3 To the most holy and reverend Father, Lord Urban IV, by divine providence Pope. I, brother Thomas of Aquino, of the Order of Friars Preachers, devoutly and reverently kiss your holy feet.
The font of wisdom, the only-begotten Word of God, presiding in the highest, through whom the Father made everything wisely, and smoothly arranged it, at the end of time decided to take flesh, so that under the garment of a bodily nature our human gaze could view his splendor, which it could not reach when he was in the heights of divine majesty. Certainly, he spread his rays, the evidence of his wisdom, on all the works which hecreated. But he impressed his image in a more privileged way on human souls, and still more expressed this image in the hearts of those who love him, according to his great munificence. But what is the soul of man in such immense creation, that it could perfectly comprehend the traces of divine wisdom? Moreover, the light of wisdom that had been infused in men was obscured by the darkness of sin and the fog of temporal occupations. Moreover, the stupid heartsof som were so darkened that they turned the glory of God into useless idols, doing things that were improper, and falling into a damnable mentality.
But divine wisdom, which had made man to enjoy himself, would not allow him to have no experience of himsel. So he entered human nature totally, assuming it to himself in a wonderful way, so that he could call wandering man back totally to himself. The first prince of apostles merited to see by faith the brightness of this wisdom, covered with the cloud of mortality, and he constantly, fully, and without error testified to it, saying, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." O blessed testimony, which flesh and blood did not reveal, but the heavenly Father. This testimony gives foundation to the Church on earth, opens the way to heaven, merits the power to forgive sins, and the gates of hell do not prevail against it. You, the rightful heir to this faith and testimony, most holy Father, and your mind is religiously watchful, to let the light of such great wisdom pervade the hearts of the faithful, and refute the madness of heretics, which are rightly called the "gates of hell".
Certainly if, according to Plato's opinion, the nation is blessed whose rulers are occupied with wisdom, that wisdom which in fact the stupidity of the human intellect often mixes with errors, how much more blessed must the Christian people under your rule be reckoned, since you devote such great concern for that wisdom, which God's wisdom clothed in bodily limbs taught by words and demonstrated by works? Because of this zeal for wisdom, it pleased your Holiness to commission me to expound the Gospel of Matthew. I did so according to my ability, scouring different books of the Doctors, to make a continuous commentary. The words of some authors are few, where I usually added from the Glosses. In this case, I headed such quotations under the title of "Gloss".
As for quotations from the holy Doctors, I mention the name of each, and the books from which the quotations come, except where this was unnecessary. For instance, in mentioning Jerome, with no reference to a book, you can infer that it is his Commentary on Matthew. The same holds for the others, except for the Commentary of Chrysostom on Matthew, where the Commentary had to be mentions to distinguish it from his sermons.
In quoting the testimony of the saints, much had to be omitted, both to avoid being over-long, and to make the meaning clearer, or to change the order of the commentary to fit the Scriptural text. Sometimes I just summarized the meaning, not quoting verbatim, especially in the sermons of Chrysostom, because the translation was bad.
My intention in this work was to present not merely the literal meaning, but also the mystical meaning, and sometimes also to refute errors and confirm the Catholic truth. This seemed necessary, because especially in the Gospel the form of Catholic faith is transmitted, as well as the whole rule of Christian life. I hope therefore that the present work does not seem too long for anybody. I could not pursue all the material without summarizing, nor explain the opinions of so many saints if I abbreviated too much.
Therefore, may your Holiness receive this work, presented to your judgment for discussion and correction. It is the fruit of your sollicitude and my obedience. Since it originated from your precept and its final judgment is reserved to you, let the rivers return to their source.
3000 Go up to the top of the mountain, thou that preachest glad tidings in Sion; lift up thy voice with might, thou that preachest in Jerusalem: cry aloud, fear not: say to the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Lo, the Lord God shall come with power, and His arm shall have dominion; Lo, His reward is with Him. (Is 40,9)
The Prophet Isaiah, a manifest preacher of the Gospel, briefly expressing the loftiness, the name, and the substance of the Gospel doctrine, addresses the evangelic teacher in the person of the Lord, saying, "Go up to the top of the mountain, &c." But to make our beginning with the title, The Gospel.
Augustine, contra Faust., ii, 2: The word, 'Evangelium,' (Gospel), is rendered in Latin 'bonus nuntius,' or 'bona annuntiatio,' (good news). It may indeed be used on all occasions whenever any good is announced; but it has come to be appropriated to the announcement of the Saviour.
Gloss.: Those who have related the birth, deeds, words, and sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ, are properly styled Evangelists.
Chrysostom, Homil. in Matt., i, 2: For what is there that can equal these good tidings? God on earth, man in heaven; that long war ceased, reconciliation made between God and our nature, the devil overthrown, death abolished, paradise opened. These things, so far beyond our merits, are given us with all fulness; not for our own toil or labour, but because we are beloved of God.
Augustine, de vera relig, c. 16: Whereas God in many ways heals the souls of men, according to the times and the seasons which are ordained by His (p. 2) marvellous wisdom, yet has He in no way more beneficently provided for the human race, than when the Very Wisdom of God, the Only Son of one substance and coeternal with the Father, stooped to take upon Him perfect man, and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Hereby He made manifest how high a place among creatures had human nature, in that He appeared to men as Very Man.
Pseudo-Aug., Serm. de Nativ., Serm. ix: God was made man, that man might be made God.
Gloss.: This part of the glad tidings that should be preached, the Prophet foretells saying, "Behold, your God, &c."
Pope Leo, Epist. ad Flavian., xxviii, 3: For this emptying of himself, by which the Invisible made Himself Visible, and the Creator and Lord of all things choose to become one of us mortal creatures, was a stooping of His mercy, not a failing of His power.
Gloss.: Therefore that the Lord should not be supposed to be present in such a way as that there should be any thing lost of His power, the Prophet adds, "The Lord shall come with power."
Aug., de doct. Christ, i, 12: "Come," not by passing through the regions of space, but by shewing Himself to men in the flesh.
Leo, Serm. in Nativ., xix, 3: By the unspeakable power of God, it was wrought, that while very Man was in the inviolable God, and very God is passible flesh, there was bestowed upon man, glory through shame, immortality through punishment, life through death.
Aug., de Peccatorum Meritis, ii, 30: For blood that was without sin being shed, the bond of all men's sins was done away, by which men were before held captive by the Devil.
Gloss.: Therefore because men, having been delivered from sin by virtue of Christ suffering, became the servants of God, it follows, "And His arm shall have dominion."
Leo: In Christ then was given us this wonderful deliverance, that on our passible nature the condition of death should not abide, which His impassible essence had admitted, and that by that which could not die, that which was dead might be brought to life.
Gloss.: And thus through Christ is opened to us the entrance of immortal glory, concerning which it follows, "Lo, His reward is with Him;" that, namely, of which Himself speaks, "Your reward is abundant in heaven." (Mt 5,12)
Aug., contra Faust., iv, 2: The promise of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven belongs to the New Testament; in the Old Testament are contained promises of temporal things.
Gloss.: So then evangelic teaching delivers to us four things (p. 3) concerning Christ; the Divinity that takes upon it, the Humanity that is taken upon it, His Death by which we are delivered from bondage, His Resurrection by which the entrance of a glorious life is opened to us. On this account it is represented in Ezekiel under the figure of the four animals.
Gregory, in Ezek, Hom., iv: The Only-begotten Son of God was Himself verily made Man; Himself condescended to die as the sacrifice of our redemption as a Calf; He rose again through the power of His might, as a Lion; and as an Eagle He ascended aloft into heaven.
Gloss.: In which ascension He shewed manifestly His Divinity; Matthew then is denoted by the Man, because he dwells chiefly on the humanity of Christ; Mark by the Lion, because he treats of His Resurrection; Luke by the Calf, because he insists on His Priesthood; John by the Eagle, because he describes the sacraments of His Divinity.
Ambrose, Comm. in Luc., pref.: And it has happened well that we set out with delivering the opinion that the Gospel according to Matthew is of a moral kind, for morals are the peculiar province of man. The figure of a Lion is ascribed to Mark, because he begins with an assertion of His Divine power, saying, "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God." The figure of the Eagle is given to John, because he has described the miracles of the Divine Resurrection.
Greg.: These things the commencement of each of the Gospel books testifies. Because he opens with Christ's human generation, Matthew is rightly designated by a Man; Mark by a Lion, because he begins with the crying in the desert; Luke by a Calf, because he begins with a sacrifice; because he takes his beginning from the divinity of the Word, John is worthily signified by an Eagle.
Aug., de Consensu Evang., i, 6: Or, Matthew who has chiefly represented the regal character of Christ, is designated by a Lion; Luke by a Calf, because of the Priest's victim; Mark, who chose neither to relate the royal nor the priestly lineage (ed. note: The original text of Augustine has here, "neque stirpem regiam neque sacerdotalem vel consecrationem vel cognationem."), and yet is clearly busied about His human nature, is designated by the figure of a Man.
These three animals, the Lion, the Man, the Calf, walk on the earth, whence these three Evangelists are mostly employed about those things which Christ wrought in the flesh.
But John, (p. 4) as the Eagle, soars on high, and with most keen eyes of the heart beholds the light of unchangeable Truth. From which we may understand, that the other three Evangelists are occupied about the active, and John about the contemplative, life.
The Greek Doctors by the Man understood Matthew, because he has deduced the Lord's lineage according to the flesh; by the Lion, John, because as the lion, strikes terror into the other beasts by his roaring, so John struck terror into all heretics; by the Calf, they understood Luke, because the calf was the victim of the Priests, and he is much employed concerning the Temple and the Priesthood; and by the Eagle they understood Mark, because the eagle in the Divine Scripture is used to denote the Holy Spirit, who spake by the mouths of the Prophets; and Mark begins with a citation from the Prophets.
Jerome, Hier. Prolog. in Evan. Matt. ad Euseb., Luke 1, 1: Concerning the number of the Evangelists, it should be known, that there were many who had written Gospels, as the Evangelist Luke witnesses, saying, "Forasmuch as many have taken in hand, &c.," and as books remaining to the present time declare which divers authors have set forth, therein laying the foundation of many heresies; such as the Gospel according to the Egyptians, according to Thomas, Matthias, and Bartholomew [see note, b, just below]; that of the twelve Apostles, and Basilides, and Apelles, and others whom it would be long to reckon up.
(ed. note, b: These apocryphal compositions are elsewhere mentioned by Clement Alex. (Strom, iii, p. 539, 553) Origen (in Luc. i) Eusebius (Hist. iii. 25) Pseudo-Athanasius (Synops. 76) Cyril (Catech. iv. 36, vi. 31) Epiphanius (Hier, 62, n. 2) Ambrose (in Luc. i. 2) and Pope Gelasius in his Decree.
The Gospel according to the Egyptians is supposed to be one of the works referred to in the beginning of St. Luke. It was afterwards used by the Gnostics and Sabellians in their defence. There seem to have been several Gospels according to Thomas, one ascribed to a disciple of Manes; one of an earlier date. One is still extant and is one of the two Gospels of our Saviour's infancy, which seem to be the work of the Gnostics.
The Gospel according to the Twelve Apostles seems to be the same as the celebrated Gospel according to the Nazarenes, or Hebrews, supposed to have been prior to the inspired Gospels, and afterwards corrupted by the Ebionites. Basilides was a Gnostic, and Apelles a Marcionite. Little is known of the Gospels according to Matthias, and Bartholomew; the former seems to have been of Gnostic origin.)
But the Church, which is founded by the Lord's word upon the rock, sending forth, like Paradise, its four streams, has four corners and four rings, by which as the ark of the covenant, and the guardian of the Law of the Lord, it is carried about on moveable (ed. note: some read, immobilibus) (p. 5) staves.
Aug., de cons. Evan. i. 2: Or, Because there are four quarters of the world, through the whole of which Christ's Church is extended. In learning and preaching they had a different order from that they had in writing. In learning and preaching they ranked first who followed the Lord present in the flesh, heard Him teaching, saw Him acting, and by His mouth were sent to preach the Gospel; but in penning the Gospel, an order which we must suppose to have been fixed by Heaven, the first place, and the last place were filled out of the number of those whom the Lord chose before His passion, the first by Matthew, the last by John; so that the other two, who were not of that number, but who yet followed Christ speaking in them, were embraced as sons, and placed in the middle between the other two, so as to be supported by them on both sides.
Remigius: Matthew wrote in Judaea in the time of the Emperor Caius Caligula; Mark in Italy, at Rome, in the time of Nero or Claudius, according to Rabanus; Luke in the parts of Achaia and Baeotia, at the request of Theophilus; John at Ephesus, in Asia Minor, under Nerva.
Bede: But though there were four Evangelists, yet what they wrote is not so much four Gospels, as one true harmony of four books. For as two verses having the same substance, but different words and different metre, yet contain one and the same matter, so the books of the Evangelists, though four in number, yet contain one Gospel, teaching one doctrine of the Catholic faith.
Chrys.: It had indeed been enough that one Evangelist should have written all; but whereas four speak all things as with one mouth, and that neither from the same place nor at the same time, nor having met and discoursed together, these things are the greatest test of truth.
It is also a mark of truth that in some small matters they seem to disagree. For had their agreement been complete throughout, adversaries might have supposed that it was by a human collusion that this was brought about. Indeed, in essentials which pertain to direction of life, and preaching the faith, they do not differ in the least thing. And if in their accounts of miracles, one tells it in one way, another in another, let not this disturb you; but think that if one had told all, the other three would have been a needless superfluity; had they all written different things, there would have been no (p. 6) room for proof of their harmony. And if their account differs in times or modes, this does not hinder the truth of the facts themselves which they relate, as shall be shewn below.
Aug.: Though each seems to have followed an order of narration of his own, yet we do not find any one of them writing as if in ignorance of his predecessor, or that he left out some things which he did not know, which another was to supply; but as each had inspiration, he gave accordingly the cooperation of his own not unnecessary labour.
Gloss.: But the sublimity of the Gospel doctrine consists, first, in its preeminent authority.
Aug.: For among all the Divine instruments which are contained in Holy Writ, the Gospel has justly the most excellent place; its first preachers were the Apostles who had seen the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ present in the flesh; and some of them, that is, Matthew and John, published each a book of such things as seemed good to be published concerning Him.
And that it should not be supposed, that, as far as relates to receiving and preaching the Gospel, it makes any difference whether it is announced by those who followed Him during His sojourn in the flesh, or by those who faithfully believed what they heard from others, it is provided by Divine Providence through the Holy Spirit (ed. note: a clause is inserted here from the original to complete the sense.), that a commission, as well of writing as of preaching the Gospel, should be bestowed on some out of the number of those that followed the first Apostles.
Gloss.: And thus it is clear that the sublimity of the authority of the Gospel is derived from Christ; this is proved by the words of the Prophet cited above, "Go up to the top of the mountain." For Christ is that Mountain of whom the same Isaiah speaks, "And there shall be in the last days a mountain prepared, the house of the Lord in the top of the mountains;" (Is 2,2) that is, upon all the saints who from Christ the Mountain are also called mountains; for of His fulness have we all received. And rightly is that, "Go thou up upon a high mountain," addressed to Matthew, who, as had been foretold, in his own person saw the deeds of Christ, and heard His doctrine.
Aug., de cons. Evan. i. 7: This should be considered which to many presents a great difficulty, why the Lord Himself wrote nothing, so that we are obliged to give our belief to others who wrote (p. 7) of Him.
Gloss.: But we ought not to say that He wrote nothing, seeing His members have written those things which they learned by the dictation of their Head. For whatever He would have us to read concerning His actions or His words, that He enjoined upon them to write as His own hands.
Gloss.: Secondly, the Evangelic doctrine has sublimity of strength; whence the Apostle says, "The Gospel is the power of God to the salvation of all that believe." (Rm 1,16) The Prophet also shews this in the foregoing words, "Lift up thy voice with might;" which further marks out the manner of evangelic teaching, by that raising the voice which gives clearness to the doctrine.
Aug., ad Volus. Ep. 3: For the mode in which Holy Scripture is put together, is one accessible to all, but thoroughly entered into by few. The things it shews openly, it doth as a familiar friend without guile speaking to the heart of the unlearned, as the learned. The things it veils in mysteries, it does not deck out in lofty speech, to which a slow and unlearned soul would not dare to approach, as a poor man would not to a rich; but in lowly phrase it invites all, whom it not only feeds with plain truth, but exercises in hidden knowledge; for it has matter of both.
But that its plain things might not be despised, these very same things it again withholds; being withheld they become as new; and thus become new they are again pleasingly expressed. Thus all tempers have here what is meet for them; the bad are corrected, the weak are strengthened, the strong are gratified.
Gloss.: But because the voice when raised on high is heard further off, by the raising of the voice may be denoted the publication of the Gospel doctrine; because it is given to be preached not to one nation only, but to all nations. The Lord speaks, "Preach the Gospel to every creature." (Mt 16,15)
Gregory, Homil. in Evan, 28: By every creature may be meant the Gentiles.
Gloss.: The Evangelic doctrine has, thirdly, the loftiness of liberty.
Aug., con. Adver. Legis et Proph. i. 17: Under the Old Testament because of the promise of temporal goods and the threatening of temporal evils, the temporal Jerusalem begets slaves; but under the New Testament, where faith requires love, by which the Law can be fulfilled not more through fear of punishment, than from love of righteousness, the eternal Jerusalem begets (p. 8) freemen.
Gloss.: This excellence of the Gospel doctrine the Prophet describes when he says, "Cry aloud, fear not." It remains to see to whom, and for what purpose, this Gospel was written.
Jerome, Hier. Prolog. ad Euseb: Matthew published his Gospel in Judaea, in the Hebrew tongue, for the sake of those of the Jews who believed in Jerusalem.
Gloss. Ordinaria: For having first preached the Gospel in Judaea, being minded to pass to the Gentiles, he first put in writing a Gospel in Hebrew, and left it as a memorial to those brethren from whom he was departing. For as it was necessary that the Gospel should be preached for confirmation of the faith, so was it necessary that it should be written to oppose heretics.
Pseudo-Chrys., Comm. in Matt., Prolog: Matthew has arranged his narrative in a regular series of events. First, the birth, secondly, the baptism, thirdly, the temptation, fourthly, the teachings, fifthly, the miracles, sixthly, the passion, seventhly, the resurrection, and lastly, the ascension of Christ; desiring by this not only to set forth the history of Christ, but to teach the order of evangelic life.
It is nought that we are born of our parents, if we be not reborn again of God by water and the Spirit. After baptism we must resist the Devil. Then being as it were superior to all temptation, he is made fit to teach, and if he be a priest let him teach, and commend his teaching, as it were, by the miracles of a good life; if he be lay, let him teach faith by his works. In the end we must take our departure from the stage of this world, and there remains that the reward of resurrection and glory follow the victory over temptation.
Gloss.: From what has been said then, we understand the title Gospel, the substance of the Gospel doctrine, the emblems of the writers of the Gospel, their number, their time, language, discrepancy and arrangement; the sublimity of the Gospel doctrine; to whom this Gospel is addressed, and the method of its arrangement.
3101 (Mt 1,1)
Jerome, Ez, I. 5. Hier. Prolog. in Com. in Matt.: 'The face of a man' (in Ezekiel's vision) signifies Matthew, who accordingly opens his Gospel with the human genealogy of Christ.
Rabanus: By this exordium he shews that it is the birth of Christ according to the flesh that he has undertaken to narrate.
Pseudo-Chrys., Hom. in Matt., Hom. i: Matthew wrote for the Jews, and in Hebrew (ed. note: It seems to be the general witness of antiquity that there was a Hebrew copy of St. Matthew's Gospel, whether written before or after the Greek. This Hebrew copy was interpolated by the Ebionites.); to them it was unnecessary to explain the divinity which they recognized; but necessary to unfold the mystery of the Incarnation. John wrote in Greek for the Gentiles who knew nothing of a Son of God. They required therefore to be told first, that the Son of God was God, then that this Deity was incarnate.
Rabanus: Though the genealogy occupies only a small part of the volume, he yet begins thus, "The book of the generation." For it is the manner of the Hebrews to name their books from that with which they open; as Genesis.
Gloss. Ordinaria: The full expression would be "This is the book of the generation;" but this is a usual ellipse; e.g. "The vision of Isaiah," for, 'This is the vision.'
"Generation," he says in the singular number, though there be many here given in succession, as it is for the sake of the one generation of Christ that the rest are here introduced.
Chrys., Hom. in Matt., Hom. ii: Or he therefore entitles it, "The book of the generation," because this is the sum of the whole dispensation, the root of all its blessings; viz. (p. 10) that God become man; for this once effected, all other things followed of course.
Rabanus: He says, "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ," because he knew it was written, 'The book of the generation of Adam.' He begins thus then, that he may oppose book to book, the new Adam to the old Adam, for by the one were all things restored which had been corrupted by the other.
Jerome, Hier. Comm. in Matt., ch. 1: We read in Isaiah, "Who shall declare His generation?" (Is 53,8) But it does not follow that the Evangelist contradicts the Prophet, or undertakes what he declares impossible; for Isaiah is speaking of the generation of the Divine nature; St. Matthew of the incarnation of the human.
Chrys.: And do not consider this genealogy a small thing to hear: for truly it is a marvellous thing that God should descend to be born of a woman, and to have as His ancestors David and Abraham.
Remigius: Though any affirm that the prophet (Isaiah) does speak of His human generation, we need not answer to his enquiry, "Who shall declare it?" - "No man;" but, "Very few;" because Matthew and Luke have.
Rabanus: By saying, "of Jesus Christ," he expresses both the kingly and priestly office to be in Him, for Jesus, who first bore this name, was after Moses, the first who was leader of the children of Israel; and Aaron, anointed by the mystical ointment, was the first priest under the Law.
Hilary, Quaest. Nov. et Vet. Test. q. 40: What God conferred on those, who, by the anointing of oil were consecrated as kings or priests, this the Holy Spirit conferred on the Man Christ; adding moreover a purification. The Holy Spirit cleansed that which taken of the Virgin Mary was exalted into the Body of the Saviour, and this is that anointing of the Body of the Saviour's flesh whence He was called Christ.
(ed. note: This passage is from a work commonly ascribed to Hilary the Deacon. The Fathers bear out its doctrine; e.g. "Since the flesh is not holy in itself, therefore it was sanctified even in Christ, the Word which dwelt in it, through the Holy Ghost, sanctifying His own Temple, and changing it into the energy of His own Nature. For therefore is Christ's Body understood to be both holy and hallowing, as being made a Temple of the Word united to it bodily, as Paul says." Cyril Alex. lib. v. in Joann. p. 992.
In like manner, Gregory of Nazianzus speaks of "The Father of the True and really Anointed (Christ), whom He has anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows, anointing the manhood with the Godhead, so as to make both one." Orat. 5. fin)
Because the impious craft of the Jews denied that Jesus was born of the seed of David, he adds, "The son of David, the son of Abraham." (p. 11)
Chrys.: But why would it not have been enough to name one of them, David alone, or Abraham alone? Because the promise had been made to both of Christ to be born of their seed. To Abraham, "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." (Gn 22,18) To David, "Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy seat." (Ps 137,11)
He therefore calls Christ the Son of both, to shew that in Him was fulfilled the promise to both. Also because Christ was to have three dignities; King, Prophet, Priest; but Abraham was prophet and priest; priest, as God says to him in Genesis, "Take an heifer;" (Gn 15,9) Prophet, as the Lord said to Abimelech concerning him, "He is a prophet, and shall pray for thee." (Gn 20,7) David was king and prophet, but not priest.
Thus He is expressly called the son of both, that the threefold dignity of His forefathers might be recognized by hereditary right in Christ.
Ambrose, in Luc. iii: He therefore names specially two authors of His birth - one who received the promise concerning the kindreds of the people, the other who obtained the oracle concerning the generation of Christ; and though he is later in order of succession is yet first named, inasmuch as it is greater to have received the promise concerning Christ than concerning the Church, which is through Christ; for greater is He who saves than that which is saved.
Jerome: The order of the names is inverted, but of necessity; for had he written Abraham first, and David afterwards, he would have to repeat Abraham again to preserve the series of the genealogy.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Another reason is that royal dignity is above natural, though Abraham was first in time, yet David is honour.
Gloss.: But since from this title it appears that the whole book is concerning Jesus Christ, it is necessary first to know what we must think concerning Him; for so shall be better explained what this book relates of Him.
Aug., de Haer, et 10: Cerinthus then and Ebion made Jesus Christ only man; Paul of Samosata, following them, asserted Christ not to have had an existence from eternity, but to have begun to be from His birth of the Virgin Mary; he also thought Him nothing more than man. This heresy was afterwards confirmed by Photinus.
Pseudo-Athan., Vigil. Tapsens. (Athan. Ed. Ben., vol ii, p. 646): The Apostle John, seeing long before by the Holy Spirit this man's madness, rouses him from his deep sleep of error by the preaching of his voice, saying, "In the beginning was the (p. 12) Word." (Jn 1,1)
He therefore, who in the beginning was with God, could not in this last time take the beginning of His being from man. He says further, (let Photinus hear his words,) "Father, glorify Me with that glory which I had with Thee before the world was." (Jn 17,5)
Aug., de Haeres. 19: The error of Nestorius was, that he taught that a man only was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom the Word of God received not into Unity of person and inseparable fellowship; a doctrine which Catholic ears could not endure.
Cyril of Alexandria, Ep. i. ad Monachos Egypti.: Saith the Apostle of the Only-begotten, "Who being in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God." (Ph 2,6)
Who then is this who is in the form of God? or how emptied He Himself, and humbled Himself to the likeness of man? If the abovementioned heretics dividing Christ into two parts, i.e. the Man and the Word, affirm that it was the Man that was emptied of glory, they must first shew what form and equality with the Father are understood to be, and did exist, which might suffer any manner of emptying.
But there is no creature, in its own proper nature, equal with the Father; how then can any creature be said to be emptied? or from what eminence to descend to become man? Or how can he be understood to have taken upon Him, as though He had not at first, the form of a servant?
But, they say, the Word being equal with the Father dwelt in Man born of a woman, and this is the emptying. I hear the Son truly saying to the Holy Apostles, "If any man love Me, he will keep My saying, and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him." (Jn 14,23)
Hear how He saith that He and the Father will dwell in them that love Him. Do you then suppose that we shall grant that He is there emptied of His glory, and has taken upon Him the form of a servant, when He makes His abode in the hearts of them that love Him? Or the Holy Spirit, does He fulfil an assumption of human flesh when He dwells in our hearts?
Isidore, Epist. lib. iv. 166: But not to mention all arguments, let us bring forward that one to which all arguments point, that, for one who was God to assume a lowly guise both has an obvious use, and is an adaptation and in nothing contradicts the course of nature. But for one who is man to speak things divine and supernatural is the highest presumption; for though a king may (p. 13) humble himself a common soldier may not take on him the state of an emperor. So, if He were God made man, all lowly things have place; but if mere man, high things have none.
Aug., de Haeres. 41: Sabellius they say was a disciple of Noctus, who taught that the same Christ was one and the same Father and Holy Spirit.
Pseudo-Athan., Vigil. Tapsens. (ibid. p. 644): The audaciousness of this most insane error I will curb by the authority of the heavenly testimonies, and demonstrate the distinct personality of the proper substance of the Son. I shall not produce things which are liable to be explained away as agreeable to the assumption of human nature; but shall offer such passages as all will allow to be decisive in proof of His divine nature.
In Genesis we find God saying, "Let Us make man in Our own Image." By this plural number shewing, that there was some other person to whom He spoke. Had He been one, He would have been said to have made Him in His own Image, but there is another; and He is said to have made man in the Image of that other.
Gloss.: Other denied the reality of Christ's human nature. Valentinus said that Christ sent from the Father, carried about a spiritual or celestial body, and took nothing of the Virgin, but passed through her as through a channel, taking nothing of her flesh. But we do not therefore believe Him to have been born of the Virgin, because by no other means He could have truly lived in the flesh, and appeared among men; but because it is so written in the Scripture, which if we believe not we cannot either be Christians, or be saved.
But even a body taken of spiritual, or ethereal, or clayey substance, had He willed to change into the true and very quality of human flesh, who will deny His power to do this? The Manichaeans said that the Lord Jesus Christ was a phantasm, and could not be born of the womb of a woman. But if the body of Christ was a phantasm, He was a deceiver, and if a deceiver, then He was not the truth. But Christ is the Truth; therefore His Body was not a phantasm.
Gloss.: And as the opening both of this Gospel, and of that according to Luke, manifestly proves Christ's birth of a woman, and hence His real humanity, they reject the beginning of both these Gospels.
Aug., cont. Faust, ii, 1: Faustus affirms, that "the Gospel both begins, and begins to be so called, from the preaching of (p. 14) Christ, in which He no where affirms Himself to have been born of men. (ed. note: The Ebionites, as well as the Manichees, rejected the beginning of St. Matthew, vid. Epiphan. II arr. xxx. 23. And the Marcionites the beginning of St. Luke. Epiph. Haer. xlii, 11. But what exact portion they rejected is doubtful.)
Nay, so far is this genealogy from being part of the Gospel, that the writer does not venture so to entitle it; beginning, 'The book of the generation,' not 'The book of the Gospel.' Mark again, who cared not to write of the generation, but only of the preaching of the Son of God, which is properly The Gospel, begins thus accordingly, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God." Thus then, all that we read in Matthew before the words, "Jesus began to preach the Gospel of the kingdom," (Mt 4,17) is a part of the genealogy, not of the Gospel. I therefore betook myself to Mark and John, with whose prefaces I had good reason to be satisfied, as they introduce neither David, nor Mary, nor Joseph."
To which Augustine replies, What will he say then to the Apostle's words, "Remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ of the seed of David according to my Gospel." (2Tm 2,8) But the Gospel of the Apostle Paul was likewise that of the other Apostles, and of all the faithful, as he says, "Whether I, or they, thus have we preached the Gospel."
Aug., de Haer., 49: The Arians will not have the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to be of one and the same substance, nature, and existence; but that the Son is a creature of the Father, and Holy Spirit a creature of a creature, i.e. created by the Son; further, they think that Christ took the flesh without a soul.
But John declares the Son to be not only God, but even of the same substance as the Father; (margin note: ref Id. de Trin. i. 6) for when he had said, "The Word was God," he added, "all things were made by Him;" whence it is clear that He was not made by Whom all things were made; and if not made, then not created; and therefore of one substance with the Father, for all that is not of one substance with the Father is creature.
I know not what benefit the person of the Mediator has conferred upon us, if He redeemed not our better part, but took upon Him our flesh only, which without the soul cannot have consciousness of the benefit. But if Christ came to save that which had perished, (p. 15) the whole man had perished, and therefore needs a Saviour; Christ then in coming saves the whole man, taking on Him both soul and body.
How too do they answer innumerable objections from the Gospel Scriptures, in which the Lord speaks so many things manifestly contrary to them? as is that, "My soul is sorrowful even unto death," (Mt 26,38) and, "I have power to lay down My life;" (Jn 10,18) and many more things of the like kind.
Should they say that He spoke thus in parables, we have at hand proofs from the Evangelists themselves, who in relating His actions, bear witness as to the reality of His body, so of His soul, by mention of passions which cannot be without a soul; as when they say, "Jesus wondered, was angry," and others of like kind.
The Apollinarians also as the Arians affirmed that Christ had taken the human flesh without the soul (margin note: Id. de Haeres. 55). But overthrown on this point by the weight of Scripture proof, they then said that part which is the rational soul of man was wanting to the soul of Christ, and that its place was filled by the Word itself.
But if it be so, then we must believe that the Word of God took on Him the nature of some brute with a human shape and appearance. But even concerning the nature of Christ's body, there are some who have so far swerved from the right faith, as to say, that the flesh and the Word were of one and the same substance, most perversely insisting on that expression, The Word was made flesh; which they interpret that some portion of the Word was changed into flesh, not that He took to Him flesh of the flesh of the Virgin.
(ed. note: Some of the Apollinarians thus hold. vid. Nyssen. vol. ii, p. 694. A.Theodor. Eranist. p. 174. ed. Schulz. The same doctrine was afterwards ascribed to the Eutychians, vid. Vigil. Taps. in Eutych. iv. Theod. Haer. iv. 13)
Cyril, Ep. ad Joan. Antioch. tom. 6, Ep. 107: We account those persons mad who have suspected that so much as the shadow of change could take place in the nature of the Divine Word; it abides what it ever was, neither is nor can be changed.
Leo, Epist. 59, ad Const.: We do not speak of Christ as man in such a sort as to allow that any thing was wanting to Him, which it is certain pertains to human nature, whether soul, or rational mind, or flesh, and flesh such as was taken of the Woman, not gained by a change or conversion of the Word into flesh.
These three several errors, that thrice false heresy of the Apollinarists has brought forward. Eutyches also chose out this third dogma of Apollinaris, which denying (p. 16) the verity of the human body and soul, maintained that our Lord Jesus Christ was wholly and entirely of one nature, as though the Divine Word had changed itself into flesh and soul, and as though the conception, birth, growth, and such like, had been undergone by that Divine Essence, which was incapable of any such changes with the very and true flesh; for such as is the nature of the Only-begotten, such is the nature of the Father, and such is the nature of the Holy Ghost, both impassible and eternal.
But if to avoid being driven to the conclusion that the Godhead could feel suffering and death, he departs from the corruption of Apollinaris, and should still dare to affirm the nature of the incarnate Word, that is of the Word and the flesh, to be the same, he clearly falls into the insane notions of Manichaeus and Marcion, and believes that the Lord Jesus Christ did all His actions with a false appearance, that His body was not a human body, but a phantasm, which imposed on the eyes of the beholders.
But what Eutyches ventured (margin note: Id. Ep 35 ad Julian) to pronounce as an episcopal decision, that in Christ before His incarnation were two natures, but after His incarnation only one, it behoved that he should have been urgently pressed to give the reason of this his belief.
I suppose that in using such language he supposed the soul which the Saviour took, to have had its abode in heaven before it was born of the Virgin Mary (ed. note, e: This opinion, which involves Nestorianism, the opposite error to Eutychianism or Monophysitism, is imputed to Eutyches by Flavian, ap. Leon. Ep. xxii. 3. Ephraem, Antioch, ap Phot. p. 805. Leont. de Sectis 7 init).
This Catholic hearts and ears endure not, for that the Lord when He came down from heaven shewed nothing of the condition of human nature, nor did He take on Him any soul that had existed before, nor any flesh that was not taken of the flesh of His mother. Thus what was justly condemned in Origen (ed. note, f: Vid. Origen in Joan. t. i. n. 37. t. xx. n. 17. Patriarch. ii. 6. n. 4. ix. Cels. i. 32, 33), must needs be rebuked in Eutyches, to wit, that our souls before they were placed in our bodies had actions not only wonderful but various.
Remig: These heresies therefore the Apostles overthrow in the opening of their Gospels, as Matthew in relating how He derived His descent from the kings of the Jews proves Him to have been truly man and to have had true flesh.
Likewise Luke, when he (p. 17) describes the priestly stock and person; Mark when he says, "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God;" and John when he says, "In the beginning was the Word;" both shew Him to have been before all ages God, with God the Father.