Augustin on John 68
1. We have now the opportunity, dearly, beloved, as far as we can, of understanding the earlier words of the Lord from the later, and His previous statements by those that follow, in what you have heard was His answer to the question of the Apostle Thomas. For when the Lord was speaking above of the mansions, of which He both said that they already were in His Father’s house, and that He was going to prepare them; where we understood that those mansions already existed in predestination, and are also being prepared through the purifying by faith of the hearts of those who are hereafter to inhabit them, seeing that they themselves are the very house of God; and what else is it to dwell in God’s house than to be in the number of His people, since His people are at the same time in God, and God in them? To make this preparation the Lord departed, that by believing in Him, though no longer visible, the mansion, whose outward form is always hid in the future, may now by faith be prepared: for this reason, therefore, He had said, “And if I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come i again, and receive you to myself; that whereI am, there ye may be also. And whither I goye know, and the way ye know.” In replyto this “Thomas saith unto Him Lord, we know not whither Thou goest: and how can we know the way?” Both of these the Lord had said that they knew; both of them this other declares that he does not know, to wit, the place to which, and the way whereby, He is going. But he does not know that he is speaking falsely; they knew, therefore, and did not know that they knew. He will convince them that they already know what they imagine themselves still to be ignorant of. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” What, brethren, does He mean? See, we have just heard the disciple asking, and the Master instructing, and we do not yet, even after His voice has sounded in our ears, apprehend the thought that lies hid in His words. But what is it we cannot apprehend? Could His apostles, with whom He was talking, have said to Him, We do not know Thee? Accordingly, if they knew Him, and He Himself is the way, they knew the way; if they knew Him who is Himself the truth, they knew the truth; if they knew Him who is also the life, they knew the life. Thus, you see, they were convinced that they knew what they knew not that they knew.
2. What is it, then, that we also have not apprehended in this discourse? What else, think you, brethren, but just that He said, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know”? And here we have discovered that they knew the way, because they knew Him who is the way: the way is that by which we go; but is the way the place also to which we go? And yet each of these He said that they knew, both whither He was going, and the way. There was need, therefore, for His saying, “I am the way,” in order to show those who knew Him that they knew the way, which they thought themselves ignorant of; but what need was there for His saying, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life,” when, after knowing the way by which He went, they had still to learn whither He was going, but just because it was to the truth and to the life He was going? By Himself, therefore, He was going to Himself. And whither go we, but to Him, and by what way go we, but by Him? He, therefore, went to Himself by Himself, and we by Him to Him; yea, likewise both He and we go thus to the Father. For He says also in another place of Himself, “I go to the Father;”1 and here on our account He says, “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” And in this way, He goeth by Himself both to Himself and to the Father, and we by Him both to Him and to the Father. Who can apprehend such things save he who has spiritual discernment? and how much is it that even he can apprehend, although thus spiritually discerning? Brethren, how can you desire me to explain such things to you? Only reflect how lofty they are. You see what I am, I see what you are; in all of us the body, which is corrupted, burdens the soul, and the earthly tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth upon many things.2 Do we think we can say, “To Thee have I lifted up my soul, O Thou that dwellest in the heavens”?3 But burdened as we are with so great a weight, under which we groan, how shall I lift up my soul unless He lift it with me who laid His own down for me? I shall speak then as I can, and let each of you who is able receive it. As He gives, I speak; as He gives, the receiver receiveth; and as He giveth, there is faith for him who cannot yet receive with understanding. For, saith the prophet, “If ye will not believe, ye shall not understand.”4
3. Tell me, O my Lord, what to say to Thy servants, my fellow-servants. The Apostle Thomas had Thee before him in order to ask Thee questions, and yet could not understand Thee unless he had Thee within him; I ask Thee because I know that Thou art over me; and I ask, seeking, as far as I can, to let my soul diffuse itself in that same region over me where I may listen to Thee, who usest no external sound to convey Thy teaching. Tell me, I pray, how it is that Thou goest to Thyself. Didst Thou formerly leave Thyself to come to us, especially as Thou camest not of Thyself, but the Father sent Thee? I know, indeed, that Thou didst empty Thyself; but in taking the form of a servant,5 it was neither that Thou didst lay down the form of God as something to return to, or that Thou lost it as something to be recovered; and yet Thou didst come, and didst place Thyself not only before the carnal eyes, but even in the very hands of men. And how otherwise save in Thy flesh? By means of this Thou didst come, yet abiding where Thou wast; by this means Thou didst return, without leaving the place to which Thou hadst come. If, then, by such means Thou didst come and return, by such means doubtless Thou art not only the way for us to come unto Thee, but wast the way also for Thyself to come and to return. For when Thou didst return to the life, which Thou art Thyself, then of a truth that same flesh of Thine Thou didst bring from death unto life. The Word of God, indeed, is one thing, and man another; but the Word was made flesh, or became man. And so the person of the Word is not different from that of the man, seeing that Christ is both in one person; and in this way, just as when His flesh died. Christ died, and when His flesh was buried, Christ was buried (for thus with the heart we believe unto righteousness, and thus with the mouth do we make confession unto salvation6 ); so when the flesh came from death unto life, Christ came to life. And because Christ is the Word of God, He is also the life. And thus in a wonderful and ineffable manner He, who never laid down or lost Himself, came to Himself. But God, as was said, had come through the flesh to men, the truth to liars; for God is true, and every man a liar.7 When, therefore, He withdrew His flesh from amongst men, and carried it up there where no liar is found, He also Himself-for the Word was made flesh-returned by Himself, that is, by His flesh, to the truth, which is none other but Himself. And this truth, we cannot doubt, although found amongst liars, He preserved even in death; for Christ was once dead, but never false.
4. Take an example, very different in character and wholly inadequate, yet in some little measure helpful to the understanding of God, from things that are in peculiarly intimate subjection to God. See here in my own case, while as far as pertains to my mind I am just the same as yourselves, if I keep silence I am so to myself; but if I speak to you something suited to your understanding, in a certain sense I go forth to you without leaving myself, but at the same time approach you and yet quit not the place from which I proceed. But when I cease speaking, I return in a kind of way to myself, and in a kind of way I remain with you, if you retain what you have heard in the discourse I am delivering. And if the mere image that God made is capable of this, what may not God, the very image of God, not made by, but born of God; whose body, wherein He came forth to us and returned from us, has not ceased to be, like the sound of my voice, but abides there, where it shall die no more, and death shall have no more dominion over it?8 Much more, perhaps, might and ought to have been said on these words of the Gospel; but your souls ought not to be burdened with spiritual food, however pleasant, especially as the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.9
1 Chap. 16,10.
2 (Sg 9,15,
3 (Ps 123,1.
4 (Is 7,9, according to LXX., which reads, eja;n mh; pisteuvshte, oujde; mh; sunh`te). Zgmea;te, however, will scarcely admit the meaning of “understand” (sunh`te). There is a play in the Hebrew upon the verb ymea;, which is the one used in both clauses, first in the Hiphil, where it means to cleave fast to, to show a firm trust in; and secondly, in the Niphal, to be held fast, to be confirmed in one’s trust. Hence the rendering of our English Bible is more correct: “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.”-Tr.
5 (Ph 2,7,
6 (Rm 10,10,
7 (Rm 3,4).
8 (Rm 6,9,
9 (Mt 26,41,
70 (Jn 14,7-10.
1. The words of the holy Gospel, brethren, are rightly understood only if they are found to be in harmony with those that precede; for the premises ought to agree with the conclusion, when it is the Truth that speaks. The Lord had said before, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also:” and then had added, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know;” and showed that all He said was that they knew himself. What, therefore, the meaning was of His going to Himself by Himself,-for He also lets the disciples see that it is by Him that they are to come to Him,-we have already told you, as we could, in our last discourse. When He says, therefore, “That where I am, there ye may be also,” where else were they to be but in Himself? In this way is He also in Himself, and they, therefore, are just where He is, that is, in Himself. Accordingly, He Himself is that eternal life which is yet to be ours, when He has received us unto Himself; and as He is that life eternal, so is it in Him, that where He is there shall we be also, that is to say, in Himself. “For as the Father hath life in Himself,” and certainly that life which He has is in no wise different from what He is Himself as its possessor, “so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself,”1 inasmuch as He is the very life which He hath in Himself. But shall we then actually be what He is, (namely), the life, when we shall have begun our existence in that life, that is, in Himself? Certainly not, for He, by His very existence as the life, hath life, and is Himself what He hath; and as the life, is in Him, so is He in Himself: but we are not that life, but partakers of His life, and shall be there in such wise as to be wholly incapable of being in ourselves what He is, but so as, while ourselves not the life, to have Him as our life, who has Himself the life on this very account that He Himself is the life. In short, He both exists unchangeably in Himself and inseparably in the Father. But we, when wishing to exist in ourselves, were thrown into inward trouble regarding ourselves, as is expressed in the words, “My soul is cast down within me:”2 and changing from bad to worse, cannot even remain as we were. But when by Him we come unto the Father, according to His own words, “No man cometh unto the Father but by me,” and abide in Him, no one shall be able to separate us either from the Father or from Him.
2. Connecting, therefore, His previous words with those that follow, He proceeded to say, “If ye had known me, ye should certainly have known my Father also.” This conforms to His previous words, “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” And then He adds: “And from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him.” But Philip, one of the apostles, not understanding what he had just heard, said, “Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.” And the Lord replied to him, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet have ye not known me, Philip? he that seeth me, seeth also the Father.” Here you see He complains that He had been so long time with them, and yet He was not known. But had He not Himself said, “And whither Igo ye know, and the way ye know;” and on their saying that they knew it not, had convinced them that they did know, by adding the words: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life”? How, then, says He now, “Have I been so long time with you, and have ye not known me?” when, in fact, they knew both whither He went and the way, on no other grounds save that they really knew Himself? But this difficulty is easily solved by saying that some of them knew Him, and others did not, and that Philip was one of those who did not know Him; so that, when He said, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know,” He is understood as having spoken to those that knew, and not to Philip, who has it said to him, “Have I been so long time with you, and have ye not known me, Philip?” To such, then, as already knew the Son, was it now also said of the Father, “And from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him:” for such words were used because of the all-sided likeness subsisting between the Father and the Son; so that, because they knew the Son, they might henceforth be said to know the Father. Already, therefore, they knew the Son, if not all of them, those at least to whom it is said, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know;” for He is Himself the way. But they knew not the Father, and so have also to hear, “If ye have known me, ye have known my Father also;” that is, through me ye have known Him also. For I am one, and He another. But that they might not think Him unlike, He adds, “And from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him.” For they saw His perfectly resembling Son, but needed to have the truth impressed on them, that exactly such as was the Son whom they saw,was the Father also whom they did not see. And to this points what is afterwards said to Philip, “He that seeth me, seeth also the Father.” Not that He Himself was Father and Son, which is a notion of the Sabellians, who are also called Patripassians,3 condemned by the Catholic faith; but that Father and Son are so alike, that hewho knoweth one knoweth both. For we are accustomed to speak in this way of two who closely resemble each other, to those who are in the habit of seeing one of them, and wish to know what like the other is, so that we say, In seeing the one, you have seen the other. In this way, then, is it said “He that seeth me, seeth also the Father.” Not, certainly, that He who is the Son is also the Father, but that the Son in no respect disagrees with the likeness of the Father. For had not the Father and Son been two persons, it would not have been said, “If ye have known me, ye have known my Fatheralso”Such is certainly the case for “no one,” He says, “cometh unto the Father but by me: if ye have known me, ye have known my Father also;” because it is I, who am the only way to the Father, that will lead you to Him, that He also may Himself become known to you. But as I am in all respects His perfect image, “from henceforth ye know Him” in knowing me; “and have seen Him,” if you have seen me with the spiritual eyesight of the soul.
3. Why, then, Philip, dost thou say,” Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us? Have I been so long time with you, and yet have ye not known me, Philip? He that seeth me, seeth the Father also.” If it interests thee much to see this, believe at least what thou seest not. For “how,” He says, “sayest thou, Show us the Father?” If thou hast seen me, who am His perfect likeness, thou hast seen Him to whom I am like. And if thou canst not directly see this, “believest thou not,” at least, “that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?” But Philip might say here, “I see Thee indeed, and believe Thy full likeness to the Father; but is one to be reproved and rebuked because, when he sees one who bears a likeness to another, he wishes to see that other to whom he is like? I know, indeed, the image, but as yet I know only the one without the other; it is not enough for me, unless I know that other whose likeness he bears. Show us, therefore, the Father, and it sufficeth us.” But the Master really reproved the disciple because He saw into the heart of his questioner. For it was with the idea, as if the Father were somehow better than the Son, that Philip had the desire to know the Father: and so he did not even know the Son, because believing that He wasinferior to another. It was to correct such a notion that it was said, “He that seeth me, seeth the Father also. How sayest thou, Show us the Father?” I see the meaning of thy words: it is not the original likeness thou seekest to see, but it is that other thou thinkest the superior. “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?” Why desirest thou to discover some distance between those who are thus alike? why cravest thou the separate knowledge of those who cannot be separated?What, after this, He says not only to Philip, but to all of them together, must not now be thrust into a corner, in order that, by His help, it may be the more carefully expounded.
1 Chap. 5,26.
2 (Ps 42,6).
3 That is, those who ascribed suffering to the Father; because the Sabellians, denying the distinct personality of the Son, and regarding Him as only a special revelation of God the Father, were chargeable, therefore, with holding that it was God the Father who really suffered and died on the cross.-Tr.
1. Give close attention, and try to understand, beloved; for while it is we who speak it is He Himself who never withdraweth His presence from us who is our Teacher. The Lord saith, what you have just heard read “The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself: but the Father, that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works.” Even His words, then, are works? Clearly so. For surely he that edifies a neighbor by what he says, works a good work. But what mean the words, “I speak not of myself,” but, I who speak am not of myself? Hence He attributes what He does to Him, of whom He, that doeth them, is. For the Father is not God [as born, etc.] of any one else, while the Son is God, as equal, indeed, to the Father, but [as born] of God the Father. Therefore the former is God, but not of God; and the Light, but not of light: whereas the latter is God of God, Light of Light.
2. For in connection with these two clauses,-the one where it is said, “I speak not of myself;” and the other, which runs, “but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works,”-we are opposed by two different classes of heretics, who, by each of them holding only to one clause, run off, not in one, but opposite directions, and wander far from the pathway of truth. For instance, the Arians say, See here, the Son is not equal to the Father, He speaketh not of Himself. The Sabellians, or Patripassians, on the other hand, say, See, He who is the Father is also the Son; for what else is this, “The Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works,” but I that do them dwell in myself? You make contrary assertions, and that not only in the sense that any one thing is false, that is, contrary to truth, but in this also, when two things that are both false contradict one another. In your wanderings you have taken opposite directions; midway between the two is the path you have left. You are a far longer distance apart from each other than from the very way you have both forsaken. Come hither, you from the one side, and you from the other: pass not across, the one to the other, but come from both sides to us, and make this the place of your mutual meeting. Ye Sabellians, acknowledge the Being you overlook; Arians, set Him whom you subordinate in His place of equality, and you will both be walking with us in the pathway of truth. For you have grounds on both sides that make mutual admonition a duty. Listen, Sabellian: so far is the Son from being the same as the Father, and so truly is He another, that the Arian maintains His inferiority to the Father. Listen, Arian: so truly is the Son equal to the Father, that the Sabellian declares Him to be identical with the Father. Do thou restore the personality thou hast abstracted, and thou, the full dignity thou hast lowered, and both of you stand together on the same ground as ourselves: because the one of you [who has been an Arian], for the conviction of the Sabellian, never lets out of sight the personality of Him who is distinct from the Father, and the other [who has been a Sabellian] takes care, for the conviction of the Arian, of not impairing the dignity of Him who is equal with the Father. For to both of you He cries, “I and my Father are one.”1 When He says “one,” let the Arians listen; when He says, “we are,” let the Sabellians give heed, and no longer continue in the folly of denying, the one, His equality [with the Father], the other, His distinct personality. If, then, in saying, “The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself,” He is thereby accounted of a power so inferior, that what He doeth is not what He Himself willeth; listen to what He also said, “As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will.” And so likewise, if in saying, “The Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works,” He is on that account not to be regarded as distinct in person from the Father, let us listen to His other words, “What things soever the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise;”2 and He will be understood as speaking not of one person twice over, but of two who are one. But just because their mutual equality is such as not to interfere with their distinct personality, therefore He speaketh not of Himself, because He is not of Himself and the Father also, that dwelleth in Him, Himself doeth the works, because He, by whom and with whom He doeth them, is not, save of [the Father] Himself. And then He goes on to say, “Believe ye not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? Or else believe me for the very works’ sake.” Formerly it was Philip only who was reproved, but now, it is shown that he was not the only one there that needed reproof. “For the very works’ sake,” He says, “believe ye that I am in the Father, and the Father in me:” for had we been separated, we should have been unable to do any kind of work inseparably.
3. But what is this that follows? “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.” And so He promised that He Himself would also do those greater works. Let not the servant exalt himself above his Lord, or the disciple above his Master.3 He says that they will do greater works than He doeth Himself; but it is all by His doing such in or by them, and not as if they did them of themselves. Hence the song that is addressed to Him, “I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength.”4 But what, then, are those greater works? Was it that their very shadow, as they themselves passed by, healed the sick?5 For it is a mightier thing for a shadow, than for the hem of a garment, to possess the power of healing.6 The one work was done by Christ Himself, the other by them; and yet it was He that did both. Nevertheless, when He so spake, He was commending the efficacious power7 of His own words: for it was in this sense He had said, “The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself; but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works.” What works was He then referring to, but the words He was speaking? They were hearing and believing, and their faith was the fruit of those very words: howbeit, when the disciples preached the gospel, it was not small numbers like themselves, but nations also that believed; and such, doubtless, are greater works. And yet He said not, Greater works than these shall ye do, to lead us to suppose that it was only the apostles who would do so; for He added, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.” Is the case then so, that he that believeth on Christ doeth the same works as Christ, or even greater than He did? Points like these are not to be treated in a cursory way, nor ought they to be hurriedly disposed of; and, therefore, as our present discourse must be brought to a close,we are obliged to defer their further consideration.
1 Chap. 10,30).
2 Chap. 5,21, 19.
3 Chap. 13,16.
4 (Ps 18,1,
5 (Ac 5,15,
6 (Mt 14,36,
72 (Jn 14,10-14.
1. It is no easy matter to comprehend what is meant by, or in what sense we are to receive, these words of the Lord, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also:” and then, to this great difficulty in the way of our understanding, He has added another still more difficult, “And greater things than these shall he do.” What are we to make of it? We have not found one who did such works as Christ did; and are we likely to find one who will do even greater? But we remarked in our last discourse, that it was a greater deed to heal the sick by the passing of their shadow, as was done by the disciples, than as the Lord Himself did by the touch of the hem of His garment; and that more believed on the apostles than on the Lord Himself, when preaching with His own lips; so that we might suppose works like these to be understood as greater: not that the disciple was to be greater than his Master, or the servant than his Lord, or the adopted son than the Only-begotten, or man than God, but that by them He Himself would condescend to do these greater works, while telling them in another passage, “Without me ye can do nothing.”1 While He Himself, on the other hand, to say nothing of His other works, which are numberless, made them without any aid from themselves,and without them made this world; and because He Himself thought meet to become man, without them He made also Himself. But what have they [made or done] without Him, save sin? And last of all, He straightway also withdrew from the subject all that could cause us agitation; for after saying, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do;” He immediately went on to add, “Because I go unto the Father; and whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do.” He who had said, “He will do,” afterwards said, “I will do;” as if He had said, Let not this appear to you impossible; for he that believeth on me can never become greater than I am, but it is I who shall then be doing greater things than now; greater things by him that believeth on me, than by myself apart from him; yet it is I myself apart from him,2 and I myself by him [that will do the works]: and as it is apart from him, it is not he that will do them; and as, on the other hand, it is by him, although notby his own self, it is he also that will do them. And besides, to do greater things by one than apart from one, is not a sign of deficiency, but of condescension. For what can servants render unto the Lord for all His benefits towards them?3 And sometimes He hath condescended to number this also amongst His other benefits towards them, namely, to do greater works by them than apart from them Did not that rich man go away sad from His presence, when seeking counsel about eternal life? He heard, and cast it away: and yet in after days the counsel that fell on his ears was followed, not by one, but by many, when the good Master was speaking by the disciples; He was an object of contempt to the rich man, when warned by Himself directly, and of love to those whom by means of poor men He transformed from rich into poor. Here, then, you see, He did greater works when preached by believers, than when speaking Himself to hearers.
2. But there is still something to excite thought in His doing such greater works by the apostles; for He said not, as if merely with reference to them, The works that I do shall ye do also; and greater works than these shall ye do: but wishing to be understood as speaking of all that belonged to His family, said, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.” If, then, he that believeth shall do such works, he that shall do them not is certainly no believer: just as “He that loveth me, keepeth my commandments,”4 implies, of course, that he who keepeth them not, loveth not. In another place, also, He says, “He that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who buildeth his house ripen a rock;”5 and he, therefore, who is unlike this wise man, without doubt either heareth these sayings and doeth them not, or faileth even to hear them. “He that believeth in me,” He says, “though he die, yet shall he live;”6 and he, therefore, that shall not live, is certainly no believer now. In a similar way, also, it is said here, “He that believeth in me shall do [such works]:” he is, therefore, no believer who shall not do so. What have we here, then, brethren? Is it that one is not to be reckoned among believers in Christ, who shall not do greater works than Christ? It were hard, unreasonable, intolerable, to suppose so; that is, unless it be rightly understood. Let us listen, then, to the apostle, when he says, “To him that believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”7 This is the work in which we may be doing the works of Christ, for even our very believing in Christ is the work of Christ. It is this He worketh in us, not certainly without us. Hear now, then, and understand, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also:” I do them first, and he shall do them afterwards; for I do such works that he may do them also. And what are the works, but the making of a righteous man out of an ungodly one?
3. “And greater works than these shall he do.” Than what, pray? Shall we say that one is doing greater works than all that Christ did who is working out his own salvation with fear and trembling?8 A work which Christ is certainly working in him, but not without him; and one which I might, without hesitation, call greater than the heavens and the earth, and all in both within the compass of our vision. For both heaven and earth shall pass away,9 but the salvation and justification of those predestinated thereto, that is, of those whom He foreknoweth, shall continue forever. In the former there is only the working of God, but in the latter there is also His image. But there are also in the heavens, thrones, governments, principalities, powers, archangels, and angels, which are all of them the work of Christ; and is it, then, greater works also than these that he doeth, who, with Christ working in him, is a co-worker in his own eternal salvation and justification? I dare not call for any hurried decision on such a point: let him who can, understand, and let him who can, judge whether it is a greater work to create righteous beings than to make righteous the ungodly. For at least, if there is equal power employed in both, there is greater mercy in the latter, For “this is the great mystery of godliness which was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”10 But when He said, “Greater works than these shall he do,” there is no necessity requiring us to suppose that all of Christ’s works are to be understood. For He spake, perhaps, only of these He was now doing; and the work He was doing at that time was uttering the words of faith, and of such works specially had He spoken just before when He said, “The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself: but the Father, that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works.” His words, accordingly, were Hisworks. And it is assuredly something less to preach the words of righteousness, which He did apart from us, than to justify the ungodly, which He does in such a way in us that we also are doing it ourselves. It remains for us to inquire how the words are to be understood, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, I will do it.” Because of the many things His believing ones ask, and receive not, there is no small question claiming our attention; but as this discourse must now be concluded, we must allow at least a little delay for its consideration and discussion.
1 Chap. 15,5.
2 That is, here, “without any self-originating aid of his,” as if he had any independent and meritorious share in the work. Augustin plays on the prepositions, per (eum), and praeter (eum).-Tr.
3 (Ps 116,12,
4 Chap. 14,21.
5 (Mt 7,24,
6 Chap. 11,25.
7 (Rm 4,5,
8 (Ph 2,12,
9 (Mt 24,35).
10 (1Tm 3,16, account of the well-known textual controversy among Biblicists, this passage, as quoted by Augustin, is so far valuable, as it shows us how he read and understood the point in dispute, namely, whether it is “God was manifested” (as in our English version), or, “Who [which] was manifested,” as here by Augustin; in other words, whether the original text read Qeov" or oŸ" before ejfanerwvqh. The evidence is almost equally divided between the two; and the difficulty is chiefly caused by the circumstance, that in the earliest Mss., the Uncial, QEOS (God) is usually written in is a contracted form, consisting of the first and last letters, QS, which differs from the pronoun o)" (who), written QS, merely by the little line inside the Q, and another line over the contraction; both of which may have been unintentionally omitted at the time of copying, or purposely inserted at an after date. To us now, the question is of less importance, as, if the true reading o]" (who), its antecedent can only Cristov" ). [The R. V., in accordance with the oldest Mss. and the best critical edition, reads: “He who (o]") was manifested”-Tr.
Augustin on John 68