Chrysostom on Acts 4900
ACTS. XXIII. 6–8.—“But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.”
Again he discourses simply as man, and he does not on all occasions alike enjoy the benefit of supernatural aid. “I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee:”2 both in this, and in what comes after it, he wished to divide the multitude, which had an evil unanimity against him. And he does not speak a falsehood here either: for he was a Pharisee by descent from his ancestors. “Of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.” For since they would not say for what reason they arraigned him, he is compelled therefore to declare it himself. “But the Pharisees,” it says, “confess both.” And yet there are three things: how then does he say both? “Spirit and Angel” is put as one.3 When he is on their side, then they plead for him. “And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but”what) “if a spirit has spoken to him, or an angel?”4 5 (v. 9). Why did they not plead for him before this? Do you observe, how, when the passions give way, the truth is discovered? Where is the crime, say they, if an angel has spoken to him, or a spirit? Paul gives them no handle against him. “And when there arose a great dissension, the tribune, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.” (v. 10). The tribune is afraid of his being pulled in pieces, now that he has said that he is a Roman: and the matter was not without danger. Do you observe that Paul had a right to profess himself a Roman? Else, neither would (the tribune) have been afraid now. So it remains that the soldiers must bear him off by force. But when the wretches saw all to be without avail, they take the whole matter into their own hands, as they would fain have done before, but were prevented: and their wickedness stops nowhere, though it received so many checks: and yet how many things were providentially ordered, on purpose that they might settle down from their rage, and learn those things through which they might possibly recover themselves! But none the less do they set upon him. Sufficient for proof of his innocence was even this, that the man was saved when at the point to be pulled in pieces, and that with these so great dangers about him, he escaped them all. “And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome. And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy.” (v. 11–13). “They bound themselves under a curse,” it says. See how vehement and revengeful they are in their malice l What means, “bound under a curse?”6 Why then those men are accused forever, seeing they did not kill Paul. And forty together. For such is the nature of that nation: when there needs concerting together for a good object, not even two concur with each other: but when it is for an evil object, the entire people does it. And they admit the rulers also as accomplices. “And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul. Now therefore ye with the council signify to the tribune that he bring him down unto you to-morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him. And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul. Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the tribune: For he hath a certain thing to tell him. So he took him, and brought him to the tribune, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee. Then the tribune took him by the hand, anti went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me? And he said, the Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to-morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly. But do not thou yield unto them for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee. So the tribune then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast showed these things to me.” (v. 14–22). Again he is saved by man’s forethought. And observe: Paul lets no man learn this, not even the centurion, that the matter might not become known. And the centurion having come, reported to the tribune. And it is well done of the tribune also, that he bids him keep it secret, that it might not become known: moreover he gives his orders to the centurions only, at the time when the thing was to be done: and so Paul is sent into Caesarea, that there too he might discourse in a greater theatre and before a more splendid audience: that so the Jews may not be able to say, “If we had seen Paul, we would have believed—if we had heard him teaching.” Therefore this excuse too is cut off from them. “And the Lord,” it said, “stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer: for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” (Yet) even after He has appeared to him, He again suffers him to be saved by man’s means. And one may well be astonished at Paul;7 he was not taken aback, neither said, “Why, what is this? Have I then been deceived by Christ?” but he believed: yet, because he believed, he did not therefore sleep: no; what was in his own power by means of human wisdom, he did not abandon. “Bound themselves by a curse:” it was a kind of necessity that those men fastened on themselves by the curse. “That they would neither eat nor drink.” Behold fasting the mother of murder! Just as Herod imposed on himself that necessity by his oath, so also do these. For such are the devil’s (ways): under the pretext forsooth of piety he sets his traps. “And they came to the chief priests,” etc. And yet they ought to have come (to the tribune), ought to have laid a charge, and assembled a court of justice: for these are not the doings for priests, but for captains of banditti, these are not the doings for rulers, but for ruffians. They endeavor also to corrupt the ruler: but it was providentially ordered, to the intent that he also should learn of their plot. For not (only) by their having nothing to say, but also by their secret attempt, they convicted themselves that they were naught. It is likely too that after (Paul was gone) the chief priests came to (the tribune) making their request, and were put to shame. For8 of course he would not have liked either to deny or to grant their request. How came he to believe (the young man’s tale)? He did so in consequence of what had already taken place; because it was likely they would do this also. And observe their wickedness: they as good as laid a necessity on the chief priests also: for if they undertook so great a thing themselves, and engaged themselves in the whole risk, much more ought those to do thus much. Do you observe, how Paul is held innocent by those that are without, as was also Christ by Pilate? See their malice brought to naught: they delivered him up, to kill and condemn him: but the result is just the contrary; he is both saved, and held innocent. For had it not been so,9 he would have been pulled in pieces: had it not been so, he would have perished, he would have been condemned. And not only does (the tribune) rescue him from the rush (made upon him), but also from much other10 (violence): see how he becomes a minister to him, insomuch that without risk he is carried off safe with so large a force. “And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night; and provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor. And he wrote a letter after this manner: Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting. This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council: whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds. And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Fare ye well.” (v. 23–30). See how the letter speaks for him as a defence—for it says, “I found nothing worthy of death,” but as accusation against them (rather) than against him. “About to have been killed of them:” so set upon his death were they. First, “I came with the army, and rescued him:” then also “I brought him down unto them:” and not even so did they find anything to lay to his charge: and when they ought to have been stricken with fear and shame for the former act, they again attempt to kill him, insomuch that again his cause became all the more clear. “And his accusers,” he says, “I have sent unto thee:” that at the tribunal where these things are more strictly examined, he may be proved guiltless.
(Recapitulation). Let us look then to what has been said above. “I,” he says, “am a Pharisee:” then, that he may not seem to pay court, he adds, “Of the hope and resurrection of the dead it is, that I am called in question.” (v. 6). From this charge and calumny he commends himself. “For the Sadducees indeed,” etc. The Sadducees have no knowledge of anything incorporeal, perhaps not even God; so gross (pacei") are they: whence neither do they choose to believe that there is a Resurrection. “And the scribes,” etc. Look; the tribune also hears that the Pharisees have acquitted him of the charges, and have given sentence (mss. and Edd). eyhfisato, “he gave sentence”) in his favor, and with greater confidence carries him off by force. Moreover all that was spoken (by Paul) was full of right-mindedness (filosofia"). “And the night following the Lord stood by him,” etc. See what strong consolation! First he praises him, “As thou hast testified to My cause in Jerusalem;” then He does not leave him to be afraid for the uncertain issue of his journey to Rome: for thither also, He saith, thou shalt not depart alone (mono"), Cat. and Edd). monon), but thou shalt also have all this boldness of speech. Hereby it was made manifest, not (only) that he should be saved, but that (he should be so) in order to great crowns in the great city. But why did He not appear to him before he fell into the danger? Because it is evermore in the afflictions that God comforts us; for He appears more wished-for, while even in the dangers He exercises and trains us. Besides, he was then at ease, when free from bonds; but now great perils were awaiting him. “We have bound ourselves,” they say, “under a curse, that we will not eat nor drink.” (v. 14). What is all this zeal? “That he may bring him down,” it says, “unto you, as though ye would enquire into his case more perfectly.” (v. 15). Has he not twice made a speech unto you? has he not said that he is a Pharisee? What (would ye have) over and above this? So reckless were they and afraid of nothing, not tribunals, not laws: such their hardihood which shrunk from nothing. They both declare their purpose, and announce the way of carrying it into effect. “Paul’s sister’s son heard of it.” (v. 16). This was of God’s providence, their not perceiving that it would be heard. What then did Paul? he was not alarmed, but perceived that this was God’s doing: and casting all upon Him, so he acquits himself (from further concern about it:) “having called one of the centurions,” etc. (v. 17). He told of the plot, he was believed; he is saved. If he was acquitted of the charge, why did (the tribune) send the accusers? That the enquiry might be more strict: that the man might be the more entirely cleared).
Such are God’s ways of ordering: the very things by which we are hurt, by these same are we benefited. Thus it was with Joseph: his mistress sought to ruin him: and she seemed indeed to be contriving his ruin, but by her contriving she placed him in a state of safety: for the house where that wild beast (of a woman) was kept was a den in comparison with which the prison was gentle. (). For while he was there, although he was looked up to and courted, he was in constant fear, test his mistress should set upon him, and worse than any prison was the fear that lay upon him: but after the accusation he was in security and peace, well rid of that beast, of her lewdness and her machinations for his destruction: for it was better for him to keep company with human creatures in miserable plight, than with a maddened misstress. Here he comforted himself, that for chastity’s sake he had fallen into it: there he had been in dread, lest he should receive a death-blow to his soul: for nothing in the world is more annoying than a woman in love can be to a young man who will not (meet her advances): nothing more detestable (than a woman in such case), nothing more fell: all the bonds in the world are light to this. So that the fact was not that he got into prison, but that he got out of prison. She made his master his foe, but she made God his friend: brought him into closer relation to Him Who is indeed the true Master; she cast him out of his stewardship in the family, but made him a familiar friend to that Master. Again, his brethren sold him (Gn 37,18); but they freed him from having enemies dwelling in the same house with him, from envy and much ill will, and from daily machinations for his ruin: they placed him far aloof from them that hated him. For what can be worse than this, to be compelled to dwell in the same house with brethren that envy one; to be an object of suspicion, to be a mark for evil designs? So that while they and she were severally seeking to compass their own ends, far other were the mighty consequences working out by the Providence of God for that just man. When he was in honor, then was he in danger; when he was in dishonor, then was he in safety. The eunuchs did not remember him, and right well it was that they did not, that the occasion of his deliverance might be more glorious: that the whole might be ascribed, not to man’s favor, but to God’s Providence (Gn 40,23): that at the right moment, Pharaoh, reduced to need, might bring him out; that not as conferring but as receiving a benefit, the king might release him from the prison. (Gn 41,40). It behooved to be no servile gift, but that the king should be reduced to a necessity of doing this: it behooved that it should be made manifest what wisdom was in him. Therefore it is that the eunuch forgets him, that Egypt might not forget him, that the king might not be ignorant of him. Had he been delivered at that time, it is likely he would have desired to depart to his own country: therefore he is kept back by numberless constraints, first by subjection to a master, secondly by being in prison, thirdly by being over the kingdom, to the end that all this might be brought about by the Providence of God. Like a spirited steed that is eager to bound off to his fellows, did God keep him back there, for causes full of glory. For that he longed to see his father, and free him from his distress, is evident from his calling him thither. (Gn 45,9).
Shall we look at other instances of evil designing, how they turn out to our good, not only by having their reward, but also by their working at the very time precisely what is for our good? This (Joseph’s) uncle (Esau) had ill designs against his father (Jacob), and drove him out of his native land: what then? (Gn 27,41). He too set him (thereby) aloof from the danger; for he too got (thereby) to be in safety. He made him a wiser and a better man (filosofwteron); he was the means of his having that dream (Gn 28,12). But, you will say, he was a slave in a foreign land? Yes, but he arrives among his own kindred, and receives a bride, and appears worthy to his father-in-law. (Gn 29,23). But he too cheated him? Yes, but this also turned out to his good, that he might be the father of many children. But it was in his mind to design evil against him? True, but even this was for his good, that he might thereupon return to his own country; for if he had been in good circumstances, he would not have so longed for home. But he defrauded him of his hire? Aye, but he got more by the means. (Gn 31,7). Thus, in every point of these men’s history, the more people designed their hurt, the more their affairs flourished. If (Jacob) had not received the elder daughter, he would not soon have been the. father of so many children; he would have dragged out a long period in childlessness, he would have mourned as his wife did. For she indeed had reason to mourn, as not having become a mother (ib. 30,1, 2).; but he had his consolation: whence also he gives her a repulse. Again, had not (Laban) defrauded him of his hire, he would not have longed to see his own country; the higher points (filosofia) of the man’s character would not have come to light, (his wives) would not have become more closely attached to him. For see what they say: “With devouring hath he devoured us and our money.” (Gn 31,15). So that this became the means of riveting their love to him. After this he had in them not merely wives, but (devoted) slaves; he was beloved by them: a thing that no possession can equal: for nothing, nothing whatever, is more precious than to be thus loved by a wife and to love her. “And a wife,” Scripture says, “that agrees with her husband.” (Si 25,1) “A man and a wife that agree together.” E.V). One thing this, as the Wise Man puts it, of the things for which a man is to be counted happy; for where this is, there all wealth, all prosperity abounds: as also, where it is not, there all besides profits nothing, but all goes wrong, all is mere unpleasantness and confusion. Then let us seek this before all things. He that seeks money, seeks not this. Let us seek those things which can remain fixed. Let us not seek a wife from among the rich, lest the excess of wealth on her side produce arrogance, lest that arrogance be the means of marring all. See you not what God did? how He put the woman in subjection? (Gn 3,16). Why art thou ungrateful, why without perception? The very benefit God has given thee by nature, do not thou mar the help it was meant to be. So that it is not for her wealth that we ought to seek a wife: it is that we may receive a partner of our life, for the appointed order of the procreation of children. It was not that she should bring money, that God gave the woman; it was that she might be an helpmate. But she that brings money, becomes, instead of a wife, a setter up of her own will (epiboulo"), a mistress—it may be a wild beast instead of a wife—while she thinks she has a right to give herself airs upon her wealth. Nothing more shameful than a man who lays himself out to get riches in this way. If wealth itself is full of temptations, what shall we say to wealth so gotten? For you must not look to this, that one or another as a rare and unusual case, and contrary to the reason of the thing, has succeeded: as neither ought we in other matters to fix our regards upon the good which people may enjoy, or their chance successes, out of the common course: but let us look to the reason of the thing as it is in itself, and see whether this thing be not fraught with endless annoyance. Not only you bring yourself into a disreputable position; you also disgrace your children by leaving them poor, if it chance that you depart this life before the wife: and you give her incomparably more occasions for connecting herself with a second bridegroom. Or do you not see that many women make this the excuse for a second marriage—that they may not be despised; that they want to have some man to take the management of their property? Then let us not bring about so great evils for the sake of money; but let us dismiss all (such aims), and seek a beautiful soul, that we may also succeed in obtaining love. This is the exceeding wealth, this the great treasure, this the endless good things: whereunto may we all attain by the grace and loving kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
1 This Homily is wanting in C. The mod. text swarms with interpolations.
2 kai en toutw, viz. in saying “I am a Pharisee,” kai en tw meta tauta, 1,e. “Of the hope of resurrection,” etc. Mod. text “but is also permitted to contribute somewhat of himself, which also he does and kai en t., kai en tw m. t. both on this occasion and on that which followed (?) he pleads for himself, wishing,” etc.
3 Mod text “Either because spirit and angel is one or because the term amfotera is taken not only of two but of three.” (This is taken from Ammonius in the Catena. The innovator adds): “the writer therefore uses it katacrhstikw", and not according to strict propriety.”
4 The last clause in the Vulgate text, mh qeomacwmen, is unknown to St. Chrys., being in fact quite a modern addition. Chrys. interprets it as an aposiopesis—viz). poion egklhma; St. Isidore of Pelusium in the Cat). to gar ei h esti: toutAE estin, h pn. elalhsen autw h aggelo". Ammonius ibid. “Either the sentence is left incomplete, viz. but whether a spirit or an angel has spoken to him …is not certain: or, it is to be spoken as on the part of the Pharisees, Eide (?) pn. k. t. l. that is, Behold, he is manifestly asserting the resurrection, taught (kathchqei") either by the Holy Ghost or by an angel the doctrine of the resurrection.” Mod. text using the latter: “Where is the crime, if an angel has spoken to him, if a spirit, and taught (kathchqei") by him, he thus teaches the doctrine of the resurrection?” (and then, adopting the modern addition mh qeom)., “then let us not stand off from him, lest warring with him, we be found also fighting against God.”
5 The Pharisees were uniformly more favorably inclined to Christianity than the rival sect of the Sadducees. The latter, as disbelieving in the resurrection and the spirit-world, would be especially prejudiced against a system which made these tenets so central. The Pharisees, on the other hand, agreed on these points with Christianity. It is evident that in his defence here before the Sanhedrin Paul wishes to conciliate the Pharasaic party so far as can be done by emphasizing his own agreement with them respecting the resurrection. They, as believers in this doctrine, would have less prejudice against Paul’s teaching concerning Christ’s resurrection. In asserting his Pharasaic ancestry, Paul wishes to establish a point of connection with them and thus gain a foothold for the defence of his central truth of Christ’s resurrection, which justifies him in being His disciple and servant.—G. B. S).
6 To this question mod. text interpolates for answer from Ammonius in the Catena, “that is, they declared themselves to be out of the pale of the faith to Godward, if they should not do that which was determined against Paul.”
7 Kai axion ekplaghnai ton Paulon: (A, and Cat. omit this) ti dh touto; ouk eqorubhqh, oude eipe. Here mod. text rightly transposes ti dh touto.
8 Mod. text “And with reason the tribune does this (i. e. sends Paul away): for of course he did not wish either to gratify (carisasqai) or to assent.” But the meaning is: “If he had not been informed of their plot, he would have been embarrassed by the request, not liking to refuse, nor yet to grant it.”
9 ei gar mh outw. Cat). outo": “but for this man (the tribune).”
10 Mod. text omits alla kai allh" pollh": ora pw").
ACTS XXIII. 31, 32, 33.—“Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris. On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle: who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him.”
Like some king whom his body-guards escort, so did these convey Paul; in such numbers too, and by night, for fear of the wrath of the people?1 Now then you will say that they have got him out of the city, they desist from their violence? No indeed. But (the tribune) would not have sent him off with such care for his safety, but that while he himself had found nothing amiss in him, he knew the murderous disposition of his adversaries. “And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia; I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come.” Already Lysias has spoken for his exculpation; (but the Jews seek to) gain the hearer beforehand. “And he ordered him to be kept in custody in Herod’s praetorium” (v. 34, 35): again Paul is put in bonds. “And after five days came down the high priest Ananias with the elders.” See how for all this they do not desist; hindered as they were by obstacles without number, nevertheless they come, only to be put to shame here also. “And with an orator, one Tertullus.”2 And what need was there of “an orator? Which (persons) also informed the governor against Paul.” (c. xxiv. 1). See how this man also from the very outset (b) with his praises seeks to gain the judge beforehand. “And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, we accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.” (v. 2, 3). Then as having much to say, he passes by the rest: “Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words. For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world.” (a) As a revolutionary and seditious person he wishes to deliver him up. And yet, it might be answered, it is ye that have done this. (c) And see how he would put up the judge to a desire of punishing, seeing he had here an opportunity to coerce the man that turned the world upside down! As if they had achieved a meritorious action, they make much of it: “Having found this fellow,” etc., “a mover of sedition,” say they, “among all the Jews throughout the world.” (Had he been such), they would have proclaimed him as a benefactor and saviour of the nation!3 “And a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.” (v. 4, 5). They thought this likely to tell as a reproach—“ of the Nazarenes :” and by this also they seek to damage him—for Nazareth was a mean place.And, “we have found him,” say they: see how maliciously they calumniate him: (found him), as if he had been always giving them the slip, and with difficulty they had succeeded in getting him: though he had been seven days in the Temple! “Who also hath gone about to profane the temple; whom we took, [and would have judged according to our law.”] (v. 6). See how they insult even the Law; it was so like the Law, forsooth, to beat, to kill, to lie in wait! And then the accusation against Lysias: though he had no right, say they, to interfere, in the excess of his confidence he snatched him from us: [“ But the tribune Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands, commanding his accusers to come unto thee] :4 by examining of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, where of we accuse him. And the Jews also assented, saying that these things were so.” (v. 7–9). What then says Paul? “Then Paul; after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a just judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself.” (v. 10).This is not the language of flattery, his testifying to the judge’s justice:5 no, the adulation was rather in that speech of the orator, “By thee we enjoy great quietness.” If so, then why are ye seditious? What Paul sought was justice. “Knowing thee to be a just judge, I cheerfully,” says he, “answer for myself.” Then also he enforces this by the length of time: that (he had been judge) “of many years. Because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.” (v. 11). And what is this?6 (It means), “that I could not immediately have raised a commotion.” Because the accuser had nothing to show (as done) in Jerusalem, observe what he said: “among all the Jews throughout the world.” Therefore it is that Paul here forcibly attracts him—“ to worship,” he says, “I came up,” so far am I from raising sedition—and lays a stress upon this point of justices being the strong point. “And they neither found me in the Temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, neither in the synagogues, nor in the city” (v. 12); which in fact was the truth. And the accusers indeed use the term “ringleader,” as if it were a case of fighting and insurrection; but see how mildly Paul here answers. “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy,7 so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and the Prophets: and have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” (v. 14, 15). The accusers were separating him (as an alien), but he indentifies himself with the Law, as one of themselves. “And in this,” says he, “do I exercise my self, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men. Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings. In which they found me purified in the temple, not with multitude, neither with tumult.” (v. 16, 17, 18). Why then camest thou up? What brought thee hither? To worship, says he; to do alms. This was not the act of a factious person. Then also he casts out their person:8 “but,” says he, (they that found me, were) “certain Jews from Asia, who ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought against me. Or else let these same here say, if they have found any evil doing in me while I stood before the council, except it be for this one voice, that I cried, standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.” (v. 19, 20, 21). For this is justification in superabundance, not to flee from his accusers, but to be ready to give account to all.9 “Of the resurrection of the dead,” says he, “am I this day called in question.” And not a word said he of what he had to say, how they had conspired against him, had violently kept him, had laid wait for him—for these matters are course spoken of by the tribune10 —but by Paul, though there was danger, not so: no, he is silent, and only defends himself, though he had very much to say. (b) “In which”11 (alms), says he, “they found me in course of purifying in the Temple.” Then how did he profane it? For it was not the part of the same man both to purify himself and worship and come for this purpose, and then to profane it. This has with it a surmise of the justice of his cause, that he does not fall into a long discourse. And he gratifies the judge, I suppose, by that also (namely, by), making his defence compendious: (d)seeing that Tertullus before him did make a long harangue. (f) And this too is a proof of mildness, that when one has much to say, in order not to be troublesome one says but few words. (c) But let us look again at what has been said.
(Recapitulation). “Then the soldiers,” etc. (v. 31–33). (a) This also made Paul famous in Caesarea, his coming with so large a force. —“But,” says Tertullus, ’that I be not further tedious," (e) showing that (Felix) does find him tedious (egkoptetai): “I beseech thee,” he does not say, Hear the matter, but, “hear us of thy clemency.” (ch. xxiv. 4). Probably it is to pay court, that he thus lays out his speech. (g) “For having found this man, a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world” (v. 5): how then, it might be said, if he did this elsewhere (and not here)? No, says he; among us also he has profaned the Temple; “attempted,” says he, “to profane it:” but the how, he leaves untold. “Whom also we took.” etc. “But the tribune,” etc. And while he thus exaggerates what relates to the tribune,12 see how he extenuates the part of the accusers themselves. “We took him,” he says, “and would have judged him according to our Law.” (v. 6). He shows that it is a hardship to them that they have to come to foreign tribunals, and that they would not have troubled him had not the tribune compelled them, and that he, having no concern in the matter, had seized the man by force: for in fact the wrongs done were against us, and with us the tribunal ought to have been. For that this is the meaning, see what follows: “with great violence” (v. 7), he says. For this conduct is violence. “From whom thou mayest know.” He neither dares to accuse him (the tribune)—for the man was indulgent (forsooth)—nor does he wholly pass it by. Then again, lest he should seem to be lying, he adduces Paul himself as his own accuser. “From whom, by examining him, thou mayest take knowledge of all these things.” (v. 8). Next, as witnesses also of the things spoken, the accusers, the same persons themselves both witnesses and accusers: “And the Jews also assented,” etc. (v. 9). But Paul, “Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a just judge.” (v. 10). Why then, he is no stranger or alien or revolutionary person, seeing he had known the judge for many years. And he does well to add the epithet “just,”13 that he (Felix) might not look to the chief priest, nor to the people, nor the accuser. See, how he did not let himself be carried away into abuse, although there was strong provocation. “Believing,” he says, “that there will be a resurrection:” now a man who believed a resurrection, would never have done such things—“ which” (resurrection) "they themselves also allow. (v. 15). He does not say it of them, that they believe “all things written in the Prophets :” it was he that believed them all, not they: but how “all,” it would require a long discourse to show. And he nowhere makes mention of Christ. Here by saying, “Believing,” he does (virtually) introduce what relates to Christ; for the present he dwells on the subject of the resurrection, which doctrine was common to them also, and removed the suspicion of any sedition. And for the cause of his going up, “I came,” he says, “to bring alms to my nation and offerings.” (v. 17). How then should I have troubled those, for the bringing offerings to whom I had come so long a journey? “Neither with multitude, nor with tumult.” (v. 18). Everywhere he does away the charge of sedition. And he also does well to challenge his accusers who were from Asia, “Who ought to accuse before thee,” etc., but he does well also not to reject this either;14 “or else,” says he, “let these same here say. Touching the resurrection of the dead,” etc. (v. 19, 20, 21): for in fact it was on this account they were sore troubled from the first, because he preached the Resurrection. This being proved, the things relating to Christ also were easily introduced, that He was risen. “What evil doing,” he says, “they found in me. In the council” (ch. 4,2) he says: the examination not having taken place in private. That these things which I say are true, those witness who bring this charge against me. “Having,” he says, “a conscience void of offence both toward God, and toward men.” (v. 16). This is the perfection of virtue, when even to men we give no handle against us, and are careful to be void of offence with God. “That I cried,” he says, “in the council.” He also shows their violence.15 They have it not to say, Thou didst these things under the pretext of alms: for (it was) “not with multitude, nor with tumult:” especially as upon enquiry made concerning this thing, nothing further was found. Do you observe his moderation, though there were dangers? do you observe how he keeps his tongue from evil-speaking, how he seeks only one thing, to free himself from the charges against himself, not that he may criminate them, except so far as he might be obliged to do so while defending himself? Just as Christ also said: “I have not a devil, but I honor My Father: but ye do dishonor Me.” (Jn 8,49).
Let us imitate him, since he also was an imitator of Christ. If he, with enemies, who went even to the length of murder and slaughter, said nothing offensive to them, what pardon shall we deserve, who in reviling and abuse become infuriated, calling our enemies villains, detestable wretches? what pardon shall we deserve, for having enemies at all? Hear you not, that to honor (another) is to honor one’s self? So it is: but we disgrace ourselves. You accuse (some one) that he has abused you: then why do you bring yourself under the same accusation? Why inflict a blow on yourself? Keep free from passion, keep unwounded: do not, by wishing to smite another, bring the hurt upon yourself. What, is the other tumult of our soul not enough for us, the tumult that is stirred up, though there be none to stir it up—for example, its outrageous lusts, its griefs and sorrows, and such like—but we must needs heap up a pile of others also? And how, you will say, is it possible, when one is insulted and abused, to bear this? And how is it nor possible, I ask? Is a wound got from words; or do words inflict bruises on our bodies? Then where is the hurt to us? So that, if we will, we can bear it. Let us lay down for ourselves a law not to grieve, and we shall bear it: let us say to ourselves, “It is not from enmity; it is from infirmity”—for it is indeed owing to an infirmity, since, for proof that it comes not from enmity nor from malignity of disposition, but from infirmity, the other also would fain have restrained (his anger), although he had suffered numberless wrongs. If we only have this thought in our minds, that it is from infirmity, we shall bear it, and while we forgive the offending person, we shall try not to fall into it ourselves. For I ask all you who are present: would ye have wished to be able to exercise such a philosophic temper, as to bear with those who insult you?16 I think so. Well, then, he insulted unwillingly; he would rather not have done so, but he did it, forced by his passion: refrain thyself. Do you not see (how it is with) the demoniacs (in their fits)? Just then as it is with them, so with him: it is not so much from enmity, as from infirmity (that he behaves as he does): endure it. And as for us—it is not so much from the insults as they are in themselves that we are moved, as from our own selves: else how is it that when madmen offer us the same insults, we bear it? Again, if those who insult us be our friends, in that case too we bear it: or also our superiors, in that case also we bear it: how then is it not absurd, that in the case of these three, friends, madmen, and superiors, we bear it, but where they are of the same rank or our inferiors, we do not bear it? I have oftentimes said: It is but an impulse of the moment, something that hurries us away on the sudden: let us endure it for a little, and we shall bear the whole thing. The greater the insults, the more weak the offender. Do you know when it behooves us to grieve? When we have insulted another, and he keeps silence: for then he is strong, and we weak: but if the contrary be the case, you must even rejoice: you are crowned, you are proclaimed conqueror, without having even entered into the contest, without having borne the annoyance of sun, and heat, and dust, without having grappled with an antagonist and let him close with you; nothing but a mere wish on your part, sitting or standing, and you have got a mighty crown: a crown far greater than those (combatants earn): for to throw an enemy standing to the encounter, is nothing like so great as to overcome the darts of anger. You have conquered, without having even let him close with you, you have thrown down the passion that was in you, have slain the beast that was roused, have quelled the anger that was raging, like some excellent herdsman. The fight was like to have been an intestine one, the war a civil war. For, as those who sit down to besiege from without (endeavor to), embroil (the besieged) in civil discords, and then overcome them; so he that insults, unless he rouse the passion within us, will not be able to overcome us: unless we kindle the flame in ourselves, he has no power. Let the spark of anger be within us, so as to be ready for lighting at the right moment, not against ourselves, nor so as to involve us in numberless evils. See ye not how the fire in houses is kept apart, and not thrown about at random everywhere, neither among straw, nor among the linen, nor just where it may chance, that so there may not be danger, if a wind blow on it, of its kindling a flame: but whether a maid-servant have a lamp, or the cook light a fire, there is many an injunction given, not to do this in the draught of the wind, nor near a wooden panel, nor in the night-time: but when the night has come on, we extinguish the fire, fearing lest perchance while we are asleep and there is none to help, it set fire, and burn us all. Let this also be done with regard to anger; let it not be scattered everywhere up and down in our thoughts, but let it be in some deep recess of the mind, that the wind arising from the words of him who is opposing us may not easily reach to it, but that it receive the wind (which is to rouse it) from ourselves, who know how to rouse it in due measure and with safety. If it receive the wind from without, it knows no moderation; it will set everything on fire: oftentimes when we are asleep this wind will come upon it, and will burn up all. Let it therefore be with us (in safe keeping) in such sort as only to kindle a light: for anger does kindle a light when it is managed as it ought to be: and let us have torches against those who wrong others, against the devil. Let not the spark lie anywhere as it may chance, nor be thrown about; let us keep it safe under ashes: in lowly thoughts let us keep it slumbering. We do not want it at all times, but when there is need to subdue and to make tender, to mollify obduracy, and convict the soul. What evils have angry and wrathful passions wrought! And what makes it grievous indeed is, that when we have parted asunder, we have no longer the power to come together again, but we wait for others (to do this): each is ashamed, and blushes to come back himself and reconcile the other. See, he is not ashamed to part asunder and to be separated; no, he takes the lead as author of the evil: but to come forward and patch that which is rent, this he is ashamed to do: and the case is just the same, as if a man should not shrink from cutting off a limb, but should be ashamed to join it together again. What sayest thou, O man? Hast thou committed great injuries, and thyself been the cause of the quarrel? Why, then, thou wouldest justly be the first to go and be reconciled, as having thyself furnished the cause. But he did the wrong, he is the cause of the enmity? Why then, for this reason also thou must do it, that men may the more admire thee, that in addition to the former, thou mayest get the first prize in the latter also: as thou wast not the cause of the enmity, so neither of its being extended further. Perhaps also the other, as conscious within himself of numberless evils, is ashamed and blushes. But he is haughty? On this account above all, do not thou hesitate to run and meet him: for if the ailment in him be twofold, both haughtiness and anger, in this thou hast mentioned the very reason why thou oughtest to be the first to go to him, thou that art the one in sound health, the one who is able to see: as for him, he is in darkness: for such is anger and false pride. But do thou, who art free from these and in sound health, go to him—thou the physician, go to the sick. Does any of the physicians say, Because such an one is sick, I do not go to him? No, this is the very reason above all why they do go, when they see that he is not able to come to them. For of those who are able (to come) they think less, as of persons not extremely ill, but not so of those who lie at home sick. Or are not pride and anger, think you, worse than any illness? is not the one like a sharp fever, the other like a body swollen with inflammation? Think what a thing it is to have a fever and inflammation: go to him, extinguish the fire, for by the grace of God thou canst: go, assuage the heat as it were with water. “But,” you will say, “how if he is only the more set up by my doing this very thing?” This is nothing to thee: thou hast done thy part, let him take account for himself: let not our conscience condemn us, that this thing happens in consequence of any omission of what ought to have been done on our part. “In so doing,” says the Scripture, “thou shall heap coals of fire on his head.” (Rm 12,20, cf. Hom. in 50,22,§3). And yet, for all that this is the consequence, it bids us go and be reconciled and do good offices—not that we may heap coals of fire, but that (our enemy) knowing that future consequence,17 may be assuaged by the present kindness, that he may tremble, that he may fear our good offices rather than our hostilities, and our friendships rather than our ill designs. For one does not so hurt his hater by showing his resentment as an enemy, as by doing him good and showing kindness. For by his resentment, he has hurt both himself and perhaps the other also in some little degree: but by doing good offices, he has heaped coals of fire on his head.“Why then,” you will say, “for fear of thus heaping coals one ought not to do this (b) but to carry on the enmity to greater lengths.” By no means: it is not you that cause this, but he with his brutish disposition. For if, when you are doing him good, and honoring him, and offering to be reconciled, he persists in keeping up the enmity, it is he has kindled the fire for himself, he has set his own head on fire; you are guiltless. Do not want to be more merciful than God (b), or rather, if you wish it, you will not be able, not even in the least degree. How should you? “As far as the heaven is from the earth,” Scripture says, “so far are My counsels from your counsels” (Is 45,8): and again, “If ye,” He says, “being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more your heavenly Father” (Mt 7,11)? But in fact this talk is mere pretext and subterfuge. Let us not prevaricate with God’s commandments. “And how do we prevaricate,” you will say? He has said, “In so doing, thou wilt heap coals of fire on his head:” and you say, I do not like to do this. (a) But are you willing to heap coals after another fashion, that is upon your own head? For in fact this is what resentment does: (c) since you shall suffer evils without number. (e) You say, “I am afraid for my enemy, be, cause he has done me great injuries:” in reality is it this you say? But how came you to have an enemy? But how came you to hate your enemy? You fear for him that has injured you, but do you not fear yourself? Would that you had a care for yourself! Do not act (the kindness) with such an aim as this: or rather do it, though it be but with such an aim. But you do it not at all. I say not to you, “thou wilt heap coals of fire:” no, I say another and a greater thing: only do it. For Paul says this only by way of summoning thee (if only), in hope of the vengeance, to put an end to the enmity. Because we are savage as wild beasts in disposition, and would not otherwise endure to love our enemy, unless we expected some revenge, he offers this as a cake, so to say, to a wild beast. For to the Apostles (the Lord) says not this, but what says He? “That ye may be like to your Father which is in heaven.” (Mt 5,45). And besides, it is not possible that the benefactor and the benefited should remain in enmity. This is why Paul has put it in this way. Why, affecting a high and generous principle in thy words, why in thy deeds dost thou not even observe (common) moderation? (It sounds) well; thou dost not feed him, for fear of thereby heaping upon him coals of fire: well then, thou sparest him? well then, thou lovest him, thou actest with this object in view? God knows, whether thou hast this object in so speaking, and are not18 palming this talk upon us as a mere pretence and subterfuge. Thou hast a care for thine enemy, thou fearest lest he be punished, then wouldest thou not have extinguished thine anger? For he that loves to that degree that he overlooks his own interest for the sake of the other’s advantage, that man has no enemy. (Then indeed) thou mightest say this. How long shall we trifle in matters that are not to be trifled with, and that admit of no excuse? Wherefore I beseech you, let us cut off these pretexts; let us not despise God’s laws: that we may be enabled with well-pleasing to the Lord to pass this life present, and attain unto the good things promised, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
1 tou dhmou thn orgmh". AEEpei oun th" polew" auton exebalon, tote afistantai. So Edd. and our mss. but Cat. simply thn orghn. The next sentence, if referred affirmatively to the Jews, would be untrue, for in fact the Jews ouk apesthsan. Possibly the scribes took it to refer to the soldiers: but this is very unsatisfactory. To make sense, it must be read interrogatively: “Well then, at any rate that now, they have got him out of the city, they desist from further attempts? By no means; and in fact the precautions taken for his safety show what was the tribune’s view of the matter, both that Paul was innocent and that they were set on murdering him.” We read afistantai th" ormh").
2 It has been necessary to rearrange the texts, and also to transpose the parts mark a, b.—Kai mhn umei", fhsi touto pepoihkate. The fhsi here is hypothetical: “Tertullus wishes to arraign Paul as a seditious person. And yet, Felix might say, it is ye Jews that have been the movers of sedition: in these words ye describe yourselves.”—Mod. text “v. 2, 3, 4. And yet ye have done this: then what need of an orator? See how this man, also from the very outset wishes to deliver him up as a revolutionary and seditious person, and with his praises preoccupies the judge. Then as having much to say, he passes it by, and only says this, But that I be not further tedious unto thee.”
3 (So much was sedition to their taste, they would have been the last to arraign him for that; on the contrary etc.—But Mod. text w" lumewna loipon kai koinon ecqron tou eqnou" diaballousi.
4 The bracketed passage in vv. 6–8 om. in A. B. G. H). a
5 Hence it appears that Chrys. read onta se krithn dikaion in v. 10, though the old text in the citation omits the epithet. Cat. retains it.—See p. 299, note 2.
6 As Felix had been many years a judge, he was conversant enough with the habits of the Jews to be aware that the Pentecost which brought Paul to Jerusalem was but twelve days past: so that there had not been time to raise a commotion. Mod. text. “And what did this contribute to the proof? A great point: for he shows that Felix himself knew that Paul had done nothing of all that he was accused of. But if he had ever raised an insurrection, Felix would have known it, being judge, and such an affair would not have scaped his notice.”—Below, dia touto entauqa auton elkei, we suppose auton to be Felix: Mod. text substitutes enteuqen afelkwn, referring it to the accuser. The meaning is obscure. but it seems to be, “draws the attention of his judge to this point,” viz., of his having come up to worship, and therefore endiatribei toutw tw dikaiw lays the stress upon this point, of Felix being a just judge. Perhaps, however, the true reading here is tw dekaduo, “of its being not more than twelve days.”
7 (Airesi" in v. 14 has the same meaning as in 5,5. The meaning is therefore obscured by rendering it (as A. V). in the former verse by “sect” and in the latter by “heresy.” It is party or sect in both cases, used as a term of reproach. Paul’s accusers considered him a member of a sect which they contemptuously called the Nazarenes. In his defence he takes up their own word.—G. B. S.
8 Eita kai ekballei autwn to proswpon, rejects their person, repudiates their pretension. They had said, “We found him:” he answers, "There found me, in a condition as far as possible from that of a mover of sedition—not they, ‘but certain of the Jews from Asia.’ In the Recapitulation, he says, kalw" de oude tonto ekballei referring to 5,21. Hence one might conjecture here, eita ouk ekb., to be placed after 5,20; but see p. 299, note 3.—Mod. text ekb. a. t. pr. legwn adioristw", AEEn oi" euron me tine" twn k. t. l. “Saying indefinitely, ‘In which there found me,’ (and then adding), ‘certain of the Jews from Asia.’”
9 Vv. 5 and 6 had contained the three charges preferred by Tertullus, viz.: sedition, sectarianism and profanation of the temple. Paul was charged with creating disturbances among the Jews (5). To this he replies (11, 12), that the charge is not sustained by facts; he worshipped in the temple, but neither there, nor in the synagogues, nor in the city, did he create a disturbance or gather a crowd. To the second charge that he is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes (5), Paul replies by conceding that he worships the God of his fathers after a way which they call a sect, but he denies that this fact involves rejection or contempt of the law or the prophets (14). To the third charge that he had attempted to profane the Temple (6), he replies by alleging that he had, on the contrary, brought offerings to the Temple service and that he had there peaceably taken part in the religious rites of the Nazarites (17, 18). He concludes by insisting that his whole offence consists in having stoutly maintained the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.—G. B. S.
10 Old text tauta gar eikotw" peri ekeinou legetai, para de toutou …We read para ekeinou in the sense, “All that is to be said on those points comes from Lysias: from Paul, not a word.” Mod. text tauta gar par ekeinwn legetai genesqai: “these things are said to have been done by those.”
11 Here old text has the reading en ai", above it was en oi".— Here the first Redactor has confused the matter, in consequence of his supposing that at the mention of Tertullus (d) Chrys. must have gone into the Recapitulation. Hence he places (c) the formula allAE idwmen k. t. l. immediately before this. Accordingly to (d) as being comment on 5,4, he joins (e), and then supposing the epieikeia" of (f) to refer to epieikeia 5,4, he places this next. The part (b) he keeps in its place, viz. before the Recapitulation: there remained (a), and this he prefixes to b, though its contents clearly show that it belongs to the Recapitulation of 5,31).
12 ta men ekeinou, evidently the tribune, but Ben). quoe Paulum quidem spectabant.—They made the most of what the tribune had done, of their own violence they make as little as possible.
13 See above, p. 197, note 3. The principal authorities for the dikaion are Laud’s Cod. Gr. and Cat. of Acts.
14 kalw" de (B)). oude touto ekballei. 1,e. but while he does well to challenge the parties who found him viz. the Jews from Asia, he does well also that he does not cast out or repudiate this particular which he goes on to mention—viz. his exclamation before the Sanhedrim. This may consist with what was said above, ekballei autwn to proswpon: (see (p. 297, note 1) viz. though he does this, and deprives them of the credit they took to themselves, for it was not that they found him; and as to his behavior in the temple, he will not admit their testimony, for they were not present: yet even these he challenges to testify to that of which they were cognizant.—Mod. text “from Asia, saying, Who ought to accuse me before thee, if they had aught against me. So confident was he to be clear as to the matters of which he was accused, that he even challenges them. But not only those from Asia, nay, those also from Jerusalem.”
15 Mod. text adds, “by saying, AEEkekraxa: as much as to say, They have it not,” etc. But their violence was shown not by his crying out, but by the fact that they had nothing more against him than this exclamation).
16 Old text ara an hqelhsate outw filosofein dunasqai—; Mod. text ara an outw filosofein dunhsqe—; and so Ben. against grammar and the sense. Savile and Ed. Par. Ben. 2, ara an eqelhshte, . .… dunasqe; But our mss. give it as above: and Savile’s reading does not suit the sense: which is, “Would not you have wished—? Well, then, so would he.”—Below, wsper oun ekeino" ouk (B., ekeinoi" and om). ouk) apo exqra" tosouton, oson apo asqeneia", touto upomenei: outw kai hmei" ouk apo th" fusew" twn ubrewn kinoumeqa, oson afAE hmwn autwn. The scribes have made nonsense of the passage, and the Edd. retain it. If for upomenei we read upomene, this will answer to episce" in the preceding sentence: to touto we supply pascei: so we read, wsper oun ekeinoi. outw kai outo" ouk apo e oson apo asq touto pascei: upomene. kai hmei" etc).
17 b.c. ina eidw" ekeino (mod. text ekeino") touto (we read toutw) katastellhtai. Here, as often, ekeino refers to the other world, touto to this life: “knowing what will come of it there, (i. e. the coals of fire) he may,” etc).
18 kai mh …Mod text kai mhn …“And yet thou art,” etc.
Chrysostom on Acts 4900