is clear, as in our own cases we all know what is proper, and so we cannot take refuge in our ignorance.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 22: This precept seems to refer to the love of our neighbour, not of God, as in another place He says, there are two commandments on which hang the Law and the Prophets. But as He says not here, The whole Law, as He speaks there, He reserves a place for the other commandment respecting the love of God.

Aug., De Trin., viii, 7: Otherwise; Scripture does not mention the love of God, where it says, “All things whatsoever ye would;” because he who loves his neighbour must consequently love Love itself above all things; but God is Love; therefore he loves God above all things.


13. “Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”


Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 22: The Lord had warned us above to have a heart single and pure with which to seek God; but as this belongs to but few, He begins to speak of finding out wisdom. For the searching out and contemplation whereof there has been formed through all the foregoing such an eye as may discern the narrow way and strait gate; whence He adds, “Enter ye in at the strait gate.”

Gloss. ord.: Though it be hard to do to another what you would have done to yourself; yet so must we do, that we may enter the strait gate.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; This third precept again is connected with the right method of fasting, and the order of discourse will be this; “But thou [p. 279] when thou fastest anoint thy head;” and after comes, “Enter ye in at the strait gate.”

For there are three chief passions in our nature, that are most adhering to the flesh; the desire of food and drink; the love of the man towards the woman; and thirdly, sleep. These it is harder to cut off from the fleshly nature than the other passions. And therefore abstinence from no other passion so sanctifies the body as that a man should be chaste, abstinent, and continuing in watchings.

On account, therefore, of all these righteousnesses, but above all on account of the most toilsome fasting, it is that He says, “Enter ye in at the strait gate.” The gate of perdition is the Devil, through whom we enter into hell; the gate of life is Christ, through whom we enter into the kingdom of Heaven. The Devil is said to be a wide gate, not extended by the mightiness of his power, but made broad by the license of his unbridled pride. Christ is said to be a strait gate not with respect to smallness of power, but to His humility; for He whom the whole world contains not, shut Himself within the limits of the Virgin’s womb. The way of perdition is sin of any kind. It is said to be broad, because it is not contained within the rule of any discipline, but they that walk therein follow whatever pleases them. The way of life is all righteousness, and is called narrow for the contrary reasons. It must be considered that unless one walk in the way, he cannot arrive at the gate; so they that walk not in the way of righteousness, it is impossible that they should truly know Christ. Likewise neither does he run into the hands of the Devil, unless he walks in the way of sinners.

Gloss. ord.: Though love be wide, yet it leads men from the earth through difficult and steep ways. It is sufficiently difficult to cast aside all other things, and to love One only, not to aim at prosperity, not to fear adversity.

Chrys.: But seeing He declares below, “My yoke is pleasant, and my burden light,” how is it that He says here that the way is strait and narrow? Even here He teaches that it is light and pleasant; for here is a way and a gate as that other, which is called the wide and broad, has also a way and a gate.

Of these nothing is to remain; but all pass away. But to pass through toil and sweat, and to arrive at a good end, namely life, is sufficient solace to those who undergo [p. 280] these struggles. For if sailors can make light of storms and soldiers of wounds in hope of perishable rewards, much more when Heaven lies before, and rewards immortal, will none look to the impending dangers. Moreover the very circumstance that He calls it strait contributes to make it easy; by this He warned them to be always watching; this the Lord speaks to rouse our desires. He who strives in a combat, if he sees the prince admiring the efforts of the combatants, gets greater heart.

Let us not therefore be sad when many sorrows befall us here, for the way is strait, but not the city; therefore neither need we look for rest here, nor expect any thing of sorrow there. When He says, “Few there be that find it,” He points to the sluggishness of the many, and instructs His hearers not to look to the prosperity of the many, but to the toils of the few.

Jerome: Attend to the words, for they have an especial force, “many walk” in the broad way - “few find” the narrow way. For the broad way needs no search, and is not found, but presents itself readily; it is the way of all who go astray. Whereas the narrow way neither do all find, nor when they have found, do they straightway walk therein. Many, after they have found the way of truth, caught by the pleasures of the world, desert midway.


15. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

16. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17. Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

19. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

20. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”


Pseudo-Chrys.: The Lord had before commanded His Apostles, that they should not do their alms, prayers, and [p. 281] fastings before men, as the hypocrites; and that they might know that all these things may be done in hypocrisy, He speaks saying, “Take heed of false prophets.”

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 23: When the Lord had said that there were few that find the strait gate and narrow way, that heretics, who often commend themselves because of the smallness of their numbers, might not here intrude themselves, He straightway subjoins, “Take heed of false prophets.”

Chrys.: Having taught that the gate is strait, because there are many that pervert the way that leads to it, He proceeds, “Take heed of false prophets.” In the which that they might be the more careful, He reminds them of the things that were done among their fathers, calling them “false prophets;” for even in that day the like things fell out.

Pseudo-Chrys.: What is written below that “the Law and the Prophets were until John,” [Matt 11:13] is said, because there should be no prophecy concerning Christ after He was come. Prophets indeed there have been and are, but not prophesying of Christ, rather interpreting the things which had been prophesied of Christ by the ancients, that is by the doctors of the Churches. For no man can unfold prophetic meaning, but the Spirit of prophecy. The Lord then knowing that there should be false teachers, warns them of divers heresies, saying, “Take heed of false prophets.”

And forasmuch as they would not be manifest Gentiles, but lurk under the Christian name, He said not ‘See ye,’ but, “Take heed.” For a thing that is certain is simply seen, or looked upon; but when it is uncertain it is watched or narrowly considered. Also He says “Take heed,” because it is a sure precaution of security to know him whom you avoid. But his form of warning, “Take heed,” does not imply that the Devil will introduce heresies against God’s will, but by His permission only; but because He would not choose servants without trial, therefore He sends them temptation; and because He would not have them perish through ignorance, He therefore warns them before hand.

Also that no heretical teacher might maintain that He spoke here of Gentile and Jewish teachers and not of them, He adds, “who come to you in sheep’s clothing.” Christians are called sheep, and the sheep’s clothing is a form of Christianity and of feigned religion. And nothing so casts out [p. 282] all good as hypocrisy; for evil that puts on the semblance of good, cannot be provided against, because it is unknown. Again, that the heretic might not allege that He here speaks of the true teachers which were yet sinners, He adds, “But inwardly they are ravening wolves.” But Catholic teachers should they indeed have been sinners, are spoken of as servants of the flesh, yet not as ravening wolves, because it is not their purpose to destroy Christians.

Clearly then it is of heretical teachers that He speaks; for they put on the guise of Christians, to the end they may tear in pieces the Christian with the wicked fangs of seduction. Concerning such the Apostle speaks, “I know that after my departure there will enter among you grievous wolves, not sparing the flock.” [Acts 20:29]

Chrys.: Yet He may seem here to have aimed under the title of “false prophets,” not so much at the heretic, as at those who, while their life is corrupt, yet wear an outward face of virtuousness; whence it is said, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” For among heretics it is possible many times to find a good life, but among those I have named never.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 24: Wherefore it is justly asked, what fruits then He would have us look to? For many esteem among fruits some things which pertain to the sheep’s clothing, and in this manner are deceived concerning wolves. For they practise fasting, almsgiving, or praying, which they display before men, seeking to please those to whom these things seem difficult.

These then are not the fruits by which He teaches us to discern them. Those deeds which are done with good intention, are the proper fleece of the sheep itself, such as are done with bad intention, or in error, are nothing else than a clothing of wolves; but the sheep ought not to hate their own clothing because it is often used to hide wolves.

What then are the fruits by which we may know an evil tree? The Apostle says, “The works of the flesh are manifest, which are, fornication, uncleanness, &c.” [Gal 5:19] And which are they by which we may know a good tree? The same Apostle teaches, saying, “The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: The fruits of a man are the confession of his faith and the works of his life; for he who utter according to God the words of humility and a true confession, is the sheep; but he who against the truth howls forth blasphemies against [p. 283] God is the wolf.

Jerome: What is here spoken of false prophets we may apply to all whose dress and speech promise one thing, and their actions exhibit another. But it is specially to be understood of heretics, who by observing temperance, chastity, and fasting, surround themselves as it were with a garment of sanctity, but inasmuch as their hearts within them are poisoned, they deceive the souls of the more simple brethren.

Aug., non occ.: But from their actions we may conjecture whether this their outward appearance is put on for display. For when by any temptations those things are withdrawn or denied them which they had either attained or sought to attain by this evil, then needs must that it appear whether they be the wolf in sheep’s clothing, or the sheep in his own.

Greg., Mor., xxxi, 14: Also the hypocrite is restrained by peaceful times of Holy Church, and therefore appears clothed with godliness; but let any trial of faith ensue, straight the wolf ravenous at heart strips himself of his sheep’s skin, and shews by persecuting how great his rage against the good.

Chrys.: And the hypocrite is easily discerned; for the way they are commanded to walk is a hard way, and the hypocrite is loth to toil. And that you may not say that you are unable to find out them that are such, He again enforces what He had said by example from men, saying, “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”

Pseudo-Chrys.: The grape had in it a mystery of Christ. As the bunch sustains many grapes held together by the woody stem, so likewise Christ holds many believers joined to Him by the wood of the Cross. The fig again is the Church which binds many faithful by a sweet embrace of charity, as the fig contains many seeds inclosed in one skin. The fig then has these significations, namely, love in its sweetness, unity in the close adhesion of its seeds. In the grape is shewn patience, in that it is cast into the wine-press - joy, because wine maketh glad the heart of man - purity, because it is not mixed with water - and sweetness, in that it delighteth. The thorns and thistles are the heretics. And as a thorn or a thistle has sharp pricks on every part, so the Devil’s servants, on whatsoever side you look at them, are full of wickedness. Thorns and thistles then of this sort cannot bear the fruits of the Church. And having instanced in particular tress, as [p. 284] the fig, the vine, the thorn, and the thistle, He proceeds to shew that this is universally true, saying, “Thus every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but an evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit.”

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 25: In this place we must guard against the error of such [margin note: Manichees] as imagine that the two trees refer to two different natures; the one of God, the other not. But we affirm that they derive no countenance from these two tree; as it will be evident to any who will read the context that He is speaking here of men.

Aug., City of God, book 12, ch. 4: These men of whom we have spoken are offended with these two natures, not considering them according to their true usefulness; whereas it is not by our advantage or disadvantage, but in itself considered, that nature gives glory to her Framer. All natures then that are, because they are, have their own manner, their own appearance, and as it were their own harmony [margin note: pacem], and are altogether good.

Chrys.: But that none should say, An evil tree brings forth indeed evil fruit, but it brings forth also good, and so it becomes hard to discern, as it has a two-fold produce; on this account He adds, “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit.”

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 25: From this speech the Manichees suppose that neither can a soul that is evil be possibly changed for better, nor one that is good into worse. As though it had been, A good tree cannot become bad, nor a bad tree become good; whereas it is thus said, “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit,” nor the reverse. The tree is the soul, that is, the man himself; the fruit is the man’s works. An evil man therefore cannot work good works, nor a good man evil works. Therefore if an evil man would work good things, let him first become good. But as long as he continues evil, he cannot bring forth good fruits. Like as it is indeed possible that what was once snow, should cease to be so; but it cannot be that snow should be warm; so it is possible that he who has been evil should be so no longer; but it is impossible that an evil man should do good. For though he may sometimes be useful, it is not he that does it, but it comes of Divine Providence super-intending.

Rabanus: And man is denominated a good tree, or a bad, after his will, as it is good or bad. His fruit is his works, which can neither be good when the will is evil, [p. 285] nor evil when it is good.

Aug., see Op. Imp. in Jul. v. 40: But as it is manifest that all evil works proceed from an evil will, as its fruits from an evil tree; so of this evil will itself whence will you say that it has sprung, except that the evil will of an angel sprung from an angel, of man from man? And what were these two before those evils arose in them, but the good work of God, a good and praiseworthy nature.

See then out of good arises evil; nor was there any thing at all out of which it might arise but what was good. I mean the evil will itself, since there was no evil before it, no evil works, which could not come but from evil will as fruit from an evil tree. Nor can it be said that it sprung out of good in this way, because it was made good by a good God; for it was made of nothing, and not of God.

Jerome: We would ask those heretics who affirm that there are two natures directly opposed to each other, if they admit that a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, how it was possible for Moses, a good tree, to sin as he did at the water of contradiction? Or for Peter to deny his Lord in the Passion, saying, “I know not the man?” Or how, on the other hand, could Moses’ father-in-law, an evil tree, inasmuch as he believed not in the God of Israel, give good counsel?

Chrys.: He had not enjoined them to punish the false prophets, and therefore shews them the terrors of that punishment that is of God, saying, “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down, and cast into the fire.”

In these words He seems to aim also at the Jews, and thus calls to mind the word of John the Baptist, denouncing punishment against them in the very same words. For he had thus spoken to the Jews, warning them of the axe impending, the tree that should be cut down, and the fire that could not be extinguished.

But if one will examine somewhat closely, here are two punishments, to be cut down, and to be burned; and he that is burned is also altogether cut out of the kingdom; which is the harder punishment. Many indeed fear no more than hell; but I say that the fall of that glory is a far more bitter punishment, than the pains of hell itself. For what evil great or small would not a father undergo, that he might see and enjoy a most dear son? Let us then think the same of that glory; for there is no son so dear to his father as is the rest of the [p. 286] good, to be deceased and to be with Christ. The pain of hell is indeed intolerable, yet are ten thousand hells nothing to falling from that blessed glory, and being held in hate by Christ.

Gloss., non occ.: From the foregoing similitude He draws the conclusion to what He had said before, as being now manifest, saying, “Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”


21. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”


Jerome: As He had said above that those who have the robe of a good life are yet not to be received because of the impiety of their doctrines; so now on the other hand, He forbids us to participate the faith with those who while they are strong in sound doctrine, destroy it with evil works. For it behoves the servants of God that both their work should be approved by their teaching and their teaching by their works.

And therefore He says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, enters into the kingdom of heaven.”

Chrys., Hom., xxiv. Rom. 2, 17: Wherein He seems to touch the Jews chiefly who placed every thing in dogmas; as Paul accuses them, “If thou art called a Jew, and restest in the Law.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; Having taught that the false prophets and the true are to be discerned by their fruits, He now goes on to teach more plainly what are the fruits by which we are to discern the godly from the ungodly teachers.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 24: For even in the very name of Christ we must be on our guard against heretics, and all that understand amiss and love this world, that we may not be deceived, and therefore He says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord.”

But it may [p. 287] fairly create a difficulty how this is to be reconciled with that of the Apostle, “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” [1 Cor 12:3] For we cannot say that those who are not to enter into the kingdom of heaven have the Holy Spirit. But the Apostle uses the word ‘say,’ to express the will and understanding of him that says it. He only properly says a thing, who by the sound of his voice expresses his will and purpose. But the Lord uses the word in its ordinary sense, for he seems to say who neither wishes nor understands what he says.

Jerome: For Scripture uses to take words for deeds; according to which the Apostle declares, “They make confession that they know God, but in works deny him.” [Titus 1:16]

Ambrosiaster Comm. in 1 Cor 12, 3: For all truth by whomsoever uttered is from the Holy Spirit.

Aug., non occ.: Let us not therefore think that this belongs to those fruits of which He had spoken above, when one says to our Lord, “Lord, Lord;” and thence seems to us to be a good tree; the true fruit spoken of is to do the will of God; whence it follows, “But who doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Hilary: For obeying God’s will and not calling on His name, shall find the way to the heavenly kingdom.

Pseudo-Chrys.: And what the will of God is the Lord Himself teaches, “This is,” He says, “the will of him that sent me, that every man that seeth the Son and believeth on him should have eternal life.” [John 6:40] The word believe has reference both to confession and conduct. He then who does not confess Christ, or does not walk according to His word, shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Chrys.: He said not “he that doth” My “will,” but “the will of my Father,” for it was fit so to adapt it in the mean while to their weakness. But the one secretly implied the other, seeing the will of the Son is no other than the will of the Father.

Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 25: Here it also pertains that we be not deceived by the name of Christ not only in such as bear the name and do not the deeds, but yet more by certain works and miracles, such as the Lord wrought because of the unbelieving, but yet warned us that we should not be deceived by such to suppose that there was invisible wisdom where was a visible miracle; wherefore He adds, saying, “Many shall say to me in that day.”

Chrys.: See how He thus secretly bring [p. 288] in Himself. Here in the end of His Sermon He shews Himself as the Judge. The punishment that awaits sinners He had shewn before, but now only reveals who He is that shall punish, saying, “Many shall say to me in that day.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: When, namely, He shall come in the majesty of His Father; when none shall any more dare with strife of many words either to defend a lie, or to speak against the truth, when each man’s work shall speak, and his mouth be silent, when none shall come forward for another, but each shall fear for himself. For in that judgment the witnesses shall not be flattering men, but Angles speaking the truth, and the Judge is the righteous Lord; whence He closely images the cry of men fearful, and in straits, saying, “Lord, Lord.” For to call once is not enough for him who is under the necessity of terror.

Hilary: They even assure themselves of glory for their prophesying in teaching, for their casting our daemons, for their mighty works; and hence promise themselves the kingdom of heaven, saying, “Have we not prophesied in thy name?”

Chrys.: But there are that say that they spoke this falsely, and therefore were not saved. But they would not have dared to say this to the Judge in His presence. But the very answer and question prove that it was in His presence that they spoke thus. For having been here wondered at by all for the miracles which they wrought, and there seeing themselves punished, they say in wonderment, “Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?” Others again say, that they did sinful deeds not while they thus were working miracles, but at a time later. But if this be so, that very thing which the Lord desired to prove would not be established, namely, that neither faith nor miracles avail ought where there is not a good life; as Paul also declares, “If I have faith that I may remove mountains, but have not charity, I am nothing.” [1 Cor 13:2]

Pseudo-Chrys.: But not that He says, “in my name,” not in My Spirit; for they prophesy in the name of Christ, but with the spirit of the Devil; such are the diviners. But they may be known by this, that the Devil sometimes speaks falsely, the Holy Spirit never. Howbeit it is permitted to the Devil sometimes to speak the truth, that he may commend his lying by this his rare truth. Yet they cast out daemons in the name [p. 289] of Christ, though they have the spirit of his enemy; or rather, they do not cast them out, but seem only to cast them out, the daemons acting in concert with them. Also they do mighty works, that is, miracles, not such as are useful and necessary, but useless and fruitless.

Aug.: Read also what things the Magi did in Egypt in withstanding Moses.

Jerome: Otherwise; To prophesy, to work wonders, to cast out daemons by divine power, is often not of his deserts who performs the works, but either the invocation of Christ’s name has this force; or it is suffered for the condemnation of those that invoke, or for the benefit of those that see and hear, that however they despise the men who work the wonders, they may give honour to God. So Saul and Balaam and Caiaphas prophesied; the sons of Scaeva in the Acts of the Apostles were seen to cast out daemons; and Judas with the soul of a traitor is related to have wrought many signs among the other Apostles.

Chrys.: For all are not alike fit for all things; these are of pure life, but have not so great faith; those again have the reverse. Therefore God converted these by the means of those to the shewing forth much faith; and those that had faith He called by this unspeakable gift of miracles to a better life; and to that end gave them this grace in great richness. And they say, “We have done many mighty works.” But because they were ungrateful towards those who thus honoured them, it follows rightly, “Then will I confess unto you, I never knew you.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: For great wrath ought to be preceded by great forbearance, that the sentence of God may be made more just, and the death of the sinners more merited. God does not know sinners because they are not worthy that they should be known of God; not that He altogether is ignorant concerning them, but because He knows them not for His own. For God knows all men according to nature, but He seems not to know them for that He loves them not, as they seem not to know God who do not serve Him worthily.

Chrys.: He says to them, “I never knew you,” as it were, not at the day of judgment only, but not even then when ye were working miracles. For there are many whom He has now [p. 290] in abhorrence, and yet turns away His wrath before their punishment.

Jerome: Note that He says, “I never knew you,” as being against some that say that all men have always been among rational creatures.” [ed. note: Origen was accused of saying that all men were from their birth inwardly partakers of the Divine Word or Reason. vid. Jerome, Ep. ad Avit.]

Greg., Mor., xx, 7: By this sentence it is given to us to learn, that among men charity and humility, and not mighty works, are to be esteemed. Whence also now the Holy Church, if there be any miracles of heretics, despises them, because she knows that they have not the mark of holiness. And the proof of holiness is not to work miracles, but to love our neighbour as ourselves, to think truly of God, and of our neighbour better than of ourselves.

Aug., Cont. Adv. Leg. ii. 4: But never let it be said as the Manichees say, that the Lord spoke these things concerning the holy Prophets; He spoke of those who after the preaching of His Gospel seem to themselves to speak in His name not knowing what they speak.

Hilary: But thus the hypocrites boasted, as though they spoke somewhat of themselves, and as though the power of God did not work all these things, being invoked; but reading has brought them the knowledge of His doctrine, and the name of Christ casts out the daemons. Out of our own selves then is that blessed eternity to be earned, and out of ourselves must be put forth something that we may will that which is good, that we may avoid all evil, and may rather do what He would have us do, than boast of that to which He enables us. These then He disowns and banishes for their evil works, saying, “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Jerome: He says not, Who have worked, but “who work iniquity,” that He should not seem to take away repentance. “Ye,” that is, who up to the present hour when the judgment is come, though ye have not the opportunity, yet retain the desire of sinning.

Pseudo-Chrys.: For death separates the soul from the body, but changes not the purpose of the heart.


24. “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: [p. 291]

25. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

26. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

27. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”


Chrys.: Because there would be some who would admire the things that were said by the Lord, but would not add that shewing forth of them which is in action, He threatens them before, saying, “Every man that hears these words of mine, and does them, shall be likened to a wise man.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: He said not, I will account him that hears and does, as wise; but, “He shall be likened to a wise man.” He then that is likened is a man; but to whom is he likened? To Christ; but Christ is the wise man who had built His house, that is, the Church, upon a rock, that is, upon the strength of the faith.

The foolish man is the Devil, who has built his house, that is, all the ungodly, upon the sand, that is, the insecurity of unbelief, or upon the carnal, who are called the sand on account of their barrenness; both because they do not cleave together, but are scattered through the diversity of their opinions, and because they are innumerable.

The rain is the doctrine that waters a man, the clouds are those from which the rain falls. Some are raised by the Holy Spirit, as the Apostles and Prophets, and some by the spirit of the Devil, as are the heretics.

The good winds are the spirits of the different virtues, or the Angels who work invisibly in the senses of men, and lead them to good. The bad winds are the unclean spirits.

The good floods are the Evangelists and teachers of the people; the evil floods are men full of an unclean spirit, and overflowing with many words; such are philosophers and the other professors of worldly wisdom, out of whose belly come rivers of dead water.

The Church then which Christ has founded, [p. 292] neither the rain of false doctrine shall sap, nor the blast of the Devil overturn, nor the rush of mighty floods remove. Nor does it contradict this, that certain of the Church do fall; for not all that are called Christians, are Christ’s, but, “The Lord knows them that are his.” [2 Tim 2:19]

But against that house that the Devil has built comes down the rain of true doctrine, the winds, that is, the graces of the Spirit, or the Angels; the floods, that is, the four Evangelists and the rest of the wise; and so the house falls, that is, the Gentile world, that Christ may rise; and the ruin of that house was great, its errors broken up, its falsehoods laid open, its idols throughout the whole world broken down. He then is like unto Christ who hears Christ’s words and does them; for he builds on a rock, that is, upon Christ, who is all good, so that on whatsoever kind of good any one shall build, he may seem to have built upon Christ. But as the Church built by Christ cannot be thrown down, so any such Christian who has built himself upon Christ, no adversity can overthrow, according to that, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” [Rom 8:35]

Like to the Devil is he that hears the words of Christ, and does them not. For words that are heard, and are not done, are likened to sand, they are dispersed and shed abroad. For the sand signifies all evil, or even worldly goods. For as the Devil’s house is overthrown, so such as are built upon the sand are destroyed and fall. And great is that ruin if he have suffered any thing to fail of the foundation of faith; but not if he have committed fornication, or homicide, because he has whence he may arise through penitence, as David.

Rabanus: Or the great ruin is to be understood that with which the Lord will say to them that hear and do not, “Go ye into everlasting fire.” [Matt 25:41]

Jerome: Or otherwise; On sand which is loose and cannot be bound into one mass, all the doctrine of heretics is built so as to fall.

Hilary: Otherwise; By the showers He signifies the allurements of smooth and gently invading pleasures, with which the faith is at first watered as with spreading rills, afterwards comes down the rush of torrent floods, that is, the motions of fiercer desire, and lastly, the whole force of the driving tempests rages against it, that is, the universal spirits of the Devil’s reign attack it.

[p. 293]

Aug., Serm. in Mont. in fin.: Otherwise; Rain, when it is put to denote any evil, is understood as the darkness of superstition; rumours of men are compared to winds; the flood signifies the lust of the flesh, as it were flowing over the land, and because what is brought on by prosperity is broken off by adversity. None of these things does he fear who has his house founded upon a rock, that is, who not only hears the command of the Lord, but who also does it. And in all these he submits himself to danger, who hears and does not. For no man confirms in himself what the Lord commands, or himself hears, but by doing it.

But it should be noted, that when he said, “He that heareth these words of mine,” He shews plainly enough that this sermon is made complete by all those precepts by which the Christian life is formed, so that with good reason they that desire to live according to them, may be compared to one that builds on a rock.


28. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:

29. For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the Scribes.


Gloss, non occ.: Having related Christ’s teaching, he shews its effects on the multitude, saying, “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these words, the multitude wondered at his doctrine.”

Rabanus: This ending pertains both to the finishing the words, and the completeness of the doctrines. That it is said that “the multitude wondered,” either signifies the unbelieving in the crowd, who were astonished because they did not believe the Saviour’s words; or is said of them all, in that they reverenced in Him the excellence of so great wisdom.

Pseudo-Chrys.: The mind of man when satisfied reasonably brings forth praise, but when overcome, wonder. For whatever we are not able to praise worthily, we admire. Yet their admiration pertained rather to Christ’s glory than to their faith, for had they believed on Christ, they would not have wondered. For wonder is raised by whatever surpasses the appearance of the speaker or actor; and thence [p. 294] we do not wonder at what is done or said by God, because all things are less than God’s power. But it was the multitude that wondered, that is the common people, not the chief among the people, who are not wont to hear with the desire of learning; but the simple folk heard in simplicity; had others been present they would have broken up their silence by contradicting, for where the greater knowledge is, there is the stronger malice. For he that is in haste to be first, is not content to be second.

Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 19: From that which is here said, He seems to have left the crowd of disciples - those out of whom He chose twelve, whom He called Apostles - but Matthew omits to mention it. For to His disciples only, Jesus seems to have held this Sermon, which Matthew recounts, Luke omits. That after descending into a plain He held another like discourse, which Luke records, and Matthew omits. Still it may be supposed, that, as was said above, He delivered on and the same Sermon to the Apostles, and the rest of the multitude present, which has been recorded by Matthew and Luke, in different words, but with the same truth of substance; and this explains what is here said of the multitude wondering.

Chrys., Hom. xxv: He adds the cause of their wonderment, saying, “He taught them as one having authority, and not as the Scribes and Pharisees.” But if the Scribes drove Him from them, seeing His power shewn in works, how would they not have been offended when words only manifested His power? But this was not so with the multitude; for being of benevolent temper, it is easily persuaded by the word of truth. Such however was the power wherewith He taught them, that it drew many of them to Him, and caused them to wonder; and for their delight in those things which were spoken they did not leave Him even when He had done speaking; but followed Him as He came down from the mount. They were mostly astonished at His power, in that He spoke not referring to any other as the Prophets and Moses had spoken, but every where shewing that He Himself had authority; for in delivering each law, He prefaced it with, “But I say unto you.”

Jerome: For as the God and Lord of Moses himself, He of His own free will either added such things as seemed omitted in the Law, or even changed some; as above [p. 295] we read, “It was said by them of old . . . . But I say unto you.” But the Scribes only taught the people what was written in Moses and the Prophets.

Greg., Mor., xxiii, 13: Or, Christ spoke with especial power, because He did no evil from weakness, but we who are weak, in our weakness consider by what method in teaching we may best consult for our weak brethren.

Hilary: Or; They measure the efficacy of His power, by the might of His words.

Aug., Serm. in Mont. ii, 40. i. 10. et. seq.: This is what is signified in the eleventh Psalm, “I will deal mightily with him; the words of the Lord are pure words, silver tried in the fire, purified of earth, purged seven times.” [Ps 12: 5-6]

The mention of this number admonishes me here to refer all these precepts to those seven sentences that He placed in the beginning of this Sermon; those, I mean, concerning the beatitudes. For one to be angry with his brother, without cause, or to say to him, Racha, or call him fool, is a sin of extreme pride, against which is one remedy, that with a suppliant spirit he should seek pardon, and not be puffed up with a spirit of boasting.

“Blessed,” then, “are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He is consenting to his adversary, that is, in shewing reverence to the word of God, who goes to the opening His Father’s will, not with contentiousness of law, but with meekness of religion, therefore, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Also, whosoever feels carnal delight rebel against his right will, will cry out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” [Rom 7:24] And in thus mourning he will implore the aid of the counsoler, whence, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

What is there that can be thought of more toilsome than in overcoming an evil practice to cut off those members within us that hinder the kingdom of heaven, and not be broken down with the pain of so doing? To endure in faithful wedlock all things even the most grievous, and yet to avoid all accusation of fornication. To speak the truth, and approve it not by frequent oaths, but in probity of life.

But who would be bold to endure such toils, unless he burned with the love of righteousness as with a hunger and thirst? “Blessed,” therefore, “are they that hunger and thirst, for they shall be filled.” Who can be ready to take wrong from the weak, to offer [p. 296] himself to any that asks him, to love his enemies, to do good to them that hate him, to pray for them that persecute him, except he that is perfectly merciful?

Therefore, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall find mercy.” He keeps the eye of his heart pure, who places the end of his good actions not in pleasing men, nor in getting those things that are necessary to this life, and who does not rashly condemn any man’s heart, and whatever he gives to another gives with that intention with which he would have others give to him. “Blessed,” therefore, “are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” It must needs be moreover, that by a pure heart should be found out the narrow way of wisdom, to which the guile of corrupt men is an obstacle; “Blessed are the peaceful, for they shall be called the sons of God.” But whether we take this arrangement, or any other, those things which we have heard from the Lord must be done, if we would build upon the rock.

 

Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 8

[p. 297]

1. When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.

2. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”

3. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, “I will; be thou clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

4. And Jesus said unto him, “See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the Priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.”


Jerome: After the preaching and teaching, is offered an occasion of working miracles, that by mighty works following, the preceding doctrine might be confirmed.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Because He taught them as one having authority, that He might not thence be supposed to use this method of teaching from ostentation, He does the same in works, as one having power to cure; and therefore, “When Jesus descended from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.”

Pseudo-Origen, Hom. in Liv. 5: While the Lord taught on the mount, the disciples were with Him, for to them it was given to know the secret things of the heavenly doctrine; but now as He came down from the mount the crowds followed Him, who had been altogether unable to ascent into the mount. They that are bowed by the burden of sin cannot climb to the sublime mysteries. But when the Lord came down from the mount, that is, stooped to the infirmity, and helplessness of the rest, in pity to [p. 298] their imperfections, “great multitudes followed Him,” some for renown, most for His doctrine, some for cures, or having their wants administered to.

Haymo: Otherwise; By the mount on which the Lord sat is figured the Heaven, as it is written, “Heaven is my throne.” [Isa 66:1] But when the Lord sits on the mount, only the disciples come to Him; because before He took on Him the frailty of our human nature, God was known only in Judaea [margin note: Ps 76:1]; but when He came down from the height of his Divinity, and took upon Him the frailty of our human nature, a great multitude of the nations followed Him.

Herein it is shewn to them that teach that their speech should be so regulated, that as they see each man is able to receive, they should so speak the word of God. For the doctors ascend the mountain, when they shew the more excellent precepts to the perfect; they come down from the mount, in shewing the lesser precepts to the weak.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Among others who were not able to ascent into the mount was the leper, as bearing the burden of sin; for the sin of our souls is a leprosy. And the Lord came down from the height of heaven, as from a mountain, that He might purge the leprousness of our sin; and so the leper as already prepared meets Him as He came down.

Pseudo-Origen: He works the cures below, and does none in the mount; for there is a time for all things under heaven, a time for teaching, and a time for healing. On the mount He taught, He cured souls, He healed hearts; which being finished, as He came down from the heavenly heights to heal bodies, there came to Him a leper and made adoration to Him; before he made his suit, he began to adore, shewing his great reverence.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He did not ask it of Him as of a human physician, but adored Him as God. For faith and confession make a perfect prayer; so that the leprous man in adoring fulfilled the work of faith, and the work of confession in words, “he make adoration to him, saying;”

Pseudo-Origen: Lord, by Thee all things were made, Thou therefore, “if thou will, canst make me clean.” Thy will is the work, and all works are subject to Thy will. Thou of old cleansedst Naaman the Syrian of his leprosy by the hand of Elisha, and now, “if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”

Chrys.: He said not, [p. 299] If Thou wilt ask of God, or, If Thou wilt make adoration to God; but, “If thou wilt.” Nor did he say, Lord, cleanse me; but left all to Him, thereby making Him Lord and attributing to Him the power over all.

Pseudo-Chrys.: And thus he rewarded a spiritual Physician with a spiritual reward; for as physicians are gained by money, so He with prayer. We offer to God nothing more worthy than faithful prayer. In that he say, “If thou wilt,” there is no doubt that Christ’s will is ready to every good work; but only doubt whether that cure would be expedient for him, because soundness of body is not good for all. “If thou wilt” then is as much as to say, I believe that Thou willest whatever is good, but I know not if this that I desire for myself is good.

Chrys.: He was able to cleanse by a word, or even by mere will, but He put out His hand, “He stretched forth his hand and touched him,” to shew that He was not subject to the Law, and that to the pure nothing is impure. Elisha truly kept the Law in all strictness, and did not go out and touch Naaman, but sends him to wash in Jordan. But the Lord shews that He does not heal as a servant, but as Lord heals and touches; His hand was not made unclean by the leprosy, but the leprous body was made pure by the holy hand. For He came not only to heal bodies, but to lead a soul to the true wisdom. And then He did not forbid to eat with unwashen hands, so here He teaches us that it is the leprosy of the soul we ought only to dread, which is sin, but that the leprosy of the body is no impediment to virtue.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But though He transgressed the letter of the Law, He did not transgress its meaning. For the Law forbade to touch leprosy, because it could not hinder that the touch should not defile; therefore it meant not that lepers should not be healed, but that they that touched should not be polluted. So He was not polluted by touching the leprosy, but purified the leprosy by touching it.

Damascenus, De Fid. Orth. iii. 15: For He was not only God, but man also, whence He wrought Divine wonders by touch and word; for as by an instrument so by His body the Divine acts were done.

Chrys.: But for touching the leprous man there is none that accuses Him, because His hearers were not yet seized with envy against Him.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Had He healed him without speaking, who would [p. 300] know by whose power he had been healed? So the will to heal was for the sake of the leprous man; the word was for the sake of them that beheld, therefore He said, “I will, be thou clean.”

Jerome: It is not to be read, as most of the Latins think, ‘I will cleanse thee;’ but separately, He first answers, “I will,” and then follows the command, “be thou clean.” The leper has said, “If thou wilt;” The Lord answers, “I will;” he first said, “Thou canst make me clean;” the Lord spake, “Be thou clean.”

Chrys.: No where else do we see Him using this word though He be working ever so signal a miracle; but He here adds, “I will,” to confirm the opinion of the people and the leprous man concerning His power. Nature obeyed the word of the Purifier with proper sped, whence it follows, “and straight his leprosy was cleansed.” But even this word, “straightway,” is too slow to express the speed with which the deed was done.

Pseudo-Origen: Because he was not slow to believe, his cure is not delayed; he did not linger in his confession, Christ did not linger in His cure.

Aug., De. Cons. Evan., ii, 19: Luke has mentioned the cleansing of this leper, though not in the same order of events, but as his ma