Chrysostom He 3300
3300 He 12,28-13,16
let us have grace [or gratitude,]1 whereby we serve2 God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.”
[1.] In another place he says the same, “for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2Co 4,18); and from this makes an exhortation with regard to the evils which we endure in this present life; and here he does this, and says, let us continue steadfast; “let us have thankfulness,” i.e., let us give thanks unto God. For not only we ought not to be discouraged at present things, but even to show the greatest gratitude to Him, for those to come.
“Whereby we serve God acceptably,” that is to say, ‘for thus is it possible to serve God acceptably,’ by giving him thanks in all things. “Do all things” (he says) “without murmurings and disputings.” (Ph 2,14). For whatever work a man does with murmuring, he cuts away and loses his reward; as the Israelites—how great a penalty they paid for their murmurings. Wherefore he says, “Neither murmur ye.” (1Co 10,10). It is not therefore possible to “serve” Him “acceptably” without a sense of gratitude to Him for all things, both for our trials, and the alleviations of them. That is, let us utter nothing hasty, nothing disrespectful, but let us humble ourselves that we may be reverential. For this is “with reverence and godly fear.”
He 13,1-2. “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful of hospitality,3 for hereby some have entertained angels unawares.” See how he enjoins them to preserve what they had: he does not add other things. He did not say, “Be loving as brethren,” but, “Let brotherly love continue.” And again, he did not say, “Be hospitable,” as if they were not, but, “Be not forgetful of hospitality,” for this was likely to happen owing to their afflictions.
Therefore4 (he says) “some have entertained angels unawares.” Seest thou how great was the honor, how great the gain!
What is “unawares”?5 They entertained them without knowing it. Therefore the reward also was great, because he entertained them, not knowing that they were Angels. For if he had known it, it would have been nothing wonderful. Some say that he here alludes to Lot also.
3302 [2.] . “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them, them which suffer adversity as being yourselves also in the body. Marriage is honorable in all,6 and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. Let your conversation be without covetousness: being content with such things as ye have.”
See how large is his discourse concerning chastity. “Follow peace,” he said, “and holiness; Lest there be any fornicator or profane person” (c. xii. 14); and again, “Fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (c. 12,16). In every case, the prohibition is with a penalty. “Follow peace with all men,” he says, “and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: But fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”
And having first set down “Marriage is honorable in all men, and the bed undefiled,” he shows that he rightly added what follows. For if marriage has been conceded, justly is the fornicator punished, justly does the adulterer suffer vengeance.
Here he strips for7 the heretics. He did not say again, Let no one be a fornicator; but having said it once for all, he then went on as with a general exhortation, and not as directing himself against them.
“Let your conversation be without covetousness,” he says. He did not say, Possess nothing, but, “Let your conversation be without covetousness”: that is, let it show forth the philosophical character of your mind.8 [And it will show it, if we do not seek superfluities, if we keep only to what is necessary.]9 For he says above also, “And ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods.” (c. 10,34). He gives these exhortations, that they might not be covetous.
“Being content” (he says) “with such things as ye have.” Then here also the consolation; (He 13,5) “For He” (he says) “hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee”; (He 13,6) “so that we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Again consolation in their trials.
3303 [3.] He 13,7. “Remember them which have the rule over you.” This he was laboring to say above: therefore “Follow peace with all men.” (c. 12,14). He gave this exhortation also to the Thessalonians, to “hold them in honor exceedingly.” (1Th 5,13).
“Remember” (he says) “them which have the rule over you, 10 who have spoken unto you the word of God, whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” What kind of following is this? Truly the best: for he says, beholding their life, “follow their faith.” For from a pure life [cometh] faith.
Or else by “faith,” he means steadfastness. How so? Because they believe in the things to come. For they would not have shown forth a pure life, if they had questioned about the things to come, if they had doubted. So that here also he is applying a remedy to the same [evil]. 11
He 13,8-9. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday and to-day and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established with grace, not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.”
In these words, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday and to-day and for ever,” “yesterday” means all the time that is past: “to-day,” the present: “for ever,” the endless which is to come. That is to say: Ye have heard of an High Priest, but not an High Priest who fails. He is always the same. As though there were some who said, ‘Heis not, another will come,’ he says this, that Hewho was “yesterday and to-day,” is “the samealso for ever.” For even now the Jews say, that another will come; and having deprived themselves of Him that is will fall into the hands of Antichrist.
“Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines.” Not “with strange doctrines” only, but neither with “divers ones.”
“For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace, not with meats which have not profited them that have been occupied 12 therein.” Here he gently hints at those who introduce the observance of “meats.” For by Faith all things are pure. There is need then of Faith, not of “meats.”
For (He 13,10) “we have an altar whereof they have no right to eat which serve 13 the Tabernacle.” Not as the Jewish [ordinances], are those among us, as it is not lawful even for the High Priest to partake of them. So that since he had said, “Do not observe,” 14 and this seemed to be [the language] of one who is throwing down his own building, he again turns it round. What, have not we then observances as well (he says)? [Yea we have], and we observe them very earnestly too, not sharing them even with the priests themselves.
3304 [4.] He 13,11-12. “For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the High Priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered” (he says) “without the gate.” Seest thou the type shining forth? “For sin,” he says, and “suffered without the gate.” (He 13,13) “Let us go forth therefore to Him without the camp, bearing His reproach,” that is, suffering the same things; having communion with Him in His sufferings. He was crucified without as a condemned person: neither let us then be ashamed to “go forth out” [of the world].
He 13,14-15. “For we have here no continuing city” (he says) “but we seek one to come. By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name.”
“By Him,” as by an High Priest, according to the flesh. 15 “Giving thanks” 16 (be says) “to His Name.” (See p. 514). Let us utter nothing blasphemous, nothing hasty, nothing bold, nothing presumptuous, nothing desperate. This is “with reverence and godly fear.” (c. 12,28). For a soul in tribulations becomes desponding, and reckless. 17 But let not us [be so]. See here he again says the same thing which he said before, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,” for so shall we be able to do all things with reverence. For oftentimes even out of respect for men, we refrain from doing many evil things.
He 13,16. “But to do good and to communicate forget not.” I speak not [merely] with reference to the brethren present, but to those absent also. But if others have plundered your property, display your hospitality out of such things as ye have. What excuse then shall we have henceforward, when they, even after the spoiling of their goods, were thus admonished?
3305 [5.] And he did not say, “Be not forgetful” of the entertaining of strangers, 18 but “of hospitality”: 19 that is, do not merely entertain strangers, but [do it] with love for the strangers. Moreover he did not speak of the recompense that is future, and in store for us, lest he should make them more supine, but of that already given. For “thereby some” (he says) “have entertained angels unawares.”
But let us see in what sense “Marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled.” Because (he means) it preserves the believer in chastity. Here he also alludes to the Jews, because they accounted the woman after childbirth 20 polluted: and “whosoever comes from the bed,” it is said, “is not clean.” 21 Those things are not polluted 22 which arise from nature O ungrateful and senseless Jew, 23 but those which arise from choice. 24 For if “marriage is honorable” and pure, why forsooth dost thou think that one is even polluted by it?
“Let your conversation” (he says) “be without covetousness”: since many after having exhausted 25 their property, afterwards wish to recover it again under the guise of alms, therefore he says, “Let your conversation be without covetousness”; that is, that we should be [desirous only] of what is necessary 26 and indispensable. What then (you say) if we should not have a supply even of these? This is not possible; indeed it is not. “For He hath said,” and He doth not lie, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we boldly say, The Lord is my Helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Thou hast the promise from Himself: do not doubt henceforward. He has promised; make no question. But this, “I will never leave thee,” he says not concerning money only, but concerning all other things also. “The Lord is my Helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me”; with good reason.
This then also let us say in all temptations; let us laugh at human things, so long as we have God favorable to us. For as, when He is our enemy, it is no gain, though all men should be our friends, so when He is our friend, though all men together war against us, there is no harm. “I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
3306 [6.] “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God.” In this place I think that he is speaking about assistance also. 27 For this is [implied in the words] “who have spoken unto you the word of God.”
“Whose faith follow considering the end of their conversation.” What is, “considering”? 28 Continually revolving, examining it by yourselves, reasoning, investigating accurately, testing it as you choose. “The end of their conversation,” that is, their conversation to the end: for “their conversation” had a good end.
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday and to-day and for ever.” Do not think that then indeed He wrought wonders, but now works no wonders. He is the same. This is, “remember them that have the rule over you.” 29
“Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines.” “Strange,” that is, different from those ye heard from us; [“Divers”] that is, of all sorts: for they have no stability, but are different [one from another]. For especially manifold 30 is the doctrine of meats.
“For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats.” These are the“divers,” these the “strange” 31 [doctrines]: especially as Christ has said, “not that which entereth into the mouth defileth the man, but that which cometh out.” (Mt 15,11). And observe that he does not make bold to say this openly, but as it were by a hint. 32 “For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace, not with meats.”
Faith is all. If that establishes [it], the heart stands in security. It follows that Faith establishes: consequently reasonings shake. For Faith is contrary to reasoning.
“Which” (he says) “have not profited them that have been occupied therein.” For what is the gain from the observance 33 [of them], tell me. Does it not rather destroy? Does it not make such an one to be under sin? If it be necessary to observe [them], we must guard ourselves. 34
“Which” (he says) “have not profiled them that have been occupied therein.” That is, who have always diligently kept them.
There is one observance, abstaining from sin. For what profit is it, when some are so polluted, as not to be able to partake of the sacrifices? So that it did not save them at all; although they were zealous about the observances. But because they had not faith, even thus they profiled nothing.
3307 [7.] In the next place he takes away 35 the sacrifice from the type, and directs his discourse to the prototype, saying, “The bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the High Priest, are burned without the camp.” Then those things were a type of these and thus Christ, suffering “without,” fulfilled all.
Here he makes it plain too that He suffered voluntarily, showing 36 that those things were not accidental, but even the [Divine] arrangement itself was of a suffering “without.” [He suffered] without, but His Blood was borne up into Heaven. Thou seest then that we partake of Blood which has been carried into the Holy Place, the True Holy Place; of the Sacrifice of which the Priest alone had the privilege. We therefore partake of the Truth [the Reality]. If then we partake not of “reproach” [only] but of sanctification, 37 the “reproach” is the cause of the sanctification. For as He was reproached, so also are we. If we go forth “without” therefore, we have fellowship with Him.
But what is, “Let us go forth to Him”? Let us have fellowship with Him in His sufferings; let us bear His reproach. For He did not simply bid us dwell “outside the gate,” but as He was reproached as a condemned person, so also we.
And “by Him let us offer a sacrifice to God.” Of what kind of sacrifice does he speak? “The fruit of lips giving thanks to His Name.” They [the Jews] brought sheep, and calves, and gave them to the Priest: let “us” bring none of these things, but thanksgiving. This “fruit” let “our lips” put forth.
“For with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Let us give such a sacrifice to Him, that He may offer [it] to The Father. For in no other way it is offered except through the Son, or rather also through a contrite mind. All these things [are said] for the weak. For that the thanks belong to the Son is evident: since otherwise, how is the honor equal? “That all men” (He says) “should honor the Son even as they honor the Father.” (Jn 5,23). Wherein is the honor equal? “The fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name.” 38
3308 [8.] Let us bear all things thankfully, be it poverty, be it disease, be it anything else whatever: for He alone knows the things expedient for us. “For we know not what we should pray for as we ought.” (Rm 8,26). We then who do not know even how to ask for what is fitting, unless we have received of 39 the Spirit, let us take care to offer up thanksgiving for all things, and let us bear all things nobly. Are we in poverty? Let us give thanks. Are we in sickness? Let us give thanks. Are we falsely accused? Let us give thanks: when we suffer affliction, let us give thanks.
This brings us near to God: then we even have God for our debtor. But when we are in prosperity, it is we who are debtors and liable to be called to account. For when we are in prosperity, we are debtors to God: and oftentimes these things bring a judgment upon us, while those are for a payment of sins. 40 Those [afflictions] draw down mercy, they draw down kindness: while these on the other hand lift up even to an insane pride, and lead also to slothfulness, and dispose a man to fancy great things concerning himself; they puff up. Therefore the prophet also said, “It is good for me, Lord, that Thou hast afflicted 41 me; that I may learn Thy statutes.” (Ps 119,71). When Hezekiah had received blessings and been freed from calamities, his heart was lifted up on high; when he fell sick, then was he humbled, then he became near to God. “When He slew them,” it says, “then they sought Him diligently, and turned, and were early in coming to 42 God.” (Ps 78,34). And again, “When the beloved waxed gross and fat, then he kicked.” (Dt 32,15). For “the Lord is known when He executeth judgments.” (Ps 9,16).
3309 [9.] Affliction is a great good. “Narrow is the way” (Mt 7,14), so that affliction 43 thrusts us into the narrow [way]. He who is not pressed by affliction cannot enter. For he who afflicts himself in the narrow [way], is he who also enjoys ease; but he that spreads himself out, 44 does not enter in, and suffers from being so to say wedged in. 45 See how Paul enters into this narrow way. He “keeps under” his “body” (1Co 9,27), so as to be able to enter. Therefore, in all his afflictions, he continued giving thanks unto God. Hast thou lost thy property? This hath lightened thee of the most of thy wideness. Hast thou fallen from glory? This is another sort of wideness. Hast thou been falsely: accused? Have the things said against thee, of which thou art nowise conscious to thyself been believed? “Rejoice and leap for joy.” For “blessed are ye” (He says) “when men reproach you, and say all manner of evil against you, falsely, for My sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in Heaven.” (Mt 5,11-12).
Why dost thou marvel, if thou art grieved, and wish to be set free from temptations? Paul wished to be set free, and oftentimes entreated God, and did not obtain. For the “thrice for this I besought the Lord,” is oftentimes; “and He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2Co 12,8-9). By “weakness,” he here means “afflictions.” What then? When he heard this he received it thankfully, and says, “Wherefore I take pleasure in infirmities” (2Co 12,10); that is, I am pleased, I rest in my afflictions. For all things then let us give thanks, both for comfort, and for affliction. 46 Let us not murmur: let us not be unthankful. “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, naked also shall I depart.” (Jb 1,21). Thou didst not come forth glorious, do not seek glory. Thou wast brought into life naked, not of money alone, but also of glory, and of honorable name.
Consider how great evils have oftentimes arisen from wealth. For “It is easier” (it is said) “for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of Heaven.” (Mt 19,24). Seest thou to how many good things wealth is a hindrance, and dost thou seek to be rich? Dost thou not rejoice that the hindrance has been overthrown? So narrow is the way which leadeth into the Kingdom. So broad is wealth, and full of bulk and swelling out. Therefore He says, “Sell that thou hast” (Mt 19,21), that that way may receive thee. Why dost thou yearn after wealth? For this cause He took it away from thee, that He might free thee from slavery. For true fathers also, when a son is corrupted by some mistress, and having given him much exhortation they do not persuade him to part from her, send the mistress into banishment. Such also is abundance of wealth. Because the Lord cares for us, and delivers us from the harm [which arises] therefrom, He takes away wealth from us.
Let us not then think poverty an evil: sin is the only evil. For neither is wealth a good thing by itself: to be well-pleasing to God is the only good, Poverty then let us seek, this let us pursue: so shall we lay hold on heaven, so shall we attain to the other good things, Which may we all attain by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost be glory, power, honor, now and ever and world without end, Amen,
1 cavrin e[cwmen St. Chrys. understands the expression in this sense; which it has elsewhere: as in Lc 17,9 2Tm 1,3.
2 latreuvomen is the reading of all the mss., the common texts have latreuvwmen.
3 filoxeniva", see below, ). [Neither the A. V). “to entertain strangers,” nor the R. V). “to show love to strangers,” have hit upon the natural meaning of filoxeniva, adopted throughout by St. Chrys.—F. G.]
4 dia; tou`to, or dia; tauvth" “thereby.”
6 [The R. V. puts this and the following clause in the imperative, “Let marriage be had in honor among all.” The Greek has simply the adjective and noun which would naturally be connected by the simple copula.—F. G.]
7 ajpoduvetai pro;").
8 [The R. V. translates, “Be ye free from the love of money,” with the margin, “Let your turn of mind be free.”—F. G.]
9 [This passage is omitted in Field’s text, though contained in the Benedictine, and should of course be omitted here.—F. G.]
10 hJgoumevnwn, “spiritual leaders and guides.”
11 to; aujto; qerapeuvei, “unchastity.”
12 oiJ peripathvsante", i.e). “that have walked in them”: “lived in the observance of rules respecting them.”
13 “perform the service of.”
14 parathrei`te, see Ga 4,10.
15 His human nature.
16 [R. V). “which make confession.”—F. G.]
17 ajpanaiscuntei`, “loses respect.”
18 St. Chrys. here reverts to ver. 2, and goes over again the portion on which he has already commented.
19 “Love of the stranger,” filovxeniva.
20 th;n lecwv: Edd). th;n koivthn.
21 See Lv 15,18.
23 [St. Chrys. might seem here to be casting contempt upon the laws of the Old Dispensation; but he probably means that while they were fitting enough as parts of the temporary ceremonial law, they have no such foundation in nature as to remain of any force under the Christian Dispensation.—F. G.]
24 th`" proairevsew".
25 kenw`sai. This word is used commonly by St. Chrys. for giving away one’s whole property in charity, and probably that is its meaning here.
26 th`" creiva" w\men.
27 ejpikouriva: see 1Tm 5,17, &c.
29 That is, Remember them, because of the continual presence and working of Christ in His Church.
30 or, “intricate and complicated,” poluvplokon.
31 “foreign to us.”
32 e;n aijnivgmati.
33 parathvrhsi"; see Ga 4,10, “Ye observe (parathrei`sqe) days,” &c).
34 e]sti parathrei`sqai: potius sibi cavendum est, is Mr. Field’s translation; “to be guarded,” as we say.
36 deiknu;" o(ti oujk ejkei`na aJplw`" h\n, ajlla; kai; aujth; hJ oijkonomiva e]xw pavqou" h\n.
37 aJgiasmou`. The effect of the sprinkling with blood. See c. 9,12, 13, &c.; x. 10, 14.
38 That is, “to the Name of the Son.”
39 ejpilabwvmeqa, “taken hold of.”
40 e]ktisi", see above, Hom. 5,[6.] p. 391.
41 or “humbled.”
42 w]rqrizon pro;".
43 qli`yi", literally “pressing”: probably St. Chrys. had in mind a word of the text which he does not cite, teqlimmevnh hJ oJdov".
44 ejmplatuvnwn eJautovn.
45 qlibetai sfh;nouvmeno").
46 [See above, pp. 442, 459, 460, 517. St. Chrysostom in his bitter banishment finished his last prayer “with his usual thanksgiving, ‘Glory to God for all things’ and sealed it with a final Amen.” Dr. Bright, Hist. of Church, between a.d. 313 and 451, chapter 9,end, p. 255 and Dr. Bright’s note b. on the same page.]
3400 He 13,17-25
and submit yourselves. For they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief,1 for this is unprofitable for you.”
[1.] Anarchy2 is an evil, and the occasion of many calamities, and the source of disorder and confusion. For as, if thou take away the leader from a chorus, the chorus will not be in tune and in order; and if from a phalanx of an army thou remove the commander, the evolutions will no longer be made in time and order, and if from a ship thou take away the helmsman, thou wilt sink the vessel; so too if from a flock thou remove the shepherd, thou hast overthrown and destroyed all.
Anarchy then is an evil, and a cause of ruin. But no less an evil also is the disobedience to rulers. For it comes again to the same. For a people not obeying a ruler, is like one which has none; and perhaps even worse. For in the former case they have at least an excuse for disorder, but no longer in the latter, but are punished.
But perhaps some one will say, there is also a third evil, when the ruler is bad. I myself too know it, and no small evil it is, but even a far worse evil than anarchy. For it is better to be led by no one, than to be led by one who is evil. For the former indeed are oftentimes saved, and oftentimes are in peril,3 but the latter will be altogether in peril, being led into the pit [of destruction].
How then does Paul say, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves”? Having said above, “whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation” (c. ver. 7), he then said, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves.”
What then (you say), when he is wicked should we obey?
Wicked? In what sense? If indeed in regard to Faith, flee and avoid him; not only if he be a man, but even if he be an angel come down from Heaven; but if in regard to life, be not over-curious. And this instance I do not allege from my own mind, but from the Divine Scripture. For hear Christ saying, “The Scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat.” (Mt 23,2). Having previously spoken many fearful things concerning them, He then says, “They sit on Moses’ seat: all therefore whatsoever they tell you observe, do; but do not ye after their works.” (Mt 23,2-3). They have (He means) the dignity of office, but are of unclean life. Do thou however attend, not to their life, but to their words. For as regards their characters, no one would be harmed [thereby]. How is this? Both because their characters are manifest to all, and also because though he were ten thousand times as wicked he will never teach what is wicked. But as respects Faith, [the evil] is not manifest to all, and the wicked [ruler] will not shrink from teaching it.
Moreover, “Judge not that ye be not judged” (Mt 7,1) concerns life, not faith: surely what follows makes this plain. For “why” (He says) “beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Mt 7,3).
“All things therefore” (He says) “which they bid you observe, do ye” (now to “do” belongs to works not to Faith) “but do not ye after their works.” Seest thou that [the discourse] is not concerning doctrines, but concerning life and works?
3402 [2.] Paul however previously commended them,4 and then says, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls, as they that shall give account.”
Let those who rule also hear, and not only those who are under their rule; that as the subjects ought to be obedient, so also the rulers ought to be watchful and sober. What sayest thou? He watches; he imperils his own head; he is subject to the punishments of thy sins,and for thy sake is amenable to what is so fearful, and art thou slothful, and affectedly indifferent, and at ease? Therefore he says, “That they may do this with joy, and not with grief:5 for this is unprofitable for you.”
Seest thou that the despised ruler ought not to avenge himself, but his great revenge is to weep and lament? For neither is it possible for the physician, despised by his patient, to avenge himself, but to weep and lament. But if [the ruler] lament (he means), God inflicts vengeance on thee. For if when we lament for our own sins we draw God to us, shall we not much rather [do this], when we lament for the arrogance and scornfulness of others? Seest thou that he does not suffer him to be led on to reproaches? Seest thou how great is his philosophy? He ought to lament who is despised, is trodden under foot, is spit upon.
Be not confident because he does not avenge himself on thee, for lamenting is worse than any revenge. For when of himself he profits nothing by lamenting, he calls on the Lord: and as in the case of a teacher and nurse, when the child does not listen to him, one is called in who will treat him more severely, so also in this case.
3403 [3.] Oh! how great the danger! What should one say to those wretched men, who throw themselves upon so great an abyss of punishments? Thou hast to give account of all over whom thou rulest, women and children and men; into so great a fire dost thou put thy head. I marvel if any of the rulers can be saved, when in the face of6 such a threat, and of the present indifference, I see some still even running on, and casting themselves upon so great a burden of authority.
For if they who are dragged by force7 have no refuge or defense, if they discharge duty ill and are negligent; since even Aaron was dragged by force, and yet was imperiled;8 and Moses again was imperiled, although he had oftentimes declined; and Saul having been entrusted with another kind of rule, after he had declined it, was in peril, because he managed it amiss; how much more they who take so great pains to obtain it, and cast themselves upon it? Such an one much more deprives himself of all excuse. For men ought to fear and to tremble, both because of conscience, and because of the burden of the office; and neither when dragged to it should they once for all decline, nor, when not dragged cast themselves upon it, but should even flee, foreseeing the greatness of the dignity; and when they have been seized, they ought again to show their godly fear.9 Let there be nothing out of measure. If thou hast perceived it beforehand, retire; convince thyself that thou art unworthy of the office. Again, if thou hast been seized, in like manner be thou reverential, 10 always showing rightmindedness. 11
3404 [4.] He 13,18. “Pray for us” (he says); “for we trust we have a good conscience among all, 12 willing to live honestly.”
Thou seest that he used these apologies, as writing to persons grieved with him, as to those who turned away, who were disposed as towards a transgressor, not enduring even to hear his name? Inasmuch then as he asked from those who hated him what all others ask from those who love them [their prayers for him], therefore he here introduces this; saying, “We trust that we have a good conscience.” For do not tell me of accusations; our conscience, he says, in nothing hurts 13 us; nor are we conscious to ourselves that we have plotted against you. “For we trust,” he says, “that we have a good conscience among all,” not among the Gentiles only, but also among you. We have done nothing with deceitfulness, 14 nothing with hypocrisy: for it was probable that these [calumnies] were reported respecting him. “For they have been informed concerning thee” (it is said) “that thou teachest apostasy.” (Ac 21,21). Not as an enemy, he means, nor as an adversary I write these things, but as a friend. And this he shows also by what follows.
He 13,19. “But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.” His thus praying was [the act] of one who loved them greatly, and that not simply, but with all earnestness, that so, he says, I may come to you speedily. The earnest desire to come to them is [the mark] of one conscious to himself of nothing [wrong], also the entreating them to pray for him.
Therefore having first asked their prayers, he then himself also prays for all good things on them. (He 13,20) “Now the God of peace,” he says (be ye not therefore at variance one with another), “that brought again from the earth the Shepherd of the sheep” (this is said concerning the resurrection) “the Great [Shepherd]” (another addition: here again he confirms to them even to the end, his discourse concerning the Resurrection) “through the blood of the everlasting covenant, our Lord Jesus Christ,” (He 13,21) “make you perfect in every good work, to do His will, working in you 15 that which is well-pleasing in His sight.”
Again he bears high testimony to them. For that is made “perfect” which having a beginning is afterwards completed. And he prays for them which is the act of one who yearns for them. And while in the other Epistles, he prays in the prefaces, here he does it at the end. “Working in you,” he says, “that which is well-pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Chrysostom He 3300