Chrysostom on John 13
[1.] Do we then run and labor in vain? Are we sowing upon the rocks? Does the seed fall upon the rocks? Does the seed fall without our knowing it by the wayside, and among thorns? I am greatly troubled and fear, lest our husbandry be unprofitable; not1 as though I shall be a loser as well as you, touching the reward of this labor. For it is not with those who teach as it is with husbandmen. Oftentimes the husbandman after his year’s toil, his hard work and sweat, if the earth produce no suitable return for his pains, will be2 able to find comfort for his labors from none else, but returns ashamed and downcast from his barn to his dwelling, his wife and children, unable to require of any man a reward for his lengthened toil. But in our case there is3 nothing like this. For even though the soil which we cultivate bring forth no fruit, if we have shown all industry, the Lord of it and of us will not suffer us to depart with disappointed hopes, but will give us a recompense; for, says St. Paul, “Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor” (1Co 3,8), not according to the event of things. And that it is so, hearken: “And Thou,” he saith, “Son of man, testify unto this people, if they will hear, and if they will understand.” (Ez 2,5 not from LXX). And Ezekiel says,4 “If the watchman give warning what it behooves to flee from, and what to choose, he hath delivered his own soul, although there be none that will take heed.” (Ez 3,18 Ez 33,9; not quoted from LXX). Yet although we have this strong consolation, and are confident of the recompense that shall be made us, still when we see that the work in you does not go forward, our state is not better than the state of those husbandmen who lament and mourn, who hide their faces and are ashamed. This is the sympathy of a teacher, this is the natural care of a father. For Moses too, when it was in his power to have been delivered from the ingratitude of the Jews, and to have laid the more glorious foundation of another and far greater5 people, (“Let Me alone,” said God, “that I may consume them,6 and make of thee a nation mightier than this”—Ex 32,10,) because he was a holy man, the servant of God, and a friend7 very true and generous, he did not endure even to hearken to this word, but chose rather to perish with those who had been once allotted to him, than without them to be saved and be in greater honor. Such ought he to be who has the charge of souls. For it is a strange thing that any one who has weak children, will not be called the father of any others than those who are sprung from him, but that he who has had disciples placed in his hands should be continually changing one flock for another, that we should be catching at the charge now of these, then of those, then again of others,8 having no real affection for any one. May we never have cause to suspect this of you. We trust that ye abound more in faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in love to one another and towards all men. And this we say as desiring that your zeal may be increased, and the excellence of your conversation9 farther advanced. For it is thus that you will be able to bring your understandings down to the very depth of the words set before us, if no film 10 of wickedness darken the eyes of your intellect, and disturb its clearsightedness and acuteness.
What then is it which is set before 11 us to-day? “Jn bare witness of Him, and cried, saying, This was He of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.” The Evangelist is very full in making frequent mention of John, and often beating about his testimony. And this he does not without a reason, but very wiser; for all the Jews held the man in great admiration, (even Josephus imputes the war to his death; 12 and shows, that, on his account, what once was the mother city, is now no city at all, 13 and continues 14 the words of his encomium to great length,) and therefore desiring by his means to make the Jews ashamed, he continually reminds them of the testimony of the forerunner. The other Evangelists make mention of the older prophets, and at each successive thing that took place respecting Him refer the hearer to them. Thus when the Child is born, they say, “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esias the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with Child, and shall bring forth a Son” (Mt 1,22 Is 7,14); and when He is plotted against and sought for everywhere so diligently, that even tender infancy is slaughtered by 15 Herod, they bring in Jeremy, saying, “In Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning Rachel weeping for her children” (Mt 2,18 Jr 31,15); and again, when He comes up out of Egypt, they mention 16 Hosea, saying, “Out of Egypt have I called My Son” (Mt 2,15 Hosea Mt 11,1); and this they do everywhere. But Jn providing testimony more clear and fresh, and uttering a voice more glorious than the other, brings continually forward not those only who had departed and were dead, but one also who was alive and present, who pointed Him out and baptized Him, him he continually introduces, not desiring to gain credit for the master 17 through the servant, but condescending to the infirmity of his hearers. 18 For as unless He had taken the form of a servant, He would not have been easily received, so had He not by the voice of a servant prepared the ears of his fellow-servants, the many (at any rate) of the Jews would not 19 have receded the Word.
[2.] But besides this, there was another great and wonderful provision. For because to speak any great words concerning himself, makes a man’s witness to be suspected, and is often an obstacle to many hearer, another comes to testify of Him. And besides this the many 20 are in a manner wont to run more readily to a voice which is more familiar and natural to them, as recognizing it more than other voices; and therefore the voice from heaven was uttered 21 once or twice, but that of Jn oftentimes and continually. For those 22 of the people who had surmounted the infirmity of their nature, and had been released from all the things of sense, could hear the Voice from heaven, and had no great need of that of man, but in alI things obeyed 23 that other, and were led by it; but they who yet moved below, and were wrapt in many veils, needed that meaner (voice). In the same way John, because he had snipped himself in every way of the 24 things of sense, needed no other instructors, 25 but was taught from heaven. “He that sent me,” saith he, “to baptize with water, the Same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit” of God “descending, the same is He.” (c. 1,33) But the Jews who still were children, and could not as yet reach to that height, had a man for their teacher, a man who did not seak to them words of his own, but brought them a message from above.
What then saith he? He “beareth witness concerning Him, and crieth, saying” What means that word “crieth”? Boldly, he means, and freely, without any reserve, 26 he proclaims. What does he proclaim? to what does he “bear witness,” and “cry”? “This is He of whom I said, He that cometh after me is preferred before me; for He was before me.” The testimony is dark, 27 and contains besides much that is lowly. For he does not say, “This is the Son of God, the Only-begotten, the true Son ”; but what? “He that cometh after me, is preferred before me; for He was before me.” As the mother birds do not teach their young all at once how to fly, nor finish their teaching in a single day, but at first lead them forth so as to be just outside the nest, then after first allowing them to rest, set them again to flying, 28 and on the next day continue a flight much farther, and so gently, by little and little, bring them to the proper height; just so the blessed John did not immediately bring the Jews to high things, but taught them for a while to fly up a little above the earth saying, that Christ was greater than he. And yet this, even this was for the rime no small thing, to have been able to persuade 29 the hearers that one who had not yet appeared nor worked any wonders was greater than a man, (John, I mean,) so marvelous, so famous, to whom all ran, and whom they thought to be an angel. For a while therefore he labored to establish this in the minds of his hearers, that He to whom testimony was borne was greater than he who bore it; He that came after, than he that came before, He who had not yet appeared, than he that was manifest and famous. And observe how prudently he introduces his testimony; for he does not only point Him out when He has appeared, but even before He appears, proclaims Him. For the expression, “This is He of whom I spake,” is the expression of one declaring this. As Mso Matthew says, that when all came to him, he said, “I indeed baptize you with water, but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose” 30 Wherefore then even before His appearance did he this? In order that when He appeared, the testimony might readily be received, the minds of the hearers being already prepossessed by what was said concerning Him, and the mean external appearance not vitiating it. 31 For if without having heard anything at all concerning Him they had seen the Lord, 32 and as they beheld Him had at the same time received the testimony of John’s words, so wonderful and great, the meanness of His appearance 33 would have straightway been an objection to the grandeur of the expressions. For Christ took on Him an appearance so mean and ordinary, that even Samaritan women, and harlots, and publicans, had confidence boldly to approach and converse with Him. As therefore, I said, if they had at once heard these words and seen Himself, they might perhaps have mocked at the testimony of John; but now because even before Christ appeared, they had often heard and had been accustomed to 34 what was said concerning Him, they were affected in the opposite way, not rejecting the instruction of the words by reason of the appearance of Him who was witnessed of, but from their belief of what had been already told them, esteeming Him even more glorious.
The phrase, “that cometh after,” means, “that” preacheth “after me,” not “that” was born “after me.” And this Matthew glances at when he says, 35 “after me cometh a man,” not speaking of His birth from Mary, but of His coming to preach (the Gospel), for had he been speaking of the birth, he would not have said, “cometh,” but “is come”; since He was born when Jn spake this. What then means “is before me ”? Is more glorious more honorable. “Do not,” he saith, “because I came preaching first from this, suppose that I am greater than He; I am much inferior, so much inferior that I am not worthy to be counted in the rank of a servant.” This is the sense of “is before me,” which Matthew showing in a different manner, saith, 36 “The latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose.” (Lc 3,16). Again, that the phrase, “is before me,” does not refer to His coming into Being, is plain from the sequel; for had he meant to say this, what follows, “for He was before me,” would be superfluous. For who so dull and foolish as not to know that He who “was born before” 37 him “was before” 38 him? Or if the words refer to His subsistence 39 before the ages, what is said is nothing else than that “He who cometh after me came into being before me.” Besides, such a thing as this is unintelligible, and the cause is thrown in needlessly; for he ought to have said the contrary, if he had wished to declare this, “that He who cometh after me was before me, since also He was born before me.” For one might with reason assign this, (the “being born before”) as the cause of “being before,” but not the “being before,” as the cause of “being born.” While what we assert is very reasonable. Since you all at least know this, that they are always things uncertain not things evident, that require their causes to be assigned. Now if the argument related to the production of substance, 40 it could not have been uncertain that he who “was born” first must needs “be” first; but because he is speaking concerning honor, he with reason explains what seems to be a difficulty. For many might well enquire, whence and on what pretext He who came after, became before, that is, appeared with great honor; in reply to this question therefore, he immediately assigns the reason; and the reason is, His Being first. He does not say, that “by some kind of advancement he cast me who has been first behind him, and so became before me,” but that “he was before me,” even though he arrives after me.
But how, says one, if the Evangelist refers 41 to His manifestation to men, and to the glory which was to attend Him from them, does he speak of what was not yet accomplished, as having already taken place? for he does not say, “shall be,” but “was.” Because this is a custom among the prophets of old, to speak of the future as of the past. Thus Isaiah speaking of His slaughter does not say, “He shall be led (which would have denoted futurity) as a sheep to the slaughter”; but “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter” (Is 53,7); yet He was not yet Incarnate, but the Prophet speaks of what should be as if it had come to pass. So David, pointing to the Crucifixion, said not, “They shall pierce My hands and My feet,” but “They pierced My hands and My feet, and parted My garments among them, and cast lob upon My vesture” (Ps 22,16 Ps 22,18); and discoursing of the traitor as yet unborn, he says, “He which did eat of My bread, hath lifted up 42 his heel against Me” (Ps 41,9); and of the circumstances of the Crucifixion, “They gave Me gall for meat, and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink.” (Ps 69,21).
[4.] Do you desire that we adduce more examples, or do these suffice? For my part, I think they do; for if we have not dug over the ground in all its extent, 43 we have at least dug down to its bottom; and this last kind of work is not less laborious than the former; and we fear lest by straining your attention immoderately we cause you to fall back.
Let us then give to our discourse a becoming conclusion. And what conclusion is becoming? A suitable giving of glory to God; and that is suitable which is given, not by words only, but much more by actions. For He saith, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” (Mt 5,16). Now nothing is more full of light than a most excellent conversation. As one of the wise men has said, "The paths of the just shine like the light (Pr 4,18 LXX).; and they shine not for them alone who kindle the flame by their works, and are guides in the way of righteousness, but also for those who are their neighbors. Let us then pour oil into these lamps, that the flame become higher, 44 that rich light appear. For not only has this oil great strength now, but even when sacrifices were at their height, 45 it was far more acceptable than they could be. “I will have mercy,” 46 He saith, “and not sacrifice.” (Mt 12,7 Os 6,6). And with good reason; for that is alifeless altar, this a living; and all that is laid on that altar becomes the food of fire, and ends in dust, and it is poured forth as ashes, and the smoke of it is dissolved into the substance of the air; but here there is nothing like this, the fruits which it bears are different. As the words of Paul declare; for in describing the treasures of kindness to the poor laid up by the Corinthians, he writes, “For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God.” (2Co 9,12). And again; "Whiles they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the Gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; and by their prayer for you, which long after you. Dost thou behold it 47 resolving itself into thanksgiving and praise of God, and continual prayers of those who have been benefited, and more fervent charity? Let us then sacrifice, beloved, let us sacrifice every day upon these altars. For this sacrifice is greater than prayer and fasting, and many things beside,if only it come from honest gain, and honest toils, and be pure from all cow etousness, and rapine, and violence. For God accepts such 48 offerings as these, but the others He turns away from and hates; He will not be honored out of other men’s calamities, such sacrifice is unclean and profane, and would rather anger God than appease Him. So that we must use all carefulness, that we do not, in the place of service, insult Him whom we would honor. For if Cain for making a second-rate offering, 49 having done no other wrong, suffered extreme punishment, how shall not we when we offer anything gained by rapine and covetousness, suffer yet more severely. It is for this that God has shown to us the pattern 50 of this commandment, that we might have mercy, not be severe to our fellow-servants;but he who takes what belongs to one and gives it to another, hath not shown mercy, but inflicted hurt, and done an extreme injustice. As then a stone cannot yield oil, so neither can cruelty produce humanity; for alms when it has such a root as this is alms 51 no longer. Therefore I exhort that we look not to this only, that we give to those that need, but also that we give not from other men’s plunder. “When one prayeth, and another curseth, whose voice will the Lord hear?” (Si 34,24). If we guide ourselves thus strictly, we shall be able by the grace of God to obtain much lovingkindness and mercy and pardon for what we have done amiss during all this long time, and to escape the river of fire; from which may it come to pass that we be all delivered, and 52 ascend to the Kingdom of Heaven, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 al. “nothing.”
2 al. “is.”
3 al. “shall be.”
4 al. “this may he learnt from Ezekiel.”
5 al. “in a far greater way.”
6 Lit. “wipe out.”
7 al. “very much a servant.”
8 al. “and others again with these.”
10 lhvmh, al). luvmh, “defilement.”
11 al. “said to.”
12 No such passage is extant in Josephus. Probably the place alluded to is Antiq. b. 18,c. 5, § 2, where the destruction of the troops of Herod the tetrarch by Aretas is attributed to the death of Jn the Baptist.
13 Ben. “the war through which the city of the Jews, which was once the mother city, is no city.”
14 al. “raises.”
15 Morel). kai; pavnta ta; aujtou` o]ntw" ajnezhvth, wv" kai; peri; th`" ajwvrou hJlikiva" th`" sfattomevnh".
16 al. “produce.”
17 Morel. inserts “hence, away with the thought.”
18 al. “of babes.”
19 al. “would not so.”
20 al. “because the many.”
22 al. “those therefore.”
23 Morel. “as obeying it in all things: but they who yet moved below, needed also many other (things), because of their groveling on the ground, and being wrapt.”
24 al. “all the.”
25 al. “men for inst.”
27 Lit. “shaded over.”
28 Morel. and ms. Savile reads prostiqevasi th`/ pthvsei pavlin kai;…pleivona sunavptousin.
29 al. “make believe.”
30 Mt 3,11, and Lc 3,16
31 Some mss. add, “but being able to possess the souls of the many with much fearlessness.”
32 al. “Christ Himself.”
34 Ben. “provoked (to curiosity) by.”
35 (Mt 3,11 not verbally quoted.
36 Not found In Mt
37 genovmeno" e]mprosqen.
38 prw`to" h[n.
41 al. “the reference is.”
42 al. “has magnified.”
43 al. “not much ground.”
44 al. “more soaring.”
45 lit. “flourished.”
46 e]leon. St. Chrysostom plays on the word, which was pronounced nearly as e]laion, “oil.” Thus on 2Tm 2,25, Hom. vi.
47 the “service,” leitourgiva).
48 al. “only such.”
49 ta; deuterei`a prosenegkwvn. St. Chrysostom implies, that the offering of Cain was not of his best.
51 ejlehmosuvnh, (lit “mercifulness,”) whence our alms.
52 Morel. “sit down in the heavenly bride-chamber.”
[I.] I Said the other day, that John, to resolve the doubts of those who should question with themselves how the Lord, though He came after to the preaching, became before and more glorious than he, added, “for He was before me.” And this is indeed one reason. But not content with this, he adds again a second, which now he declares. What is it? “And of his fullness,” says he, “have all we received, and grace for grace.” With these again he mentions another. What is this? That
Jn 1,17. “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
And what means that, saith he, “Of His fullness have all we received”? for to this we must for a while direct our discourse. He possesseth not, says he, the gift by participation,1 but is Himself the very Fountain and very Root of all good, very Life, and very Light, and very Truth, not retaining within Himself the riches of His good things, but overflowing with them unto all others, and after the overflowing remaining full, in nothing diminished by supplying others, but streaming ever forth, and imparting to others a share of these blessings, He remains in sameness of perfection. What I possess is by participation, (for I received it from another) and is a small portion of the whole, as it were a poor2 rain-drop compared with the untold abyss or the boundless sea; or rather not even can this instance fully express what we attempt to say, for if you take a drop from the sea, you have lessened the sea itself,3 though the diminution be imperceptible. But of that Fountain we cannot say this; how much soever a man draw, It continues undiminished. We therefore must needs proceed to another instance, a weak one also, and not able to establish what we seek, but which guides us better than the former one to the thought now proposed to us.
Let us suppose that there is a fountain of fire; that from that fountain ten thousand lamps are kindled, twice as many, thrice as many, ofttimes as many; does not the fire remain at the same degree of fullness even after its imparting of its virtue to such members? It is plain to every man that it does. Now if in the case of bodies which are made up of parts, and are diminished by abstraction, one has been found of such a nature, that after supplying to others something from itself it sustains no loss, much more will this take place with that incorporeal and uncompounded Power. If in the instance given, that which is communicated is substance and body, is divided yet does not suffer division, when our discourse is concerning an energy, and an energy too of an incorporeal substancce it is much more probable that this will undergo nothing of the sort. And therefore Jn said, “Of His fullness have all we received,” and joins his own testimony to that of the Baptist; for the expression, “Of his fulness have we all received,” belongs not to the forerunner but to the disciple; and its meaning is something like this: “Think not,” he says, “that we, who long time companied with Him, and partook of His food4 and tone, bear witness through favor,” since even John, who did not even know Him before, who had never even been with Him, but merely saw Him in company with others when he was baptizing cried out, “He was before me,” having from that source5 received all; and all we the twelve, the three hundred, the three thousand, the five thousand, the many myriads of Jews, all the fullness of the faithful who then were, and now are, and hereafter shall be, have “received of His fulness.” What have we received? “grace for grace,” saith he. What grace, for what? For the old, the new. For there was a righteousness, and again a righteousness, (“Touching the righteousness which is in the law,” saith Paul “blameless.”) (Ph 3,6). There was a faith, there is a faith. (“From faith to faith.”) (Rm 1,17). There was an adoption, there is an adoption. (“To whom pertaineth the adoption.”) (Rm 9,4). There was a glory, there is a glory. (“For if that which was done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious?”) (2Co 3,11). There was a law, and there is a law. (“For the law of the Spirit of life hath made me free.”) (Rm 8,2). There was a service, and there is a service. (“To whom pertaineth the service”—Rom. ix. 4: and again: “Serving God in the Spirit.”) (Ph 3,3). There was a covenant, and there is a covenant. (“I will make with you a a new covenant, not according to the covenant which I made with your6 fathers.”) (Jr 31,31). There was a sanctification, and there is a sanctification: there was a baptism, and there is a Baptism: there was a sacrifice, and there is a Sacrifice: there was a temple, and there is a temple: there was a circumcision, and there is a circumcision; and so too there was a “grace,” and there is a “grace.” But the words in the first case are used as types, in the second as realities, preserving a sameness of sound, though not of sense. So in patterns and figures, the shape of a man scratched with white lines7 upon a black ground is called a man as well as that which has receded the correct coloring; and in the case of statues, the figure whether formed of gold or of plaster, is alike called a statue, though in the one case as a model in the other as a reality.
[2.] Do not then, because the same words are used, suppose that the things are identical, nor yet diverse either; for in that they were models they did not differ from the truth; but in that they merely preserved the outline, they were less than the truth. What is the difference in all these instances? Will you that we take in hand and proceed to examine one or two of the cases mentioned? thus the rest will be plain to you; and we shall see that the first were lessons for children, the last for high-minded full-grown men; that the first laws were made as for mortals, the latter as for angels.
Whence then shall we begin? From the sonship itself? What then is the distinction between the first and second? The first is the honor of a name, in the second the thing goes with it. Of the first the Prophet says, “I have said, Ye are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High” (Ps 82,6); but of the latter, that they “were born of God.” How, and in what way? By the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. For then even after they had received the title of sons, retained the spirit of slavery, (for while they remained laves they were honored with this appellation,) but we being made free, received the honor, not in name, but in deed. And this Paul has declared and said, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Rm 8,15). For having been born again,8 and, as one may say, thoroughly remade,9 we so are called “sons.” And if one consider the character of the holiness, what the first was and what the second, he will find there also great 10 difference. They when they did not worship idols, nor commit fornication or adultery, were called by this name; but we become holy, not by refraining from these vices merely, but by acquiring things greater. And this gift we obtain first by means of the coming upon us of the Holy Ghost; and next, by a rule of life far more comprehensive 11 than that of the Jews. To prove that these words are not mere boasting hear what He saith to them, “Ye shall not use divination, 12 nor make purification of your children, for ye are a holy people.” So that holines with them consisted in being free from the customs of idolatry; but it is not so with us. “That she may be holy,” saith Paul, “in body and spirit.” (1Co 7,34). “Follow peace, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (He 12,14): and, “Perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2Co 7,1). For the word “holy” has not force to give the same meaning in every case to which it is applied; since God is called “Holy,” though not as we are. What, for instance, does the Prophet say, when he heard that cry raised 13 by the flying Seraphim? “Woe is me! because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (Is 6,5); though he was holy and clean; but if we be compared with the holiness which is above, we are unclean. Angels are holy, Archangels are holy, the Cherubim and Seraphim themselves are holy, but of this holiness again there is a double difference; that is, in relation to us, and to the higher powers. 14 We might proceed to all the other points, but then the discussion would become too long, and its extent too great. We will therefore desist from proceeding farther, and leave it to you to take in hand the rest, for it is in your power at home to put these things together, and examine their difference, and in the same way to go over what remains. “Give,” saith one, “a starting place to the wise, and he becometh wiser.” (Pr 9,9 LXX). The beginning is from us, but the end will be from you. We must now resume the connection.
After having said, “Of His fullness have all we received,” he adds, “and grace for grace.” For by grace the Jews were saved: “I chose you,” saith God, “not because you were many in number, but because of your fathers.” (Deut. vii. 7, Dt 7,7 LXX). If now they were chosen by God not for their own good deeds, 15 it is manifest that by grace they obtained this honor. And we too all are saved by grace, but not in like manner; not for the same objects, but for objects much greater and higher. The grace then that is with us is not like theirs. For not only was pardon of sins given to us, (since this we have in common with them, for all have sinned,) but righteousness also, and sanctification, and sonship, and the gift of the Spirit far more glorious 16 and more abundant. By this grace we have become the beloved of God, no longer as servants, but as sons and friends. Wherefore he saith, “grace for grace.” Since even the things of the law were of grace, and the very fact of man 17 being created from nothing, (for we did not receive this as a recompense for past good deeds, how could we, when we even were not? but from God who is ever the first to bestow His benefits,) and not only that we were created from nothing, but that when created, we straightway learned what we must and what we must not do, and that we received this law in our very nature, and that our Creator entrusted to us the impartial rule of conscience, these I say, are proofs of the greatest grace and unspeakable lovingkindness. And the recovery of this law after it had become corrupt, by means of the written (Law), this too was the work of grace. For what might have been expected to follow was, that they who falsified 18 the law once given should suffer correction and punishments; but what actually took place was not this, but, on the contrary, an amending of our nature, and pardon, not of debt, but given through mercy and grace. For to show that it was of grace and mercy, hear what David saith; “The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed; He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel” (Ps 103,6-7): and again; “Good and upright is the Lord, therefore will He give laws to them that are in the way.” (Ps 25,8).
[3.] Therefore that men received the law was of pity, mercies, and grace; and for this reason he saith, “Grace for grace.” But striving yet more fervently 19 to (express) the greatness of the gifts, he goes on to say,
Ver.17. “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
See ye how gently, by a single word and by little and little, both Jn the Baptist and Jn the Disciple lead up their hearers to the highest knowledge, having first exercised them in humbler things? The former having compared to himself Him who is incomparably superior to all, thus afterwards shows His superiority, by saying, “is become before me,” and then adding the words, “was before me”: while the latter has done much more than he, though too little for the worthiness of the Only-Begotten, for he makes the comparison, not with John, but with one reverenced by the Jews more than John, with Moses. “For the law,” saith he, “was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
Observe his wisdom. He makes enquiry not concerning the person, but the things; for these being proved, it was probable that even the senseless would of necessity receive from them a much higher judgment and notion respecting Christ. For when facts bear witness, which cannot be suspected 20 of doing so either from favor to any, or from malice, they afford a means of judging which cannot be doubted even by the senseless; for they remain to open view just as their actors may have arranged them, and therefore their evidence is the least liable to suspicion of any. And see how he makes the comparison easy even to the weaker sort; for he does not prove the superiority by argument, but points out the difference by the bare words, opposing “grace and truth” to “law,” and “came” to “was given.” Between each of these there is a great difference; for one, “was given,” belongs to something ministered, when one has received from another, and given to whom he was commanded to give; but the other, “grace and truth came,” befits a king forgiving all offenses, with authority, and himself furnishing the gift. Wherefore He said, “Thy sins be forgiven thee” (Mt 9,2); and again, “But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins (He saith to the sick of the palsy), Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.” (He 5,6).
Seest 21 thou how “grace” cometh by Him? look also to “truth.” His “grace” the instance just mentioned, and what happened in the case of the thief, and the gift of Baptism, and the grace of the Spirit given by Him 22 declare, and many other things. But His “truth” we shall more clearly know, if we understand the types. For the types like patterns anticipated and sketched beforehand the dispensations 23 which should be accomplished under the new covenant, and Christ came and fulfilled them. Let us now consider the types in few words, for we cannot at the present time go through all that relates to them; but when you have learned some points from those (instances) which I shall set before you, 24 you will know the others also.
Will you then that we begin with the Passion itself? What then saith the type? “Take ye a lamb for an house, and kill it, and do as he commanded and ordained.” (Ex 12,3). But it is not so with Christ. He doth not command this to be done, but Himself becomes It, 25 by offering Himself a Sacrifice and Oblation to His Father.
[4.] See how the type was “given by Moses,” but the “Truth came by Jesus Christ.” (Ex 17,12).
Again, when the Amalekites warred in Mount Sinai, the hands of Moses were supported, being stayed up by Aaron and Hur standing on either side of him (Ex 17,12); but when Christ came, He of Himself stretched forth His Hands upon the Cross. Hast thou observed how the type “was given,” but “the Truth came”?
Again, the Law said, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in this book.” (Dt 27,26 LXX). But I what saith grace? “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11,28); and Paul, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” (Ga 3,13).
Since then we have enjoyed such “grace” and “truth,” I exhort you that we be not more slothful by reason of the greatness of the gift; for the greater the honor of which we have been deemed worthy, the greater our debt of excellence; for one who has received but small benefits, even though he makes but small returns, does not deserve the same condemnation; but he who has been raised to the highest summit of honor, and yet manifests groveling and mean dispositions, will be worthy of much greater punishment. May I never have to suspect this of you. For we trust in the Lord that you have winged your souls for heaven, that you have removed from earth, that being in the world ye handle not the things of the world; yet though so persuaded, we do not cease thus continually to exhort you. In the games of the heathen, they whom all the spectators encourage are not those who have fallen and lie supine, but those who are exerting themselves and running still; of the others, (since they would be doing what would be of no use, 26 and would not be able to raise up by their encouragements men once for all severed from victory,) they cease to take any notice. But in this case some good may be expected, not only of you who are sober, but even of those who have fallen, if they would but be converted. Wherefore we use every means, exhorting, reproving, encouraging, praising, in order that we may bring about your salvation. Be not then offended by our continual admonishing concerning the Christian conversation, for the words are not the words of one accusing you of sloth, but of one who has very excellent hopes respecting you. And not to you alone, but to ourselves who speak them, are these words said, yea, and shall be said, for we too need the same teaching; so though they be spoken by us, yet nothing hinders their being spoken to us, (for the Word, when it finds a man in fault, amends him, when clear and free, sets him as far off from it as possible,) and we ourselves are not pure from transgressions. The course of healing is the same for all, the medicines are set forth for all, only the application is not the same, but is made according to the choice of those who use the medicines; for one who will handle the remedy as he ought, gains some benefit from the application, while he who does not place it upon the wound, makes the evil greater, and brings it to the most painful end. Let us then not fret when we are being healed, but much rather rejoice, even though the system of discipline bring bitter pains, for hereafter it will show to us fruit sweeter than any. Let us then do all to this end, that we may depart to that world, 27 cleared of the wounds and strokes which the teeth of sin make in the soul, so that having become worthy to behold the countenance of Christ, we may be delivered in that day, not to the avenging and cruel powers, but to those who are able to bring us to that inheritance of the heavens which is prepared for them that love Him; to which may it come to pass that we all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
1 meqekthJn dwrea;n.
2 al. “little.”
3 or, “just so much.”
4 lit. “salt.”
5 or, “sight,” ejkei`qen.
6 in Orig. “the house of Israel and Judah.”
7 in Orig. “their.”
8 al. “with black on white colors.”
9 or, “from above.”
10 ajnastoiceiwqevnte", made up of fresh elements.
11 (So Morel. Ben. and ms. in Bodleian. Savile reads ouj pollh;n.
12 meivzono" paliteiva".
13 or, “purify yourselves,” foibavsesqe.
14 Perhaps from Dt 18,10.
15 al. “sung.”
16 Morel. and ms. in Bodleian read the passage thus: “are holy, but the (Holiness) of God is greater than their holiness, and surpassing, as in comparison with us, so also with the powers which are above us.”
18 al. “stronger.”
19 al. “our.”
21 al. “clearly.”
22 al. “accused.”
23 al. “see.”
24 Morel. and ms. in Bodleian, read, “and the adoption through the Spirit, given to us.”
26 al. “having from a few learned the whole.”
27 aujto;" aujto; gignetai.
Chrysostom on John 13