A SELECT LIBRARY
THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D.,
PROFESSOR OF CHURCH HISTORY IN THE UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY, NEW YORK.
IN CONNECTION WITH A NUMBER OF PATRISTIC SCHOLARS OF EUROPE AND AMERICA
WM. B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING COMPANY
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN
HOMILIES ON THE EPISTLES TO THE EPHESIANS, PHILIPPIANS, COLOSSIANS, THESSALONIANS, AND THE EPISTLES TO TIMOTHY, TITUS, AND PHILEMON
The Oxford Translation Revised, with Additional Notes, By
(Ap Jn a. Broadus, D.D.
President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.
100 in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you, and peace. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father.”
101 Wherefore then, when writing to the Ephesians, and having Timothy with him, did he not include him with himself (in his salutation), known as he was to them and admired, for he says, “Ye know the proof of him, that as a child serveth the father, so he served with me in the Gospel” (Ph 2,22); and again, “I have no man like-minded who will care truly for your state” (Ph 2,20); but here he does associate him with himself? It seems to me, that he was about to send him immediately, and it was superfluous for him to write, who would overtake the letter. For he says, “Him therefore I hope to send forthwith.” (Ph 2,23) But here it was not so; but he had just returned to him, so that he naturally joined in the letter. For he says, “Now when Timothy came from you unto us.” (1Th 3,6) But why does he place Silvanus before him, though he testifies to his numberless good qualities, and prefers him above all? Perhaps Timothy wished and requested him to do so from his great humility; for when he saw his teacher so humble-minded, as to associate his disciple with himself, he would much the more have desired this, and eagerly sought it. For he says,
“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the Church of the Thessalonians.” Here he gives himself no title—not “an Apostle,” not “a Servant”; I suppose, because the men were newly instructed, and had not yet had any experience of him, he does not apply the title; and it was as yet the beginning of his preaching to them.
“To the Church of the Thessalonians,” he says. And well. For it is probable there were few, and they not yet formed into a body; on this account he consoles them with the name of the Church. For where much time had passed, and the congregation of the Church was large, he does not apply this term. But—because the name of the Church is for the most part a name of multitude, and of a system now compacted, on this account he calls them by that name.
“In God the Father,” he says, “and the Lord Jesus Christ.” “Unto the Church of the Thessalonians,” he says, “which is in God.” Behold again the expression, “in,” applied both to the Father and to the Son. For there were many assemblies, both Jewish and Grecian; but he says, “to the (Church) that is in God.” It is a great dignity, and to which there is nothing equal, that it is “in God.” God grant therefore that this Church may be so addressed! But I fear that it is far from that appellation. For if any one were the servant of sin, he cannot be said to be “in God.” If any one walks not according to God, he cannot be said to be “in God.”
“Grace be unto you, and peace.” Do you perceive that the very commencement of his Epistle is with encomiums? “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.” For to give thanks to God for them is the act of one testifying to their great advancement, when they are not only praised themselves, but God also is thanked for them, as Himself having done it all. He teaches them also to be moderate, all but saying, that it is all of the power of God. That he gives thanks for them, therefore, is on account of their good conduct, but that he remembers them in his prayers, proceeds from his love towards them. Then as he often does, he says that he not only remembers them in his prayers, but apart from his prayers. “Remembering without ceasing,” he says, “your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father.” What is remembering without ceasing? Either remembering before God and the Father, or remembering your labor of love that is before God and the Father, or simply, “Remembering you without ceasing.” Then again, that you may not think that this “remembering you without ceasing” is said simply, he has added, “before our God and Father.” And because no one amongst men was praising their actions, no one giving them any reward, he says this, “You labor before God.” What is “the work of faith”? That nothing has turned aside your steadfastness. For this is the work of faith. If thou believest, suffer all things; if thou dost not suffer, thou dost not believe. For are not the things promised such, that he who believes would choose to suffer even ten thousand deaths? The kingdom of heaven is set before him, and immortality, and eternal life. He therefore who believes will suffer all things. Faith then is shown through his works. Justly might one have said, not merely did you believe, but through your works you manifested it, through your steadfastness, through your zeal.
And your labor “of love.” Why? what labor is it to love? Merely to love is no labor at all. But to love genuinely is great labor. For tell me, when a thousand things are stirred up that would draw us from love, and we hold out against them all, is it not labor? For what did not these men suffer, that they might not revolt from their love? Did not they that warred against the Preaching go to Paul’s host, and not having found him, drag Jason before the rulers of the city? (Ac 17,5-6) Tell me, is this a slight labor, when the seed had not yet taken root, to endure so great a storm, so many trials? And they demanded security of him. And having given security, he says, Jason sent away Paul. Is this a small thing, tell me? Did not Jason expose himself to danger for him? and this he calls a labor of love, because they were thus bound to him.
102 And observe: first he mentions their good actions, then his own, that he may not seem to boast, nor yet to love them by anticipation. “And patience,” he says. For that persecution was not confined to one time, but was continual, and they warred not only with Paul, the teacher, but with his disciples also. For if they were thus affected towards those who wrought miracles, those venerable men; what think you were their feelings towards those who dwelt among them, their fellow-citizens, who had all of a sudden revolted from them? Wherefore this also he testifies of them, saying, “For ye became imitators of the Churches of God which are in Judaea.”
“And of hope,” he says, “in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father.” For all these things proceed from faith and hope, so that what happened to them showed not their fortitude only, but that they believed with full assurance in the rewards laid up for them. For on this account God permitted that persecutions should arise immediately, that no one might say, that the Preaching was established lightly or by flattery, and that their fervor might be shown, and that it was not human persuasion, but the power of God, that persuaded the souls of the believers, so that they were prepared even for ten thousand deaths, which would not have been the case, if the Preaching had not immediately been deeply fixed and remained unshaken).
1Th 1,4-5. “Knowing, brethren beloved of God, your election, how that our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; even as ye know what manner of men we showed ourselves among you for your sake.”
Knowing what? How “we showed ourselves among you”? Here he also touches upon his own good actions, but covertly. For he wishes first to enlarge upon their praises, and what he says is something of this sort. I knew that you were men of great and noble sort, that you were of the Elect. For this reason we also endure all things for your sake. For this, “what manner of men we showed ourselves among you,” is the expression of one showing that with much zeal and much vehemence we were ready to give up our lives for your sake; and for this thanks are due not to us, but to you, because ye were elect. On this account also he says elsewhere, “And these things I endure for the Elect’s sake.” (2Tm 2,10) For what would not one endure for the sake of God’s beloved ones? And having spoken of his own part, he all but says, For if you were both beloved and elect, we suffer all things with reason. For not only did his praise of them confirm them, but his reminding them that they too themselves had displayed a fortitude corresponding to their zeal: he says,
1Th 1,6. “And ye became imitators of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.”
Strange! what an encomium is here! The disciples have suddenly become teachers! They not only heard the word, but they quickly arrived at the same height with Paul. But this is nothing; for see how he exalts them, saying, “Ye became imitators of the Lord.” How? “Having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.” Not merely with affliction, but with much affliction. And this we may learn from the Ac of the Apostles, how they raised a persecution against them. () And they troubled all the rulers of the city, and they instigated the city against them. And it is not enough to say, ye were afflicted indeed, and believed, and that grieving, but even rejoicing. Which also the Apostles did: “Rejoicing,” it is said, “that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name.” (Ac 5,41) For it is this that is admirable. Although neither is that a slight matter, in any way to bear afflictions. But this now was the part of men surpassing human nature, and having, as it were, a body incapable of suffering.
But how were they imitators of the Lord? Because He also endured many sufferings, but rejoiced. For He came to this willingly. For our sakes He emptied Himself. He was about to be spit upon, to be beaten and crucified, and He so rejoiced in suffering these things, that He said to the Father, “Glorify Me.” ()
103 “With joy of the Holy Ghost,” he says. That no one may say, how speakest thou of “affliction”? how “of joy”? how can both meet in one? he has added, “with joy of the Holy Ghost.” The affliction is in things bodily, and the joy in things spiritual. How? The things which happened to them were grievous, but not so the things which sprang out of them, for the Spirit does not allow it. So that it is possible both for him who suffers, not to rejoice, when one suffers for his sins; and being beaten to take pleasure, when one suffers for Christ’s sake. For such is the joy of the Spirit. In return for the things which appear to be grievous, it brings out delight. They have afflicted you, he says, and persecuted you, but the Spirit did not forsake you, even in those circumstances. As the Three Children in the fire were refreshed with dew, so also were you refreshed in afflictions. But as there it was not of the nature of the fire to sprinkle dew, but of the “whistling wind,” so also here it was not of the nature of affliction to produce joy, but of the suffering for Christ’s sake, and of the Spirit bedewing them, and in the furnace of temptation setting them at ease. Not merely with joy, he says, but “with much joy.” For this is of the Holy Spirit.
1Th 1,7. “So that ye became ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.”
And yet it was later that he went to them. But ye so shone, he says, that ye became teachers of those who received (the word) before you. And this is like the Apostle. For he did not say, so that ye became ensamples in regard to believing, but ye became an ensample to those who already believed; how one ought to believe in God, ye taught, who from the very beginning entered into your conflict.“And in Achaia,” he says; that is, in Greece.Do you see how great a thing is zeal? that it does not require time, nor delay, nor procrastination, but it is sufficient only to venture one’s self, and all is fulfilled. Thus then though coming in later to the Preaching, they became teachers of those who were before them.
Moral. Let no one therefore despair, even though he has lost much time, and has done nothing. It is possible for him even in a little while to do so much, as he never has done in all his former time. For if he who before did not believe, shone so much at the beginning, how much more those who have already believed! Let no one, again, upon this consideration be remiss, because he perceives that it is possible in a short time to recover everything. For the future is uncertain, and the Day of the Lord is a thief, setting upon us suddenly when we are sleeping. But if we do not sleep, it will not set upon us as a thief, nor carry us off unprepared. For if we watch and be sober, it will not set upon us as a thief, but as a royal messenger, summoning us to the good things prepared for us. But if we sleep, it comes upon us as a thief. Let no one therefore sleep, nor be inactive in virtue, for that is sleep. Do you not know how, when we sleep, our goods are not in safety, how easy they are to be plotted against? But when we are awake, there needs not so much guarding. When we sleep, even with much guarding we often perish. There are doors, and bolts, and guards, and outer guards, and the thief has come upon us.
Why then do I say this? Because, if we wake we shall not need the help of others; but if we sleep, the help of others will profit us nothing, but even with this we perish. It is a good thing to enjoy the prayer of the Saints, but it is when we ourselves also are on the alert. And what need, you say, have I of another’s prayer, if I am on the alert myself. And in sooth, do not place yourself in a situation to need it; I do not wish that you should; but we are always in need of it, if we think rightly. Paul did not say, what need have I of prayer? and yet those who prayed were not worthy of him, or rather not equal to him; and you say, what need have I of prayer? Peter did not say, What need have I of prayer, for “prayer,” it says, “was made earnestly of the Church unto God for him.” (Ac 12,5) And thou sayest, What need have I of prayer? On this account thou needest it, because thou thinkest that thou hast no need. Yea, though thou become as Paul, thou hast need of prayer.Do not exalt thyself, lest thou be humbled.
But, as I said, if we be active also ourselves, the prayers for us avail too. Hear Paul saying, “For I know that this shall turn to my salvation, through your supplication, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” (Ph 1,19) And again, “That for the gift bestowed upon us by means of many, thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf.” (2Co 1,11) Andthou sayest, what need have I of prayer? But if we be idle, no one will be able to profit us. What did Jeremiah profit the Jews? Did he not thrice draw nigh to God, and the third time hear, “Pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer, for I will not hear thee”? (Jr 7,16) What did Samuel profit Saul? Did he not mourn for him even to his last day, and not merely pray for him only? What did he profit the Israelites? Did he not say, “God forbid that I should sin in ceasing to pray for you”? (1S 12,23) Did they not all perish? Do prayers then, you say, profit nothing? They profit even greatly: but it is when we also do something. For prayers indeed coöperate and assist, but a man coöperates with one that is operating, and assists one that is himself also working. But if thou remainest idle, thou wilt receive no great benefit.
104 For if prayers had power to bring us to the kingdom while we do nothing, why do not all the Greeks become Christians? Do we not pray for all the world? Did not Paul also do this? Do we not intreat that all may be converted? Why do not the wicked become good without contributing anything of themselves? Prayers, then, profit greatly, when we also contribute our own parts.
Would you learn how much prayers have profited? consider, I pray, Cornelius, Tabitha. (Ac 10,3 Ac 9,36) Hear also Jacob saying to Laban, “Except the Fear of my father had been with me, surely thou hadst now sent me away empty.” (Gn 31,45) Hear also God again, saying, “I will defend this city for Mine own sake, and for My servant David’s sake.” (2R 9,34) But when? In the time of Hezekiah, who was righteous. Since if prayers availed even for the extremely wicked, why did not God say this also when Nebuchadnezzar came, and why did He give up the city? Because wickedness availed more. Again, Samuel himself also prayed for the Israelites, and prevailed. But when? When they also pleased God, then they put their enemies to flight. And what need, you say, of prayer from another, when I myself please God? Never, O man, say this. There is need, aye, and need of much prayer. For hear God saying concerning the friends of Job; “And he shall pray for you, and your sin shall be forgiven you.” (Jb 42,8) Because they had sinned indeed, but not a great sin. But this just man, who then saved his friends by prayer, in the season of the Jews was not able to save the Jews who were perishing. And that you may learn this, hear God saying through the prophet; “If Noah, Daniel, and Job stood, they shall not deliver their sons and their daughters.” (Ez 14,14 Ez 14,16) Because wickedness prevailed. And again, “Though Moses and Samuel stood.” (Jr 15,1)
And see how this is said to the two Prophets, because both prayed for them, and did not prevail. For Ezekiel says, “Ah Lord, dost thou blot out the residue of Israel?” (Ez 9,8) Then showing that He does this justly, He shows him their sins; and showing that not through despising him does He refuse to accept his supplication for them, he says, Even these things are enough even to persuade thee, that not despising thee, but on account of their many sins, I do not accept thy supplication. Nevertheless He adds, “Though. Noah, Job, and Daniel stood.” (From ((Ez 14) And with good reason does He the rather say this to him, because it is he who suffered so many things. Thou badest me, he says, eat upon dung, and I ate upon it. Thou badest me, and I shaved my head. Thou badest me, and I lay upon one side. Thou badest me go out through a hole in the wall, bearing a burden, and I went out. Thou tookest away my wife, and badest me not mourn, and I did not mourn, but bore it with fortitude. (Ez 24,18) Ten thousand other things have I wrought for their sake: I entreat for them, and dost Thou not comply? Not from despising thee, says he, do I do this, but though Noah, Job, and Daniel were there, and were entreating for sons and daughters, I would not comply.
And again to Jeremiah, who suffered less from the commandments of God, but more from their wickedness, what does He say? “Seest thou not what these do?” (Jr 7,17) “Yea,” he says, “they do so—but do Thou do it for my sake.” On this account He says to him, “Though Moses and Samuel stood.” Their first lawgiver, who often delivered them from dangers, who had said, “If now thou forgivest their sins, forgive it; but if not, blot me out also.” (Ex 32,32), Sept) If therefore he were now alive, and spoke thus, he would not have prevailed,—nor would Samuel, again, who himself also delivered them, and who from his earliest youth was admired. For to the former indeed I said, that I conversed with him as a friend with a friend, and not by dark sayings. And of the latter I said, that in his first youth I was revealed to him, and that on his account, being prevailed upon, I opened the prophecy that had been shut up. For “the word of the Lord,” it is said, “was precious in those days; there was no open vision.” (1S 3,1) If these men, therefore, stood before Me, they would profit nothing. And of Noah He says, “Noah was a righteous man, and perfect in his generations.” (Gn 6,9) And concerning Job, He was “blameless, just, true, fearing God.” (Jb 1,1), Sept) And concerning Daniel, whom they even thought a God.; and they will not deliver, says he, their sons and daughters. Knowing these things, therefore, let us neither despise the prayers of the Saints, nor throw everything upon them: that we may not, on the one hand, be indolent and live carelessly; nor on the other deprive ourselves of a great advantage. But let us both beseech them to pray and lift up the hand for us, and let us adhere to virtue; that we may be able to obtain the blessings promised to those who love Him by the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, &c.
200 not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is gone forth; so that we need not to speak anything. For they themselves report concerning us what manner of entering in we had unto you; and how ye turned unto God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from Heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivereth us from the wrath to come.”
201 As a sweet-smelling ointment keeps not its fragrance shut up in itself, but diffuses it afar, and scenting the air with its perfume, so conveys it also to the senses of the neighbors; so too illustrious and admirable men do not Shut up their virtue within themselves, but by their good report benefit many, and render them better. Which also then happened. Where fore he said, “So that ye became ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.” “For from you,” he says, “hath sounded forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is gone forth.” Ye have filled, therefore, all your neighbors with instruction, and the world with wonder. For this is meant by the expression, “in every place.” And he has not said, your faith is noised abroad, but “has sounded out”; as every place near is filled with the sound of a loud trumpet, so the report of your manfulness is loud, and sounding even like that, is sufficient to fill the world, and to fall with equal sound upon all that are round about. For great actions are more loudly celebrated there, where they have taken place; afar off indeed they are celebrated, but not so much.
But in your case it was not so, but the sound of good report was spread abroad in every part of the earth. And whence know we, says one, that the words were not hyperbolical? For this nation of the Macedonians, before the coming of Christ, was renowned, and celebrated everywhere more than the Romans. And the Romans were admired on this account, that they took them captive. For the actions of the Macedonian king exceeded all report, who, setting out from a little city indeed, yet subdued the world. Wherefore also the Prophet saw him, a winged leopard, showing his swiftness, his vehemence, his fiery nature, his suddenly in a manner flying over the whole world with the trophies of his victory. And they say, that hearing from a certain philosopher, that there were infinite worlds, he groaned bitterly, that when they were numberless, he had not conquered even one. So high-minded was he, and high-souled, and celebrated everywhere. And with the fame of the king the glory of the nation also kept pace. For he was called “Alexander, the Macedonian.” So that what took place there was also naturally much talked of. For nothing can beconcealed that relates to the illustrious. The Macedonians then were not inferior to the Romans.
And this has also arisen from their vehemence. For as if he were speaking of something living, he introduces the word “gone forth”; so vehement and energetic was their faith. “So that we need not to speak anything,” says he, “for they themselves report concerning us what entering in we had unto you.” They do not wait to hear from us, but those who were not present, and have not seen, anticipate those who were present, and have seen your good deeds. So manifest were they everywhere made by report. We shall not therefore need, by relating your actions, to bring them to equal zeal. For the things which they ought to have heard from, us, these they themselves talk of, anticipating: us. And yet in the case of such there is frequently envy, but the exceeding greatness of thething conquered even this, and they are the heralds of your conflicts. And though left behind, not even so are they silenced, but they are beforehand with us. And being such, it is not possible for them to disbelieve our report.
What means, “What manner of entering in we had unto you”? That it was full of dangers, and numberless deaths, but that none of these things troubled you. But as if nothing had happened, so you adhered to us; as if ye had suffered no evil, but had enjoyed infinite good, so you received us after these things. For this was the second entering. They went to Beroea, they were persecuted, and when they came after this they so received them, as though they had been honored by these also, so that they even laid down their lives for them. The expression, “What manner of entering in we had,” is complicated, and contains an encomium both of them and of themselves. But he himself has turned this to their advantage. “And how,” he says, “ye turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God”; that is, that ye did it readily, that ye did it with much eagerness, that it did not require much labor to make you. “In order to serve,” says he, “a living and true God.”
Here also he introduced an exhortation, which is the part of one who would make his discourse less offensive. “And to wait,” he says, “for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivereth us from the wrath to come.” “And to wait,” he says, “for His Son from heaven”; Him that was crucified, Him that was buried; to wait for Him from heaven. And how “from heaven”? “Whom He raised from the dead.” You see all things at the same time; both the Resurrection, and the Ascension, and the second Coming, the Judgment, the retribution of the just, the punishment of the wicked. “Jesus,” he says, “which delivereth us from the wrath to come.” This is at once comfort, and exhortation, and encouragement. For if He raised Him from the dead, and He is in heaven, and thence will come, (and ye believed in Him; for if ye had not believed in Him, ye would not have suffered so much), this of itself is sufficient comfort. These shall suffer punishment, which he says in his second epistle, and you will have no small consolation.
And to “wait,” he says, “for His Son from heaven.” The terrible things are in hand, but the good things are in the future, when Christ shall come from heaven. See how much hope is required, in that He who was crucified has been raised, that He has been taken up into heaven, that He will come to judge the quick and the dead.
202 1Th 2,1-2. “For yourselves, brethren, know our entering in unto you, that it hath not been found vain: but having suffered before, and been shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we waxed bold in our God to speak unto you the Gospel of God in much conflict.”
Great indeed were your actions also, but yet neither did we have recourse to human speech. But what he says above, that also he repeats here, that from both sides is shown what was the nature of the Preaching, from the miracles, and from the resolution of the preachers, and from the zeal and fervor of those who received it. “For yourselves,” he says, “know our entering in unto you, that it hath not been found vain,” that is, that it was not according to man,nor of any common kind. For being fresh from great dangers, and deaths, and stripes, we immediately fell into dangers. “But,” he says, “having suffered before, and been shamefully entreated; as ye know, at Philippi, we waxed bold in our God.” Do you see how again he refers the whole to God? “To speak unto you,” says he, “the Gospel of God in much conflict.” It is not possible to say, that there indeed we were in danger, but here we are not; yourselves also know, how great was the danger, with how much contention we were among you. Which also he says in his Epistle to the Corinthians; “And I was with you in weakness,” and in labor, “and in fear, and in much trembling.” (1Co 2,3)
Do you see that, as I said, from their perseverance he makes a proof that the Preaching is divine? For, if it were not so, if it were a deceit, we should not have endured so many dangers, which allowed us not even to take breath. You were in tribulation, we were in tribulation. What then was it? Unless somewhat of things future had excited us, unless we had been persuaded that there is a good hope, we should not have been filled with the more alacrity by suffering. For who would have chosen for the sake of what we have here to endure so many sufferings, and to live a life of anxiety, and full of dangers? For whom would they persuade? For are not these things of themselves enough to trouble the disciples, when they see their teachers in dangers? But this was not your case.
“For our exhortation,” that is, our teaching, “is not of error.” The matter, he says, is not guile nor deceit, that we should give it up. It is not for things abominable, as the tricks of jugglers and sorcerers. “And of uncleanness,” says he, “nor in guile,” nor for any insurrection, like what Theudas did. “But even as we have been approved of God to be entrusted with the Gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God.” Do you see, that it is not vainglory? “But God,” he says, “which proveth our hearts.” We do nothing for the sake of pleasing men, he says. For on whose account should we do these things? Then having praised them, he says, Not as wishing to please men, nor seeking the honors that are from men, he adds, “But as we have been approved of God to be entrusted with the Gospel.” Unless He had seen that we were free from every worldly consideration, He would not have chosen us. As therefore He approved us, such we remain, as having been “approved of God.” Whence did he approve us, and entrust us with the Gospel? We appeared to God approved, so we remain. It is a proof of our virtue, that we areentrusted with the Gospel; if there had been anything bad in us, God would not have approved us. But the expression that He approved us, does not here imply search. But what we do upon proving, that he does without proving. That is, as he found us proof, and trusted us, so we speak; as it is reasonable that those should, who are approved and entrusted to be worthy of the Gospel, so we speak, “not as pleasing men,” that is, not on your account do we do all these things. Because previously he had praised them, that he might not bring his speech under suspicion, he says,
1Th 2,5-6. “For neither at any time were we found using words of flattery, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness, God is witness; nor seeking glory of men, neither from you, nor from others, when we might have been burdensome, as Apostles of Christ.”
For “neither at any time,” he says, “were we found using words of flattery”; that is, we did not flatter, which is the part of deceivers, who wish to get possession and to domineer. No one can say that we flattered in order to rule, nor that we had recourse to it for the sake of wealth. Of this, which was manifest, he afterwards calls them to be witnesses. “Whether we flattered,” he says, “ye know.” But as to what was uncertain, namely, whether it were in the way of covetousness, he calls God to witness. “Nor seeking glory of men, neither from you, nor from others, when we might have been burdensome, as Apostles of Christ;” that is, not seeking after honors either, nor boasting ourselves, nor requiring attendance of guards. And yet even if we had done this, we should have done nothing out of character. For if persons sent forth by kings are nevertheless in honor, much more might we be. And he has riot said, that “we were dishonored,” nor that “we did not enjoy honors,” which would have been to reproach them, but “we did not seek them.” We therefore, who, when we might have sought them, sought them not, even when the preaching required it, how should we do anything for the sake of glory? And yet even if we had sought them, not even in that case would there have been any blame. For it is fit that those men who are sent forth from God, as ambassadors now coming from heaven, should enjoy great honor.
But with an excess of forbearance we do none of these things, that we may stop the mouths of the adversaries. And it cannot be said, that to you we act thus, but not so others. For thus also he said in his Epistle to the Corinthians: “For ye bear with a man if he bringeth you into bondage, if he devoureth you, if he taketh you captive, if he exalteth himself, if he smiteth you on the face.” (2Co 11,20) And again, “His bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” (2Co 10,10) And again, “Forgive me this wrong.” (2Co 12,13) He shows there also that he was exceeding humble from his suffering so many things. But here he also says concerning money, “when we might have been burdensome, as Apostles of Christ.”
203 1Th 2,7-8. “But we were gentle in the midst of you, as when a nurse cherisheth her own children: even so, being affectionately desirous of you, we were well pleased to impart unto you, not the Gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were become very dear to us.”
“But we were gentle,” he says; we exhibited nothing that was offensive or troublesome, nothing displeasing, or boastful. And the expression “in the midst of you,” is as if one should say, we were as one of you, not taking the higher lot. “As when a nurse cherisheth her own children.” So ought the teacher to be. Does the nurse flatter that she may obtain glory? Does she ask money of her little children? Is she offensive or burdensome to them? Are they not more indulgent to them than mothers? Here he shows his affection. “Even so, being affectionately desirous of you,” he says, we are so bound to you, he says, and we not only take nothing of you, but if it be necessary even to impart to you our souls, we should not have refused. Tell me, then, is this of a human view? and who is so foolish as to say this? “We were well pleased to impart to you,” he says, “not the Gospel of God only, but also our own souls.” So that this is greater than the other. And what is the gain? For from the Gospel is gain, but to give our souls, is with respect to difficulty a greater thing than that. For merely to preach is not the same thing as to give the soul. For that indeed is more precious, but the latter is a matter of more difficulty. We were willing, he says, if it were possible, even to spend our souls upon you. And this we should have been willing to do; for if we had not been willing, we should not have endured the necessity. Since then he praised, and does praise, on this account he says, that, not seeking money, nor flattering you, nor desiring glory, do we do this. For observe; they had contended much, and so ought to be praised and admired even extraordinarily, that they might be more firm; the praise was suspicious. On this account he says all these things, by way of repelling the suspicion. And he also mentions the dangers. And again, that he may not be thought to speak of the dangers on this account, as if laboring for them, and claiming to be honored by them, therefore again, as he had to mention the dangers, he added, “Because ye were become very dear to us”; we would willingly have given our souls for you, because we were vehemently attached to you. The Gospel indeed we proclaim, because God commanded it; but so much do we love you, that, if it were possible, we would have given even our souls.
(He who loves, ought so to love, that if he were asked even for his soul, and it were possible, he would not refuse it. I do not say “if he were asked,” but so that he would even run to present him with the gift. For nothing, nothing can be sweeter than such love; nothing will fall out there that is grievous. Truly “a faithful friend is the medicine of life.” (Si 6,16). Truly “a faithful friend is a strong defense.” (Si 6,14) For what will not a genuine friend perform? What pleasure will he not afford? what benefit? what security? Though you should name infinite treasures, none of them is comparable to a genuine friend. And first let us speak of the great delight of friendship itself. A friend rejoices at seeing his friend, and expands with joy. He is knit to him with an union of soul that affords unspeakable pleasure. And if he only calls him to remembrance, he is roused in mind, and transported.
I speak of genuine friends, men of one soul, who would even die for each other, who love fervently. Do not, thinking of those who barely love, who are table-companions, mere nominal friends, suppose that my discourse is refuted. If any one has a friend such as I speak of, he will acknowledge the truth of my words. He, though he sees his friend every day, is not satiated. For him he prays for the same things as for himself. I know one, who calling upon holy men in behalf of his friend, besought them to pray first for him, and then for himself. So dear a thing is a good friend, that times and places are loved on his account. For as bodies that are luminous spread their radiance to the neighboring places, so also friends leave a grace of their own in the places to which they have come. And oftentimes in the absence of friends, as we have stood on those places, we have wept, and remembering the days which we passed together, have sighed. It is not possible to represent by speech, how great a pleasure the intercourse with friends affords. But those only know, who have experience. From a friend we may both ask a favor, and receive one without suspicion. When they enjoin anything upon us, then we feel indebted to them; but when they are slow to do this, then we are sorrowful. We have nothing which is not theirs. Often despising all things here, on their account we are not willing to depart hence; and they are more longed for by us than the light.
204 For, in good truth, a friend is more to be longed for than the light; I speak of a genuine one. And wonder not: for it were better for us that the sun should be extinguished, than that we should be deprived of friends; better to live in darkness, than to be without friends. And I will tell you why. Because many who see the sun are in darkness, but they can never be even in tribulation, who abound in friends. I speak of spiritual friends, who prefer nothing to friendship. Such was Paul, who would willingly have given his own soul, even though not asked, nay would have plunged into hell for them.With so ardent a disposition ought we to love.
I wish to give you an example of friendship. Friends, that is, friends according to Christ, surpass fathers and sons. For tell me not of friends of the present day, since this good thing also has past away with others. But consider, in the time of the Apostles, I speak not of the chief men, but of the believers themselves generally; “all,” he says, “were of one heart and soul: and not one of them said that aught of the things which he possessed was his own …and distribution was made unto each, according as any one had need.” (Ac 4,32 Ac 32,35) There were then no such words as “mine” and “thine.” This is friendship, that a man should not consider his goods his own, but his neighbor’s, that his possessions belong to another; that he should be as careful of his friend’s soul, as of his own; and the friend likewise.
And where is it possible, somebody says, that such an one should be found? Because we have not the will; for it is possible. If it were not possible, neither would Christ have commanded it; he would not have discoursed so much concerning love. A great thing is friendship, and how great, no one can learn, and no discourse represent, but experience itself. It is this that has caused the heresies. This makes the Greeks to be Greeks. He who loves does not wish to command, nor to rule, but is rather obliged when he is ruled and commanded. He wishes rather to bestow a favor than to receive one, for he loves, and is so affected, as not having satisfied his desire. He is not so much gratified when good is done to him, as when he is doing good. For he wishes to oblige, rather than to be indebted to him; or rather he wishes both to be beholden to him, and to have him his debtor. And he wishes both to bestow favors, and not to seem to bestow them, but himself to be the debtor. I think that perhaps many of you do not understand what has been said. He wishes to be the first in bestowing benefits, and not to seem to be the first, but to be returning a kindness. Which God also has done in the case of men. He purposed to give His own Son for us; but that He might not seem to bestow a favor, but to be indebted to us, He commanded Abraham to offer his son, that whilst doing a great kindness, He might seem to do nothing great.
For when indeed there is no love, we both upbraid men with our kindnesses and we exaggerate little ones; but when there is love, we both conceal them and wish to make the great appear small, that we may not seem to have our friend for a debtor, but ourselves to be debtors to him, in having him our debtor. I know that the greater part do not understand what is said, and the cause is, that I am speaking of a thing which now dwells in heaven. As therefore if I were speaking of any plant growing in India, of which no one had ever had any experience, nospeech would avail to represent it, though I should utter ten thousand words: so also now whatever things I say, I say in vain, for no one will be able to understand me. This is a plant that is planted in heaven, having for its branches not heavy-clustered pearls, but a virtuous life, much more acceptable than they. What pleasure would you speak of, the foul and the honorable? But that of friendship excelleth them all, though you should speak of the sweetness of honey. For that satiates, but a friend never does, so long as he is a friend; nay, the desire of him rather increases, and such pleasure never admits of satiety. And a friend is sweeter than the present life. Many therefore after the death of their friends have not wished to live any longer. With a friend one would bear even banishment; but without a friend would not choose to inhabit even his own country. With a friend even poverty is tolerable, but without him both health and riches are intolerable. He has another self: I am straitened, because I cannot instance by an example. For I should in that case make it appear that what has been said is much less than it ought to be.
And these things indeed are so here. But from God the reward of friendship is so great, that it cannot be expressed. He gives a reward, that we may love one another, the thing for which we owe a reward. “Pray,” He says, “and receive a reward,” for that for which we owe a reward, because we ask for good things. “For that which you ask,” He says, “receive a reward. Fast, and receive a reward. Be virtuous, and receive a reward,” though you rather owe a reward. But as fathers, when they have made their children virtuous, then further give them a reward; for they are debtors, because they have afforded them a pleasure; so also God acts. “Receive a reward,” He says, “if thou be virtuous, for thou delightest thy Father, and for this I owe thee a reward. But if thou be evil, not so: for thou provokest Him that begot thee.” Let us not then provoke God, but let us delight Him, that we may obtain the kingdom of Heaven, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be the glory and the strength, world without end. Amen.