Chrysostom He 500
500 He 2,16-3,6
but of the seed of Abraham He taketh hold.1 Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren.”
[1.] Paul wishing to show the great kindness of God towards man, and the Love which He had for the human race, after saying: “Forasmuch then as the children were partakers of blood and flesh, He also Himself likewise took part of the same” (c. 5,14)—follows up the subject in this passage. For do not regard lightly what is spoken, nor think this merely a slight [matter], His taking on Him our flesh. He granted not this to Angels; “For verily He taketh not hold of Angels, but of the seed of Abraham.” What is it that he saith? He took not on Him an Angel’s nature, but man’s. But what is “He taketh hold of”? He did not (he means) grasp that nature, which belongs to Angels, but ours. But why did he not say, “He took on Him,” but used this expression, “He taketh hold of”? It is derived from the figure of persons pursuing those who turn away from them, and doing everything to overtake them as they flee, and to take hold of them as they are bounding away. For when human nature was fleeing from Him, and fleeing far away (for we “were far off”— Ep 2,13), He pursued after and overtook us. He showed that He has done this only out of kindness, and love, and tender care. As then when he saith, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (c. 1,14)—he shows His extreme interest in behalf of human nature, and that God makes great account of it, so also in this place he sets it forth much more by a comparison, for he says, “He taketh not hold of angels.” For in very deed it is a great and a wonderful thing, and full of amazement that our flesh should sit on high, and be adored by Angels and Archangels, by the Cherubim and the Seraphim. For myself having oftentimes thought upon this, I am amazed at it, and imagine to myself great things concerning the human race. For I see that the introductions are great and splendid, and that God has great zeal on behalf of our nature.
Moreover he said not “of men (simply) He taketh hold,” but wishing to exalt them [the Hebrews] and to show that their race is great and honorable, he says, “but of the seed of Abraham He taketh hold.”
“Wherefore it behooved [Him] in all things to be made like unto His brethren.” What is this, “in all things”? He was born (he means), was brought up, grew, suffered all things necessary, at last He flied. This is, “in all things to be made like unto His brethren.” For after he had discoursed much concerning His majesty and the glory on high, he then begins concerning the dispensation. And consider with how great power [he doth this,]. How he represents Him as having great zeal “to be made like unto us”: which was a sign of much care. For having said above, “Inasmuch then as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself in like manner took part of the same”; in this place also he says, “in all things to be made like unto His brethren.” Which is all but saying, He that is so great, He that is “the brightness of His glory,” He that is “the express image of His person,” He that “made the worlds,” He that “sitteth on the right hand of the Father,” He was willing and earnest to become our brother in all things, and for this cause did He leave the angels and the other powers, and come down to us, and took hold of us, and wrought innumerable good things. He destroyed Death, He cast out the devil from his tyranny, He freed us from bondage: not by brotherhood alone did He honor us, but also in other ways beyond number. For He was willing also to become our High Priest with the Father: for he adds,
502 [2.] “That He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God.” For this cause (he means) He took on Him our flesh, only for Love to man, that He might have mercy upon us. For neither is thereany other cause of the economy, but this alone. For He saw us, cast on the ground, perishing, tyrannized over by Death, and He had compassion on us. “To make reconciliation,” he says,“for the sins of the people. That He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest.”
What is “faithful”? True, able. For the Son is a faithful High Priest, able to deliver from their sins those whose High Priest He is. In order then that He might offer a sacrifice able to purify us, for this cause He has become man.
Accordingly he added, “in things pertaining to God,”—that is, for the sake of things in relation to God. We were become altogether enemies to God, (he would say) condemned, degraded, there was none who should offer sacrifice for us. He saw us in this condition, and had compassion on us, not appointing a High Priest for us, but Himself becoming a HighPriest. In what sense He was “faithful,” he added [viz.], “to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”
He 2,18. “For,” he says, “in that He hath suffered Himself being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted.” This is altogether low and mean, and unworthy of God. “For in that He hath suffered Himself,” he says. It is of Him who was made flesh that he here speaks, and it was said for the full assurance of the hearers, and on account of their weakness. That is (he would say) He went through the very experience of the things which we have suffered; “now” He is not ignorant of our sufferings; not only does He know them as God, but as man also He has known them, by the trial wherewith He was tried; He suffered much, He knows how to sympathize. And yet God is incapable of suffering: but he describes here what belongs to the Incarnation, as if he had said, Even the very flesh of Christ suffered many terrible things. He knows what tribulation is; He knows what temptation is, not less than we who have suffered, for He Himself also has suffered.
(What then is this, “He is able to succor them that are tempted”? It is as if one should say, He will stretch forth His hand with great eagerness, He will be sympathizing).
503 [3.] Since they wished for something great, and to have an advantage over the [converts] from the Gentiles, he shows that they have an advantage in this while he did not hurt those from the Gentiles at all. In what respect now is this? Because of them is the salvation, because He took hold of them first, because from that race He assumed flesh. “For,” he says, “He taketh not hold of angels, but of the seed of Abraham He taketh hold.” Hereby he both gives honor to the Patriarch, and shows also what “the seed of Abraham” is. He reminds them of the promise made to him, saying, “To thee and to thy seed will I give this land” (Gn 13,15); showing by the very least thing, the nearness [of the relationship] in that they were “all of one.” But that nearness was not great: [so] he comes back to this, and thenceforward dwells upon the dispensation which was after the flesh, and says, Even the mere willing to become than was a proof of great care and love; but now it is not this alone, but there are also the undying benefits which are bestowed on us through Him, for, he says, “to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”
Why said he not, of the world, instead of“the people”? for He bare away the sins of all. Because thus far his discourse was concerning them [the Hebrews]. Since the Angel also said to Joseph, “Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people.” (Mt 1,21). For this too ought to have taken place first, and for this purpose He came, to save them and then through them the rest, although the contrary came to pass. This also the Apostles said at the first, “To you [God] having raised up His Son, sent [Him] to bless you” (Ac 3,26): and again, “To you was the word of this Salvation sent.” (Ac 13,26). Here he shows the noble birth of the Jews, in saying, “to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” For a while he speaks in this way. For that it is He who forgives the sins of all men, He declared both in the case of the paralytic, saying, “Thy sins are forgiven” (Mc 2,5); and also in that of Baptism: for He says to the disciples, “Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Mt 28,19)).
504 [4.] But when Paul has once taken in hand the flesh, he proceeds to utter all the lowly things, without any fear: for see what he says next:
He 3,1-2. “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him that appointed [or made] Him, as also Moses [was faithful] in all His house.”
Being about to place Him before Moses in comparison, he led his discourse to the law of the high-priesthood; for they all had a high esteem for Moses: moreover, he is already beforehand casting down the seeds of the superiority. Therefore he begins from the flesh, and goes up to the Godhead, where there was no longer any comparison. He began from the flesh [from His Human nature], by assuming for a time the equality, and says, “as also Moses in all His house”: nor does he at first show His superiority lest the hearer should start away, and straightwaystop his ears. For although they were believers, yet nevertheless they still had strong feeling of conscience as to Moses. “Who was faithful,” he says, “to Him that made Him”—made [Him] what? “Apostle and High Priest.” He is not speaking at all in this place of His Essence, nor of His Godhead; but so far conCerning human dignities.
“As also Moses in all His house,” that is, either among the people, or in the temple. But here he uses the expression “in His house,” just as one might say, concerning those in the household; even as some guardian and steward of a household, so was Moses to the people. For that by “house” he means the people, he added, “whose house we are” (c. 3,6); that is, we are in His creation, Then [comes] the superiority.
He 3,3. “For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses,” (Again [he is speaking] of the Flesh), “inasmuch as he who hath builded2 [the house] hath more honor than the house”; [Moses] himself also (he means) was of the house. (Moreover he did not say, For this one was a servant, but the Other a master, but he covertly intimated it). If the people were the house and he was of the people, then he certainly was of the household. For so also we are accustomed to say, such an one is of such an one’s house. For here he is speaking of a house, not of the temple, for the temple was not constructed by God, but by men. But He that made3 him [is] God. Moses he means. And see how he covertly shows the superiority. “Faithful,” he says, “in all His house,” being himself also of the house, that is, of the people. The builder has more honor than the house, yet he did not say “the artificer hath more honor than his works,” but “he that hath builded the house, than the house.” (
He 3,5. “And Moses verily [was] faithful in all His house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken.” See also another point of superiority, that [which is derived] from the Son and the servants. You see again that by the appellation of The Son, he intimates true relationship. (He 3,6). “But Christ as a Son over His own house.” Perceivest thou how he separates the thing made and the maker, the servant and the son? Moreover He indeed enters into His Father’s property as a master, but the other as a servant.
“Whose” [i.e.] God’s “house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” Here again he encourages them to press forward nobly, and not to fall: for we shall be the “house” of God (he says), as Moses was, “if we hold fist our confidence and our rejoicing firm unto the end.” He however (he would say) that is distressed in his trials, and who falls, doth not glory: he that is ashamed, he that hideth himself, has no confidence, he that is perplexed doth not glory.
And then he also commends them, saying, “if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end,” implying that they had even made a beginning; but that there is need of the end, and not simply to stand, but to have their hope firm “in full assurance of faith,” without being shaken by their trials.
505 [5.] And be not astonished, that the [words] “Himself being tempted” (c. 2,18) are spoken more after the manner of men. For if the Scripture says of the Father, who was not made flesh, “The Lord looked down from heaven, and beheld all the sons of men” (Ps 14,2), that is, accurately acquainted Himself with all things; and again, “I will go down, and see whether they do altogether according to the cry of them” (Gn 18,21); and again, “God cannot endure the evil ways of men” (Gn 6,5?), the divine Scripture shows forth the greatness of His wrath: much more, who even suffered in the flesh, these things are said of Christ. For since many men consider experience the most reliable means of knowledge, he wishes to show that He that has suffered knows what human nature suffers.
“Whence4 holy brethren” (he says “whence” instead of “for this cause”), “partakers of an heavenly calling”—(seek nothing here, if ye have been called yonder—yonder is the reward, yonder the recompense. What then?) “Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses [was faithful] in all His house.” (What is “who was faithful to Him that appointed Him?” it is, well disposed, protecting what belongs to Him, not allowing them to be lightly carried away, “as also Moses in all His house”) that is, know who your High Priest is, and what He is, and ye will need no other consolation nor encouragement. Now he calls Him “Apostle,” on account of His having been “sent,” and “high priest of our profession,” that is of the Faith. This One also was entrusted with a people, as the other with the leadership of a people, but a greater one and upon higher grounds.
“For a testimony of those things which shall be spoken.” What meanest thou? Doth God receive the witness of man? Yes, certainly. For if He call to witness heaven and earth and hills (saying by the prophet, “Hear, O heaven, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord hath spoken”—Is 1,2—and “Hear ye ravines,5 foundations of the earth, for the Lord hath a controversy with His people”—Mi 6,2), much more men; that is, that they may be witnesses, when themselves [the Jews] shameless.
He 3,6. “But Christ as a Son.” The one takes care of the property of others, but this One of His own. “And the rejoicing of the hope.” Well said he “of the hope.” For since the good things were all in hope, and yet we ought so “to hold it fast,” as even now to glory as for things which had already come to pass: for this cause he says, “the rejoicing of the hope.”
And adds, “let us hold it firm unto the end.” (Rm 8,24). For “by hope we are saved”; if therefore “we are saved by hope,” and “are. waiting with patience” (Rm 8,25), let us not be grieved at present things, nor seek now those that have been promised afterwards; “For” (he says) “hope which is seen is not hope.” For since the good things are great, we cannot receive them here in this transitory life. With what object then did He even tell us of them beforehand, when He was not about to give them here? In order that by the promise He might refresh our souls, that by the engagement He might strengthen our zeal, that He might anoint [preparing us for our contests] and stir up our mind. For this cause then all these things were done.
506 [6.] Let us not then be troubled, let no man be troubled, when he seeth the wicked prospering. The recompense is not here, either of wickedness or of virtue; and if in any instance there be either of wickedness or of virtue, yetis it not according to desert, but merely as it were a taste of the judgment, that they who believe not the resurrection may yet even by things that happen here be brought to their senses. When then we see a wicked man rich, let us not be cast down; when we see a good man suffering, let us not be troubled. For yonder are the crowns, yonder the punishments.
Yea and in another point of view, it is not possible either that a bad man should be altogether bad, but he may have some good things also: nor again that a good man should be altogether good, but he may also have some sins. When therefore the wicked man prospers, it is for evil on his own head, that having here received the reward of those few good things, he may hereafter be utterly punished yonder; for this cause does he receive his recompense in this life. And happy is he most of all who is punished here, that having put away all his sins, he may depart approved, and pure, and without having to be called to account. And this Paul teacheth us when he says, “For this cause many [are] weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” (1Co 11,30). And again, “I have delivered such an one to Satan.” (1Co 5,5). And the prophet says, “for she hath received of the Lord’s hand her sins double” (Is 40,2); and again David, “Behold mine enemies that they are multiplied above the hairs of my head6 and [with] an unjust hatred have they hated me”: “and forgive Thou all my sins.” (Ps 25,18-19). And again another: “O Lord, our God, give peace unto us; for Thou hast rendered all things to us again.” (Is 26,12).
These however are [the words] of one showing that good men receive here the punishments of their sins. But where are the wicked [mentioned] who receive their good things here, and there are utterly punished? Hear Abraham saying to the rich man, “Thou didst receive good things,” and “Lazarus evil things.” (Lc 16,25). What good things? For in this place by saying “thou receivest,7 ” and not thou “hadst taken,8 ” he shows that it was according to what was due to him that each was treated, and that the one was in prosperity, and the other in adversity. And he says, “Therefore he is comforted” here (for thou seest him pure from sins) “and thou art tormented.” Let us not then be perplexed when we see sinners well off here; but when we ourselves are afflicted, let us rejoice. For this very thing is paying off the penalty9 of sins.
507 [7.] Let us not then seek relaxation: for Christ promised tribulation to His disciples and Paul says, “All Who will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution.” (2Tm 3,12). No noble-spirited wrestler, when in the lists, 10 seeks for baths, and a table full of food and wine. This is not for a wrestler, but for a sluggard. For the wrestler contendeth with dust, with oil, with the heat of the sun’s ray, with much sweat, with pressure and constraint. This is the time for contest and for fighting, therefore also for being wounded, and for being bloody and in pain. Hear what the blessed Paul says, “So fight I, not as one that beateth the air.” (1Co 9,26). Let us consider that our whole life is in combats, and then we shall never seek rest, we shall never feel it strange when we are afflicted: no more than a boxer feels it strange, when he combats. There is another season for repose. By tribulation we must be made perfect.
And even if there be no persecution, nor tribulation, yet there are other afflictions which befall us every day. And if we do not bear these, we should scarcely endure those. “There hath no temptation taken you,” it is said, “but such as is common to man.” (1Co 10,13). Let us then pray indeed to God that we may not come into temptation; but if we come into it, let us bear it nobly. For that indeed is the part of prudent men, not to throw themselves upon dangers; but this of noble men and true philosophers. Let us not then lightly cast ourselves upon [dangers], for that is rashness; nor yet, if led into them, and called by circumstances let us give in, for that is cowardice. But if indeed the Gospel 11 call us, let us not refuse; but in a simple case, when there is no reason, nor need, nor necessity which calls us in the fear of God, let us not rush in. For this is mere display, and useless ambition. But should any of those things which are injurious to religion occur, then though it be necessary to endure ten thousand deaths, let us refuse nothing. Challenge not trials, when thou findest the things that concern godliness prosper as thou desirest. Why draw down needless dangers which bring no gain?
These things I say, because I wish you to observe the laws of Christ who commands us to “pray that we enter not into temptation” (Mt 26,41), and commands us to “take up the cross and follow” Him. (Mt 16,24). For these things are not contradictory, may they are rather exceedingly in harmony. Do thou be so prepared as is a valiant soldier, be continually in thine armor, sober, watchful, ever looking for the enemy: do not however breed wars, for this is not [the act] of a soldier but of a mover of sedition. But if on the other hand the trumpet of godliness call thee, go forth immediately, and make no account of thy life, and enter with great eagerness into the contests, break the phalanx of the adversaries, bruise the face of the devil, set up thy trophy. If however godliness be in nowise harmed, and no one lay waste our doctrines (those I mean which relate to the soul), nor compel us to do anything displeasing to God, do not be officious.
The life of the Christian must be full of blood-sheddings; I say not in shedding that of others, but in readiness to shed one’s own. Let us then pour out oar own blood, when it is for Christ’s sake, with as great readiness as one would pour out water (for the blood which flows about the body is water), and let us put off our flesh with as much good temper, as one even would a garment. And this shall we do, if we be not bound to riches, if not to houses, if not to affections, if we be detached from all things. For if they who live this life of [earthly] soldiers bid farewell to all things, and whithersoever war calls them there present themselves, and make journeys, and endure all things with ready mind; much more ought we, the soldiers of Christ, so to have prepared ourselves, and to set ourselves firm against the war of the passions.
508 [8.] There is no persecution now, and God grant there may never be: but there is another war, that of the desire of money, of envy, of the passions. Paul, describing this war, says, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood .” (Ep 6,12). This war is ever at hand. Therefore he wishes us to stand ever armed. Because he wishes us to stand ever armed, he says, “Stand, having girded yourselves about.” (Ep 6,14). Which itself also belongs to the time present, and expresses that we ought ever to be armed. For great is the war through the tongue, great that through the eyes; this then we must keep down—great [too] is that of the lusts.
Therefore he begins at that point to arm the soldier of Christ: for“ stand,” saith he, “having your loins girt about,” and he added “with truth.” (Ep 6,14). Why “with truth”? Because lust is a mockery and a lie: wherefore the prophet says, “My loins are filled with mockings.” (Ps 38,7). The thing is not pleasure, but a shadow of pleasure. “Having your loins,” he says, “girt about with truth”; that is, with true pleasure, with temperance, with orderly behavior. For this cause he gives this advice, knowing the unreasonableness of sin, and wishing that all our members should be hedged round; for “unjust anger.” it is said, “shall not be guiltless.” (Si 1,22)).
Moreover he wishes us to have around us a breastplate and a buckler. For desire is a wild beast which easily springs forth, and we shall have need of walls and fences innumerable, to overcome, and to restrain it. And for this cause God has built this part [of our body] especially with bones, as with a kind of stones, placing around it a support, so that [desire] might not at any time, having broken or cut through, easily injure the whole man. For it is a fire (it is said) and a great tempest, and no other part of the body could endure this violence. And the sons of the physicians too say that for this cause the lungs have been spread under the heart, so that the heart being itself [put] into something soft and tender, by beating as it were into a sort of sponge, may continually be rested, and not [by striking] against the resisting and hard sternum, receive hurt through the violence of its beatings. We have need therefore of a strong breastplate, so as to keep this wild beast alway quiet.
We have need also of an helmet; for since the reasoning faculty is there, and from this it is possible for us either to be saved, when what is right is done, or it is possible for us to be ruined—therefore he says, “the helmet of salvation.” (Ep 6,17). For the brain is indeed by nature tender, and therefore is covered above with the skull, as with a kind of shell. And it is to us the cause of all things both good and evil, knowing what is fitting, or what is not so. Yea and our feet too and our hands need armor, not these hands, nor these feet, but as before those of the soul—the former by being employed about what is right, the latter, that they may walk where they ought. Thus then let us thoroughly arm ourselves, and we shall be able to overcome our enemies, and to wreathe ourselves with the crown in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost be glory, might, honor, now and for ever and world without end. Amen.
1 marg. of E. V).
3 poihvsa". Referring to what is implied in ver. 2, that Moses was faithful to Him that made him.
5 St. Chrys. had mentioned hills (bounoi;) as called to witness by God: in the verse preceding this Mi 6,1) occur the words, “let the hills hear Thy voice”; and this verse itself runs, “Hear ye hills” (bounoi;) according to the Alexandrine mss. of the LXX. or “ye mountains” (o]rh according to the Vatican), “the judgment of the Lord, and ye ravines,” &c.
6 The words “above the hairs of my head” are part of another Psalm, 40,12, or 69,4.
600 He 3,7-4,10
His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation in the day of temptation in the wilderness, when your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart, and they have not known My ways. So1 I sware in My wrath they shall not enter into My rest.”
[1.] Paul, having treated of hope, and having said that “We are His house, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (c. 3,ver. 6); next shows that we ought to look forward with firmness, and he proves this from the Scriptures. But be attentive, because he has expressed this in a manner somewhat difficult and not readily to be comprehended. And therefore we must first make our own statements, and after we have briefly explained the whole argument, then make clear the words of the Epistle. For you will no longer need us, if you have understood the scope of the Apostle.
His discourse was concerning Hope, and that it behooves us to hope for the things to come, and that for those who have toiled here there will assuredly be some reward and fruit and refreshment. This then he shows from the prophet; and what says he? “Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, To-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, they do alway err in their heart, and they have not known My ways. So2 I sware in My wrath, they shall not enter into My rest.”
(He says that there are “three” rests: one, that of the Sabbath, in which God rested from His works; the second, that of Palestine, into which when the Jews had entered they would be at rest from their hardships and labors; the third, that which is Rest indeed, the kingdom of Heaven; which those who obtain, do indeed rest from their labors and troubles. Of these three then he makes mention here.
And why did he mention the three, when he is treating of the one only? That he might show that the prophet is speaking concerning this one. For he did not speak (he says) concerning the first. For how could he, when that had taken place long before? Nor vet again concerning the second, that in Palestine. For how could he? For he says,“They shall not enter into My rest.” It remains therefore that it is this third.
602 [2.] But it is necessary also to unfold the history, to make the argument more clear. For when they had come forth out of Egypt, and had accomplished a long journey, and had received innumerable proofs of the power of God, both in Egypt, and in the Red Sea (Ac 7,36), and in the wilderness, they determined to send spies to search out the nature of the land; and these went and returned, admiring indeed the country, and saying that it abounded in noble fruits, nevertheless it was a country of strong and invincible men: and the ungrateful and senseless Jews, when they ought to have called to mind the former blessings of God, and how when they were hemmed in the midst of the armies of so many Egyptians, He rescued them from their perils, and made them masters of their enemies’ spoils; and again, in the wilderness He clave the rock, and bestowed on them abundance of waters, and gave them the manna, and the other wonderful things which He wrought; [when they ought, I say, to have remembered this,] and to have trusted in God, they considered none of these things, but being struck with terror, just as if nothing had been done, they said, we wish to go back again into Egypt, “for God hath brought us out thither” (it is said) “to slay us, with our children and wives.” (Nb 14,3). God therefore being angry that they had so quickly cast off the memory of what had been done, sware that generation, which had said these things, should not enter into the Rest; and they all perished in the wilderness. When David then, he says, speaking at a later period, and after these events, after that generation of men, said, “To-day, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts,” that ye may not suffer the same things which your forefathers did, and be deprived of the Rest; he evidently [said this] as of some [future] rest. For if they had received their Rest (he says) why does He again say to them, “To-day if ye will hear His voice harden not your hearts,” as your fathers did? What other rest then is there, except the kingdom of Heaven, of which the Sabbath was an image and type?
603 [3.] Next having set down the whole testimony (and this is, “To-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation in the day of temptation in the wilderness, when your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart, and they have not known My ways. So I sware in My wrath, they shall not enter into My rest”), he then adds:
He 3,12. “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.” For from hardness unbelief ariseth: and as in bodies, the parts that have become callous and hard do not yield to the hands of the physicians, so also souls that are hardened yield not to the word of God. For it is probable besides that some even disbelieved as though the things which had been done were not true.
Therefore he says, “Take heed lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing From the living God.” For since the argument from the future is not so persuasive as from the past, he reminds them of the history, in which they had wanted faith. For if your fathers (he says) because they did not hope as they ought to have hoped, suffered these things, much more will you. Since to them also is this word addressed: for, “To-day” (he says) is “ever,” so long as the world lasts.
604 [4.] He 3,13. Wherefore “exhort ye one another daily, while it is called to-day.” That is, edify one another, raise yourselves up: lest the same things should befall you. “Lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Seest thou that sin produces unbelief? For as unbelief brings forth an evil life, so also a soul, “when it is come into a depth of evils, becometh contemptuous”3 (Pr 18,3), and having become contemptuous it endures not even to believe, in order thereby to free itself from fear. For “they said” (one says), “The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard.” (Ps 94,7). And again, “Our lips are our own: who is Lord over us?” (Ps 12,4); and again “Wherefore hath the wicked man provoked God to wrath?” (Ps 10,13); and again, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God; they are corrupt and become abominable in their doings.” (Ps 14,1). “There is nofear of God before his eyes, for he was deceitful before Him, to find out4 his iniquity and to hate.” (Ps 36,1-2). Yea and Christ also says this same thing, “Every one that doeth evil, hateth the light and cometh not to the light.” (Jn 3,20).
Then he adds (He 3,14), “For we have been made partakers of Christ.” What is this, “We have been made partakers of Christ”? We partake of Him (he means); we were made One, we and He—since He is the Head and we the body, “fellow-heirs and of the same body; we are one body, of His flesh and of His bones.” (Ep 3,6 Rm 12,5 Ep 5,30).
“If we hold fast the beginning of our confidence [or, the principle of our subsistence5 ] steadfast unto the end.” What is “the principle of our subsistence”? The faith by which we stand, and have been brought into being and were made to exist, as one may say.
605 [5.] Then he adds (He 3,15), “When it is said,6 To-day if ye hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” This is a transposition,7 “when it is said, To-day if ye hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” [It must be read thus:]
(He 4,1-2). “Let us fear Jest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it; for to us was the Gospel preached8 as well as unto them when it is said, To-day if ye hear His voice” (for “To-day” is “at every time”9 ).
Then [he adds] “but the word of hearing did not profit them, as they were not mixed 10 by faith with them that heard.” How did it not profit? Then wishing to alarm them, he shows the same thing by what he says:
(). “For some when they had heard did provoke, howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses: And with whom was He grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom swear He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not? So 11 we see, that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” After again repeating the testimony, he adds also the question, which makes the argument clear. For he said (he repeats), “To-day if ye hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” Of whom does he speak (he says) [as] having been hardened? Of whom [as] not believing? Is it not of the Jews?
Now what he says is to this effect. They also heard, as we hear: but no profit came to them. Do not suppose then that by “hearing” what is proclaimed ye will be profited; seeing that they also heard, but derived no benefit because they did not believe.
Caleb then and Joshua, because they agreed not with those who did not believe, escaped the vengeance that was sent forth against them. And see how admirably he said, not, They did not agree, but, “they were not mixed”—that is, they stood apart, but not factiously when all the others had one and the same mind. Here it seems to me that a faction too is hinted at. 12
606 [6.] (He 4,3). For “we who have believed,” he says, “do enter into rest.” From what this is evident, he adds: “as He said, as I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall enter into My rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.” This indeed, is not evidence that we shall enter in, but that they did not enter in. What then? Thus far he aims to show that as that rest does not hinder the speaking of another rest, so neither does this [exclude] that of Heaven. Up to this point then, he wishes to show that they [the Israelites] did not attain to the rest. For because he means this, he says (He 4,4-5), “For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all His works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into My rest.” Thou seest how that doth not hinder this from being a rest?
He 4,6-7. “Seeing therefore it remaineth” (he says) “that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: again he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To-day, after so long a time; as it has been said before.” 13 But what is it that he means? “Seeing then” (he means) that “some must” certainly “enter in,” and “they did not enter in.” And that an entrance is proclaimed, and that “some must enter in,” let us hear from what this is clear. Because after so many years (he says) David again says: “To-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (He 4,8), “For if Joshua had given them rest he would not afterward have spoken of another day.” It is evident, that he says these things, as of persons who are to attain some recompense.
607 [7.] He 4,9. “There remaineth therefore a rest 14 for the people of God.” Whence [does this appear]? From the exhortation, “Harden not your hearts”: for if there were no rest, these exhortations would not have been given. Neither would they have been exhorted not to do the same things [with the Jews] lest they should suffer the same things, unless they were about to suffer the same. But how were they who were in possession of Palestine about to suffer the same things [i.e. exclusion from the rest] unless there were some other rest?
And well did he conclude the argument. For he said not rest but “Sabbath-keeping”; calling the kingdom “Sabbath-keeping,” by the appropriate name, and that which they rejoiced in and were attracted by. For as, on the Sabbath He commands to abstain from all evil things; and that those things only which relate to the Service of God should be done, which things the Priests were wont to accomplish, and whatsoever profits the soul, and nothing else; so also [will it be] then. However it is not he who spoke thus, but what? (He 3,10), “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God [did] from His.” As God ceased from His works, he says, so he that hath entered into His rest [hath ceased]. For since his discourse to them was concerning rest, and they were desirous to hear when this would be, he concluded the argument with this.
608 [8.] And [he said] “To-day,” 15 that they might never be without hope. “Exhort one another daily,” he says, [“while it is called today,”’] that is, even if a man have sinned, as long as it is “To-day,” he has hope: let no man then despair so long as he lives. Above all things indeed, he says, “let there not be an evil heart of unbelief.” (c. 3,12). But even suppose there should be, let no man despair, but let him recover himself; for as long as we are in this world, the “To-day” is in season. But here he means not unbelief only, but also murmurings: “whose carcasses,” he says, “fell’ in the wilderness.” 16
Then, lest any think that they will simply be deprived of rest only, he adds also the punishment, saying (c. 4,12), “For the Word of God is quick, and powerful; and sharper than any two-edged sword, and pierceth even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow: and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Here he is speaking of Hell and of punishment. “It pierceth” (he says) into the secrets of our heart, and cutteth asunder the soul. Here it is not the failing of carcasses nor, as there, the being deprived of a country, but of a heavenly kingdom; and being delivered to an everlasting hell, and to undying punishment and vengeance.
(He 3,13). “But exhort 17 one another.” Observe the gentleness and mildness [of the expression]: he said not “Rebuke,” but “Exhort.” Thus we are required to bear ourselves towards those who are straightened by affliction. This he says also in writing to the Thessalonians, “Warn them that are unruly” (1Th 5,14), but in speaking of the feeble-minded, not so, but what? “Comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak, be patient toward all men”; that is, do not cease to hope; do not despair. For he that does not encourage one who is straightened by affliction, makes him more hardened.
609 [9.] “Lest any of you,” he says, “be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” He means either the deceit of the devil (for it is indeed a deceit, not to look for the things to come, to think that we are without responsibility, and that we shall not pay the penalty for our deeds here, neither will there be a resurrection); or in another sense insensibility [or] despairing is deceit. For to say, ‘What is there left? I have sinned once for all, I have no hope of recovering myself,’ is deceit.
Then he suggests hopes to them, saying (He 3,14), “We are made partakers of Christ”; All but saying, He that so loved us, He that counted us worthy of so great things, as to make us His Body, will not suffer us to perish. Let us consider (he says) of what we have been thought worthy: we and Christ are One: let us not then distrust Him. And again, he hints at that which had been said in another place, that “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.” (2Tm 2,12). For this is [implied in] “We are made partakers,” we partake of the same things whereof Christ also partakes.
(He urges them on from the good things; “for we are,” he says, “partakers of Christ.” Then, again, from gloomy ones (c. 4,1), “Let us fear, lest at any time a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.” For that is manifest and confessed.
(Ch. 3,9). “They proved Me,” He says, “and saw My works forty years.” Seest thou that it is not right to call God to account, but whether He defend [our cause] or not, to trust Him? For against those [of old] he now brings this charge, that “they tempted God.” For he that will have proof either of His power, or of His providence, or of His tender care, does not yet believe, either that He is powerful or kind to man. This he hints also in writing to these [Hebrews] who probably already wished, in their trials, to obtain experience and positive evidence of His power and His providential care for them. Thou seest that in all cases the provocation and the angering arises from unbelief.
What then does he say? (c. 4,9). “There remaineth therefore a rest for the people of God.” And see how he has summed up the whole argument. “He sware,” saith he, to those former ones, “that they should not enter into” the “rest,” and they did not enter in. Then long after-their time discoursing to the Jews, he says, “Harden not your hearts,” as your fathers, showing that there is another rest. For of Palestine we have not to speak: for they were already in possession of it. Nor can he be speaking of the seventh [day]; for surely he was not discoursing about that which had taken place long before. It follows therefore that he hints at some other, that which is rest indeed.
610 [10.] For that is indeed rest, where “pain, sorrow and sighing are fled away” (Is 35,10): where there are neither cares, nor labors, nor struggle, nor fear stunning and shaking the soul; but only that fear of God which is full of delight. There is not, “In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat thy bread,” nor “thorns and thistles” (Gn 3,18-19); no longer, “In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and to thy husband shall be thy desire and he shall rule over thee.” (Gn 3,16). All is peace, joy, i gladness, pleasure, goodness, gentleness. There is no jealousy, nor envy, no sickness, no death whether of the body, or that of the soul. There is no darkness nor night; all [is] day, all light, all things are bright. It is not possible to be weary, it is not possible to be satiated: we shall always persevere in the desire of good things. 18
Would you that I should also give you some image of the condition there? It is impossible. But yet, so far as it is possible, I will try to give you some image. Let us look up into the heaven when without any intervening cloud it shows forth its crown [of stars]. Then when we have dwelt long on the beauty of its appearance, let us think that we too shall have a pavement, not indeed such [as this], but as much more beautiful as the gold is than the clay, and [let us think] on the higher roof which is again beyond; then on the Angels, the Archangels, the infinite multitude of unbodied powers, the very palace of God itself, the Throne of the Father.
But language is too weak (as I said) to set forth the whole. Experience is necessary, and the knowledge which [cometh] by experience. Tell me, how was it (think you) with Adam in Paradise? This course of life is far better than that, as much as heaven [is better] than earth.
611 [11.] But however let us search after another image still. If it happened that he who now reigns was master of the whole world, and then was troubled neither by wars nor by cares, but was honored only and lived delicately; and had large tributes, and on every side gold flowed in to him, and he was looked up to, what feelings do you think he would have, if he saw that all the wars in all parts of the world had ceased? Something such as this will it be. But rather I have not even yet arrived at that image [which I seek]; therefore I must search after another too.
Consider then, I pray you: for as some royal child, so long as he is in the womb, has no sense of anything, but should it happen that he suddenly came forth from thence, and ascended the royal throne, not gradually, but all at once received possession of all things; so is it as regards this [present] and that [future] state. Or, if some captive, having suffered innumerable evils, should be caught up at once to the royal throne.
But not even thus have I attained to the image exactly. For here indeed whatever good things a person may obtain, even shouldst thou say the kingdom itself, during the first day indeed his desires are in full vigor, and for the second too, and the third, but as time goes on, he continues indeed to have pleasure, but not so great. For whatever it be, it always ceases from familiarity with it. But yonder it not Only does not diminish, but even increases. For consider how great a thing it is, that a soul after departing thither, should no longer look for an end of those good things, nor yet change, but increase, and life that has no end, and life set free from all danger, and from all despondency and care, full of cheerfulness and blessings innumerable.
For if when we go out into a plain, and there see the soldiers’ tents fixed with curtains, and the spears, and helmets, and bosses of the bucklers glittering, we are lifted up with wonder; but if we also chance to see the king himself running in the midst or even riding with golden armor, we think we have everything; what thinkest thou [it will be] when thou seest the everlasting tabernacles of the saints pitched in heaven? (For it is said, “They shall receive you into their everlasting tabernacles”— Lc 16,9) when thou seest each one of them beaming with light above the rays of the sun, not from brass and steel, but from that glory whose gleamings the eye of man cannot look upon? And this indeed with respect to the men. But what, if one were to speak of the thousands of Angels, of Archangels, of Cherubim, of Seraphim, of thrones, of dominions, of principalities, of powers, whose beauty is inimitable, passing all understanding?
But how far shall I go in pursuing what cannot be overtaken? “For eye hath not seen,” it is said, “nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” (1Co 2,9). Therefore nothing is more pitiable than those who miss, nor anything more blessed than those who attain. Let us then be of the blessed, that we may attain to the everlasting good things that are in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost be glory, might, honor, now and for ever and world without end. Amen).
4 tou` edrei>n.
5 ajrch;n th`" uJpostavsew". St. Chrys. understands uJpovstasi" in its prior sense, as “subsistence,” “subsisting,” “being brought into real existence.”
6 ejn tw`/ levgesqai, “in its being said.”
7 kaqAE uJpevrbaton.
8 That is, these words are addressed to us as well as to them.
10 sugkekramevnou". Sav. and Ben. have sugkekramevnh" (i.e). ajkoh`"). The received text of the New Testament has sugkekramevno", “the word not being mixed.” [This is also given in the margin of W. H. and of the Revisers.] Lachmann [and Tisch., W. H., and the Revisers] read sugkekerasmevnou", which is the reading of some mss. of St. Chrys.
12 aijnivttesqai. That is, is indirectly condemned, by the contrast of the conduct of Caleb and Joshua. St. Chrys. reverses the expression of the Epistle, and says, “Caleb and Joshua were not mixed with the unbelievers,” when the Apostle had said, “the unbelievers were not mixed with them.”
13 proeivrhtai. This is the correct reading of the sacred text He 4,7: for which the common editions [i.e. the Textus Receptus. All critical editors have proeivr.—F. G.] have ei]rhtai, “it is said.”
15 St. Chrys. returns here to c. 3,13, connecting the “To-day if ye hear His voice, harden not your heart,” with “Exhort one another daily while it is called To-day”: as he had said, “to-day is at every time.”
16 The words of the Apostle, c. 3,17, are those of Nb 14,29, &c., where murmuring is the sin specified.
17 parakalei`te. The word includes the idea of comforting and encouraging as well as of exhorting,
18 [ The insatiate yet satisfied;
————————————The full yet craving still.Rhythm of Bernard de Morlaix, translated by Dr. Neale, p. 15.]
Chrysostom He 500