Golden Chain 7218
7218 Mc 12,18-27
(p. 243) Gloss.: After that our Lord has prudently escaped the crafty temptation of the Pharisees, it is shewn how He also confounds the Sadducees, who tempt Him.
Wherefore it is said: "Then come unto Him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection."
Theophylact: A certain heretical sect of the Jews called Sadducees denied the resurrection, and said that there was neither angel nor spirit. These then (p. 244) coming to Jesus, craftily proposed to Him a certain tale, in order to shew that no resurrection should take place, or had taken place; and therefore there is added, "And they asked Him, saying, Master." And in this tale they lay down that seven men had married one woman, in order to make men draw back from belief in the resurrection.
Bede: And fitly do they frame such a fable in order to prove the madness of those who assert the resurrection of the body. Such a thing however might really have happened at some time or other among them.
Pseudo-Jerome: But in a mystical sense: what can this woman, leaving no seed to seven brothers, and last of all dying, mean except the Jewish synagogue, deserted by the seven-fold Spirit, which filled those seven patriarchs, who did not leave to her the seed of Abraham, that is, Jesus Christ?
For although a Son was born to them, nevertheless He was given to us Gentiles. This woman was dead to Christ, nor shall she be joined in the resurrection to any patriarch of the seven; for by the number seven is meant the whole company of the faithful. Thus it is said contrariwise by Isaiah, "Seven women shall take hold of one man;" (Is 4,1) that is, the seven Churches, which the Lord loves, reproves, and chastises, adore Him with one faith.
Wherefore it goes on: "And Jesus answering, said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, not knowing the Scripture, neither the power of God?"
Theophylact: As if He had said, Ye understand not what sort of a resurrection the Scriptures announce; for ye believe that there will be a restoration of our bodies, such as they are now, but it shall not be so. Thus then ye know not the Scriptures; neither again do ye know the power of God; for ye consider it as a difficult thing, saying, How can the limbs, which have been scattered, be united together and joined to the soul? But this in respect to the Divine power is as nothing.
There follows: "For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven;" as if He had said, there will be a certain heavenly and angelic restoration to life, when there shall be no more decay, and we shall remain unchanged; and for this reason marriage shall cease. For marriage now exists on account of our decay, that we may be carried on by succession of our race, and not (p. 245) fail; but then we shall be as the Angels, who need no succession by marriage, and never come to an end.
Bede: We must here consider that the Latin custom does not answer to the Greek idiom. For properly different words are used for the marriage of men, and that of women; but here we may simply understand that, "marry," is meant of men, and "given in marriage" of women.
Pseudo-Jerome: Thus then they do not understand the Scripture, in that in the resurrection, men shall be as the Angels of God, that is, no man there dies, no one is born, no infant is there, no old men.
Theophylact: In another way also they are deceived, not understanding the Scriptures; for if they had understood them, they should also have understood how by the Scriptures the resurrection of the dead may be proved.
Wherefore He adds, "And as touching the dead, that they rise, have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?"
Pseudo-Jerome: But I say, "in the bush," which is an image of you; for in it the fire was kindled, but it did not consume its thorns; so my words set you on fire, but do not burn off your thorns, which have grown under the curse.
Theophylact: But I say, "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."
As if He had said, "The God of the living," wherefore He adds, "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living;" for He did not say, I have been, but "I am," as if they had been present. But some one perhaps will say, that God spake this only of the soul of Abraham, not of his body; to which I answer, that Abraham implies both, that is, soul and body, so that He also is the God of the body, and the body lives with God, that is, in God's ordinance.
Bede: Or else; because after proving that the soul remained after death, (for God could not be God of those who did not exist at all,) the resurrection of the body also might be inferred as a consequence, since it had done good and evil with the soul.
Pseudo-Jerome: But when He says, "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;" by naming God thrice, He implied the Trinity. But when He says, "He is not the God of the dead," by naming again the One God, He implies One Substance. But they live who make good the portion, which they (p. 246) had chosen; and they are dead, who have lost what they had made good. "Ye therefore do greatly err."
Gloss.: That is, because they contradicted the Scriptures, and derogated from the power of God.
7228 Mc 12,28-34
Gloss.: After that the Lord confuted the Pharisees, and the Sadducees, who tempted Him, it is here shewn how He satisfied the Scribe who questioned Him.
Wherefore it is said, "And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked Him, Which is the first commandment of (p. 247) all?"
Pseudo-Jerome: This question is only that which is a problem common to all skilled in the law, namely, that the commandments are differently set forth in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. Wherefore He brought forward not one but two commandments, by which, as by two paps rising on the breast of the bride, our infancy is nourished.
And therefore there is added, "And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord thy God is one God." He mentions the first and greatest commandment of all; this is that to which each of us must give the first place in his heart, as the only foundation of piety, that is, the knowledge and confession of the Divine Unity, with the practice of good works, which is perfected in the love of God and our neighbour.
Wherefore there is added, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment."
Theophylact: See how He has enumerated all the powers of the soul; for there is a living power in the soul, which He explains, when He says, "With all thy soul," and to this belong anger and desire, all of which He will have us give to Divine love.
There is also another power, which is called natural, to which belong nutriment and growth, and this also is all to be given to God, for which reason He says, "With all thy heart."
There is also another power, the rational, which He calls the mind, and that too is to be given whole to God.
Gloss.: The words which are added, "And with all thy strength," may be referred to the bodily powers.
It goes on: "And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
Theophylact: He says that it is like, because these two commandments are harmonious one with the other, and mutually contain the other. For he who loves God, loves also His creature; but the chief of His creatures is man, wherefore he who loves God ought to love all men. But he who loves his neighbor, who so often offends him, ought much more to love Him, who is ever giving him benefits. And therefore on account of the connection between these commandments, He adds, "There is none other commandment greater than these."
It goes on: "And the Scribe said unto Him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: (p. 248) for there is one God, and there is none other but He: and to love Him with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."
Bede: He shews when he says, "this is greater than all sacrifices," that a grave question was often debated between the scribes and Pharisees, which was the first commandment, or the greatest of the Divine law; that is, some praised offerings and sacrifices, others preferred acts of faith and love, because many of the fathers before the law pleased God by that faith only, which works by love. This scribe shews that he was of the latter opinion.
But it continues: "And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, He said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God."
Theophylact: By which He shews that he was not perfect, for He did not say, Thou art within the kingdom of heaven, but, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God."
Bede: But the reason why he was not far from the kingdom of God was, that he proved himself to be a favourer of that opinion, which is proper to the New Testament and to Gospel perfection.
Augustine, de Con. Evan, ii, 73: Nor let it trouble us that Matthew says, that he who addressed this question to the Lord tempted Him; for it may be that though he came as a tempter, yet he was corrected by the answer of the Lord. Or at all events, we must not look upon the temptation as evil, and done with the intention of deceiving an enemy, but rather as the caution of a man who wished to try a thing unknown to him.
Pseudo-Jerome: Or else, he is not far who comes with knowledge; for ignorance is farther from the kingdom of God than knowledge; wherefore He says above to the Sadducees, "Ye err, not knowing the Scriptures, or the power of God."
It goes on: "And no man after that durst ask Him any questions."
Bede: For since they were confuted in argument, they ask Him no further questions, but take Him without any disguise, and give Him up to the Roman power. From which we understand that the venom of envy may be overcome, but can hardly lie quiet.
7235 Mc 12,35-37
(p. 249) Theophylact: Because Christ was coming to His Passion, He corrects a false opinion of the Jews, who said that Christ was the Son of David, not his Lord.
Wherefore it is said, "And Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple."
Pseudo-Jerome: That is, He openly speaks to them of Himself, that they may be inexcusable.
For it goes on: "How say the Scribes that Christ is the Son of David?"
Theophylact: But Christ shews Himself to be the Lord, by the words of David.
For it goes on: "For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on My right hand;" as if He had said, Ye cannot say that David said this without the grace of the Holy Spirit, but he called Him Lord in the Holy Spirit; and that He is Lord, he shews, by this that is added, "Till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool;" for they themselves were His enemies, whom God put under the footstool of Christ.
Bede: But the putting down of His enemies by the Father, does not shew the weakness of the Son, but the unity of nature, by which One works in the Other; for the Son also subjects the Father's enemies, because He glorifies His Father upon earth.
Gloss.: Thus then Lord concludes from what has gone before the doubtful questions. For from the foregoing words of David it is proved that Christ is the Lord of David, but according to the saying of the Scribes, it is proved that He is his Son. And this is what is added, "David himself then calls Him Lord, how is He then his Son?"
Bede: The question of Jesus is useful for us even now against the Jews; for they, acknowledging that Christ is to come, assert that He is a mere man, a holy Person descended from David. Let us then ask them, as our (p. 250) Lord has taught us, if He be a mere man, and only the son of David, how David in the Holy Spirit calls Him Lord. They are not however reproved for calling Him David's son, but for not believing Him to be the Son of God.
It goes on: "And the common people heard Him gladly."
Gloss.: Namely, because they saw that He answered and put questions wisely.
7238 Mc 12,38-40
Pseudo-Jerome: After confuting the Scribes and Pharisees, He burns up as a fire their dry and withered examples.
Wherefore it is said, "And He said unto them in His doctrine, Beware of the Scribes, which love to go in long clothing."
Bede: To walk in long clothing is to go forth into public clad in garments too much ornamented, in which amongst other things, that rich man, who fared sumptuously every day, is said to have sinned.
Theophylact: But they used to walk in honourable garments, because they wished to be highly esteemed for it, and in like manner they desired other things, which lead to glory.
For it goes on: "And love salutations in the marketplaces, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts."
Bede: We must observe that He does not forbid that those, to whom it falls by the rule of their office, should be saluted in the marketplace, or have chief seats and places at feasts, but He teaches that those who love those things unduly, whether they have them or no, are to be avoided by the faithful as wicked men: that is, He blames the intention and not the office; although this too is culpable, that the very men who wish to be called masters of the synagogue in Moses' seat, should have to do with lawsuits in the marketplace. We are in two way ordered to beware of those who are desirous of vain (p. 251) glory; first, we should not be seduced by their hypocrisy into thinking that what they do is good; nor secondly, should we be excited to imitate them, through a vain rejoicing in being praised for those virtues which they affect.
Theophylact: He also especially teaches the Apostles, not to have any communication with the scribes, but to imitate Christ Himself; and in ordaining them to be masters in the duties of life, He places others under them. (ed. note: Theophylact's words should be translated - He becomes their example in the duties of life.)
Bede: But they do not only seek for praise from men, but also for gain. Where there follows, "Which devour widows' houses, under the pretence of long prayers." For there are men who pretending to be just hesitate not to receive money from persons who are troubled in conscience, as though they would be their advocates in the judgment. A hand stretched out to the poor is always an accompaniment to prayer, but these men pass the night in prayer, that they may take away money from the poor.
Theophylact: But the Scribes used to come to women, who were left without the protection of their husbands, as though they were their protectors; and by a pretence of prayer, a reverend exterior and hypocrisy, they used to deceive widows, and thus also devour the houses of the rich.
It goes on: "These shall receive a greater damnation," that is, than the other Jews, who sinned.
7241 Mc 12,41-44
(p. 252) Bede: The Lord, who had warned them to avoid the desire of high place and vain glory, now distinguishes by a sure test those who brought in gifts.
Wherefore it is said, "And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury."
In the Greek language, "phylassein", means to keep, and "gaza" is a Persian word for treasure; wherefore the word "gazophylacium" which is here used means a place where riches are kept, which name also was applied to the chest in which the offerings of the people were collected, for the necessary uses of the temple, and to the porch in which they were kept.
You have a notice of the porch in the Gospel, "These words spake Jesus in the treasury as He taught in the temple:" (Jn 8,20) and of the chest in the book of Kings, "But Jehoiada the priest took a chest." (2R 12,9)
Theophylact: Now there was a praiseworthy custom amongst the Jews, that those who were able and willing should put something into the treasury, for the maintenance of the priests, the poor, and the widows.
Wherefore there is added, "And many that were rich cast in much."
But whilst many people were so engaged, a poor widow came up, and shewed her love by offering money according to her ability.
Wherefore it is said, "And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing."
Bede: Reckoners use the words "quadrans" for the fourth part of any thing, be it place, money, or time. Perhaps then in this place is meant the fourth part of a shekel, this is, five pence.
It goes on: "And He called unto Him His disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:" for God does not weigh the property but the conscience of those who offer; nor did He consider the smallness of the sum in her offering, but what was the store from which it came.
Wherefore He adds, "For all they did cast in of their abundance, but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."
Pseudo-Jerome: But in a mystical sense, they are rich, who bring forth from the treasure of their heart things new and old, which are the obscure and hidden things of Divine wisdom in both testaments; but who is the poor woman, if it be not I and those like me, who cast in what I can, and have the will to explain to you, where I have, (p. 253) not the power. For God does not consider how much ye bear, but what is the store from which it comes; but each at all events can bring his farthing, that is, a ready will, which is called a farthing, because it is accompanied by three things, that is, thought, word and deed. And in that it is said that "she cast in all her living," it is implied that all that the body wants is that by which it lives. Wherefore it is said, "All the labour of man is for his mouth." (Qo 6,7)
Theophylact: Or else; that widow is the soul of man, which leaving Satan to which it had been joined, casts into the temple two mites, that is, the flesh and the mind, the flesh by abstinence, the mind by humility, that so it may be able to hear that it has cast away all its living, and has consecrated it, leaving nothing for the world of all that it possessed.
Bede: Again, in an allegorical way, the rich men, who cast gifts into the treasury, point out the Jews puffed up with the righteousness of the law; the poor widow is the simplicity of the Church: poor indeed, because she has cast away the spirit of pride and of the desires of worldly things; and a widow, because Jesus her husband has suffered death for her. She casts two mites into the treasury, because she brings the love of God and of her neighbour, or the gifts of faith and prayer; which are looked upon as mites in their own insignificance, but measured by the merit of a devout intention are superior to all the proud works of the Jews. The Jew sends of his abundance into the treasury, because he presumes on his own righteousness; but the Church sends her whole living into God's treasury, because she understands that even her very living is not of her own desert, but of Divine grace.
7301 Mc 13,1-2
(p. 254) Bede, in Marc., iv, 42: Because after the founding of the Church of Christ, Judaea was to be punished for her treachery, the Lord fitly, after praising the devotedness of the Church in the person of the poor widow, goes out of the temple, and foretold its coming ruin, and the contempt in which the buildings now so wonderful were soon to be held.
Wherefore it is said, "And as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples saith unto Him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!"
Theophylact: For, since the Lord had spoken much concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, His disciples wondered, that such numerous and beautiful buildings were to be destroyed; and this is the reason why they point out the beauty of the temple, and He answers not only that they were to be destroyed, but also that one stone should not be left upon another.
Wherefore it goes on: "And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."
Now some may endeavour to prove that Christ's words were false, by saying that many ruins were left, but this is not at all the point; for though some ruins had been left, still at the consummation of all things one stone shall not be left upon another. Besides it is related, that Aelius Adrian overturned (p. 255) the city and the temple from the foundation, so that the word of the Lord here spoken was fulfilled.
Bede: But it was ordered by Divine power that after that the grace of the faith of the Gospel was made known through the world, the temple itself with its ceremonies should be taken away; lest perchance some one weak in the faith, if he saw that these things which had been instituted by God still remained, might by degrees drop from the sincerity of the faith, which is in Christ Jesus, into carnal Judaism.
Pseudo-Jerome: Here also the Lord enumerates to His disciples the destruction of the last time, that is of the temple, with the people, and its letter; of which one stone shall not be left upon another, that is, no testimony of the Prophets upon those, to whom the Jews perversely applied them, that is, on Ezra, Zerubbabel and the Maccabees.
Bede: Again, when the Lord left the temple, all the edifice of the law and the framework of the commandments were destroyed, so that nothing could be filled up by the Jews; and now that the head has been taken away, all the limbs fight one against the other.
7303 Mc 13,3-8
Bede: Because the Lord, when some were praising the buildings of the temple, had plainly answered that all these were to be destroyed, the disciples privately enquired about the time and the signs of the destruction which was foretold.
Wherefore it is said: "And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked Him privately, Tell us when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?"
The Lord sits upon the mount of Olives, over against the temple, when He discourses upon the ruin and destruction of the temple, so that even His bodily position may be in accordance with the words which He speaks, pointing out mystically that, abiding in peace with the saints, He hates the madness of the proud. For the mount of Olives marks the fruitful sublimity of the Holy Church.
Augustine, Epist., cxcix, 9: In answer to the disciples, the Lord tells them of things which were from that time forth to have their course; whether He meant the destruction of Jerusalem which occasioned their question, or His own coming through the Church, (in which He ever comes even unto the end, for we know that He comes in His own, when His members are born day by day,) or the end itself, in which He will appear to judge the quick and the dead.
Theophylact: But before answering their question, He strengthens their minds that they may not be deceived.
Wherefore there follows: "And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you?"
And this He says, because when the sufferings of the Jews began, some arose professing to be teachers.
Wherefore there follows: "For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many."
Bede: For many came forward, when destruction was hanging over Jerusalem, saying that they were Christs, and that the time of freedom was now approaching. Many teachers of heresy also arose in the Church even in the time of the Apostles; and many Antichrists came in the name of Christ, the first of whom was Simon Magus, to whom the Samaritans, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, listened, saying, "This man is the great power of God." (Ac 8,10)
Wherefore also it is added here, "And shall deceive many."
Now from the time of the Passion of our Lord there ceased not amongst the (p. 257) Jewish people, who chose the seditious robber and rejected Christ the Saviour, either external wars or civil discord.
Wherefore it goes on: "And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled."
And when these come, the Apostles are warned not to be afraid, or to leave Jerusalem and Judaea, because the end was not to come at once, nay was to be put off for forty years.
And this is what is added: "for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet," that is, the desolation of the province, and the last destruction of the city and temple.
It goes on: "For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom."
Theophylact: That is, the Romans against the Jews, which Josephus relates happened before the destruction of Jerusalem. For when the Jews refused to pay tribute, the Romans arose, in anger; but because at that time they were merciful, they took indeed their spoils, but did not destroy Jerusalem. What follows shews that God fought against the Jews, for it is said, "And there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines."
Bede: Now it is on record that this literally took place at the time of the Jewish rebellion. But "kingdom against kingdom," the pestilence of those whose word spreads as a canker, dearth of the word of God, the commotion of the whole earth, and the separation from the true faith, may all rather be understood of heretics who, by fighting one against the other, bring about the triumph of the Church.
7309 Mc 13,9-13
(p. 258) Bede: The Lords shews how Jerusalem and the province of Judaea merited the infliction of such calamities, in the following words: "But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten."
For the greatest cause of destruction to the Jewish people was, that after slaying the Saviour, they also tormented the heralds of His name and faith with wicked cruelty.
Theophylact: Fitly also did He premise a recital of those things which concerned the Apostles, that in their own tribulations they might find some consolation in the community of troubles and sufferings.
There follows: "And ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them."
He says "kings and rulers," as, for instance, Agrippa, Nero and Herod. Again, His saying, "for My sake," gave them no small consolation, in that they were about to suffer for His sake. "For a testimony against them," means, as a judgment beforehand against them, that they might be inexcusable, in that though the Apostles were labouring for the truth, they would not join themselves to it. Then, that they might not think that their preaching should be impeded by troubles and dangers, He adds: "And the Gospel must first be published among all nations."
Augustine, de Con. Evan., ii, 77: Matthew adds, "And then shall the end come." (Mt 24,14)
Bede: Ecclesiastical historians testify that this was fulfilled, for they relate that all the Apostles long before the destruction of the province of Judaea were dispersed to preach the Gospel over the whole world, except James the son of Zebedee and James the brother of our Lord, who had before shed their blood in Judaea for the word of the Lord. Since then the Lord knew that the hearts of the disciples would be saddened by the fall and destruction of their nation, He relieves them by this consolation, to let them know that even after the casting away of the Jews, companions in their joy and heavenly kingdom should not be wanting, (p. 259) nay that many more were to be collected out of all mankind than perished in Judaea.
Gloss.: Another anxiety might also arise in the breasts of the disciples. Lest therefore after hearing that they were to be brought before kings and rulers, they should fear that their want of science and eloquence should render them unable to answer, our Lord consoles them by saying, "But when they shall lead you and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye."
Bede: For when we are led before judges for Christ's sake, all our duty is to offer up our will for Christ. As for the rest, Christ Himself who dwells in us speaks for us, and the grace of the Holy Ghost shall be given us, when we answer.
Wherefore it goes on: "For it is not ye that shall speak, but the Holy Ghost."
Theophylact: He also foretells to them a worse evil, that they should suffer persecution from their relations.
Wherefore there follows: "Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death; and ye shall be hated of all men for My name's sake."
Bede: This has often been seen in time of persecution, nor can there be any firm affection amongst men who differ in faith.
Theophylact: And this He says, that on hearing it, they might prepare themselves to bear persecutions and ills with greater patience. Then He brings them consolation, saying, "And ye shall be hated of all men for My name's sake;" for the being hated for Christ's sake is a sufficient reason for suffering persecutions patiently, for it is not the punishment, but the cause, that makes the martyr. Again, that which follows is no small comfort amidst persecution: "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."
7314 Mc 13,14-20
(p. 260) Gloss.: After speaking of the things which were to happen before the destruction of the city, the Lord now foretells those which happened about the destruction itself of the city, saying, "But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand)."
Augustine, de Con Evan, ii, 77: Matthew says, standing "in the holy place;" but with this verbal difference Mark has expressed the same meaning; for He says "where it ought not" to stand, because it ought not to stand in the holy place.
Bede: When we are challenged to understand what is said, we may conclude that it is mystical. But it may either be said simply of Antichrist, or of the statue of Caesar, which Pilate put into the temple, or of the equestrian statue of Adrian, which for a long time stood in the holy of holies itself. An idol is also called abomination according to the Old Testament, and He has added "of desolation" because it was placed in the temple when desolate and deserted.
Theophylact: Or He means by "the abomination of desolation" the entrance of enemies into the city by violence.
Augustine, Epist., cxcix, 9: But Luke, in order to shew that the abomination of desolation happened when Jerusalem was taken, in this same place gives the words of our Lord, "And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh." (Lc 21,20)
It goes on: "Then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains."
Bede: (p. 261) It is on record that this was literally fulfilled, when on the approach of the war with Rome and the extermination of the Jewish people, all the Christians who were in that province, warned by the prophecy, fled far away, as Church history relates, and retiring beyond Jordan, remained for a time in the city of Pella under the protection of Agrippa, the king of the Jews, to whom mention is made in the Acts, and who with that part of the Jews, who chose to obey him, always continued subject to the Roman empire.
Theophylact: And well does He say, "Who are in Judaea," for the Apostles were no longer in Judaea, but before the battle had been driven from Jerusalem.
Gloss.: (ed. note: Non in Gloss - sed ap. Theophylact) Or rather went out of their own accord, being led by the Holy Ghost.
It goes on: "And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house;" for it is a desirable thing to be saved even naked from such a destruction.
It goes on: "But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days."
Bede: That is, they whose wombs or whose hands, overladen with the burden of children, in no small measure impede their forced flight.
Theophylact: But it seems to me, that in these words He foretells the eating of children, for when afflicted by famine and pestilence, they laid hands on their children.
Gloss.: Again, after having mentioned this double impediment to flight, which might arise either from the desire of taking away property, or from having children to carry, He touches upon the third obstacle, namely, that coming from the season; saying, "And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter."
Theophylact: That is, lest they who wish to fly should be impeded by the difficulties of the season. And He fitly gives the cause for so great a necessity for flight; saying, "For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be."
Augustine, Epist., cxcix, 9: For Josephus, who has written the history of the Jews, relates that such things were suffered by this people, as are scarcely credible, wherefore it is said, not without cause, that there was not such tribulation from the beginning of the creation until now, nor shall ever be. But although in the time of Antichrist there shall be one similar or greater, we must understand that it is of that (p. 262) people, that it is said that there shall never happen such another. For if they are the first and foremost to receive Antichrist, that same people may rather be said to cause than to suffer tribulation.
Bede: The only refuge in such evils is, that God who gives strength to suffer, should abridge the power of inflicting.
Wherefore there follows: "And except that the Lord had shortened those days."
Theophylact: That is, if the Roman war had not been soon finished, "no flesh should be saved;" that is, no Jew should have escaped; "but for the elect's sake, whom He hath chosen," that is, for the sake of the believing Jews, or who were hereafter to believe, "He hath shortened the days," that is, the war was soon finished, for God foresaw that many Jews would believe after the destruction of the city; for which reason He would not suffer the whole race to be utterly destroyed.
Augustine: But some persons more fitly understand that the calamities themselves are signified by days, as evil days are spoken of in other parts of Holy Scripture; for the days themselves are not evil, but what is done in them. The woes themselves therefore are said to be abridged, because through the patience which God gave they felt them less, and then what was great in itself was abridged.
Bede: Or else; these words, "In those days shall be affliction," properly agree with the times of Antichrist, when not only tortures more frequent, and more painful than before are to be heaped on the faithful, but also, what is more terrible, the working of miracles shall accompany those who inflict torments. But in proportion as this tribulation shall be greater than those which preceded, by so much shall it be shorter.
For it is believed, that during three years and a half, as far as may be conjectured from the prophecy of Daniel and the Revelations of John, the Church is to be attacked. In a spiritual sense, however, when we see the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not, that is, heresies and crimes reigning amongst them, who appear to be consecrated by the heavenly mysteries, then whosoever of us remain in Judaea, that is, in the confession of the true faith, ought to mount the higher in virtue, the more men we see following the broad paths of vice.
Pseudo-Jerome: For our flight is to the mountains, that he who has mounted to the heights of virtue may not go down to the depths of sin.
Bede: Then let him who is on (p. 263) the house-top, that is, whose mind rises above carnal deeds, and who lives spiritually, as it were in the free air, not come down to the base acts of his former conversation, nor seek again those things which he had left, the desires of the world or the flesh. For our house either means this world, or that in which we live, our own flesh.
Pseudo-Jerome: "Pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on the sabbath day," that is, that the fruit of our work may not be ended with the end of time; for fruit comes to an end in the winter and time in the sabbath.
Bede: But if we are to understand it of the consummation of the world, He commands that our faith and love for Christ should not grow cold, and that we should not grow lazy and cold in the work of God, by taking a sabbath from virtue.
Theophylact: We must also avoid sin with fervour, and not coldly and quietly.
Pseudo-Jerome: But the tribulation shall be great, and the days short, for the sake of the elect, lest the evil of this time should change their understanding.
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