Chrysostom 1 Tm 500
500 according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest [mayest] war a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away have made shipwreck concerning the faith.”
501 The office of a Teacher and that of a Priest is of great dignity, and to bring forward one that is worthy requires a divine election. So it was of old, and so it is now, when we make a choice without human passion, not looking to any temporal consideration, swayed neither by friendship, nor enmity. For though we be not partakers of so great a measure of the Spirit as they, yet a good purpose is sufficient to draw unto us the election of God. For the Apostles, when they elected Matthias, had not yet received the Holy Spirit, but having committed the matter to prayer, they chose him into the number of the Apostles. For they looked not to human friendships. And so now too it ought to be with us. But we have advanced to the extreme of negligence; and even what is clearly evident, we let pass. Now when we overlook what is manifest, how will God reveal to us what is unseen? as it is said, “If ye have not been faithful in that which is little, who will commit to you that which is great and true?” (Lc 16,11) But then, when nothing human was done, the appointment of Priests too was by prophecy. What is “by prophecy”? By the Holy Spirit. For prophecy is not only the telling of things future, but also of the present. It was by prophecy that Saul was discovered “hidden among the stuff.” (1S 10,22) For God reveals things to the righteous. So it was said by prophecy, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul.” (Ac 13,2) In this way Timothy also was chosen, concerning whom he speaks of prophecies in the plural; that, perhaps, upon which he “took and circumcised him,” and when he ordained him, as he himself says in his Epistle to him, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee.” (1Tm 4,14) Therefore to elevate him, and prepare him to be sober and watchful, he reminds him by whom he was chosen and ordained, as if he had said, “God hath chosen thee. He gave thee thy commission, thou wast not made by human vote. Do not therefore abuse or bring into disgrace the appointment of God.” When again he speaks of a charge, which implies something burdensome, he adds, “This charge I commit to thee, son Timothy.” He charges him as his son, his own son, not so much with arbitrary or despotic authority as like a father, he says, “my son Timothy.” The “committing,” however, implies that it is to be diligently kept, and that it is not our own. For we did not obtain it for ourselves, but God conferred it upon us; and not it only, but also “faith and a good conscience.” What He hath given us then, let us keep. For if He had not come, the faith had not been to be found, nor that pure life which we learn by education. As if he had said, “It is not I that charge thee, but He who chose thee,” and this is meant by “the prophecies that went before on thee.” Listen to them, obey them.
And say; what chargest thou? “That by them thou shouldest war a good warfare.” They chose thee, that then for which they chose thee do thou, “war a good warfare.” He named “a good warfare,” since there is a bad warfare, of which he says, “As ye have yielded your members instruments to uncleanness and to iniquity.” (Rm 6,19) Those men serve under a tyrant, but thou servest under a King. And why calls he it a warfare? To show how mighty a contest is to be maintained by all, but especially by a Teacher; that we require strong arms, and sobriety, and awakenedness, and continual vigilance: that we must prepare ourselves for blood and conflicts, must be in battle array, and have nothing relaxed. “That thou shouldest war in them,” he says. For as in an army all do not serve in the same capacity, but in their different stations; so also in the Church one has the office of a Teacher, another that of a disciple, another that of a private man. But thou art in this. And, because this is not sufficient he adds,
1Tm 1,19. “Holding faith, and a good conscience.”
For he that would be a Teacher must first teach himself. For as he who has not first been a good soldier, will never be a general, so it is with the Teacher; wherefore he says elsewhere, “Lest when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away.” (1Co 9,27) “Holding faith,” he says, “and a good conscience,” that so thou mayest preside over others. When we hear this, let us not disdain the exhortations of our superiors, though we be Teachers. For if Timothy, to whom all of us together are not worthy to be compared, receives commands and is instructed, and that being himself in the Teacher’s office, much more should we. “Which some having put away, have made shipwreck concerning the faith.” And this follows naturally. For when the life is corrupt, it engenders a doctrine congenial to it, and from this circumstance many are seen to fall into a gulf of evil, and to turn aside into Heathenism. For that they may not be tormented with the fear of futurity, they endeavor to persuade their souls, that what we preach is false. And some turn aside from the faith, who seek out everything by reasoning; for reasoning produces shipwreck, while faith is as a safe ship.
502 They then who turn aside from the faith must suffer shipwreck; and this he shows by an example.
1Tm 1,20. “Of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander.”
And from them he would instruct us. You see how even from those times there have been seducing Teachers, curious enquirers, and men holding off from the faith, and searching out by their own reasonings. As the shipwrecked man is naked and destitute of all things, so is he that fails away from the faith without resource, he knows not where to stand or where to stay himself, nor has he the advantage of a good life so as to gain anything from that quarter. For when the head is disordered, what avails the rest of the body? and if faith without a good life is unavailing, much more is the converse true. If God despises His own for our sakes, much more ought we to despise our own for His sake. For so it is, where any one fails away from the faith, he has no steadiness, he swims this way and that, till at last he is lost in the deep.
“Whom I delivered to Satan, that they might be taught not to blaspheme!” Thus it is blasphemy to search into divine things by our own reasonings. For what have human reasonings in common with them? But how does Satan instruct them not to blaspheme? can he instruct others, who has not yet taught himself, but is a blasphemer still? It is not that “he should instruct,” but that they should be instructed. It is not he that does it, though such is the result. As elsewhere he says in the case of the fornicator: “To deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh.” Not that he may save the body, but “that the spirit may be saved.” (1Co 5,5) Therefore it is spoken impersonally. How then is this effected? As executioners, though themselves laden with numberless crimes, are made the correctors of others; so it is here with the evil spirit. But why didst thou not punish them thyself, as thou didst that Bar-Jesus, and as Peter did Ananias, instead of delivering them to Satan? It was not that they might be punished, but that they might be instructed. For that he had the power appears from other passages, “What will ye? Shall I come unto you with a rod?” (1Co 4,21) And again, “Lest I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.” (2Co 13,10) Why did he then call upon Satan to punish them? That the disgrace might be greater, as the severity and the punishment was more striking. Or rather, they themselves chastised those who did not yet believe, but those who turned aside, they delivered to Satan. Why then did Peter punish Ananias? Because whilst he was tempting the Holy Ghost, he was still an unbeliever. That the unbelieving therefore might learn that they could not escape, they themselves inflicted punishment upon them; but those who had learnt this, yet afterwards turned aside, they delivered to Satan; showing that they were sustained not by their own power, but by their care for them; and as many as were lifted up into arrogance were delivered to him. For as kings with their own hands slay their enemies, but deliver their subjects to executioners for punishment, so it is in this case. And these acts were done to show the authority committed to the Apostles. Nor was it a slight power, to be able thus to subject the devil to their commands. For this shows that he served and obeyed them even against his will, and this was no little proof of the power of grace. And listen how he delivered them: “When ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan.” (1Co 5,4) He was then immediately expelled from the common assembly, he was separated from the fold, he became deserted and destitute; he was delivered to the wolf. For as the cloud designated the camp of the Hebrews, so the Spirit distinguished the Church. If any one therefore was without, he was consumed, and it was by the judgment of the Apostles that he was cast out of the pale. So also the Lord delivered Judas to Satan. For immediately “after the sop Satan entered into him.” (Jn 13,27) Or this may be said; that those whom they wished to amend, they did not themselves punish, but reserved their punishments for those who were incorrigible. Or otherwise, that they were the more dreaded for delivering them up to others. Jb also was delivered to Satan, but not for his sins, but for fuller proof of his worth.
503 Many such instances still occur. For since the Priests cannot know who are sinners, and unworthy partakers of the holy Mysteries, God often in this way delivers them to Satan. For when diseases, and attacks, and sorrows, and calamities, and the like occur, it is on this account that they are inflicted. This is shown by Paul. “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” (1Co 11,30) But how? saith one, when we approach but once a year! But this is indeed the evil, that you determine the worthiness of your approach, not by the purity of your minds, but by the interval of time. You think it a proper caution not to communicate often; not considering that you are seared by partaking unworthily, though only once, but to receive worthily, though often, is salutary. It is not presumptuous to receive often, but to receive unworthily, though but once in a whole life. But we are so miserably foolish, that, though we commit numberless offenses in the course of a year, we are not anxious to be absolved from them, but are satisfied, that we do not often make bold impudently to insult the Body of Christ, not remembering that those who crucified Christ, crucified Him but once. Is the offense then the less, because committed but once? Judas betrayed his Master but once. What then, did that exempt him from punishment? Why indeed is time to be considered in this matter? let our time of coming be when our conscience is pure. The Mystery at Easter is not of more efficacy than that which is now celebrated. It is one and the same. There is the same grace of the Spirit, it is always a Passover. You who are initiated know this. On the Preparation, on the Sabbath, on the Lord’s day, and on the day of Martyrs, it is the same Sacrifice that is performed. “For as often,” he saith, “as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death.” (1Co 11,26) No time is limited for the performance of this Sacrifice, why then is it then called the Paschal feast? Because Christ suffered for us then. Let not the time, therefore, make any difference in your approach. There is at all times the same power, the same dignity, the same grace, one and the same body; nor is one celebration of it more or less holy than another. And this you know, who see upon these occasions nothing new, save these worldly veils, and a more splendid attendance. The only thing that these days have more is that from them commenced the day of our salvation when Christ was sacrificed. But with respect to these mysteries, those days have no further preëminence).
When you approach to take bodily food, you wash your hands and your mouth, but when you draw nigh to this spiritual food, you do not cleanse your soul, but approach full of uncleanness. But you say, Are not the forty days’ fastings sufficient to cleanse the huge heap of our sins? But of what use is it, tell me? If wishing to store up some precious unguent, you should make clean a place to receive it, and a little after having laid it up, should throw dung upon it, would not the fine odor vanish? This takes place with us too. We make ourselves to the best of our power worthy to approach; then we defile ourselves again! What then is the good of it? This we say even of those who are able in those forty days to wash themselves clean.
Let us then, I beseech you, not neglect our salvation, that our labor may not be in vain. For he who turns from his sins, and goes and commits the same again, is “like a dog that returneth to his vomit.” (Pr 26,11) But if we act as we ought, and take heed to our ways, we shall be thought worthy of those high rewards, which that we may all obtain, God grant through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, &c.
600 and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” [R. V.: who willeth that all men should be saved, &c.]
601 The Priest is the common father, as it were, of all the world; it is proper therefore that he should care for all, even as God, Whom he serves. For this reason he says, “I exhort therefore that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.” From this, two advantages result. First, hatred towards those who are without is done away; for no one can feel hatred towards those for whom he prays: and they again are made better by the prayers that are offered for them, and by losing their ferocious disposition towards us. For nothing is so apt to draw men under teaching, as to love, and be loved. Think what it was for those who persecuted, scourged, banished, and slaughtered the Christians, to hear that those whom they treated so barbarously offered fervent prayers to God for them. Observe how he wishes a Christian to be superior to all ill-treatment. As a father who was struck on the face by a little child which he was carrying, would not lose anything of his affection for it; so we ought not to abate in our good will towards those who are without, even when we are stricken by them. What is “first of all”? It means in the daily Service; and the initiated know how this is done every day both in the evening and the morning, how we offer prayers for the whole world, for kings and all that are in authority. But some one perhaps will say, he meant not for all men, but for all the faithful. How then does he speak of kings? for kings were not then worshipers of God, for there was a long succession of ungodly princes. And that he might not seem to flatter them, he says first, “for all men,” then “for kings”; for if he had only mentioned kings, that might have been suspected. And then since the soul of some Christians might be slow at hearing this, and reject the exhortation, if at the celebration of the holy Mysteries it was necessary to offer prayers for a heathen king, he shows them the advantage of it, thus at least to reconcile them to the advice, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life”; as much as to say, Their safety is a security to us; as also in his Epistle to the Romans, he exhorts them to obey their rulers, “not for wrath but for conscience’ sake.” (Rm 13,5) For God has appointed government for the public good. When therefore they make war for this end, and stand on guard for our security, were it not unreasonable that we should not offer prayers for their safety in wars and dangers? It is not therefore flattery, but agreeable to the rules of justice. For if they were not preserved, and prospered in their wars, our affairs must necessarily be involved in confusion and trouble; and if they were cut off, we must either serve ourselves, or be scattered up and down as fugitives. For they are a sort of bulwarks thrown up before us, within which those who are inclosed are in peace and safety.
(He says, “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks.” For we must give thanks to God for the good that befalls others, as that He maketh the sun to shine upon the evil and the good, and sendeth His rain both upon the just and the unjust. Observe how he would unite and bind us together, not only by prayer but by thanksgiving. For he who is urged to thank God for his neighbor’s good, is also bound to love him, and be kindly disposed towards him. And if we must give thanks for our neighbor’s good, much more for what happens to ourselves, and for what is unknown, and even for things against our will, and such as appear grievous to us, since God dispenses all things for our good.
602 Moral. Let every prayer of ours, then, be accompanied with thanksgiving. And if we are commanded to pray for our neighbors, not only for the faithful, but for the unbelieving also, consider how wrong it is to pray against your brethren. What? Has He commanded you to pray for your enemies, and do you pray against your brother? But your prayer is not against him, but against yourself. For you provoke God by uttering those impious words, “Show him the same!” “So do to him!” “Smite him!” “Recompense him!” Far be such words from the disciple of Christ, who should be meek and mild. From the mouth that has been vouch-safed such holy Mysteries, let nothing bitter proceed. Let not the tongue that has touched the Lord’s Body utter anything offensive, let it be kept pure, let not curses be borne upon it. For if “revilers shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (1Co 6,10), much less those who curse. For he that curses must be injurious; and injuriousness and prayer are at variance with each other, cursing and praying are far apart, accusation and prayer are wide asunder. Do you propitiate God with prayer, and then utter imprecations? If you forgive not, you will not be forgiven. (Mt 6,15) But instead of forgiving, you beseech God not to forgive; what excessive wickedness in this! If the unforgiving is not forgiven, he that prays his Lord not to forgive, how shall he be forgiven? The harm is to yourself, not him. For though your prayers were on the point of being heard for yourself, they would never be accepted in such a case, as offered with a polluted mouth. For surely the mouth that curses is polluted with all that is offensive and unclean.
When you ought to tremble for your own sins, to wrestle earnestly for the pardon of them, you come to move God against your brother—do you not fear, nor think of what concerns yourself? do you not see what you are doing? Imitate even the conduct of children at school. If they see their own class within giving account of their lessons, and all beaten for their idleness, and one by one severely examined and chastised with blows, they are frightened to death, and if one of their companions strikes them, and that severely, they cannot have while to be angry, nor complain to their master; so is their soul possessed with fear. They only look to one thing, that they may go in and come out without stripes, and their thoughts are on that time. And when they come out, whether beaten or not, the blows they have received from their play-fellows never enter their minds for the delight. And you, when you stand anxiously concerned for your own sins, how can you but shudder at making mention of others’ faults? How can you implore pardon of God? For your own case is made worse on the terms of your imprecations against another, and you forbid Him to make allowance for your own faults. Might He not say, “If thou wouldest have Me so severe in exacting offenses against thee, how canst thou expect Me to pardon thy offenses against Me?” Let us learn at last to be Christians! If we know not how to pray, which is a very simple and easy thing, what else shall we know? Let us learn to pray like Christians. Those are the prayers of Gentiles, the supplications of Jews. The Christian’s are the reverse, for the forgiveness and forgetting of offenses against us. “Being reviled,” it is said, “we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat.” (1Co 4,12-13) Hear Stephen saying, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” (Ac 6,60) Instead of praying against them, he prayed for them. You, instead of praying for them, utter imprecations against them. You then are wicked in the degree that he was excellent. Whom do we admire, tell me; those for whom he prayed, or him who prayed for them? Him certainly! and if we, much more then God. Would you have your enemy stricken? pray for him: yet not with such intention, not to strike him. That will indeed be the effect, but let it not be your object. That blessed martyr suffered all unjustly, yet he prayed for them: we suffer many things justly from our enemies. And if he who suffered unjustly durst not forbear to pray for his enemies, what punishment do we deserve, who suffer justly, and yet do not pray for them, nay, pray against them? Thou thinkest indeed that thou art inflicting a blow upon another, but in truth thou art thrusting the sword against thyself. Thou sufferest not the Judge to be lenient to thy own offenses, by this way of urging Him to anger against others. For, “with what measure ye mete,” He saith, “it shall be measured to you again; and with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.” (Mt 7,2) Let us therefore be disposed to pardon, that God may be so disposed towards us.
603 These things I wish you not only to hear, but to observe. For now the memory retains only the words, and perhaps hardly those. And after we are separated, if any one who was not present were to ask you, what had been our discourse, some could not tell: others would know merely the subject we had spoken of, and answer that there had been a Homily upon the subject of forgiving injuries, and praying for our enemies, but would omit all that had been said, as they could not remember: others remember a little, but still somewhat. If therefore you gain nothing by what you hear, I entreat you not even to attend at the discourse. For of what use is it? The condemnation is greater, the punishment more severe, if after so many exhortations, we continue in the same course. For this reason God has given us a definite form of prayer, that we might ask for nothing human, nothing worldly. And you that are faithful know what you ought to pray for, how the whole Prayer is common. But one says, “It is not commanded there to pray for unbelievers.” This you would not say, if you understood the force, the depth, the hidden treasure of that Prayer. Only unfold it, and you find this also comprised within it. For it is implied, when one says in prayer, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.” Now, because in heaven there is no unbeliever nor offender; if therefore it was for the faithful alone, there would be no reason in that expression. If the faithful were to do the will of God and the unbelievers not to do it, His will were not done in earth as it is in heaven. But it means; As there is none wicked in heaven, so let there be none on earth; but draw all men to the fear of Thee, make all men angels, even those who hate us, and are our enemies. Dost thou not see how God is daily blasphemed and mocked by believers and unbelievers, both in word and in deed? What then? Has He for this extinguished the sun? or stayed the course of the moon? Has He crushed the heavens and uprooted the earth? Has He dried up the sea? Has He shut up the fountains of waters? or confounded the air? Nay, on the contrary, He makes His sun to rise, His rain to descend, gives the fruits of the earth in their seasons, and thus supplies yearly nourishment to the blasphemers, to the insensible, to the polluted, to persecutors; not for one day or two, but for their whole life. Imitate Him then, emulate Him as far as human powers admit. Canst thou not make the sun arise? Abstain from evil speaking. Canst thou not send rain? Forbear reviling. Canst thou not give food? Refrain from insolence. Such gifts from thee are sufficient. The goodness of God to His enemies is shown by His works. Do thou so at least by words: pray for thine enemies, so wilt thou be like thy Father who is in heaven. How many times have we discoursed upon this subject! nor shall we cease to discourse; only let something come of it. It is not that we are drowsy, and weary of speaking; only do not you that hear be annoyed. Now a person seems to be annoyed, when he will not do what one says. For he who practices, loves often to hear the same thing, and is not annoyed by it; for it is his own commendation. But annoyance arises simply from not doing what is prescribed. Hence the speaker is troublesome. If a man practices almsgiving, and hears another speak of alms-giving, he is not wearied, but pleased, for he hears his own good actions recommended and proclaimed. So that when we are displeased at hearing a discourse upon the forgiveness of injuries, it is because we have no interest in forbearance, it is not practiced by us; for if we had the reality, we should not be pained at its being named. If therefore you would not have us wearisome or annoying, practice as we preach, exhibit in your actions the subject of our discourses. For we shall never cease discoursing upon these things till your conduct is agreeable to them. And this we do more especially from our concern and affection for you. For the trumpeter must sound his trumpet, though no one should go out to war; he must fulfill his part. We do it, not as wishing to, bring heavier condemnation upon you, but to avert it from ourselves. And besides this, love for you constrains us, for it would tear and torture our hearts if that should befall you, which God avert! It is not any costly process that we recommend to you: it does not require the spoiling of goods, nor a long and toilsome journey. It is only to will. It is a word, it is a purpose of the mind. Let us only set a guard on our tongues, a door and a bar upon our lips, that we may utter nothing offensive to God. It is for our own advantage, not for theirs for whom we pray, to act thus. For let us ever consider, that he who blesses his enemy, blesses himself, he who curses his enemy, curses himself, and he who prays for his enemy, prays not for him, but for himself. If we thus act, we shall be able to reduce to practice this excellent virtue, and so to obtain the promised blessings, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ.
700 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who willeth that all men should be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
701 If in order to put an end to public wars, and tumults, and battles, the Priest is exhorted to offer prayers for kings and governors, much more ought private individuals to do it. For there are three very grievous kinds of war. The one is public, when our soldiers are attacked by foreign armies: The second is, when even in time of peace, we are at war with one another: The third is, when the individual is at war with himself, which is the worst of all. For foreign war will not be able to hurt us greatly. What, I pray, though it slaughters and cuts us off? It injures not the soul. Neither will the second have power to harm us against our will; for though others be at war with us, we may be peaceable ourselves. For so says the Prophet, “For my love they are my adversaries, but I give myself unto prayer” (Ps 109,4); and again, “I was at peace with them that hate peace”; and, “I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” (Ps 120,6-7), Sept) But from the third, we cannot escape without danger. For when the body is at variance with the soul, and raises up evil desires, and arms against it sensual pleasures, or the bad passions of anger, and envy; we cannot attain the promised blessings, till this war is brought to an end; whoever does not still this tumult, must fall pierced by wounds that will bring that death that is in hell. We have daily need therefore of care and great anxiety, that this war may not be stirred up within us, or that, if stirred up, it may not last, but be quelled and laid asleep. For what advantage is it, that the world enjoys profound peace, if thou art at war with thyself? This then is the peace we should keep. If we have it, nothing from without will be able to harm us. And to this end the public peace contributes no little: whence it is said, “That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.” But if any one is disturbed when there is quiet, he is a miserable creature. Seest thou that He speaks of this peace which I call the third kind? Therefore when he has said, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life,” he does not stop there, but adds “in all godliness and honesty.” But we cannot live in godliness and honesty, unless that peace be established. For when curious reasonings disturb our faith, what peace is there? or when spirits of uncleanness, what peace is there?
For that we may not suppose that he speaks of that sort of life which all men live, when he says, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life,” he adds, “in all godliness and honesty,” since a quiet and peaceable life may be led by heathens, and profligates, and voluptuous and wanton persons may be found living such a life. That this cannot be meant, is plain, from what he adds, “in all godliness and honesty.” Such a life is exposed to snares, and conflicts, and the soul is daily wounded by the tumults of its own thoughts. But what sort of life he really means is plain from the sequel, and plain too, in that he speaks not simply of godliness, but adds, of “all godliness.” For in saying this he seems to insist on a godliness not only of doctrine, but such as is supported by life, for in both surely must godliness be required. For of what advantage is it to be godly as to doctrine, but ungodly in life? and that it is very possible to be ungodly in life, hear this same blessed Apostle saying elsewhere, “They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him.” (Tt 1,16) And again, “He hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1Tm 5,8) And, “If any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater” (1Co 5,11), such a man honors not God. And, “He that hateth his brother, knoweth not God.” (1Jn 2,9) Such are the various ways of ungodliness. Therefore he says, “All godliness and good order.” For not only is the fornicator not honest, but the covetous man may be called disorderly and intemperate. For avarice is a lust no less than the bodily appetites, which he who does not chastise, is called dissolute. For men are called dissolute from not restraining their desires, so that the passionate, the envious, the covetous, the deceitful, and every one that lives in sin, may be called dissolute, disorderly, and licentious.
1Tm 2,3. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.”
What is said to be “acceptable”? The praying for all men. This God accepts, this He wills.
1Tm 2,4. “Who willeth that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.”
702 Imitate God! if He willeth that all men should be saved, there is reason why one should pray for all, if He hath willed that all should be saved, be thou willing also; and if thou wishest it, pray for it, for wishes lead to prayers. Observe how from every quarter He urges this upon the soul, to pray for the Heathen, showing how great advantage springs from it; “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life”; and what is much more than this, that it is pleasing to God, and thus men become like Him, in that they will the same that He does. This is enough to shame a very brute. Fear not therefore to pray for the Gentiles, for God Himself wills it; but fear only to pray against any, for that He wills not. And if you pray for the Heathens, you ought of course to pray for Heretics also, for we are to pray for all men, and not to persecute. And this is good also for another reason, as we are partakers of the same nature, and God commands and accepts benevolence and affection towards one another.
But if the Lord Himself wills to give, you say, what need of my prayer? It is of great benefit both to them and to thyself. It draws them to love, and it inclines thee to humanity. It has the power of attracting others to the faith; (for many men have fallen away from God, from contentiousness towards one another;) and this is what he now calls the salvation of God, “who will have all men to be saved”; without this all other is nothing great, a mere nominal salvation, and only in words. “And to come to the knowledge of the truth.” The truth: what truth? Faith in Him. And indeed he had previously said, “Charge some that they teach no other doctrine.” But that no one may consider such as enemies, and on that account raise troubles against them; he says that “He willeth that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth”; and having said this, he adds,
1Tm 2,5. “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men.”
(He had before said, “to come to the knowledge of the truth,” implying that the world is not in the truth. Now he says, “that there is one God,” that is, not as some say, many, and that He has sent His Son as Mediator, thus giving proof that He will have all men to be saved. But is not the Son God? Most truly He is; why then does he say, “One God”? In contradistinction to the idols; not to the Son. For he is discoursing about truth and error. Now a mediator ought to have communion with both parties, between whom he is to mediate. For this is the property of a mediator, to be in close communion with each of those whose mediator he is. For he would be no longer a mediator, if he were connected with one but separated from the other. If therefore He partakes not of the nature of the Father, He is not a Mediator, but is separated. For as He is partaker of the nature of men, because He came to men, so is He partaker of the nature of God, because He came from God. Because He was to mediate between two natures, He must approximate to the two natures; for as the place situated between two others is joined to each place, so must that between natures be joined to either nature. As therefore He became Man, so was He also God. A man could not have become a mediator, because he must also plead with God. God could not have been mediator, since those could not receive Him, toward whom He should have mediated. And as elsewhere he says, “There is one God the Father, …and one Lord Jesus Christ” (1Co 8,6); so also here “One” God, and “One” Mediator; he does not say two; for he would not have that number wrested to Polytheism, of which he was speaking. So he wrote “One” and “One.” You see how accurate are the expressions of Scripture! For though one and one are two, we are not to say this, though reason suggests it. And here thou sayest not one and one are two, and yet thou sayest what reason does not suggest. “If He begat He also suffered.” “For there is one God,” he says, “and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”
1Tm 2,6. “Who gave Himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time.”
Was Christ then a ransom for the Heathen? Undoubtedly Christ died even for Heathen; and you cannot bear to pray for them. Why then, you ask, did they not believe? Because they would not: but His part was done. His suffering was a “Testimony,” he says; for He came, it is meant, “to bear witness to the truth” of the Father, and was slain. Thus not only the Father bore witness to Him, but He to the Father. “For I came,” He saith, “in my Father’s name.” (Jn 5,43) And again, “No man hath seen God at any time.” (Jn 1,18) And again, “That they might know Thee, the only true God.” (Jn 17,3) And, “God is a Spirit,” (Jn 4,24) And He bore witness even to the death. But this, “in due time,” means, In the fittest time.
703 1Tm 2,7. “Whereunto I am ordained a preacher and an Apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not:) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”
Since therefore Christ suffered for the Gentiles, and I was separated to be a “teacher of the Gentiles,” why dost thou refuse to pray for them? He fully shows his own credibility, by saying that he was “ordained” (Ac 13,2), that is, separated, for this purpose, the other Apostles being backward in teaching the Gentiles; he adds, “in faith and verity,” to show that in that faith there was no deceit. Here is observable the extension of grace. For the Jews had no prayers for the Gentiles; but now grace is extended to them: and when he says that he was separated to be a Teacher of the Gentiles, he intimates that grace was now shed over every part of the world.
“He gave himself a ransom,” he saith, how then was He delivered up by the Father? Because it was of His goodness. And what means “ransom”? God was about to punish them, but He forbore to do it. They were about to perish, but in their stead He gave His own Son, and sent us as heralds to proclaim the Cross. These things are sufficient to attract all, and to demonstrate the love of Christ). Moral. So truly, so inexpressibly great are the benefits which God has bestowed upon us. He sacrificed Himself for His enemies, who hated and rejected Him. What no one would do for friends, for brethren, for children, that the Lord hath done for His servants; a Lord not Himself such an one as His servants, but God for men; for men not deserving. For had they been deserving, had they done His pleasure, it would have been less wonderful; but that He died for such ungrateful, such obstinate creatures, this it is which strikes every mind with amazement. For what men would not do for their fellow-men, that has God done for us! Yet after such a display of love towards us, we hold back, and are not in earnest in our love of Christ. He has sacrificed Himself for us; for Him we make no sacrifice. We neglect Him when He wants necessary food; sick and naked we visit Him not. What do we not deserve, what wrath, what punishment, what hell? Were there no other inducement, it should be sufficient to prevail with every one that He condescended to make human sufferings His own, to say I hunger, I thirst.
O the tyranny of wealth! or rather the wickedness of those who are its willing slaves! for it has no great power of itself, but through our weakness and servility: it is we that are mean and groveling, that are carnal and without understanding. For what power has money? It is mute and insensible. If the devil, that wicked spirit, that crafty confounder of all things, has no power, what power has money? When you look upon silver, fancy it is tin! Cannot you? Then hold it for what it really is; for earth it is. But if you cannot reason thus, consider that we too shall perish, that many of those who have possessed it have gained scarce any advantage by it, that thousands who gloried in it are now dust and ashes. That they are suffering extreme punishment, and far more beggarly than they that fed from glass and earthenware; that those who once reclined on ivory couches, are poorer now than those who are lying on the dunghill. But it delights the eyes! How many other things delight them more! The flowers, the pure sky, the firmament, the bright sun, are far more grateful to the eye. For it hath much of rust, whence some have asserted that it was black, which appears from the images that turn black. But there is no blackness in the sun, the heaven, the stars. Much greater delight is there in these brilliants than in its color. It is not therefore its brilliancy that makes it please, but covetousness and iniquity; these, and not money, give the pleasure. Cast these from thy soul, and what appeared so precious will seem to thee more worthless than clay. Those who are in a fever long for mud when they see it, as if it were spring water; but those in sound health seldom wish even for water. Cast off this morbid longing, and thou wilt see things as they are. And to prove that I do not speak falsely, know, that I can point out many who have done so. Quench this flame, and thou wilt see that these things are of less worth than flowers.
(Is gold good? Yes, it is good for almsgiving, for the relief of the poor; it is good, not for unprofitable use, to be hoarded up or buried in the earth, to be worn on the hands or the feet or the head. It was discovered for this end, that with it we should loose the captives, not form it into a chain for the image of God. Use thy gold for this, to loose him that is bound, not to chain her that is free. Tell me, why dost thou value above all things what is of so little worth? Is it the less a chain, because it is of gold? does the material make any difference? whether it be gold or iron, it is still a chain; nay the gold is the heavier. What then makes it light, but vainglory, and the pleasure of being seen to wear a chain, of which you ought rather to be ashamed? To make this evident, fasten it, and place the wearer in a wilderness or where there is no one to see, and the chain will at oncebe felt heavy, and thought burdensome.
Beloved, let us fear, lest we be doomed to hear those terrible words, “Bind him hand and foot.” (Mt 22,13) And why, O woman, dost thou now do so to thyself? No prisoner has both his hands and his feet bound. Why bindest thou thy head too? For thou art not content with hands and feet, but bindest thy head and thy neck with many chains. I pass over the care that comes of these things, the fear, the alarm, the strife occasioned by them with thy husband if ever he wants them, the death it is to people when they lose any of them. Canst thou call this a pleasure? To gratify the eyes of others, dost thou subject thyself to chains, and cares, and perils, and uneasiness, and daily quarrels? This is deserving of every censure and condemnation. Nay, I entreat you, let us not do thus, let us burst every “bond of iniquity” (Ac 8,23); let us break our bread to the hungry, and let us do all other things, which may ensure to us confidence before God, that we may obtain the blessings promised through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, &c.
Chrysostom 1 Tm 500