A SELECT LIBRARY
THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D.,
PROFESSOR IN THE UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, NEW YORK,
IN CONNECTION WITH A NUMBER OF PATRISTIC SCHOLARS OF EUROPE AND AMERICA.
WM. B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING COMPANY
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN
CHRYSOSTOM: HOMILIES ON THE GOSPEL OF SAINT JOHN AND THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS
St. John Chrysostom
Homilies on the Gospel According to St. John
Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews
St. Jn Chrysostom
Published After His Falling Asleep, from Notes by Constantine, Presbyter of Antioch.
[1.] The blessed Paul, writing to the Romans, says, “Inasmuch then as I am the Apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: if by any means I may provoke to emulation them that are my flesh”:1 andagain, in another place, “For He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles.”2 If therefore he were the Apostle of the Gentiles, (for also in the Acts, God said to him, “Depart; for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles,”3 ) what had he to do with the Hebrews? and why did he also write an Epistle to them?
And especially as besides, they were ill-disposed towards him, and this is to be seen from many places. For hear what James says to him, “Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe ... and these all have been informed of thee that thou teachest men to forsake the law.”4 And oftentimes he had many disputings concerning this.
Why therefore, one might ask, as he was so learned in the law (for he was instructed in the law at the feet of Gamaliel,5 and had great zeal in the matter, and was especially able to confound them in this respect)—why did not God send him to the Jews? Because on this very account they were more vehement in their enmity against him. “For they will not endure thee,”6 God says unto him; “But depart far hence to the Gentiles, for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.”7 Whereupon he says, “Yea, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee; and when the blood of thy martyr Stephenwas shed, I also was standing by and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.”8
And this he says9 is a sign and proof of their not believing him. For thus it is: when a man goes away from any people, 10 if he be one of the least and of those who are nothing worth, he does not much vex those from whom he went; but if he be among the distinguished and earnest partisans and those who care for these things, he exceedingly grieves and vexes them beyond measure, in that 11 he especially overthrows their system with the multitude.
And besides this, there was something else. 12 What now might this be? That they who were about Peter were also with Christ, and saw signs and wonders; but he [Paul] having had the benefit of none of these, but being with Jews, suddenly deserted and became one of them. This especially promoted our cause. For while they indeed, seemed to testify even from gratitude, and one might have said that they bore witness to those things in love for their Master; he, on the other hand, who testifies to the resurrection, this man was rather one who heard a voice only. For this cause thou seest them waging war passionately with him, and doing all things for this purpose, that they might slay him, and raising seditions 13
The unbelievers, then, were hostile to him for this reason; but why were the believers? Because in preaching to the Gentiles he was constrained to preach Christianity purely; and if haply even in Judaea he were found [doing so], he cared not. For Peter and they that were with him, because they preached in Jerusalem, when there was great fierceness, of necessity enjoined the observance of the law; but this man was quite at liberty. The [converts] too from the Gentiles were more than the Jews because they were without. 14 And this 15 enfeebled the law, and they had no such great reverence for it, although 16 he preached all things purely. Doubtless in this matter they think to shame him by numbers, saying, “Thou seest, brother, how many ten thousands of Jews there are which 17 are come together.” 18 On this account they hated him and turned away from him, because “They are informed of thee, he says, that thou teachest men to forsake the law.” 19
[2.] Why, then, not being a teacher of the Jews, does he send an Epistle to them? And where were those to whom he sent it? It seems to me in Jerusalem and Palestine. How then does he send them an Epistle? Just as he baptized, though he was not commanded to baptize. For, he says, “I was not sent to baptize”: 20 not, however, that he was forbidden, but he does it as a subordinate matter. And how could he fail to write to those, for whom he was willing even to become accursed? 21 Accordingly he said, 22 “Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.” 23
For as yet he was not arrested. Two years then he passed bound, in Rome; then he was set free; then, having gone into Spain, he saw Jews 24 also in like manner; and then he returned to Rome, where also he was slain by Nero. The Epistle to Timothy then was later 25 than this Epistle. For there he says, “For I am now ready to be offered” 26 ; there also he says, “In my first answer no man stood with me.” 27 In many places they [the Hebrew Christians] had to contend 28 with persecution, as also he says, writing to the Thessalonians, “Ye became followers of the churches of Judaea”: 29 and writing to these very persons he says, “Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods.” 30 Dost thou see them contending? And if men had thus treated the Apostles, not only in Judaea, but also wherever they were among the Gentiles, what would they not have done to the believers? On this account, thou seest, he was very careful for them. For when he says, “I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints”; 31 and again, when he exhorts the Corinthians to beneficence, and says that the Macedonians had already made their contribution, 32 and says, “If it be meet that I go also,” 33 —he means this. And when he says, “Only that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do,” 34 —he declares this. And when he says, “They gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision,” 35 —he declares this.
But this was 36 not for the sake of the poor who were there, but that by this we might be partakers in the beneficence. For not as the preaching did we apportion the care for the poor to each other (we indeed to the Gentiles, but they to the circumcision). And everywhere thou seest him using great care for them: as was reasonable.
Among the other nations indeed, when there were both Jews and Greeks, such was not the case; but then, while they still seemed to have authority and independence and to order many things by their own laws, the government not being yet established nor brought perfectly under the Romans, they naturally exercised great tyranny. For if in other cities, as in Corinth, they beat the Ruler of the synagogue before the Deputy’s judgment seat, and Gallio “cared for none of these things,” 37 but it was not so in Judaea. 38 Thou seest indeed, that while in other cities they bring them to the magistrates, and need help from them. and from the Gentiles, here they took no thought of this, but assemble a Sanhedrim themselves and slay whom they please. Thus in fact they put Stephen to death, thus they beat the Apostles, not taking them before rulers. Thus also they were about to put Paul to death, had not the chief captain thrown himself 39 [upon them]. For this took place while the priests, while the temple, while the ritual, the sacrifices were vet standing. Look indeed at Paul himself being tried before the High Priest, and saying,“ I wist not that he was the High Priest,” 40 and this in the presence of the Ruler. 41 For they had then great power. Consider then what things they were likely to suffer who dwelt in Jerusalem and Judaea.
[3.] He then who prays to become accursed for those who were not yet believers, and who so ministers to the faithful, as to journey himself, if need be, and who everywhere took great care of them;—let us not wonder if he encourage and comfort them by letters also, and if he set them upright when tottering and fallen. For in a word, they were worn down 42 and despairing on account of their manifold afflictions. And this he shows near the end, saying, “Wherefore lift up the hands that hang down, and the feeble knees”; 43 and again, “Yet a little while, he that shall come will come, and will not tarry”; 44 and again, “If ye be without chastisement, ... then are ye bastards and not sons.” 45
For since they were Jews and learned from the fathers that they must expect both their good and their evil immediately and must live accordingly, but then [when the Gospel came] the opposite was [taught]—their good things being in hope and after death, their evils in hand, though they had patiently endured much, it was likely that many would be fainthearted;—hereon he discourses.
But we will unfold these things at a fit opportunity. At present: he of necessity wrote to those for whom he cared so greatly. For while the reason why he was not sent to them is plain, yet he was not forbidden to write. And that they were becoming fainthearted he shows when he says, “Lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths” 46 and again, “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and love.” 47 For the soul overtaken by many trials, was turned aside even from the faith. 48 Therefore he exhorts them to “Give heed to the things which they have heard, and that there should not be an evil heart of unbelief.” 49 On this account also, in this Epistle, especially, he argues at length concerning faith, and after much [reasoning] shows at the end that to them [of old] also He promised good things in hand, and yet gave nothing.
And besides these things, he establishes two points that they might not think themselves forsaken: the one, that they should bear nobly whatever befalls them; the other, that they should look assuredly for their recompense. For truly He will not overlook those with Abel and the line of unrewarded righteous following him.
And he draws comfort in three ways: first, from the things which Christ suffered: as He Himself says, “The servant is not greater than his Lord.” 50 Next, from the good things laid up for the believers. Thirdly, from the evils; and this point he enforces not only from the things to come (which would be less persuasive), butalso from the past and from what had befallen their fathers. Christ also does the same, at one time saying, “The servant is not greater than his Lord”; 51 and again, “There are many mansions with the Father”; 52 and He denounces innumerable woes on the unbelievers.
But he speaks much of both the New and the Old Covenant; for this was useful to him for the proof of the Resurrection. Lest they should disbelieve that [Christ] rose on account of the things which He suffered, he confirms it from the Prophets, and shows that not the Jewish, but ours are the sacred [institutions]. For the temple yet stood and the sacrificial rites; therefore he says, “Let us go forth therefore without, bearing His reproach.” 53 Butthis also was made an argument against him: “If these things are a shadow, if these things are an image, how is it that they have not passed away or given place when the truth was manifested, but these things still flourish?” This also he quietly intimates shall happen, and that at a time close at hand.
Moreover, he makes it plain that they had been a long time in the faith and in afflictions, saying, “When for the time ye ought to be teachers,” 54 and, “Lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief,” 55 and ye became “Followers of them who through patience inherit the promises.” 56
1 Rm 11,13-14.
2 Ga 2,8
3 Ac 22,21
4 Ac 21,20-21.
5 Ac 22,3
6 “Wherefore God foreseeing this, that they would not receive Him,” Ben. K. Sav.
7 Ac 22,21 Ac 22,18.
8 Ac 22,19-20.
9 “they show,” K. Ben.
11 “Departing from them, going to others,” K. Ben. Sav.
12 Add: “Which should make them incredulous,” Bened. K. Sav).
13 “For this purpose, and raising seditions that they might slay him,” Bened. A. K.
14 “The chosen people being fewer than all people, encircled on all sides by the heathen”; see Mi 5,7, 8.
15 “By this he enfeebled,” Ben.
16 “Because,” Ben. Sav. K. Q. R.
17 Ac 21,20
18 “which believe,” Ben. Sav. K. Q.
19 Ac 21,21
20 1Co 1,17
21 Rm 9,3
22 St. Chrys. introduces this as an instance of St. Paul’s interest in the Hebrews: that he not only wrote to them, but also intended to visit them; and on that digresses to the events of his history and the relative date of his Epistles.
23 He 13,23
24 [The text might perhaps leave it uncertain whether St. Chrys. meant to state that St. Paul saw Jews in Spain, or that, after visiting Spain, he went into Judaea. Ben. Sav. K. Q. are express “Spain; then he went into Judaea, where also he saw the Jews.” eij" ta;" Spaniva" h\lqen : ei\ta eij" AEIoudaivan e]bh o(te kai; AEIoudaivou" ei\de.—F. G.]
25 presbutevra. The word is elsewhere used in this sense by St Chrys. See Mr. Field’s notes. St. Chrys. often points out that the Ep. 2,to Timothy is the last of all St. Paul’s Epistles.
26 2Tm 4,6
27 2Tm 4,16
28 h]qlhsan, see h]qlhsin, He 10,32.
29 1Th 2,14
30 He 10,84
31 Rm 15,25
33 1Co 16,4
34 Ga 2,10
35 Ga 2,9
36 “But these things he does not say merely for,” &c., Ben. Sav. K. Q.
37 Ac 18,17).
38 i.e. in Judaea, they beat and scourged, not through the indifference of the judge, but by their own authority.
40 Ac 23,5
41 i.e. before Lysias.
42 “having lost their freshness and vigor like salted fish.” See many instances of its use in this sense in Mr. Field’s note on St. Chrys. on 1Co Hom. 28,(p. 255, A)). [See p. 390, O. T.]
43 He 12,12
44 He 10,37
45 He 12,8
46 He 12,12-13.
47 He 6,10 [St. Chrys. here follows the better reading, omitting tou` kovpou.—F. G.].
48 He 2,1
49 He 3,12
50 Jn 13,16
51 Jn 13,16
52 Jn 14,2
53 He 13,13
54 He 5,12
55 He 3,12
56 He 6,12).
101 He 1,1-2
in time past unto the fathers by the Prophets, hath at the end of the days1 spoken unto us by His Son whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds.”
[1.] Truly, “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” (Rm 5,20). This at least the blessed Paul intimates here also, in the very beginning of his Epistle to the Hebrews. For since as it was likely that afflicted, worn out by evils, and judging of things thereby, they would think themselves worse off than all other men,—he shows that herein they had rather been made partakers of greater, even very exceeding, grace; arousing the hearer at the very opening of his discourse. Wherefore he says, “God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the Prophets, hath at the end of the days spoken unto us by His Son.”
Why did he [Paul] not oppose “himself” to “the prophets”? Certainly, he was much greater than they, inasmuch as a greater trust was committed to him. Yet he doth not so. Why? First, to avoid speaking great things concerning himself. Secondly, because his hearers were not yet perfect. And thirdly, because he rather wished to exalt them, and to show that their superiority was great. As if he had said, What so great matter is it that He sent prophets to our fathers? For to us [He has sent] Hisown only-begotten Son Himself.
And well did he begin thus, “At sundry timesand in divers manners,” for he points out that not even the prophets themselves saw God; nevertheless, the Son saw Him. For the expressions, “at sundry times and in divers manners” are the same as “in different ways.” “For I”(saith He) “have multiplied visions, and used similitudes by the ministry of the Prophets.” (Os 12,10). Wherefore the excellency consists not in this alone, that to them indeed prophets were sent, but to us the Son; but that none of them saw God, but the Only-begotten Son saw Him. He doth not indeed at once assert this, but by what he says afterwards he establishes it, when he speaks concerning His human nature; “For to which of the Angels said He, Thou art My Son,” (He 1,5), and, “Sit thou on My right hand”? (He 1,13).
And look on his great wisdom. First he shows the superiority from the prophets. Then having established this as acknowledged, he declares that to them indeed He spake by the prophets, but to us by the Only-begotten. Then [He spake] to them by Angels, and this again he establishes, with good reason (for angels also held converse with the Jews): yet even herein we have the superiority, inasmuch as the Master [spake] to us, but to them servants, and prophets, fellow-servants.
102 [2.] Well also said he, “at the end of the days,” for by this he both stirs them up and encourages them desponding of the future. For as he says also in another place, “The Lord is at hand, be careful for nothing” (Ph 4,5-6), and again, “For now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rm 13,11): so also here. What then is it which he says? That whoever is spent in the conflict, when he hears of the end thereof, recovers his breath a little, knowing that it is the end indeed of his labors, but the beginning of his rest.
“Hath in the end of the days spoken unto us in [His] Son.” Behold again he uses the saying, “in [His] Son,”2 for “through the Son,”3 against those who assert that this phrase is proper to the Spirit.4 Dost thou see that the [word] “in” is “through”?5
And the expression, “In times past,” and this, “In the end of the days,” shadows forth some other meaning:—that when a long time had intervened, when we were on the edge of punishment, when the Gifts had failed, when there was no expectation of deliverance, when we were expecting to have less than all—then we have had more.
And see how considerately he hath spoken it. For he’ said not, “Christ spake” (albeit it was He who did speak), but inasmuch as their souls were weak, and they were not yet able to hear the things concerning Christ, he says, “God hath spoken by Him.” What meanest thou? did God speak through the Son? Yes. What then? Is it thus thou showest the superiority? for here thou hast but pointed out that both the New and the Old [Covenants] are of One and the same: and that this superiority is not great. Wherefore he henceforth follows on upon this argument, saying, “He spake unto us by [His] Son.”
(Note, how Paul makes common cause, and puts himself on a level with the disciples, saying, He spake “to us”: and yet He did not speak to him, but to the Apostles, and through them to the many. But he lifts them [the Hebrews] up, and declares that He spake also to them. And as yet he doth not at all reflect on the Jews. For almost all to whom the prophets spake, were a kind of evil and polluted persons. But as yet the discourse is not of these: but, hitherto of the gifts derived from God).
“Whom He appointed,” saith he, “heir of all.” What is “whom He appointed heir of all”? He speaks here of the flesh [the human nature]. As He also says in the second Psalm, “Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance.” (Ps 2,8). For no longer is “Jacob the portion of the Lord” nor “Israel His inheritance” (Dt 32,9), but all men: that is to say, He hath made Him Lord of all: which Peter also said in the Acts, “God hath made Him both Lord and Christ.” (Ac 2,36). But he has used the name “Heir,” declaring two things: His proper sonship6 and His indefeasible sovereignty. “Heir of all,” that is, of all the world.
103 [3.] Then again he brings back his discourse to its former point. “By whom also He made the worlds [the ages].”7 Where are those who say, There was [a time] when He was not?
Then, using degrees of ascent, he uttered that which is far greater than all this, saying,
He 1,3-4. “Who, (being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power,) when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made8 so much better than the Angels as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”
O! the wisdom of the Apostle! or rather, not the wisdom of Paul, but the grace of the Spirit is the thing to wonder at. For surely heuttered not these things of his own mind, nor in that way did he find his wisdom. (For whence could it be? From the knife, and the skins, or the workshop?) But it was from the working of God. For his own understanding did not give birth to these thoughts, which was then so mean and slender as in nowise to surpass the baser sort; (for how could it, seeing it spent itself wholly on bargains and skins?) but the grace of the Spirit shows forth its strength by whomsoever it will.
For just as one, wishing to lead up a little child to some lofty place, reaching up even to the top of Heaven, does this gently and by degrees, leading him upwards by the steps from below,—then when he has set him on high, and bidden him to gaze downwards, and sees him turning giddy and confused, and dizzy, taking hold of him, he leads him down to the lower stand, allowing him to take breath; then when he hath recovered it, leads him up again, and again brings him down;—just so did the blessed Paul likewise, both with the Hebrews and everywhere, having learnt it from his Master. For even He also did so; sometimes He led His hearers up on high, and sometimes He brought them down, not allowing them to remain very long.
See him, then, even here—by how many steps he led them up, and placed them near the very summit of religion, and then or ever they grow giddy, and are seized with dizziness, how he leads them again lower down, and allowing them to take breath, says, “He spake unto us by [His] Son,” “whom He appointed Heir of all things.”9 For the name of Son is so far common. For where a true 10 [Son] it is understood of, He is above all: but however that may be, for the present he proves that He is from above.
And see how he says it: “Whom He appointed,” saith he, “heir of all things.” The phrase, “He appointed Heir,” is humble. Then he placed them on the higher step, adding, “by whom also He made the worlds.” Then on a higher still, and after which there is no other, “who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person.” Truly he has led them to unapproachable light, to the very brightness itself. And before they are blinded see how he gently leads them down again, saying, “and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of he Majesty.” He does not simply say, “He sat down,” but “after the purifying, He sat town,” for he hath touched on the Incarnation, and his utterance is again lowly.
Then again having said a little by the way (for he says, “on the right hand of the Majesty on high”), [he turns] again to what is lowly; “being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Henceforward then he treats here of that which is according to the flesh, since the phrase “being made better” doth not express His essence according to the Spirit, 11 (for that was not “made” but “begotten,”) but according to the flesh: for this was “made.” Nevertheless the discourse here is not about being called into 12 existence. But just as Jn says, “He that cometh after me, is preferred before me” (Jn 1,15 Jn 1,30), that is, higher in honor and esteem; so also here, “being made so much better than the angels”—that is, higher in esteem and better and more glorious, “by how much He hath obtained by inheritance a more excellent name than they.” Seest thou that he is speaking of that which is according to the flesh? For this Name, 13 God the Word ever had; He did not afterwards “obtain it by inheritance”; nor did He afterwards become “better than the Angels, when He had purged our sins”; but He was always “better,” and better without all comparison. 14 For this is spoken of Him according to the flesh.
(So truly it is our way also, when we talk of man, to speak things both high and low. Thus, when we say, “Man is nothing,” “Man is earth,” “Man is ashes,” we call the whole by the worse part. But when we say, “Man is an immortal animal,” and “Man is rational, and of kin to those on high,” we call again the whole by the better part. So also, in the case of Christ, sometimes Paul discourseth from the less and sometimes from the better; wishing both to establish the economy, and also to teach about the incorruptible nature.
104 [4.] Since then “He hath purged our sins,” let us continue pure; and let us receive no stain, but preserve the beauty which He hath implanted in us, and His comeliness undefiled and pure, “not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing.” (Ep 5,27). Even little sins are “a spot and a wrinkle,” such a thing, I mean, as Reproach, Insult, Falsehood.
Nay, rather not even are these small, but on the contrary very great: yea so great as to deprive a man even of the kingdom of Heaven. How, and in what manner? “He that calleth his brother fool, is in danger” (He saith) “of hellfire.” (Mt 5,22). But if it be so with himwho calls a man “fool,” which seems to be the slightest of all things, and rather mere children’s talk; what sentence of punishment will not he incur, who calleth him malignant and crafty and envious, and casteth at him ten thousand other reproaches? What more fearful than this?
Now suffer, I beseech you, the word [of exhortation]. 15 For if he that “doeth” [aught] to “one of the least, doeth it to Him” (Mt 25,40), and he that “doeth it not to one of the least doeth it not to Him” (Mt 25,45), how is it not the same also in the matter of good or evil speaking? He that reviles his brother, reviles God: and he that honors his brother, honors God. Let us train therefore our tongue to speak good words. For “refrain,” it is said, “thy tongue from evil.” (Ps 34,13). For God gave it not that we should speak evil, that we should revile, that we should calumniate one another; but to sing hymns to God withal, to speak those things which “give grace to the hearers” (Ep 4,29), things for edification, things for profit.
Hast thou spoken evil of a man? What is thy gain, entangling thyself in mischief together with him? For thou hast obtained the reputation of a slanderer. For there is not any, no not any evil, which stops at him that suffers it, but it includes the doer also. As for instance, the envious person seems indeed to plot against another, but himself first reaps the fruit of his sin, wasting and wearing himself away, and being hated of all men. The cheat deprives another of his money; yea and himself too of men’s good will: and causes himself to be evil spoken of by all men. Now reputation is much better than money, for the one it is not easy to wash out, whereas it is easy to gain possession of the other. Or rather, the absence of the one doth no hurt to him that wanteth it; but the absence of the other makes you reproached and ridiculed, and an object of enmity and warfare to all.
The passionate man again first punishes and tears himself in pieces, and then him with whom he is angry.
Just so the evil speaker disgraces first himself and then him who is evil-spoken of: or, it may be, even this hath proved beyond his power, and while he departs with the credit of a foul and detestable kind of person, he causes the other to be loved the more. For when a man hearing a bad name given him, doth not requite the giver in the same kind, but praises and admires, he doth not praise the other, but himself. For I before observed that, as calumnies against our neighbors first touch those who devise the mischief, so also good works done towards our neighbors, gladden first those who do them. The parent either of good, or evil, justly reaps the fruit of it first himself. And just as water, whether it be brackish or sweet, fills the vessels of those who resort to it, but lessens not the fountain which sends it forth; so surely also, both wickedness and virtue, from whatever person they proceed, prove either his joy or his ruin.
(So far as to the things of this world; but what speech may recount the things of that world, either the goods or the evils? There is none. For as to the blessings, they surpass all thought, not speech only; for their opposites are expressed indeed in terms familiar to us. For fire, it is said, is there, and darkness, and bonds, and a worm that never dieth. But this represents not only the things which are spoken of, but others more intolerable. And to convince thee, consider at once this first: if it be fire, how is it also darkness? Seest thou how that fire is more intolerable than this? For it hath no light. If it be fire, how is it forever burning? Seest thou how something more intolerable than this happens? For it is not quenched. Yea, therefore it is called unquenchable. Let us then consider how great a misery it must be, to be forever burning, and to be in darkness, and to utter unnumbered groanings, and to gnash the teeth, and not even to be heard. For if here any one of those ingeniously brought up, should he be cast into prison, speaks of the mere ill savor, and the being laid in darkness, and the being bound with murderers, as more intolerable than any death: think what it is when we are burning with the murderers of the whole world, neither seeing nor being seen, but in so vast a multitude thinking that we are alone. For the darkness and gloom doth not allow our distinguishing those who are near to us, but each will burn as if he were thus suffering alone. Moreover, if darkness of itself afflicteth and terrifieth our souls, how then will it be when together with the darkness there are likewise so great pains and burnings?
Wherefore I entreat you to be ever revolving these things with yourselves, and to submit to the pain of the words, that we may not undergo the punishment of the things. For assuredly, all these things shall be, and those whose doings have deserved those chambers of torture no man shall rescue, not father, nor mother, nor brother. “For a brother redeemeth not,” He saith; “shall a man redeem?” (Ps 49,7 LXX)., though he have much confidence, though he have great power with God. For it is He Himself who rewards every one according to his works, and upon these depends our salvation or punishment.
Let us make then to ourselves “friends of the mammon of unrighteousness” (Lc 16,9), that is: Let us give alms; let us exhaust our possessions upon them, that so we may exhaust that fire: that we may quench it, that we may have boldness there. For there also it is not they who receive us, but our own work: for that it is not simply their being our friends which can save us, learn from what is added. For why did He not say, “Make to yourselves friends, that they may receive you into their everlasting habitations,” but added also the manner? For saying, “of the mammon of unrighteonsness,” He points out that we must make friends of them by means of our possessions, showing that mere friendship will not protect us, unless we have good works, unless we spend righteously the wealth unrighteously gathered.
Moreover, this our discourse, of Almsgiving I mean, fits not only the rich, but also the needy. Yea even if there be any person who supporteth himself by begging, even for him is this word. For there is no one, so poverty-stricken, however exceeding poor he may be, as not to be able to provide “two mites.” (Lc 21,2). It is therefore possible that a person giving a small sum from small means, should surpass those who have large possessions and give more; as that widow did. For not by the measure of what is given, but by the means and willingness of the givers is the extent of the alms-deed estimated. In all cases the will is needed, in all, a right disposition; in all, love towards God. If with this we do all things, though having little we give little, God will not turn away His face, but will receive it as great and admirable: for He regards the will, not the gifts: and if He see that to be great, He assigneth His decrees and judges accordingly, and maketh them partakers of His everlasting benefits.
Which may God grant us all to obtain, by the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, honor, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen).
1 ejscavtou tw`n hJmerw`n. ejscavrwn t. hJ. (in these last days) Sav. Ben. here and throughout the Homily. The former is considered to be the true reading of the Sacred Text. It is throughout the reading of St. Chrys. as is clear from his argument). [It is the reading of all the uncials; the cursives and the versions are divided. The R. V. follows the correct text.—F. G.]
2 ejn uiJw`/.
3 dia; tou` uiJou`.
4 That is, the Macedonians or Pneumatomachi, who about the year 373 found great fault with St. Basil for using indifferently the two forms of doxology, sometimes meta; tou` UiJou` su;n tw`/ Pneumati tw`/ JAgivw/, sometimes dia; tou` UiJou` ejn tw`/ Pneuvmati tw`/ JAgivw/. They said that the latter, by which they meant to imply inferiority in the Third Person especially, was the only proper form. This gave occasion to St. Basil’s writing his Tract De Spiritu Sancto, in which he refutes them at large, proving among other things that ejn is in Scripture often equivalent to suvn. c. 25 t. 3,49. That ejn is put for dia; is also said by St. Chrys. Hom. on 1Co 1,4 (p. 13, O. T). and elsewhere.
5 [to;, ejn, diav ejsti.—F. G.]
6 to; gnhvsion th`" uiJovthto".
7 tou;" aijw`na", “the ages;” “duration beyond time.”
8 [R. V). “having become.”— F. G.]
9 That is for the moment St. Paul, does not argue the dignity of Christ from the title “Son”—from His being the true Son of God, and therefore God, but condescending to the weakness of his hearers, at first uses the word in a general sense, and establishes His Divinity by other considerations.
11 kata; pneu`ma is the reading adopted by Mr. Field, following herein an ancient Catena [compiled by Niketas Archbishop of Heraclea in Thrace who flourished in the 11th century] which has preserved it: kata; to`n patevra is found in all other mss. and Editions, and was probably the reading in Mutianus’ text, who translates “essentiae paternae.” Of the use of pneu`ma for the Divine Nature of the Son, see many instances brought together in the note to the Oxford Translation of St. Athanasius against the Arians, p. 196 d). [See also in Tertullian, O. T. note H. pp. 322 sqq.]
12 oujsiwvsew", “communication of Being.” Cf. in 1Co Hom. 5,§ 4, p. 56, Oxf. Tr.
13 That is the Name Son. The passage is thus rightly pointed by Mr. Field in accordance with the addition of the explanatory word “Son” in [Niketas’] Catena (Supp).. According to the pointing of the other editions, the translation would be, “For this Name, God the Word, He ever had.”
15 Comp. He 13,22. It seems as if the hearers were showing themselves surprised at the severity of what he was saying).