Chrysostom on 2Cor 2400
2400 deceitful workers, fashioning themselves into Apostles of Christ. (2Co 11,13-20)
What sayest thou? they that preach Christ, they that take not money, they that bring not in a different gospel, “false apostles?” ‘Yes,’ he saith, and for this very reason most of all, because they make pretense of all these things for the purpose of deceiving. “Deceitful workers,” for they do work indeed, but pull up what has been planted. For being well aware that otherwise they would not be well received, they take the mask of truth and so enact the drama of error. ‘And yet,’ saith one, ‘they take no money.’ That they may take greater things; that they may destroy the soul. Yea rather, even that was a falsehood; and they took money but did it secretly: and he shows this in what follows. And indeed he already hinted this where he said, “that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we:” (2Co 11,12). in what follows, however, he hinted it more plainly, saying, “If a man devour you, if a man take you captive, if a man exalt himself, ye bear with him. “(2Co 11,20). But at present he accuses them on another account, saying,” fashioning themselves.” They had only a “fashion;” the skin of the sheep was but outside clothing. 2Co 11,14-15. “And no marvel; for if even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light, is it a great thing if his ministers also fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness?”
(So that if one ought to marvel, this is what he ought to marvel at, and not at their transformation. For when their teacher dares do any thing, no marvel that the disciples also follow. But what is “an angel of light?” That hath free liberty to speak, that standeth near to God. For there are also angels of darkness; those which be the devil’s, those dark and cruel ones. And the devil hath deceived many so, fashioning himself “into,” not becoming, “an angel of light.” So do also do these bear about them the form of an Apostle, not the power itself, for this they cannot. But nothing is so like the devil as to do things for display. But what is “a ministry of righteousness?” That which we are who preach to you a Gospel having righteousness. For he either means this, or else that they invest themselves with the character of righteous men. How then shall we know them? “By their works,” as Christ said. Wherefore he is compelled to place his own good deeds and their wickedness side by side, that the spurious may become evident by the comparison. And when about again to enter upon his own praises, he first accuses them, in order to show that such an argument was forced upon him, lest any should accuse him for speaking about himself, and says,
2Co 11,16. “Again I say.” For he had even already used much preparatory corrective: ‘But nevertheless I am not contented with what I have said, but I say yet again,’
“Let no man think me foolish.” For this was what they did—boasted without a reason.—But observe, I pray you, how often, when about to enter upon his own praises, he checks himself. ‘For indeed it is the act of folly,’ he says, ‘to boast: but I do it, not as playing the fool, but because compelled. But if ye do not believe me, but though ye see there is a necessity will condemn me; not even so will I decline the task.’ Seest thou how he showed that there was great necessity for his speaking. For he that shunned not even this suspicion, consider what violent impulsion to speak he must have undergone, how he travailed and was constrained to speak. But, nevertheless, even so he employs this thingwith moderation. For he did not say, ‘that I may glory.’ And when about to do “a little,” again he uses yet another deprecatory expression, saying,
2Co 11,17. “That which I speak, I speak not after the Lord, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of glorifying.”
Seest thou how glorying is not “after the Lord?” For He saith, “When ye shall have done all, say, We are unprofitable servants.” (Lc 17,10) Howbeit, by itself indeed it is not “after the Lord,” but by the intention it becomes so. And therefore he said, “That which I speak,” not accusing the motive, but the words. Since his aim is so admirable as to dignify the words also. For as a manslayer, though his action be of those most strictly forbidden, has often been approved from the intention; and as circumcision, although it is not ‘after the Lord,’ has become so from the intention, so also glorying. And wherefore then does he not use so great strictness of expression? Because he is hastening on to another point, and he freely gratifies even to superfluity those who are desirous to find a handle against him, so that he may say only the things that are profitable; for when said they were enough to extinguish all that suspicion. “But as in foolishness.” Before he says, “Would that ye could bear with me in a little foolishness,’’ (2Co 11,1). but now “as in foolishness;” for the farther he proceeds, the more he clears his language. Then that thou mayest not think that he plays the fool on all points, he added, “in this confidence of glorying.” In this particular he means: just as in another place he said, “that we be not put to shame, “and added, “in this confidence of glorying.” (Chap. 9,4). And again, in another place, having said, “Or what I purpose do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be the yea yea, and the nay nay?” (2Co 1,17). And having shown that he cannot in all cases even fulfil what he promises, because he does not purpose after the flesh, lest any should make this suspicion stretch to the doctrine also, he adds, “But as God is faithful our word towards you was not yea and nay.” (Lc 18).
[2.] And observe how after having said so many things before, he again sets down yet other grounds of excuse, saying further thus,
2Co 11,18. “Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also.”
What is, “after the flesh?” Of things external, of high birth, of wealth, of wisdom, of being circumcised, of Hebrew ancestry, of popular renown. And behold wisdom. He sets down those things which he shows to be nothings, and then, folly also. For if to glory in what are really good things be folly, much more is it so [to glory in] those that are nothing. And this is what he calls, “not after the Lord.” For it is no advantage to be a Hebrew, or any such like things soever. ‘Think not, therefore, that I set these down as a virtue; no; but because those men boast I also am compelled to institute my comparison on these points.’ Which he does also in another place, saying, “If any man thinketh that he may trust in the flesh, I more:” (Ph 3,4)and there, it is on their account that trusted in this. Just as if one who was come of an illustrious race but had chosen a philosophic life, should see others priding themselves greatly on being well-born; and being desirious of taking down their vanity, should be compelled to speak of his own distinction; not to adorn himself, but to humble them; so, truly, does Paul also do. Then leaving those, he empties all his censure upon the Corinthians, saying,
2Co 11,19. “For ye bear with the foolish gladly.” ‘So that ye are to blame for this, and more than they. For if ye had not borne with them, and so far as it lay in them received damage, I would not have spoken a word; but I do it out of a tender care for your salvation, and in condescension. And behold, how he accompanies even his censure with praise. For having said, “ye bear with the foolish gladly;” he added,
“Being wise yourselves.” For it was a sign of folly to glory, and on such matters. And yet it behoved to rebuke them, and say, ‘Do not bear with the foolish;’ he does this, however, at greater advantage. For in that case he would have seemed to rebuke them because he himself was destitute of these advantages; but now having showed himself to be their superior even in these points, and to esteem them to be nothing, he corrects them with greater effect. At present, however, before entering upon his own praises and the comparison, he alsoreproaches the Corinthians with their greatslavishness, because they were extravagantly submissive to them. And observe how he ridicules them.
2Co 11,20. “For ye bear with a man,” he says, “if he devour you.”
How then saidst thou, “that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we?” (2Co 11,12). Seest thou that he shows that they did take of them, and not simply take, but even in excess: for the term “devour” plainly shows this,
“If a man bring you into bondage.” ‘Ye have given away both your money,’ he says, ‘and your persons, and your freedom. For this is more than taking of you; to be masters not only of your money, but of yourselves also.’ And he makes this plain even before, where he says, “If others partake of this right over you, do not we much more?” (1Co 9,12) Then he addeth what is more severe, saying,
“If a man exalt himself.” ‘For neither is your slavery of a moderate sort, nor are your masters gentle, but burdensome and odious.’
“If a man smite you on the face.” Seest thou again a further stretch of tyranny? He said this, not meaning that they were stricken on the face, but that they spat upon and dishonored them; wherefore he added,
2Co 11,21. “I speak by way of disparagement,” for ye suffer no whir less than men smitten on the face. What now can be stronger than this? What oppression more bitter than this? when having taken from you both your money and your freedom and your honor, they even so are not gentle towards you nor suffer you to abide in the rank of servants, but have used you more insultingly than any bought slave.()
“As though we had been weak.” The expression is obscure. For since it was a disagreeable subject he therefore so expressed it as to steal away the offensiveness by the obscurity. For what he wishes to say is this. ‘For cannot we also do these things? Yes, but we do them not. Wherefore then do ye bear with these men, as though we could not do these things? Surely it were something to impute to you that ye even bear with men who play the fool; but that ye do this, even when they so despise you, plunder you, exalt themselves, smite you, can admit neither of excuse nor any reason at all. For this is a new fashion of deceiving. For men that deceive both give and flatter; but these both deceive, and take and insult you. Whence ye cannot have a shadow of allowance, seeing that ye spit on those that humble themselves for your sakes that ye may be exalted, but admire those who exalt themselves that ye may be humbled. For could not we too do these things? Yes, but we do not wish it, looking to your advantage. For they indeed sacrificing your interests seek their own, but we sacrificing our own interests seek for yours.’ Seest thou how in every instance, whilst speaking plainly to them, he also alarms them by what he says. ‘For,’ he says, ‘if it be on this account that ye honor them, because they smite and insult you, we also can do this, enslave,smite, exalt ourselves against you.’
[3.] Seest thou how he lays upon them the whole blame, both of their senseless pride and of what seems to be folly in himself. ‘For not that I may show myself more conspicuous, but that I may set you free from this bitter slavery, am I compelled to glory some little. But it is meet to examine not simply things that are said, but, in addition, the reason also. For Samuel also put together a high panegyric upon himself, when he anointed Saul, saying, “Whose ass have I taken, or calf, or shoes? or have I oppressed any of you?” (1S 12,3, LXX). And yet no one finds fault with him. And the reason is because he did not say it by way of setting off himself; but because he was going to appoint a king, he wishes under the form of a defence [of himself] to instruct him to be meek and gentle. And observe the wisdom of the prophet, or rather the loving kindness of God. For because he wished to turn them from [their design,] bringing together a number of grievous things he asserted them of their future king, as, for instance, that he would make their wives grind at the mill, (). the men shepherds and muleteers; for he went through all the service appertaining to the kingdom with minuteness. But when he saw that they would not be hindered by any of these things, but were incurably distempered; he thus both spareth them and composeth their king to gentleness. (1S 12,5) Therefore he also takes him to witness. For indeed no one was then bringing suit or charge against him that he needed to defend himself, but he said those things in order to make him better. And therefore also he added, to take down his pride, “If ye will hearken, ye and your king,” (1S 14). such and such good things shall be yours; “but if ye will not hearken, then the reverse of all.” Am also said, “I was no prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but only a herdsman, a gatherer of sycamore fruit. And God took me.” (Am 7,14-15) But he did not say this to exalt himself, but to step their mouths that suspected him as no prophet, and to show that he is no deceiver, nor says of his own mind the things which he says. Again, another also, to show the very same thing, said, “But truly I am full of power by the spirit and might of the Lord.” (Mi 3,8) And David also when he related the matter of the lion and of the bear, (1S 17,34, &c). spake not to glorify himself, but to bring about a great and admirable end. For since it was not believed possible he could conquer the barbarian unarmed, he that was not able even to bear arms; he was compelled to give proofs of his own valor. And when he cut off Saul’s skirt, he said not what he said out of display, but to repel an ill suspicion which they had scattered abroad against him, saying, that he wished to kill him. (1S 24,4, &c). It is meet therefore every where to seek for the reason. For he that looks to the advantage of his hearers even though he should praise himself, not only deserves not to be found fault with, but even to be crowned; and if he is silent, then to be found fault with. For if David had then been silent in the matter of Goliath, they would not have allowed him to go out to the battle, nor to have raised that illustrious trophy. On this account then he speaks being compelled; and that not to his brethren, although he was distrusted by them too as well as by the king; but envy stopped their ears. Therefore leaving them alone, he tells his tale to him who was not as yet envious of him.
[4.] For envy is a fearful, a fearful thing, and persuades men to despise their own salvation. In this way did both Cain destroy himself, and again, before his time, the devil who was the destroyer of his father. So did Saul invite an evil demon against his own soul; and when he had invited, he again envied his physician. For such is the nature of envy; he knew that he was saved, yet he would rather have perished than see him that saved him had in honor. What can be more grievous than this passion? One cannot err in calling it the devil’s offspring. And in it is contained the fruit of vainglory, or rather its root also; for both these evils are wont mutually to produce each other. And thus in truth it was that Saul even thus envied, when they said, “David smote by ten thousands,” (1S 18,7) than which what can be more senseless? For why dost thou envy? tell me! ‘Because such an one praised him?’ Yet surely thou oughtest to rejoice; besides, thou dost not know even whether the praise be true. And dost thou therefore grieve because without being admirable he hath been praised as such? And yet thou oughtest to feel pity. For if he be good, thou oughtest not to envy him when praised, but thyself to praise along with those that speak well of him; but if not such, why art thou galled? why thrust the sword against thyself? ‘Because admired by men?’ But men to-day are and to-morrow are not. ‘But because he enjoys glory?’ Of what sort, tell me? That of which the prophet says that it is “the flower of grass.” (Is 40,6. LXX). Art thou then therefore envious because thou bearest no burden, nor carriest about with thee such loads of grass? But if he seems to thee to be enviable on this account, then why not also woodcutters who carry burdens every day and come to the city [with them]? For that burden is nothing better than this, but even worse. For theirs indeed galls the body only, but this hath oftentimes harmed the soul even and occasioned greater solicitude than pleasure. And should one have gained renown through eloquence, the fear he endures is greater than the good report he bears; yea, what is more, the one is short, the other perpetual. ‘But he is in favor with those in authority?’ In that too again is danger and envy. For as thou feelest towards him, so do many others feel. ‘But he is praised continually?’ This produces bitter slavery. For he will not dare to do fearlessly aught of what according to his judgment he should, lest he should offend those that extol him, for that distinction is a hard bondage to him. So that the more he is known to, so many the more masters he has, and his slavery becomes the greater, as masters of his are found in every quarter. A servant indeed, when he is released from the eye of his master, both takes breath and lives in all freedom; but this man meets with masters at every turn, for he is the slave of all that appear in the forum. And even should some necessary object press, he dares not set foot in the forum, except it be with his servants following, and his horse, and all his other show set in array, lest his masters condemn him. And if he sees some friend of those who are truly so, he has not the boldness to talk with him on an equal footing: for he is afraid of his masters, lest they depose him from his glory. So that the more distinguished he is, so much the more he is enslaved. And if he suffer aught that is disagreeable, the insult is the more annoying, both in that he has more to witness it and it seems to infringe his dignity. It is not only an insult, but a calamity also, for he has also many who exult at it; and in like way if he come to the enjoyment of anygood thing, he has more who envy and detract and do their vigilance to destroy him. Is this then a good? tell me. Is this glory? By no means; but ingloriousness, and slavery, and bonds, and every burdensome thing one can say. But if the glory that cometh of men be so greatly to be coveted in thy account, and if it quite disquiets thee that such and such an one is applauded of the many; when thou beholdest him in the enjoyment of that applause, pass over in thy thought to the world to come and the glory which is there. And just as when hurrying to escape the onset of a wild beast, thou enterest into a cabin and shuttest to the doors; so now also flee unto the life to come, and that unspeakable glory. For so shalt thou both tread this under thy feet, and wilt easily lay hold upon that, and wilt enjoy the true liberty, and the eternal good things; whereunto may we all attain through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
2500 (I speak in foolishness,) I am bold also. (2Co 11,21-33)
See him again drawing back and using depreciation and correctives beforehand, although he has already even said many such things: “Would that ye could bear with me in a little foolishness;” (2Co 11,1). and again, “Let no man think me foolish: if ye do, yet as foolish receive me.” (2Co 11,16). “That which I speak, I speak not after the Lord, but as in foolishness.” (2Co 11,17). “Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also;” (2Co 11,18). and here again, “Whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak in foolishness) I am bold also.” Boldness and folly he calls it to speak aught great of himself, and that though there was a necessity, teaching us even to an excess to avoid any thing of the sort. For if after we have done all, we ought to call ourselves unprofitable; of what forgiveness can he be worthy who, when no reason presses, exalts himself and boasts? Therefore also did the Pharisee meet the fate he did, and even in harbor suffered shipwreck because he struck upon this rock. Therefore also doth Paul, although he sees very ample necessity for it, draw back nevertheless, and keep on observing that such speaking is a mark of foolishness. And then at length he makes the venture, putting forward the plea of necessity, and says,
2Co 11,22. “Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I.”
For it was not all Hebrews that were Israelites, since both the Ammonites and Moabites were Hebrews. Wherefore he added somewhat to clear his nobility of descent, and says,
2Co 11,22-23. “Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ. (I speak as one beside himself,) I more.”
(He is not content with his former deprecation, but uses it again here also. “I speak as one beside himself, I more.” I am their superior and their better. And indeed he possessed clear proofs of his superiority, but nevertheless even so he terms the thing a folly. And yet if they were false Apostles, he heeded not to have introduced his own superiority by way of comparison, but to have destroyed their claim to “be ministers” at all. Well, he did destroy it, saying, “False Apostles, deceitful workers, fashioning themselves into Apostles of Christ,” (2Co 11,13). but now he doth not proceed in that way, for his discourse was about to proceed to strict examination; and no one when an examination is in hand simply asserts; but having first stated the case in the way of comparison, he shows it to be negatived by the facts, a very strong negative. But besides, it is their opinion he gives, not his own assertion, when he says, “Are they ministers of Christ?” And having said, “I more,” he proceeds in his comparison, and shows that not by bare assertions, but by furnishing the proof that facts supply, he maintains the impress of the Apostleship. And leaving all his miracles, he begins with his trials; thus saying,
“In labors more abundantly, in stripes above measure.” This latter is greater than the former; to be both beaten and scourged.
“In prisons more abundantly.” Here too again is there an increase. “In deaths oft.” (1Co 15,31) For, “I die,” saith he, “daily.” But here, even in reality; ‘for I have oft been delivered into mortal dangers.’
2Co 11,24. “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.”
Why, “save one?” There was an ancient law that he who had received more than the forty should be held disgraced amongst them. Lest then the vehemence and impetuosity of the executioner by inflicting more than the number should cause a man to be disgraced, they decreed that they should be inflicted, “save one,” that even if the executioner should exceed, he might not overpass the forty, but remaining within the prescribed number might not bring degradation on him that was scourged.
2Co 11,25. “Thrice was I beaten with rods once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck.”
And what has this to do with the Gospel? Because he went forth on long journeys; and those by sea.
“A night and a day I have been in the deep.” Some say this means out on the open sea, others, swimming upon it, which is also the truer interpretation. There is nothing wonderful, at least, about the former, nor would he have placed it as greater than his shipwrecks.
2Co 11,26. “In perils of rivers.”
For he was compelled also to cross rivers. “In perils of robbers, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness.” ‘Everywhere were contests set before me, in places, in countries, in cities, in deserts.’
“In perils from the Gentiles, in perils amongst false brethren.”
Behold another kind of warfare. For not only did such as were enemies strike at him, but those also who played the hypocrite; and he had need of much firmness, much prudence.
[2.] 2Co 11,27. “In labor and travail.”
Perils succeed to labors, labors to perils, one upon other and unintermitted, and allowed him not to take breath even for a little.
2Co 11,27-28. “In journeyings often, in hunger and thirst and nakedness, besides those things that are without.”
What is left out is more than what is enumerated. Yea rather, one cannot count the number of those even which are enumerated; for he has not set them down specifically, but has mentioned those the number of which was small and easily comprehended, saying, “thrice” and “thrice,” (2Co 11,25). and [again] “once;” but of the others he does not mention the number because he had endured them often. And he recounts not their results as that he had converted so many and so many, but only what he suffered on behalf of the Preaching; at once out of modesty, and as showing that even should nothing have been gained but labor, even so his title to wages has been fulfilled.
“That which presseth upon me daily.” The tumults, the disturbances, the assaults of mobs, onsets of cities. For the Jews waged war against this man most of all because he most of all confounded them, and his changing sides all at once was the greatest refutation of their madness. And there breathed a mighty war against him, from his own people, from strangers, from false brethren; and every where were billows and precipices, in the inhabited world, in the uninhabited, by land, by sea, without, within. And he had not even a full supply of necessary food, nor even of thin clothing, but the champion of the world wrestled in nakedness and fought in hunger; so far was he from enriching himself. Yet he murmured not, but was grateful for these things to the Judge of the combat.
“Anxiety for all the Churches.” This was the chief thing of all, that his soul too was distracted, and his thoughts divided. For even if nothing from without had assailed him; yet the war within was enough, those waves on waves, that sleet of cares, that war of thoughts. For if one that hath charge of but a single house, and hath servants and superintendents and stewards, often cannot take breath for cares, though there be none that molests him: he that hath the care not of a single house, but of cities and peoples and nations and of the whole world; and in respect to such great concerns, and with so many spitefully entreating him, and single-handed, and suffering so many things, and so tenderly concerned as not even a father is for his children—consider what he endured. For that thou mayest not say, What if he was anxious, yet the anxiety was slight, he added further the intensity of the care, saying,
2Co 11,29. “Who is weak, and I am not weak?” He did not say, ‘and I share not in his dejection?’ but, ‘so am I troubled and disturbed, as though I myself were laboring under that very affection, that very infirmity.’
“Who is made to stumble, and I burn not?” See, again, how he places before us the excess of his grief by calling it “burning.” ‘I am on fire,’ ‘I am in a flame,’ he says, which is surely greater than any thing he has said. For those other things, although violent, yet both pass quickly by, and brought with them that pleasure which is unfading; but this was what afflicted and straightened him, and pierced his mind through and through; the suffering such things for each one of the weak, whosoever he might be. For he did not feel pained for the greater sort only and despise the lesser, but counted even the abject amongst his familiar friends. Wherefore also he said, “who is weak?” whosoever he may be; and as though he were himself the Church throughout the world, so was he distressed for every member.
2Co 11,30. “If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern my weakness.”
Seest thou that he no where glorieth of miracles, but of his persecutions and his trials? For this is meant by “weaknesses.” And he shows that his warfare was of a diversified character. For both the Jews warred upon him, and the Gentiles stood against him, and the false brethren fought with him, and brethren caused him sorrow, through their weakness and by taking offense:—on every side he found trouble and disturbance, from friends and from strangers. This is the especial mark of an Apostle, by these things is the Gospel woven.
2Co 11,31-32. “The God and Father of the Lord Jesus knoweth that I lie not. The Governor under Aretas the king guarded the city of the Damascenes, desiring to apprehend me.”
What can be the reason that he here strongly confirms and gives assurance of [his truth], seeing he did not so in respect to any of the former things? Because, perhaps, this was of older date and not so well known; whilst of those other facts, his care for the churches, and all the rest, they were themselves cognisant. See then how great the war [against him] was, since on his account the city was “guarded.” And when I say this of the war, I say it of the zeal of Paul; for except thishad breathed intensely, it had not kindled the governor to so great madness. These things are the part of an apostolic soul, to suffer so great things and yet in nothing to veer about, but to bear nobly whatever befalls; yet not to go out to meet dangers, nor to rush upon them. See for instance here, how he was content to evade the siege, by being “let down through a window in a basket.” For though he were even desirous “to depart hence;” still nevertheless he also passionately affected the salvation of men. And therefore he ofttimes had recourse even to such devices as these, preserving himself for the Preaching; and he refused not to use even human contrivances when the occasion called for them; so sober and watchful was he. For in cases where evils were inevitable, he needed only grace; but where the trial was of a measured character, he devises many things of himself even, here again ascribing the whole to God. And just as a spark of unquenchable fire, if it fell into the sea, would be merged as many waves swept over it, yet would again rise shining to the surface; even so surely the blessed Paul also would now be overwhelmed by perils, and now again, having dived through them, would come up more radiant, overcoming by suffering evil.
[3.] For this is the brilliant victory, this is the Church’s trophy, thus is the Devil overthrown when we suffer injury. For when we suffer, he is taken captive; and himself suffers harm, when he would fain inflict it on us. And this happened in Paul’s case also; and the more he plied him with perils, the more was he defeated. Nor did he raise up against him only one kind of trials, but various and diverse. For some involved labor, others sorrow, others fear, others pain, others care, others shame, others all these at once; but yet he was victorious in all. And like as if a single soldier, having the whole world fighting against him, should move through the mid ranks of his enemies, and suffer no harm: even so did Paul, showing himself singly, among barbarians, among Greeks, on every land, on every sea, abide unconquered. And as a spark, falling upon reeds and hay, changes into its own nature the things so kindled; so also did this man setting upon all make things changeover unto the truth; like a winter torrent, sweeping over all things and overturning every obstacle. And like some champion who wrestles, runs, and boxes too; or soldier engaged by turns in storming, fighting on foot, on shipboard; so did he try by turns every form of fight, and breathed out fire, and was unapproachable by all; with his single body taking possession of the world, with his single tongue putting all to flight. Not with such force did those many trumpets fall upon the stones of Jericho and throw them down, as did the sound of this man’s voice both dash to the earth the devil’s strong-holds and bring over to himself those that were against him. And when he had collected a multitude of captives, having armed the same, he made them again his own army, and by their means conquered. Wonderful was David who laid Goliah low with a single stone; but if thou wilt examine Paul’s achievements, that is a child’s exploit, and great as is the difference between a shepherd and a general, so great the difference thou shall see here. For this man brought down no Goliath by the hurling of a stone, but by speaking only he scattered the whole array of the Devil; as a lion roaring and darting out flame from his tongue, so was he found by all irresistible; and bounded everywhere by turns continually; he ran to these, he came to those, he turned about to these, he bounded away to others, swifter in his attack than the wind; governing the whole world, as though a single house or a single ship; rescuing the sinking, steadying the dizzied, cheering the sailors, sitting at the tiller, keeping an eye to the prow, tightening the yards, handling an oar, pulling at the mast, watching the sky; being all things in himself, both sailor, and pilot, and pilot’s mate, and sail, and ship; and suffering all things in order to relieve the evils of others. For consider. He endured shipwreck that he might stay the shipwreck of the world; “a day and a night he passed in the deep,” that he might draw it up from the deep of error; he was “in weariness” that he might refresh the weary; he endured smiting that he might heal those that had been smitten of the devil; he passed his time in prisons that he might lead forth to the light those that were sitting in prison and in darkness; he was “in deaths oft” that he might deliver from grievous deaths; “five times he received forty stripes save one” that he might free those that inflicted them from the scourge of the devil; he was “beaten with rods” that he might bring them under “the rod and the staff” of Christ; (Ps 23,4) he “was stoned,” that he might deliver them from the senseless stones; he “was in the wilderness, that he might take them out of the wilderness; “in journeying,” to staytheir wanderings and open the way that leadeth to heaven; he “was in perils in the cities,” that he might show the city which is above; “in hunger and thirst,” to deliver from a more grievous hunger; “in nakedness,” to clothe their unseemliness with the robe of Christ; set upon by the mob, to extricate them from the besetment of fiends; he burned, that he might quench the burning darts of the devil: “through a window was let down from the wall,” to send up from below those that lay prostrate upon the ground. Shall we then talk any more, seeing we do not so much as know what Paul suffered? shall we make mention an y more of goods, or even of wife, or city, or freedom, when we have seen him ten thousand times despising even life itself? The martyr dies once for all: but that blessed saint in his one body and one soul endured so many perils as were enough to disturb even a soul of adamant; and what things all the saints together have suffered in so many bodies, those all he himself endured in one: he entered into the world as if a race-course, and stripped himself of all, and so made a noble stand. For he knew the fiends that were wrestling with him. Wherefore also he shone forth brightly at once from the beginning, from the very starting-post, and even to the end he continued the same; yea, rather he even increased the intensity of his pursuit as he drew nearer to the prize. And what surely is wonderful is that though suffering and doing such great things, he knew how to maintain an exceeding modesty. For when he was driven upon the necessity of relating his own good deeds, he ran quickly over them all; although he might have filled books without number, had he wished to unfold in detail every thing he mentioned; if he had specified the Churches he was in care for, if his prisons and his achievments in them, if of the other things one by one, the besetments, the assaults. But he would not. Knowing then these things, let us also learn to be modest and not to glory at any time in wealth or other worldly things, but in the reproaches we suffer for Christ’s sake, and in these, only when need compels; for if there be nothing urging it, let us not mention these even, (lest we be puffed up,) but our sins only. For so shall we both easily be released fromthem and shall have God propitious to us, and shall attain the life to come; whereunto may we all attain through the grace and love towardsmen of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen).
Chrysostom on 2Cor 2400