Chrysostom on John 10
[1.] Beloved, God being loving towards man and beneficent, does and contrives all things in order that we may shine in virtue, and as desiring that we be well approved by Him. And to this end He draws no one by force or compulsion: but by persuasion and benefits He draws all that will, and wins them to Himself. Wherefore when He came, some received Him, and others received Him not. For He will have no unwilling, no forced domestic, but all of their own will and choice, and grateful to Him for their service. Men, as needing the ministry of servants, keep many in that state even against their will, by the law of ownership;1 but God, being without wants, and not standing in need of anything of ours, but doing all only for our salvation makes us absolute2 in this matter, and therefore lays neither force nor compulsion on any of those who are unwilling. For He looks only to our advantage: and to be drawn unwilling to a service like this is the same as not serving at all.
“Why then,” says one, “does He punish those who will not listen3 to Him, and why hath He threatened hell to those who endure4 not His commands?” Because, being Good exceedingly, He cares even for those who obey Him not, and withdraws not from them who start back and flee from Him. But when we5 had rejected the first way of His beneficence, and had refused to come by the path of persuasion and kind treatment, then He brought in upon us the other way, that of correction and punishments; most bitter indeed, but still necessary, when the former is disregarded.6 Now lawgivers also appoint many and grievous penalties against offenders, and yet we feel no aversion to them for this; we even honor them the more on account of the punishments they have enacted, and because though not needing a single thing that we have, and often not knowing who they should be that should enjoy the help afforded by their written laws,7 they still took care for the good ordering of our lives, rewarding those who live virtuously, and checking by punishments the intemperate, and those8 who would mar the repose9 of others. And if we admire and love these men, ought we not much more to marvel at and love God on account of His so great care? For the difference between their and His forethought regarding us is infinite. Unspeakable of a truth are the riches of the goodness of God, and passing all excess? Consider; “He came to His own,” not for His personal need, (for, as I said, the Divinity is without wants,) but to do good unto His own people. Yet not even so did His own receive Him, when He came to His own for their advantage, but repelled Him, and not this only, but they even cast Him out of the vineyard, and slew Him. Yet not for this even did He shut them out from repentance, but granted them, if they had been willing, after such wickedness as this, to wash off all their transgressions by faith in Him, and to be made equal to those who had done no such thing, but are His especial friends. And that I say not this at random, or for persuasion’s sake, all the history of the blessed Paul loudly declares. For when he, who after the Cross persecuted Christ, and had stoned His martyr Stephen by those many hands, repented, and condemned his former sins, and ran to Him whom he had persecuted, He immediately enrolled him among His friends, and the chiefest of them, having appointed him a herald and teacher of all the world, who had been “a blasphemer, and persecutor, and injurious.” (1Tm 1,13). Even as he rejoicing at the lovingkindness of God, has proclaimed aloud, and has not been ashamed, but having recorded in his writings, as on a pillar, the deeds formerly dared by him, has exhibited them to all; thinking it better that his former life should be placarded 10 in sight of all, so that the greatness of the free gift of God might appear, than that he should obscure His ineffable and indescribable lovingkindness by hesitating to parade 11 before all men his own error. Wherefore continually 12 he treats of his persecution, his plottings, his wars against the Church, at one time saying, “I am not meet to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God” (1Co 15,9); at another, “Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” (1Tm 1,15). And again, “Ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it.” (Ga 1,13).
[2.] For making as it were a kind of return to Christ for His longsuffering towards him, by showing who it was, what a hater and enemy that He saved, he declared with much openness the warfare which at the first with all zeal he warred against Christ; and with this he holds forth good hopes to those who despaired of their condition. For he says, that Christ accepted him, in order that in him first He “might show forth all longsuffering” (Tim. i. 16), and the abundant riches of His goodness, “for a pattern to them that should hereafter believe in Him to life everlasting.” Because the things which they had dared were too great for any pardon which the Evangelist declaring, said,
“He came to His own, and His own received Him not.” Whence came He, who filleth all things, and who is everywhere present? What place did He empty of His presence, who holdeth and graspeth all things in His hand? He exchanged not one place for another; how should He? But by His coming down to us He effected this. For since, though being in the world, He did not seem to be there, because He was not yet known, but afterwards manifested Himself by deigning to take upon Him our flesh he (St. John) calls this manifestation and descent “a coming.” 13 One might wonder at 14 the disciple who is not ashamed of the dishonor of his Teacher, but even records the insolence which was used towards Him: yet this is no small proof of his truth-loving disposition. And besides, he who feels shame should feel it for those who have offered an insult, not for the person outraged. 15 Indeed He by this very thing shone the brighter, as taking, even after the insult, so much care for those who had offered it; while they appeared ungrateful and accursed in the eyes of all men, for having rejected Him who came to bring them so great goods, as hateful to them, and an enemy. And not only in this were they hurt, but also in not obtaining what they obtained who received Him. What did these obtain?
Jn 1,12. “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God,” says the Evangelist. “Why then, O blessed one, dost thou not also tell us the punishment of them who received Him not? Thou hast said that they were ‘His own,’ and that when ‘He came to His own, they received Him not’; but what they shall suffer for this, what punishment they shall undergo, thou hast not gone on to add. Yet so thou wouldest the more have terrified them, and have softened the hardness of their insanity by threatening. Wherefore then hast thou been silent?” “And what other punishment,” he would say, “can be greater than this, that when power is offered them to become sons of God, they do not become so, but willingly deprive themselves of such nobility and honor as this?” Although their punishment shall not even stop at this point, that they gain no good, but moreover the unquenchable fire shall receive them, as in going on he has more plainly revealed. But for the present he speaks of the unutterable goods of those who received Him, and sets these words in brief before us, 16 saying, “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become sons of God.” Whether bond or free, whether Greeks or barbarians or Scythians, unlearned or learned, female or male, children or old men, in honor or dishonor, rich or poor, rulers or private persons, all, He saith, are deemed worthy the same privilege; for faith and the grace of the Spirit, removing the inequality caused by worldly things, hath moulded all to one fashion, and stamped them with one impress, the King’s. What can equal this lovingkindness? A king, who is framed of the same clay with us, does not deign to enrol among the royal host his fellow-servants, who share the same nature with himself, and in character often are better than he, if they chance to be slaves; but the Only-Begotten Son of God did not disdain to reckon among the company of His children both publicans, sorcerers, and slaves, nay, men of less repute and greater poverty than these, maimed in body, and suffering from ten thousand ills. Such is the power of faith in Him, such the excess of His grace. And as the element of fire, when it meets with ore from the mine, straightway of earth makes it gold, even so and much more Baptism makes those who are washed to be of gold instead of clay; the Spirit at that time falling like fire into our souls, burning up the “image of the earthy” (1Co 15,49), and producing “the image of the heavenly,” fresh coined, bright and glittering, as from the furnace-mould.
Why then did he say not that “He made them sons of God,” but that “He gave them power to become sons of God”? To show that we need much zeal to keep the image of sonship impressed on us at Baptism, all through without spot or soils; and at the same time to show that no one shall be able to take this power from us, unless we are the first to deprive ourselves of it. For if among men, those who have received the absolute control of any matters have well-nigh as much power as those who gave them the charge; much more shall we, who have obtained such honor from God, be, if we do nothis greater and better than all. At the same time too he wishes to show, that not even does grace come upon man irrespectively, 17 but upon those who desire and take pains for it. For it lies in the power of these to become (His) children since if they do not themselves first make the choice, the gift does not come upon them, nor have any effect.
[3.] Having therefore everywhere excluded compulsion and pointing to (man’s) voluntary choice and free power, he has said the same now. For even in these mystical blessings, 18 it is, on the one hand, God’s part, to give the grace, on the other, man’s to supply faith; and in after time there needs for what remains much earnestness. In order to preserve our purity, it is not sufficient for us merely to have been baptized and to have believed, but we must if we will continually enjoy this brightness, display a life worthy of it. This then is God’s work in us. To have been born the mystical Birth, and to have been cleansed from all our former sins, comes from Baptism; but to remain for the future pure, never again after this to admit any stain belongs to our own power and diligence. And this is the reason why he remains us of the manner of the birth, and by comparison with fleshly pangs shows its excellence, when he says,
Jn 1,13. “Who were born, not of blood, 19 nor of the will of the flesh, but of God.” This he has done, in order that, considering the vileness, and lowness of the first birth, which is “of blood,” and “the will of the flesh,” and perceiving the highness and nobleness of the second, which is by grace, we may form from thence some great opinion of it, and one worthy of the gift of Him who hath begotten, us, and for the future exhibit much earnestness.
For there is no small fear, lest, having sometime defiled that beautiful robe by our after sloth and transgressions, we be cast out from the inner room 20 and bridal chamber, like the five foolish virgins, or him who had not on a wedding garment. (Mt 25 Mt 22). He too was one of the guests, for he had been invited;but because, after the invitation and so great an honor, he behaved with insolence towards Him who had invited him, hear what punishment he suffers, how pitiable, fit subject for many tears. For when he comes to partake of that splendid table, not only is he forbidden the least, but bound hand and foot alike, is carried into outer darkness, to undergo eternal and endless wailing and gnashing of teeth. Therefore, beloved, let not us either expect 21 that faith is sufficient to us for salvation; for if we do not show forth a pure life, but come clothed with garments unworthy of this blessed calling, nothing. hinders us from suffering the same as that wretched one, It is strange that He, who is God and King, is not ashamed of men who are vile, beggars, and of no repute, but brings even them of the cross ways to that table; while we manifest so much insensibility, as not even to be made better by so great an honor, but even after the call remain in our old wickedness, insolently abusing 22 the unspeakable lovingkindness of Him who hath called us. For it was not for this that He called us to the spiritual and awful communion of His mysteries, that we should enter with our former wickedness; but that, putting off our filthiness, we should change our raiment to such as becomes those who are entertained in places. But if we will not act worthily of that calling this no longer rests with Him who hath honored us, but with ourselves; it is not He that casts us out from that admirable company of guests, but we cast out ourselves.
(He has done all His part. He has made the marriage, He has provided the table, He has sent men to call us, has received us when we came, and honored us with all other honor; but we, when we have offered insult to Him, to the company, and to the wedding, by our filthy garments, that is, our impure actions, are then with good cause cast out. It is to honor the marriage and the guests, that He drives off those bold 23 and shameless persons; for were He to suffer those clothed in such a garment, He would seem to be offering insult to the rest. But may it never be that one, either of us or of other, find this of Him who has called us! For to this end have all these things been written before they come to pass, that we, being sobered by the threats of the Scriptures, may not suffer this disgrace and punishment to go on to the deed, but stop it at the word only, and each with bright apparel come to that call; which may it come to pass that we all enjoy, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen).
1 despoteiva", i.e. “the law of master and slave.”
3 al. “submit.”
4 al. “hear.”
5 al. “they.”
6 al. “For, when the former way is disregarded, the introduction of the second is necessary.” Ben.
7 “Writings,” al. “trouble.”
8 al. “as those.”
9 al. “settled state.”
10 al. “beyond all thought.”
11 sthliteuvesqai. lit. “set on a pillar.” al). stivzesqai, “be branded.”
13 a[nw kai; kavtw).
14 parousiva, commonly so used in N. T.
15 al. “there is reason to wonder that.”
16 paroinhvqento", “insulted by men heated with wine.”
17 al. “sets them in brief before us in these words.”
20 i.e. of Baptism.
21 Lit. “bloods.”
23 al. “think.”
"And the Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us."
[1.] I Desire to ask one favor of you all, beforeI touch on the words of the Gospel; do not you refuse my request, for I ask nothing heavy or burdensome, nor, if granted, will it be useful only to me who receive, but also to you who grant it, and perhaps far more so to you. What then is it that I require of you? That each of you take in hand that section of the Gospels which is to be read among you on the first day of the week, or even on the Sabbath, and before the day arrive, that he sit down at home and read it through, and often carefully consider its contents, and examine all its parts well, what1 is deal what obscure,2 what seems to make for the adversaries,3 but does not really so; and when you have tried,4 in a word5 every point, so go to hear it read. For from zeal like this will be no small gain both to you and to us. We shall not need much labor to render dear the meaning of what is said, because your minds will be already made familiar with the sense of the words, and you will become keener and more clear-sighted not for hearing only, nor for learning, but also for the teaching of others. Since, in the way that now most of those who come hither hear, competed to take in the meaning of all at once, both the words, and the remarks we make upon them, they will not, though we should go on doing this for a whole year, reap any great gain. How can they, when they have leisure for what is said as a by work,6 and only in this place, and for this short time? If any lay the fault on business, and cares, and constant occupation in public and private matters, in the first place, this is no slight charge in itself, that they are surrounded with such a multitude of business, are so continually nailed to the things of this life, that they cannot find even a little leisure for what is more needful than all Besides, that this is a mere pretext and excuse, their meetings with friends would prove against them, their loitering in the theaters, and the parties7 they make to see horse races, at which they often spend whole days, yet never in that case does one of them complain of the pressure of business. For trifles then you can without making any excuses, always find abundant leisure; but when you ought to attend to the things of God, do these seem to you so utterly superfluous and mean, that you think you need not assign even a little leisure to them? How do men of such disposition deserve to breathe or to look upon this sun?
There is another most foolish excuse of these sluggards; that they have not the books in their possession. Now as to the rich, it is ludicrous that we should take our aim at8 this excuse; but because I imagine that many of the poorer sort continually use it, I would gladly ask, if every one of them does not have all the instruments of the trade which he works at, full and complete, though infinite9 poverty stand in his way? Is it not then a strange thing, in that case to throw no blame on poverty, but to use every means that there be no obstacle from any quarter, but, when we might gain such great advantage, to lament our want of leisure and our poverty?
Besides, even if any should be so poor, it is in their power, by means of the continual reading of the holy Scriptures which takes place here, to be ignorant of nothing contained in them. Or if this seems to you impossible, it seems so with reason; for many do not come with fervent zeal to hearken to what is said, but having done this one thing 10 for form’s sake 11 on our account, 12 immediately return home. Or if any should stay, they are no better disposed than those who have retired, since they are only present here with us in body. But that we may not overload you with accusations, and spend all the time in finding fault, let us proceed to the words of the Gospel, for it is time to direct the remainder of our discourse to what is set before us. Rouse yourselves therefore, that nothing of what is said escape you.
“And the Word was made Flesh,” he saith, “and dwelt among us.”
Having declared that they who received Him were “born of God,” and had become “sons of God,” he adds the cause and reason of this unspeakable honor. It is that “the Word became Flesh,” that the Master took on Him the form of a servant. For He became Son of man, who was God’s own 13 Son, in order that He might make the sons of men to be children of God. For the high when it associates with the low touches not at all its own honor, while it raises up the other from its excessive lowness; and even thus it was with the Lord. He in nothing diminished His own Nature by this condescension, 14 but raised us, who had always sat in disgrace and darkness, to glory unspeakable. Thus it may be, a king, conversing with interest and kindness with a poor mean man, does not at all shame himself, yet makes the other observed by all and illustrious. Now if in the case of the adventitious dignity of men, intercourse with the humbler person in nothing injuries the more honorable, much less can it do so in the case of that simple and blessed Essence which has nothing adventitious, or subject to growth or decay, but has 15 all good things immovable, and fixed for ever. So that when you hear that “the Word became Flesh,” be not disturbed nor cast down, For that Essence did not change 16 to flesh, (it is impiety 17 to imagine this,) but continuing what it is, It so took upon It the form of a servant.
[2.] Wherefore then does he use the expression, “was made”? To stop the mouths of the heretics. For since there are some 18 who say that all the circumstances of the Dispensation were an appearance, a piece of acting, an allegory, at once to remove beforehand their blasphemy, he has put “was made”; desiring to show thereby not a change of substance, (away with the thought,) but the assumption of very flesh. For as when (Paul) says, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us,” he does not mean that His essence removing from Its proper glory took upon It the being 19 of an accused thing, (this not even devils could imagine, nor even the very foolish, nor those deprived of their natural understanding, such impiety as well as madness does it contain,) as (St. Paul) does not say this, but that He, taking upon Himself the curse pronounced against us, leaves us no more under the curse; so also here he (St. John) says that He “was made Flesh,” not by changing His Essence to flesh, but by taking flesh to Himself, His Essence remained untouched.
If they say that being God, He is Omnipotent, so that He could lower Himself 20 to the substance of flesh, we will reply to them, that He is Omnipotent as long as He continues to be God. But if He admit of change, change for the worse, how could He be God? for change is far from that simple Nature. Wherefore the Prophet saith, “They all shall wax old as doth a garment, and as a vesture shalt Thou roll them up, and they shall be changed; but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail.” (Ps 102,27 LXX). For that Essence is superior to all change. There is nothing better than He, to which He might advance and reach. Better do I say? No, nor equal to, nor the least approaching Him. It remains, therefore, that if He change, He must admit a change for the worse; and this would not be God. But let the blasphemy return upon the heads of those who utter it. Nay, to show that he uses the expression,’“ was made” only that you should not suppose a mere appearance, hear from what follows how he clears the argument, and overthrows that wicked suggestion. For what does he add? “And dwelt among us.” All but saying, “Imagine nothing improper from the word ‘was made’; I spoke not of any change of that unchangeable Nature, but of Its dwelling 21 and in habiting. But that which dwells 22 cannot be thesame with that in which it dwells, but different; one thing dwells in a different thing, otherwise it would not be dwelling; for nothing can inhabit itself. I mean, different as to essence; for by an Union. 23 and Conjoining 24 God the Word and the Flesh are One, not by any confusion or obliteration of substances, but by a certain union ineffable, and past 25 understand. Ask not how 26 for It Was Made, so as He knoweth.”
What then was the tabernacle in which He dwelt? Hear the Prophet say; “I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen.” (Am 9,11). It was fallen indeed, our nature had fallen an incurable fall, and needed only that mighty Hand. There was no possibility of raising it again, had not He who fashioned it at first stretched forth to it His Hand, and stamped it mew with His Image, by the regeneration of water and the Spirit. And observe I pray you, the awful and ineffable nature 27 of the mystery. He inhabits this tabernacle for ever, for He clothed Himself with our flesh, not as again to leave it, but always to have it with Him. Had not this been the case, He would not have deemed it worthy of the royal throne, nor would He while wearing it have been worshiped by all the host of heaven, angels archangel, thrones, principalities, dominions, powers. What word, what though can represent such great honor done to our race, so truly marvelous and awful? What angel what archangel? Not one in any place, whether in heaven, or upon earth. For such are the mighty works 28 of God, so great and marvelous are His benefits, that a right description of them exceeds not only the tongue of men, but even the power of angels).
Wherefore we will 29 for a while dose our discourse, and be silent; only delivering to you this charge, 30 that you repay this our so great Benefactor by a return which again shall bring round to us all profit. The return is, that we look with all carefulness to the state of our souls. For this too is the work of His lovingkindness, that He who stands in no need of anything of ours says that He is repaid when we take care of our own souls. It is therefore an act of extremist folly, and one deserving ten thousand chastisements, if we, when such honor has been lavished upon us, will not even contribute what we can, and that too when profit comes round to us again by these means, and ten thousand blessings are laid before us on these conditions. For all these things let us returns glory to our merciful God, not by words only, but much more by works that we may obtain the good things hereafter, which may it be that we all attain to, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 al. “let him mark what is clear, &c.”
2 al. “very plain.”
3 al. “to be contradictory.”
4 diakwdwnivsante", “having tried by ringing.”
6 ejk parevrgou.
10 i.e. having come to the assembly.
12 al. “for the day.”
14 al. “descent.”
15 al. “possesses.”
16 metevpesen, “fall from what It was into.”
17 al. “truly impious.”
18 The Docetae, who maintained that our Lord appeared only to act and suffer in the Flesh, and that His Body was a phantom. Perhaps they are the heretics specially alluded to by St. John, 1 Ep. 4,2, and 2 Ep. 7.
21 Lit, “tabernacling.”
22 Lit. “which tabernacles.”
26 al. “seek not accurately.”
27 al. “ineffable mystery.”
29 al. “let us.”
[1.] Perhaps we seemed to you the other day1 needlessly hard upon you and burdensome using too sharp language, and extending too far our reproaches against the sluggishness of the many. Now if we had done this merry from a desire to vex you, each of you would with cause have been angry; but if, looking to your advantage, we neglected in our speech what might gratify you, if ye will not give us credit for our forethought, you should at least pardon us on account of such tender love2 For in truth we greatly fear, lest, if we are taking pains,3 and you are not willing to manifest the same diligence in listening your future reckoning may be the more severe. Wherefore we are compelled continually to arouse and waken you, that nothing. of what is said may escape4 you. For so you will be enabled to live for the present with much confidence, and to exhibit it at that Day before the judgment-seat of Christ. Since then we have lately sufficiently touched you, let us to-day at the outset enter on the expressions themselves.
“We beheld,” he says, “His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father.”
Having declared that we were made “sons of God,” and having shown in what manner5 namely, by the “Word” having been “made Flesh,” he again mentions another advantage which we gain from this same circumstance. What is it? “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father”; which we could not have beheld, had it not been shown to us, by means of a body like to our own.6 For if the men of old time could not even bear to look upon the glorified countenance of Moses, who partook of the same nature with us, if that just man needed a veil which might shade over the purity7 of his glory, and show to them have face of their prophet mild and gentle;8 how could we creatures of clay and earth have endured the unveiled Godhead, which is unapproachable even by the powers above? Wherefore He tabernacled9 among us, that we might be able with much fearlessness to approach Him, speak to, and converse with Him.
But what means “the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father”? Since many of the Prophets too were glorified, as this Moses himself, Elijah, and Elisha, the one encircled by the fiery chariot (2R 6,17), the other taken up by it; and after them, Daniel and the Three Children, and the many others who showed forth wonders 10 ; and angels who have appeared among men, and partly disclosed 11 to beholders the flashing light of their proper nature; and since not angels only, but even the Cherubim were seen by the Prophet in great glory, and the Seraphim also: the Evangelist leading us away from all these, and removing our thoughts from created things, and from the brightness of our fellow-servants, sets us at the very summit of good. For, “not of prophet,” says 12 he, “nor angel, nor archangel, nor of the higher power, nor of any other created nature,” if other there be, but of the Master Himself, the King Himself, the true Only-Begotten Son Himself, of the Very Lord 13 of all, did we “behold the glory.”
For the expression “as,” does not in this place belong to similarity or comparison, but to confirmation and unquestionable definition; as though he said, “We beheld glory, such as it was becoming, and likely that He should possess, who is the Only-Begotten and true Son of God, the King of all.” The habit (of so speaking) is general, for I shall not refuse to strengthen my argument even from common custom, since it is not now my object to speak with any reference to beauty of words, or elegance of composition, but only for your advantage; and therefore there is nothing to prevent my establishing my argument by the instance of a common practice. What then is the habit of most persons? Often when any have seen a king richly decked, and glittering on all sides with precious stones, and are afterwards describing to others the beauty, the ornaments, the splendor, they enumerate as much as they can, the glowing tint of the purple robe, the size of the jewels, the whiteness of the mules, the gold about the yoke, the soft and shining couch. But when after enumerating these things, and other things besides these, they cannot, say what they will, give a full idea of 14 the splendor, they immediately bring in: “But why say much about it; once for all, he was like a king;” not desiring by the expression “like,” to show that he, of whom they say this, resembles a king, but that he is a real king. Just so now the Evangelist has put the word As, desiring to represent the transcendent nature and incomparable excellence of His glory.
For indeed all others, both angels and archangels and prophets, did everything as under command; but He with the authority which becomes a King and Master; at which even the multitudes wondered, that He taught as “one having authority.” (Mt 7,29). Even angels, as I said, have appeared with great glory upon the earth; as in the case of Daniel, of David, of Moses, but they did all as servants who have a Master. But He as Lord and Ruler of all, and this when He appeared in poor and humble form; but even so creation recognized her Lord. Now the star from heaven which called the wise men to worship Him, the vast throng pouring everywhere of angels attending the Lord, 15 and hymning His praise, and besides them, many other heralds sprang up on a sudden, and all, as they met, 16 declared to one another the glad tidings of this ineffable mystery; the angels to the shepherds; the shepherds to those of the city; Gabriel to Mary and Elisabeth; Anna and Simeon to those who came to the Temple. Nor were men and women only lifted up 17 with pleasure, but the very infant who had not yet come forth to light, I mean the citizen of the wilderness, the namesake of this Evangelist, leaped while yet in his mother’s womb, and all were soaring 18 with hopes for the future. This too immediately after the Birth. But when He had manifested Himself still farther, other wonders, yet greater than the first, were seen. For it was no more star, or sky, no more angels, or archangels, not Gabriel, or Michael, but the Father Himself from heaven above, who proclaimed Him, and with the Father the Comforter, flying down at the uttering of the Voice and resting on Him. Truly therefore did he say, “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father.”
[2.] Yet he says it not only on account of these things, but also on account of what followed them; for no longer do shepherds only, and widow women, and aged men, declare to us the good tidings, but the very voice 19 of the things themselves, sounding clearer than any trumpet, and so loudly, that the sound was straightway heard even in this land. “For,” says one, “his fame went into 20 all Syria” (Mt 4,24); and He revealed Himself to all, and all things everywhere exclaimed, that the King of Heaven was come. Evil spirits everywhere fled and started away from Him, Satan covered his face 21 and retired, death 22 at that time retreated before Him, and afterwards disappeared altogether; every kind of infirmity was loosed, the graves let free the dead, the devils those whom they had maddened, 23 and diseases the sick. And one might see things strange and wonderful, such as with good cause the prophets desired to see, and saw not. One might see eyes fashioned (Jn 9,6-7), (might see) Him showing to all in short space and on the more noble portion of the body, that admirable thing which all would have desired to see, how God formed Adam from the earth; palsied and distorted limbs fastened and adapted to each other, dead hands moving, palsied feet leaping amain, ears that were stopped re-opened, and the tongue sounding aloud which before was tied by speechlessness. For having taken in hand the common nature of men, as some excellent workman might take a house decayed by time, He filled up what was broken off, banded together its crevices and shaken portions, and raised up again what was entirely fallen down.
And what should one say of the fashioning of the soul, so much more admirable than that of the body? The health of our bodies is a great thing, but that of our souls is as much greater as the soul is better than the body. And not on this account only, but because our bodily nature follows withersoever the Creator will lead it, and there is nothing to resist, but the soul being its own mistress, and possessing power over its acts, does not in all things obey God, unless it will to do so. For God will not make it beautiful and excellent, if it be reluctant and in a manner constrained by force, for this is not virtue at all; but He must persuade it to become so of its own will and choice. And so this cure is more difficult than the other; yet even this succeeded, and every kind of wickedness was banished. And as He re-ordered the bodies which He cured, not to health only, but to the highest vigor, so did He not merely deliver the souls from extremist wickedness, but brought them to the very summit of excellence. A publican became an Apostle, and a persecutor, blasphemer, and injurious, appeared as herald to the world, and the Magi became teachers of the Jews, and a thief was declared a citizen of Paradise, and a harlot shone forth by the greatness of her faith, and of the two women, of Canaan and Samaria, the latter who was another harlot, undertook to preach the Gospel to her countrymen, and having enclosed a whole city in her net, 24 so brought them 25 to Christ; while the former by faith and perseverance, procured the expulsion of an evil spirit from her daughter’s soul; and many others much worse than these were straightway numbered in the rank of disciples, and at once all the infirmities 26 of their bodies and diseases of their souls were transformed, and they were fashioned anew to health and exactest virtue. And of these, not two or three men, not five, or ten, or twenty, or an hundred only, but entire cities and nations, were very easily remodeled. Why should one speak of the wisdom of the commands, the excellency of the heavenly laws, the good ordering of the angelic polity? For such a life hath He proposed to us, such laws appointed for us, such a polity established, that those who put these things into practice, immediately become angels and like to God, as far as is in our power, even though they 27 may have been worse than all men.
[3.] The Evangelist therefore having brought together all these things, the marvels in our bodies, in our souls, in the elements 28 (of our faith), the commandments, those gifts ineffable and higher than the heavens, the laws, the polity, the persuasion, the future promises, His sufferings, uttered that voice so wonderful and full of exalted doctrine, saying, “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” For we admire Him not only on account of the miracles, but also by reason of the sufferings; as that He was nailed upon the Cross, that He was scourged, that He was buffeted, that He was spit upon, that He received blows on the cheek from those to whom He had done good. For even of those very things which seem to be shameful, it is proper to repeat the same expression, since He Himself called that action 29 “glory.” For what then took place was (proof) not only of kindness and love, but also of unspeakable power. At that time death was abolished, the curse was loosed, devils were shamed and led in triumph and made a show of, and the handwriting of our sins was nailed to the Cross. And then, since these wonders were doing invisibly, others took place visibly, showing that He was of a truth the Only-Begotten Son of God, the Lord of all creation. For while yet that blessed Body hung upon the tree, the sun turned away his rays, the whole earth was troubled and became dark, the graves were opened, the ground quaked, and an innumerable multitude of dead leaped forth, and went into the city. And while the stones of His tomb were fastened upon the vault, and the seals yet upon them, the Dead arose, the Crucified, the nail-pierced One, and 30 having filled His eleven disciples with His mighty 31 power, He sent them to men throughout all the world, to be the common healers of all their kind, 32 to correct their way of living, to spread through every part of the earth the knowledge of their heavenly doctrines, to break down the tyranny of devils, to teach those great and ineffable blessings, to bring to us the glad tidings of the soul’s immortality, and the eternal life of the body, and rewards which are beyond conception, and shall never have an end. These things then, and yet more than these, the blessed Evangelist having in mind, things which though he knew, he was not able to write, because the world could not have contained them (for if all things “should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written”—c. xxi. 25), reflecting therefore on all these, he cries out, “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
It behooves therefore those who have been deemed worthy to see and to hear such things, and who have enjoyed so great a gift, to display also a life worthy of the doctrines, that they may enjoy also the good things which are (laid up) there. For our Lord Jesus Christ came, not only that we might behold His glory here, but also that which shall be. For therefore He saith, “I will that these 33 also be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory.” (c. 17,24). Now if the glory here was so bright and splendid, what can one say of that (which shall be)? for it shall appear not on this corruptible earth, nor while we are in perishable bodies, but in a creation which is imperishable, and waxes not old, and with such brightness as it is not possible even to represent in words. O 34 blessed, thrice blessed, yea many times so, they who are deemed worthy to be beholders of that glory! It is concerning this that the prophet says, “Let the unrighteous be taken away, that he behold not the glory of the Lord.” (Is 26,10 LXX). God grant that not one of us be taken away nor excluded ever from beholding it. For if we shall not hereafter enjoy it, then it is time to say of ourselves, “Good were it for” us, “if” we “had never been born.” For why do we live and breathe? What are we, if we fail of that spectacle, if no one grant us then to behold our Lord? If those who see not the light of the sun endure a life more bitter than any death, what is it likely that they who are deprived of that light must suffer? For in the one case the loss is confined to this one privation; but in the other it does not rest here, (though if this were the only thing to be dreaded, even then the degrees of punishment would not be equal, but one would be as much severer than the other, as that sun is incomparably superior to this,) but now we must look also for other vengeance; for he who beholds not that light must not only be led into darkness, but must be burned continually, and waste away, and gnash his teeth, and suffer ten thousand other dreadful things. Let us then not permit ourselves by making this brief time a time of carelessness and remissness, to fall into everlasting punishment, but let us watch and be sober, let us do all things, and make it all our business to attain to that felicity, and to keep far from that river of fire, which rushes with a loud roaring before the terrible judgment seat. For he who has once been cast in there, must remain for ever; there is no one to deliver him from his punishment, not father, not mother, not brother. And this the prophets themselves declared aloud; one saying, “Brother delivers not brother. Shall man deliver?” (Ps 49,7 LXX). And Ezekiel has declared somewhat more than this, saying, “Though Noah, Daniel, and Jb were in it, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters.” (Ez 14,16). For one defense 35 only, that through works, 36 is there, and he who is deprived of that cannot be saved by any other means. Revolving these things, then, and reflecting upon them continually, let us cleanse our life and make it lustrous, that we may see the Lord with boldness, and obtain the promised good things; through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Spirit, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
3 al. “speaking.”
5 al. “that it was not otherwise than by.”
8 Morel. “make the intolerable (brightness) of his countenance bearable to them.”
10 [were glorified.]
12 al. “all but saying.”
13 al. “and Master.”
15 Morel. “and heavenly multitudes appearing on earth of Angels ministering.”
16 al. “coming together.”
17 ejpterwvqhsan, “made winged.”
19 al. “nature.”
20 “Throughout,” E. V.
22 al. “and death itself.”
23 tou;" memhvnota").
24 saghneuvsasa from saghvnh, “a seine net.”
25 al. “brought them out.”
27 al. “we.”
29 i.e. His Crucifixion.
30 al. “then again.”
31 al. “a certain irresistible and divine.”
32 Or “of their whole nature.”
33 ou\toi kajkei`noi (G. T)..
34 al. “how.”
36 There are places where he allows that the prayers of others may avail a man in the Judgment, when they are the consequence of his good deeds. See on Statues, Hom. 2,§ 17.
Chrysostom on John 10