Augustin on John 110
111 (Jn 17,24-26.
1. The Lord Jesus raises up His people to a great hope, than which there could not possibly be a greater. Listen and rejoice in hope, that, since the present is not a life to be loved, but to be tolerated, you may have the power of patient endurance amid all its tribulation.1 Listen, I say, and weigh well to what it is that our hopes are exalted. Christ Jesus saith, The Son of God, the Only-begotten, who is co-eternal and equal with the Father, saith: He, who for our sakes became man, but became not, like every man besides, a liar,2 saith: the Way, the Life, the Truth saith:3 He who overcame the world, saith of those for whom He overcame it: listen, believe, hope, desire what He saith: “Father,” He says, “I will that they also whom Thou hast given me be with me where I am.” Who are these who He says were given Him by the Father? Are they not those of whom He says in another place, “No man cometh unto me, unless the Father, who hath sent me, draw him”?4 We already know if we havemade any beneficial progress in this Gospel, how it is that the things which He says the Father doeth, He Himself doeth likewise along with the Father. They are those, therefore, whom He has received from the Father, whom He Himself has also chosen out of the world, and chosen that they may be no more of the world, even as He also is not of the world; and yet that they also may be a world that believeth and knoweth that Christ has been sent by God the Father that the world might be delivered from the world, and so, as a world that was to be reconciled unto God, might not be condemned with the world that lieth in enmity. For so He says in the beginning of this prayer: “Thou hast given Him power over all flesh,” that is, over every man, “that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him.” Here He makes it clear that He has indeed received power over all men, that, as the future Judge of quick and dead, He may deliver whom He pleases, and condemn whom He pleases; but that these were given Him that to all of them He should give eternal life. For so He says: “That He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him.” Accordingly they were not given Him that from them He should withhold eternal life; although over them also the power has been given Him, inasmuch as He has received it over all flesh, in other words, over every man. In this way the world that has been reconciled will be delivered from the hostile world, when He putteth into exercise His power over it, to send it away into death eternal; but the other He maketh His own that He may give it everlasting life. Accordingly, to every one, without fail, of His own sheep the Good Shepherd, as to every one of His members the great Head, hath promised this reward, that where He is, there also we shall be with Him; nor can that be otherwise which the omnipotent Son declared to be His will to the omnipotent Father. For there also is the Holy Spirit, equally eternal, equally God, the one Spirit of the two, the substance of the will of both. For the words that we read of Him as uttering on the eve of His passion, “Yet not, Father, as I will, but as Thou wilt,”5 as if the Father has or had one will, and the Son another, are the echo of our infirmity, however faith-pervaded, which our Head transfigured in Hisown person, when He likewise bare our iniquities. But that the will of the Father and the Son is one, of both of whom also there is but one Spirit, by including whom we come to the knowledge of the Trinity, let piety believe, even though our infirmity meanwhile permitteth us not to understand.
2. But as we have already, in a way proportionate to the brevity of our discourse, spoken of the objects of the promise, and of its own stability; let us now look at this one point, as far as we are able, what it is that He was pleased to promise when He said, “I will that they also whom Thou hast given me be with me where I am.” As far as pertains to the creaturehood wherein He was made of the seed of David according to the flesh,6 not even He Himself was yet where He would afterwards be: but He could say in this way, “where I am,” to let us understand that He was soon to ascend into heaven, so that He spake of Himself as being already there, where He was presently to be. He could do so also in the same way as He had said on a former occasion, when speaking to Nicodemus, “No man ascendeth into heaven, save He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man who is in heaven.”7 For there also He did not say, Will be, but “is,” because of the oneness of person, wherein God is at once man, and man God. He promised, therefore, that we should be in heaven; for thither the servant-form, which He received of the Virgin, has been elevated, and set at the right hand of the Father. Because of the same blessed hope the apostle also says: “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ; by whose grace we are saved; and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”8 And so accordingly we may understand the Lord to have said, “That where I am, there they may be also.” He, indeed, said of Himself that He was there already; but of us He merely declared that He wished us to be there with Him, without any indication that we were there already But what the Lord said that He wished to be done, the apostle spake of as already accomplished. For he said not, He will yet raise us up, and make us sit in heavenly places; but, “hath raised us up, and made us sit in heavenly places:” for it is not without good grounds, but in believing assurance, that he reckons as already done what he is certain will yet be done. But if it is in respect of the form of God, wherein He is equal to the Father, that we would be inclined to understand His words, “I will that they also be with me, where I am,” let our mind get quit of every thought of material images: whateverthe soul has had presented to it, that is endowed with length, or breadth, or thickness, tinted by the light with any sort of bodily hue, or diffused through local space of any kind, whether finite or infinite, let it, as far as possible, turn away from all such notions the glance of its contemplation on the inward bent of its thoughts. And let us not be making inquiries as to where the Son, the Father’s co-equal, is, since no one has yet found out where He is not. But if any one would inquire, let him inquire rather how he may be with Him; not everywhere as He is, but wherever He may be. For when He said to the man that was expiating his crimes on the tree, and making confession unto salvation, “Today shall thou be with me in paradise,”9 in respect to His human nature His own soul was on that very day to be in hell,10 His flesh in the sepulchre; but as respected His Godhead He was certainly also in paradise. And therefore the soul of the thief, absolved from his by-gone crimes, and already in the blessed enjoyment of His grace, although it could not be everywhere as He was, yet could on that very day be also with Him in paradise, from which He, who is always everywhere, had not withdrawn. On this account, doubtless, it was not enough for Him to say, “I will that they also be where I am;” but He added, “with me.” For to be with Him is the chief good. For even the miserable can be where He is, since wheresoever any are, there is He also; but the blessed only are with Him, because it is only of Him that they can be blessed. Was it not truly said to God, “If I ascend into heaven, Thou art there; and if I go down into hell, Thou art present?”11 or is not Christ after all that Wisdom of God which “penetrateth everywhere because of its purity”?12 But the light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.13 And similarly, to take a kind of illustration from what is visible, although greatly unlike, as the blind man, even though he be where the light is, is yet not himself with the light, but is really absent from that which is present; so the unbeliever and profane, or even the believer and pious, because not yet competent to gaze on the light of wisdom, although he cannot be anywhere that Christ is not there likewise, yet is not himself with Christ, I mean in actual sight. For we cannot doubt that the true believer is with Christ by faith; because in reference to this He saith, “He that is not with me is against me.”14 But when He said to God the Father, “I will that they also whom Thou hast given me be with me where I am,” He spake exclusively of that sight wherein we shall see Him as He is.15
3. Let no one disturb the clearness of the meaning by any cloudy contradiction; but let what follows furnish its testimony to the words that precede. For after saying, “I will that they also be with me where I am,” He went on immediately to add, “That they may behold my glory, which Thou gavest me: for Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” “That they may behold,” He said; not, that they may believe. This is faith’s wages,16 not faith itself. For if faith has been correctly defined in the Epistle to the Hebrews as “the assurance [conviction] of things that are not seen,”17 why may not the wages of faith be defined, the beholding of things which were hoped for in faith? For when we shall see the glory which the Father hath given the Son, even though we may understand what is spoken of in this passage, not as that [glory] which the Father gave His co-equal Son in begetting Him, but as that which He gave Him, when become the Son of man, after the death of the cross;-when, I say, we shall see that glory of the Son, then of a certainty shall take place the judgment of the quick and the dead, and then shall the wicked be taken away that he may not behold the glory of the Lord;18 and what [glory], save that of His Godhead? For blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God:19 and because the wicked are not pure in heart, therefore they shall not see Then shall they go away into everlasting punishment; for so shall the wicked be taken away, that he may not behold the glory of the Lord: but the righteous shall go into life eternal.20 And what is life eternal? “That they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent” (ver. 3): not, indeed, as those knew Him, who although impure in heart, yet were able to see Him as He sat in judgment in His glorified servant-form; but as He is yet to be known by the pure in heart, as the only true God, the Son along with the Father and Holy Spirit, because the Trinity itself is the only true God. If, then, it is in reference to His Godhead as the Son of God, equal and co-eternal with the Father, that we take the words, “I will that they also be with me where I am,” we shall be with Christ in the Father; but He in His own way, we in ours, wherever we may be in body. For if localities are to be understood, and such as contain incorporeal beings, and everything has a place where it is, the eternal place of Christ where He always is, is the Father Himself, and the place of the Father is the Son; for “I,” He said, “am in the Father, and the Father in me;”21 and in this prayer, “As Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee:” and they are our place, because there follows, “That they also may be one in us:” and we are God’s place, inasmuch as we are His temple; even as He, who died for us and liveth for us, also prayeth for us, that we may be one in them; because “His [dwelling] place was made in peace,22 and His habitation in Zion,”23 which we are. But who is qualified to think on such places or what is in them, apart from the idea of space-defined capacities and material masses? Yet no little progress is made, if at least, when any such idea presents itself to the eye of the mind, it is denied, rejected, and reprobated: and a certain kind of light is, as far as possible, thought of, in which such things are perceived as deserving only to be denied, rejected, and reprobated; and the certainty of that light is known and loved, so that from thence an upward movement is begun in us, and an effort made to reach into places farther within: and when the mind through its own infirmity and still inferior purity has failed to penetrate them it is driven back again, not without the sighings of love and the tears of ardent longing, and continues to bear in patience until it is purified by faith, and prepared by the holiness of the inward life to be able to take up its abode therein.
4. How, then, shall we not be with Christ where He is, when we shall be with Him in the Father in whom He is? On this, also, the apostle is not without something to say to us, although we are not yet in possession of the reality, but only cherishing the hope. For he says, “If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God: set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye have died,” he adds, “and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Here, you see, our life is meanwhile in faith and hope with Christ, where He is; because it is with Christ in God. That, you see, is as if already accomplished for which He prayed, when He said, “I will that they also be with me where I am;” but now only by faith. And when will it be accomplished by actual sight? “When Christ,” he says, “[who is] your life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.”24 Then shall we appear as that which we then shall be; for it shall then be apparent that it was not without good grounds that we believed and hoped we should become so, before it actually took place. He will do this, to whom the Son, after saying, “That they may behold my glory, which Thou gavest me,” immediately added, “For Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” For in Him He loved us also before the foundation of the world, and then foreordained what He was to do in the end of the world.
5. “O righteous Father,” He saith, “the world hath not known Thee.” Just because Thou art righteous it hath not known Thee. It is as that world which has been predestined to condemnation really deserved, that it hath not known Him; while the world which He hath reconciled unto Himself through Christ hath known Him not of merit, but by grace. For what else is the knowing of Him, but eternal life which, while He undoubtedly withheld it from the condemned world, He bestowed on the reconciled. On that very account, therefore, the world hath not known Thee, because Thou art righteous, and hast rendered unto it according to its deserts, that it should not know Thee: while on the same account the reconciled world hath known Thee, because Thou art merciful, and, not for any merit of its own, but by grace, hast supplied it with the needed help to know Thee. And then there follows, “But I have known Thee.” He is the Fountain of grace, who is by nature God, and, by grace ineffable, man also of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin: and then on His own behalf, because the grace of God is through Jesus Christ our Lord, He adds, “And these have known that Thou hast sent me.” Such is the reconciled world. But it is because Thou hast sent me that they have known: by grace, therefore, have they known.
6. “And I have made known to them,” He says, “Thy name, and will make it known.” I have made it known by faith, I will make it known by sight: I have made it known to those whose present sojourn in a strange land has its appointed end, I will make it known to those whose reign as kings shall be endless. “That the love,” He adds, “wherewith [literally, which] Thou hast loved me,25 may be in them, and I in them. (The form of speech is unusual, “the love, which Thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them;” for the common way of speaking is, the love wherewith thou hast loved me. Here, of course, it is a translation from the Greek: but there are similar forms also in Latin; as we say. He served a faithful service, He served as a soldier a strenuous soldier-service; when apparently we ought to have said, He served with a faithful service, he served as a soldier with a strenuous soldier-service. But such as the form of expression is, “the love which Thou hast loved me;” one similar to it is also used by the apostle, “I have fought a good fight;”26 he does not say, in a good fight, which would be the more usual and perhaps correcter form of expression. ) But how else is the love wherewith the Father loved the Son in us also, but because we are His members and are loved in Him, since He is loved in the totality of His person, as both Head and members? Therefore He added, “and I in them;” as if saying, Since I am also in them. For in one sense He is in us as in His temple; but in another, because we are also Himself, seeing that, in accordance with His becoming man, that He might be our Head, we are His body. The Saviour’s prayer is finished, His passion begins; let us, therefore, also finish the present discourse, that we may treat of His passion, as He granteth us grace, in others to follow).
1 (Rm 12,12,
2 (Ps 116,11,
3 Chap. 14,6.
4 Chap. 6,44).
5 (Mt 26,39,
6 (Rm 1,3,
7 Chap. 3,13.
8 (Ep 2,4-6.
9 (Lc 23,43,
10 In inferno.
11 (Ps 139,8,
12 (Sg 7,24,
13 Chap. 1,5.
14 (Mt 12,30,
15 (1Jn 3,2,
17 (He 11,1,
18 (Is 26,10,
19 (Mt 5,8,
20 (Mt 25,46,
21 Chap. 14,10.
22 (Ps 76,2, in pace, µleŤ;b]; rather as in English version, “in Salem” (Jerusalem).-Tr).
23 (Ps 76,2, in pace, µleŤ;b]; rather as in English version, “in Salem” (Jerusalem).-Tr).
24 (Col 3,1-4.
25 Quam dilexisti me. The part which follows, which we have enclosed within parentheses, may be omitted by the English reader, as it only deals with the Latin idiom.-Tr.
26 (2Tm 4,7,
112 (Jn 18,1-12.
1. When the grand and lengthened discourse was concluded which the Lord delivered after supper, and on the eve of shedding His blood for us, to the disciples who were then with Him, and had added the prayer addressed to His Father, the evangelist Jn began thereafter the narrative of His passion in these words: “When Jesus had so spoken, He went forth with His disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which He entered, and His disciples. And Judas also, who betrayed Him, knew the place; for Jesus oft-times resorted thither with His disciples.” What he here relates of the Lord entering the garden with His disciples did not take place immediately after He had brought the prayer to a close, of which he says, “When Jesus had spoken these words:” but certain other incidents were interposed, which are passed over by the present evangelist and found in the others; just as in this one are found many things on which the others are similarly silent in their own narratives. But any one who desires to know how they all agree together, and the truth which is advanced by one is never contradicted by another, may seek for what he wants, not in these present discourses, but in other elaborate treatises;1 but he will master the subject not by standing and listening, but rather by sitting down and reading, or by giving his closest attention and thought to one who does so. Yet let him believe before he know, whether he be able also to come to such a knowledge in this life, or find it impossible through some existing entanglements, that there is nothing written by any one evangelist, as far as regards those who have been received by the Church into canonical authority, that can be contrary to his own or another’s equally veracious narrative. At present, therefore, let us look at the narrative of the blessed John, which we have undertaken to expound, without any comparison with the others, and without lingering over anything in it that is already sufficiently clear; so that where it is needful to do so, we may the better answer the demand. Let us, therefore, not take His words, “When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which He entered, and His disciples,” as if it were immediately after the utterance of these words that He entered the garden; but let the clause, “When Jesus had spoken these words,” bear this meaning, that we are not to suppose Him entering the garden before He had brought these words to a close.
2. “Judas also,” he says, “who betrayed Him, knew the place;2 for Jesus oft-times resorted thither with His disciples.” There, accordingly, the wolf, clad in a sheep’s skin, and tolerated among the sheep by the profound counsel of the Father of the family, learned where he might opportunely scatter the slender flock, and lay his coveted snares for the Shepherd. “Judas then,” he adds, “having received a cohort, and officers from the chief men and the Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns, and torches, and weapons.” It was a cohort, not of Jews, but of soldiers. We are therefore to understand it as having been received from the governor, as if for the purpose of securing the person of a criminal, and by preserving the forms of legal power, to deter any from venturing to resist his captors: although at the same time so great a band had been assembled, and came armed in such a way as either to terrify or even attack any one who should dare to make a stand in Christ’s defense. For only in so far was His power concealed and prominence given to His weakness, that these very measures were deemed necessary by His enemies to be taken against Him, for whose hurt nothing would have sufficed but what was pleasing to Himself; in His own goodness making a good use of the wicked, and doing what was good in regard to the wicked, that He might transform the evil into the good, and distinguish between the good and the evil.
3. “Jesus, therefore,” as the evangelist proceeds to say, “knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth and saith unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am [He]. And Judas also, who betrayed Him, stood with them. As soon then as He had said unto them, I am He, they went backward, and fell to the ground.” Where now were the military cohort, and the servants of the chief men and the Pharisees? where the terror and protection of weapons? His own single voice uttering the words, “I am [He],” without any weapon, smote, repelled, prostrated that great crowd, with all the ferocity of their hatred and terror of their arms. For God lay hid in that human flesh; and eternal day was so obscured in those human limbs, that with lanterns and torches He was sought for to be slain by the darkness. “I am [He],” He says; and He casteth the wicked to the ground. What will He do when He cometh as judge, who did this when giving Himself up to be judged? What will be His power when He cometh to reign, who had this power when He came to die? And now everywhere through the gospel Christ is still saying, “I am [He];” and the Jews are looking for antichrist, that they may go backward and fall to the ground, as those who have abandoned what is heavenly, and are hankering after the earthly. It was for the very purpose of apprehending Jesus that His persecutors accompanied the traitor: they found the One they were seeking, for they heard, “I am [He].” Why, then, did they not seize Him, but went backward and fell, but just because so He pleased, who could do whatever He pleased? But had He never permitted them to apprehend Him, they would certainly not have done what they came to do, but no more would He be doing what He came to do. They, verily, in their mad rage, sought for Him to put Him to death; but He, too, in giving Himself to death, was seeking for us. Accordingly, having thus shown His power to those who had the will, but not the power, to hold Him; let them now hold Him that He may work His own will with those who know it not.
4. “Then asked He them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am [He]. If therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: that the saying might be fulfilled which He spake, That of those whom Thou hast given me I have lost none.” “If ye seek me,” He says, “let these go their way.” He sees His enemies,3 and they do what He bids them: they let those go their way, whom He would not have perish. But were they not afterwards to die? How then, if they died now, should He lose them, were it not that as yet they did not believe in Him, as all believe who perish not?
5. “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. And the servant’s name was Malchus.” This is the only evangelist who has given us the very name of this servant, as Lc is the only one who tells us that the Lord touched his ear and healed him.4 The interpretation of Malchus is, one who is destined to reign. What, then, is signified by the ear that was cut off in the Lord’s behalf, and healed by the Lord, but the renewed hearing that has been pruned of its oldness, that it may henceforth be in the newness of the spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter?5 Who can doubt that he, who had such a thing done for him by Christ, was yet destined to reign with Christ? And his being found as a servant, pertains also to that oldness that gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.6 But when healing came, liberty also was shadowed forth. Peter’s deed, however, was disapproved of by the Lord, and He prevented Him from proceeding further by the words: “Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” For in such a deed that disciple only sought to defend his Master, without any thought of what it was intended to signify. And he had therefore to be exhorted to the exercise of patience, and the event itself to be recorded as an exercise of understanding. But when He says that the cup of suffering was given Him by the Father, we have precisely the same truth as that which was uttered by the apostle: “If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but gave Him up for us all.”7 But the originator of this cup is also one with Him who drank it; and hence the same apostle likewise says, “Christ loved us, and gave Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling savor.”8
6. “Then the cohort, and the tribune, and the officers of the Jews, took Jesus, and bound Him.” They took Him to whom they had never found access: for He continued the day, while they remained as darkness; neither had they given heed to the words, “Come unto Him, and be enlightened.”9 For had they so approached Him, they would have taken Him, not with their hands for the purpose of murder, but with their hearts for the purpose of a welcome reception. Now, however, when they laid hold of Him in this way, their distance from Him was vastly increased: and they bound Him by whom they themselves ought rather to have been loosed. And perhaps there were those among themwho then fastened their fetters on Christ, and yet were afterwards delivered by Him, and could say, “Thou hast loosed my bonds.”10 Let this be enough for to-day; we shall deal, God willing, with what follows in another discourse.
1 Augustin refers to his books “On the Harmony of the Evangelists.”
2 The text runs thus: Sciebat, inquit, et Judas, qui tradebat eum, locum. Ordo verborum est, Sciebat locum, qui tradebat eum; which could not be intelligibly translated into English.-Tr).
3 Thomas Aquinas in the Casena reads here, (He commands his enemies, and not altogether unsuitably.-Migne.
4 (Lc 22,51,
5 (Rm 7,6,
6 (Ga 4,24,
7 (Rm 8,31-32,
8 (Ep 5,2,
9 (Ps 34,5).
10 (Ps 116,16,
113 (Jn 18,13-27.
1). After that His persecutors had, through the treason of Judas, taken and bound the Lord, who loved us, and gave Himself for us,1 and whom the Father spared not, but gave Him up for us all:2 that we may understand that there was no praise due to Judas for the usefulness of his treachery, but damnation for the willfulness of his wickedness: “They led Him,” as Jn the evangelist tells us, “to Annas first.” Nor does he withhold the reason for so doing: “For he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, who was the high priest that same year. Now Caiaphas was he,” he says, “who gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.” And properly enough Matthew, when wishing to say the same in fewer words, tells us that He was led to Caiaphas;3 for He was also taken in the first place to Annas, simply because he was his father-in-law; and where we have only to understand that such was the very thing that Caiaphas wished to be done.
2. “But Jesus was followed,” he says, “by Simon Peter, and another disciple.” Who that other disciple is, we cannot affirm with confidence, because it is left unnoticed here. But it is in this way that Jn usually refers to himself, with the addition, “whom Jesus loved.”4 Perhaps, therefore, it is he also in the present case; but whoever it is, letus look at what follows. “And that disciple,” he says, “was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest; but Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, who was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. Then saith the damsel that kept thedoor unto Peter, Art thou also one of this man’s disciples? He saith, I am not.” Lo, the pillar of greatest strength has at a single breath of air trembled to its foundations. Where is now all that boldness of the promiser, and his overweening confidence in himself beforehand? What now of those words, when he said, “Why cannot I follow Thee now? I will lay down my life for Thy sake.”5 Is this the way to follow the Master, to deny his own discipleship? is it thus that one’s life is laid down for the Lord, when one is frightened at a maid-servant’s voice, lest it should compel us to the sacrifice? But what wonder, if God foretold what was true, and man presumptuously imagined what was false? Assuredly in this denial of the Apostle Peter, which had now entered on its first stage, we ought to take notice that not only is Christ denied by one who says that He is not Christ, but by him also who, while really a Christian, himself denies that he is so. For the Lord said not to Peter, Thou shall deny that thou art my disciple; but, “Thou shall deny me.”6 Him, therefore, he denied, when he denied that he was His disciple. And what else did such a form of denial imply, but that of his own Christianity? For although the disciples of Christ were not yet called by such a name,-because it was after His ascension, in Antioch, first that the disciples began to be called Christians,7 -yet the thing itself, that afterwards assumed such a name, already existed, those who were afterwards called Christians were already disciples; and this common name, like the common faith, they transmitted to their posterity. He, therefore, who denied that he was Christ’s disciple, denied the reality of the thing, of which the being called a Christian was only the name. How many afterwards, not to speak of old men and women, whose satiated feelings as regards the present life might more easily enable them to brave death for the confession of Christ; and not merely the youth of both sexes, when of an age at which the exercise of fortitude seems to be fairly required; but even boys and girls could do-even as an innumerable company of holy martyrs with brave hearts and by a violent death entered the kingdom of heaven-what at that moment he was unable to do, who received the keys of that kingdom.8 It is here we see why it was said, “Let these go their way,” when He, who hath redeemed us by His own blood, gave Himself for us; that the saying which He spake might be fulfilled, “Of those whom Thou hast given me I have lost none.” For assuredly, had Peter gone hence after denying the Christ, what else would have awaited him but destruction?
3. “And the servants and officers stood beside the fire of burning coals, for it was cold, and warmed themselves.” Though it was not winter, it was cold: which is sometimes wont to be the case even at the vernal equinox. “And Peter was standing with them, and warming himself. The high priest then asked Jesus of His disciples, and of His doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I always taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither all the Jews resort, and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou me? ask those who heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.” A question occurs that ought not to be passed over, how it is that the Lord Jesus said, “I spake openly to the world;” and in particular that which He afterwards added, “In secret have I said nothing.” Did He not, even in that latest discourse which He delivered to the disciples after supper, say to them, “These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs; but the hour cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of my Father?”9 If, then, He spake not openly even to the more intimate company of His disciples, but gave the promise of a time when He would speak openly, how was it that He spake openly to the world? And still further, as is also testified on the authority of the other evangelists, to those who were truly His own, in comparison with others who were not His disciples, He certainly spake with much greater plainness when He was alone with them at a distance from the multitudes; for then He unfolded to them the parables, which He had uttered in obscure terms to others. What then is the meaning of the words, “In secret have I said nothing”? It is in this way we are to understand His saying, “I spake openly to the world;” as if He had said, There were many that heard me. And that word “openly” was in a certain sense openly and in another sense not openly. It was openly, because many heard Him; and again it was not openly, because they did not understand Him. And even what He spake to His disciples apart, He certainly spake not in secret. For who speaketh in secret, that speaketh before so many persons; as it is written, “At tim mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established:”10 especially if that be spoken to a few which he wisheth to become known to many through them; as the Lord Himself said to the few whom He had as yet, “What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light; and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the house-tops”?11 And accordingly the very thing that seemed to be spoken by Himself in secret, was in a certain sense not spoken in secret; for it was not so spoken to remain unuttered by those to whom it was spoken; but rather so in order to be preached in every possible direction. A thing therefore may be uttered at once openly, and not openly; or at the same time in secret, and yet not in secret, as it is said, “That seeing, they may see, and not see.”12 For how “may they see,” save only because it is openly, and not in secret; and again, how is it that the same parties “may not see,” save that it is not openly, but in secret? Howbeit the very things which they had heard without understanding, were such as could not with justice or truth be turned into a criminal charge against Him: and as often as they tried by their questions to find something whereof to accuse Him, He gave them such replies as utterly discomfited all their plots, and left no ground for the calumnies they devised. Therefore He said, “Why askest thou me? ask those who heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.”
4. “And when He had thus spoken, one of the officers who stood by gave Jesus a blow with his open hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?” What could be truer, meeker, juster, than such an answer? For it is His [reply], from whom the prophetic voice had issued before, “Make for thy goal (literally, take aim), and advance prosperously and reign, because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness.”13 If we consider who it was that received the blow, might we not well feel the wish that he who struck it were either consumed by fire from heaven, or swallowed up by the gaping earth, or seized and carried off by devils, or visited with some other or still heavier punishment of this kind? For what one of all these could not He, who made the world, have commanded by His power, had He not wished rather to teach us the patience that overcometh the world? Some one will say here, Why did He not do what He Himself commanded?14 for to one that smote Him, He ought not to have answered thus, but to have turned to him the other cheek. Nay, more than this, did He not answer truthfully, and meekly, and righteously, and at the same time not only prepare His other cheek to him who was yet again to smite it, but His whole body to be nailed to the tree? And hereby He rather showed, what needed to be shown, namely, that those great precepts of His are to be fulfilled not by bodily ostentation, but by the preparation of the heart. For it is possible that even an angry man may visibly hold out his other cheek. How much better, then, is it for one who is inwardly pacified to make a truthful answer, and with tranquil mind hold himself ready for the endurance of heavier sufferings to come? Happy is he who, in all that he suffers unjustly for righteousness’ sake, can say with truth, “My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready;” for this it is that gives cause for that which follows: “I will sing and I give praise;”15 which Paul and Barnabas16 could do even in the cruellest of bonds.
5. But let us return to what follows in the Gospel narrative. “And Annas sent Him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.” To him, according to Matthew’s account, He was led at the outset, because he was the high priest that year. For both the pontiffs are to be understood as in the habit of acting year by year alternately, that is, as chief priests; and these were at that time Annas and Caiaphas, as recorded by the evangelist Luke, when telling of the time when John, the Lord’s forerunner, began to preach the kingdom of heaven and to gather disciples. For he speaks thus: “Under the high priests Annas and Caiaphas, the word of the Lord came upon John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness,”17 etc. Accordingly these twopontiffs fulfilled their years in turn: and it was the year of Caiaphas when Christ suffered. And so, according to Matthew, when He was apprehended, He was taken to him; but first, according to John, they came with Him to Annas; not because he was his colleague, but his father-in-law. And we must suppose that it was by Caiaphas’ wish that it was so done; or that their houses were so situated, that Annas could not properly be overlooked by them as they passed on their way.
6. But the evangelist, after saying that Annas sent Him bound unto Caiaphas, returns to the place of his narrative, where he had left Peter, in order to explain what had taken place in Annas’ house in regard to his threefold denial. “But Peter was standing,” he says, “and warming himself.” He thus repeats what he had already stated before; and then adds what follows. “They said therefore unto him, Art thou also one of his disciples? He denied, and said, I am not.” He had already denied once; this is the second time. And then, that the third denial might also be fulfilled, “one of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did I not see thee in the garden with him? Peter then denied again, and immediately the cock crew.” Behold, the prediction of the Physician is fulfilled, thepresumption of the sick man is brought to the light. For there is no performance of what the latter had asserted, “I will laydown my life for Thy sake;” but a performance of what the former had predicted, “Thou shall thrice deny me.”18 But with the completion of Peter’s threefold denial, let the present discourse be also now completed, that hereafter we may make a fresh start with the consideration of what was done respecting the Lord before Pontius Pilate the governor).
1 (Ep 5,2,
2 (Rm 8,32,
3 (Mt 26,57,
4 Chap. 13,23, and 19,26.
5 Chap. 13,37.
6 (Mt 26,34,
7 (Ac 11,26).
8 (Mt 16,19,
9 Chap. 16,25.
10 (Dt 19,15,
11 (Mt 10,27,
12 (Mc 4,12,
13 (Ps 45,4, the Hebrew text, at the close of verse 4 and beginning of verse 5, there is a repetition of the word űddhw, which in both cases is rendered in our English Version, “and [in] Thy majesty.” By the Septuagint, however, and the Vulgate, and here by Augustin, the latter of the two has been differently read as a verb, as if pointed Jrer]h'wŇ, in the sense of “Bend thy bow,” “Take aim,” with the acc. omitted. Our English Version combines the next two verbs bb'd]jlx], “ride prosperously” while in the above the distinction is preserved, “advance prosperously, ride (as a king, reign).”-Tr).
14 (Mt 5,39,
15 (Ps 57,7,
16 Here probably we should read Silas, according to Ac 16,25.-Migne.
17 (Lc 3,2,
18 Chap. 13,38.
Augustin on John 110