Chrysostom 2Tm 900
900 2Tm 3,16-17. — “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” [R. V.: Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable, &c.]
Having offered much exhortation and consolation from other sources, he adds that which is more perfect, derived from the Scriptures; and he is reasonably full in offering consolation, because he has a great and sad thing to say. For if Elisha, ho was with his master to his last breath, when he saw him departing as it were in death, rent his garments for grief, what think you must this disciple suffer, so loving and so beloved, upon hearing that his master was about to die, and that he could not enjoy his company when he was near his death, which is above all things apt to be distressing? For we are less grateful for the past time, when we have been deprived of the more recent intercourse of those who are departed. For this reason when he had previously offered much consolation, he then discourses concerning his own death: and this in no ordinary way, but in words adapted to comfort him and fill him with joy; so as to have it considered as a sacrifice rather than a death; a migration, as in fact it was, and a removal to a better state. “For I am now ready to be offered up” (2Tm 4,6), he says. For this reason he writes: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” All what Scripture? all that sacred writing, he means, of which I was speaking. This is said of what he was discoursing of; about which he said, “From a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures.” All such, then, “is given by inspiration of God”; therefore, he means, do not doubt; and it is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
“For doctrine.” For thence we shall know, whether we ought to learn or to be ignorant of anything. And thence we may disprove what is false, thence we may be corrected and brought to a right mind, may be comforted and consoled, and if anything is deficient, we may have it added to us.
“That the man of God may be perfect.” For this is the exhortation of the Scripture given, that the man of God may be rendered perfect by it; without this therefore he cannot be perfect. Thou hast the Scriptures, he says, in place of me. If thou wouldest learn anything, thou mayest learn it from them. And if he thus wrote to Timothy, who was filled with the Spirit, how much more to us!
“Thoroughly furnished unto all good works”; not merely taking part in them, he means, but “thoroughly furnished.”
2Tm 4,1. “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the quick and the dead.”
(He either means the wicked and the just, or the departed and those that are still living; for many will be left alive. In the former Epistle he raised his fears, saying, “I give thee charge in the sight of God, Who quickeneth all things” (1Tm 6,13): but here he sets before him what is more dreadful, “Who shall judge the quick and the dead,” that is, Who shall call them to account “at His appearing and His kingdom.” When shah He judge? at His appearing with glory, and in His kingdom. Either he says this to show that He will not come in the way that He now has come, or, “I call to witness His coming, and His kingdom.” He calls Him to witness, showing that he had reminded Him of that appearing. Then teaching him how he ought to preach the word, he adds,
2Tm 4,2. “Preach the word: be infant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”
What means “in season, out of season”? That is, have not any limited season: let it always be thy season, not only in peace and security, and when sitting in the Church. Whether thou be in danger, in prison, in chains, or going to thy death, at that very time reprove. Withhold not rebuke, for reproof is then most seasonable, when thy rebuke will be most successful, when the reality is proved. “Exhort,” he says. After the manner of physicians, having shown the wound, he gives the incision, he applies the plaster. For if you omit either of these, the other becomes useless. If you rebuke without convicting, you will seem to be rash, and no one will tolerate it, but after the matter is proved, he will submit to rebuke: before, he will be headstrong. And if you convict and rebuke, but vehemently, and do not apply exhortation, all your labor will be lost. For conviction is intolerable in itself if consolation be not mingled with it. As if incision, though salutary in itself, have not plenty of lenitives to assuage the pain, the patient cannot endure cutting and hacking, so it is in this matter.
“With all longsuffering and doctrine.” For he that reproves is required to be longsuffering, that he may not believe hastily, and rebuke needs consolation, that it may be received as it ought. And why to “longsuffering” does he add “doctrine”? “Not as in anger, not as in hatred, not as insulting over him, not as having caught an enemy. Far be these things from thee.” But how? As loving as sympathizing with him, as more distressed than himself at his grief, as melted at his sufferings? “With all longsuffering and doctrine.” No ordinary teaching is implied.
2Tm 4,3. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.”
Before they grow stiffnecked, preoccupy them all. For this reason he says, “in season, out of season”; do everything, so as to have willing disciples.
“But after their own lusts,” he says, “shall they heap to themselves teachers.”
Nothing can be more expressive than these words. For by saying “they shall heap to themselves,” he shows the indiscriminate multitude of the teachers, as also by their being elected by their disciples. “They shall heap to themselves teachers,” he says, “having itching ears.” Seeking for such as speak to gratify and delight their hearers.
2Tm 4,4. “And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and be turned unto fables.”
This he foretells, not as willing to throw him into despair, but to prepare him to bear it firmly, when it shall happen. As Christ also did in saying, “They will deliver you up, and they will scourge you, and bring you before the synagogues, for My name’s sake.” (Mt 10,17). And this blessed man elsewhere says, “For I know this, that after my departures shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” (Ac 20,29). But this he said that they might watch, and duly use the present opportunity.
2Tm 4,5. “But watch thou in all things, endure affliction.”
It was for this therefore, that he foretold these things; as Christ also toward the end predicted that there should be “false Christs and false prophets”; so he too, when he was about to depart, spoke of these things. “But watch thou in all things, endure affliction”; that is, labor, preoccupy their minds before this pestilence assails them; secure the safety of the sheep before the wolves enter in, everywhere endure hardship.
“Do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” Thus it was the work of an evangelist that he should endure hardship, both in himself, and from those without; “make full proof of” that is, fulfill “thy ministry.” And behold another necessity for his enduring affliction,
2Tm 4,6. “For I am now ready to be poured out, and the time of my departure is at hand.”
(He has not said of my sacrifice; but, what is much more, “of my being poured out.” For the whole of the sacrifice was not offered to God, but the whole of the drink-offering was.
2Tm 4,7. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”
Often, when I have taken the Apostle into my hands, and have considered this passage, I have been at a loss to understand why Paul here speaks so loftily: “I have fought the good fight.” But now by the grace of God I seem to have found it out. For what purpose then does he speak thus? He is desirous to console the despondency of his disciple, and therefore bids him be of good cheer, since he was going to his crown, having finished all his work, and obtained a glorious end. Thou oughtest to rejoice, he says, not to grieve. And why? Because, “I have fought the good fight.” As a father whose son was sitting by him, bewailing his orphan state, might console him, saying, Weep not, my son; we have lived a good life, we have arrived at old age, and now we leave thee. Our life has been irreproachable, we depart with glory, and thou mayest be held in admiration for our actions, Our king is much indebted to us. As if he had said, We have raised trophies, we have conquered enemies, and this not boastfully. God forbid; but to raise up his dejected son, and to encourage him by his praises to bear firmly what had happened, to entertain good hopes, and not to think it a matter grievous to be borne. For sad, sad indeed is separation; and hear Paul himself, saying, “We being bereaved of you for a short time, in presence, not in heart.” (1Th 2,17). If he then felt so much at being separated from his disciples, what thinkest thou were the feelings of Timothy? If on parting from him whilst living he wept, so that Paul says, “Being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy.” (2Tm 1,4), how much more at his death? These things then he wrote to console him. Indeed the whole Epistle is full of consolation, and is a sort of Testament. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” “A good fight,” he says, therefore do thou engage in it. But is that a good fight, where there are imprisonment, chains, and death? Yea, he says for it is fought in the cause of Christ, and great crowns are won in it. “The good fight”! There is no worthier than this contest. This crown is without end. This is not of olive leaves. It has not a human umpire. It has not men for spectators. The theater is crowded with Angels. There men labor many days, and suffer hardships, and for one hour they receive the crown, and immediately all the pleasure passes away. But here far otherwise, it continues for ever in brightness, glory, and honor. Henceforth we ought to rejoice. For I am entering on my rest, I am leaving the race. Thou hast heard that “it is better to depart and to be with Christ.”
I have finished “the course.” For it behooves us both to contend and to run; to contend, by enduring afflictions firmly, and to run, not vainly, but to some good end. It is truly a good fight, not only delighting, but benefiting the spectator: and the race does not end in nothing It is not a mere display of strength and of rivalry. It draws all up to heaven. This race is brighter than the sun’s, yea, this which Paul ran upon earth, than that which he runs in heaven. And how had he “finished his course”? He traversed the whole world, beginning from Galilee and Arabia, and advancing to the extremities of the each, so that, as he says, “From Jerusalem and round about unto Illyricum I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ.” (Rm 15,19). He passed over the earth like a bird, or rather more swiftly than a bird: for a bird only flies over it, but he, having the wing of the Spirit, made his way through numberless impediments, dangers, deaths, and calamities, so that he was even fleeter than a bird. Had he been a mere bird, he might have alighted and been taken, but being upborne by the Spirit he soared above all snares, as a bird with a wing of fire.
“I have kept the faith,” he says. There were many things that would have robbed him of it, not only human friendships, but menaces, and death, and countless other perils: but he stood firm against all. How? by being sober and watchful. This might have sufficed for the consolation of his disciples, but he further adds the rewards. And what are these?
2Tm 4,8. “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.”
Here again he calls virtue in general righteousness. Thou shouldest not grieve that I shall depart, to be invested with that crown which will by Christ be placed upon my head. But if I continued here, truly thy mightest rather grieve, and fear lest I should fail and perish.
2Tm 4,8. “Which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but to all that love His appearing.”
Here also he raises his mind. If “to all,” much more to Timothy. But he did not say, “and to thee,” but “to all”; meaning, if to all, much more to him.
Moral. But how, it may be asked, is one to “love the appearing” (thn epifaneian) of Christ? By rejoicing at His coming; and he who rejoices at His coming, will perform works worthy of His joy; he will throw away his substance if need be, and even his life, so that he may obtain future blessings, that he may be thought worthy to behold that second coming in a fitting state, in confidence, in brightness and glory. This is to “love His appearing.” He who loves His appearing will do everything to ensure, before His general coming, a particular coming to himself. And how, you will say, is this possible? Hear from Christ, who says, “If a man love Me, he will keep My words, and My Father and I will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.” (Jn 14,23). And think how great a privilege it is that He who will appear to all generally, should promise to come to us in particular: for He says, “We will come and make Our abode with him.” If any man “love His appearing,” he will do everything to invite Him to himself, and to hold Him, that the light may shine upon him. Let there be nothing unworthy of His coming, and He will soon take up His abode with us.
And it is called His “Epiphany,” because He will appear above, and shine forth from on high. Let us therefore “seek those things that are above,” and we shall soon draw down those beams upon us. None of those who grovel below, and bury themselves in this lower earth, will be able to view the light of that Sun. None of those who defile themselves with worldly things will be able to behold that Sun of righteousness. He shines on none of those who are so occupied. Recover thyself a little, recover thyself from that depth, from the waves of a worldly life, if thou wouldest see the Sun, and enjoy His appearing. Then thou wilt see Him with great confidence. Be even now a philosopher. Let not a spirit of perverseness possess thee, lest He smite thee severely, and bring thee low. Let not thy heart be hardened; nor darkened, lest thou be shipwrecked there. Let there be no self-deceit. For the rocks beneath the sea cause the most fatal shipwrecks. Nourish no wild beasts, I mean evil passions, worse than wild beasts. Confide not in things ever flowing, that thou mayest be able to stand firmly. None can stand upon water, but upon a rock all find a secure footing. Worldly things are as water, as a torrent, that passes away. “The waters,” he saith, “are come in unto my soul.” (Ps 69,1). Spiritual things are as a rock. For he saith, “Thou hast set my feet upon a rock.” (Ps 40,2). Worldly things are as mire and clay; let us extricate ourselves from them. For so we shall be able to attain to the appearing of Christ. Whatever may befall us, let us endure. It is a sufficient consolation in all circumstances that we suffer for Christ. This divine incantation let us repeat, and it will charm away the pain of every wound.
And how can we suffer for Christ, you ask? If one accuse thee falsely in any case, not on account of Christ, yet if thou bearest it patiently, if thou givest thanks, if thou prayest for him, all this thou doest for Christ. But if thou curse him, if thou utter discontent, if thou attempt to revenge it, though thou shouldest not be able, it is not for Christ’s sake; thou sufferest loss, and art deprived of thy reward on account of thy intention. For it rests with us either to profit, or to be injured, by afflictions. It depends not upon the nature of the affliction, but upon the disposition of our own minds. As, for instance, great were the sufferings of Job, yet he suffered with thankfulness; and he was justified, not because he suffered, but because in suffering he endured it thankfully. Another under the same sufferings, yet not the same, for none ever suffered like Job—but under lighter sufferings, exclaims, is impatient, curses the whole world, and complains against God. He is condemned and sentenced, not because he suffered, but because he blasphemed; and he blasphemed, not from any necessity arising from his afflictions, since if necessity arising from events were the cause, Jb too must have blasphemed; but since he, who suffered more severely, did no such thing, it did not come to pass from this cause, but from the man’s weakness of purpose. We want therefore strength of soul, and nothing will then appear grievous, but if our soul is weak, we find a grievance in everything.
According to our dispositions, all things become tolerable or intolerable. Let us strengthen our resolution, and we shall bear all things easily. The tree whose roots are fixed deep in the earth is not shaken by the utmost violence of the storm, but if it be set lightly in the surface of the ground, a slight gust of wind will tear it up from the roots. So it is with us; if our flesh be nailed down by the fear of God, nothing will be able to shake us; but if we merely intend well, a little shock will subvert and destroy us. Wherefore, I exhort, let us bear all with much cheerfulness, imitating the Prophet, who says, “My soul cleaveth to Thee”; observe, he says not, draweth nigh, but “cleaveth to Thee”; and again, “My soul thirsteth for Thee.” (Ps 62,3). He said not merely “longeth,” that he might by such words express the vehemence of his desire; and again, “Fix my flesh in Thy fear.” (Ps 119,120), Sept). For he wishes us so to cleave and be united to Him, that we may never be separated from Him. If thus we hold by God, if thus we rivet our thoughts upon Him, if we thirst with the love of Him, all that we desire will be ours, and we shall obtain the good things to come, in Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, power, and honor, now and for ever. Amen.
1000 . — “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.”
It is worth while to enquire why he calls Timothy to him, inasmuch as he was intrusted with a Church, and a whole nation. It was not from arrogance. For Paul was ready to come to him; for we find him saying, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God.” (1Tm 3,15). But he was withholden by a strong necessity. He was no longer matter of his own movements. He was in prison, and had been confined by Nero, and was all but on the point of death. That this might not happen before he saw his disciple, he therefore sends for him, desiring to see him before he dies, and perhaps to deliver much in charge to him. Wherefore he says, “Hasten to come to me before the winter.”
“For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” He does not say, “That I may see thee before I depart this life,” which would have grieved him, but “because I am alone,” he says, “and have no one to help or support me.”
“For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is deputed to Thessalonica”; that is, having loved his own ease and security from danger, he has chosen rather to live luxuriously at home, than to suffer hardships with me, and share my present danger. He has blamed him alone, not for the sake of blaming him, but to confirm us, that we may not be effeminate in declining toils and dangers, for this is, “having loved this present world.” At the same time he wishes to draw his disciple to him.
“Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.”
These he does not censure. For Titus was one of the most admirable men, so that to him he intrusted the affairs of the island, no small island, I mean, but that great one of Crete.
“Only Lc is with me.” For he adhered to him inseparably. It was he who wrote the Gospel, and the General Acts; he was devoted to labors, and to learning, and a man of fortitude; of him Paul writes, “whose praise is in the Gospel throughout all the Churches.” (2Co 8,18).
“Take Mark, and bring him with thee, for he is profitable to me for the ministry.”
It is not for his own relief, but for the ministry of the Gospel that he wanted him. For though imprisoned, he did not cease to preach. So it was on the same account he sent for Timothy, not for his own, but for the Gospel’s sake, that his death might occasion no disturbance to the faithful, when many of his own disciples were present to prevent tumults, and to console those who would scarce have endurance to bear up at his death. For it is probable that the believers at Rome were men of consequence.
“And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.”
The word here translated “cloak” may mean a garment, or, as some say, a bag, in which the books were contained. But what had he to do with books, who was about to depart and go to God? He needed them much, that he might deposit them in the hands of the faithful, who would retain them in place of his own teaching. All the faithful, then, would suffer a great blow, but particularly those who were present at his death, and then enjoyed his society. But the cloak he requires, that he might not be obliged to receive one from another. For we see him making a great point of avoiding this; and elsewhere, when he was addressing those from Ephesus, he says, “Ye know that these hands have ministered to my necessities, and to those that were with me” (Ac 20, 34, Ac 20,35); and again, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
2Tm 4,14. “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil; the Lord reward him according to his works.”
Here he again makes mention of his trial, not wishing merely to censure and accuse the man, but to prepare his disciple for the conflicts, that he might bear them firmly. Though they be mean and contemptible persons, and without honor, who cause these trials, they ought all, he says, to be borne with fortitude. For he who suffers wrong from any great personage, receives no little distinction from the superiority of him who does the wrong. But he who is injured by a vile and abject person, suffers the greater annoyance. “He did me much evil,” he says, that is, he persecuted me in various ways. But these things will not go unpunished! For the Lord will reward him according to his works. As he said above: “What persecutions I endured, but out of them all the Lord delivered me.” (2Tm 3,11). So also here he consoles his disciples by a double consideration, that he himself had suffered wrong, and that the other would be rewarded for his evil deeds. Not that the Saints rejoice in the punishment of their persecutors, but that the cause of the Gospel required it, and the weaker would derive consolation from it.
2Tm 4,15. “Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.”
That is, he is hostile to us, and opposes us. He has not said, Revenge, punish, expel him, although by the grace given him he might have so done, but he does no such thing; nor does he arm Timothy against him, but only commands him to avoid him, leaving vengeance to God, and for the consolation of the weaker he has said that He will reward him, which is a prophecy rather than an imprecation. And that he says these things to prepare the mind of his disciple, is manifest also from what follows. But see how he mentions other of his trials.
2Tm 4,16. “At my first answer,” he says, “no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.”
Do you see how he spares his friends, notwithstanding it was a grievous thing they had done? For it is not the same thing to be despised by aliens, as by our own friends. Do you see his intense dejection? It cannot be said, that I was assailed by those without, but had comfort in the attention and support of my friends; for these also betrayed me. “All men,” he says, “forsook me.” And this was no light offense. For if he that in war abandons one who is exposed to danger, and shrinks from meeting the hands of his enemies, is justly smitten by his friends, as having utterly betrayed their cause, much more in the case of the Gospel. But what “first answer,” does he speak of? He had stood before Nero, and had escaped. But afterwards, because he had converted his cup-bearer, he was beheaded. And here again is encouragement for his disciple in what follows.
2Tm 4,17. “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me.”
Though deserted by man, God doth not permit him to suffer any harm. He strengthened me, he says, that is, He gave me boldness in speaking. He suffered me not to sink.
“That by me the preaching might be fully known.”
That is, might be fulfilled. Observe his great humility. He does not say He strengthened me as deserving of His gift, but that “the preaching,” with which I was intrusted, “might be fully known.” As if any one should wear a purple robe and a diadem, and to that circumstance should owe his safety.
“And that all the Gentiles might hear.”
What is this? That the luster of the Gospel, and the care of His Providence for me, might be known to all.
“And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.”
2Tm 4,18. “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work.”
See how near he had been to death. He had fallen into the very jaws of the lion. For he calls Nero a lion from his ferocity, and the violent and dating character of his government. “The Lord delivered me,” he says, “and will deliver.” But if he says, “He will deliver me,” why does he say, “I am ready to be offered”? Attend to the expression, “He delivered me,” he says, “from the lion’s mouth”; and again, “He will deliver me,” not from the lion’s mouth, but “from every evil work.” For then He delivered me from the danger; but now that enough has been done for the Gospel, He will yet again deliver me from every sin, that is, He will not suffer me to depart with condemnation. For that he should be able to “resist unto blood striving against sin” (He 12,4), and not yield, is a deliverance from another lion, even the devil, so that this preservation is greater than the former when he seems to be given up.
“And will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom; to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
This then is salvation, when we shine forth there. But what means, “He will preserve me unto His kingdom”? He will deliver me from all blame, and preserve me there. For this is to be preserved unto His kingdom, to die here on account of it. For “He that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” (Jn 12,25).
“To whom be glory.” Lo, here is a doxology to the Son.
2Tm 4,19. “Salute Priscilla and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.”
For he was then in Rome, of whom he said “The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day.” (2Tm 1,18). By this naming of him, he makes those of his household also more zealous in such good actions.
“Salute Priscilla and Aquila.” These are they of whom he makes continual mention, with whom too he had lodged, and who had taken Apollos to them. He names the woman first, as being I suppose more zealous, and more faithful, for she had then received Apollos; or it might be done indifferently. And it was to them no slight consolation to be thus saluted. It conveyed a demonstration of esteem and love, and a participation in much grace. For the bare salutation of that holy and blessed man was sufficient to fill with grace him who received it.
2Tm 4,20. “Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.”
This Trophimus and Tychicus, we know from the book of the Acts, sailed away with him from Judea, and were everywhere his companions, perhaps as being more zealous than the rest.
“Trophimus I have let at Miletum sick.” Why then didst thou not heal him, instead of leaving him? The Apostles could not do everything, or they did not dispense miraculous gifts upon all occasions, lest more should be ascribed to them than was right. The same thing is observable of those blessed and righteous men, who were before them, as in the case of Moses, whose voice was weak. Why was not this defect removed? Nay, he was often afflicted with grief and dejection, and he was not admitted into the Land of Promise.
For many things were permitted by God, that the weakness of human nature might be manifested. And if with these defects the insensible Jews could ask, Where is Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt (Ex 32,1)? how would they not have been affected towards him if he had brought them also into the Land of Promise? If he had not been suffered to be overpowered by the fear of Pharaoh, would they not have thought him a God? We see that the people of Lystra were thus affected in the case of Paul and Barnabas, thinking them to be Gods, when they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out and saying, “Sirs, why do ye these things? we also are men of like passions with you.” (Ac 14,14-15). Peter, again, when he had healed the man lame from his birth, when all were amazed at the miracle, answered and said, “Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this, or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk”? (Ac 3,12). Hear also the blessed Paul, saying, “There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, lest I should be exalted above measure.” (2Co 12,7). But this, you say, was an expression of humility. Far from it. The thorn was not sent him that he might be humble, nor does he say this only out of humility. There are other causes besides to be assigned for it. Observe therefore how God, accounting for it, says, “My grace is sufficient for thee”; not “that thou mayest not be exalted above measure,” but what? “For my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Two ends therefore were answered at once: what was doing was made dearly manifest, and the whole was ascribed to God. For this cause he has said elsewhere, “We carry this treasure in earthen vessels” (2Co 4,7); that is, in bodies weak and liable to suffering. Why? “That the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” If our bodies were not subject to infirmity, all would be ascribed to them. And elsewhere we see him grieving at the infirmity of Epaphroditus, concerning whom he writes, “He was sick nigh unto death, but God had mercy on him.” (Ph 2,27). And many other instances there are of his ignorance of events, which was profitable both for him and his disciples.
“Trophimus I have left at Miletum sick.” Miletus was near Ephesus. Did this happen then when he sailed to Judea, or upon some other occasion? For after he had been in Rome, he returned to Spain, but whether he came thence again into these parts, we know not. We see him however deserted by all. “For Demas,” he says, “hath forsaken me. Crescens is departed into Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Erastus abode at Corinth. Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.”
2Tm 4,21. “Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens and Linus, and Claudia?”
This Linus, some say, was second Bishop of the Church of Rome after Peter. “And Claudia.” You see how zealous for the faith the women were, how ardent! Such was Priscilla and this Claudia, already crucified, already prepared for the battle! But why, when there were so many faithful, does he mention only these women? Manifestly because they in purpose had already withdrawn from worldly affairs, and were illustrious above other. For a woman, as such, meets not with any impediments. It is the work of divine grace, that this sex should be impeded only in the affairs of this life, or rather not even in them. For a woman undertakes no small share of the whole administration, being the keeper of the house. And without her not even political affairs could be properly conducted. For if their domestic concerns were in a state of confusion and disorder, those who are engaged in public affairs would be kept at home, and political business would be ill managed. So that neither in those matters, as neither in spiritual, is she inferior. For she is able, if so inclined, to endure a thousand deaths. Accordingly many women have suffered martyrdom. She is able to practice chastity even more than men, no such strong flame disturbing her; and to show forth modesty and gravity, and “holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord” (He 12,14); and contempt of wealth, if she will, and in short all other virtues.
“Do thy diligence to come before winter.” See how he urges him, yet he does not say anything to grieve him. He does not say, “Before I die,” lest he should afflict him; but, “Before winter,” that thou be not detained.
“Eubulus,” he says, “greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren.” He does not mention the rest by name. Seest thou that those were the most zealous?
2Tm 4,22. “The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit.”
There can be no better prayer than this. Grieve not for my departure. The Lord will be with thee. And he says, not “with thee,” but “with thy spirit.” Thus there is a twofold assistance, the grace of the Spirit, and God helping it. And otherwise God will not be with us, if we have not spiritual grace. For if we be deserted by grace, how shall He be with us?
“Grace be with us. Amen.”
Thus he prays for himself too, that they may always be well-pleasing to Him, that they may have grace together with the spiritual gift, for where this is, nothing will be grievous. For as he who beholds the king, and is in favor with him, is sensible of no uneasiness; so though our friends forsake us, though we be overtaken by calamity, we shall feel no distress, if that grace be with us and fortify us.
Moral. But how shall we draw down grace upon us? By doing what is pleasing to God, and obeying Him in all things. In great houses do we not see those domestics in favor, who do not regard their own interest, but with all zeal and alacrity promote their masters’, and who not from the compulsion of the master, but from their own affection and good disposition, order all things well. When they are always before their eyes, when they are engaged in the house, when they are not occupied in any private concerns, nor caring for their own, but rather consider their masters’ concerns as their own. For he who makes what is his own his master’s, does not really give up his own to his master, but makes his interest his own; he commands even as himself in his affairs, and rules equally with him. He is often as much feared by the domestics, and whatever he says his master says too, and he is henceforth dreaded by all his enemies.
And if he who in worldly concerns prefers his masters interests to his own, does not really neglect his own interest, but rather advance it the more; much more is this the case in spiritual matters. Despise thine own concerns, and thou wilt receive those of God. This He Himself wills. Despise each, and seize upon the kingdom of heaven. Dwell there, not here. Be formidable there, not here. If thou art formidable there thou wilt be formidable not to men, but to demons, and even to the devil himself. But if thy dependence is on worldly wealth, thou wilt be contemptible to them, and often to men too. Whatever be thy riches, thou wilt be rich in servile things. But if thou despisest these, thou wilt be radiant in the house of the King.
Such were the Apostles, despising a servile house and worldly wealth! And see how they commanded in the affairs of their Master. “Let one,” they said, “be delivered from disease, another from the possession of devils: bind this man, and loose that.” This was done by them on earth, but it was fulfilled as in Heaven. For, “whatever ye shall bind on earth,” said He, “shall be bound in Heaven.” (Mt 18,18). And greater power than His own did He give them. And that I lie not, appears from His own words. “He that believeth in Me, greater works shall he do than these which I do.” (Jn 14,12). Why so? Because this honor is reflected upon the Master. As in our own affairs, if the servant has great power, the master is the more admired, for if the servant is so powerful, much more is he who commands him. But if any man, neglecting his master’s service thinks only of his wife, his son, or his servant, and seeks to be rich, and to lay up treasure there, by stealing and robbing his master of his possessions, he is presently ruined, and his wealth perishes with him.
Wherefore having these examples, I beseech you, let us not regard our possessions, that we may regard ourselves: nay, let us despise them, that we may obtain them. If we despise them, He will take care of them; if we take care of them, God will despise them. Let us labor in the concerns of God, not in our own, or rather really in our own, for His are our own. I speak not of heaven, nor of earth, nor of the things of this world: these are unworthy of Him. And they belong alike to the faithful and the unbelievers. What then do I speak of as His? His glory and His kingdom. These are His, and ours for His sake. How? “If we be dead with Him,” He says, “we shall also live with Him. If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.” (2Tm 2,11). We are become “joint heirs,” and are called His “brethren.” Why do we sink below, when He is drawing us upward towards Himself? How long shall we be poor, and beggarly? Heaven is set before us; and do we linger on earth? Is His kingdom opened to us, and do we choose such poverty as is here? Is life immortal offered us, and do we spend ourselves for lands, for wood and stones? Be truly rich. I would wish thee to be so. Be covetous and rapacious, I blame thee not for it. Here it is a fault not to be covetous, here it is blameworthy not to be grasping. What then is this? “The kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Mt 11,12). There be thou violent! be grasping! It is not diminished by being seized upon. For neither is virtue divided, nor piety lessened, nor the kingdom of Heaven. Virtue is increased when thou seizest upon it, whilst temporal goods are lessened when they are seized upon. And this appears from hence: Let there be ten thousand men in a city; if all seize on virtue, it is multiplied, for they become righteous in ten thousand things. If no one seizes upon it, it is diminished, for it is nowhere to be found.
Thou seest then that good things are multiplied on being possessed by many, but earthly goods are rather diminished by seizing. Let us not therefore sit down content with poverty, but let us choose riches. God is then rich, when those who enjoy His kingdom are many. “For He is rich,” it is said, “unto all that call upon Him.” (Rm 10,12). Increase then His substance; and thou wilt increase it by taking possession of it, by being covetous of it, by violently seizing it. And truly there is need of violence. Wherefore? Because there are so many impediments, as wives and children, cares and worldly business; besides those demons, and him who is the ruler of them, the devil. There is need then of violence, there is need of fortitude. He who takes by violence is exposed to toils. How? He endures all things, he contends against necessities. How? He almost attempts impossibilities. If such are those who take by violence, and we shrink from attempting even what is possible, how shall we ever win? or when shall we enjoy the things for which we strive? “The violent,” it is said, “take” the kingdom of heaven “by force.” Violence and rapacity are needed. For it is not simply set before us, and ready to our hands. He who seizes by violence, is ever sober and watchful, he is anxious and thoughtful, that he may make his seizure at a seasonable time. Dost thou not see that in war he who is about to make a seizure keeps watch and is under arms the whole night? If then they who aim at seizing upon worldly goods, watch and are armed all the night long, should we, who wish to seize upon spiritual things, sleep and snore in the day, and continue always naked and unarmed? For he who is engaged in sin is unarmed; as he who practices righteousness is armed. We do not fortify ourselves with almsgiving. We do not prepare for ourselves lamps that are burning, we do not fence ourselves in spiritual armor. We do not learn the way that leads thither. We are not sober and watchful, and therefore we can seize no spoil.
If a man wishes to make an attempt on a kingdom, does he not set death before him in a thousand shapes? Is he not armed at all points, does he not practice the art of war, does he not do everything with this view, and so rush on to the attack? But we do not act thus. We wish to take the spoil while we are sleeping, and therefore we come off with empty hands. Dost thou not see plunderers, how they flee, how rapidly they move? how they force their way through everything? And there is need of expedition here. The devil is in pursuit of thee. He orders those before to detain thee. But if thou art strong, if thou art watchful, thou wilt spurn one, and thrust aside another, and escape from all, as a bird. Yea, if thou depart hence, if thou escape from the market and the tumult, I mean this life, and arrive at those higher regions beyond these, in the world to come. For there, as in a solitude, there is no tumult, no one to disturb, or to stay thy course.
Hast thou seized? Yet a little exertion is needed after the seizure, that what thou hast seized may not be taken from thee. If we run on, if we look to none of those things that are set before our eyes, if we consider nothing but how we may escape from those who would hinder us, we shall be able to retain with all security what we have seized. Hast thou seized on chastity? Tarry not; flee beyond the reach of the devil. If he sees that he cannot overtake thee, he will cease to pursue; as we, when we can no longer see those who have robbed us, despair of the pursuit, and do not pursue, nor call on others to stop thief, but suffer them to escape. So do thou run vigorously at the beginning, and when thou art beyond the reach of the devil, he will not afterwards attack thee, but thou wilt be in safety, securely enjoying those unspeakable blessings, which God grant that we may all obtain through Jesus Christ our Lord. To whom with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, honor, and worship, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen).
[i]Roberts, Alexander and Donaldson, James, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series: Volume XIII, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc). 1997.
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