Chrysostom on John 52
"Then came the officers to the Chief Priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? The officers answered, Never man spake like this Man."
[1.] There is nothing clearer, nothing simpler than the truth, if we deal not perversely; just as (on the other hand) if we deal perversely, nothing is more difficult. For behold, the Scribes and Pharisees, who seemed forsooth to be wiser than other men, being ever with Christ for the sake of plotting against Him, and beholding His miracles, and reading the Scriptures, were nothing profited, but were even harmed while the officers, who could not claim one of these privileges, were subdued by one single sermon, and they who had gone forth to bind Him, came back bound themselves by wonder. We must not only marvel at their understanding, that they needed not signs, but were taken by the teaching alone; (for they said not, “Never man wrought miracles thus,” but, “Never man spake thus”;) we must not, I say, merely marvel at their understanding, but also at their boldness, that they spake thus to those that had sent them, to the Pharisees, to His enemies, to men who were doing all with a view to gratify their enmity. “The officers,” saith the Evangelist, “came, and the Pharisees said unto them, Why have ye not brought him?” To “come” was a far greater deed than to have remained, for in the latter case they would have been rid of the annoyance of these men, but now they become heralds of the wisdom of Christ, and manifested their boldness in greater degree. And they say not, “We could not become of the multitude, for they gave heed unto Him as unto a prophet”; but what? “Never man spake as this Man.” Yet they might have alleged that, but they show their right feeling. For theirs was the saying not only of men admiring Him, but blaming their masters, because they had sent them to bind Him whom it behooved rather to hear. Yet they had not heard a sermon either, but a short one; for when the long mind is impartial, there is no need of long arguments. Such a thing is truth. What then say the Pharisees? When they ought to have been pricked at the heart, they, on the contrary, retort a charge on the officers, saying,
Jn 7,47. “Are ye also deceived?”
They still speak them fair, and do not express themselves harshly, dreading lest the others should entirely separate themselves, yet nevertheless they give signs of anger, and speak sparingly. For when they ought to have asked what He spake, and to have marveled at the words, they do not so, (knowing that they might have been captivated,) but reason with them from a very foolish argument;
Jn 7,48. “Wherefore,” saith one, “hath none1 of the rulers2 believed on Him?”
Dost thou then make this a charge against Christ, tell me, and not against the unbelievers?
Jn 7,49. “But the3 people,” saith one, “which knoweth not the Law, are accursed.”
Then is the charge against you the heavier, because the people believed, and ye believed not. They acted like men that knew the Law; how then are they accursed? It is ye that are accursed, who keep not the Law, not they, who obey the Law. Neither was it right, on the evidence of unbelievers, to slander one in whom they believed not, for this is an unjust mode of acting. For ye also believed not God, as Paul saith; “What if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God of none effect? God forbid.” (Rm 3,3-4). For the Prophets ever rebuked them, saying, “Hear, ye rulers of Sodom”; and, “Thy rulers are disobedient” (Is 1,10 Is 1,23); and again, “Is it not for you to know judgment?” (Mi 3,1). And everywhere they attack them vehemently. What then? Shall one blame God for this? Away with the thought. This blame is theirs. And what other proof can a man bring of your not knowing the Law than your not obeying it? For when they had said, “Hath any of the rulers believed on him?” and, “These who know not the Law,” Nicodemus in fair consequence upbraids them, saying,
Jn 7,51. “Doth our4 law judge any man before it hear him?”
(He showeth that they neither know the Law, nor do the Law; for if that Law commandeth to kill no man without first hearing him, and they before hearing were eager for this deed, they were transgressors of the Law. And because they said, “None of the rulers hath believed on him” (Jn 7,50), therefore the Evangelist informs us that Nicodemus was “one of them,” to show that even rulers believed on Him; for although they showed not yet fitting boldness, still they were becoming attached5 to Christ. Observe how cautiously he rebukes them; he said not, “Ye desire to kill him, and condemn the man for a deceiver without proof”; but spake in a milder way, hindering their excessive violence, and their inconsiderate and murderous disposition. Wherefore he turns his discourse to the Law, saying, “Except it hear him carefully, and know what he doeth.” So that not a bare “hearing,” but “careful hearing” is required. For the meaning of, “know what he doeth,” is, “what he intendeth,” “on what account,” “for what purpose,” “whether for the subversion of the order of things and as an enemy.” Being therefore perplexed, because they had said, “None of the rulers hath believed on him,” they addressed him, neither vehemently, nor yet with forbearance. For tell me, after he had said, “The Law judgeth no man,” how doth it follow that they should say,
Jn 7,52. “Art thou also of Galilee?”
[2.] When they ought to have shown that they had not sent to summon Him without judgment, or that it was not fitting to allow Him speech, they take the reply rather in a rough and angry manner.
“Search, and look: for out of Galilee hath arisen no prophet.”
Why, what had the man said? that Christ was a prophet? No; he said, that He ought not to be slain unjudged; but they replied insolently, and as to one who knew nothing of the Scriptures; as though one had said, “Go, learn,” for this is the meaning of, “Search, and look.” What then did Christ? Since they were continually dwelling upon Galilee and “The Prophet,” to free all men from this erroneous suspicion, and to show that He was not one of the prophets, but the Master of the world, He said,
6 “I am the light of the world.”
Not “of Galilee,” not of Palestine, nor of Judaea. What then say the Jews?
Jn 8,13. “Thou bearest record of thyself, thy record is not true.”
Alas! for their folly, He continually referred them to the Scriptures, and now they say, “Thou bearest record of thyself.” What was the record He bare? “I am the light of the world.” A great thing to say, great of a truth, but it did not greatly amaze them, because He did not now make Himself equal to the Father, nor assert that He was His Son, nor that He was God, but for a while calleth Himself “a light.” They indeed desired to disprove this also, and yet this was a much greater thing than to say,
“He that followeth Me, shall not walk in darkness.”
Using the words “light” and “darkness” in a spiritual sense, and meaning thereby “abideth not in error.” In this place He draweth on
Nicodemus, and bringeth him in as having spoken very boldly, and praiseth the servants who had also done so. For to “cry aloud,”7 is the act of one desirous to cause that they also should hear. At the same time He hinteth at these8 who were secretly contriving treacheries, being both in darkness and error, but that they should not prevail over the light. And He remindeth Nicodemus of the words which He had uttered before, “Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” (c. 3,20). For since they had asserted that none of the rulers had believed on Him, therefore He saith, that “he that doeth evil cometh not to the light,” to show that their not having come proceedeth not from the weakness of the light, but from their own perverse will.
“They answered and said unto Him, Dost thou bear witness to thyself?”
What then saith He?
Jn 8,14. “Though I bear record of Myself, My record is true; for I know whence I come, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come.”
What He had before said,9 these men bring forward as if it had been specially 10 asserted. What then doth Christ? To refute this, and to show that He used those expressions as suitable to them and to their suspicions, who supposed Him to be a mere man, He saith, “Though I bear record of Myself, My record is true, for I know whence I come.” What is this? “I am of God, am God, the Son of God, and God Himself is a faithful witness unto Himself, but ye know Him not; ye willingly err, 11 knowing ye pretend not to know, but say all that ye say according to mere human imagination, choosing tounderstand nothing beyond what is seen.”
Jn 8,15. “Ye judge after the flesh.”
As to live after the flesh is to live badly, so to judge after the flesh is to judge unjustly. “But I judge no man.”
Jn 8,16. “And yet if I judge, My judgment is true.” 12
What He saith, is of this kind; “Ye judge unjustly.” “And if,” saith some one, “we judge unjustly, why dost Thou not rebuke us? why dost Thou not punish us? why dost Thou not condemn us?” “Because,” He saith, “I came not for this.” This is the meaning of, “I judge no man; yet if I judge, My judgment is true.” “For had I been willing to judge, ye would have been among the condemned. And this I say, not judging you. Yet neither do I tell you that I say it, not judging you, as though I were not confident that had I judged you, I should have convicted you; since if I had judged you, I must justly have condemned you. But now the time of judgment is not yet.” He alluded also to the judgment to come, saying,
“I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent Me.”
Here He hinted, that not He alone condemneth them, but the Father also. Then He concealed this, by leading them to His own testimony.
Jn 8,17. “It is written in your Law, that the testimony of two men is true.”
[3.] What would the heretics say here? (They would say,) “How is he better than man, if we take what he hath said simply? For this rule is laid down in the case of men, because no man by himself is trustworthy. But in the case of God, how can one endure such a mode of speaking? How then is the word ‘two’ used? Is it because they are two, or because being men they are therefore two? If it is because they are two, why did he not betake himself to John, and say, I bear witness of myself, and Jn beareth witness of me? Wherefore not to the angels? Wherefore not to the prophets? For he might have found ten thousand other testimonies.” But he desireth to show not this only that there are Two, but also that they are of the same Substance.
Jn 8,19. “Then said they unto Him, Who is thy father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know Me, nor My Father.”
Because while they knew they spake as though they knew not, and as if trying Him, He doth not even deem them worthy of an answer. Wherefore henceforth He speaketh all more clearly and more boldly; drawing His testimony from signs, and from His teaching of them that followed Him, and 13 by the Cross being near. For, “I know,” He saith, “whence I come.” This would not greatly affect them, but the adding, “and whither I go,” would rather terrify them, since He was not to remain in death. But why said He not, “I know that I am God,” instead of, “I know whence I come”? He ever mingleth lowly words with sublime, and even these He veileth. For after saying, “I bear witness of Myself,” and proving this, He descendeth to a humbler strain. As though He had said, “I know from whom I am sent, and to whom I depart.” For so they could have had nothing to say against it, when they heard that He was sent from Him, and would depart to Him. “I could not have spoken,” He saith, “any falsehood, I who am come from thence, and depart thither, to the true God. But ye know not God, and therefore judge according to the flesh. For if having heard so many sure signs and proofs ye still say, ‘thy witness is not true,’ if ye deem Moses worthy of credit, both as to what he speaketh concerning others and what he speaketh concerning himself, but Christ not so, this is to judge according to the flesh.” “But I judge no man.” He saith indeed also that “the Father judgeth no man.”(c. 5,22). How then doth He here declare, that, “If I judge, My judgment is just, for I am not alone”? He again speaketh in reply to their thoughts. “The judgment which is Mine is the judgment of the Father. The Father, judging, would not judge otherwise than as I do, and I should not judge otherwise than as the Father.” Wherefore did He mention the Father? Because they would not have thought that the Son was to be believed unless He received the witnessof the Father. Besides, the saying doth not even hold good. For in the case of men when two bear witness in a matter pertaining to another, then their witness is true, (this is for two to witness,) but if one should witness for himself, then they are no longer two. Seest thou that He said this for nothing else but to show that He was of the same Substance, that He needed no other witness, and was in nothing inferior to the Father? Observe at least His independence 14 ;
Jn 8,18. “I am One that bear witness of Myself; and the Father that sent Me beareth witness of Me.”
Had He been of inferior substance, He would not have put this. But now that thou mayest not deem that the Father is included, to make up the number (of two), observe that His power hath nothing different (from the Father’s). A man bears witness when he is trustworthy of himself, not when he himself needs testimony, and that too in a matter pertaining to another; but in a matter of his own, where he needs the witness of another, he is not trustworthy. But in this case it is all contrary. For He though bearing witness in a matter of His own, and saying that witness is borne to Him by another, asserteth that He is trustworthy, in every way manifesting His independence. For why, when He had said, “I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent Me,” and, “The testimony of two men is true,” did He not hold His peace, instead of adding, “I am One that bear witness of Myself”? It was evidently to show His independence. And He placeth Himself first; “I am One that bear witness of Myself.” Here He showeth His equality of honor, and that they were profited nothing by saying that they knew God the Father, while they knew not Him. And He saith that the cause of this (ignorance) was that they were not willing to know Him. Therefore He telleth them that it was not possible to know the Father without knowing Him, that even so He might draw them to the knowledge of Him. For since leaving Him they even sought to get the knowledge of the Father, He saith, “Ye cannot know the Father without Me.” (Jn 7,19). So that they who blaspheme the Son, blaspheme not the Son only, but Him that begat Him also.
[4.] This let us avoid, and glorify the Son. Had He not been of the same Nature, He would not have spoken thus. For had He merely taught, but been of different Substance, a man might not have known Him, and yet have known the Father; and again, it would not have been that one who knew Him, would have altogether known the Father; for neither doth one who knoweth a man know an Angel. “Yes,” replieth some one, “he that knoweth the creation, knoweth God.” By no means. Many, or rather I should say, all men know the creation, (for they see it,) but they know not God. Let us then glorify the Son of God, not with this glory (of words) only, but that also which is by works. For the first without the last is nothing. “Behold,” saith St. Paul, “thou art called a Jew, and restest in the Law, and makest thy boast of God—thou therefore that teachest another, teachest 15 thou not thyself? Thou that makest thy boast of the Law, through breaking of the Law dishonorest thou God?” (Rm 2,17 Rm 2,21 Rm 2,23). Beware lest we also who make boast of the rightness of our faith dishonor God by not manifesting a life agreeable to the faith, causing Him to be blasphemed. For He would have the Christian to be the teacher of the world, its leaven, its salt, its light. And what is that light? It is a life which shineth, and hath in it no dark thing. Light is not useful to itself, nor leaven, nor salt, but showeth its usefulness towards others, and so we are required to do good, not to ourselves only, but to others. For salt, if it salt not, is not salt. Moreover another thing is evident, that if we be righteous, others shall certainly be so also; but as long as we are not righteous, we shall not be able to assist others. Let there be nothing foolish or silly among us; such are worldly matters, such are the cares of this life. Wherefore the virgins were called foolish, because they were busy about foolish, worldly matters, gathering things together here, but laying not up treasure where they ought. Fear there is lest this be our case, fear lest we too depart clothed with filthy garments, to that place where all have them bright and shining. For nothing is more filthy, nothing more impure, than sin. Wherefore the Prophet declaring its nature cried out, “My wounds stink, and are corrupt.” (Ps 38,5). And if thou wilt fully learn how ill-savored sin is, consider it after it hath been done; when thou art delivered from the desire, when the fire no longer troubleth thee, then shalt thou see what sin is. Consider anger, when thou art calm; consider avarice, when thou dost not feel it. There is nothing more shameful, nothing more accursed, than rapine and avarice. This we continually say, desiring not to vex you, but to gain some great and wonderful advantage. For he who hath not acted rightly after hearing once, may perhaps do so after hearing a second time; and he who hath passed by the second time, may do right after the third. God grant that we, being delivered from all evil things, may have the sweet savor of Christ; for to Him, with the Father and the Holy Ghost is glory, now and ever and world without end. Amen.
1 i.e. at the Crucifixion.
2 al). “must have.”
3 “do nothing,” N. T.
4 fevrwn kai; a]gwn.
5 i.e. to The Father).
6 Savile connects these words with the clause preceding: with this reading it is difficult to see the sense of the clause which follows. The Bened. reading is as rendered above. The reference may be to c. 7,33, 35).
7 The Tephillim.
2 some omit “openly.”
3 Sav). “Gently and by help of the Law He casts them down.”
4 or, “forgive.”
5 This reading is from a Vatican ms. which has eij mh;. Savile’s is not grammatical. Ben. reads). “Then desiring to show that if they were not slaves, by repudiating that former slavery they were slaves the more, He straightway added.”
7 “seen with,” N. T.
8 kata; proaivresin.
9 “a man that hath,” N. T.
10 “of God,” N. T
11 “because there is no truth in him,” omitted.
12 al). “be murderously minded.”
13 al). “are murderously minded.”
14 i.e. that this assertion of theirs being false is from the devil).
15 i.e. cannot understand.
16 i.e. that God was their Father.
17 i.e). “from God.”
18 al). “empty.”
19 i.e. at the Kingdom.
20 al). “these present things.”
"These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as He taught in the Temple; and no man laid hands on Him, for His hour was not yet come."
[1.] Oh the folly of the Jews! seeking Him as they did before the Passover, and then having found Him in the midst of them, and having often attempted to take Him by their own or by others’ hands without being able; they were not even so awed by His power, but set themselves to their wickedness, and desisted not. For it saith, that they continually made the attempt; “These words spake He in the treasury, teaching in the Temple; and no man laid hands on Him.” He spake in the Temple, and in the character of teacher, which was more adapted to rouse them, and He spake those things because of which they were stung, and charged Him with making Himself equal to the Father. For “the witness of two men is true,” proveth this. Yet still “He spake these words,” It saith, “in the Temple,” in the character of teacher, “and no man laid hands on Him, for His hour was not yet come”; that is, it was not yet the fitting time at which He would be crucified. So that even then1 the deed done was not of their power, but of His dispensation, for they had long desired, but had not been able, nor would they even then have been able, except He had consented.
Jn 8,21. “Then said Jesus unto them, I go My way, and ye shall seek Me.”
Why saith He this continually? To shame and terrify their souls; for observe what fear this saying caused in them. Although they desired to kill Him that they might be rid of Him, they yet ask, “whither He goeth,” such great things did they imagine from the matter. He desired also to show them another thing, that the deed would not be effected through their force; but He showed it to them in a figure beforehand, and already foretold the Resurrection by these words.
Jn 8,22. “Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself?”
What then doth Christ? To remove their suspicion, and to show that such an act is sin, He saith,
Jn 8,23. “Ye are from beneath.”
What He saith, is of this kind: "It is no wonder that ye imagine such things, ye who are carnal men, and have no spiritual thoughts, but I shall not do anything of the kind, for,
“I am from above; ye are of the world.”
Here again He speaketh of their worldly andcarnal imaginations, whence it is clear that the, “I am not of this world,” doth not mean that He had not taken upon Him flesh, but that He was far removed from their wickedness. For He even saith, that His disciples were “not of the world” (c. xv. 19), yet they had flesh. As then Paul, when he saith, “Ye are not in the flesh” (Rm 8,9), doth not mean that they are incorporeal, so Christ when He saith, that His disciples are “not of the world,” cloth nothing else than testify to their heavenly wisdom.
Jn 8,24. “I said therefore unto you that...if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.”
For if He came to take away the sin of the world, and if it is impossible for men to put that off in any other way except by the washing, it needs must be that he that believeth not must depart hence, having2 the old man; since he that will not by faith slay and bury that old man, shall die in him, and shall go away to that place to suffer the punishment of His former sins. Wherefore He said, “He that believeth not is judged already” (c. 3,18); not merely through his not believing, but because he departeth parteth hence having his former sins upon him.
Jn 8,25. “Then said they unto Him, Who art thou?”
Oh folly! After so long a time, such signs and teaching, they ask, “Who art thou?” What then saith Christ?
“The same that I told you from the beginning.”
What He saith, is of this kind; “Ye are not worthy to hear My words at all, much less to learn who I am, for ye say all that ye do, tempting Me, and giving heed to none of My sayings. And all this I could now prove against you.” For this is the sense of,
Jn 8,26. “I have many things to say and to judge of you.”
“I could not only prove you guilty, but also punish you; but He that sent Me, that is, theFather, willeth not this. For I am come not to judge the world, but to save the world, since God sent not His Son to judge the world, He saith, but to save the world. (c. 3,17). If now He hath sent Me for this, and He is true, with good cause I judge no one now. But these things I speak that are for your salvation, not what are for your condemnation.” He speaketh thus, lest they should deem that it was through weakness that on hearing so much from them He went not to extremities, or that He knew not their secret thoughts and scoffings.
Jn 8,27. “They understood not that He spake to them of the Father.”
Oh folly! He ceased not to speak concerning Him, and they knew Him not. Then when after working many signs, and teaching them, He drew them not to Himself, He next speaketh to them of the Cross, saying,
Jn 8,28-29. “When ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then ye shall know that I Am, and that I speak not3 of Myself, and that He that sent Me is with Me. And the Father hath not left Me alone.”
[2.] He showeth that He rightly said, “the same that I said unto you from the beginning.” So little heed they gave to His words. “When ye have lifted up the Son of Man.” “Do ye not expect that ye then shall certainly rid yourselves of Me, and slay Me? But I tell you that then ye shall most know that I Am, by reason of the miracles, the resurrection, and the destruction (of Jerusalem).” For all these things were sufficient to manifest His power. He said not, “Then ye shall know who I am”; for, “when ye shall see,” He saith, “that I stiffer nothing from death, then ye shall know that I Am, that is, the Christ, the Son of God, who govern4 all things, and am not opposed to Him.”5 For which cause He addeth, “and of Myself I speak nothing.” For ye shall know both My power and My unanimity with the Father. Because the, “of Myself I speak nothing,” showeth that His Substance differeth not(from that of the Father), and that He uttereth nothing save that which is in the mind of the Father. “For when ye have been driven away from your place of worship, and it is not allowed you even to serve Him as hitherto, then ye shall know that He doth this to avenge Me, and because He is wroth with those who would not hear Me.” As though He had said, “Had I been an enemy and a stranger to God, He would not have stirred up such wrath against you.” This also Esaias declareth, “He shall give the wicked in return for His burial” Is 53,9 LXX).; and David, “Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath” (Ps 2,5); and Christ Himself, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” (Mt 23,38). And His parables declare the same thing when He saith, “What shall the Lord of that vineyard do to those husbandmen? He shall miserably destroy those wicked men.” (Mt 21,40-41). Seest thou that everywhere He speaketh thus, because He is not yet believed? But if He will destroy them, as He will, (for, “Bring hither,” It saith, “those which would not that I should reign over them, and slay them,”) wherefore saith He that the deed is not His, but His Father’s? He addresseth Himself to their weakness, and at the same time honoreth Him that begat Him. Wherefore He said not, “I leave your house desolate,” but, it “is left”; He hath put it impersonally. But by saying, “How often would I have gathered your children together—and ye would not,” and then adding, “is left,” He showeth that He wrought the desolation. “For since,” He telleth them, “when ye were benefited and healed of your infirmities, ye would not know Me, ye shall know by being punished who I am.”
“And the Father is with Me.” That they may not deem the “who sent Me” to be a mark of inferiority, He saith, “is with Me”; the first belongeth to the Dispensation, the second to the Godhead.
“And He hath not left Me alone,” for I do always those things that please Him.
Again He hath brought down His discourse to a humbler strain, continually setting Himself against that which they asserted, that He was not of God, and that He kept not the Sabbath. To this He replieth, “I do always those things that are pleasing unto Him”; showing that it was pleasing unto Him even that the Sabbath should be broken. So, for instance, just before the Crucifixion He said, “Think ye that I cannot call upon My Father?” (Mt 26,53). And yet by merely saying, “Whom seek ye?” (c. 18,4, 6) He cast them down backwards. Why then saith He not, “Think ye that I cannot destroy you,” when He had proved this by deed? He condescendeth to their infirmity. For He took great pains to show that He did nothing contrary to the Father. Thus He speaketh rather after the manner of a man; and as “He hath not left Me alone,” was spoken, so also was the, “I do always those things that are pleasing unto Him.”
Jn 8,30. “As He spake these words, many believed on Him.”
When He brought down His speech to a lowly strain, many believed on Him. Dost thou still ask wherefore He speaketh humbly? Yet the Evangelist clearly alluded to this when he said, “As He spake these things, many believed on Him.” By this all but proclaiming aloud to us, “Oh hearer, be not confounded if thou hear any lowly expression, for they who after such high teaching were not yet persuaded that He was of the Father, were with good reason made to hear humbler words, that they might believe.” And this is an excuse for those things which shall be spoken in a humble way. They believed then, yet not as they ought, but carelessly and as it were by chance, beingpleased and refreshed by the humility of the words. For that they had not perfect faith the Evangelist shows by their speeches after this, in which they insult Him again. And that these are the very same persons he has declared by saying,
Jn 8,31. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in My word.”
Showing that they had not yet received His doctrine, but only gave heed unto His words. Wherefore He speaketh more sharply. Before He merely said, “Ye shall seek Me” (c. 7,34), but now He addeth what is more, “Ye shall die in your sins.” (c. 8,21). And He showeth how; “because ye cannot when ye are come to that place afterwards entreat Me.”
“These things which I speak unto the world.”6 By these words He showed that He was now going forth to the Gentiles. But because they still knew not that He spake to them of the Father, He again speaketh of Him, and the Evangelist hath put the reason of the humility of the expressions.
[3.] If now we will thus search the Scriptures, exactly and not carelessly, we shall be able to attain unto our salvation; if we continually dwell upon them, we shall learn right doctrine and a perfect life. For although a man be very hard, and stubborn, and proud, and profit nothing at other times, yet at least he shall gain fruit from this time, and receive benefit, ifnot so great as to admit of his being sensible of it, still he shall receive it. For if a man who passes by an ointment-maker’s shop, or sitteth in one, is impregnated with the perfume even against his will, much more is this the case with one who cometh to church. For as idleness is born of idleness, so too from working is generated a ready mind. Although thou art full of ten thousand sins, although thou art impure, shun not the tarrying here. “Wherefore,” it may be said, “when hearing I do not?” It is no small profit to deem one’s self wretched; this fear is not useless, this dread is not unseasonable. If only thou groanest that, “hearing I do not,” thou wilt certainly come also to the doing at some time or other. For it cannot be that he who speaks with God, and hears God speak, should not profit. We compose ourselves at once and wash our hands when we desire to take the Bible into them. Seest thou even before the reading what reverence is here? And if we go on with exactness, we shall reap great advantage. For we should not, unless it served to place the soul in reverence, have washed our hands; and a woman if she be unveiled straightway puts on her veil, giving proof of internal reverence, and a man if he be covered bares his head. Seest thou how the outward behavior proclaims the inward reverence?Then moreover he that sits to hear groans often, and condemns his present life.
Let us then, beloved, give heed to the Scriptures, and if no other part be so, let the Gospels at least be the subjects of our earnest care, let us keep them in our hands. For straightway when thou hast opened the Book thou shalt see the name of Christ there, and shalt hear one say, “The birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise. When His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, she was found with Child of the Holy Ghost.” (Mt 1,18). He that heareth this will immediately desire virginity, will marvel at the Birth, will be freed from earthly things. It is not a little thing when thou seest the Virgin deemed worthy of the Spirit, and an Angel talking with her. And this upon the very surface; but if thou perseverest to go on unto the end, thou shall loathe all that pertains to this life, shalt mock at all worldly things. If thou art rich, thou shalt think nothing of wealth, when thou hearest that she who was (the wife) of a carpenter, and of humble family, became the mother of thy Lord. If thou art poor thou shall not be ashamed of thy poverty, when thou hearest that the Creator of the world was not ashamed of the meanest dwelling. Considering this, thou wilt not rob, thou wilt not covet, thou wilt not take the goods of others, but wilt rather be a lover of poverty, and despise wealth. And if this be the case, thou shalt banish all evil. Again, when thou seest Him lying in a manger, thou wilt not be anxious to put golden garments about thy child, or to cause thy wife’s couch to be inlaid with silver. And if thou carest not for these things, thou wilt not do either the deeds of covetousness and rapine, which are caused by them. Many other things you may gain which I cannot separately enumerate, but they will know who have made the trial. Wherefore I exhort you both to obtain Bibles, and to retain together with the Bibles the sentiments they set forth, and to write them in your minds. The Jews because they gave no heed were commanded to suspend their books from their hands;7 but we place them not even in our hands but in our house, when we ought to stamp them on our heart. Thus cleansing our present life, we shall obtain the good things that are to come to which may we all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
3 “My Father that,” Ben.
4 al). “insult.”
5 al). “gone forth.”
6 “The Son of Man,” N. T.
7 c. 6,39, 40.
8 i.e. the Jews.
9 “It is My Father,” N. T.
10 “that He is your God,” N. T.
11 i.e. the Father.
12 “fifty,” N. T).
13 wJ" loipo;n.
14 i.e. so that they could not stone Him.
15 oiJ tuvloi, a very happy emendation of Mr. Field’s for stu`loi, “pillars,” of which former editors could make no sense. One ms. gives oiJ tufloi; tou;" ojfqalmou;", “those blind in their eyes,” but the sense even so is not perfect.
16 phrou`ntai, a conjecture of Dr. Heyse, for peirw`ntai).
Chrysostom on John 52