Chrysostom on John 78
These things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go My way to Him that sent Me; and none of you asketh Me, Whither goest Thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart."
[1.] Great is the tyranny of despondency, and much courage do we need so as to stand manfully against the feeling, and after gathering from it what is useful, to let the superfluous go. It hath somewhat useful; for when we ourselves or others sin, then only is it good to grieve; but when we fall into human vicissitudes, then despondency is useless. And now when it has overthrown the disciples who were not yet perfect, see how Christ raiseth them again by His rebuke. They who before this had asked Him ten thousand questions, (for Peter said, “Whither goest Thou?” [Jn 13,36]; and Thomas, “We know not whither Thou goest, and how can we know the way?” [Jn 14,5 Jn 14,8]; and Philip, “Show us Thy Father”;) these men, I say, now hearing, “they will put you out of the synagogues,” and “will hate you,” and “whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service,” were so cast down as to be struck dumb, so that they spake nothing to Him. This then He maketh a reproach to them, and saith, “These things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you; but now I go unto Him that sent Me, and none of you asketh Me, Whither goest Thou? but because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.” For a dreadful thing is immoderate sorrow, dreadful and effective of death. Wherefore Paul said, “Lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up by overmuch sorrow.” (2Co 2,7).
“And these things,” saith He, “I told you not at the beginning.” Why did He not tell them at the beginning? That none might say that He spake guessing from the ordinary course of events. And why did He enter on a matter of such unpleasantness? “I knew these things,” He saith, “from the beginning, and spake not of them; not because I did not know them, but ‘because I was with you.’” And this again was spoken after a human manner, as though He had said, “Because ye were in safety, and it was in your power to question Me when ye would, and all the storm blew upon Me, and it was superfluous to tell you these things at the beginning.” “But did He not tell them this? Did He not call the twelve, and say unto them, ‘Ye shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake,’ and, ‘they shall scourge you in the synagogues’? (Mt 10,17-18). How then saith He, ‘I told you not at the beginning’?” Because He had proclaimed before the scourgings and bringing before princes, still not that their death should appear so desirable that the action should even be deemed a service to God. For this more than anything was suited to terrify them, that they were to be judged as impious and corrupters. This too may be said, that in that place He spake of what they should suffer from the Gentiles, but here He hath added in a stronger way the acts of the Jews also, and told them that it was at their doors).
“But now I go to Him that sent Me, and no man of you saith, Whither goest Thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.” It was no slight comfort to them to learn that He knew the excess of their despondency. For they were beside themselves from the anguish caused by their being left by Him, and from their awaiting the terrible things which were to come, since they knew not whether they should be able to bear them manfully. “Why then after this did He not tell them that they bad been vouchsafed the Spirit?” That thou mightest learn that they were exceedingly virtuous. For if, when they had not yet been vouchsafed the Spirit, they started not back, though overwhelmed with sorrow, consider what soft of men they were likely to be after having enjoyed the grace.1 If they had heard this at that time, and so had endured, we should have attributed the whole to the Spirit, but now it is entirely the fruit of their own state of mind, it is a clear manifestation of their love for Christ, who applieth a touchstone to their mind as yet defenseless.
Jn 16,7. “But I tell you the truth.”2
Observe how He consoleth them again. “I speak not,” He saith,“to please you, and although you be grieved ten thousand fold, yet must ye hear what is for your good; it is indeed to your liking that I should be with you, but what is expedient for you is different. And it is the part of one caring for others, not to be over gentle with his friends in matters which concern their interests, or to lead them away from what is good for them.”
“For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come.”3
What here say those who hold not the fitting opinion concerning the Spirit? Is it “expedient” that the master depart, and the servant come? Seest thou how great is the honor of the Spirit?
“But if I depart, I will send Him unto you.” And what the gain?
Jn 16,8. “He, when He is come, will reprove4 the world.”5
That is, “they shall not do these things unpunished if He come. For indeed, the things that have been already done, are sufficient to stop their mouths; but when these things are also done by Him, when doctrines are more perfect and miracles greater, much more shall they be condemned when they see such things done in My Name, which make the proof of the Resurrection more certain. For now they are able to say, ‘this is the carpenter’s son, whose father and mother we know’; but when they see the bands of death loosed, wickedness cast out, natural lameness straightened, devils expelled, abundant supply of the Spirit, and all this effected by My being called on, what will they say? The Father hath borne witness of Me, and the Spirit will bear witness also.” Yet He bare witness at the beginning. Yea, and shallalso do it now. But the, “will convince,”
Jn 16,9. “Of sin”6
This meaneth, “will cut off all their excuses, and show that they have transgressed unpardonably.”
Jn 16,10. “Of righteousness, because I go to the7 Father, and ye see Me no more.”
That is, “I have exhibited a blameless8 life, and this is the proof, that, ‘I go to the Father.’” For since they continually urged this against Him, that He was not from God, and therefore called Him a sinner and transgressor, He saith, that the Spirit shall take from them this excuse also. “For if My being deemed not to be from God, showeth Me to be a transgressor, when the Spirit shall have shown that I am gone thither, not merely for a season, but to abide there, (for the, ‘Ye see Me no more,’ is the expression of one declaring this,) what will they say then?” Observe how by these two things, their evil suspicion is removed; since neither doth working miracles belong to a sinner, (for a sinner cannot work them,) nor doth the being with God continually belong to a sinner. “So that ye can9 no longer say, that ‘this man is a sinner,’ that ‘this man is not from God.’”
Jn 16,11. “Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.”
Here again He mooteth the argument concerning righteousness, that He had overthrown His opponent. Now had He been a sinner, He could not have overthrown him; a thing which not even any just man had been strong enough to do. “But that he hath been condemned through Me, they shall know who trample on him hereafter, and who clearly know My Resurrection, which is the mark of Him who condemneth him. For he was not able to hold Me. And whereas they said that I had a devil, and that I was a deceiver, these things also shall hereafter appear to be false; 10 for I could not have prevailed against him, had I been subject to sin; but now he is condemned and cast out.”
[2.] Jn 16,12. “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”
“Therefore it is expedient for you that I depart, if ye then will bear them when I departed.” “And what hath come to pass? the Spirit greater than Thou, that now indeed we bear not, but It will fit us to bear? Is It working more powerful and more perfect?” “Not so; for He too shall speak My words.” Wherefore He saith,
. 11 “He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are Mine.” 12
For since He had told them, that “‘He shall teach you, and bring to your remembrance’ (Jn 14,26), and shall comfort you in your afflictions,” (which He Himself did not,) and that “it is expedient for you that I should depart” (Jn 16,7), and that He should come, and, “‘now ye are not able to bear’ (Jn 16,12), but then ye shall be able,” and, that “He shall lead you into all truth” (Jn 16,13); lest hearing these things they should suppose the Spirit to be the greater, and so fall into an extreme opinion of impiety, therefore He saith, “He shall receive of Mine,” that is, “whatsoever things I have told you, He shall also tell you.” When He saith, “He shall speak nothing of Himself,” He meaneth, “nothing contrary, nothing of His own opposed to My words.” As then in saying respecting Himself, “I speak not of Myself” (Jn 14,10), He meaneth that He speaketh nothing beside what the Father saith, nothing of His own against Him, or differing from Him, so also with respect to the Spirit. But the, “of Mine,” meaneth, “of what I know,” “of My own knowledge”; “for the knowledge of Me and of the Spirit is one.”
“And He will tell you things to come.” He excited their minds, for the race of man is for nothing so greedy, 13 as for learning the future. This, for instance, they continually asked Him, “Whither goest Thou?” “Which is the way?” To free them therefore from this anxiety, He saith, “He shall foretell you all things, so that ye shall not meet with them without warning.”
“He shall glorify Me.” How? “In My name He shall grant His inward workings.” For since at the coming of the Spirit they were about to do greater miracles, therefore, again introducing the Equality of Honor, He saith, “He shall glorify Me.”
What meaneth He by, “all truth”? for this also He testifieth of Him, that “He shall guide us into all truth.” (Jn 16,13). Because He was clothed with the flesh, and because He would not seem to speak concerning Himself, and because they did not yet know clearly concerning the Resurrection, and were too imperfect, and also because of the Jews, that they might not think they were punishing Him as a transgressor; therefore He spake no great thing continually, nor plainly drew them away from the Law. But when the disciples were cut off from them, 14 and were for the future without; and when many were about to believe, and to be released from their sins; and when there were others who spake of Him, He with good reason spake not great things concerning Himself. “So that it proceeded not from ignorance of Mine,” He saith, “that I told you not what I should have told you, but from the infirmity of the hearers.” On this account having said, “He shall lead you into all truth,” He added, “He shall not speak of Himself.” For to show that the Spirit needeth not teaching, hear Paul saying, “So also the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (1Co 2,11). “As then the spirit of man, not learning from another, knoweth; so also the Holy Spirit ‘shall receive of Mine,’” that is, “shall speak in unison with what is Mine.”
“All things that the Father hath are Mine.” “Since then those things are Mine, and He shall speak from the things of the Father, He shall speak from Mine.”
[3.] “But why did not the Spirit come before He departed?” Because the curse not having yet been taken away, sin not yet loosed, but all being yet subject to vengeance, He could not come. “It is necessary then,” saith He, “that the enmity be put away, that we be reconciled to God, and then receive that Gift.” But why saith He, “I will send Him”? (Jn 16,7). It meaneth, “I will prepare you beforehand to receive Him.” For, how can that which Is everywhere, be “sent”? Besides, He also showeth the distinction of the Persons. On these two accounts He thus speaketh; and also, since they were hardly to be drawn away from Himself, exhorting them to hold fast to the Spirit, and in order that they might cherish It. For He Himself was able to have wrought these things, but He concedeth to the Spirit 15 the working of miracles, 16 on this account, that they might understand His 17 dignity. For as the Father could have brought into being things which are, yet the Son did so, that we might understand His power, so also is it in this case. On this account He Himself was made Flesh, reserving the inward working 18 for the Spirit, shutting up the mouths of those who take the argument of His ineffable love for an occasion of impiety. For when they say that the Son was made flesh because He was inferior to the Father, we will reply to them, “what then will ye say of the Spirit?” He took not the flesh, and yet certainly on this account ye will not call Him greater than the Son, nor the Son inferior to Him Therefore, in the case of baptism also the Trinity is included. The Father is able to effect the whole, as is the Son, and the Holy Ghost; yet, since concerning the Father no man doubts, but the doubt was concerning the Son, and the Holy Ghost, They are included in the rite, that by Their community in supplying those unspeakable blessings, we may also fully learn Their community in dignity. For that both the Son is able by Himself to do that which in the case of baptism 19 He is able to do with the Father, and the Holy Ghost the same, hear these things said plainly. For to the Jews He said, “That ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins” (Mc 2,10); and again, “That ye may become children of light” (c. 12,36): and, “I give to them eternal life.” (Jn 10,28). Then after this, “That they might have life, and might have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10,10). Now let us see the Spirit also performing the same thing. Where can we see it? “But the manifestation of the Spirit,” it saith, “is given to every man to profit withal” (1Co 12,7); He then that giveth these things, much more remitteth sins. And again, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth”; and, “Shall quicken you 20 by His Spirit which dwelleth in you” (Rm 8,11); and, “The Spirit is Life because of righteousness” (Rm 8,10); and, “If ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the Law.” (Ga 5,18). “For ye have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption.” (Rm 8,15). All the wonders too which they then wrought, they wrought at the coming of the Spirit. And Paul writing to the Corinthians, said, “But ye have been washed, but ye have been sanctified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 and by the Spirit of our God.” (1Co 6,11). Since then they had heard many things of the Father, and had seen the Son work many things, but as yet knew nothing clearly of the Spirit, that Spirit doeth miracles, and bringeth in the perfect knowledge. But (as I said before) that He may not thence be supposed to be greater, on this account Christ saith, “Whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come.” Since, if this be not so, how could it be otherwise than absurd, if He was about to hear then, and on account of those who were being made disciples? For according to you, 22 He would not even then know, except on account of those who were about to hear. What could be more unlawful than this saying? Besides, what would He have to hear? Did He not speak 23 all these things by the Prophets? For if He was about to teach concerning the dissolution of the Law, it had been spoken of: if concerning Christ, His Divinity and the Dispensation, these had been spoken of also. What could He say more dearly after this?
“And shall show you things to come.” Here most of all Christ showeth His 24 Dignity, for to foretell things to come is especially the propertyof God. Now if He 25 also learn this from others, He will have nothing more than the Prophets,but here Christ declareth a knowledge brought into exact accordance with God, that it is impossible that He should speak anything else. But the, “shall receive of Mine,” meaneth, “shall receive, either of the grace 26 which came into My Flesh, or of the knowledge which I also have, not as needing it, nor as learning it from another, but because it is One and the same.” “And wherefore spake He thus, and not otherwise?” Because they understand not yet the word concerning the Spirit, wherefore He provideth for one thing only, that the Spirit should be believed and received by them, and that they should not be offended. For since He had said, “One is your Teacher, even Christ” (Mt 23,10), that they might not deem that they should disobey Him in obeying the Spirit, He saith, “His teaching and Mine are One; of what I should have taught, of those things shall He also speak. Do not suppose His words are other than Mine, for those words are Mine, and confirm My opinion. 27 For One is the will of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Thus also He willeth us to be, when He saith, “That they may be one, as Thou and I are One.” 28 (Jn 17,11).
[4.] There is nothing equal to unanimity and concord; for so one is manifold. If two or ten are of one mind, the one is one no longer, but each one is multiplied tenfold, and thou wilt find the one in the ten, and the ten in the one; and if they have an enemy, he who attacks the one, as having attacked the ten, is vanquished; for he is the mark not for one, but for ten opponents. 29 Is one in want? No, he is not in want, for he is wealthy in his greater part, that is, in the nine; and the needy part, the lesser, is concealed by the wealthy part, the greater. Each of these hath twenty hands, twenty eyes, and as many feet. For he sees not with his own eyes alone, but with those of others; he walks 30 not with his own feet alone, but with those of others; he works not with his own hands alone, but with theirs. He hath ten souls, for not only doth he take thought for himself, but those souls also for him. And if they be made a hundred, it will still be the same, and their power will be extended. Seest thou the excess of love, how it makes the one both irresistible and manifold, how one can even be in many places, the same both in Persia and in Rome, and that what nature cannot do, love can? for one part of him will be here, and one there, or rather he will be wholly here and wholly there. If then he have a thousand or two thousand friends, consider again whither his power will extend. Seest thou what an increase-giving thing is love? for the wonderful thing is this, its making one a thousand. Why then do we not acquire this power and place ourselves in safety? This is better than all power or riches, 31 this is more than health, than light itself, it is the groundwork of good courage. How long do we set our love on one or two? Consider also the action in the contrary way. Suppose a man without a friend, a mark of the utmost folly, (for a fool will say, “I have no friend,”) what sort of life will such a one lead? For though he be infinitely rich, in plenty and luxury, possessed of ten thousand good things, yet is he desolate and bare of all. But in the case of friends not so; though they be poor men, yet are they better provided than the wealthy; and the things which a man undertakes not to say for himself, a friend will say for him, and whatever gratifications he is not able to procure for himself, he will be enabled to obtain by means of another, and much more; and it will be to us the groundwork of all enjoyment and safety, since one who is guarded by so many spearmen cannot suffer harm. For the king’s body guards are not equal in their strictness to these. The one perform their watch through compulsion and fear, the others through kindness and love; and love is far mightier than fear. The king fears his own guards; the friend is more confident in them than in himself, and by reason of them fears none of those that plot against him. Let us then engage in this traffic; the poor man, that he may have consolation in his poverty; the rich, that he may possess his wealth in safety; the ruler, that he may rule with safety; 32 the ruled, that he may have benevolent rulers. This is the source of kindness, this the groundwork of gentleness; since even among beasts, those are the most fierce and untamable which are not gregarious. For this cause we dwell in cities, and have public places, that we may converse with one another. This also Paul commanded, saying, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (He 10,25); for no evil is so great as solitariness, and the state which is without compact and intercourse. “What then,” saith some one, “of the solitaries, and of those who have occupied the summits of the mountains?” That neither are they without friends; they have indeed fled froth the turmoil of common life, but they have many of one soul with them, and closely bound together one to another; and they have retired that they might rightly accomplish this thing. 33 For since the rivalry of business causes many disputes, therefore, removing from among men, they cultivate 34 love with much exactness. “But how,” saith some one, “if a man be alone can he have ten thousand friends?” I, for my part, desire, if it be possible, that men should know how to dwell one with another; but for the present let the properties of friendship remain unshaken. 35 For it is not place which makes friends. They, for instance, have many who admire them; now these would not have admired had they not loved them. Again, they pray for all the world, which is the greatest proof of friendship. For this cause we salute one another at the Mysteries, that being many we may become one; and in the case of the uninitiated, 36 we make our prayers common, supplicating for the sick, and for the produce of the world, for land and sea. Seest thou all the power of love? in the prayers, in the Mysteries, in the exhortations? This is that which causeth all good things. If we hold carefully to this, we shall both rightly dispense things present, and also obtain the Kingdom; which may we all obtain through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, for ever and ever. Amen).
1 or, “gift.”
2 “The truth; it is expedient for you that I go away.” N. T.
3 “come unto you,” N. T.
4 or, “convince.”
5 “Will reprove the world of sin, and righteousness, and of judgment.” N. T.
6 “Of sin, because they believe not in Me.” N. T.
7 “My,” N. T.
9 al). “he can.”
10 e(wla, lit). “stale.”
11 Ver. 13). “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth; for He shall not speak,” &c. N. T.
12 “are Mine, therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you.” N. T.
14 i.e. the Jews.
16 al). “concedeth that It should work,” &c.
17 i.e. the Spirit’s.
18 al). “nobleness,”
19 al). “upon the Throne” (bhvmato").
20 “your mortal bodies,” N. T.
21 “Lord Jesus,” N. T.
22 i.e. heretical objectors.
23 al). “foretell.”
24 i.e. the Spirit’s.
25 Gr). “It.”
27 or “maintain my glory.”
28 “as We,” N. T.
29 or, “edges,” stomavtwn.
30 al). “bears.”
31 al). “than all riches.”
32 Sav. edition has, i(na meta; ajsfaleiva" ajsfaleiva/ ajrch`/, which seems to be an error of the press.
33 i.e. might perfect love.
34 gewrgou`si, lit). “till.”
35 i.e. the objection does not shake my argument.
36 i.e. non-communicants).
because I go to the Father. Then said some of His disciples among themselves, What is this that He saith?" [And what follows.]
[1.] Nothing is wont so to cast down the soul that is anguished and possessed by deep despondency, as when words which cause pain are continually dwelt upon. Why then did Christ, after saying, “I go,” and, “Hereafter I will not speak with you,” continually dwell on the same subject, saying “A little while, and ye shall not see Me, because I go to Him that sent Me”?3 When He had recovered them by His words concerning the Spirit, He gain casteth down their courage. Wherefore doth He this? He testeth their feelings, and rendereth them more proved, and well accustometh them by hearing sad things, manfully to bear separation from Him; for they who had practiced this when spoken of in words, were likely in actions also, easily to bear it afterwards. And if one enquire closely, this very thing is a consolation,4 the saying that, “I go to the Father.” For it is the expression of One, who declares that He shall not perish, but that His end is a kind of translation. He addeth too another consolation; for He saith not merely, “A little while, and ye shall not see Me,” but also, “A little while, and ye shall see Me”; showing that He will both come to them again, and that their separation would be but for a little while, and His presence with them continual. This, however, they did not understand. Whence one may with reason wonder how, after having often heard these things, they doubt, as though they had heard nothing. How then is it that they did not understand? It was either through grief, as I suppose, for that drove what was said from their understanding; or through the obscurity of the words. Because He seemed to them to set forth two contraries, which were not contrary. “If,” saith one of them, “we shall see Thee, whither goest Thou? And if Thou goest, how shall we see Thee?” Therefore they say, “We cannot tell what He saith.” That He was about to depart, they knew; but they knew not that He would shortly come to them. On which account He rebuketh them, because they did not understand His saying. For, desiring to infix in5 them the doctrine concerning His death, what saith He?
Jn 16,20.6 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament ”—which belonged to the Death and the Cross—“but the world shall rejoice.”
Because by reason of their not desiring His death, they quickly ran into the belief that He would not die, and then when they heard that He would die, cast about, not knowing what that “little” meant, He saith, “Ye shall mourn and lament.”
“But your sorrow shall be turned into joy.”7 Then having shown that after grief comes joy, and that grief gendereth joy, and that grief is short, but the pleasure endless, He passeth to a common8 example; and what saith He?
Jn 16,21. “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow.”9
And He hath used a comparison which the Prophets also use continually, likening despondencies to the exceeding pains of childbirth. But what He saith is of this kind: “Travail pains shall lay hold on you, but the pang of childbirth is the cause of joy”; both confirming His words relative to the Resurrection, and showing that the departing hence is like passing from the womb into the light of day. As though He had said, “Marvel not that I bring you to your advantage through such sorrow, since even a mother to become a mother, passeth in like manner through pain.” Here also He implieth something mystical, that He hath loosened the travail pangs of death, and caused a new man to be born of them, 10 And He said not, that the pain shall pass away only, but, “she doth not even remember it,” so great is the joy which succeedeth; so also shall it be with the Saints. And yet the woman doth not rejoice because “a man hath come into the world,” but because a son hath been born to her; since, had this been the case, nothing would have hindered the barren from rejoicing over another who beareth. Why then spake He thus? Because He introduced this example for this purpose only, to show that sorrow is for a season, but joy lasting: and to show that (death) is a translation unto life; and to show the great profit of their pangs. He said not, “a child hath been born,” but, “A man.” For to my mind He here alludeth to His own Resurrection, and that He should be born not unto that death which bare the birth-pang, but unto the Kingdom. Therefore He said not, “a child hath been born unto her,” but, “A man hath been born into the world.”
Jn 16,22-23. 11 “And ye now therefore have sorrow—[but I will see you again, and your sorrow shall be turned into joy].” 12 Then, to show that He shall die no more, He saith, “And no man taketh it from you. And in that day ye shall ask Me nothing.”
Again He proveth nothing else by these words, but that He is from God. “For then ye shall for the time to come know all things.” But what is, “Ye shall not ask Me”? “Ye shall need no intercessor, but it is sufficient that ye call on My Name, and so gain all things.”
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask My Father in My Name.” 13
(He showeth the power of His Name, if at least being neither seen nor called upon, but only named, He even maketh us approved 14 by the Father. But where hath this taken place? Where they say, “Lord, behold their threatenings, and grant unto Thy servants that with boldness they may speak Thy word” (Ac 4,29 Ac 4,31), “and work miracles in Thy Name.” “And the place was shaken where they were.”
Jn 16,24. “Hitherto ye have asked nothing.” 15
[2.] Hence He showeth it to be good that He should depart, if hitherto they had asked nothing, and if then they should receive all things whatsoever they should ask. “For do not suppose, because I shall no longer be with you, that ye are deserted; My Name shall give you greater boldness.” Since then the words which He had used had been veiled, He saith,
Jn 16,25. “These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs, but the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs.”
“There shall be a time when ye shall know all things clearly.” He speaketh of the time of the Resurrection. “Then,”
“I shall tell you plainly of the Father.”
(For He was with them, and talked with them forty days, being assembled with them, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God— Ac 1,3-4)—“because now being in fear, ye give no heed to My words; but then when ye see Me risen again, and converse with Me, ye will be able to learn all things plainly, for the Father Himself will love you, when your faith in Me hath been made firm.”
Jn 16,26. “And I will not ask the Father.” 16
“Your love for Me sufficeth to be your advocate.”
Jn 16,27-28. “Because 17 ye have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world; again I leave the world, and go to the Father.”
For since His discourse concerning the Resurrection, and together with this, the hearing that “I came out from God, and thither I go,” gave them no common comfort, He continually handleth these things. He gave a pledge, in the first place, that they were right in believing on Him; in the second, that they should be in safety. When therefore He said, “A little while, and ye shall not see Me; and again a little while, and ye shall see Me” (Jn 16,17), they with reason did not understand Him. But now it is no longer so. What then is, “Ye shall not ask Me”? “Ye shall not say, ‘Show us the Father,’ and, ‘Whither goest Thou?’ for ye shall know all knowledge, and the Father shall be disposed towards you even as I am.” It was this especially which made them breathe again, the learning that they should be the Father’s friends wherefore they say,
Jn 16,30. 18 “Now we know that Thou knowest all things.”
Seest thou that He made answer to what was secretly harboring 19 in their minds?
“And needest not that any man should ask Thee.” 20
That is, “Before hearing, Thou knowest the things which made us stumble, and Thou hast given us rest, since Thou hast said, ‘The Father loveth you, because ye have loved Me.’” After so many and so great matters, they say, “Now we know.” Seest thou in what an imperfect state they were? Then, when, as though conferring a favor upon Him, they say, “Now we know,” He replieth, “Ye still require many other things to come to perfection; nothing is as yet achieved by you. Ye shall presently betray Me to My enemies, and such fear shall seize you, that ye shall not even be able to retire one with another, yet from this I shall suffer nothing dreadful.” Seest thou again how con descending His speech is? And indeed He makes this a charge against them, that they continually needed condescension. For when they say, “Lo, now Thou speakest plainly, and speakest no parable” (Jn 16,29), “and therefore we believe Thee” He showeth them that now, when they believe, they do not yet believe, neither doth He accept their words. This He saith, referring them to another season. But the,
Jn 16,32. 21 “The Father is with Me,” He hath again put on their account; for this they 22 everywhere wished to learn. Then, to show that He did not give them perfect knowledge by saying this, but in order that their reason might not rebel, (for it was probable that they might form some human ideas, and think that they should not enjoy any assistance from Him,) He saith,
Jn 16,33. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace.” 23
That is, “that ye should not cast Me from your thoughts, but receive Me.” Let no one, then, drag these words into a doctrine; they are spoken for our comfort and love. “For not even when we suffer such things as I have mentioned shall your troubles stop there, 24 but as long as ye are in the world ye shall have sorrow, not only now when I am betrayed, but also afterwards. But rouse your minds, for ye shall suffer nothing terrible. When the master hath gotten the better of his enemies, the disciples must not despond.” “And how,” tell me, “hast Thou ‘conquered the world’?” I have told you already, that I have cast down its ruler, but ye shall know hereafter, when all things yield and give place to you.
[3.] But it is permitted to us also to conquer, looking to the Author of our faith, and walking on that road which He cut for us. So neither shall death get the mastery of us. “What then, shall we not die?” saith some one. Why, from this very thing 25 it is clear that he shall not gain the mastery over us. The champion truly will then be glorious, not when he hath not closed with his opponent, but when having closed he is not holden by him. We therefore are not mortal, because of our struggle with death, but immortal, because of our victory; then should we have been mortal, had we remained with him always. As then I should not call the longest-lived animals immortal, although they long remain free from death, so neither him who shall rise after death mortal, because he is dissolved by death. For, tell me, if a man blush a little, should we say that he was continually ruddy? Not so, for the action is not a habit. If one become pale, should we call him jaundiced? No, for the affection is but temporary. And so you would not call him mortal, who hath been for but a short time in the hands of death. Since in this way we may speak of those who sleep, for they are dead, so to say, and without action. But doth death corrupt our bodies? What of that? It is not that they may remain in corruption, but that they be made better. Let us then conquer the world, let us run to immortality, let us follow our King, let us too set up a trophy, 26 let us despise the world’s pleasures. We need no toil to do so; let us transfer our souls to 27 heaven, and all the world is conquered. If thou desirest it not, it is conquered; if thou deride it, it is worsted. Strangers are we and sojourners, let us then not grieve at any of its painful things. For if, being sprung from a renowned country, and from illustrious ancestors, thou hadst gone into some distant land, being known to no one, having with thee neither servants nor wealth, and then some one had insulted thee, thou wouldest not grieve as though thou hadst suffered these things at home. For the knowing clearly that thou wast in a strange and foreign land, would persuade thee to bear all easily, and to despise hunger, and thirst, and any suffering whatever. Consider this also now, that thou art a stranger and a sojourner, and let nothing disturb thee in this foreign land; for thou hast a City whose Artificer and Creator is God, and the 28 sojourning itself is but for a short and little time. Let whoever will strike, insult, revile; we are in a strange land, and live but meanly; the dreadful thing would be, to suffer so in our own country, before our fellow-citizens, then is the greatest unseemliness and loss. For if a man be where he had none that knows him, he endures all easily, because insult becomes more grievous from the intention of those who offer it. For instance, if a man insult the governor, knowing that he is governor, then the insult is bitter; but if he insult, supposing him to be a private man, he cannot even touch him who undergoeth the insult. So let us reason also. For neither do our revilers know what we are, as, that we are citizens of heaven, registered for the country which is above, fellow-choristers of the Cherubim. Let us not then grieve nor deem their insult to be insult; had they known, they would not have insulted us. Do they deem us poor and mean? Neither let us count this an insult. For tell me, if a traveler having got before his servants, were sitting a little space in the inn waiting for them, and then the innkeeper, or some travelers, should behave rudely to him, and revile him, would he not laugh at the other’s ignorance? would not their mistake rather give him pleasure? would he not feel a satisfaction as though not he but some one else were insulted? Let us too behave thus. We too sit in an inn, waiting for our friends who travel the same road; when we are all collected, then they shall know whom they insult. These men then shall hang 29 their heads; then they shall say, “This is he whom we” fools “had in derision.” (Sg 5,3).
[4.] With these two things then let us comfort ourselves, that we are not insulted, for they know not who we are, and that, if we wish to obtain satisfaction, they shall hereafter give us a most bitter one. But God forbid that any should have a soul so cruel and inhuman. “What then if we be insulted by our kinsmen? For this is the burdensome thing.” Nay, this is the light thing. “Why, pray?” Because we do not bear those whom we love when they insult us, in the same way as we bear those whom we do not know. For instance, in consoling those who have been injured, we often say,“It is a brother who hath injured you, bear it nobly; it is a father; it is an uncle.” But if the name of “father” and “brother” puts you to shame much more if I name to you a relationship more intimate than these; for we are not only brethren one to another, but also members, and one body. Now if the name of brother shame you, much more that of member. Hast thou not heard that Gentile proverb, which saith, that “it behooveth to keep friends with their defects”? Hast thou not heard Paul say, “Bear ye one another’s burdens”? Seest thou not lovers? For I am compelled, since I cannot draw an instance from you, to bring my discourse to that ground of argument. This also Paul doth, thus saying, “Furthermore we have had fathers in our flesh, which corrected us, and we gave them reverence.” (He 12,9). Or rather, that is more apt which he saith to the Romans, “As ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now yield your members servants to righteousness.” For this reason let us confidently keep hold of 30 the illustration. Now dost thou not observe lovers, what miseries these suffer when inflamed with desire for harlots, cuffed, beaten, and laughed at, enduring a harlot, who turns away from and insults them in ten thousand ways; yet if they see but once anything sweet or gentle, all is well to do with them, all former things are gone, all goes on with a fair wind, be it poverty, be it sickness, be it anything else besides these. For they count their own life as miserable or blessed, according as they may have her whom they love disposed towards them. They know nothing of mortal honor or disgrace, but even if one insult, they bear all easily through the great pleasure and delight which they receive from her; and though she revile, though she spit in their face, they think, when they are enduring this, that they are being pelted with roses. And what wonder, if such are their feelings as to her person? for her very house they think to be more splendid than any, though it be but of mud, though it be filling down. But why speak I of walls? when they even see the places which they frequent in the evening, they are excited. Allow me now for what follows to speak the word of the Apostle. As he saith, “As ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness, so yield your members servants unto righteousness”; so in like manner now I say, “as we have loved these women, let us love one another, and we shall not think that we suffer anything terrible.” 31 And why say I, “one another”? Let us so love God. Do ye shudder, when ye hear that I require as much love in the case of God, as we have shown towards a harlot? But I shudder that we do not show even thus much. And, if you will, let us go on with the argument, though what is said be very painful. The woman beloved promises her lovers nothing good, but dishonor, shame, and insolence. For this is what the waiting upon a harlot makes a man, ridiculous, shameful, dishonored. But God promiseth us heaven, and the good things which are in heaven; He hath made us sons, and brethren of the Only-begotten, and hath given thee ten thousand things while living, and when thou diest, resurrection, and promiseth that He will give us such good things as it is not possible even to imagine, and maketh us honored and revered. Again, that woman compels her lovers to spend all their substance for the pit and for destruction; but God biddeth us sow the heaven, and giveth us an hundred-fold, and eternal life. Again, she uses her lover like a slave, giving commands more hardly than any tyrant; but God saith, “I no longer call you servants, but friends.” (Jn 15,15).
[5.] Have ye seen the excess both of the evils here and the blessings there 32 ? What then comes next? For this woman’s sake, many lie awake, and whatever she commands, readily obey; give up house, and father, and mother, and friends, and money, and patronage, and leave all that belongs to them in want and desolation; but for the sake of God, or rather for the sake of ourselves, we often do not choose to expend even the third portion of our substance, but we look on the hungry, we overlook him, and run past the naked, and do not even bestow a word upon him. But the lovers, if they see but a little servant girl of their mistress, and her a barbarian, they stand in the middle of the market-place, and talk with her, as if they were proud and glad to do so, unrolling an interminable round of words; 33 and for her sake they count all their living as nothing, deem rulers and rule nothing, (they know it, all who have had experience of the malady,) and thank her more when she commands, than others when the)serve. Is there not with good reason a hell? Are there not with good reason ten thousand punishments? Let us then become sober, let us apply to the service of God as much, or half, or even the third part of what others supply to the harlot. Perhaps again ye shudder; for so do I myself. But I would not that ye should shudder at words only, but at the actions; as it is, here indeed our 34 hearts are made orderly, but we go forth and cast all away. What then is the gain? For there, if it be required to spend money, no one laments his poverty, but even borrows it to give, perchance, when smitten. But here, if we do but mention almsgiving, they pretend to us children, and wife, and house, and patronage, and ten thousand excuses. “But,” saith some one, “the pleasure is great there.” This it is that I lament and mourn. What if I show that the pleasure here is greater? For there shame, and insult, and expense, cut away no little of the pleasure, and after these the quarreling and enmity; but here there is nothing of the kind. What is there, tell me, equal to this pleasure, to sit expecting heaven and the kingdom there, and the glory of the saints, and the life that is endless? “But these things,” saith some one, “are in expectation, the others in experience.” What kind of experience? Wilt thou that I tell thee the pleasures which are here also by experience? Consider what freedom thou enjoyest, and how thou fearest and tremblest at no man whenthou livest in company with virtue, neither enemy, nor plotter, nor informer, nor rival in credit or in love, nor envious person, nor poverty, nor sickness, nor any other human thing. But there, although ten thousand things be according to thy mind, though riches flow in as from a fountain, yet the war with rivals, and the plots, and ambuscades, will make more miserable than any the life of him who wallows with those women. 35 For when that abominable one is haughty, and insolent, you needs must kindle quarrel to flatter her. This therefore ismore grievous than ten thousand deaths, more intolerable than any punishment. But here there is nothing of the kind. For “the fruit,” it saith, “of the Spirit is love, joy, peace.” (Ga 5,22). Here is no quarreling, nor unseasonable pecuniary expense, nor disgrace and expense too; and if thou give but a farthing, or a loaf, or a cup of cold water, He will be much beholden to thee, and He doth nothing to pain or grieve thee, but all so as to make thee glorious, and free thee from all shame. What defense therefore shall we have, what pardon shall we gain, if, leaving these things, we give ourselves up to the contrary, and voluntarily cast ourselves into the furnace that burns with fire? Wherefore I exhort those who are sick of this malady, to recover themselves, and return to health, and not allow themselves to fall into despair. Since that son 36 also was in a far more grievous state than this, yet when he returned to his father’s house, he came to his former honor, and appeared more glorious than him who had ever been well-pleasing. Let us also imitate him, and returning to our Father, even though it be late, let us depart from that captivity, and transfer ourselves to freedom, that we may enjoy 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). “ye no longer see.”
2 Part of ver. 17 and ver. 18). “A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me: and, Because I go to the Father. They said therefore, What is this that He saith, A little while? we cannot tell what He saith.”
3 “to the Father,” N. T.
4 al). “is of consolation.”
5 al). “to strike into.”
6 Ver. 19, omitted). “Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask Him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me?”N. T.
7 “And ye shall be sorrowful, but,” &c., N. T.
8 lit). “worldly.”
9 “hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.” N. T.
11 Ver. 22). “And ye now therefore have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man,” &c.
12 from ver. 10.
13 “In My Name, He will give it you.” N. T.
14 lit). “admired.”
15 “nothing in My Name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full,” N. T. The words, “Hitherto,” &c., are inserted by Savile.
16 Ver. 26). “At that day ye shall ask in My Name; and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you.” N. T.
17 “For the Father Himself loveth you, because,” &c. N. T.
18 Ver. 29). “His disciples said unto Him, Lo, now speakest Thou plainly, and speakest no parable.” N. T.
20 “ask Thee; by this we believe that Thou camest forth from God.” N. T).
21 Ver. 31, 32). “Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone; but I am not alone, because,” &c. N. T.
22 al). “he,” or, “one.”
23 “have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” N. T.
24 “shall I stay your dangers.”
25 i.e. our death.
26 al). “a trophy for Him.”
27 al). “into.”
28 al). “and if the.”
29 al). “then hang.”
30 al). “we touch.”
31 i.e. in being insulted.
32 al). “thence.”
33 makrw`n lovgwn ajnelivttonte" diauvlou". The divaulo" was thedouble course, which ended where it began.
34 al). “your.”
35 This seems to be the meaning of tou` metAE ejkeivnwn plunomevnou.
36 the prodigal, Lc 15,
Chrysostom on John 78