Chrysostom on John 6
"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John."
[1.] Having in the introduction spoken to us things of urgent importance1 concerning God the Word, (the Evangelist) proceeding on his road, and in order, afterwards comes to the herald of the Word, his namesake John. And now that thou hearest that he was “sent from God,” do not for the future imagine that any of the words spoken by him are mere man’s words; for all that he utters is not his own, but is of Him who sent him. Wherefore he is called2 “messenger” (Ml 3,1), for the excellence of a messenger is, that he say nothing of his own. But the expression “was,” in this place is not significative of his coming into existence, but refers to his office of messenger; for “‘there was’ a man sent from God,” is used instead of “a man ‘was sent’ from God.”
How then do some say,3 that the expression, “being in the form of God” (Ph 2,6) is not used of His invariable likeness4 to the Father, because no article is added?5 For observe, that the article is nowhere added here. Are these words then not spoken of the Father? What then shall we say to the prophet who says, that, “Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way” (Ml 3,1, as found in Mc 1,2)? for the expressions “My” and “Thy” declare two Persons.
Jn 1,7. “The same came for a witness, to bear witness of that Light.”
What is this, perhaps one may say, the servant bear witness to his Master? When then you see Him not only witnessed to by His servant, but even coming to him, and with Jews baptized by him, will you not be still more astonished and perplexed? Yet you ought not to be troubled nor confused, but amazed at such unspeakable goodness. Though if any still continue bewildered6 and confused, He will say to such art one what He said to John, “Suffer it to be so now for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt 3,15); and, if any be still further troubled, again He will say to him too7 what he said to the Jews, “But I receive not testimony from man.” (c. 5,34). If now he needs not this witness, why was Jn sent from God? Not as though He required his testimony —this were extremest blasphemy. Why then? Jn himself informs us, when he says,
“That all men through him might believe.”
And Christ also, after having said that “I receive not testimony from man” (c. 5,34), in order that He may not seem to the foolish to clash with8 Himself, by declaring at one time “There is another that beareth witness of Me and I know that his9 witness is true” (c. 5,32) (for He pointed to John;) and at another, “I receive not testimony from man” (c. 5,34); He immediately adds the solution of the doubt, “But these things I say” for your own sake, 10 “that ye might be saved.” As though He had said, that “I am God, and the really-Begotten 11 Son of God, and am of that Simple and Blessed Essence, I need none to witness to Me; and even though none would do so, yet am not I by this anything diminished in My Essence; but because I care for the salvation of the many, 12 I have descended to such humility as to commit the witness of Me to a man.” For by reason of the groveling nature and infirmity of the Jews, the faith in Him would in this way be more easily received, and more palatable. 13 As then He clothed Himself with flesh, that he might not, by encountering men with the unveiled Godhead, destroy them all; so He sent forth a man for His herald, that those who heard might at the hearing of a kindred voice approach more readily. For (to prove) that He had no need of that (herald’s) testimony, it would have sufficed that He should only have shown Himself who He was in His unveiled Essence, and have confounded them all. But this He did not for the reason I have before mentioned. He would have annihilated 14 all, since none could have endured the encounter of that unapproachable light. 15 Wherefore, as I said, He put on flesh, and entrusted the witness (of Himself) to one of our fellow-servants, since He arranged 16 all for the salvation of men, looking not only to His own honor, but also to what might be readily received by, and be profitable to, His hearers. Which He glanced at when He said, “These things I say” for your sake, “that ye might be saved.” (c. 5,34). And the Evangelist using the same language as his Master, after saying, “to bear witness of that Light,” adds,
“That all men through Him might believe.” All but saying, Think not that the reason why Jn the Baptist came to bear witness, was that he might add aught to the trustworthiness of his Master. No; (He came,) that by his means beings of his own class 17 might believe. For it is clear from what follows, that he used this expression in his anxiety to remove this suspicion beforehand, since he adds,
Jn 1,8. “He was not that Light.”
Now if he did not introduce this as setting himself against this suspicion, then the expression is absolutely superfluous, and tautology rather than elucidation of his teaching. For why, after having said that he “was sent to bear witness of that Light,” does he again say, “He was not that Light”? (He says it,) not loosely or without reason; but, because, for the most part, among ourselves, the person witnessing is held to be greater, and generally more trustworthy than the person witnessed of; therefore, that none might suspect this in the case of John, at once from the very beginning he removes this evil suspicion, and having torn it up by the roots, shows who this is that bears witness, and who is He who is witnessed of, and what an interval there is between the witnessed of, and the bearer of witness. And after havingdone this, and shown His incomparable superiority, he afterwards proceeds fearlessly to the narrative which remains; and after carefully removing whatever strange (ideas) might secretly harbor 18 in the minds of the simpler sort, so instills into all 19 easily and without impediment the word of doctrine in its proper order.
Let us pray then, that henceforth with the revelation of these thoughts and rightness of doctrine, we may have also a pure life and bright conversation, 20 since these things profit nothing unless good works be present with us. For though we have all faith and all knowledge of the Scriptures, yet if we be naked and destitute of the protection derived from (holy) living, there is nothing to hinder us from being hurried into the fire of hell, and burning for ever in the unquenchable flame. For as they who have done good shall rise to life everlasting, so they who have dared the contrary shall rise to everlasting punishment, which never has an end. Let us then manifest all eagerness not to mar the gain which accrues to us from a right faith by the vileness of our actions, but becoming well-pleasing to Him by these also, boldly to look on Christ. No happiness can be equal to this. And may it come to pass, that we all having obtained 21 what has been mentioned, may do all to the glory of God; to whom, with the Only-Begotten Son and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 ta; katepeivgonta.
2 al). prohgovreutai, “is foretold.”
3 Vid. supra, Hom. 4,3).
4 ajparallaxiva vid. supra, Hom. 3,4 ad fin.
5 i.e. to Qeou`.
6 ijliggiw`n, “dizzy.”
7 [kai; pro;" aujto;n], perhaps “and with reference to him (the Baptist), Sav. al). kai; pro;" sev.
9 aujtou`. h(n marturei` peri; ejmou` G. T.
10 diAE uJma`" (not in G. T).
11 gnhvsio", “genuine.”
12 tw`n pollw`n.
15 Lit. “unapproachable encounter of that light.”
19 al. “goes on and instills.”
21 al. “living worthily of.”
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."
[1.] The reason, O children greatly beloved, why we entertain you portion by portion with the thoughts taken from the Scriptures, and do not at once pour all forth to you, is, that the retaining what is successively set before you may be easy. For even in building, one who before the first stones are settled lays on others, constructs1 a rotten wall altogether, and easily thrown down while one who waits that the mortar may first get hard, and so adds what remains little by little, finishes the whole house firmly, and makes it strong, not one to last for a short time, or easily to fall to pieces. These builders we imitate,2 and in like manner build up your souls. For we fear lest, while the first foundation is but newly laid, the addition of the succeeding speculations3 may do harm to the former, through the insufficiency of the intellect to contain them all at once.
What now is it that has been read to us today?
“That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” For since above in speaking of Jn he said, that he came “to bear witness of that Light”; and that he wassent in these our days;4 lest any one at hearingthis should, on account of the recent coming of the witness, conceive some like suspicion concerning Him, who is witnessed of, he has carried up the imagination, and transported it to that existence which is before all beginning, which has neither end nor commencement.
“And how is it possible,” says one, “that being a Son, He should possess this (nature)?” We are speaking of God, and do you ask how? And do you not fear nor shudder? Yet should any one ask you, “How should our souls andbodies have endless life in the world to come?5 ” you will laugh at the question, on the ground that it does not belong to the intellect of man to search into such questions, but that he ought only to believe, and not to be over-curious on the subject mentioned, since he has a sufficient proof of the saying, in the power of Him who spake it. And if we say, that He, who created our souls and bodies, and who incomparably excels all created things, is without beginning, will you require us to say “How?” Who could assert this to be the act of a well-ordered soul, or of sound reason? you have heard that “That was the true Light”: why are you vainly and rashly striving to overshoot6 by force of reasoning this Life which is unlimited? You cannot do it. Why seek what may not be sought? Why be curious about what is incomprehensible? Why search what is unsearchable? Gaze upon the very source of the sunbeams. You cannot; yet you are neither vexed nor impatient at your weakness; how then have you become so daring and headlong in greater matters? The son of thunder, Jn who sounds7 the spiritual trumpet, when he had heard from the Spirit the was, enquired no farther. And are you, who share not in his grace, but speak from your own wretched reasonings, ambitious to exceed the measure of his knowledge? Then for this very reason you will never be able even to reach to the measure of his knowledge. For this is the craft of the devil: he leads away those who obey him from the limits assigned by God, as though to things much greater: but when, having enticed us by these hopes, he has cast us out of the grace of God, he not only gives nothing more, (how can he, devil as he is?) but does not even allow us to return again to our former situation, where we dwelt safely and surely, but leads us about in all directions wandering and not having any standing ground. So he caused the first created man to be banished from the abode of Paradise. Having puffed him up with the expectation of greater knowledge and honor, he expelled him from what he already possessed in security. For he not only did not become like a god as (the devil) promised him, but even fell beneath the dominion of death; having not only gained no further advantage by eating of the tree, but having lost no small portion of the knowledge which he possessed, through hope of greater knowledge. For the sense of shame, and the desire to hide himself because of his nakedness, then came upon him, who before the cheat was superior to all such shame; and this very seeing himself to be naked, and the need for the future of the covering of garments, and many other infirmities,8 became thenceforth natural to him. That this be not our case, let us obey God, continue in His commandments, and not be busy about anything beyond them, that we may not be cast out from the good things already given us. Thus they have fared (of whom we speak). For seeking to find a beginning of the Life which has no beginning, they lost what they might have retained. They found not what they sought, (this is impossible,) and they fell away from the true faith concerning the Only-Begotten.
Let us not then remove the eternal bounds which our fathers set, but let us ever yield to the laws of the Spirit; and when we hear that “That was the true Light,” let us seek to discover nothing more. For it is not possible to pass beyond this saying. Had His generation been like that of a man, needs must there have been an interval between the begetter and the begotten; but since it is in a manner ineffable and becoming God, give up the “before” and the “after,” for these are the names of points in time, but the Son is the Creator even of all ages.9
[2.] “Then,” says one, “He is not Father, but brother.” What need, pray? If we had asserted that the Father and the Son were from a different root, you might have then spoken this well. But, if we flee this impiety, and say the Father, besides being without beginning, is Unbegotten also, while the Son, though without beginning, is Begotten of the Father, what kind of need that as a consequence of this idea, that unholy assertion should be introduced? None at all. For He is an Effulgence: but an effulgence is included in the idea of the nature whose effulgence it is. For this reason Paul has called Him so, that you may imagine no interval between the Father and the Son. (He 1,3). This expression 10 therefore is declaratory of the point; but the following part of the proof quoted, corrects an erroneous opinion which might beset simple men. For, says the Apostle, do not, because you have heard that he is an Effulgence, suppose that He is deprived of His proper person; this is impious, and belongs to the madness of the Sabellians, and of Marcellus’ followers. We say not so, but that He is also in His proper Person. And for this reason, after having called Him “Effulgence,” Paul has added that He is “the express image of His Person” (He i. 3)., in order to make evident His proper Personality, and that He belongs to the same Essence of which He is also the express image. For, as I before 11 said, it is not sufficient by a single expression to set before men the doctrines concerning God, but it is desirable that we bring many together, and choose from each what is suitable. So shall we be able to attain to a worthy telling of His glory, worthy, I mean, as regards our power; for if any should deem himself able to speak words suitable to His essential worthiness, and be ambitious to do so, saying, that he knows God as God knows Himself, he it is who ismost ignorant of God.
Knowing therefore this, let us continue steadfastly to hold what “they have delivered unto us, which from the beginning were eye-witnesses, and ministers of the word.” (Lc 1,2). And let us not be curious beyond: for two evils will attend those who are sick of this disease, (curiosity,) the wearying themselves in vain by seeking what it is impossible to find, and the provoking God by their endeavors to overturn the bounds set by Him. Now what anger this excites, it needs not that you who know should learn from us. Abstaining therefore from their madness, let us tremble at His words, that He may continually build us up. For, “upon whom shall I look” (Is 66,2 LXX)., saith He, “but upon the lowly, and quiet, and who feareth my words?” Let us then leave this pernicious curiosity, and bruise our hearts, let us mourn for our sins as Christ commanded, let us be pricked at heart 12 for our transgressions, let us reckon up exactly all the wicked deeds, which in time past we have dared, and let us earnestly strive to wipe them off in all kinds of ways.
Now to this end God hath opened to us many ways. For, “Tell thou first,” saith He, “thy sins, that thou mayest be justified” (Is 43,26 Is 1 Is 3); and again, “I said, I have declared mine iniquity unto Thee, and Thou hast taken 14 away the unrighteousness of my heart” (Ps 32,5 LXX).; since a continual accusation and remembrance of sins contributes not a little to lessen their magnitude. But there is another more prevailing way than this; to bear malice against none of those who have offended against us, to forgive their trespasses to all those who have trespassed against us. Will you learn a third? Hear Daniel, saying, “Redeem thy sins by almsdeeds, and thine iniquities by showingmercy to the poor.” (Da 4,27 LXX). And there is another besides this; constancy in prayer, and persevering attendance on the intercessions 15 made with God. In like manner fasting brings to us some, and that not small comfort and release from sins committed, 16 provided it be attended with kindness to others, and quenches the vehemence of the wrath of God. (1Tm 2,1). For “water will quench a blazing fire, and by almsdeeds sins are purged away.” (Si 3,30 LXX).
Let us then travel along all these ways; for if we give ourselves wholly to these employments, if on them we spend our time, not only shall we wash off our bygone transgressions, but shall gain very great profit for the future. For we shall not allow the devil to assault us with leisure either for slothful living, or for pernicious curiosity, since by these among other means, and in consequence of these, he leads us to foolish questions and hurtful disputations, from seeing us at leisure, and idle, and taking no forethought for excellency of living. But let us block up this approach against him, let us watch, let us be sober, that having in this short time toiled a little, we may obtain eternal goods in endless ages, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom and with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
2 al. “let us imitate.”
5 meta; tau`ta
7 al. “holds.”
11 Hom. 2,4.
13 Slightly varied from LXX.
14 al. “forgiven.”
16 luvsin tw`n hJmarthmevnwn.
"That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,"
[1.] Nothing hinders us from handling to-day also the same words, since before we were prevented by the setting forth of doctrines, from considering all that was read. Where now are those whodeny that He is true God? for here He is called “the true Light” (Jn 14,6), and elsewhere very “Truth” and very “Life.” That saying we will discuss more clearly when we come to the place; but at present we must for a while be speaking to your Charity of that other matter.
If He “lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” how is it that so many continue unenlightened? for not all have known the majesty of Christ. How then doth He “light every man”? He lighteth all as far as in Him lies. But if some, wilfully closing the eyes of their mind, would not receive the rays of that Light, their darkness arises not from the nature of the Light, but from their own wickedness, who willfully deprive themselves of the gift. For the grace is shed forth upon all, turning itself back neither from Jew, nor Greek, nor Barbarian, nor Scythian, nor free, nor bond, nor male, nor female, nor old, nor young, but admitting all alike, and inviting with an equal regard. And those who are not willing to enjoy this gift, ought in justice to impute their blindness to themselves; for if when the gate is opened to all, and there is none to hinder, any being willfully evil1 remain without, they perish through none other, but only through their own wickedness.
Jn 1,10. “He was in the world.”
But not as of equal duration with the world. Away with the thought. Wherefore he adds, “And the world was made by Him”; thus leading thee up again to the eternal2 existence of the Only-Begotten. For he who has heard that this universe is His work, though he be very dull, though he be a hater, though he be an enemy of the glory of God, will certainly, willing or unwilling, be forced to confess that the maker is before his works. Whence wonder always comes over me at the madness of Paul of Samosata, who dared to look in the face so manifest a truth, and voluntarily threw himself down the precipice, 3 For he erred not ignorantly but with full knowledge, being in the same case as the Jews. For as they, looking to men, gave up sound faith, knowing that he was the only-begotten Son of God, but not confessing Him, because of their rulers, lest they should be cast out of thesynagogue; so it is said that he, to gratify a certain woman,4 sold his own salvation. A powerful thing, powerful indeed, is the tyranny of vainglory; it is able to make blind the eyes even of the wise, except they be sober; for if the taking of gifts can effect this, much more will the yet more violent feeling of this passion. Wherefore Jesus said to the Jews, “How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?” (Jn 5,44).
“And the world knew Him not.” By “the world” he here means the multitude, which is corrupt, and closely attached5 to earthly things, the common6 turbulent, silly people. For the friends and favorites7 of God all knew Him, even before His coming in the flesh. Concerning the Patriarch Christ Himself speaks by name, “that your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad.” (Jn 8,56). And concerning David, confuting the Jews He said, “How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, the Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand.” (Mt 22,43 Mc 12,36 Lc 20,42). And in many places, disputing with them, He mentions Moses; and the Apostle (mentions) the rest of the prophets; for Peter declares, that all the prophets from Samuel knew Him, and proclaimed beforehand His coming afar off, when he says, “All the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.” (Ac 3,24). But Jacob and his father, as well as hisgrandfather, He both appeared to and talked with, and promised that He would give them many and great blessings, which also He brought to pass.
“How then,” says one, “did He say Himself, ‘Many prophets have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them’? (Lc 10,24). Did they then not share in the knowledge of Him?” Surely they did; and I will endeavor to make this plain from, this very saying, by which some think that they are deprived of it. “For many,” He saith, “have desired to see the things which ye see.” So that they knew that He would come [to men] from heaven, and would live and teach8 as He lived and taught; for had they not known, they could have not desired, since no one can conceive desire for things of which he has no idea; therefore they knew the Son of Man, and that He would come among men. What then are the things which they did not hear? What those which they did not know? The things which ye now see and hear. For if they did hear His voice and did see Him, it was not in the Flesh, not among men; nor when He was living so familiarly, and conversing so frankly with them? And indeed He to show this said not simply, “to see” “Me”: but what? “the things which ye see”; nor “to hear” “Me”: but what? “the things which ye hear.”9 So that if they did not behold His coming in the Flesh, still they knew that it would be, and they desired it, and believed on Him without having seen Him in the Flesh.
When therefore the Greeks bring charges such as these against us, and say; “What then did Christ in former time, that He did not look upon the race of men? And for what possible reason did He come at last to assist in our salvation, after neglecting us so long?” we will reply, that before this He was in the world, and took thought for His works, and was known to all who were worthy. But if ye should say, that, because all did not then know Him, because He was only known by those noble and excellent persons, therefore He was not acknowledged; at this rate you will not allow that He is worshiped even now, since even now all men do not know Him. But as at present no one, because of those who do not know Him, would refuse credit to those who do, so as regards former times, we must not doubt that He was known to many, or rather to all of those noble and admirable persons.
[2.] And if any one say, “Why did not all men give heed to Him? nor all worship Him, but the just only?” I also will ask, why even now do not all men know him? But why do I speak of Christ, when not all men knew His Father then, or know Him now? For some say, that all things are borne along by chance, while others commit the providenceof the universe to devils. Others invent another God besides Him, and some blasphemously assert, that His is an opposing power, 10 and think that His laws are the laws of a wicked daemon. What then? Shall we say that He is not God because their are some who say so? And shall we confess Him to be evil? for there are some who even so blaspheme Him. Away with such mental wandering, such utter insanity. If we should delineate 11 doctrines according to the judgment of madmen, there is nothing to hinder us from being mad ourselves with most grievous madness. No one will assert, looking to those who have weak vision, that the sun is injurious to the eyes, but he will say that it is fitted to give light, drawing his judgments from persons in health. And no one will call honey bitter, because it seems so to the sense of the sick. And will any, from the imaginations of men diseased (in mind) decide that God either is not, or is evil; or that He sometimes indeed exerts His Providence, sometimes doth not so at all? Who can say that such men are of sound mind, or deny that they are beside themselves, delirious, utterly mad?
“The world,” he says, “knew Him not”; but they of whom the world was not worthy knew Him. And having spoken of those who knew Him not, he in a short time puts the cause of their ignorance; for he does not absolutely say, that no one knew Him, but that “the world knew him not”; that is, those persons who are as it were nailed to the world alone, and who mind the things of the world. For so Christ was wont to call them; as when He says, “O Holy 12 Father, the world hath not known Thee.” (Jn 17,25). The world then was ignorant, not only of Him, but also of His Father, as we have said; for nothing so darkens 13 the mind as to be closely attached 14 to present things.
Knowing therefore this, remove yourselves from the world, and tear yourselves as much as possible from carnal things, for the loss which comes to you from these lies not in common matters, but in what is the chief of goods. For it is not possible for the man who clings strongly to the things of the present life really 15 to lay hold on those in heaven, but he who is earnest about the one must needs lose the other. “Ye cannot,” He says, “serve God and Mammon” (Mt 6,24), for you must hold to the one and hate the other. And this too the very experience of the things proclaims aloud. Those, for instance, who deride the lust of money, are especially the persons who love God as they ought, just as those who respect that sovereignty (of Mammon), are the men who above all others have the slackest 16 love for Him. For the soul when made captive once for all 17 by covetousness, will not easily or readily refuse doing or saying any of the things which anger God, as being the slave of another master, and one who gives all his commands in direct opposition to God. Return then at length to your sober senses, and rouse yourselves, and calling to mind whose servants we are, let us love His kingdom only; let us weep, let us wail for the times past in which we were servants of Mammon; let us cast off once for all his yoke so intolerable, so heavy, and continue to bear the light and easy yoke of Christ. For He lays no such commands upon us as Mammon does. Mammon bids us be enemies to all men, but Christ, on the contrary, to embrace and to love all. The one having nailed us 18 to the clay and the brickmaking, (for gold is this,) allows us not even at night to take breath a little; the other releases us from this excessive and insensate care, and bids us gather treasures in heaven, not by injustice towards others, but by our own righteousness. The one after our many toils and sufferings is not able to assist us when we are punished in that place 19 and suffer because of his laws, nay, he increases the flame; the other, though He command us to give but a cup of cold water, never allows us to lose our reward and recompense even for this, but repays us with great abundance. How then is it not extremest folly to slight a rule so mild, so full of all good things, and to serve a thankless, ungrateful tyrant, and one who neither in this world nor in the world to come is able to help those who obey and give heed to him. Nor is this the only dreadful thing, nor is this only the penalty, that he does not defend them when they are being punished; but that besides this, he, as I before said, surrounds those who obey him with ten thousand evils. For of those who are punished in that place, one may see that the greater part are punished for this cause, that they were slaves to money, that they loved gold, and would not assist those who needed. That we be not in this case, let us scatter, let us give to the poor, let us deliver our souls from hurtful cares in this world, and from the vengeance, which because of these things is appointed for us in that place. Let us store up righteousness in the heavens. Instead of riches upon earth, let us collect treasures impregnable, treasures which can accompany us on our journey to heaven, which can assist us in our peril, and make the Judge propitious at that hour. Whom may we all have gracious unto us, both now and at that day, and enjoy with much confidence 20 the good things prepared in the heavens for those who love Him as they ought, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen).
3 Paul of Samosata, Bishop of Antioch, denied the Personality of our Lord before His Birth of the Virgin Mary. His opinions were condemned, and himself deposed, at the second Council of Antioch, A.D. 270.
4 Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, who supported Paul against the Catholics after his deposition.
5 prostethko;", “melted to.”
8 oijkonomhvsonta, lit. “would dispense as He did dispense.”
9 metAE ajdeia".
10 al. “for they had both heard His voice, and seen Him, but not in the flesh.”
11 i.e. that the power which maintains the universe is a power opposed to the True God. The Gnostics accounted for the existence of evil, by supposing an evil Principle, to which they attributed the creation and support of the material world. The opinions here spoken of were maintained by Basilides, Valentinus, Marcion, Manes, and other supporters of that heresy).
13 (Agi" (divkai" G. T)..
14 qoloi` from qolo;", “the ink of the cuttle fish.”
16 gnhsivw";, perhaps “as befits a rightful heir.”
17 al). ajmblutevran, “duller.”
[1.] IF ye remember our former reflections, we shall the more zealously proceed with the building up1 of what remains, as doing so for great gain. For so will our discourse be more intelligible to you who remember what has been already said, and we shall not need much labor, because you are able through your great love of learning to see more clearly into what remains. The man who is always losing what is given to him will always need a teacher, and will never know anything; but he who retains what he has received, and so receives in addition what remains, will quickly. be a teacher instead of a learner, and useful not only to himself, but to all others also; as, conjecturing from their great readiness to hear, I anticipate that this assembly will specially be. Come then, let us lay up in your souls, as in a safe treasury, the Lord’s money, and unfold, as far as the grace of the Spirit may afford us power, the words this day set before us.
(He (St. John) had said, speaking of the old times, that “the world knew him not” (Jn 1,10); afterwards he comes down in his narrative to the times of the proclamation (of the Gospel), and says, “He came to His own, and His own received Him not,” now calling the Jews “His own,” as His peculiar people, or perhaps even all mankind, as created by Him. And as above, when perplexed at the folly of the many, and ashamed of our common nature, he said that “the world by Him was made,” and having been made, did not recognize its Maker; so here again, being troubled beyond bearing2 at the stupidity of the Jews and the many, he sets forth the charge in a yet more striking manner, saying, that “His own received Him not,” and that too when “He came to them.” And not only he, but the prophets also, wondering, said the very same, as did afterwards Paul, amazed at the very same things. Thus did the prophets cry aloud in the person of Christ, saying, “A people whom I have not known, have served Me; as soon as they heard Me, they obeyed Me; the strange children have dealt falsely with Me.3 The strange children have waxed aged, and have halted from their paths.” ( LXX). And again, “They to whom it had not been told concerning Him, shall see, and they which had not heard, shall understand.” And, “I was found of them that sought Me not” (Is 52,15); “I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.” (Is 45,1, as quoted Rm 10,20). And Paul, in his Epistles to the Romans, has said, “What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for: but the election hath obtained it.” (Rm 11,7). And again; “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness, have attained unto righteousness: but Israel which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.” (Rm 9,30).
For it is a thing indeed worthy of our amazement, how they who were nurtured in (knowledge of) the prophetical books, who heard Moses every day telling them ten thousand things concerning the coming of the Christ, and the other prophets afterwards, who moreover themselves beheld Christ Himself daily working miracles among them, giving up His time4 to them alone, neither as yet allowing His disciples to depart into the way of the Gentiles, or to enter into a city of Samaritans, nor doing so Himself, but everywhere5 declaring that He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Mt 10,5): how, (I say), while they saw the signs, and heard the Prophets, and had Christ Himself continually putting them in remembrance, they yet made themselves once for all so blind and dull, as by none of these things to be brought to faith in Christ. (Mt 15,24). While they of the Gentiles, who had enjoyed none of these things, who had never heard the oracles of God, not, as one may say, so much as in a dream, but ever ranging among the fables of madmen, (for heathen philosophy is this,) having ever in their hands6 the sillinesses of their poets, nailed to stocks and stones, and neither in doctrines nor in conversation7 possessing anything good or sound. (For their way of life was more impure and more accursed than their doctrine. As was likely; for when they saw their gods delighting in all wickedness, worshiped by shameful words, and more shameful deeds, reckoning this festivity and praise, and moreover honored by foul murders, and child-slaughters, how should not they emulate these things?) Still, fallen as they were as low as the very depth of wickedness, on a sudden, as by the agency of some machine, they have appeared to us shining from on high, and from the very summit of heaven.
How then and whence came it to pass? Hear Paul telling you. For that blessed person searching exactly into these things, ceased not until he had found the cause, and had declared it to all others. What then is it? and whence came such blindness upon the Jews? Hear him who was entrusted with this stewardship declare. What then does he say in resolving this doubt of the many? (1Co 9,17). “For they,” says he, “being ignorant of God’s righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Rm 10,3). Wherefore they have suffered this. And again, explaining the same matter in other terms, he says, “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness, have attained unto righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith; but Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.” (Rm 9,30). His meaning is this: “These men’s unbelief has been the cause of their misfortunes, and their haughtiness was parent of their unbelief.” For when having before enjoyed greater privileges than the heathen,8 through having received the law, through knowing God, and the rest which Paul enumerates, they after the coming of Christ saw the heathen and themselves called on equal terms through faith, and after faith received one of the circumcision in nothing preferred to the Gentile, they came to envy and were stung by their haughtiness, and could not endure the unspeakable and exceeding lovingkindness of the Lord. So this has happened to them from nothing else but pride, and wickedness, and unkindness.
[2.] For in what, O most foolish of men, are ye injured by the care9 bestowed on others? How are your blessings made less through having others to share the same? But of a truth wickedness is blind, and cannot readily perceive anything that it ought. Being therefore stung by the prospect of having others to share the same confidence, 10 they thrust a sword against themselves, and cast themselves out from the lovingkindness of God. And with good reason. For He saith, “Friend, I do thee no wrong, I will give to ‘these also’ even as unto thee.” (Mt 20,14). Or rather, these Jews are not deserving even of these words. For the man in the parable if he was discontented, could yet speak of the labors and weariness, the heat and sweat, of a whole day. But what could these men have to tell? nothing like this, but slothfulness and profligacy and ten thousand evil things of which all the prophets continued ever to accuse them, and by which they like the Gentiles had offended against God. And Paul declaring this says, “For there is no difference between the few and the Greek: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God: being justified freely by His grace.” (Rom. x. 12; Rm iii, 22–24). And on this head he treats profitably and very wisely throughout that Epistle. But in a former part of it he proves that they are worthy of still greater punishment. “For as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law” (Rm 2,12); that is to say, more severely, as having for their accuser the law as well as nature. And not for this only, but for that they have been the cause that God is blasphemed among the Gentiles: “My 11 Name,” He saith, “is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you.” (Rm 2,24 Is 52,5).
Since now this it was that stung them most, (for the thing appeared incredible even to those of the circumcision who believed, and therefore they brought it as a charge against Peter, when he was come up to them from Cesarea, that he “went in to men uncircumcised, and did eat with them” (Ac 11,3); and after that they had learned the dispensation of God, even so still 12 they wondered how “on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Ac 10,45): showing by their astonishment that they could never have expected so incredible a thing,) since then he knew that this touched them nearest, see how he has emptied 13 their pride and relaxed 14 their highly swelling insolence. For after having discoursed on the case of the heathen, 15 and shown that they had i not from any quarter any excuse, or hope of salvation, and after having definitely charged them both with the perversion 16 of their doctrines and the uncleanness of their lives, he shifts his argument to the Jews; and 17 after recounting all the expressions of the Prophet, in which he had said that they were polluted, treacherous, hypocritical persons, and had “altogether become unprofitable,” that there was “none” among them “that seeketh after God,” that they had “all gone out of the way” (Rm 3,12), and the like, he adds, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” (Rm 3,19). “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rm 3,23)).
Why then exaltest thou thyself, O Jew? why art thou high minded? for thy mouth also is stopped, thy boldness also is taken away, thou also with all the world art become guilty, and, like others, art placed in need of being justified freely. Thou oughtest surely even if thou hadst stood upright and hadst had great boldness with God, not even so to have envied those who should be pitied and saved through His lovingkindness. This is the extreme of wickedness, to pine at the blessings of others; especially when this was to be effected without any loss of thine. If indeed the salvation of others had been prejudicial to thy advantages, thy grieving might have been reasonable; though not even then would it have been so to one who had learned true. wisdom. 18 But if thy reward is not increased by the punishment of another, nor diminished by his welfare, why dost thou bewail thyself because that other is freely saved? As I said, thou oughtest not, even wert thou (one) of the approved, to be pained at the salvation which cometh to the Gentiles through grace. But when thou, who art guilty before thy Lord of the same things as they, and hast thyself offended, art displeased at the good of others, and thinkest great things, as if thou alone oughtest to be partaker of the grace, thou art guilty not only of envy and insolence, but of extreme folly, and mayest be liable to all the severest torments; for thou hast planted within thyself the root of all evils, pride.
Wherefore a wise man has said, “Pride is the beginning of sin” (Si 10,13): that is, its root, its source, its mother. By this the first created was banished from that happy abode: by this the devil who deceived him had fallen from that height of dignity; from which that accursed one, knowing that the nature of the sin was sufficient to cast down even from heaven itself, came this way when he labored to bring down Adam from such high honor. For having puffed him up with the promise that he should be as a God, so he broke him down, and cast him down into the very gulfs of hell. 19 Because nothing so alienates men from the lovingkindness of God, and gives them over to the fire of the pit, 20 as the tyranny of pride. For when this is present with us, our whole life becomes impure, even though we fulfill temperance, chastity, fasting, prayer, almsgiving, anything. For, “Every one,” saith the wise man, “that is proud in heart is an abomination 21 to the Lord.” (Pr 16,5). Let us then restrain this swelling of the soul, let us cut up by the roots this lump of pride, if at least we would wish to be clean, and to escape the punishment appointed for the devil. For that the proud must fall under the same punishment as that (wicked) one, hear Paul declare; “Not a novice, test being lifted up with pride, he fall into the judgment, and the snare of the devil.” 22 What is “the judgment”? 23 He means, into the same “condemnation,” the same punishment. How then does he say, that a man may avoid this dreadful thing? By reflecting upon 24 his own nature, upon the number of his sins, upon the greatness of the torments in that place, upon the transitory nature of the things which seem bright in this world, differing in nothing from grass, and more fading than the flowers of spring. If we continually stir within ourselves these considerations, and keep in mind those who have walked most upright, the devil, though he strive ten thousand ways, will not be able to lift 25 us up, nor even to trip 26 us at all. May the God who is the God Of the humble, the good and merciful God, grant both to you and me a broken and humbled heart, so shall we be enabled easily to order the rest aright, to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory forever and ever. Amen).
1 al. “the dispensing.”
3 “lied unto me.” LXX.
4 al. “conversing with.”
5 a]nw kai; kavtw
6 ajnelivttonte", “unrolling.”
11 tou` Qeou` G. T.
12 al. “again.”
13 al. “he does all things that he may empty.”
14 al. “may relax.”
15 tw`n JEllhnivkwn.
17 al. “then.”
21 “Unclean,” LXX.
22 1Tm 3,6, 7 (partially quoted).
23 krivma, “condemnation,” E. V.
24 al. “calculating.”
26 uJposkelivsai (a gymnastic term like the preceding)).
Chrysostom on John 6