Chrysostom on John 56
"And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?"
[1.] “And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth.” Being full of love for man, and caring for our salvation, and desiring to stop the mouths of the foolish, He omitteth nothing of His own part, though there be none to give heed. And the Prophet knowing this saith, “That Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou art judged.” (Ps 51,4). Wherefore here, when they would not receive His sublime sayings, but said that He had a devil, and attempted to kill Him, He went forth from the Temple, and healed the blind, mitigating their rage by His absence, and by working the miracle softening their hardness and cruelty, and establishing His assertions. And He worketh a miracle which was no common one, but one which took place then for the first time. “Since the world began,” saith he who was healed, “was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.” (Jn 9,32). Some have, perhaps, opened the eyes of the blind, but of one born blind never. And that on going out of the Temple, He proceeded intentionally to the work, is clear from this; it was He who saw the blind man, not the blind man who came to Him; and so earnestly did He look upon him, that even His disciples perceived it. From this, at least, they came to question Him; for when they saw Him earnestly regarding the man, they asked Him, saying, “Who did sin, this man, or his parents?” A mistaken question, for how could he sin before he was born? and how, if his parents had sinned, would he have been punished? Whence then came they to put this question? Before, when He healed the paralytic, He said, “Behold, thou art made whole, sin no more.” (c. 5,14). They therefore, having understood that he was palsied on account of sin, said,“ Well, that other was palsied because of his sins; but concerning. this man, what wouldest Thou say? hath he sinned? It is not possible to say so, for he is blind from his birth. Have his parents sinned? Neither can one say this, for the child suffers not punishment for the father.” As therefore when we see a child evil entreated, we exclaim, “What can one say of this? what has the child done?”not as asking a question, but as being perplexed, so the disciples spake here, not so much asking for information, as being in perplexity. What then saith Christ?
Jn 9,3. “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents.”
This He saith not as acquitting them of sins, for He saith not simply, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents,” but addeth, “that he should have been born blind1 —but that the Son of God should be glorified in him.” “For both this man hath sinned and his parents, but his blindness proceedeth not from that.” And this He said, not signifying that though this man indeed was not in such case, yet that others had been made blind from such a cause, the sins of their parents, since it cannot be that when one sinneth another should be punished. For if we allow this, we must also allow that he sinned before his birth. As therefore when He declared, “neither hath this man sinned,” He said not that it is possible to sin from one’s very birth, and be punished for it; so when He said, “nor his parents,” He said not that one may be punished for his parents’ sake. This supposition He removeth by the mouth of Ezekiel; “As I live saith the Lord, this proverb shall not be, that is used, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” (Ez 18,3 Ez 18,2). And Moses saith, “The father shall not die for the child, neither shall the child die for the father.” (Dt 24,16). And of a certain king2 Scripture saith, that for this very reason he did not this thing,3 observing the law of Moses. But if any one argue, “How then is it said, ‘Who visiteth the sins of the parents upon the children unto the third and fourth generation’?” (Dt 5,9); we should make this answer, that the assertion is not universal, but that it is spoken with reference to certain who came out of Egypt. And its meaning is of this kind; “Since these who have come out of Egypt, after signs and wonders, have become worse than their forefathers who saw none of these things, they shall suffer,” It saith, “the same that those others suffered, since they have dared the same crimes.” And that it was spoken of those men, any one who will give attention to the passage will more certainly know. Wherefore then was he born blind?
“That the glory4 of God should be made manifest,”5 He saith.
Lo, here again is another difficulty, if without this man’s punishment, it was not possible that the glory of God should be shown. Certainly it is not said that it was impossible, for it was possible, but, “that it might be manifested even in this man.” “What,” saith some one, “did he suffer wrong for the glory of God?” What wrong, tell me? For what if God had never willed to produce him at all? But I assert that he even received benefit from his blindness: since he recovered the sight of the eyes within. What were the Jews profited by their eyes? They incurred the heavier punishment, being blinded even while they saw. And what injury had this man by his blindness? For by means of it he recovered sight. As then the evils of the present life are not evils, so neither are the good things good; sin alone is an evil, but blindness is not an evil. And He who had brought this man from not being into being, had also power to leave him as he was.
[2.] But some say, that this conjunction6 is not at all expressive of cause, but relates to the consequence of the miracle; as when He saith, “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind” (Jn 9,39); and yet it was not for this He came, that those who saw might be made blind. And again Paul, “Because that which may be known of God is manifested in them, that they may be without excuse” (Rm 1,19-20); yet He showed it not unto them for this, that they might be deprived of excuse, but that they might obtain excuse. And again in another place, “The Law entered, that the offense might abound” (Rm 5,20); yet it was not for this that it entered, but that sin might be checked. Seest thou everywhere that the conjunction relates to the consequence? For as some excellent architect may build part of a house, and leave the rest unfinished, so that to those who believe not he may prove, by means of that remnant, that he is author of the whole; so also God joineth together and completeth our body, as it were a house decayed, healing the withered hand, bracing the palsied limbs, straightening the lame, cleansing the lepers, raising up the sick, making sound the crippled, recalling the dead from death, opening the eyes that were closed, or adding them where before they were not; all which things, being blemishes7 arising from the infirmity of our nature, He by correcting showed His power.
But when He said, “That the glory of God might be manifested,” He spake of Himself, not of the Father; His8 glory was already manifest. For since they had heard that God made man, taking the dust of the earth, so also Christ made clay. To have said, “I am He who took the dust of the earth, and made man,” would have seemed a hard thing to His hearers; but this when shown by actual working, no longer stood in their way. So that He by taking earth, and mixing it with spittle, showed forth His hidden glory; for no small glory was it that He should be deemed the Architect of the creation.
And after this the rest also followed; from the part, the whole was proved, since the belief of the greater also confirmed the less. For man is more honorable than any created thing, and of our members the most honorable is the eye. This is the cause that He fashioned the eyes, not in a common manner, but in the way that He did. For though that member be small in size, yet it is more necessary than any part of the body. And this Paul showed when he said, “If the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?” (1Co 12,16). For all indeed that is in us is a manifestation of the wisdom of God, but much more the eye; this it is that guides the whole body, this gives beauty to it all, this adorns the countenance, this is the light of all the limbs. What the sun is in the world, that the eye is in the body; quench the sun, and you destroy and confound all things; quench the eyes, and the feet, the hands, the soul, are useless. When these are disabled, even knowledge is gone, since by means of these we know God. “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.” (Rm 1,20). Wherefore the eye is not only a light to the body, but beyond the body to the soul also. On which account it is established as in a royal fortress, obtaining the higher condition, and presiding over the other senses. This then Christ forms.
And that thou mayest not deem that He needeth matter when He worketh, and that thou mayest learn that He had not need at all of clay, (for He who brought into being the greater existences when as yet they were not, would much more have made this without matter,) that I say thou mayest learn that He did not this through necessity, but to show that He was the Creator at the beginning, when He had spread on the clay He saith, “Go, wash,” “that thou mayest know that I need not clay to create eyes, but that My glory may be manifested hereby.” For to show that He spake of Himself when He said, “That the glory of God may be manifested,” He added,
Jn 9,4. “I must work the works of Him that sent Me.”
That is, “I must manifest Myself, and do the things which may show that I do the same things with the Father”; not things “similar,” but, “the same,” an expression which marks greater unvaryingness, and which is used of those who do not differ ever so little. Who then after this will face Him, when he seeth that He hath the same power with the Father? For not only did He form or open eyes, but gave also the gift of sight, which is a proof that He also breathed in the soul. Since if that did not work, the eye, though perfected, could never see anything; so that He gave both the energy9 which is from the soul, and gave the member also possessing all things, both arteries and nerves and veins, and all things of which our body is composed.
“I must work while it is day.”
What mean these words? To what conclusion do they lead? To an important one. For what He saith is of this kind. “While it is day, while men may believe on Me, while this life lasteth, I must work.”
“The night cometh,” that is, futurity, “when no man can work.”
(He said not, “when I cannot work,” but, “when no man can work”: that is, when there is no longer faith, nor labors, nor repentance. For to show that He calleth faith, a “work,” when they say unto Him, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” (c. 6,28), He replieth, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” How then can no man work this work in the future world? 10 Because there faith is not, but all, willingly, or unwillingly, will submit. For lest any one should say that He acted as He did from desire of honor, He showeth that He did all to spare them who had power to believe “here” only, but who could no longer “there” gain any good thing. On this account, though the blind man came not to Him, He did what He did: for that the man was worthy to be healed, that had he seen he would have believed and come to Christ, that had he heard from any that He was present, he would not even so have been neglectful, is clear from what follows, from his courage, from his very faith. For it was likely that he would have considered with himself, and have said, “What is this? He made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go, wash;’ could he not have healed me, and then have sent me to Siloam? Often have I washed there with many others, and have gained no good; had he possessed any power, he would while present have healed me.” Just as Naaman spake respecting Elisha; for he too being commanded to go wash in Jordan, believed not, and this too when there was such a fame abroad concerning Elisha. (2 Kings v. 11). But the blind man neither disbelieved, nor contradicted, nor reasoned with himself, “What is this? Ought he to have put on clay? This is rather to blind one the more: who ever recovered sight so?” But he used no such reasonings. Seest thou his steadfast faith and zeal?
“The night cometh.” Next He showeth, that even after the Crucifixion He would care for the ungodly, and bring many to Himself. For “it is yet day.” But after that, He entirely cutteth them off, and declaring this, He saith,
Jn 9,5. “As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”
[3.] As also He said to others, “Believe while the light is with you.” 11 (c. 12,36). Wherefore then did Paul call this life “night” and that other “day”? Not opposing Christ, but saying the same thing, if not in words yet in sense; for he also saith, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” (Rm 13,12). The present time he calleth “night,” because of those who sit in darkness, or because he compareth it with that day which is to come, Christ calleth the future “night,” because there sin has no power to work; 12 but Paul calleth the present life night, because they are in darkness who continue in wickedness and unbelief. Addressing himselfthen to the faithful he said, “The night is farspent, the day is at hand,” since they should enjoy that light; and he calleth the old life night. “Let us put away,” he saith, “the works of darkness.” Seest thou that he telleth them that it is “night”? wherefore he saith, “Let us walk honestly as in the day,” that we may enjoy that light. For if this light be so good, consider what that will be; as much as the sunlight is brighter than the flame of a candle, so much and far more is that light better than this. And signifying this, Christ saith, that “the sun shall be darkened.” Because of the excess of that brightness, not even the sun shall be seen.
If now in order to have here well-lighted and airy houses, we expend immense sums, building and toiling, consider how we ought to spend our very bodies themselves, that glorious houses may be built for us in the heavens where is that Light ineffable. Here there are strifes and contentions about boundaries and walls, but there will be nothing of the kind there, no envy, no malice, no one will dispute with us about settling boundaries. This dwelling too we assuredly needs must leave, but that abideth with us forever; this must decay by time, and be exposed to innumerable injuries, but that must remain without growing old perpetually; this a poor man cannot build, but that other one may build with two mites, as did the widow. Wherefore I choke with grief, that when so many blessings are laid before us, we are slothful, and despise them; we use every exertion to have splendid houses here, but how to gain in heaven so much as a little resting-place, we care not, we think not. For tell me, where wouldest thou have thy dwelling here? In the wilderness, or in one of the smaller cities? I think not; but in some of the most royal and grand cities, where the traffic is more, where the splendor is greater. But I will lead thee into such a City, whose Builder and Maker is God; there I exhort thee to found and build, at less cost [with less labor 13 ]. That house the hands of the poor build, and it is most truly “building,” just as the structures made here are the work of extreme folly. For if a man were to bring you into the land of Persia, to behold what is there and to return, and were then to bid you build houses there, would you not condemn him for excessive folly, as bidding you spend unseasonably? How then dost thou this very same thing upon the earth which thou shall shortly leave? “But I shall leave it to my children,” saith some one. Yet they too shall leave it soon after thee; nay, often even before thee; and their successors the same. And even here it is a subject of melancholy to thee that thou seest not thine heirs retain their possessions, but there thou needest apprehend nothing of the sort; the possession remaineth immovable, to thee, to thy children, and to their descendants, if they imitate the same goodness. That building Christ taketh in hand, he who buildeth that needs not to appoint care-takers, nor be thoughtful, nor anxious; for when God hath undertaken the work, what need of thought? He bringeth all things together, and raiseth the house. Nor is this the only thing wonderful, but also that He so buildeth it as is pleasing to thee, or rather even beyond what is pleasing, beyond what thou desirest; for He is the most excellent Artist, and careth greatly for thy advantage. If thou art poor, and desirest to build this house, it brings thee no envy, produces against thee no malice, for none of those who know how to envy behold it, but the Angels who know how to rejoice at thy blessings; none will be able to encroach upon it, for none dwell near it of those who are diseased with such passions. For neighbors thou hast there the saints, Peter and Paul with their company, all the Prophets, the Martyrs, the multitude 14 of Angels, of Archangels. For the sake then of all these things, 15 let us empty our substance upon the poor, that we may obtain those tabernacles; 16 which may we all obtain through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen).
1 “How can a man,” &c., N. T.
2 al). “the judgment amazed him not.”
3 “the Jews,” N. T.
4 “the parents of him,” &c., N. T.
5 al). “who envied.”
6 al). “was a sinner.”
7 mikroyucivan. The Bened. editor observes, that by the Fathers the word is used to signify “grudging”; “quarreling.”
8 ver. 9, “(He is like him.”
9 al). “establishing what had been done.”
11 ta; tou` Cristou` sugkrotouvntwn, al). kata; tou` C.
13 al). “a witness worthy.”
15 “his parents,” N. T.
16 Another reading has this sense: “For although that was the opinion of the Jews, yet he hath also added the judgment of Christ; and hath said that the sentence of the Jews was to put out of the synagogue those who confessed Him to be the Christ.”
17 N. T. ver. 22–24). “For the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that He was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. Therefore said his parents, He is of age, ask him. Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him.”
18 lit). “that ye begot him.”
19 al). “Son of Man.”
20 Mor). “and by.”
21 al). “dogs.”
22 al). “surely enclosed.”
23 “already,” N. T.
24 al). “weaker.”
25 al). “trouble.”
26 al). “reckoned.”
27 “as for this fellow, we know not whence He is,” N. T.
28 “and yet He hath opened mine eyes,” N. T).
29 “him He heareth,” N. T.
30 al). “he (al. they) said that Christ was a worshiper of God.”
31 ver. 33). “If this Man were not of God, He could do nothing.”
32 al). “Then he draws an inference also). ‘If this Man were not of God He could do nothing.’ If therefore it is acknowledged,” &c.
33 or, “prevailed in all by.”
34 al). “if they,” &c.
35 i.e. through a good conscience.
36 al). “heavy and violent.”
37 al). “desire.”
38 al). “lawlessness.”
39 al). “are not even ashamed at what takes place at the theaters, but raise.”
40 al). “alms-deeds.”
42 al). “that thou wilt rather have required of thee the husbandry of time than any other thing.”
43 al). “an artist.”
44 i.e. in the theater.
45 al). “or rather, both to us and.”
"When Jesus had thus spoken, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam."
[1.] Those who intend to gain any advantage from what they read, must not pass by even any small portion of the words; and on this account we are bidden to “search” the Scriptures, because most of the words, although at first sight1 easy, appear to have in their depth much hidden meaning. For observe of what sort is the present case. “Having said these words,” It saith,“ He spat on the ground.” What words? “That the glory of God should be made manifest,” and that, “I must work the works of Him that sent Me.” For not without a cause hath the Evangelist mentioned to us His words, and added that, “He spat,” but to show that He confirmed His words by deeds. And why used He not water instead of spittle for the clay? He was about to send the man to Siloam: in order therefore that nothing might be ascribed to the fountain, but that thou mightest learn that the power proceeding from His mouth, the same both formed and opened the man’s eyes, He “spat on the ground”; this at least the Evangelist signified, when he said, “And made clay of the spittle.” Then, that the successful issue might not seem to be of the earth, He bade him wash. But wherefore did He not this at once, instead of sending him to Siloam? That thou mayest learn the faith of the blind man, and that the obstinacy of the Jews might be silenced: for it was probable that they would all see him as he departed, having the clay spread upon his eyes, since by the strangeness of the thing he would attract to himself all, both those who did and those who did not know him, and they would observe him exactly. And because it is not easy to recognize a blind man who hath recovered sight, He first maketh by the length of way many to be witnesses, and by the strangeness of the spectacle exact observers, that being more attentive they may no longer be able to say, “It is he: it is not he.” Moreover, by sending him to Siloam, He desireth to prove that He is not estranged from the Law and the Old (Covenant), nor could it afterwards be feared that Siloam would receive the glory, since many who had often washed their eyes there gained no such benefit; for there also it was the power of Christ that wrought all. On which account the Evangelist addeth for us the interpretation of the name; for having said, “in Siloam,” he addeth,
“Which is,2 Sent.”
That thou mayest learn that there also it was Christ who healed him. As Paul saith, “They drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” (1Co 10,4). As then Christ was the spiritual Rock, so also was He the spiritual Siloam. To me also the sudden3 coming in of the water seems to hint an ineffable mystery. What is that? The unlooked for (nature) of His appearance, beyond all expectation.
But observe the mind of the blind man, obedient in everything. He said not, “If it is really the clay or the spittle which gives me eyes, what need of Siloam? Or if there be need of Siloam, what need of the clay? Why did he anoint me? Why bid me wash?” But he entertained no such thoughts, he held himself prepared for one thing only, to obey in all things Him who gave the command, and nothing that was done offended him. If any one ask, “How then did he recover his sight, when he had removed the clay?” he will hear no other answer from us than that we know not the manner. And what wonder if we know it not, since not even the Evangelist knew, nor the very man that was healed? What had been done he knew, but the manner of doing it he could not comprehend. So when he was asked he said, that “He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see”; but how this took place he cannot tell them, though they ask ten thousand times.
Jn 9,8-9. “The neighbors therefore, and they which4 had seen him, that he was a beggar,5 said, Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said, This is he.”
The strangeness of what had been brought to pass led them even to unbelief, though so much had been contrived6 that they might not disbelieve. They said, “Is not this he that sat and begged?” O the lovingkindness of God! Whither did He descend, when with great kindness He healed even beggars, and so silenced the Jews, because He deemed not the illustrious, nor the distinguished, nor the rulers, but men of no mark to be fit objects of the same Providence. For He came for the salvation of all.
And what happened in the case of the paralytic, happened also with this man, for neither did the one or the other know who it was that healed him. And this was caused by the retirement of Christ, for Jesus when He healed always retired, that all suspicion might be removed from the miracles. Since how could they who knew not who He was flatter Him, or join in contriving what had been done? Neither was this man one of those who went about, but of those who sat at the doors of the Temple. Now when all were doubting concerning him,what saith he?
“I am he.”
(He was not ashamed of his former blindness, nor did he fear the wrath of the people, nor did he decline showing himself that he might proclaim his Benefactor.
Jn 9,10-11. “They said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus.”
What sayest thou? Doth “a man” work such deeds? As yet he knew nothing great concerning Him.
“A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes.”
[2.] Observe how truthful he is. He saith not whence He made it, for he speaks not of what he doth not know; he saw not that He spat on the ground, but that He spread it on he knew from sense and touch.
“And said unto me, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.”
This too his hearing witnessed to him. But how did he recognize His voice? From His conversation with the disciples. And saying all this, and having received the witness by the works, the manner (of the cure) he cannot tell. Now if faith is needed in matters which are felt and handled, much more in the case of things invisible.
Jn 9,12. “They said unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.”
They said, “Where is he?” having already murderous intentions against Him. But observe the modesty7 of Christ, how He continued not with those who were healed; because He neither desired to reap glory, nor to draw a multitude, nor to make a show of Himself. Observe too how truthfully the blind man maketh all his answers. The Jews desired to find Christ to bring Him to the priests, but when they did not find Him, they brought the blind man to the Pharisees, as to those who would question him more severely. For which reason the Evangelist remarks, that it was “the Sabbath” (Jn 9,14), in order to point out their wicked thoughts, and the cause for which they sought Him, as though forsooth they had found a handle, and could disparage the miracle by means of what appeared to be a transgression of the Law. And this is clear from their saying immediately on seeing him nothing but, “How opened he thine eyes?”8 Observe also the manner of their speech; they say not, “How didst thou receive thy sight?” but, “How opened he thine eyes?” thus affording him an excuse for slandering Jesus, because of His having worked. But he speaks to them shortly, as to men who had already heard; for without mentioning His name, or that “He said unto me, Go, wash,” he at once saith,
Jn 9,15. “He put clay upon my eyes, and I washed, and do see.”
Because the slander was now become great, and the Jews had said, “Behold what work Jesus doth on the Sabbath day, he anointeth with clay!” But observe, I pray you, how the blind man is not disturbed. When being questioned he spake in the presence of those others without danger, it was no such great thing to tell the truth, but the wonder is, that now when he is placed in a situation of greater fear, he neither denies nor contradicts what he had said before. What then did the Pharisees, or rather what did the others also? They had brought him (to the Pharisees), as being about to deny; but, on the contrary, that befell them which they desired not, and they learned more exactly. And this they everywhere have to endure, in the case of miracles; but this point we will more clearly demonstrate in what follows. What said the Pharisees?
Jn 9,16. “Some said,” (not all, but the more forward,) “This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the Sabbath day; others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?”
Seest thou that they were led up9 by the miracles? For hear what they say now, who before his had sent to bring Him. And if all did not so, (for being rulers through vainglory they fell into unbelief,) yet still the greater number even of the rulers believed on Him, but confessed Him not. Now the multitude was easily overlooked, as being of no great account in their synagogue, but the rulers being more conspicuous had the greater difficulty in speaking boldly, or some the love of rule restrained, others cowardice, and the fear of the many. Wherefore also He said, “How can ye believe who receive honor from men?” 10 (c. 5,44). And these who were seeking to kill Him unjustly said that they were of God, but that He who healed the blind could not be of God, because He kept not the Sabbath; to which the others objected, that a sinner could not do such miracles. Those first maliciously keeping silence about what had taken place, brought forward the seeming transgression; for they said not, “He healeth on the Sabbath day,” but, “He keepeth not the Sabbath.” These, on the other hand, replied weakly, for when they ought to have shown that the Sabbath was not broken, they rely only upon the miracles; and with reason, for they still thought that He was a man. If this had not been the case, they might besides have urged in His defense, that He was Lord of the Sabbath which Himself had made, but as yet they had not this opinion. Anyhow, none of them dared to say what he wished openly, or in the way of an assertion, but only in the way of doubt, some from not having boldness of speech, others through love of rule.
“There was therefore a division among them.” This division first began among the people, then later among the rulers also, and some said, “He is a good man”; others, “Nay, but he deceiveth the people.” (c. 7,12). Seest thou that the rulers were more void of understanding than the many, since they were divided later than they? and after they were divided, they did not exhibit any noble feeling, when they saw the Pharisees pressing upon them. Since had they been entirely separated from them, they would soon have known the truth. For it is possible to do well in separating. Wherefore also Himself hath said, “I am come not to bring peace upon the earth but a sword.” (Mt 10,34). For there is an evil concord, and there is a good disagreement. Thus they who built the tower (Gn 11,4), agreed together to their own hurt; and these same again were separated, though unwillingly, yet for their good. Thus also Corah and his company agreed together for evil, therefore they were separated for good; and Judas agreed with the Jews for evil. So division may be good, and agreement may be evil. Wherefore It saith, “If thine eye offend thee, smite it out, 11 if thy foot, cut it off.” (Mt 5,29 Mt 18,8). Now if we must separate ourselves from an ill-joined limb, must we not much more from friends united to us for evils 12 ? So that agreement is not in all cases a good, just as division is not in all cases an evil.
[3.] These things I say, that we may shun wicked men, and follow the good; for if in the case of our limbs we cut off that which is rotten and incurable, fearing test the rest of the body should catch the same disease, and if we do this not as having no care for that part, but rather as desiring to preserve the remainder, how much more must we do this in the case of those who consent with us for evil? If we can set them right without receiving injury ourselves, we ought to use every means to do so; but if they remain incorrigible and may injure us, it is necessary to cut them off and cast them away. For so they will often be 13 gainers rather (than losers). Wherefore also Paul exhorted, saying, “And ye shall put away from among yourselves that wicked person”; and, “that he that hath done this deed may be put away from among you.” (1Co 5,13 1Co 5,2). A dreadful thing, dreadful indeed, is the society of wicked men; not so quickly doth the pestilence seize or the itch infect those that come in contact with such as are under the disease, as doth the wickedness of evil men. For “evil communications corrupt good manners.” (1Co 15,33). And again the Prophet saith, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate.” (Is 52,11). Let no one then have a wicked man for his friend. For if when we have bad sons we publicly disclaim them, without regarding nature or its laws, or the constraint which it lays upon us, much more ought we to fly from our companions and acquaintances when they are wicked. Because even if we receive no injury from them, we shall anyhow not be able to escape ill report, for strangers search not into our lives, but judge us from our companions. This advice I address to young men and maidens. “Providing,” 14 It saith, “things honest,” not only in the sight of the Lord, but also “in the sight of all men.” (Rm 12,17). Let us then use every means that our neighbor be not offended. For a life, though it be very upright, if it offend others hath lost all. But how is it possible for the life that is upright to offend? When the society of those that are not upright invests it with an evil reputation; for when, trusting in ourselves, we consort with bad men, even though we be not harmed, we offend others. These things I say to men and women and maidens, leaving it to their conscience to see exactly how many evils are produced from this source. Neither I, perhaps, nor any of the more perfect, suspect any ill; but the simpler brother is harmed by occasion of thy perfection; and thou oughtest to be careful also for his infirmity. And even if he receive no injury, yet the Greek is harmed. Now Paul biddeth us be “without offense, both to Jews and Greeks, and to the Church of God.” (1Co 10,32). (I think no evil of the virgin, for I love virginity, and “love thinketh no evil” (1Co 13,5); I am a great admirer of that state of life, 15 and I cannot have so much as an unseemly thought about it). How shall we persuade those that are without? For we must take forethought for them also. Let us then so order what relates to ourselves, that none of the unbelievers may be able even to find a just handle of accusation against us. For as they who show forth a right life glorify God, so they who do the contrary cause Him to be blasphemed. May no such persons be among 16 us: but may our works so shine, that our Father which is in Heaven may be glorified, and that we may enjoy the honor which is from Him. To which may we all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory forever and ever. Amen.
1 lit). “to.”
2 i.e. before revealing Himself.
3 mevsw", al). mevso".
4 not in G. T).
5 “And some of the Pharisees which were with Him heard these words, and said unto Him,” N. T.
6 “ye say, We see, therefore your sin remaineth,” N. T.
7 or, “unlawful.”
8 or, “It saith.”
9 “and leadeth then out,” N. T.
10 “Hath any,” N. T.
11 ver. 4). “for they know his voice. and,” N. T.
12 tuvrannoi, assuming royalty.
13 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am,” &c., N. T.
14 “he shall be saved, and,” &c., N. T.
15 or, “power over them.”
16 perisso;n e]cwsi. E. V). “have (it) more abundantly.”
17 “good shepherd.”
18 “life for the sheep.”
19 “them, and scattereth the sheep,” N. T.
21 “your,” N. T.
22 “I give you power to tread,” N. T.
23 lit). “low birth.”
24 al). “with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory.”
Chrysostom on John 56