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Transliteration of Greek words: All phonetical except: w = omega; h serves
three puposes: 1. = Eta; 2. = rough breathing, when appearing initially
before a vowel; 3. = in the aspirated letters theta = th, phi = ph, chi =
ch. Accents are given immediately after their corresponding vowels: acute =
' , grave = `, circumflex = ^. The character ' doubles as an apostrophe,
ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
HOMILIES ON FIRST CORINTHIANS, 36-44
[Translated by the Rev. Hubert Kestell Cornish, M.A., late Fellow of Exeter
College, and the Rev. John Medley, M.A., of Wadham College, Vicar of St.
Thomas, in the city of Exeter; revised by the Rev. Talbot W. Chambers,
D.D., Pastor of the Collegiate Reformed Dutch Church, New York.]
HOMILY XXXVI: 1 Cor. xiv. 20.
Brethren, be not children in mind; howbeit in malice be ye babes, but in
mind be men.
As might be expected, after his long argument and demonstration he
adopts a more vehement style and abundance of rebuke; and mentions an
example suited to the subject. For children too are wont to gape after
trifles and to be fluttered, but of things very great they have not so much
admiration. Since then these also having the gift of tongues, which has the
lowest of all, thought they had the whole; therefore he saith, "Be not
children," i. e., be not without understanding where ye ought to be
considerate, but there be ye childlike and simple, where unrighteousness
is, where vain-glory, where pride. For he that is a babe in wickedness
ought also to be wise. Since as wisdom with wickedness would not be wisdom,
so also simplicity with folly would not be simplicity, it being requisite
both in simplicity to avoid folly, and in wisdom wickedness. For as neither
bitter nor sweet medicines in excess do good, so neither doth simplicity by
itself, nor wisdom: and this is why Christ enjoining us to mix both said,
"Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." (Matt. x. 16.)
But what is it to be a babe in wickedness? Not even to know what
wickedness is: yea, such he willed them to be. Wherefore also he said, "It
is actually reported that there is fornication among you." (1 Cor. v. 1.)
He said not, "is done," but is "reported:" as if he said, "ye are not
without knowledge of the thing; ye have heard of it some time." I say, he
would have them both to be men and children; the one however in wickedness,
but the other in wisdom. For so even the man may become a man, if he be
also a child: but as long as he is not a child in wickedness, neither will
he be a man. For the wicked, instead of being mature, will be but a fool.
Ver. 21. "In the law it written, By men of strange tongues and by the
lips of strangers will I speak unto this people; and not even thus will
they hear me, saith the Lord."
Yet surely it is no where written in the Law, but as I said before, he
calls always the whole of the Old Testament, the Law: both the prophets and
the historical books And he brings forward his testimony from Esaias the
prophet, again covertly detracting from the glory of the gift, for their
profit; nevertheless, even thus he states it with praise. For the
expression, "not even thus," hath force to point out that the miracle was
enough to astonish them; and if they did not believe, the fault was theirs.
And wherefore did God work it, if they were not to believe? That He might
in every case appear to do His part.
[2.] Having shown then even from the prophecy, that the sign in
question is not of great use, he adds,
Ver. 22. "Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe,
but to the unbelieving: but prophesying is for a sign not to the
unbelieving, but to them that believe."
Ver. 23. "If therefore the whole Church be assembled together, and all
speak with tongues, and there come in men unlearned or unbelieving, will
they not say that ye are mad?"
Ver. 24. "But if all prophesy, and there come in one unbelieving or
unlearned, he is reproved by all, he is judged by all:"
Ver. 25. "And thus the secrets of his heart are made manifest; and so
he will fall down on his face and worship God, declaring that God is among
Great in this place is the difficulty which one seems to find arising
from what is said. For if tongues are for a sign to them that believe not,
how saith he, if they that believe not should see you speaking with
tongues, they will say that "ye are mad?" And if prophecy be "not for the
unbelieving, but for them that believe," how shall also the unbelievers
"For if there come in," saith he, "when ye are prophesying, one that
believeth not, he is reproved by all, and judged."
And not only this, but also after this another question hence springs
up: since the tongue will appear on the contrary greater than the prophecy.
For if the tongues are for a sign to the unbelieving, but prophecy to them
that believe, that which draws in aliens and makes of the household, is
greater than that which regulates those of the household. What then is the
meaning of that expression? Nothing difficult nor obscure, nor contrary to
what went before, but rather very agreeable to it, if we give heed: viz.,
that prophecy is suitable to both, but then tongue not so. Wherefore having
said of the tongue, "it is for a sign," he adds, "not to them that believe,
but to the unbelievers," and to them "for a sign," i. e., for astonishment,
not so much for instruction.
"But in the case of prophecy too," saith some one, "he did the very
same thing, saying, 'but prophesying serveth not for the unbelieving, but
for them which believe.' For the believer hath no need to see a sign, but
requires only teaching and catechizing. How then sayest thou," saith he,"
that prophecy is of use to both, when Paul saith 'not to the unbelieving,
but to them which believe?'" If thou wilt accurately examine, thou wilt
understand what is said. For he said not, "prophecy is not useful to them
unbelieving," but, "is not for a sign," as the tongue," i.e., a mere sign
without profit: nor is the tongue any way useful to believers; for its only
work is to astonish and to confound; the word "sign" bring one of those
which may be taken two ways: as when he saith, "show me a sign,"(Ps.
lxxxvi. 17.) and adds, "for good:" and again, "I am become as a wonder unto
many," (Ps. lxxi. 7.) i. e., a sign.
And to show thee that he introduced the term "sign" here, not as a
thing which of course did some good, he added that which resulted from it.
And what was this? "They will say," saith he, "that ye are mad" This
however not from the nature of the sign, but from their folly. But when
thou hearer of unbelievers, do not suppose that the same persons are in
every case intended, but at one time they which are incurably diseased and
abide uncorrected, and at another they which may be changed; such as were
they who in the times of the Apostles admire the mighty things of God which
they hear of; such as in the case of Cornelius. His meaning accordingly is
this; that prophecy avails both among the unbelieving and among them that
believe: as to the tongue, when heard by the unbelieving and inconsiderate,
instead of profiting by it, they rather deride the utterers as madmen. For,
in fact, it is to them but for a sign, i.e., in order to astonish them
merely; whereas they who had understanding used also to profit by it: with
a view to which the sign was given. Even as then there were not only
certain who accused them of drunkenness, but many also admired them as
relating the wonderful works of God. It appears then that the mockers were
those without understanding. Wherefore also Paul did not simply say, "they
will say that ye are mad," but added, "unlearned and unbelievers."
But prophecy is not for a sign merely, but is also suitable and useful
for faith and for profit unto both classes. And this, if not directly, yet
in the sequel he more clearly explained, saying, "he is reproved by all.
For, if all prophesy," saith he, "and there come in one unbelieving or
unlearned, he is reproved by all; he is judged by all; and thus are the
secrets of his heart made manifest; and so he will fall down on his face
and worship God, declaring that God is among you indeed."
So that not in this only is prophecy greater, in its availing with each
class(1), but also in its attracting the more shameless of the unbelievers.
For it was not the same wonder, when Peter convicted(2) Sapphira, which was
a work of prophecy, and when he spake with tongues: but in the former case
all shrank into themselves; whereas, when he spake with tongues, he got the
credit of being even beside himself.
[3.] Having said then, that a tongue profited not, and having again
qualified(3) this statement by turning the charge upon the Jews, he
proceeds to signify that it even doth injury. "And wherefore was it given?"
That it might go forth with interpretation: since without this, it hath
even the contrary effect among them that are without understanding. "For
if," saith he, "all speak with tongues, and there come in unbelievers or
unlearned, they will say that ye are mad;" as indeed even the Apostles
incurred the suspicion of being drunken: for "these men," it saith, "are
filled with new wine: (Acts ii. 13.) but it is not the fault of the sign,
but of their unskilfulness; therefore he added, "unlearned and
unbelievers," to show that the notion belongs to their ignorance and want
of faith; for, as I before said, his object is to rank that gift not among
things that are disparaged, but among those which do not greatly profit,
and this, in order to repress them, and bring them to a necessity of
seeking for an interpreter. For since the greater part looked not to this,
but made use of it for display and rivalry, this is what he especially
withdraws them from, intimating that their credit is injured, they bringing
on themselves a suspicion of madness. And this especially is what Paul
continually attempts to establish, when he wants to lead men away from any
thing: he shows that the person suffers loss in respect of those very
things which he desires.
And do thou accordingly likewise: if thou wouldest lead men away from
pleasure, show that the thing is bitter: if thou wouldest withdraw them
from vain-glory, show that the thing is full of dishonor: thus also was
Paul used to do. When he would tear away the rich from their love of money,
he said not merely that wealth is a hurtful thing, but also that it casts
into temptations. "For they that desire to be rich," saith he," fall into a
temptation." (1 Tim. vi. 9.) Thus, since it seems to deliver from
temptations, he attributes to it the contrary of that which the rich
supposed. Others again held fast by the wisdom that is without, as though
by it establishing Christ's doctrine; he signifies that not only it gives
no aid to the cross, but even makes it void. They held to going to law
before strangers, thinking it unmeet to be judged by their own, as if those
without were wiser: he points out that going to law before them that are
without is shameful. They clave to things offered in sacrifice to idols, as
displaying perfect knowledge: he intimates that this is a mark of imperfect
knowledge, not to know how to manage in the things which concern our
neighbors. So also here, because they were wild(4) about this gift of
tongues, through their love of glory, he signifies that this on the other
hand more than any thing brings shame upon them, not only depriving them of
glory, but also involving them in a suspicion of madness. But he did not at
once say this, but having spoken very many things before, when he had made
his discourse acceptable, then he brings in that topic so very contrary to
their opinion. And this in fact is no more than the common rule; that he
who intends thoroughly to shake a deep-rooted opinion and to turn men round
to its contrary, must not at once state the opposites: otherwise he will be
ridiculous in the eyes of them that are preoccupied by the contrary
conviction. Since that which is very much beside expectation cannot be from
the beginning easily received, but you must first well undermine by other
arguments, and then give it the contrary turn.
Thus for example he did when discoursing of marriage: I mean, since
many regarded it as a thing which brings ease, and he wished to intimate
that the abstaining from marriage was ease; if he had said this at once he
would not so easily have made it acceptable: whereas now, having stated it
after much other matter and timing its introduction exactly, he strongly
touched the hearers. This also he did in respect of virginity. For before
this having said much, and after this again, at last he saith, "I spare
you," and, "I would have you to be free from cares." (1 Cor. vii. 28, 32.)
This then he doth in respect of the tongues, showing that they not only
deprive of glory, but also bring shame upon those who have them in the eyes
of the unbelievers. But prophecy, on the contrary, is both free from
reproach among the unbelievers, and hath very great credit and usefulness.
For none will say in regard to prophesying, "they are mad;" nor will any
one deride them that prophesy; but, on the contrary, will be astonished at
and admire them. For "he is reproved by all," i. e., the things which he
hath in his heart, are brought forward and shown unto all: now it is not
the same thing for any one to come in and see one speaking in Persian and
another in Syriac, and to come in and hear the secrets of his own mind; as
whether he cometh in as a tempter and with evil mind, or sincerely; or that
such and such a thing hath been done by him, and such another designed. For
this is much more awful and more profitable than the other. For this cause
therefore, whereas of the tongues he saith, "ye are mad;" not however
affirming this of himself, but of their judgment: i. e., "they will say,"
saith he, "that ye are mad;" here, on the contrary, he makes use both of
the verdict of the facts(1), and that of those who are the objects of the
benefit. "For he is reproved by all," saith he, "he is judged by all; and
thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so he will fall down
on his face and worship God, declaring that God is around you indeed. Seest
thou that this is not capable of two interpretations: how in the former
case what is done may be doubted of, and here and there an unbeliever might
ascribe it to madness? whereas here there will be no such thing, but he
will both wonder and worship, first making a confession by his deeds, and
then by his words also. Thus also Nebuchadnezzar worshipped God, saying,
"Of a truth, your God, He is the God that revealeth secrets, seeing thou
couldest reveal this secret." (Dan. ii. 47.) Seest thou the might of
prophecy, how it changed that savage one and brought him under instruction
and introduced him to faith?
[4.] Ver. 26. "What is it then, brethren? When ye come together, each
one hath a psalm, hath a teaching, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath
an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying."
Seest thou the foundation and the rule of Christianity? how, as it is
the artificer's work to build, so it is the Christian's to profit his
neighbors in all things.
But since he had vehemently run down the gift; lest it might seem to be
superfluous, for with a view to pull down their pride and no more, he did
this:--again he reckons it with the other gifts, saying, "hath a psalm,
hath a teaching, hath a tongue." For of old they used also to make psalms
by a gift and to teach by a gift. Nevertheless, "let all these look to one
thing," saith he, "the correction of their neighbor: let nothing be done at
random. For if thou comest not to edify thy brother, why dost thou come
here at all? In fact, I do not make much account of the difference of the
gifts. One thing concerns me, one thing is my desire, to do all things
"unto edifying." Thus also he that hath the lesser gift will outrun him
that hath the greater, if this be not wanting. Yea, therefore are the gifts
bestowed, that each might be edified; since unless this take place, the
gift will rather turn to the condemnation of the receiver. For what, tell
me, is the use of prophesying? What is the use of raising the dead, when
there is none who profits by it? But if this be the end of the gifts, and
if it be possible to effect it in another way without gifts, boast not
thyself on the score of the signs, nor do thou bewail thyself to whom the
gifts are denied.
[5.] Ver. 27. "And if any man speaketh in a tongue, let it be by two,
or at the most by three, and that in turn; and let one interpret."
Ver. 28. "But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the
Church; and let him speak to himself, and to God."
What sayest thou, tell me? Having spoken so much of tongues, that the
gift is a thing unprofitable, a thing superfluous, if it have no
interpreter, dost thou command again to speak with tongues? I do not
command, saith he, neither do I forbid; as when he saith, "if any of them
that believe not bid you to a feast and ye be disposed to go," he saith it
not laying down a law for them to go, but not hindering them: so likewise
here. "And let him speak. to himself and to God." If he endure not to be
silent, saith he, but is so ambitious and vain-glorious, "let him speak by
himself.(2) " And thus, by the very fact of so permitting, he greatly
checked and put them to shame. Which he doth also elsewhere, discoursing
of converse with a wife and saying, "But this I say because of your
incontinency." But not so did he speak, when he was discoursing of
prophecy. How then? In a tone of command and legislation: "Let the prophets
speak, two or three." And he no where here seeks the interpreter, nor doth
he stop the mouth of him that prophesies as under the former head, saying,
"If there be no interpreter, let him keep silence;" because in fact he who
speaks in a tongue is not sufficient of himself. Wherefore if any hath both
gifts, let him speak. But if he hath not, yet wish to speak, let him do so
with the interpreter's aid. For the prophet is an interpreter, but of God;
whereas thou art of man. "But if there be no interpreter, let him keep
silence:" for nothing ought to be done superfluously, nothing for ambition.
Only "let him speak to himself and to God;" i.e., mentally, or quietly and
without noise: at least, if he will speak. For this is surely not the tone
of one making a law, but it may be of one who shames them more even by his
permission; as when he saith, "but if any hunger, let him eat at home:" and
seeming to give permission, he touches them hereby the more sharply. "For
ye come not together for this purpose," saith he, "that ye may show that ye
have a gift, but that ye may edify the hearers;" which also he before said,
"Let all things be done unto edifying."
[6.] Ver. 29. "Let the prophets speak by two or three, and let the
No where hath he added, "at the most," as in the case of the tongues.
And how is this, one saith? For he makes out that neither is prophesy
sufficient in itself, if at least he permitteth the judgment to others.
Nay, surely it is quite sufficient; and this is why he did not stop the
mouth of the prophet, as of the other, when there is no interpreter; nor,
as in his case he said, "if there be no interpreter let him keep silence,"
so also in the case of the prophet, "if there be none to discern, let him
not prophesy;" but he only secured the hearer; since for the satisfaction
of the hearers he said this, that no diviner might throw himself in among
them. For of this also at the beginning he bade them beware, when he
introduced a distinction between divination and prophecy, and now he bids
them discriminate and spy out the matter, so that no Satanic teacher might
Ver. 30. "But if a revelation he made to another sitting by, let the
first keep silence."
Ver. 31. "For ye all can prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and
all may be comforted."
What may this be which is spoken? "If when thou prophesiest," saith he,
"and art speaking, the spirit of another stir him up, be silent
thenceforth." For that which he said in the case of the tongues, this also
here he requires, that it should be done "in turn," only in a diviner way
here. For he made not use of the very expression, "in turn(1)?" but "if a
revelation be made to another." Since what need was there further, that
when the second was moved to prophesy the first should speak? Ought they
then both? Nay, this were profane and would produce confusion. Ought the
first? This too were out of place. For to this end when the one was
speaking, the Spirit moved the other, in order that he too might say
So then, comforting him that had been silenced, he saith, "For ye all
can prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted."
Seest thou how again he states the reason wherefore he doeth all things?
For if him that speaks with tongues he altogether forbid to speak, when he
hath not an interpreter, because of the unprofitableness; reasonably also
he bids restrain prophecy, if it have not this quality, but createth
confusion and disturbance and unseasonable tumult.
Ver. 32. "And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets."
Seest thou how he put him to shame earnestly and fearfully? For that
the man might not strive nor be factious, he signifies that the gift itself
was under subjection. For by "spirit" here, he means its actual working.
But if the spirit be subject, much more thou its possessor canst not justly
[7.] Then he signifies that this is pleasing also to God, subjoining
Ver. 33. "For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace, as [1 teach]
in all the Churches of the saints."(2)
Seest thou by how many reasons he leads him to silence and soothes him,
in the act of giving way to the other? By one thing and that the chief,
that he was not shut up by such a proceeding; "for ye all can prophesy,"
saith he, "one by one." By a second, that this seems good to the Spirit
Himself; "for the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets."
Besides these, that this is according to the mind of God; "for God," saith
he, "is not a God of confusion, but of peace:" and by a fourth, that in
every part of the world this custom prevails, and no strange thing is
enjoined upon them. For thus, saith he, "I teach in all the Churches of the
What now can be more awful than these things? For in truth the Church
was a heaven then, the Spirit governing all things, and moving each one of
the rulers and making him inspired. But now we retain only the symbols of
those gifts. For now also we speak two or three, and in turn, and when one
is silent, another begins. But these are only signs and memorials of those
things. Wherefore when we begin to speak, the people respond, "with thy
Spirit(3)," indicating that of old they thus used to speak, not of their
own wisdom, but moved by the Spirit. But not so now: (I speak of mine own
case so far.) But the present Church is like a woman who hath fallen from
her former prosperous days, and in many respects retains the symbols only
of that ancient prosperity; displaying indeed the repositories and caskets
of her golden ornaments, but bereft of her wealth: such an one doth the
present Church resemble. And I say not this in respect of gifts: for it
were nothing marvelous if it were this only: but in respect also of life
and virtue. Thus the list of her widows, and the choir of her virgins, then
gave great ornament to the churches: but now she is made desolate and void,
and the tokens only remain. There are indeed widows now, there are also
virgins; but they retain not that adornment which women should have who
prepare themselves for such wrestlings. For the special distinction of the
virgin is the caring for the things of God alone, and the waiting on Him
without distraction: and the widow's mark too should be not so much the not
engaging in a second marriage, as the other things, charity to the poor,
hospitality, continuing instant in prayers, all those other things, which
Paul writing to Timothy requires with great exactness. One may see also the
married women exhibiting among us great seemliness. But this is not the
only thing required, but rather that sedulous attention to the needy,
through which those women of old shone out most brightly. Not as the
generality now-a-days. For then instead of gold they were clothed with the
fair array of almsgiving: but now, having left off this, they are decked
out on every side with cords of gold woven of the chain of their sins.
Shall I speak of another repository too emptied of its hereditary
splendor? They all met together in old time and sang psalms in common. This
we do also now: but then among all was there one soul and one heart: but
now not in one single soul can one see that unanimity, rather great is the
warfare every where.
"Peace," even now, "to all,"(1) he that presides in the Church prays
for, entering as it were into his Father's house: but of this peace the
name is frequent, but the reality no where.
[8.] Then the very houses were churches: but now the church itself is
a house, or rather worse than any house. For in a house one may see much
good order: since both the mistress of the house is seated on her chair
with all seemliness, and the maidens weave in silence, and each of the
domestics hath his appointed task in hand. But here great is the tumult,
great the confusion, and our assemblies differ in nothing from a vintner's
shop, so loud is the laughter, so great the disturbance; as in baths, as in
markets, the cry and tumult is universal. And these things are here only:
since elsewhere it is not permitted even to address one's neighbor in the
church, not even if one have received back a long absent friend, but these
things are done without, and very properly. For the church is no barber's
or perfumer's shop, nor any other merchant's warehouse in the market-place,
but a place of angels, a place of archangels, a palace of God, heaven
itself. As therefore if one had parted the heaven and had brought thee in
thither, though thou shouldest see thy father or thy brother, thou wouldest
not venture to speak; so neither here ought one to utter any other sound
but these which are spiritual. For, in truth, the things in this place are
also a heaven.
And if thou believest not, look to this table, call to mind for Whose
sake it is set, and why: consider Who it is that is coming forth here;
tremble with awe even before the time. For so, when one sees the throne
only of a king, in heart he rises up, expecting the king's coming forth.
And do thou accordingly thrill with awe even before that thrilling moment:
raise up thyself, and before thou seest the veils drawn aside and the choir
of angels marching forth, ascend thou to the very heaven.
But the uninitiated knows not these things. Well then, it is necessary
with a view to him also to introduce other topics. For neither towards him
shall we want reasons able to stir him up thoroughly and cause him to soar.
Thou then who knowest not these things, when thou shalt hear the
prophet(2) saying, "Thus saith the Lord," quit the earth, ascend thou also
unto heaven, consider who it is that by him discourses with thee.
But as things are, for a buffoon who is moving laughter or for a
whorish and abandoned woman, so vast an assemblage of spectators is set,
listening in entire quietness to what is spoken, and this when none
commands silence(3); and there is neither tumult, nor cry, nor any the
least noise: but when God is speaking from heaven on subjects so awful, we
behave ourselves more impudently than dogs, and even to the harlot women we
pay greater respect than to God.
Doth it make your flesh creep to be told of these things? Nay then,
much rather let it creep when ye do them.
[9.] That which Paul said of them that despised the poor and feasted
alone, "What, have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the
Church of God, and shame them that have not?" (1 Cor. xi. 22.)--the same
allow me also to say of those who make a disturbance and hold conversations
in this place. "What? have ye not houses to trifle in? or despise ye the
Church of God, and corrupt those even who would be modest and quiet? "But
it is sweet and pleasant for you to converse with your friends." I do not
forbid this, but let it be done in the house, in the market, in the baths.
For the church is not a place of conversation, but of teaching. But now it
differs not from the market; nay, if it be not too bold a word, haply, not
even from the stage; in such sort do the women who assemble here adorn
themselves more wantonly than the unchaste who are to be found there.
Accordingly we see that even hither many profligates are enticed by them;
and if any one is trying or intending to corrupt a woman, there is no
place, I suppose, that seems to him more suitable than the church. And if
anything be to be sold or bought, the church appears more convenient than
the market. For on such subjects also there is more talk here than in the
shops themselves. Or if any wish to say or to hear any scandal, you will
find that this too is to be had here more than in the forum without. And if
you wish to hear any thing of political matters, or the affairs of private
families, or the camp, go not to the judgment-hall, nor sit in the
apothecary's shop; for here, here I say are those who report all these
things more accurately; and our assemblies are any thing rather than a
Can it be that I have touched you to the quick? I for my part think
not. For while ye continue in the same practices, how am I to know that you
are touched by what hath been said? Therefore I must needs handle the same
Are these things then to be endured? Are these things to be borne? We
weary and distract ourselves every day that ye may not depart without
having learned something useful: and none of you go away at all the better,
but rather injured the more. Yea, and "ye come together unto judgment,"
having no longer any cloak for your sin, and ye thrust out the more modest,
disturbing them with your fooleries on every side.
But what do the multitude say? "I do not hear what is read," saith one,
"nor do I know what the words are which are spoken." Because thou makest a
tumult and confusion, because thou comest not with a reverent soul. What
sayest thou? "I know not what things are said." Well then, for this very
reason oughtest thou to give heed. But if not even the obscurity stir up
thy soul, much more if things were clear wouldest thou hurry them by. Yea,
this is the reason why neither all things are clear, lest thou shouldest
indulge indolence; nor obscure, lest thou shouldest be in despair.
And whereas that eunuch and barbarian (Acts viii. 20.) said none of
these things, but surrounded as he was with a crowd of so important affairs
and on his journey, had a book in his hands and was reading: dost thou,
both abounding in teachers, and having others to read to thee privately(1),
allege to me thine excuses and pretexts? Knowest thou not what is said? Why
then pray that thou mayest learn: but sure it is impossible to be ignorant
of all things. For many things are of themselves evident and clear. And
further, even if thou be ignorant of all, even so oughtest thou to be
quiet, not to put out them that are attentive; that God, accepting thy
quietness and thy reverence, may make the obscure things also plain. But
canst thou not be silent? Well then, go out, not to become a mischief to
For in truth there ought to be but one voice in the church always, even
as there is but one body. Therefore both he that reads utters his voice
alone, and the Bishop himself is content to sit in silence; and he who
chants alone; and though all utter the response, the voice is wafted as
from one mouth. And he that pronounces a homily pronounces it alone. But
when there are many conversing on many and diverse subjects, why do we
disturb you for no good? since surely unless ye thought that we are but
disturbing you for no good, ye would not in the midst of our speech on such
high matters, discourse on things of no consequence.
[10.] Therefore not in your conduct only, but in your very estimation
of things, there is great perversion. And ye gape after superfluities, and
leaving the truth pursue all sorts of shadows and dreams. Are not all
present things a shadow and dreams, and worse than a shadow? For both
before they appear, they fly away; and before they are flown, the trouble
they give is much, and more than the pleasure. Let one acquire in this
world and bury in the earth ever such abundance of wealth, yet when the
night is past, naked he shall depart hence, and no wonder. Since they too
who are rich but in a dream, on rising from their couch have nothing of
what they seemed to have while sleeping. So also are the greedy of gain: or
rather not so, but in a much worse condition. For he that dreams of being
rich, neither hath the money which he fancied he had, nor is any other
mischief found to have accrued to him from this phantasy when he arises,
but this man is both deprived of his riches, and hath also to depart,
filled with the sins which arise out of them; and in his wealth having but
enjoyed a phantasy, the evils resulting from his wealth he sees not in
fancy any more, but in the very truth of things; and his pleasure was in
dreams, but the punishment ensuing on his pleasure turns out no more a
dream, but is matter of actual experience. Yea rather, even before that
punishment, even here he pays the heaviest penalty, in the very collecting
of his wealth wearing into himself innumerable sadnesses, anxieties,
accusations, calumnies, tumults, perturbations.
In order therefore that we may be delivered both from the dreams and
from the evils that are not in dreams, instead of covetuousness let us
choose almsgiving, instead of rapine, mercy to mankind. For thus we shall
obtain the good things both present and to come, through the grace and
mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom, to the Father, with the Holy
Ghost, be glory, power, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
HOMILY XXXVII: 1 Cor. xiv. 34.
Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto
them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law.
HAVING abated the disturbance both from the tongues and from the
prophesyings; and having made a law to prevent confusion, that they who
speak with tongues should do this in turn, and that they who prophesy
should be silent when another begins; he next in course proceeds to the
disorder which arose from the women, cutting off their unseasonable
boldness of speech: and that very opportunely. For if to them that have the
gifts it is not permitted to speak inconsiderately, nor when they will, and
this, though they be moved by the Spirit; much less to those women who
prate idly and to no purpose. Therefore he represses their babbling with
much authority, and taking the law along with him, thus he sews up their
mouths; not simply exhorting here or giving counsel, but even laying his
commands on them vehemently, by the recitation of an ancient law on that
subject. For having said, "Let your women keep silence in the churches;"
and "it is not permitted unto them to speak, but let them be in
subjection;" he added, "as also saith the law." And where doth the law say
this? "Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."
(Gen. iii. 16. ) Seest thou the wisdom of Paul, what kind of testimony he
adduced, one that not only enjoins on them silence, but silence too with
fear; and with as great fear as that wherewith a maid servant ought to keep
herself quiet. Wherefore also having himself said, "it is not permitted
unto them to speak," he added not, "but to be silent," but instead of "to
be silent," he set down what is more, to wit, "the being in subjection."
And if this be so in respect of husbands, much more in respect of teachers,
and fathers, and the general assembly of the Church. "But if they are not
even to speak," saith one, "nor ask a question, to what end are they to be
present?" That they may hear what they ought; but the points which are
questioned let them learn at home from their husbands. Wherefore also he
Ver. 35. "And if they would learn any thing, let them ask their own
husbands at home."
Thus, "not only, as it seems, are they not allowed to speak," saith he,
"at random, but not even to ask any question in the church." Now if they
ought not to ask questions, much more is their speaking at pleasure
contrary to law. And what may be the cause of his setting them under so
great subjection? Because the woman is in some sort a weaker being and
easily carried away and light minded. Here you see why he set over them
their husbands as teachers, for the benefit of both. For so he both
rendered the women orderly, and the husbands he made anxious, as having to
deliver to their wives very exactly what they heard.
Further, because they supposed this to be an ornament to them, I mean
their speaking in public; again he brings round the discourse to the
opposite point, saying, "For it is shameful for a woman to speak in the
church." That is, first he made this out from the law of God, then from
common reason and our received custom; even when he was discoursing with
the women about long hair, he said, "Doth not even nature herself teach
you?" (c. xi. 14.) And everywhere thou mayest find this to be his manner,
not only from the divine Scriptures, but also from the common custom, to
put them to shame.
[2.] But besides these things, he also shames them by consideration of
what all agreed on, and what was every where prescribed; which topic also
here he hath set down, saying,
Ver. 36. "What? was it from you that the word of God went forth? or
came it unto you alone?"
Thus he brings in the other Churches also as holding this law, both
abating the disturbance by consideration of the novelty of the thing, and
by the general voice making his saying acceptable. Wherefore also elsewhere
he said, "Who shall put you in remembrance of my ways which be in Christ,
even as I teach everywhere in all the Churches." (1 Cor. iv. 17.) And
again, "God is not a God of confusion, but of peace, as in all the Churches
of the saints.' (c. xiv. 33.) And here, "What? was it from you that the
word of God went forth? or came it unto you alone?" i.e., "neither first,
nor alone are ye believers, but the whole world." Which also writing to
the Colossians he said, "even as it is bearing fruit and increasing in all
the world," (Coloss. i. 6.) speaking of the Gospel.
But he turns it also at another time to the encouragement of his
hearers; as when he saith that theirs were the first fruits, and were
manifest unto all. Thus, writing to the Thessalonians he said, "For from
you hath sounded forth the word of God," and, "in every place your faith
to God-ward is gone forth." (1 Thes. i. 8.) And again to the Romans, "Your
faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world(1)." For both are apt to
shame and stir up, as well the being commended of others, as that they have
others partakers in their judgment. Wherefore also here he saith; "What?
was it from you that the word of God went forth? or came it unto you only?"
"For neither can ye say this," saith he; "we were made teachers to the
rest, and it cannot be right for us to learn of others;" nor, "the faith
remained in this place only, and no precedents from other quarters ought to
be received." Seest thou by how many arguments he put them to shame? He
introduced the law, he signified the shamefulness of the thing, he brought
forward the other Churches.(2)
[3.] Next, what is strongest of all he puts last, saying, "God ordains
these things even at this time by me."
Ver. 37. Thus: "if any man thinketh himself to be a prophet, or
spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you that
they are the commandments of the Lord.'
Ver. 38. "But if any man is ignorant, let him be ignorant."
And wherefore did he add this? Intimating that he is not using violence
nor contention, which is a sign of them who wish not to set up their own
things, but aim at what is profitable to others. Wherefore also in another
place he saith, "But if any man seemeth to be contentious, we have no such
custom." (1 Cor. xi. 16.) But he doth not this everywhere, but only where
the offences are not very great, and then rather as putting them to shame.
Since when he discourses of other sins, he speaks not thus. But how? "Be
not deceived: neither fornicators, nor effeminate, shall inherit the
kingdom of God." (1 Cor. vi. 9, 10.) And again, "Behold, I Paul say unto
you, that if ye receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing."
(Gal. v. 2.) But here, since his discourse was of silence, he doth not very
keenly inveigh against them, by this very thing attracting them the more.
Then, as he is ever wont to do, unto the former subject whence he digressed
to say these things, he brings back his discourse as follows:
Ver. 39. "Wherefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and forbid
not to speak with tongues."
For this too is his wont, not only to work out what is before him, but
also starting from that to set right whatever seems to him in any way akin
to it, and again to return to the former, so as not to appear to wander
from the subject. For so when he was discoursing of their concord in their
banquets, he digressed to their Communion in the Mysteries, and having
thence put them to shame, he returns again to the former, saying,
"Wherefore, when ye come together to eat, wait one for another." (1 Cor.
And here, accordingly, having discoursed of good order in their gifts,
and of its being a duty neither to faint in the lesser, nor to be puffed up
on account of the greater; then having made an excursion from thence to the
sobriety becoming women and having established it, he returns again to his
subject, saying, "Wherefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and
forbid not to speak with tongues." Seest thou how to the end he preserved
the difference of these? And how he signifies that the one is very
necessary, the other not so? Wherefore of the one he saith, "desire
earnestly(3)," but of the other, "forbid not."
[4.] Then, as in brief summary, setting all things right, he adds the
Ver. 40. "Let all things be done decently and in order."
Again giving a blow to them who chose to behave themselves unseemly
without cause, and to incur the imputation of madness; and who keep not
their proper rank. For nothing doth so build up as good order, as peace, as
love; even as their contraries tend to pull down. And not only in things
spiritual, but also in all others one may observe this. Thus whether it be
in a dance, or a ship, or in a chariot, or a camp, if thou shouldest
confound the order, and casting the greater out of their proper place,
shouldest bring in the lesser into their rank, thou destroyest all, and
thus things are turned upside down. Neither let us then destroy our order,
nor place the head below and the feet above: now this is done when we cast
down right reason, and set our lusts, passions, and pleasure, over the
rational part: whence violent are the billows, and great the confusion, and
intolerable the tempest, all things being wrapt in darkness.
And, if thou wilt, let us first examine the unseemliness which arises
herefrom, and then the loss. How then may this be clear to us, and
thoroughly known? Let us bring forward a man in that frame of mind;
enamoured of a harlot and overcome by a dishonorable passion; and then we
shall see the mockery which this comes to. For what can be baser than a man
watching the doors before the harlots' chambers, and beaten by a whorish
woman, and weeping, and lamenting, and turning his glory into shame? And if
thou wilt also see the loss, call to mind, I pray, the expenditure of
money, the extreme risks, the contests with rival lovers, the wounds, the
stripes received in such affrays.
Such also are they who are holden by the lust of wealth; or rather they
behave themselves more unseemly. For whereas these are wholly occupied
about one person; the covetous busy themselves about all men's substance
alike, both poor and rich, and long for things that are not; a thing which
above all denotes the wildness of their passion. For they say not, "I would
fain have the substance of such a person or of such another," only, but
they want the very mountains to be gold, and the houses and all that they
see; and they go forth into another world, and this passion they feel to a
boundless degree, and at no point cease from their lusting. What discourse
can set before us the tempest of those thoughts, the waves, the darkness?
And where the waves and tempest are so great, what pleasure can there be?
There is not any; but tumult, and anguish, and black clouds which instead
of rain bring great sorrow of heart: the kind of thing which is wont to
happen in the case of those who are enamoured of beauty not their own.
Wherefore they who have no passionate love at all are in more pleasure than
[5.] This however no man would gainsay. But to me even he who loves,
but restrains his passion, seems to live more pleasurably than he who
continually enjoys his mistress. For though the proof be rather difficult,
nevertheless even at that disadvantage the argument must be ventured on:
the cause of the increased difficulty not being the nature of the thing,
but because of the want of meet hearers for this high morality. Thus:
whether is it pleasanter, tell me, to the lover, to be despised by his
beloved, or to be honored, and to look down upon her? Evidently the latter.
Whom then, tell me, will the harlot value more? Him that is a slave to her
and is already led captive at her will, or him that is above her nets and
soareth higher than her arrows? Every one must see, the latter. And about
whom will she take more thought, the fallen, or him that is not yet so? Him
that is not yet so, of course. And which will be more an object of desire,
he who is subdued, or he who is not yet taken? He who up to this time is
not yet taken. And if ye disbelieve it, I will produce my proof from what
takes place within yourselves. As thus: of which woman would a man be more
enamored; one that easily submits and gives herself up to him, or one that
denies, and gives him trouble? Evidently of this last; since hereby the
longing is more vehemently kindled. Of course then in the woman's case also
exactly the same thing will happen. And him will they honor and admire more
who looks down upon them. But if this be true, so likewise is the other,
that he enjoys greater pleasure who is more honored and beloved. Since the
general too lets alone the city that hath been once taken, but that which
stands out and maintains the struggle he besets with all diligence: and the
hunter, when the animal is caught, keeps it shut up in darkness as the
harlot doth her lover, but pursues that which flies from him.
But I shall be told, "the one enjoys his desire, the other not so." But
freedom from disgrace, and from being a slave under her tyrannical
commands, the not being led and dragged about by her as a drudge, beaten,
spit upon, pitched head foremost; dost thou consider this to be a small
pleasure, tell me? Nay, if one would accurately examine these things, and
were able to gather into one their insults, complaints, everlasting
quarrels, some arising from their tempers, others from their wantonness,
their enmities, and all the rest, such as they only that feel them know;--
he will find that there is no war but hath more truces than this wretched
life of theirs. What pleasure then meanest thou, tell me? The temporary and
brief enjoyment of intercourse? But this speedily doth strife overtake, and
storms, and rage, and the same madness again.
[6.] And these things have been said by us, as one would speak
discoursing with licentious youths, who do not very patiently submit to
hear our discourses of the kingdom and of hell.
And now that we are bringing forward these topics also, it is not even
possible to say how great is the pleasure of the continent; if one frame in
one's own mind his crowns, his rewards, his converse with the angels, the
proclaiming of him before the world, his boldness, those blessed and
immortal hopes of his.
"But intercourse hath a certain pleasure:" for this they are
continually repeating: "while the continent continually suffers pain
contending with the tyranny of nature." Nay, but one shall find just the
contrary result. For this violence and tumult is present with the unchaste
rather: there being in his body a violent tempest, and no sea in a storm so
grievously vexed as he; never withstanding his passion, but ever receiving
blows from it; as the possessed and they that are continually rent in the
midst by evil spirits. Whereas the temperate like a noble champion
continually giving blows to it, reaps the best of pleasures, and sweeter
than ten thousand of that kind; and this victory and his good conscience,
and those illustrous trophies, are ornaments for him continually to deck
As to the other, if after his intercourse he hath a little respite, it
must be counted nothing. For again the storm comes on, and again there are
waves. But he that commands himself doth not suffer this tumult to lay hold
of him at all, nor the sea to arise, nor the wild beast to roar. And even
if he endure some violence in restraining such an impulse, yet so cloth the
other also, continually receiving blows and stabs, and unable to endure the
sting: and it is like as if there were a wild horse furious and struggling,
and one should check with the bridle, and hold him in with all skill: while
another giving him the rein to escape the trouble, were dragged along by
him and carried hither and thither.
If I have spoken these things more plainly than is becoming, let no man
blame me. For I desire not to make a brave show by a gravity of words, but
to make my hearers grave.
Therefore also the prophets spare no such words, wishing to extirpate
the licentiousness of the Jews, but do even more nakedly inveigh against
them than we do now in the things we have spoken. For so a physician
wishing to remove an ulcer doth not consider how he may keep his hands
clean, but how he may rid the patient of the ulcer; and he who would raise
on high the lowly, first makes himself lowly; and he who seeks to slay the
conspirator stains himself with blood as well as the other, and this makes
him the more brilliant. Since if one were to see a soldier returning from
the war, stained with gore and blood and brains, he will not loathe him nor
turn from him on this account, but will even admire him the more. So then
let us do, when we see any one returning, covered with blood after the
slaughter of his evil desire, let us the more admire him and become
partakers of his battle and victory, and say to those who indulge this wild
love, "show us the pleasure you derive from lust; for the continent hath
that which comes of his victory, but thou none from any quarter. But if ye
should mention that which is connected with the criminal act, yet the other
is more manifest and satisfactory. For thou hast from the enjoyment
something brief and hardly apparent; but he from his conscience, hath both
a greater and an enduring and a sweeter joy. The company of a woman hath
surely no such power as self-command, to preserve the soul undisturbed and
give it wings."
Well then: the continent man, as I said, thus evidently makes his
pleasure out to us: but in thy case I see the dejection arising from
defeat, but the pleasure, desiring to see, I find not. For what dost thou
consider the moment of pleasure? That before the criminal action? Nay, it
is not so, for it is a time of madness and delirium and frenzy: to grind
the teeth and be beside one's self is not any pleasure: and if it were
pleasure, it would not produce the same effects on you which they who are
in pain endure. For they who strike with their fists and are stricken grind
their teeth, and women in travail distracted with pains do the same. So
that this is no pleasure, but frenzy rather, and confusion, and tumult.
Shall we say then, the time after the action? Nay, neither is this. For
neither could we say that a woman just delivered is in pleasure, but in
release from certain pains. But this is by no means pleasure, but weakness
rather and falling away: and there is a great difference between these two.
What then is the time of pleasure, tell me? There is none. But if there be
any, it is so brief as not even to be apparent. At least, having zealously
sought in a great many ways to detect and apprehend it, we have not been
able. But the time of the chaste man's pleasure is not such, rather it is
wider and evident to all. Or rather, all his life is in pleasure, his
conscience crowned, the waves laid, no disturbance from any quarter arising
Since then this man's life is more in pleasure, while the life spent in
love of pleasure is in dejection and disquiets; let us flee from
licentiousness, let us keep hold on continence, that we may also obtain the
good things to come, through the grace and mercy, &c., &c.
HOMILY XXXVIII: 1 Cor. XV. 1, 2.
Now I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you,
which also ye received, wherein also ye stand; by which also ye are saved:
in what words I preached it unto you.(1)
HAVING finished the discourse of spiritual gifts, he passes to that
which is of all most necessary, the subject of the resurrection. For in
this too they were greatly unsound. And as in men's bodies, when the fever
lays actual hold of their solid parts, I mean the nerves and the veins and
the primary elements, the mischief becomes incurable unless it receive much
attention; just so at that time also it was like to happen. Since to the
very elements of godliness the mischief was proceeding. Wherefore also Paul
uses great earnestness. For not of morals was his discourse henceforth nor
about one man's being a fornicator, another covetous, and another having
his head covered; but about the very sum of all good things. For touching
the resurrection itself they were at variance. Because this being all our
hope, against this point did the devil make a vehement stand, and at one
time he was wholly subverting it, at another his word was that it was "past
already;" which also Paul writing to Timothy called a gangrene, I mean,
this wicked doctrine, and those that brought it in he branded, saying, "Of
whom is Hymenoeus and Philetus, who concerning the truth have erred, saying
that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some." (2
Tim. ii. 17, 18.) At one time then they said thus, but at another that the
body rises not again but the purification of the soul is the resurrection.
But these things that wicked demon persuaded them to say, not wishing
to overturn the resurrection only, but also to show that all the things
done for our sakes are a fable. For if they were persuaded that there is no
resurrection of bodies, he would have gradually persuaded them that neither
was Christ raised. And thereupon he would introduce also this in due
course, that He had not come nor had done what He did. For such is the
craft of the devil. Wherefore also Paul calls it "cunning craftiness(2),"
because he doth not straightway signify what he intends to effect, for fear
of being detected, but dressing himself up in a mask of one kind, he
fabricates arts of another kind: and like a crafty enemy attacking a city
with walls, he secretly undermines it from below: so as thereby to be
hardly guarded against and to succeed in his endeavors. Therefore such
snares on his part being continually detected, and these his crafty
ambushes hunted out by this admirable and mighty man, he said, "For we are
not ignorant of his devices." (2 Cor. ii. 11.) So also here he unfolds his
whole guile and points out all his stratagems, and whatsoever he would fain
effect, Paul puts before us, with much exactness going over all. Yea, and
therefore he put this head after the rest, both because it was extremely
necessary and because it involves the whole of our condition.
And observe his consideration: how first having secured his own, he
then proceeds even beyond in his discourse, and them that are without he
doth abundantly reduce to silence. Now he secures his own, not by
reasonings, but by things which had already happened and which themselves
had received and believed to have taken place: a thing which was most of
all apt to shame them, and capable of laying hold on them. Since if they
were unwilling to believe after this, it was no longer Paul but themselves
they would disbelieve: which thing was a censure on those who had once for
all received it and changed their minds. For this cause then he begins also
from hence, implying that he needs no other witnesses to prove his speaking
truth, but those very persons who were deceived.
 But that what I say may become clearer, we must needs in what
follows attend to the very words. What then are these? "I make known unto
you, brethren," saith he, "the gospel which I preached unto you." Seest
thou with what modesty he commences? Seest thou how from the beginning he
points out that he is bringing in no new nor strange thing? For he who
"maketh known" that which was already known but afterwards had fallen into
oblivion, "maketh known" by recalling it into memory.
And when he called them "brethren," even from hence he laid the
foundation of no mean part of the proof of his assertions. For by no other
cause became we "brethren," but by the dispensation of Christ according to
the flesh. And this is just the reason why he thus called them, at the same
time soothing and courting them, and likewise reminding them of their
And what comes next again is demonstrative of the same. What then is
this? "The gospel." For the sum of the gospels hath its original hence,
from God having become man and having been crucified and having risen
again. This gospel also Gabriel preached to the Virgin, this also the
prophets to the world, this also the apostles all of them.
"Which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye
stand. By which also ye are saved, in what word I preached unto you; if ye
hold it fast, except ye believed in vain."
Seest thou how he calls themselves to be witnesses of the things
spoken? And he saith not, "which ye heard," but, "which ye received,"
demanding it of them as a kind of deposit, and showing that not in word
only, but also by deeds and signs and wonders they received it, and that
they should hold it safe.
Next, because he was speaking of the things long past, he referred also
to the present time, saying, "wherein also ye stand," taking the vantage
ground of them that disavowal might be out of their power, though they
wished it never so much. And this is why at the beginning he said not, "I
teach you," but, 'I make known unto you' what hath already been made
And how saith he that they who were so tossed with waves "stand?" He
feigns ignorance to profit them; which also he doth in the case of the
Galatians, but not in like manner. For inasmuch as he could not in that
case affect ignorance, he frames his address in another way, saying, "I
have confidence toward yon in the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise
minded." (Gal. v. 10.) He said not, "that ye were none otherwise minded,"
because their fault was acknowledged and evident, but he answers for the
future; and yet this too was uncertain; but it was to draw them to him more
effectually. Here however he doth feign ignorance, saying, "wherein also ye
Then comes the advantage; "by which also ye are saved, in what words I
preached it unto you." "So then, this present exposition is for doctrine
clearness and interpretation. For the doctrine itself ye need not," saith
he, "to learn, but to be reminded of it and corrected." And these things he
saith, leaving them no room to plunge into recklessness once for all.
But what is, "in what word I preached it unto you?" "After what manner
did I say," saith he, "that the resurrection takes place? For that there is
a resurrection I would not say that ye doubt: but ye seek perhaps to obtain
a clearer knowledge of that saying. This then will I provide for you: for
indeed I am well assured that ye hold the doctrine." Next, because he was
directly affirming, "wherein also ye stand;" that he might not thereby make
them more remiss, he alarms them again, saying, "If ye hold it fast, except
ye believed in vain;" intimating that the stroke is on the chief head, and
the contest for no common things but in behalf of the whole of the faith.
And for the present he saith it with reserve, but as he goes on and waxes
warm, he throws off the veil and proceeds to cry out(1) and say, "But if
Christ hath not been raised then is our preaching vain, your faith also is
vain: ye are yet in your sins:" but in the beginning not so: for thus it
was expedient to proceed, gently and by degrees.
Ver. 3. "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also
Neither here doth he say, "I said unto you," nor, "I taught you," but
uses the same expression gain, saying, "I delivered unto you that which
also I received:" nor again here doth he say, "I was taught," but, "I
received:" establishing these two things; first, that one ought to
introduce nothing from one's self; next, that by demonstration from his
deeds they were fully persuaded, not by bare words: and by degrees while he
is rendering his argument credible, he refers the whole to Christ, and
signifies that nothing was of man in these doctrines.
But what is this, "For I delivered unto you first of all(2)?" for that
is his word. "In the beginning, not now." And thus saying he brings the
time for a witness, and that it were the greatest disgrace for those who
had so long time been persuaded now to change their minds: and not this
only, but also that the doctrine is necessary. Wherefore also it was
"delivered" among "the first," and from the beginning straightway. And what
didst thou so deliver? tell me. But this he doth not say straightway, but
first, "I received." And what didst thou receive? "That Christ died for our
sins." He said not immediately that there is a resurrection of our bodies,
yet this very thing in truth he doth establish, but afar off and by other
topics saying that "Christ died," and laying before a kind of strong base
and irrefragable foundation of the doctrine concerning the resurrection.
For neither did he simply say that "Christ died;" although even this were
sufficient to declare the resurrection, but with an addition, "Christ died
for our sins."
[3.] But first it is worth while to hear what those who are infected
with the Manichaean doctrines say here, who are both enemies to the truth
and war against their own salvation. What then do these allege? By death
here, they say, Paul means nothing else than our being in sin; and by
resurrection, our being delivered from our sins. Seest thou how nothing is
weaker than error? And how it is taken by its own wings, and needs not the
warfare from without, but by itself it is pierced through? Consider, for
instance, these men, how they too have pierced themselves through by their
own statements. Since if this be death, and Christ did not take a body, as
ye suppose, and yet died, He was in sin according to you. For I indeed say
that He took unto Himself a body and His death, I say, was that of the
flesh; but thou denying this, wilt be compelled to affirm the other. But if
He was in sin, how saith He, "Which of you convinceth Me of sin?" and "The
prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me?" (John viii. 46; xiv.
30.) and again, "Thus it becometh Us to fulfill all righteousness?" (Mat.
iii. 15.) Nay, how did He at all die for sinners, if Himself were in sin?
For he who dies for sinners ought himself to be without sin. Since if he
himself also sin, how shall he die for other sinners? But if for others'
sins He died, He died being without sin: and if being without sin He died,
He died--not the death of sin; for how could He being without sin?--but the
death of the body. Wherefore also Paul did not simply say, "He died," but
added, "for our sins:" both forcing these heretics against their will to
the confession of His bodily death, and signifying also by this that before
death He was without sin: for he that dies for others' sins, it followeth
must himself be without sin.
Neither was he content with this, but added, "according to the
Scriptures:" hereby both again making his argument credible, and intimating
what kind of death he was speaking of: since it is the death of the body
which the Scriptures everywhere proclaim. For, "they pierced My hands and
My feet," (Ps. xxi. 18.) saith He, and, "they shall look on Him Whom they
pierced." (John xix. 37. Zech. xii. 10.) And many other instances, too not
to name all one by one, partly in words and partly in types, one may see in
them stored up, setting forth His slaughter in the flesh and that He was
slain for our sins. For, "for the sins of my people," saith one, "is He
come(1) to death: "and, the Lord delivered Him up for our sins: "and, "He
was wounded for our transgressions." (Is. liii.) But if thou(2) dost not
endure the Old Testament, hear John crying out and declaring both, as well
His slaughter in the body as the cause of it: thus, "Behold," saith he,
"the Lamb of God, Who taketh away the sin of the world:" (John i. 29.) and
Paul saying, "For Him Who knew no sin, He made to be sin on our behalf,
that we might become the righteousness of God in Him:" (2 Cor. v. 21.) and
again, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse
for us:" (Gal. iii. 13.) and again, "having put off from himself
principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over
them;" (Col. ii. 15.) and ten thousand other sayings to show what happened
at His death in the body, and because of our sins. Yea, and Christ Himself
saith, "for your sakes I sanctify Myself(3)" and, "now the prince of this
world hath been condemned(4);" showing that having no sin he was slain.
[4.] Ver. 4. "And that he was buried."
And this also confirms the former topics, for that which is buried is
doubtless a body. And here he no longer adds, "according to the
Scriptures." He had wherewithal, nevertheless he adds it not. For what
cause? Either because the burial was evident unto all, both then and now,
or because the expression, "according to the Scriptures," is set down of
both in common. Wherefore then doth he add, "according to the Scriptures,"
in this place, "and that He rose on the third day according to the
Scriptures," and is not content with the former clause, so spoken in
common? Because this 'also was to most men obscure: wherefore here again he
brings in "the Scriptures" by inspiration, having so conceived this thought
so wise and divine.
How is it then that he doth the same in regard of His death(5)? Because
in that case too, although the cross was evident unto all and in the sight
of all He was stretched upon it; yet the cause was no longer equally so.
The fact indeed of his death all knew, but that He suffered this for the
sins of the world was no longer equally known to the multitude. Wherefore
he brings in the testimony from the Scriptures.
This however hath been sufficiently proved by what we have said. But
where have the Scriptures said that He was buried, and on the third day
shall rise again? By the type of Jonah which also Himself alleges, saying,
"As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall
also the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the
earth." (Mat. xii. 40.) By the bush in the desert. For oven as that burned,
yet was not consumed, (Exod. iii. 2.) so also that body died indeed, but
was not holden of death continually(1). And the dragon also in Daniel
shadows out this. For as the dragon having taken the food which the prophet
gave, burst asunder in the midst;(2) even so Hades having swallowed down
that Body, was rent asunder, the Body of itself cutting asunder its womb
and rising again.
Now if thou desirest to hear also in words those things which thou hast
seen in types, listen to Isaiah, saying, "His life is taken from the
earth," (Isa. liii. 8, 10, 11.)(3) and," it pleaseth the Lord to cleanse
Him from His wound...to show unto Him light:" and David before him, "Thou
wilt not leave My soul to Hades, nor wilt Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see
corruption." (Ps. xvi. 10.)
Therefore Paul also sends thee on to the Scriptures, that thou mayest
learn that not without cause nor at random were these things done. For how
could they, when so many prophets are describing and proclaiming them
beforehand? And no where doth the Scripture mean the death of sin, when it
makes mention of our Lord's death, but that of the body, and a burial and
resurrection of the same kind.
[5.] Ver. 5. "And that He appeared to Cephas:" he names immediately the
most credible of all. "Then to the twelve."
Ver. 6. "Then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once; of
whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep."
Ver. 7. "Then he appeared to James; then to all the Apostles."
Ver. 8. "And last of all, as unto one born out of due time, he appeared
to me also."
Thus, since he had mentioned the proof from the Scriptures, he adds
also that by the events, producing as witnesses of the resurrection, after
the prophets, the apostles and other faithful men. Whereas if he meant that
other resurrection, the deliverance from sin, it were idle for him to say,
He appeared to such and such an one; for this is the argument of one who is
establishing the resurrection of the body, not of one obscurely teaching
deliverance from sins. Wherefore neither said he once for all, "He
appeared," although it were sufficient for him to do so, setting down the
expression in common: but now both twice and thrice, and almost in each
several case of them that had seen Him he employs it. For "He appeared,"
saith he, "to Cephas, He appeared to above five hundred brethren, He
appeared to me also." Yet surely the Gospel saith the contrary, that He was
seen of Mary first. (Mark xvi. 9.) But among men He was seen of him first
who did most of all long to see Him.
But of what twelve apostles doth he here speak(4)? For after He was
received up, Matthias was taken into the number, not after the resurrection
immediately. But it is likely that He appeared even after He was received
up. At any rate, this our apostle himself after His ascension was both
called, and saw Him. Therefore neither doth he set down the time, but
simply and without defining recounts the appearance. For indeed it is
probable that many took place; wherefore also John said, "This third time
He was manifested." (John xxi. 14.)
"Then He appeared to above five hundred brethren." Some say that
"above(5)," is above from heaven; that is, "not walking upon earth, but
above and overhead He appeared to them:" adding, that it was Paul's purpose
to confirm, not the resurrection only, but also the ascension. Others say
that the expression, "above five hundred," means, "more than five hundred."
"Of whom the greater part remain until now." Thus, "though I relate
events of old," saith he, "yet have I living witnesses." "But some are
fallen asleep." He said not, "are dead," but, "are fallen asleep," by this
expression also again confirming the resurrection. "After that, He was seen
of James." I suppose, His brother. For the Lord is said to have Himself
ordained him and made him Bishop in Jerusalem first. "Then to all the
apostles." For there were also other apostles, as the seventy.
"And last of all he appeared unto me also, as unto one born out of due
time." This is rather an expression of modesty than any thing else. For not
because he was the least, therefore did he appear to him after the rest.
Since even if He did call him last, yet he appeared more illustrious than
many which were before him, yea rather than all. And the five hundred
brethren too were not surely better than James, because He appeared to them
Why did He not appear to all at the same time? That He might first sow
the seeds of faith. For he that saw Him first and was exactly and fully
assured, told it unto the residue: then their report coming first placed
the hearer in expectation of this great wonder, and made way before for the
faith of sight. Therefore neither did He appear to all together, nor in the
beginning to many, but to one alone first, and him the leader of the whole
company and the most faithful: since indeed there was great need of a most
faithful soul to be first to receive this sight. For those who saw him
after others had seen him, and heard it from them, had in their testimony
what contributed in no small degree to their own faith and tended to
prepare their mind beforehand; but he who was first counted worthy to see
Him, had need, as I have said, of great faith, not to be confounded by a
sight so contrary to expectation. Therefore he appears to Peter first. For
he that first confessed Him to be Christ was justly also counted worthy
first to behold His resurrection. And not on this account alone doth He
appear to him first, but also because he had denied Him, more abundantly to
comfort him and to signify that he is not despaired of, before the rest He
vouchsafed him even this sight and to him first entrusted His sheep.
Therefore also He appeared to the women first. Because this sex was made
inferior, therefore both in His birth and in His resurrection this first
tastes of His grace.
But after Peter, He appears also to each at intervals, and at one time
to fewer, at another to more, hereby making them witnesses and teachers of
each other, and rendering His apostles trustworthy in all that they said.
[6.] "And last of all, as unto one born out of due time, he appeared to
me also." What mean here his expressions of humility, or wherein are they
seasonable? For if he wishes to show himself worthy of credit and to enrol
himself among the witnesses of the resurrection, he is doing the contrary
of what he wishes: since it were meet that he exalt himself and show that
he was great, which in many places he doth, the occasion calling for it.
Well, the very reason why he here also speaks modestly is his being about
to do this. Not straightway, however, but with his own peculiar good sense:
in that having first spoken modestly and heaped up against himself many
charges, he then magnifies the things concerning himself. What may the
reason be? That, when he comes to utter that great and lofty expression
concerning himself, "I labored more abundantly than all," his discourse may
be rendered more acceptable, both hereby, and by its being spoken as a
consequence of what went before and not as a leading topic. Therefore also
writing to Timothy, and intending to say great things concerning himself,
he first sets down his charges against himself. For so all persons, when
speaking in high terms of others, speak out freely and with boldness: but
he that is compelled to praise himself, and especially when he also calls
himself to witness, is disconcerted and blushes. Therefore also this
blessed man first declares his own misery, and then utters that lofty
expression. This then he doth, partly to abate the offensiveness of
speaking about himself, and partly that he might hereby recommend to their
belief what he had to say afterwards. For he that truly states what things
are discreditable to him and conceals none of them, such as that he
persecuted the Church, that he laid waste the faith, doth hereby cause the
things that are honorable to him also to be above suspicion.
And consider the exceeding greatness of his humility. For having said,
"and last of all He appeared to me also," he was not content with this:
"For many that are last shall be first," saith He, "and the first last."
(Matt. xx. 16.) Therefore he added, "as unto one born out of due time."
Neither did he stop here, but adds also his own judgment and with a reason,
Ver. 9. "For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be
called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God."
And he said not, of the twelve alone, but also of all the other
apostles. And all these things he spake, both as one speaking modestly and
because he was really so disposed as I said, making arrangements also
beforehand for what was intended to be spoken and rendering it more
acceptable. For had he come forward and said, "Ye ought to believe me that
Christ rose from the dead; for I saw Him and of all I am the most worthy of
credit, inasmuch as I have labored more," the expression might have
offended the hearers: but now by first dwelling on the humiliating topics
and those which involve accusation, he both took off what might be grating
in such a narrative, and prepared the way for their belief in his
On this account therefore neither doth he simply, as I said, declare
himself to be the last and unworthy of the appellation of an apostle, but
also states the reason, saying, "because I persecuted the Church." And yet
all those things were forgiven, but nevertheless he himself never for got
them, desiring to signify the greatness of God's favor: wherefore also he
goes on to say,
[7.] Ver. 10. "But by the grace of God I am what I am."
Seest thou again another(1) excess of humility? in that the defects he
imputes to himself, but of the good deeds nothing; rather he refers all to
God. Next, lest he might hereby render his hearer supine, he saith, "And
His grace which was bestowed upon me was not found vain." And this again
with reserve: in that he said! not, "I have displayed a diligence worthy of
His grace," but, "it was not found vain."
"But I labored more abundantly than they all." He said not, "I was
honored," but, "I labored;" and when he had perils and deaths to speak of,
by the name of labor he again abates his expression.
Then again practicing his wonted humility, this also he speedily passes
by and refers the whole to God, saying, "Yet not I, but the grace of God
which was with me." What can be more admirable than such a soul? who having
in so many ways depressed himself and uttered but one lofty word, not even
this doth he call his own; on every side finding ways, both from the former
things and from them that follow after, to contract this lofty expression,
and that because it was of necessity that he came to it.
But consider how he abounds in the expressions of humility. For so, "to
me last of all He appeared," saith he. Wherefore neither doth he with
himself mention any other, and saith, "as of one born out of due time," and
that himself is "the least of the apostles," and not even worthy of this
appellation. And he was not content even with these, but that he might not
seem in mere words to be humble-minded, he states both reasons and proofs:
of his being "one born out of due time," his seeing Jesus last; and of his
being unworthy even of the name of an apostle, "his persecuting the
Church." For he that is simply humble-minded doeth not this: but he that
also sets down the reasons utters all from a contrite mind. Wherefore also
he elsewhere makes mention of these same things, saying, "And I thank him
that enabled me; even Christ Jesus our Lord, for that He counted me
faithful, appointing the to his service, though I was before a blasphemer,
and a persecutor, and injurious." (1 Tim. i. 12, 13.)
But wherefore did he utter at all that same lofty expression, "I
labored more abundantly than they?" He saw that the occasion compelled him.
For had he not said this, had he only depreciated himself, how could he
with boldness call himself to witness, and number himself with the rest,
Ver. 11. "Whether then it be I or they, so we preach."
For the witness ought to be trustworthy, and a great man. But how he
"labored more abundantly than they," he indicated above, saying, "Have we
no right to eat and to drink, as also the other Apostles?" And again, "to
them that are without law as without law." Thus, both where exactness was
to be displayed, he overshot all: and where there was need to condescend,
he displayed again the same great superiority.
But some cite his being sent to the Gentiles and his overrunning the
larger part of the world. Whence it is evident that he enjoyed more grace.
For if he labored more, the grace was also more: but he enjoyed more grace,
because he displayed also more diligence. Seest thou how by those
particulars whereby he contends and strives to throw into shade the things
concerning himself, he is shown to be first of all?
[8.] And these things when we hear, let us also make open show of our
defects, but of our excellencies let us say nothing. Or if the opportunity
force it upon us, let us speak of them with reserve and impute the whole to
God's grace: which accordingly the Apostle also doth, ever and anon putting
a bad mark upon his former life, but his after-state imputing to grace,
that he might signify the mercy of God from every circumstance: from His
having saved him such as he was and when saved making him again such as he
is. Let none accordingly of those who are in sin despair, let none of those
in virtue be confident, but let the one be exceeding fearful and the other
forward. For neither shall any slothful man be able to abide in virtue, nor
one that is diligent be weak to escape from evil. And of both these the
blessed David is an example, who after he slumbered a little, had a great
downfall: and when he was pricked in his heart, again hastened up to his
former height. Since in fact both are alike evils, both despair and
slothfulness; the one quickly casting a man down from the very arch of the
heavens; the other not suffering the fallen to rise again. Wherefore with
respect to the one, Paul said, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed
lest he fall :" (1 Cor. x. 12.) but unto the other, "To-day if ye will hear
His voice, harden not your hearts: (Heb iv, 7.) and again, "Lift up the
hands that hang down and the palsied knees." (Heb. xii. 12.) And him too
that had committed fornication but repented, he therefore quickly
refreshes, "that such an one might not be swallowed up with his overmuch
sorrow?" (2 Cor. ii. 7.)
Why then in regard of other griefs art thou cast down, O man? Since if
for sins, where only grief is beneficial, excess works much mischief, much
more for all other things. For wherefore grievest thou? That thou hast lost
money? Nay, think of those that are not even filled with bread, and thou
shalt very speedily obtain consolation. And in each of the things that are
grievous to thee mourn not the things that have happened, but for the
disasters that have not happened give thanks. Hadst thou money and didst:
thou lose it? Weep not for the loss, but give thanks for the time when thou
didst enjoy it. Say like Job, "Have we received good at the hand of the
Lord, and shall we not receive evil?" (Job ii. 10.) And together with that
use this argument also; that even if thou didst lose thy money, yet thy
body thou hast still sound and hast not with thy poverty to grieve that it
also is maimed. But hath thy body too endured some outrage? Yet is not this
the bottom of human calamities, but in the middle of the cask thou art as
yet carried along. For many along with poverty and maiming, both wrestle
with a demon and wander in deserts: others again endure other things more
grievous than these. For may it never be our lot to suffer all that it is
possible for one to bear.
These things then ever considering, bear in mind them that suffer
worse, and be vexed at none of those things: but when thou sinnest, only
then sigh, then weep; I forbid thee not, nay I enjoin thee rather; though
even then with moderation, remembering that there is returning, there is
reconciliation. But seest thou others in luxury and thyself in poverty: and
another in goodly robes, and in preeminence? Look not however on these
things alone, but also on the miseries that arise out of these. And in thy
poverty too, consider not the beggary alone, but the pleasure also thence
arising do thou take into account. For wealth hath indeed a cheerful mask,
but its inward parts are full of gloom; and poverty the reverse. And
shouldest thou unfold each man's conscience, in the soul of the poor thou
wilt see great security and freedom: but in that of the rich, confusions,
disorders, tempests. And if thou grievest, seeing him rich, he too is vexed
much more than thou when he beholds one richer than himself. And as thou
fearest him, even so doth he another, and he hath no advantage over thee in
this. But thou art vexed to see him in office, because thou art in a
private station and one of the governed. Recollect however the day of his
ceasing to hold office. And even before that day the tumults, the perils,
the fatigues, the flatteries, the sleepless nights, and all the miseries.
[9.] And these things we say to those who have no mind for high
morality: since if thou knowest this, there are other and greater things
whereby we may comfort thee: but for the present we must use the coarser
topics to argue with thee. When therefore thou seest one that is rich,
think of him that is richer than he, and thou wilt see him in the same
condition with thyself. And after him look also on him that is poorer than
thyself, consider how many have gone to bed hungry, and have lost their
patrimony, and live in a dungeon, and pray for death every day. For neither
doth poverty breed sadness, nor wealth pleasure, but both the one and the
other our own thoughts are wont to produce in us. And consider, beginning
from beneath: the scavenger grieves and is vexed that he cannot be rid of
this his business so wretched and esteemed so disgraceful: but if thou rid
him of this, and cause him, with security, to have plenty of the
necessaries of life, he will grieve again that he hath not more than he
wants: and if thou grant him more, he will wish to trouble them again, and
will therefore vex himself no less than before: and if thou grant him
twofold or threefold, he will be out of heart again because he hath no part
in the state: and if you provide him with this also, he will count himself
wretched because he is not one of the highest officers of state. And when
he hath obtained this honor, he will mourn that he is not a ruler; and when
he shall be ruler, that it is not of a whole nation; and when of a whole
nation, that it is not of many nations; and when of many nations, that it
is not of all. When he becomes a deputy, he will vex himself again that he
is not a king; and if a king, that he is not so alone; and if alone, that
he is not also of barbarous nations; and if of barbarous nations, that he
is not of the whole world even: and if of the whole world, why not likewise
of another world? And so his course of thought going on without end does
not suffer him ever to be pleased. Seest thou, how even if from being mean
and poor thou shouldest make a man a king, thou dost not remove his
dejection, without first correcting his turn of thought, enamored as it is
of having more?
Come, let me show thee the contrary too, that even if from a higher
station thou shouldest bring down to a lower one him that hath
consideration, thou wilt not cast him into dejection and grief. And if thou
wilt, let us descend the same ladder, and do thou bring down the satrap
from his throne and in supposition deprive him of that dignity. I say that
he will not on this account vex himself, if he choose to bear in mind the
things of which I have spoken. For he will not reckon up the things of
which he hath been deprived, but what he hath still, the glory arising from
his office. But if thou take away this also, he will reckon up them who are
in private stations and have never ascended to such sway, and for
consolation his riches will suffice him. And if thou also cast him out
again from this, he will look to them that have a moderate estate. And if
thou shouldest take away even moderate wealth, and shouldest allow him to
partake only of necessary food, he may think upon them that have not even
this, but wrestle with incessant hunger and live in prison. And even if
thou shouldest bring him into that prison-house, when he reflects on them
that lie under incurable diseases and irremediable pains, he will see
himself to be in much better circumstances. And as the scavenger before
mentioned not even on being made a king will reap any cheerfulness, so
neither will this man ever vex himself if he become a prisoner. It is not
then wealth that is the foundation of pleasure, nor poverty of sadness, but
our own judgment, and the fact, that the eyes of our mind are not pure, nor
are fixed anywhere and abide, but without limit flutter abroad. And as
healthy bodies, if they be nourished with bread alone, are in good and
vigorous condition: but those that are sickly, even if they enjoy a
plentiful and varied diet, become so much the weaker; so also it is wont to
happen in regard of the soul. The mean spirited, not even in a diadem and
unspeakable honors can be happy: but the denying, even in bonds and fetters
and poverty, will enjoy a pure pleasure.
[10.] These things then bearing in mind, let us ever look to them that
are beneath us. There is indeed, I grant, another consolation, but of a
high strain in morality, and mounting above the grossness of the multitude.
What is this? That wealth is naught, poverty is naught, disgrace is naught,
honor is naught, but for a brief time and only in words do they differ from
each other. And along with this there is another soothing topic also,
greater than it; the consideration of the things to come, both evil and
good, the things which are really evil and really good, and the being
comforted by them. But since many, as I said, stand aloof from these
doctrines, therefore were we compelled to dwell on other topics, that in
course we might lead on to them the receivers of what had been said before.
Let us then, taking all these things into account, by every means frame
ourselves aright, and we shall never grieve at these unexpected things. For
neither if we should see men rich in a picture, should we say. they were to
be envied, any more than on seeing poor men there depicted we should call
them wretched and pitiable: although those are surely more abiding than
they whom we reckon wealthy. Since one abides rich in the picture longer
than in the nature itself of things. For the one often lasts, appearing
such, even to a hundred years, but the other sometimes, not having had so
much as a year to live at his ease in his possessions, hath been suddenly
stripped of all. Meditating then on all these things, let us from all
quarters build up cheerfulness as an outwork against our irrational sorrow,
that we may both pass the present life with pleasure, and obtain the good
things to come, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with
Whom to the Father, with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, honor, now and
forever, and world without end. Amen.
HOMILY XXXIX: 1 Cor. xv. 11.
Whether then it be I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.
HAVING exalted the Apostles and abased himself, then again having
exalted himself above them that he might make out an equality: (for he did
effect an equality, when he showed that he had advantages over them as well
as they over him,) and having thereby proved himself worthy of credit;
neither so doth he dismiss them, but again ranks himself with them,
pointing out their concord in Christ. Nevertheless he doth it not so as
that he should seem to have been tacked on to them,(1) but as himself also
to appear in the same rank. For so it was profitable for the Gospel.
Wherefore also he was equally earnest, on the one hand, that he might not
seem to overlook them; on the other, that he might not be on account of the
honor paid to them held cheap by those that were under his authority.
Therefore he also now makes himself equal again, saying,
"Whether then it be I or they, so we preach." "From whomsoever," saith
he, "ye choose to learn, learn; there is no difference between us." And he
said not, "if ye will not believe me, believe them;" but while he makes
himself worthy of credit and saith that he is of himself sufficient, he
affirms the same also of them by themselves. For the difference of persons
took no effect, their authority being equal. And in the Epistle to the
Galatians he doth this, taking them with him, not as also standing in need
of them, but saying indeed that even himself was sufficient: "For they who
were of repute imparted nothing to me:" (Gal. ii. 6.) nevertheless, even so
I follow after agreement with them. "For they gave unto me," saith he,
"their right hands." (Gal. ii. 9.) For if the credit of Paul were always to
depend on others and to be confirmed by testimony from others, the
disciples would hence have received infinite injury. It is not therefore to
exalt himself that he doeth this, but fearing for the Gospel. Wherefore
also he here saith, making himself equal, "Whether it be I or they, so we
Well did he say, "we preach," indicating his great boldness of speech.
For we speak not secretly, nor(1) in a corner, but we utter a voice clearer
than a trumpet. And he said not, "we preached," but, "even now 'so we
preach.'" "And so ye believed." Here he said not, "ye believe," but, "ye
believed." Because they were shaken in mind, therefore he ran back to the
former times, and proceeds to add the witness from themselves.
[2.] Ver. 12. "Now if Christ is preached that He hath been raised from
the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the
Seest thou how excellently he reasons, and proves the resurrection from
the fact of Christ's being raised, having first established the former in
many ways? "For both the prophets spake of it," saith he, "and the Lord
Himself showed it by His appearing, and we preach, and ye believed;"
weaving thus his fourfold testimony; the witness of the prophets, the
witness of the issue of events, the witness of the apostles, the witness of
the disciples; or rather a fivefold. For this very cause too itself implies
the resurrection; viz. his dying for others' sins. If therefore this hath
been proved, it is evident that the other also follows, viz. that the other
dead likewise are raised. And this is why, as concerning an admitted fact,
he challenges and questions them, saying, "Now if Christ hath been raised,
how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?"
Hereby also again abating the boldness of the gainsayers: in that he
said not, "how say, ye," but, "how say some among you." And neither doth he
bring a charge against all nor declare openly the very persons whom he
accuses, in order not to make them more reckless: neither on the other hand
doth he conceal it wholly, that he may correct them. For this purpose
accordingly, separating them from the multitude, he strips himself for the
contest with them, by this both weakening and confounding them, and holding
the rest in their conflicts with these firmer to the truth, nor suffering
them to desert to those that were busy to destroy them: he being in fact
prepared to adopt a vehement mode of speech.
Further, lest they should say, "this indeed is clear and evident unto
all that Christ is raised, and none doubts it; this doth not however
necessarily imply the other also, to wit, the resurrection of mankind:"--
for the one was both before proclaimed and came to pass, and was testified
of by his appearing; the fact, namely, of Christ's resurrection: but the
other is yet in hope, i.e., our own part:--see what he doeth; from the
other side again he makes it out: which is a proof of great power. Thus,
"why do some say," saith he, "that there is no resurrection of the dead?"
Of course then the former also in its turn is subverted by this, the fact,
namely, that Christ is raised. Wherefore also he adds, saying,
Ver. 13. "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither hath
Christ been raised."
Seest thou Paul's energy, and his spirit for the combat, so invincible?
how not only from what is evident he demonstrates what is doubted, but also
from what is doubted, endeavors to demonstrate to gainsayers the former
evident proposition? Not because what had already taken place required
demonstration, but that he might signify this to be equally worthy of
belief with that.
[3.] "And what kind of consequence is this?" saith one. "For if Christ
be not raised, that then neither should others be raised, doth follow: but
that if others be not raised, neither should Christ be raised, what reason
can there be in this?" Since then this doth not appear to be very
reasonable, see how he works it out wisely, scattering his seeds beforehand
from the beginning, even from the very groundwork of the Gospel: as, that
"having died for our sins," He was raised; and that He is "the first-fruits
of them that slept." For the first-fruits--of what can He be the first-
fruits, except of them that are raised? And how can He be first-fruits, if
they rise not of whom He is first-fruits? How then are they not raised?
Again, if they be not raised, wherefore was Christ raised? Wherefore
came He? Wherefore did He take upon Him flesh, if he were not about to
raise flesh again? For He stood not in need of it Himself but for our
sakes. But these things he afterwards set down as he goes on; for the
present he saith, "If the dead be not raised, neither hath Christ been
raised," as though that were connected with this. For had He not intended
to raise Himself, He would not have wrought that other work. Seest thou by
degrees the whole economy overthrown by those words of theirs and by their
unbelief in the resurrection? But as yet he saith nothing of the
incarnation, but of the resurrection. For not His having become incarnate,
but His having died, took away death; since while He had flesh, the tyranny
of death still had dominion.
Ver. 14. "And if Christ hath not been raised, then is our preaching
vain, your faith also is vain."
Although what followed in due course would have been, "but if Christ be
not risen, ye fight against things evident, and against so many prophets,
and the truth of facts;" nevertheless he states what is much more fearful
to them: "then is our preaching vain, your faith also is vain." For he
wishes to shake thoroughly their mind: "we have lost all," saith he, "all
is over, if He be not risen." Seest thou how great is the mystery of the
oeconomy? As thus: if after death He could not rise again, neither is sin
loosed nor death taken away nor the curse removed. Yea, and not only have
we preached in vain, but ye also have believed in vain.
[4.] And not hereby alone doth he show the impiety of these evil
doctrines, but he further contends earnestly against them, saying,
Ver. 15. "Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God: because we
witnessed of Him that He raised up Christ; whom He raised not up, if so be
that the dead are not raised."
But if this be absurd, (for it is a charge against God and a calumny,)
and He raised Him not, as ye say, not only this, but other absurdities too
And again he establishes it all, and takes it up again, saying,
Ver. 16. "For if the dead are not raised, neither hath Christ been
For had He not intended to do this, He would not have come into the
world. And he names not this, but the end, to wit, His resurrection;
through it drawing all things.
Ver. 17. "And if Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain."
With whatever is clear and confessed, he keeps on surrounding the
resurrection of Christ, by means of the stronger point making even that
which seems to be weak and doubtful, strong and clear.
"Ye are yet in your sins." For if He was not raised, neither did He
die; and if He died not, neither did He take away sin: His death being the
taking away of sin. "For behold," saith one, "the Lamb of God, which taketh
away the sin of the world." (John i. 29.) But how "taketh away?" By His
death. Wherefore also he called him a Lamb, as one slain. But if He rose
not again, neither was He slain: and if He was not slain, neither was sin
taken away: and if it was not taken away, ye are in it: and if ye are in
it, we have preached in vain: and if we have preached in vain, ye have
believed in vain that ye were reconciled. And besides, death remains
immortal, if He did not arise. For if He too was holden of death and loosed
not its pains, how released He all others, being as yet Himself holden of
it? Wherefore also he adds,
Ver. 18. "Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ have
"And why speak I of you," saith he, "when all those also are perished,
who have done all and are no longer subject to the uncertainty of the
future?" But by the expression, "in Christ," he means either "in the
faith," or "they who died for His sake, who endured many perils, many
miseries, who walked in the narrow way.(1)"
Where are those foul-mouthed Manichees who say that by the resurrection
here means the liberation from sin(2)? For these compact and continuous
syllogisms, holding as they do also conversely, indicate nothing of what
they say, but what we affirm. It is true, "rising again" is spoken of one
who has fallen: and this is why he keeps on explaining, and saith not only
that He was raised, but adds this also, "from the dead." And the
Corinthians too doubted not of the forgiveness of sins, but of the
resurrection of bodies.
But what necessity is there at all, that except mankind be not without
sin, neither should Christ Himself be so? Whereas, if He were not to raise
men up, it were natural to say, " wherefore came He and took our flesh and
rose again?" But on our supposition not so. Yea, and whether men sin or do
not sin, there is ever with God an impossibility of sinning, and what
happens to us reaches not to Him, nor doth one case answer to the other by
way of conversion, as in the matter of the resurrection of the body(3).
[4.] Ver. 19. "If in this life only we have, hoped in Christ, we are of
all men most pitiable.
What sayest thou, O Paul? How "in this life only have we hope," if our
bodies be not raised, the soul abiding and being immortal? Because even if
the soul abide, even if it be infinitely immortal, as indeed it is, without
the flesh it shall not receive those hidden good things, as neither truly
shall it be punished. For all things shall be made manifest before the
judgment-seat of Christ, "that every one may receive the things done in the
body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."(2 Cor. v.
10.) Therefore he saith, "if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we
are of all men most pitiable." For if the body rise not again, the soul
abides uncrowned without that blessedness which is in heaven. And if this
be so, we shall enjoy nothing then at all: and if nothing then, in the
present life is our recompense. "What then in this respect can be more
wretched than we?" saith he.
But these things he said, as well to confirm them in the doctrine of
the resurrection of the body, as to persuade them concerning that immortal
life, in order that they might not suppose that all our concerns end with
the present world. For having sufficiently established what he purposed by
the former arguments, and having said, "if the dead are not raised, neither
hath Christ been raised; but if Christ were not raised, we have perished,
and we are yet in our sins;" again he also subjoins this, thoroughly
demolishing their arrogance. For so when he intends to introduce any of the
necessary doctrines, he first shakes thoroughly their hardness of heart by
fear: which accordingly he did here, having both above scattered those
seeds, and made them anxious, as those who had fallen from all: and now
again after another manner, and so as they should most severely feel it,
doing this same thing and saying, " 'we are of all men most pitiable,' if
after so great conflicts and deaths and those innumerable evils, we are to
fall from so great blessings, and our happiness is limited by the present
life." For in fact all depends on the resurrection. So that even hence it
is evident that his discourse was not of a resurrection from sins, but of
bodies, and of the life present and to come.
[3.] Ver. 20. "But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, the
first-fruits of them that are asleep."
Having signified how great mischiefs are bred from not believing the
resurrection, he takes up the discourse again, and says, "But now hath
Christ been raised from the dead;" continually adding, "from the dead," so
as to stop(1) the mouths of the heretics. "The first-fruits of them that
slept." But if their first-fruits, then themselves also, must needs rise
again. Whereas if he were speaking of the resurrection from sins, and none
is without sin;--for even Paul saith, "I know nothing against myself, yet
am I not hereby justified(2);"--how shall there be any who rise again,
according to you? Seest thou that his discourse was of bodies? And that he
might make it worthy of credit, he continually brings forward Christ who
rose again in the flesh.
Next he also assigns a reason. For, as I said, when one asserts but
does not state the reason, his discourse is not easily received by the
multitude. What then is the reason?
Ver. 21. "For since by man came death, by man came also the
resurrection of the dead."
But if by a man, doubtless by one having a body. And observe his
thoughtfulness, how on another ground also he makes his argument
inevitable. As thus: "he that is defeated," saith he, "must in his own
person also renew the conflict, the nature which was cast down must itself
also gain the victory. For so the reproach was wiped away."
But let us see what kind of death he is speaking of.
Ver. 22. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made
What then? tell me; did all die in Adam the death of sin(3)? How then
was Noah righteous in his generation? and how Abraham? and how Job? and how
all the rest? And what, I pray? shall all be made alive in Christ? Where
then are those who are led away into hell fire? Thus, if this be said of
the body, the doctrine stands: but if of righteousness and sin, it doth so
Further, lest, on hearing that the making alive is common to all, thou
shouldest also suppose that sinners are: saved, he adds,
Ver. 23. "But every man in his own order."
For do not, because thou hearest of a resurrection, imagine that all
enjoy the same benefits. Since if in the punishment all will not suffer
alike but the difference is great; much more where there are sinners and
righteous men shall the separation be yet wider.
"Christ the first-fruits, then they that are Christ's;" i.e., the faithful
and the approved.
Ver. 24. "Then cometh the end."
For when these shall have risen again, all things shall have an end,
not as now when after Christ's resurrection things abide yet in suspense.
Wherefore he added, "at His coming," that thou mayest learn that he is
speaking of that time, "when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God
even the Father; when He shall have abolished all rule and all authority
[6.] Here, give heed to me carefully, and see that no part escape you
of what I say. For our contest is with enemies(1): wherefore we first must
practice the reductio ad absurdum which also Paul often doeth. Since in
this way shall we find what they say most easy of detection. Let us ask
them then first, what is the meaning of the saying, "When he shall have
delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father?" For if we take this just
as it stands and not in a sense becoming Deity, He will not after this
retain it. For he that hath delivered up to another, ceases any longer to
retain a thing himself. And not only will there be this absurdity, but that
also the other person who receives it will be found not to be possessor of
it before he hath so received it. Therefore according to them, neither was
the Father a King before, governing our affairs: nor will it seem that the
Son after these things will be a King. How then, first of all, concerning
the Father doth the Son Himself say, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I
work:" (John v. 17.) and of Him Daniel, "That His kingdom is an everlasting
kingdom, which shall not pass away?" (Dan. vii. 14.) Seest thou how many
absurdities are produced, and repugnant to the Scriptures, when one takes
the thing spoken after the manner of men?
But what "rule," then doth he here say, that Christ "putteth down?"
That of the angels? Far from it. That of the faithful? Neither is it this.
What rule then? That of the devils, concerning which he saith, "Our
wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities,
against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness:" (Ephes. vi.
12.) For now it is not as yet "put down" perfectly, they working in many
places, but then shall they cease.
Ver. 25. "For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His
Again from hence also another absurdity is produced, unless we take
this also in a way becoming Deity. For the expression "until," is one of
end and limitation: but in reference to God, this does not exist.
Ver. 26. "The last enemy that shall be abolished is death."
How the last? After all, after the devil, after all the other things.
For so in the beginning also death came in last; the counsel of the devil
having come first, and our disobedience, and then death. Virtually then
indeed it is even now abolished: but actually, at that time.
[7.] Ver. 27. "For He hath put all things in subjection under His feet.
But when He saith, All things are put in subjection, it is manifest that He
is excepted who did subject all things unto Him."
Ver. 28. "And when all things have been subjected unto Him, then shall
the Son also Himself be subjected unto Him that did subject all things unto
And yet before he said not that it was the Father who "put things under
Him," but He Himself who "abolishes." For "when He shall have abolished,"
saith he, "all rule and authority:" and again, "for He must reign until He
hath put all His enemies under His feet." How then doth he here say, "the
And not only is there this apparent perplexity, but also that he is
afraid with a very unaccountable fear, and uses a correction, saying, "He
is excepted, who did subject all things unto Him," as though some would
suspect, whether the Father might Himself not be subject unto the Son; than
which what can be more irrational? nevertheless, he fears this.
How then is it? for in truth there are many questions following one
upon another. Well, give me then your earnest attention; since in fact it
is necessary for us first to speak of the scope of Paul and his mind, which
one may find everywhere shining forth, and then to subjoin our solution:
this being itself an ingredient in our solution.
What then is Paul's mind, and what is his custom? He speaks in one way
when he discourses of the Godhead alone, and in another when he falls into
the argument of the economy. Thus having once taken hold of our Lord's
Flesh, he freely thereafter uses all the sayings that humiliate Him;
without fear as though that were able to bear all such expressions. Let us
see therefore here also, whether his discourse is of the simple Godhead, or
whether in view of the incarnation he asserts of Him those things which he
saith: or rather let us first point out where he did this of which I have
spoken. Where then did he this? Writing to the Philippians he saith, "Who,
being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an equality with
God, but emptied Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant,
being made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He
humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the
cross. Wherefore hath God highly exalted Him." (Phil. ii. 6--9.)
Seest thou how when he was discoursing of the Godhead alone, he uttered
those great things, that He "was in the form of God" and that He "was equal
with" Him that begat Him, and to Him refers the whole? But when He showed
Him to thee made flesh, he lowered again the discourse. For except thou
distinguish these things, there is great variance between the things
spoken. Since, if He were "equal with God," how did He highly exalt one
equal with Himself? If He were "in the form of God," how "gave" He Him "a
name?" for he that giveth, giveth to one that hath not, and he that
exalteth, exalteth one that is before abased. He will be found then to be
imperfect and in need, before He hath received the "exaltation" and "the
Name;" and many other absurd corollaries will hence follow. But if thou
shouldest add the incarnation, thou wilt not err in saying these things.
These things then here also consider, and with this mind receive thou the
[8.] Now together with these we will state also other reasons why this
pericope of Scripture was thus composed. But at present it is necessary to
mention this: first, that Paul's discourse was of the resurrection, a thing
counted to be impossible and greatly disbelieved: next, he was writing to
Corinthians among whom there were many philosophers who mocked at such
things always. For although in other things wrangling one with another, in
this they all, as with one mouth, conspired, dogmatically declaring that
there is no resurrection. Contending therefore for such a subject so
disbelieved and ridiculed, both on account of the prejudice which had been
formed, and on account of the difficulty of the thing; and wishing to
demonstrate its possibility, he first effects this from the resurrection of
Christ. And having proved it both from the prophets, and from those who had
seen, and from those who believed: when he had obtained an admitted
reductio ad absurdum, he proves in what follows the resurrection of mankind
also. "For if the dead rise not," saith he, "neither has Christ been
Further; having closely urged these converse arguments in the former
verses, he tries it again in another way, calling Him the "first-fruits,"
and pointing to His "abolishing all rule and authority and power, and death
last." "How then should death be put down," saith he, "unless he first
loose the bodies which he held?" Since then he had spoken great things of
the Only-Begotten, that He "gives up the kingdom," i.e., that He Himself
brings these things to pass, and Himself is victor in the war, and "putteth
all things under His feet," he adds, to correct the unbelief of the
multitude, "for He must reign till He hath put all His enemies under His
feet." Not as putting an end to the kingdom, did he use the expression
"until," but to render what was said worthy of credit, and induce them to
be confident. For "do not," saith he, "because thou hast heard that He will
abolish all rule, and authority and power," to wit, the devil, and the
bands of demons, (many as there are,) and the multitudes of unbelievers,
and the tyranny of death, and all evils: do not thou fear as though His
strength was exhausted. For until He shall have done all these things, "He
must reign;" not saying this, that after He hath brought it to pass He doth
not reign; but establishing this other, that even if it be not now,
undoubtedly it will be. For His kingdom is not cut off: yea, He rules and
prevails and abides until He shall have set to right all things.
And this manner of speech one might find also in the Old Testament; as
when it is said, "But the word of the Lord abideth for ever;" (Ps. cxix.
89.) and, "Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail." (Ps. cii. 27.)
Now these and such-like things the Prophet saith, when he is telling of
things which a long space of time must achieve and which must by all means
come to pass; casting out the fearfulness of the duller sort of hearers.
But that the expression, "until," spoken of God, and "unto," do not
signify an end, hear what one saith: "From everlasting unto everlasting
Thou art God:" (Ps. xc. 2.) and again, "I am, I am," and "Even to your old
age I am He." (Isa. xlvi. 4.)
For this cause indeed doth he set death last, that from the victory
over the rest this also might be easily admitted by the unbeliever. For
when He destroys the devil who brought in death, much more will He put an
end to His work.
[9.] Since then he referred all to Him, the "abolishing rule and
authority," the perfecting of His kingdom, (I mean the salvation of the
faithful, the peace of the world, the taking away of evils, for this is to
perfect His kingdom,) the putting an end to death; and he said not, "the
Father by Him," but, "Himself shall put down, and Himself shall put under
His feet," and he no where mentioned Him that begat Him; he was afraid
afterward, lest on this account among some of the more irrational persons,
either the Son might seem to be greater than the Father, or to be a certain
distinct principle, unbegotten.(1) And therefore, gently guarding himself,
he qualifies the magnitude of his expressions, saying, "for He put all
things in subjection under His feet," again referring to the Father these
high achievements; not as though the Son were without power. For how could
He be, of whom he testified so great things before, and referred to Him all
that was said? But it was for the reason which I mentioned, and that he
might show all things to be common to Father and Son which were done in our
behalf. For that Himself alone was sufficient to "put all things in
subjection under Him," hear again Paul saying, (Phil. iii. 21.) "Who shall
fashion anew the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the
body of His glory, according to the working whereby He is able even to
subject all things unto Himself."
Then also he uses a correction, saying, "But when He saith, all things
are put in subjection, it is evident that He is excepted who did subject
all things unto Him," testifying even thence no small glory to the Only-
Begotten. For if He were less and much inferior, this fear would never have
been entertained by him. Neither is he content with this, but also adds
another thing, as follows. I say, lest any should doubt-ingly ask, "And
what if the Father hath not been 'put under Him?' this doth not at all
hinder the Son from being the more mighty;" fearing this impious
supposition, because that expression was not sufficient to point out this
also, he added, going very much beyond it, "But when all things have been
subjected unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subjected;" showing
His great concord with the Father, and that He is the principle of all
other good things and the first Cause, who hath begotten One so great in
power and in achievements.
[10.] But if he said more than the subject-matter demanded, marvel not.
For in imitation of his Master he doeth this: since He too pur-posing to
show His concord with Him that begat Him, and that He hath not come without
His mind, descends so far, I say not, as the proof of concord demanded, but
as the weakness of the persons present required. For He prays to His Father
for no other cause but this; and stating the reason He saith, "that they
may believe that Thou hast sent Me." (John xi. 42.) In imitation therefore
of Him, Paul here in his manner of speech goes beyond what was required;
not that thou mightest have any suspicion of a forced servitude, far from
it; but that he might the more entirely cast out those impious doctrines.
For so when he is minded to pull up any thing by the roots, he is wont to
do it, and abundantly more with it(2). Thus too, for example, when he spake
of a believing wife and an unbelieving husband, companying with one another
by the law of marriage, that the wife might not consider herself defiled by
that intercourse and the embraces of the unbeliever, he said not, "the wife
is not unclean," nor, "she is no wise harmed by the unbeliever," but, which
was much more, "the unbeliever is even 'sanctified' by her," not meaning to
signify that the heathen was made holy through her, but by the very great
strength of the expression anxious to remove her fear. So also here, his
zeal to take away that impious doctrine by a very strong utterance was the
cause of his expressing himself as he did. For as to suspect the Son of
weakness is extreme impiety: (wherefore he corrects it, saying, "He shall
put all enemies under His feet:") so on the other hand is it more impious
to consider the Father inferior to Him. Wherefore he takes it also away
with exceeding force. And observe how he puts it. For he said not simply,
"He is excepted which put all things under Him," but, "it is manifest,"
"for even if it be admitted," saith he, "nevertheless I make it sure.(3)"
And that thou mayest learn that this is the reason of the things
spoken, I would ask thee this question: Doth an additional "subjection" at
that time befal the Son? And how can this be other than impious and
unworthy of God? For the greatest subjection and obedience is this, that He
who is God took the form of a servant. How then will He be "sub- jected?"
Seest thou, that to take away the impious notion, he used this expression?
and this too in a suitable though reserved sense? For he becomes a Son and
a divine Person, so He obeys; not humanly, but as one acting freely and
having all authority. Otherwise how is he co-enthroned? How, "as the Father
raiseth up, even so He, whom He will?" (John v. 21.) How are "all things
that the Father hath His," and all that He hath, the Father's? (John xvi.
15.) For these phrases indicate to us an authority exactly measured by(4)
that of Him that begat Him.
[11.] But what is this, "When He shall deliver up the kingdom?" The
Scripture acknowledges two kingdoms of God, the one by appropriation(5),
the other by creation(6). Thus, He is King over all, both Greeks and Jews
and devils and His adversaries, in respect of His creation: but He is King
of the faithful and willing and subject, in respect of His making them His
own. This is the kingdom which is said also to have a beginning. For
concerning this He saith also in the second Psalm, "Ask of Me, and I shall
give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance." (Ps. ii. 8.) Touching this
also, He Himself said to His disciples, "All authority hath been given unto
Me by My father," (Matt. xxviii. 18.) referring all to Him that begat Him,
not as though of Himself He were not sufficient, but to signify that He is
a Son, and not unbegotten. This kingdom then He doth "deliver up," i.e.,
"bring to a right end."
"What then," saith one, "can be the reason why He spake nothing of the
Spirit?" Because of Him he was not discoursing now, nor doth he confound
all things together. Since also where he saith, "There is one God the
Father, and one Lord Jesus," undoubtedly not as allowing the Spirit to be
inferior, is he therefore silent, but because for the time it was not
urgent, he so expressed himself. For he is wont also to make mention of the
Father only, .yet we must not therefore cast out the Son: he is wont to
speak also of the Son and of the Spirit only, yet not for this are we to
deny(1) the Father.
But what is, "that God may be all in all?" That all things may be
dependent upon Him, that none may suppose two authorities without a
beginning, nor another kingdom separated off; that nothing may exist
independent of him. For when the enemies shall be lying under the feet of
the Son, and He having them cast under His feet be at no variance with His
Father, but at concord with Him in entire perfection, then He shall Himself
"be all in all."
But some say that he spake this to declare the removal of wickedness,
as though all would yield thenceforth and none would resist nor do
iniquity. For when there is no sin, it is evident that "God shall be all in
[12.] But if bodies do not rise again, how are these things true? For
the worst enemy of all, death, remains, having wrought whatever he listed.
"Nay," saith one, "for they shall sin no more." And what of that? For he is
not discoursing here of the death of the soul, but of that of the body? How
then is he "put down?" For victory is this, the winning of those things
which have been carried off and detained. But if men's bodies are to be
detained in the earth, it follows that the tyranny of death remains, these
bodies for their part being holden, and there being no other body for him
to be vanquished in. But if this which Paul spake of, ensue, as undoubtedly
it will ensue, God's victory will appear, and that a glorious one, in His
being able to raise again the bodies which were holden thereby. Since an
enemy too is then vanquished, when a man takes the spoils, not when he
suffers them to remain in the other's possession: but unless one venture to
take what is his, how can we say that he is vanquished? After this manner
of victory doth Christ Himself say in the Gospels that He hath been
victorious, thus speaking, "When he shall bind the strong man, then shall
he also spoil his goods." (Matt. xii. 29.) Since if this were not so, it
would not be at all a manifest victory. For as in the death of the soul,
"he that hath died is justified from sin;" (Rom. vi. 7.) (and yet we cannot
say that this is a victory, for he is not the victor who adds no more to
his wickedness, but he who hath done away the former captivity of his
passions;) just so in this instance also, I should not call death's being
stayed from feeding on the bodies of men a splendid victory, but rather
that the bodies heretofore holden by him should be snatched away from him.
But if they should still be contentious and should say that these
things were spoken of the soul's death, how is this "destroyed last?" since
in the case of each one at his Baptism it hath been destroyed perfectly. If
however thou speakest of the body, the expression is admissible; I mean,
such a saying as that it will be "last destroyed."
But if any should doubt why discoursing of the resurrection, he did not
bring forward the bodies which rose again in the time of our Lord, our
answer might be the following: that this could not be alleged in behalf of
the resurrection. For to point out those who after rising died again,
suited not one employed in proving that death is entirely destroyed. Yea,
this is the very reason why he said that he is "destroyed last," that thou
mightest never more suspect his rising again. For when sin is taken away,
much more shall death cease: it being out of all reason when the fountain
is dried up, that the stream flowing from it should still subsist; and when
the root is annihilated, that the fruit should remain.
[13.] Since then in the last day the enemies of God shall be destroyed,
together with death and the devil and the evil spirits, let us not be
dejected at the prosperity of the enemies of God. For the enemies of the
Lord in the moment of their glory and exaltation fail; "yea, like smoke
have they failed away." (Ps. xxxvii. 20.) When thou seest any enemy of God
wealthy, with armed attendants and many flatterers, be not cast down, but
lament, weep, call upon God, that He may enrol him amongst His friends: and
the more he prospers being God's enemy, so much the more do thou mourn for
him. For sinners we ought always to bewail, but especially when they enjoy
wealth and abundance of good days; even as one should the sick, when they
eat and drink to excess.
But there are some, who when they hear these words are of so unhappy a
disposition, as to sigh bitterly thereupon, and say, "Tears are due to me
who have nothing." Thou hast well said, "who have nothing," not because
thou hast not what another hath, but because thou accountest the thing such
as to be called happy; yea, for this cause art thou worthy of infinite
lamentations: even as, if a person living in health should count happy him
that is sick and lying on a soft couch, this latter is not near so wretched
and miserable as he, because he hath no sense of his own advantages. Just
such a result one may observe in these men's case also: nay, and hereby our
whole life is confounded and disordered. For these sayings have undone
many, and betrayed them to the devil, and made them more pitiable than such
as are wasted with famine. Yea, that those who long after more, are more
wretched than mendicants, as being possessed with a greater and bitterer
sorrow than they, is evident from what follows.
A drought once overtook our city, and all were trembling for the last
of evils, and were beseeching God to rid them of this fear. And one might
see then that which was spoken of by Moses; (Deut. xxviii. 23.) "the
heavens become brass," and a death, of all deaths the most horrible, waited
for every day. But afterwards, when it seemed good to the merciful God,
beyond all expectation there was wafted down from heaven a great and
plentiful rain, and thenceforth all were in holiday and feasting, as having
come up from the very gates of death. But in the midst of so great
blessings and the common gladness of all, one of those exceedinly wealthy
people went about with a gloomy and downcast countenance, quite dead with
sorrow; and when many enquired the reason, wherefore in the common joy of
all men he alone is sorrowful, he could not even keep within him his savage
passion, but goaded by the tyranny of the disease, declared before them all
the reason. "Why," saith he, "having in my possession ten thousand measures
of wheat, I have no means of disposing of them left." Shall we then count
him happy, tell me, for these words, for which he deserved to be stoned?
Him that was more cruel than any wild beast, the common enemy? What sayest
thou, man? Art thou sad because all did not perish, that thou mightest
gather gold? Hast thou not heard what Solomon saith, (Prov. xi. 26.) "He
that withholdeth(1) corn, the people shall curse him?" but goest about a
common enemy of the blessings of the world, and a foe to the liberality of
the Lord of the world, and a friend of Mammon, or rather his slave? Nay,
doth not that tongue deserve to be cut out, and the heart to be quenched,
that brought forth these words?
[14.] Seest thou how gold doth not suffer men to be men, but wild
beasts and fiends? For what can be more pitiful than this rich man, whose
daily prayer is that there may be famine, in order that he may have a
little gold? Yea, and his passion by this time is come round to the
contrary of itself: he not even rejoicing in his abundant store of the
fruits of the earth, but on this very account grieving the rather, (to such
a pass is he come,) that his possessions are infinite. Although one who
hath much ought to be joyful: but this man on that very account is
dejected. Seest thou that, as I said, the rich do not reap as much pleasure
from what is present, as they endure sorrow for what hath not yet been
added? For he that had innumerable quantities of wheat did more grieve and
lament than he who suffered hunger. And while the one, on merely having his
necessary food, was crowning himself and leaping for joy and giving thanks
to God; the other, who had so much, was fretting and thought he was undone.
It is not then the superfluity which causes our pleasure, but a self-
controlling mind: since without this, though one obtain and have all, he
will feel as one deprived of all and will mourn accordingly: inasmuch as
this man too of whom we are now speaking, even if he had sold all he had
for as large a sum as he wished, would again have grieved that it was not
for more; and if he could have had more, he would again have sought another
advance; and if he had disposed of the bushel for one pound, he would even
then have been distracted for sorrow, that the half bushel could not be
sold for as much. And if the price were not set so high at first, marvel
not. Since drunkards also are not at first inflamed, but when they have
loaded themselves with much wine, then they kindle the flame into greater
fierceness: so these men, by how much more they have grasped, in so much
the greater poverty do they find themselves, and they who gain more than
others, are the very persons to be the most in want.
[15.] But I say these things not only to this man, but also to each one
of those who are so diseased: those, I say, who raise the price of their
wares and make a traffic of the poverty of their neighbors. For of humanity
none any where makes account: but every where the covetous desire brings
out many at the time of sale. And oil and wine is sold by one quicker, by
another more slowly, but neither out of regard to others; rather the one
seeks gain, the other to avoid loss by the spoiling of his produce. Thus,
because most men not making much account of the laws of God, shut up and
keep all in doors, God by other means leading them to humanity,--that were
it but of necessity they may do something kind,--hath infused into them the
fear of greater loss, not allowing the fruits of the earth to keep any
long time, in order that out of mere dread of the damage from their
spoiling, they may expose for sale to the needy, even against their will,
such things as they wickedly bury at home and keep. However, after all
this, some are so insatiable as not even thereby to be corrected. Many, for
example, have gone so far as to empty whole casks, not giving even a cup-
full to the poor man, nor a piece of money to the needy, but after it hath
become vinegar, they dash it all upon the ground, and destroy their casks
together with the fruit. Others again who would not give a part of a single
cake to the hungry, have thrown whole granaries into some river: and
because they listened not to God who bade them give to the needy, at the
bidding of the moth, even unwillingly, they emptied out all they had in
their houses, in utter destruction and waste; drawing down upon their own
heads together with this loss much scorn and many a curse.
And such is the course of their affairs here; but the hereafter, what
words shall set before i us? For as these men in this world cast their
moth-eaten grain, become useless, into rivers; even so the doers of such
things, on this very account become useless, God casts into the river of
fire. Because as the grain by the moth and worm, so are their souls
devoured by cruelty and inhumanity. And the reason of these things is their
being nailed to things present, and gaping after this life only. Whence
also such men are full of infinite sadness; for name whatever pleasure thou
wilt, the fear of their end is enough to annihilate all, and such an one
"is dead, while he is yet alive." (1 Tim. v. 6.)
Now then that unbelievers should have these i feelings, is no marvel;
but when they who have partaken of so great mysteries and learned such high
rules of self-denial concerning things to come, delight to dwell in things
present, what indulgence do they deserve?
[16.] Whence then arises their loving to dwell in present things? From
giving their mind to luxury, and fattening their flesh, and making their
soul delicate, and rendering their burden heavy, and their darkness great,
and their veil thick. For in luxury the better part is enslaved, but the
worse prevails; and the former is blinded on every side and dragged on in
its maimed condition; while the other draws and leads men about every
where, though it ought to be in the rank of things that are led.
Since great indeed is the bond between the soul and the body; the Maker
having contrived this, lest any should induce us to abhor it as alien. For
God indeed bade us love our enemies; but the devil hath so far prevailed as
to induce some(1) even to hate their own body. Since when a man saith that
it is of the devil, he proves nothing else than this; which is the extreme
of dotage. For if it be of the devil, what is this so perfect harmony, such
as to render it meet in every way for the energies of the self-controlling
soul? "Nay," saith one, "if it be meet, how doth the body blind it?" It is
not the body which blinds the soul; far from it, O man; but the luxury. But
whence do we desire the luxury? Not from our having a body, by no means;
but from an evil choice. For the body requires feeding, not high
feeding(2), the body needs nourishing, not breaking up and falling apart.
You see that not to the soul only, but to the very body also which receives
the nourishment, the luxury is hostile. For it becomes weaker instead of
strong, and softer instead of firm, and sickly instead of healthful, and
heavier instead of light, and slighter instead of compact, and illfavored
instead of handsome, and unsavory instead of fragrant, and impure instead
of clean, and full of pain instead of being at ease, and useless instead of
useful, and old instead of young, and decaying instead of strong, and slow
and dull instead of quick, and maimed instead of whole. Whereas if it were
of the devil, it ought not to receive injury from the things of the devil,
I mean, from sin.
[17.] But neither is the body, nor food, of the devil, but luxury
alone. For by means of it that malignant fiend brings to pass his
innumerable evils. Thus did he make victims of(3) a whole people. "For the
beloved waxed fat," saith one, "and grew thick, and was enlarged, and
kicked." (Deut. xxxii. 15.) And thence also was the beginning of those
thunderbolts on Sodom. And to declare this, Ezekiel said, "But this was the
iniquity of Sodom, in pride and fulness of bread and refinements(4) they
waxed wanton." (Ezek. xvi. 4.) Therefore also Paul said, (1 Tim. v. 6.)
"She that giveth herself to pleasure(5), is dead while she liveth." How
should this be? Because as a sepulchre she bears about her body, bound
close to innumerable evils(6). And if the body so perish, how will the soul
be affected; what disorder, what waves, what a tempest will she be filled
with? Hereby, you see, she becomes unfitted for every duty, and will have
no power easily to speak, or hear, or take counsel, or do anything that is
needful. But as a pilot when the storm hath got the better of his skill, is
plunged into the deep, vessels and sailors and all: so also the soul
together with the body is drowned in the grievous abyss of insensibility.
For, in fact, God hath set the stomach in our bodies as a kind of mill,
giving it a proportionate power, and appointing a set measure which it
ought to grind every day. If therefore one cast in more, remaining
undigested it doth injury to the whole body. Hence diseases and weaknesses
and deformities: since in truth luxury makes the beautiful woman not only
sickly, but also foul to look upon. For when she is continually sending
forth unpleasant exhalations, and breathes fumes of stale wine, and is more
florid than she ought to be, and spoils the symmetry that beseems a woman,
and loses all her seemliness, and her body becomes flabby, her eyelids
bloodshot and distended, and her bulk unduly great, and her flesh an
useless load; consider what a disgust it all produces.
Moreover, I have heard a physician say that many have been hindered
from reaching their proper height by nothing so much as luxurious living.
For the breath being obstructed by the multitude of things which are cast
in and being occupied in the digestion of such things, that which ought to
serve for growth is spent on this digestion of superfluities. Why need one
speak of gout, rheum dispersed every where, the other diseases hence
arising, the whole abomination? For nothing is so disgusting as a woman
pampering herself with much food. Therefore among the poorer women one may
see more of beauty: the superfluities being consumed and not cleaving to
them, like some superfluous clay, of no use and benefit. For their daily
exercise, and labors, and hardships, and their frugal table, and spare
diet, minister unto them much soundness of body, and thence also much
[18.] But if thou talkest of the pleasure of luxury, thou wilt find it
to go no farther than the throat: since as soon as it hath passed the
tongue, it is flown away, leaving behind in the body much that is
disgusting. For do not I pray look on the voluptuaries at table only, but
when you see them rise up, then follow them, and you will see bodies rather
of wild beasts and irrational creatures than of human beings. You will see
them with headache, distended, bound up, needing a bed and a couch and
plenty of rest, and like men who are tossed in a great tempest and require
others to save them, and long for that condition in which they were before
they were swelled even to bursting(1): they carrying their bellies about
with a burden like that of women with child, and can scarce step forward,
and scarce see, and scarce speak, and scarce do any thing. But if it should
chance that they sleep a little, they see again strange dreams and full of
all manner of fancies.
What should one say of that other madness of theirs? the madness of
lust, I mean, for this also hath its fountains from hence. Yea, as horses
wild after the female, so they, goaded on by the sting of their
drunkenness, leap upon all, more irrational than they, and more frantic in
their boundings; and committing many more unseemlinesses which but to name
is unlawful. For they know not in fact any longer what they suffer, nor
what they do.
But not so he that keeps from luxury: rather he sits in harbor,
beholding other men's shipwrecks, and enjoys a pleasure pure and lasting,
following after that life which becomes him that is free. Knowing therefore
these things, let us flee from the evil banquets of luxury and cleave to a
spare table; that being of a good habit both of soul and body, we may both
practice all virtue, and attain the good things to come, through the grace
and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, with the Holy
Ghost, be glory, power, and honor, now and ever, and world without end.
HOMILY XL: 1 Cor. xv. 29.
Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead? if the dead are
not raised at all, why then are they baptized for the dead?
HE takes in hand again another topic, establishing what he said at one
time from what God doeth(1), and at another from the very things which they
practice(2). And this also is no small plea for the defence of any cause
when a man brings forward the gainsayers themselves as witnessing by their
own actions what he affirms. What then is that which he means? Or will ye
that I should first mention how they who are infected with the Marcionite
heresy pervert this expression? And I know indeed that I shall excite much
laughter; nevertheless, even on this account most of all I will mention it
that you may the more completely avoid this disease: viz., when any
Catechumen departs among them, having concealed the living man under the
couch of the dead, they approach the corpse and talk with him, and ask him
if he wishes to receive baptism; then when he makes no answer, he that is
concealed underneath saith in his stead that of course he should wish to be
baptized; and so they baptize him instead of the departed, like men jesting
upon the stage(3). So great power hath the devil over the souls of careless
sinners. Then being called to account, they allege this expression, saying
that even the Apostle hath said, "They who are baptized for the dead."
Seest thou their extreme ridiculousness? Is it meet then to answer these
things? I trow not; unless it were necessary to discourse with madmen of
what they in their frenzy utter. But that none of the more exceedingly
simple folk may be led captive, one must needs submit to answer even these
men. As thus, if this was Paul's meaning wherefore did God threaten him
that is not baptized? For it is impossible that any should not be baptized
henceforth, this being once devised: and besides, the fault no longer lies
with the dead, but with the living. But to whom spake he, "Unless ye eat My
flesh, and drink My blood, ye have no life in yourselves?" (John vi. 53.)
To the living, or to the dead, tell me? And again, "Unless a man be born
again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John
iii. 5.) For if this be permitted, and there be no need of the mind of the
receiver nor of his assent while he lives, what hinders both Greeks and
Jews thus to become believers, other men after their decease doing these
things in their stead?
But not to prolong fruitless toil in cutting asunder their petty
spiders' webs(4), come let us unfold unto you the force of this expression.
What then is Paul speaking of?
[2.] But first I wish to remind you who are initiated of the
response,(5) which on(6) that evening they who introduce you to the
mysteries bid you make; and then I will also explain the saying of Paul: so
this likewise will be clearer to you; we after all the other things adding
this which Paul now saith. And I desire indeed expressly to utter it, but I
dare not on account of the uninitiated; for these add a difficulty to our
exposition, compelling us either not to speak clearly or to declare unto
them the ineffable mysteries. Nevertheless, as I may be able, I will speak
as through a veil(7).
As thus: after the enunciation of those mystical and fearful words, and
the awful rules of the doctrines which have come down from heaven, this
also we add at the end when we are about to baptize, bidding them say, "I
believe in the resurrection of the dead," and upon this faith we are
baptized. For after we have confessed this together with the rest, then at
last are we let down into the fountain of those sacred streams. This
therefore Paul recalling to their minds said, "if there be no resurrection,
why art thou then baptized for the dead(1)?" i. e., the dead bodies. For in
fact with a view to this art thou baptized, the resurrection of thy dead(2)
body, believing that it no longer remains dead. And thou indeed in the
words makest mention of a resurrection of the dead; but the priest, as in a
kind of image, signifies to thee by very deed the things which thou hast
believed and confessed in words. When without a sign thou believest, then
he gives thee the sign also; when thou hast done thine own part, then also
doth God fully assure thee. How and in what manner? By the water. For the
being baptized and immersed and then emerging, is a symbol of the descent
into Hades and return thence. Wherefore also Paul calls baptism a burial,
saying, "Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death." (Rom. vi.
4.) By this he makes that also which is to come credible, I mean, the
resurrection of our bodies. For the blotting out sins is a much greater
thing than the raising up of a body. And this Christ declaring, said, "For
whether is easier to say, Thy sins are forgiven, or to say, Take up thy
bed, and walk?" (Matt. ix. 5.) "The former is the more difficult," saith
He, "but since ye disbelieve it as being hidden, and make the easier
instead of the more difficult the demonstration of my power, neither Will I
refuse to afford you this proof." Then saith He to the paralytic, "Arise,
take up thy bed, and go unto thy house."
"And how is this difficult," saith one, "when it is possible to kings
also and rulers? For they too forgive adulterers and homicides." Thou art
jesting, O man, who sayest these things. For to forgive sins with God only
is possible. But rulers and kings, whether it is adulterers whom they
forgive or homicides, release them indeed from the present punishment; but
their sin they do not purge out. Though they should advance to offices them
that have been forgiven, though they should invest them with the purple
itself, though they should set the diadem upon their heads, yet so they
would only make them kings, but could not free them from their sin. It
being God alone who doeth this; which accordingly in the Layer of
Regeneration He will bring to pass. For His grace touches the very soul,
and thence plucks up the sin by the root. Here is the reason why he that
hath been forgiven by the king may be seen with his soul yet impure, but
the soul of the baptized no longer so, but purer than the very sun-beams,
and such as it was originally formed, nay rather much better than that. For
it is blessed with a Spirit, on every side enkindling it and making its
holiness intense. And as when thou art recasting iron or gold thou makest
it pure and new once more, just so the Holy Ghost also, recasting the soul
in baptism as in a furnace and consuming its sins, causes it to glisten
with more purity than all purest gold.
Further, the credibility of the resurrection of our bodies he signifies
to thee again from what follows: viz., that since sin brought in death, now
that the root is dried up, one must not after that doubt of the destruction
of the fruit. Therefore having first mentioned" the forgiveness of sins,"
thou dost next confess also "the resurrection of the dead;" the one guides
thee as by hand on to the other.
Yet again, because the term Resurrection is not sufficient to indicate
the whole: for many after rising have again departed, as those in the Old
Testament, as Lazarus, as they at the time of the crucifixion: one is bid
to say, "and the life everlasting," that none may any longer have a notion
of death after that resurrection.
These words therefore Paul recalling to their minds, saith, "What shall
they do which are baptized for the dead?" "For if there be no
resurrection," saith he, "these words are but scenery. If there be no
resurrection, how persuade we them to believe things which we do not
bestow?" Just as if a person bidding another to deliver a document to the
effect that he had received so much, should never give the sum named
therein, yet after the subscription should demand of him the specified
monies. What then will remain for the subscriber to do, now that he hath
made himself responsible, without having received what he admitted he had
received? This then he here saith of those who are baptized also. "What
shall they do which are baptized," saith he, "having subscribed to the
resurrection of dead bodies, and not receiving it, but suffering fraud? And
what need was there at all of this confession, if the fact did not
[3.] Ver. 30. "Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour?"
Ver. 31. "I protest by that glorying in you which I have in Christ
Jesus our Lord, I die daily."
See again whence he endeavors to establish the doctrine, from his own
suffrage: or rather not from his only, but from that also of the other
apostles. And this too is no small thing; that the teachers whom you
produce were full of vehement conviction and signified the same not by
words only, but also by very deeds. Therefore, you see, he doth not say
simply, "we are persuaded," for this alone was not sufficient to persuade
them, but he also furnishes the proof by facts; as if he should say, "in
words to confess these things haply seems to you no marvel; but if we
should also produce unto you the voice which deeds send forth, what can ye
have to say against that? Hear ye then, how by our perils also day by day
we confess these things?" And he said not "I," but "we," taking along with
him all the apostles together, and thereby at once speaking modestly and
adding credibility to his discourse.
For what can ye have to say? that we are deceiving you when we preach
these things, and that our doctrines come of vain-glory? Nay, our perils
suffer you not to pass such a sentence. For who would choose to be in
continual jeopardy to no purpose and with no effect? Wherefore also he
said, "Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour?" For if one should even
choose it through vain-glory, such his choice will be but for once and
again, not all his life long, like ours. For we have assigned our whole
life to this purpose.
"I protest by that glorying in you which I have in Christ Jesus our
Lord, I die daily: "by glorying here, meaning their advancement. Thus since
he had intimated that his perils were many, lest he might seem to say this
by way of lamentation, "far from grieving," saith he, "I even glory in
suffering this for your sake." And doubly, he saith, he takes delight in
it, both as being in jeopardy for their sakes and as beholding their
proficiency. Then doing what is usual with him, because he had uttered
great things, he refers both to Christ.
But how doth he "die daily?" by his readiness and preparation for that
event. And wherefore saith he these words? Again by these also to establish
the doctrine of the resurrection. "For who would choose," saith he, "to
undergo so many deaths, if there be no resurrection nor life after this?
Yea, if they who believe in the resurrection would scarcely put themselves
in jeopardy for it except they were very noble of heart: much more would
not the unbeliever (so he speaks) choose to undergo so many deaths and so
terrible." Thus, see by degrees how very high he mounts up. He had said,
"we stand in jeopardy," he added, "every hour," then, "daily," then, "I not
only 'stand in jeopardy,'" saith he, but "I even 'die:'" he concludes
accordingly by pointing out also what kind of deaths they were; thus
Ver. 32. "If after the manner of men I fought with beasts at Ephesus,
what doth it profit me?"
What is, "if after the manner of men?" "As far as pertains to men I
fought with beasts: for what if God snatched me out of those dangers?(1)
So that I am he who ought most to be in care about these things; I, who
endure so great dangers and have not yet received any return. For if no
time of recompense is at hand, but our reward is shut up in this present
world, ours is the greater loss. For ye have believed without jeopardy, but
we are slaughtered every day."
But all these things he said, not because he had no advantage even in
the very suffering, but on account of the weakness of the many, and to
establish them in the doctrine of the resurrection: not because he himself
was running for hire; for it was a sufficient recompense to him to do that
which was pleasing to God. So that when he adds, "If in this life only we
have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most pitiable," it is there again
for their sakes, that he might by the fear of this misery overthrow their
unbelief of the resurrection. And in condescension to their weakness, he
thus speaks. Since in truth, the great reward is to please Christ at all
times: and apart from the recompense, it is a very great requital to be in
jeopardy for His sake.
[4.] "If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink for to-morrow we
This word, be sure, is spoken in mockery: wherefore neither did he
bring it forward of himself, but summoned the prophet of loftiest sound,
Isaiah, who discoursing of certain insensible and reprobate persons made
use of these words, "Who slay oxen and kill sheep to eat flesh and drink
wine; who say, Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. These things are
revealed to the ears of the Lord of Hosts,(2) and this iniquity shall not
be forgiven you, till ye die." (Is. xxii. 13, 14. LXX.) Now if then they
were deprived of pardon who spake thus, much more in the time of Grace.
Then that he might not make his discourse too rough, he dwells not long
upon his "reductio ad absurdum," but again turns his discourse to
Ver. 33. "Be not deceived: evil company doth corrupt good manners."
And this he said, both to rebuke them as without understanding, (for
here he by a charitable expression, calls "good" that which is easily
deceived,) and also, as far as he could, to make some allowance to them for
the past with a view to their return, and to remove from them and transfer
to others the greater part of his charges, and so by this way also to
allure them to repentance. Which he doth likewise in the Epistle to the
Galatians, saying, "But he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment,
whosoever he be." (Gal. v. 10. )
Ver. 34. "Awake up righteously(1) and sin not."
As if he were speaking to drunkards and madmen. For suddenly to cast
every thing out of their hands, was the part of drunkards and madmen, in
not seeing any longer what they saw nor believing what they had before
confessed. But what is, "righteously?" with a view to what is profitable
and useful. For it is possible to awake up unrighteously, when a man is
thoroughly roused up to the injury of his own soul. And well did he add,
"sin not," implying that hence were the sins of their unbelief. And in many
places he covertly signifies this, that a corrupt life is the parent of
evil doctrines; as when he saith, "The love of money is a root of all kinds
of evil, which some reaching after, have been led astray from the faith."
(1 Tim. vi. 10.) Yea, and many of those who are conscious of wickedness and
would fain not pay its penalty are by this fear damaged also in their faith
concerning the resurrection: even as they who do very virtuously desire
even daily to behold it.
"For some have no knowledge of God; I speak this to move you to shame."
See how again he transfers his accusations to others. For he said not,
"Ye have no knowledge," but, "some have no knowledge." Because disbelieving
the resurrection is the temper of one not fully aware that the power of God
is irresistable and sufficient for all things. For if out of the things
which are not He made the things that are, much more will He be able to
raise again those which have been dissolved.
And because he had touched them to the quick and exceedingly mocked
them, accusing them of gluttony, of folly, of madness; mitigating those
expressions, he saith, "I speak to move you to shame," that is, to set
upright, to bring back, to make you better, by this shame of yours. For he
feared lest if he cut too deep, he should cause them to start away.
[5.] But let us not consider these things as spoken to them only, but
as addressed now also to all who labor under the same disease, and live a
corrupt life. Since in truth not they who hold corrupt doctrines only, but
they too who are holden of grievous sins, are both drunken and frantic.
Wherefore also to them may it be justly said, "Awake," and especially to
those who are weighed down by the lethargy of avarice; who rob wickedly.
For there is a robbery which is good, the robbery of Heaven, which injures
not. And although in respect of money it is impossible for one to become
rich, unless another first become poor: yet in spiritual things this is not
so, but wholly the reverse: it is impossible that any should become rich
without making another's store plentiful. For if thou help no one, thou
wilt not be able to grow wealthy. Thus, whereas in temporal things
imparting causes diminution: in spiritual things, on the contrary,
imparting works increase, and the not imparting, this produces great
poverty and brings on extreme punishment. And this is signified by him who
buried the talent. Yea, and he too who hath a word of wisdom, by imparting
to another increases his own abundance, by making many wise: but he that
buries it at home, deprives himself of his abundance by neglecting to win
the profit of the many. Again, he that had other gifts, by healing many
augmented his own gift: and was neither himself emptied by the imparting,
and filled many others with his own spiritual gift. And in all spiritual
things this rule abides unshaken. Thus also in the Kingdom, he that makes
many partakers with himself of the Kingdom will hereby the more completely
have the fruits of it in return: but he that studies not to have any
partaker will himself be cast out of those many blessings. For if the
wisdom of this world of sense is not spent, though ten thousand are
forcibly seizing it; nor doth the artificer by making many artificers lose
his own skill; much less doth he who seizes the Kingdom make it less, but
then will our riches be increased when we call many to us for that purpose.
Let us seize then the things which cannot be spent but increase whilst
we seize them: let us seize the things which admit of none to defraud us of
them by false accusation, none to envy us for them. For so, if there were a
place which had a fountain of gold gushing forth with continual flood, and
flowing the more as more was drawn from it; and there were another place
which had a treasure buried in the earth; from which wouldest thou desire
to be enriched? Would it not be from the first? Plainly. But that this may
not be a mere conception in words, consider the saying in reference to the
air and the sun. For these are seized by all, and satisfy all. These,
however, whether men enjoy or do not enjoy them, abide the same
undiminished: but what I spake of is a much greater thing; for spiritual
wisdom abides not the same distributed or not distributed: but it rather
increases in the distribution.
But if any endure not what I have said, but still cleave to the poverty
of worldly things, snatching at the things which endure diminution: even in
respect of those again, let him call to mind the food of manna (Exod. xvi.
20.) and tremble at the example of that punishment. For what happened in
that instance, this same result may one now also see in the case of
covetous men. But what then happened? worms were bred from their
covetousness. This also now happens in their case. For the measure of the
food is the same for all; we having but one stomach to fill; only thou who
feedest luxuriously hast more to get rid of. And as in that case they who
in their houses gathered more than the lawful quantity, gathered not manna,
but more worms and rottenness; just so both in luxury and in covetousness,
the gluttonous and drunken gather not more dainties but more corruption.
[6.] Nevertheless, so much worse than they are the men of our time, in
that they experienced this once for all and received correction; but these
every day bringing into their own houses this worm much more grievous than
that, neither perceive it nor are satiated. For that these things do
resemble those in respect of our useless labor on them: (for in regard of
punishment these are much worse:) here is the proof for thee to consider.
Wherein, I ask, differs the rich man from the poor? Hath he not one
body to clothe? one belly to feed? In what then hath he the advantage? In
cares, in spending himself, in disobeying God, in corrupting the flesh, in
wasting the soul. Yea, these are the things in which he hath the advantage
of the poor: since if he had many stomachs to fill, perhaps he might have
somewhat to say, as that his need was more and the necessity of expense
greater. But even "now they may," saith one, "reply, that they fill many
bellies, those of their domestics, those of their hand-maidens." But this
is done, not through need nor for humanity's sake, but from mere pride:
whence one cannot put up with their excuse.
For why hast thou many servants? Since as in our apparel we ought to
follow our need only, and in our table, so also in our servants. What need
is there then? None at all. For, in fact, one master need only employ one
servant; or rather two or three masters one servant. But if this be
grievous, consider them that have none and enjoy more prompt attendance.
For God hath made men sufficient to minister unto themselves, or rather
unto their neighbor also. And if thou believe it not, hear Paul saying,
"These hands ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with
me." (Acts xx. 34.) After that he, the teacher of the world and worthy of
heaven, disdained not to serve innumerable others; dost thou think it a
disgrace, unless thou carriest about whole herds of slaves, not knowing
that this in truth is what most of all brings shame upon thee? For to that
end did God grant us both hands and feet, that we might not stand in need
of servants. Since not at all for need's sake was the class of slaves
introduced, else even along with Adam had a slave been formed; but it is
the penalty of sin and the punishment of disobedience. But when Christ
came, He put an end also to this. "For in Christ Jesus there is. neither
bond nor free." (Gal. iii. 28.) So that it is not necessary to have a
slave: or if it be at all necessary, let it be about one only, .or at the
most two. What mean the swarms of servants? For as the sellers of sheep and
the slave-dealers, so do our rich men take their round, in the baths and in
However, I will not be too exact. We will allow you to keep a second
servant. But if thou collect many, thou dost it not for humanity's sake,
but in self-indulgence. Since if it be in care for them, I bid thee occupy
none of them in ministering to thyself, but when thou hast purchased them
and hast taught them trades whereby to support themselves, let them go
free. But when thou scourgest, when thou puttest them in chains, it is no
more a work of humanity.
And I know that I am giving disgust to my hearers. But what must I do?
For this I am set, and I shall not cease to say these things, whether any
thing come of them or not. For what means thy clearing the way before thee
in the market place? Art thou walking then among wild beasts that thou
drivest away them that meet thee? Be not afraid; none of these bite who
approach thee and walk near thee. But dost thou consider it an insult to
walk along side of other men? What madness is this, what prodigious folly,
when a horse is following close after thee, to think not of his bringing on
thee any insult; but if it be a man, unless he be driven an hundred miles
off, to reckon that he disgraces thee. And why hast thou also servants to
carry fasces, employing freemen as slaves, or rather thyself living more
dishonorably than any slave? For, in truth, meaner than any servant is he
who bears about with him so much pride.
Therefore they shall not so much as have a sight of the real liberty,
who have enslaved themselves to this grievous passion. Nay, if thou must
drive and clear away, let it not be them that come nigh thee, but thine own
pride which thou drivest away; not by thy servant, but by thyself: not with
this scourge, but with that which is spiritual. Since now thy servant
drives away them that walk by thy side, but thou art thyself driven from
thine high place more disgracefully by thine own self-will than any servant
can drive thy neighbor. But if, descending from thy horse, thou wilt drive
away pride by humility, thou shalt sit higher and place thyself in greater
honor, needing no servant to do this. I mean, that when thou art become
modest and walkest on the ground, thou wilt be seated on the car of
humility which bears thee up to the very heavens, that car which hath
winged steeds(1): but if falling from it, thou pass into that of arrogance,
thou wilt be in no better state than the beggars who are drawn along the
ground, nay even much more wretched and pitiable than they: since them the
imperfection of their bodies compels thus to be drawn, but thee the disease
of thine own arrogance. "For every one that exalteth himself," saith He,
"shall be abused." (Matt. xxiii. 12.) That we then may not be abused but
exalted, let us approach towards that exaltation. For thus also shall we
"find rest for our souls" according to the divine oracle, and shall obtain
the true and most exalted honor; the which may we all obtain, through the
grace and mercy, &c. &c.
HOMILY XLI: 1 Cor. xv. 35, 36.
But some one will say, How are the dead raised? and with what manner of
body do they come? Thou foolish one, that which thou thyself sowest is not
quickened, except it die.
GENTLE and lowly as the apostle is to a great degree every where, he
here adopts a style rather pungent, because of the impiety of the
gainsayers. He is not however content with this, but he also employs
reasons and examples, subduing thereby even the very contentious. And above
he saith, "Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of
the dead;" but here he solves an objection brought in by the Gentiles. And
see how again he abates the vehemence of his censure; in that he said not,
"but perhaps ye will say," but he set down the objector indefinitely, in
order that, although employing his impetuous style with all freedom, he
might not too severely wound his hearers. And he states two difficulties,
one touching the manner of the resurrection, the other, the kind of bodies.
For of both they on their part made a question, saying, "How is that which
hath been dissolved raised up?" and, "with what manner of body do they
come?" But what means, "with what manner of body?" It is as if they had
said, "with this which hath been wasted, which hath perished, or with some
Then, to point out that the objects of their enquiry are not
questionable but admitted points, he at once meets them more sharply,
saying, "Thou foolish one, that which thou thyself sowest is not quickened,
except it die." Which we also are wont to do in the case of those who
gainsay things acknowledged.
[2.] And wherefore did he not at once appeal to the power of God?
Because he is discoursing with unbelievers. For when his discourse is
addressed to believers, he hath not much need of reasons. Wherefore having
said elsewhere, "He shall change the body of your humiliation, that it may
be fashioned like to the body of his glory," (Phil. iii. 21.) and having
indicated somewhat more than the resurrection, he stated no analogies, but
instead of any demonstration, brought forward the power of God, going on to
say, "according to the working whereby He is able to subject all things to
Himself." But here he also urges reasons. That is, having established it
from the Scriptures, he adds also in what comes after, these things over
and above, with an eye to them who do not obey the Scriptures; and he
saith, "O foolish one, that which THOU sowest:" i.e., "from thyself thou
hast the proof of these things, by what thou doest every day, and doubtest
thou yet? Therefore do I call thee foolish because of the things daily done
by thine own self thou art ignorant, and being thyself an artificer of a
resurrection, thou doubtest concerning God." Wherefore very emphatically he
said, "what THOU sowest(2)," thou who art mortal and perishing.(3)
And see how he uses expressions appropriate to the purpose he had in
view: thus, "it is not quickened," saith he, "except it die." Leaving, you
see, the terms appropriate to seed, as that "it buds," and "grows," and "is
dissolved," he adopts those which correspond to our flesh, viz. "it is
quickened," and, "except it die;" which do not properly belong to seeds,
but to bodies.
And he said not, "after it is dead it lives," but, which is a greater
thing, "therefore it lives, because it dies." Seest thou, what I am always
observing, that he continually gives their argument the contrary turn? Thus
what they made a sure sign of our not rising again, the same he makes a
demonstration of our rising. For they said, "the body rises not again,
because it is dead." What then doth he, retorting their argument, say?
"Nay, but unless it died, it could not rise again: and therefore it rises
again, because it died." For as Christ more clearly signifies this very
thing, in the words, "Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die,
it abideth by itself alone: but if it die, it beareth much fruit:" (John
xii. 24.) thence also Paul, drawing this example, said not, "it doth not
live," but, "is not quickened;" again assuming the power of God and showing
that not the nature of the ground, but God Himself, brings it all to pass.
And what can be the reason that he did not bring that forward, which
was more akin to the subject: I mean, the seed of mankind? (For our
generation too begins from a sort of decay, even as that of the corn.)
Because it was not of equal force, but the latter was a more complete
instance: for he wants a case of something that perished entirely, whereas
this was but a part; wherefore he rather alleges the other. Besides, that
proceeds from a living body and falls into a living womb; but here it is no
flesh, but the earth into which the seed is cast, and into the same it is
dissolved, like the body which is dead. Wherefore on this account too the
example was more appropriate.
[3.] Ver. 37. "And he who soweth, soweth not that body that shall
For the things before spoken meet the question, "how they are raised;"
but this, the doubt, "with what manner of body they come." But what is,
"thou sowest not that body which shall be?" Not an entire ear of corn, nor
new grain. For here his discourse no longer regards the resurrection, but
the manner of the resurrection, what is the kind of body which shall rise
again; as whether it be of the same kind, or better and more glorious. And
he takes both from the same analogy, intimating that it will be much
But the heretics, considering none of these things, dart in upon us and
say, "one body falls and another body rises again. How then is there a
resurrection? For the resurrection is of that which was fallen. But where
is that wonderful and surprising trophy over death, if one body fall and
another rise again? For he will no longer appear to have given back that
which he took captive. And how can the alleged analogy suit the things
before mentioned?" Why, it is not one substance that is sown, and another
that is raised, but the same substance improved. Else neither will Christ
have resumed the same body when He became the first-fruits of them that
rise again: but according to you He threw aside the former body, although
it had not sinned, and took another. Whence then is that other? For this
body was from the Virgin, but that, whence was it? Seest thou to what
absurdity the argument hath come round? For wherefore shows He the very
prints of the nails? Was it not to prove that it is that same body which
was crucified, and the same again that rose from the dead? And what means
also His type of Jonah? For surely it was not one Jonah that was swallowed
up and another that was cast out upon dry land. And why did He also say,
"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up?" For that which
was destroyed, the same clearly He raised again. Wherefore also the
Evangelist added, that "He spake of the temple of His body." (John ii. 19,
What is that then which he saith, "Thou sowest not the body that shall
be?" i.e. not the ear of corn: for it is the same, and not the same; the
same, because the substance is the same; but not the same, because this is
more excellent, the substance remaining the same but its beauty becoming
greater, and the same body rising up new. Since if this were not so, there
were no need of a resurrection, I mean if it were not to rise again
improved. For why did He at all pull down His house, except He were about
to build it more glorious?
This now, you see, he said to them who think that it is utter
corruption(2). Next, that none again might suspect from this place that
another body is spoken of, he qualifies the dark saying, and himself
interprets what he had spoken, not allowing the hearer to turn his thoughts
from hence in any other direction. What need is there then of our
reasonings? Hear himself speaking, and explaining the phrase, "Thou sowest
not the body that shall be." For he straightway adds, "but a bare grain, it
may chance of wheat, or of some other kind;" i.e., it is not the body that
shall be; not so clothed, for instance; not having a stalk and beard, but
"a bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other kind."
Ver. 38. "But God giveth it a body even as it pleased Him."
"Yes," saith one, "but in that case it is the work of nature." Of what
nature, tell me? For in that case likewise God surely doeth the whole; not
nature, nor the earth, nor the rain. Wherefore also he making these things
manifest, leaves out both earth and rain, atmosphere, sun, and hands of
husbandmen, and subjoins, "God giveth it a body as it pleased Him." Do not
thou therefore curiously inquire, nor busy thyself with the how and in what
manner, when thou hearest of the power and will of God.
"And to each seed a body of its own." Where then is the alien matter
which they speak of? For He giveth to each "his own." So that when he
saith, "Thou sowest not that which shall be," he saith not this, that one
substance is raised up instead of another, but that it is improved, that it
is more glorious. For "to each of the seeds," saith he, "a body of its
[4.] From hence in what follows, he introducing also the difference of
the resurrection which shall then be. For do not suppose, because grain is
sown and all come up ears of corn, that therefore there is also in the
resurrection an equality of honor. For in the first place, neither in seeds
is there only one rank, but some are more valuable, and some inferior.
Wherefore also he added, "to each seed a body of its own."
However, he is not content with this, but seeks another difference
greater and more manifest. For that thou mayest not, when hearing, as I
said, that all rise again, suppose that all enjoy the same reward; he laid
before even in the preceding verses the seeds of this thought, saying, "But
each in his own order." But he brings it out here also more clearly,
Ver. 39. "All flesh is not the same flesh." For why speak I, saith he,
in respect of seeds? In respect of bodies let us agitate this point,
concerning which we are discoursing now. Wherefore also he addeth, and
"But there is one flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of
birds, and another of fishes."
Ver. 40." There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial; but
the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is
Ver. 41. "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon,
and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in
And what means he by these expressions? Wherefore from the resurrection
of the body did he throw himself into the discourse of the stars and the
sun? He did not throw himself out, neither did he break off from his
purpose; far from it: but he still keeps to it. For whereas he had
established the doctrine concerning the resurrection, he intimates in what
follows that great will be then the difference of glory, though there be
but one resurrection. And for the present he divides the whole into two:
into "bodies celestial," and "bodies terrestrial." For that the bodies are
raised again, he signified by the corn: but that they are not all in the
same glory, he signifies by this. For as the disbelief of the resurrection
makes men supine, so again it makes them indolent to think that all are
vouchsafed the same reward. Wherefore he corrects both. And the one in the
preceeding verses he had completed; but this he begins now. And having made
two ranks, of the righteous and of sinners, these same two he subdivides
again into many parts, signifying that neither righteous nor sinners shall
obtain the same; neither righteous men, all of them, alike with other
righteous, nor sinners with other sinners.
Now he makes, you see, first, one separation between righteous and
sinners, where he says, "bodies celestial, and bodies terrestrial:" by the
"terrestrial" intimating the latter, and by the "celestial," the former.
Then farther he introduces a difference of sinners from sinners, saying,
"All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of fishes, another
of birds, and another of beasts." And yet all are bodies; but some are in
more, and some in lesser vileness. And that in their manner of living too,
and in their very constitution.
And having said this, he ascends again to the heaven, saying, "There is
one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon." For as in the earthly
bodies there is a difference, so also in the heavenly; and that difference
no ordinary one, but reaching even to the uttermost: there being not only a
difference between sun and moon, and stars, but also between stars and
stars. For what though they be all in the heaven? yet some have a larger,
others a less share of glory. What do we learn from hence? That although
they be all in God's kingdom, all shall not enjoy the same reward; and
though all sinners be in hell, all shall not endure the same punishment.
Wherefore he added,
Ver. 42. "So also is the resurrection of the dead."
"So," How? with considerable difference.
Then leaving this doctrine as sufficiently proved, he again comes to the
proof itself of the resurrection and the manner of it, saying,
[5.] "It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption." And
observe his consideration. As in the case of seeds, he used the term proper
to bodies, saying, "it is not quickened, except it die:" so in the case of
bodies, the expression belonging to seeds, saying, "it is sown in
corruption, it is raised in incorruption." He said not, "is produced(1),"
that thou mightest not think it a work of the earth, but is "raised." And
by sowing here, he means not our generation in the womb, but the burial in
the earth of our dead bodies, their dissolution, their ashes. Wherefore
having said, "it is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption," he
Ver. 43. "It is sown in dishonor." For what is more unsightly than a
corpse in dissolution? "It is raised in glory."
"It is sown in weakness." For before thirty days the whole is gone, and
the flesh cannot keep itself together nor hold out for one day. "It is
raised in power." For there shall nothing prevail against it for all the
Here is why he stood in need of those former analogies, lest many on
hearing of these things, that they are "raised in incorruption and glory
and power," might suppose that there is no difference among those who rise
again. For all indeed rise again, both in power and in incorruption; and in
this glory of their incorruption yet are not all in the same state of honor
Ver. 44. "It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."
What sayest thou? Is not "this" body spiritual? It is indeed spiritual,
but that will be much more so. For now oftentimes both the abundant grace
of the Holy Ghost flies away on men's committing great sins; and again, the
Spirit continuing present, the life(2) of the flesh depends on the soul:
and the result in such a case is a void, without the Spirit(3). But in that
day not so: rather he abides continually in the flesh of the righteous, and
the victory shall be His, the natural soul also being present(4).
For either it was some such thing which he intimated by saying, "a
spiritual body," or that it shall be lighter and more subtle and such as
even to be wafted upon air; or rather he meant both these. And if thou
disbelieve the doctrine, behold the heavenly bodies which are so glorious
and (for this time) so durable, and abide in undecaying tranquillity; and
believe thou from hence, that God can also make these corruptible bodies
incorruptible and much more excellent than those which are visible.
[6.] Ver. 45. "So also it is written, (Gen. ii. 7.) the first man Adam
became a living soul: the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit."
And yet the one indeed is written, but the other not written. How then
said He, "it is written?" He modified the expression according to the issue
of events: as he is wont continually to do: and indeed as it is the way of
every prophet. For so Jerusalem, the prophet said, should be "called a city
of righteousness;" (Is. i. 26.) yet it was not so called. What then? Did
the prophet speak false? By no means. For he is speaking of the issue of
events. And that Christ too should be called Immanuel; (Is. vii. 14.) yet
was he not so called. But the facts utter this voice; so also here, "the
last Adam became a life-giving Spirit."
And these things he said that thou mayest learn that the signs and
pledges both of the present life and of that which is to come have already
come upon us; to wit, of the present life, Adam, and of the life to come,
Christ. For since he sets down the better things as matters of hope, he
signifies that their beginning hath already come to pass, and their root
and their fountain been brought to light. But if the root and the fountain
be evident to all, there is no need to doubt of the fruits. Wherefore he
saith, "The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit." And elsewhere too, He
"shall quicken your mortal bodies through His Spirit that dwelleth in you."
(Rom. vii. 11.) It is the Spirit's work then to quicken.
Further, lest any should say, "why are the worse things the elder? and
why hath the one sort, to wit, the natural, come to pass not merely as far
as the first-fruits, but altogether; the other as far as the first-fruits
only?"--he signifies that the principles also of each were so ordered(5).
Ver. 46. "For that is not first," saith he, "which is spiritual, but
that which is natural, then that which is spiritual."
And he saith not, why, but is content with the ordinance of God, having
the evidence from the facts testifying to that most excellent oeconomy of
God, and implying that our state is always going forward to the better; at
the same time by this also adding credibility to his argument. For if the
lesser have come to pass, much more ought we to expect the better.
[7.] Since then we are to enjoy so great blessings, let us take our
station in this array, and bewail not the departed, but rather those that
have ended their life ill. For so the husbandman, when he sees the grain
dissolving, doth not mourn; rather, as long as he beholds it continuing
solid in the ground he is in fear and trembling, but when he sees it
dissolved rejoices. For the beginning of the future crop is its dissolving.
So let us also then rejoice when the corruptible house falls, when the man
is sown. And marvel not if he called the burial "a sowing;" for, in truth,
this is the better sowing: inasmuch as that sowing is succeeded by deaths
and labors and dangers and cares; but this, if we lived well, by crowns and
rewards; and that, by corruption and death but this by incorruption and
immortality, and those infinite blessings. To that kind of sowing there
went embraces and pleasures and sleep: but to this, only a voice coming
down from heaven, and all is at once brought to perfection. And he that
rises again is no more led to a life full of toil, but to a place where
anguish and sorrow and sighing are fled away.
If thou requirest protection and therefore mournest thy husband, betake
thyself to God, the common Protector and Saviour and Benefactor of all, to
that irresistible alliance, to that ready aid, to that abiding shelter
which is every where present, and is as a wall unto us on every side.
"But your intercourse was a thing desirable and lovely." I too know it.
But if thou wilt trust sound reason with this grief, and wilt consider with
thyself who hath taken him away, and that by nobly bearing it thou offerest
thy mind as a sacrifice to our God, even this wave will not be too strong
for thee to stem. And that which time brings to pass, the same do thou by
thy self-command. But if thou shalt yield to weakness, thine emotion will
cease indeed in time, but it will bring thee no reward.
And together with these reasons collect also examples, some in the
present life, some in the Holy Scriptures. Consider that Abraham slew his
own son, and neither shed a tear nor uttered a bitter word. "But he," you
say, "was Abraham." Nay, thou surely hast been called to a nobler field of
action(1). And Job grieved indeed, but so much as was proper for a father
who loved his children and was very solicitious for the departed; whereas
what we now do, is surely the part of haters and enemies. For if when a man
was taken up to court and crowned, thou wert smiting thyself and lamenting,
I should not say that thou wast a friend of him who was crowned, but a
great enemy and adversary. "Nay," say you, "not even as it is do I mourn
for him, but for myself." Well, but this is not the part of an affectionate
person, to wish for thine own sake that he were still in the conflict and
subject to the uncertainty of the future, when he might be crowned and come
to anchor; or that he should be tossed in mid ocean, when he might have
been in port.
[8.] "But I know not whither he hath gone," say you. Wherefore knowest
thou not, tell me? For according as he lived well or otherwise, it is
evident whither he will go. "Nay, on this very account I lament," say you,
"because he departed being a sinner(2)." This is a mere pretext and excuse.
For if this were the reason of thy mourning for the departed, thou oughtest
to have formed and corrected him, when he was alive. The fact is thou dost
every where look to what concerns thyself, not him.
But grant that he departed with sin upon him, even on this account one
ought to rejoice, that he was stopped short in his sins and added not to
his iniquity; and help him as far as possible, not by tears, but by prayers
and supplications and alms and offerings. For not unmeaningly have these
things been devised, nor do we in vain make mention of the departed in the
course of the divine mysteries, and approach God in their behalf,
beseeching the Lamb Who is before us, Who taketh away the sin of the
world;--not in vain, but that some refreshment may thereby ensue to them.
Not in vain cloth he that standeth by the altar cry out when the tremendous
mysteries are celebrated, "For all that have fallen asleep in Christ, and
for those who perform commemorations in their behalf(3)." For if there were
no commemorations for them, these things would not have been spoken: since
our service is not a mere stage show, God forbid! yea, it is by the
ordinance of the Spirit that these things are done.
Let us then give them aid and perform commemoration for them. For if
the children of Job were purged by the sacrifice of their father, why dost
thou doubt that when we too offer for the departed, some consolation arises
to them? since God is wont to grant the petitions of those who ask for
others. And this Paul signified saying, "that in a manifold Person(1) your
gift towards us bestowed by many may be acknowledged with thanksgiving on
your behalf." (2. Cor. i. 11.) Let us not then be weary in giving aid to
the departed, both by offering on their behalf and obtaining prayers for
them: for the common Expiation of the world is even before us. Therefore
with boldness do we then intreat for the whole world, and name their names
with those of martyrs, of confessors, of priests. For in truth one body are
we all, though some members are more glorious than others; and it is
possible from every source to gather pardon(2) for them, from our prayers,
from our gifts in their behalf, from those whose names are named with
theirs. Why therefore dost thou grieve? Why mourn, when it is in thy power
to gather so much pardon for the departed?
[9.] Is it then that thou art become desolate and hast lost a
protector? Nay, never mention this. For thou hast not surely lost thy God.
And so, as long as thou hast Him, He will be better to thee than husband
and father and child and kinsman: since even when they were alive, He it
was who did all things.
These things therefore think upon, and say with David, "The Lord is my
light and my Saviour(3), whom shall I fear? (Ps. xxvii.(1)) Say, Thou art a
Father of the fatherless, and a Judge of the widows: "(Ps. lxviii. 5.) and
draw down His aid, and thou shalt have Him to care for thee now more than
before, by how much thou art in a state of greater difficulty.
Or hast thou lost a child? Thou hast not lost it; say not so. This
thing is sleep, not death; removal, not destruction; a journeying from the
worse unto the better(4). Do not then provoke God to anger; but propitiate
Him. For if thou bearest it nobly, there will thence accrue some relief
both to the departed and to thyself; but if the contrary, thou dost the
more kindle God's anger. For if when a servant was chastised by his
master, thou didst stand by and complain, thou wouldest the more exasperate
the master against thyself. Do not then so; but give thanks, that hereby
also this cloud of sadness may be scattered from thee. Say with that
blessed one, "the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away." (Job i. 21.)
Consider how many more well-pleasing in His sight have never received
children at all, nor been called fathers. "Nor would I wish to have been
so," say you, "for surely it were better not to have had experience than
after having tasted the pleasure to fall from it." Nay, I beseech thee, say
not so, provoke not thus also the Lord to wrath: but for what thou hast
received, give Him thanks; and for what thou hast not to the end, give Him
glory. Job said not that which thou sayest unthankfully, "it were better
not to have received ," but both for the one he gave thanks, saying, "The
Lord gave;" and for the other he blessed God, saying, "The Lord hath taken
away, blessed be the name of the Lord for ever." And his wife he thus
silenced, justifying himself against her, and uttering those admirable
words, "Have we received good at the hand of the Lord, and shall we not
receive evil?" And yet after this a fiercer temptation befel him: yet was
he not even thus unnerved, but in like manner bore it nobly and glorified
This also do thou, and consider with thyself that man hath not taken
him, but God who made him, who more than thyself cares for him and knows
what is good for him: who is no enemy nor lier-in-wait. See how many,
living, have made life intolerable to their parents. "But seest thou not
the right-hearted ones?" say you. I see these too, but even these are not
so safe as thy child is. For though they are now approved, yet it is
uncertain what their end will be; but for him thou hast no longer any fear,
nor dost thou tremble lest anything Should happen to him or he experience
These things also do thou consider respecting a good wife and guardian
of thine house, and for all things give thanks unto God. And even if thou
shalt lose a wife, give thanks. Perhaps God's will is to lead thee to
continence, He calls thee to a nobler field of conflict, He was pleased to
set thee free from this bond. If we thus command ourselves, we shall both
gain the joy of this life and obtain the crowns which are to come, &c. &c.
HOMILY XLII: 1 Cor. xv. 47.
The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from
HAVING said that "the natural was first," and "the spiritual
afterward," he again states another difference, speaking of "the earthy"
and "the heavenly." For the first difference was between the present life
and that which is to come: but this between that before grace and that
after grace. And he stated it with a view to the most excellent way of
life, saying,--(for to hinder men, as I said, from such confidence in the
resurrection as would make them neglectful of their practice and of
perfection, from this topic also again he renders them anxious and exhorts
to virtue, saying,)--"The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man
is the Lord from heaven:" calling the whole by the name of "man(1)," and
naming the one from the better, and the other from the worst part.
Ver. 48. "As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy:" so
shall they perish and have an end. "As is the heavenly, such are they also
that are heavenly:" so shall they abide immortal and glorious.
What then? Did not This Man too die? He died indeed, but received no
injury therefrom, yea rather by this He put an end to death. Seest thou how
on this part of his subject also, he makes use of death to establish the
doctrine of the resurrection? "For having, as I said before, the beginning
and the head," so he speaks, "doubt not of the whole body."
Moreover also he frames hereby his advice concerning the best way of
living, proposing standards of a lofty and severe life and of that which is
not such, and bringing forward the principles of both these, of the one
Christ, but of the other Adam. Therefore neither did he simply say, "of the
earth," but "earthy," i. e., "gross, nailed down to things present:" and
again with respect to Christ the reverse, "the Lord from heaven."
[2.] But if any should say, "therefore the Lord hath not a body(2)
because He is said to be "from heaven," although what is said before is
enough to stop their mouths: yet nothing hinders our silencing them from
this consideration also: viz. what is, "the Lord from heaven?" Doth he
speak of His nature, or His most perfect life? It is I suppose evident to
every one that he speaks of His life. Wherefore also he adds,
Ver. 49. "As we have borne the image of the earthy," i.e., as we have
done evil, "let us also bear(3) the image of the heavenly," i.e., let us
practise all goodness.
But besides this, I would fain ask thee, is it of nature that it is
said, "he that is of the earth, earthy," and, "the Lord from heaven?"
"Yea," saith one. What then? Was Adam only "earthy," or had he also another
kind of substance congenial with heavenly and incorporeal beings, which the
Scripture calls "soul," and "spirit?" Every one sees that he had this also.
Therefore neither was the Lord from above only although He is said to be
"from heaven," but He had also assumed our flesh. But Paul's meaning is
such as this: "as we have borne the image of the earthy," i e., evil deeds,
"let us also bear the image of the heavenly," the manner of life which is
in the heavens. Whereas if he were speaking of nature, the thing neeeded
not exhortation nor advice. So that hence also it is evident that the
expression relates to our manner of life.
Wherefore also he introduces the saying in the manner of advice and
calls it an "image," here too again showing that he is speaking of conduct,
not of nature. For therefore are we become earthy, because we have done
evil: not because we were originally formed "earthy," but because we
sinned. For sin came first, and then death and then the sentence, "Dust
thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." (Gen. iii. 19.) Then also
entered in the swarm of the passions. For it is not simply the being born
"of earth" that makes a man "earthy," (since the Lord also was of this mass
and lump(4),) but the doing earthly things, even as also he is made
"heavenly" by performing things meet for heaven.
But enough: for why need I labor overmuch in the proof of this, when
the apostle himself goes on to unfold the thought to us, thus saying,
Ver. 50. "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit
the kingdom of God."
Seest thou how he explains himself again, relieving us of the trouble?
which he often doth: for by flesh he here denotes men's evil deeds, which
he hath done also elsewhere; as when he saith, "But ye are not in the
flesh:" and again, "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."
(Rom. viii. 8, 9.) So that when he saith, "Now this I say," he means
nothing else than this: "therefore said I these things that thou mayest
learn that evil deeds conduct not to a kingdom." Thus from the resurrection
he straightway introduced also the doctrine of the kingdom also; wherefore
also he adds, "neither doth corruption inherit incorruption,(2)" i.e.,
neither shall wickedness inherit that glory and the enjoyment of the things
incorruptible. For in many other places he calls wickedness by this name,
saying, "He that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption."
(Gal. vi. 8.) Now if he were speaking of the body and not of evil doing, he
would not have said "corruption." For he nowhere calls the body
"corruption," since neither is it corruption, but a thing corruptible:
wherefore proceeding to discourse also of it, he calls it not "corruption,"
but "corruptible," saying, "for this corruptible must put on incorruption."
[3.] Next, having completed his advice concerning our manner of life,
according to his constant custom blending closely subject with subject, he
passes again to the doctrine of the resurrection of the body: as follows:
Ver. 51. "Behold, I tell you a mystery."
It is something awful and ineffable and which all know not, which he is
about to speak of: which also indicates the greatness of the honor he
confers on them; I mean, his speaking mysteries to them. But what is this?
"We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed." He means as
follows: "we shall not all die, 'but we shall all be changed,'" even those
who die not. For they too are mortal. "Do not thou therefore because thou
diest, on this account fear," saith he, "as if thou shouldest not rise
again: for there are, there are some who shall even escape this, and yet
this suffices them not for that resurrection, but even those bodies which
die not must be changed and be transformed into incorruption."
Ver. 52. "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump."
After he had discoursed much of the resurrection, then opportunely he
points out also its very marvellous character. As thus: "not this only,"
saith he, "is wonderful that our bodies first turn to corruption, and then
are raised; nor that the bodies which rise again after their corruption are
better than these present ones; nor that they pass on to a much better
state, nor that each receives back his own and none that of another; but
that things so many and so great, and surpassing all man's reason and
conception, are done "in a moment," i.e., in an instant of time: and to
show this more clearly, "in the twinkling of an eye," saith he, "while one
can wink an eyelid." Further, because he had said a great thing and full of
astonishment; that so many and so great results should take place so
quickly; he alleges, to prove it, the credibility of Him who performs it;
as follows, "For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised
incorruptible, and we shall be changed." The expression, "we," he uses not
of himself, but of them that are then found alive.
Ver. 53. "For this corruptible must put on incorruption."
Thus lest any, hearing that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom
of God," should suppose that our bodies do not rise again; he adds, "this
corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on
immortality." Now the body is "corruptible," the body is "mortal:" so that
the body indeed remains, for it is the body which is put on; but its
mortality and corruption vanish away, when immortality and incorruption
come upon it. Do not thou therefore question hereafter how it shall live an
endless life, now that thou hast heard of its becoming incorruptible.
[4.] Ver. 54. "But when this corruptible shall have put on
incorruption, and this moral shall have put on immortality, then shall come
to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."
Thus, since he was speaking of great and secret things, he again takes
prophecy (Hosea xiii. 14.) to confirm his word. "Death is swallowed up in
victory:(3)" i.e., utterly; not so much as a fragment of it remains nor a
hope of returning, incorruption having consumed corruption.
Ver. 55. "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
Seest thou his noble soul? how even as one who is offering sacrifices
for victory, having become inspired and seeing already things future as
things past, he leaps and tramples upon death fallen at his feet, and
shouts a cry of triumph over its head where it lies, exclaiming mightily
and saying, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
It is clean gone, it is perished, it is utterly vanished away, and in vain
hast thou done all those former things. For He not only disarmed death and
vanquished it, but even destroyed it, and made it quite cease from being.
Ver. 56. "Now the sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the
Seest thou how the discourse is of the death of the body? therefore
also of the resurrection of the body. For if these bodies do not rise
again, how is death "swallowed up?" And not this only, but how is "the law
the power of sin?" For that "sin" indeed is "the sting of death," and more
bitter than it, and by it hath its power, is evident; but how is "the law
also the power" thereof? Because without the law sin was weak, being
practised indeed, but not able so entirely to condemn: since although the
evil took place, it was not so clearly pointed out. So that it was no small
change which the law brought in, first causing us to know sin better, and
then enhancing the punishment. And if meaning to check sin it did but
develop it more fearfully, this is no charge against the physician, but
against the abuse of the remedy. Since even the presence of Christ made the
Jews' burden heavier, yet must we not therefore blame it, but while we the
more admire it, we must hate them the more, for having been injured by
things which ought to have profited them? Yea, to show that it was not the
law of itself which gives strength to sin, Christ Himself fulfilled it all
and was without sin.
But I would have thee consider how from this topic also he confirms the
resurrection. For if this were the cause of death, viz. our committing sin,
and if Christ came and took away sin, and delivered us from it through
baptism, and together with sin put an end also to the law in the
transgression of which sin consists, why doubtest thou any more of the
resurrection? For whence, after all this, is death to prevail? Through the
law? Nay, it is done away. Through sin? Nay, it is clean destroyed.
Ver. 57. "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our
Lord Jesus Christ."
For the trophy He Himself erected, but the crowns He hath caused us
also to partake of. And this not of debt, but of mere mercy.
[5.] Ver. 58. "Wherefore(1), brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable."
Just and seasonable is this exhortation after all that had gone before.
For nothing so disquiets as the thought that we are buffeted without cause
"Always abounding in the work of the Lord:" i. e., in the pure life.
And he said not, "working that which is good," but "abounding;" that we
might do it abundantly(2), and might overpass the lists.
"Knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
What sayest thou? Labor again? But followed by crowns, and those above
the heavens. For that former labor on man's expulsion from paradise, was
the punishment of his transgressions; but this is the ground of the rewards
to come. So that it cannot in fact be labor, both on this account and by
reason of the great help which it receives from above: which is the cause
of his adding also, "in the Lord." For the purpose of the former was that
we might suffer punishment; but of this, that we might obtain the good
things to come.
Let us not therefore sleep, my beloved. For it cannot, it cannot be
that any one by sloth should attain to the kingdom of heaven, nor they that
live luxuriously and softly. Yea it is a great thing, if straining
ourselves and "keeping under(3) the body" and enduring innumerable labors,
we are able to reach those blessings. See ye not how vast this distance
between heaven and earth? And how great a conflict is at hand? And how
prone a thing to evil man is? And how easily sin "besets us?" And how many
snares are in the way?
Why then do we draw upon ourselves so great cares over and above those
of nature, and give ourselves more trouble, and make our burden greater? Is
it not enough, our having to care for our food and clothing and houses? Is
it not enough to take thought for things necessary? Although even from
these Christ withdraws us, saying, "Be not anxious for your life what ye
shall eat, neither for your body what ye shall put on." (Matt. vi. 25.) But
if one ought not to be anxious for necessary food and clothing, nor for to-
morrow; they who bring on so great a mass of rubbish and bury themselves
under it, when shall they shall have power to emerge? Hast thou not heard
Paul saying, "No soldier on service entangleth himself in the affairs of
this life?" (2 Tim. ii. 4.) But we even live luxuriously and eat and drink
to excess and endure buffeting for external things, but in the things of
heaven behave ourselves unmanly. Know ye not that the promise is too high
for man? It cannot be that one walking on the ground should ascend the
arches of heaven. But we do not even study to live like men, but are become
worse than the brutes.
Know ye not before what a tribunal we are to stand? Do ye not consider
that both for our words and thoughts an account is demanded of us, and we
take no heed even to our actions. "For whosoever looketh on a woman," saith
He, "to lust after her hath already committed adultery with her." (Matt. v.
28.) And yet they who must be accountable for a mere idle look, refuse not
even to lie rotting in the sin itself. "Whosoever shall say to his brother,
Thou fool, shall be cast into hell fire." (Matt. v. 22.) But we even
dishonor them with ten thousand reproaches and plot against them craftily.
"He that loveth one that loveth him is no better than the heathen:" (Matt.
v. 46, 47.) but we even envy them. What indulgence then shall we have, when
commanded as we are to pass over the old lines, we weave ourselves a thread
of life by a yet more scanty measure than theirs? What plea shall deliver
us? Who will stand up and help us when we are punished? There is no one;
but it must needs be that wailing and weeping and gnashing our teeth, we
shall be led away tortured into that rayless gloom, the pangs which no
prayer can avert, the punishments which cannot be assuaged.
Wherefore I entreat and beseech, and lay hold of your very knees, that
whilst we have this scant viaticum of life, you would be pricked in your
hearts by what has been said, that you would be converted, that you would
become better men; that we may not, like that rich man, lament to no
purpose in that world after our departure, and continue thenceforth in
incurable wailings. For though thou shouldest have father or son or friend
or any soever who hath confidence towards God, none of these shall ever
deliver thee, thine own works having destroyed thee. For such is that
tribunal: it judges by our actions alone, and in no other way is it
possible there to be saved.
And these things I say, not to grieve you nor to throw you into
despair, but lest nourished by vain and cold hopes, and placing confidence
in this person or that, we should neglect our own proper goodness. For if
we be slothful, there will be neither righteous man nor prophet nor apostle
nor any one to stand by us; but if we have been earnest, having in
sufficiency the plea which comes from each man's own works(1), we shall
depart with confidence, and shall obtain the good things that are laid up
for them that love God; to which may we all attain, &c. &c.
HOMILY XLIII: 1 Cor. XVI. 1.
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the
Churches of Galatia, so also do ye.
HAVING completed his discourse concerning doctrines, and being about to
enter upon that which belongs rather to morals, he dismisses every thing
else and proceeds to the chief of good things, discoursing about alms. Nor
does he discuss morals in general, but when he hath treated of this matter
alone, he leaves off. A thing however obviously unlike what he did every
where else; for of alms and of temperance and of meekness and of long-
suffering and of all the rest, he treats in the other Epistles in the
conclusion. For what reason then doth he handle here this part only of
practical morality? Because the greater part also of what had been spoken
before was of an ethical nature: I mean, where he chastised the fornicator;
where he was correcting those who go to law among Gentiles; where he
terrified the drunkards and the gluttons; where he condemned the seditious,
the contentious, and those who loved to have the preeminence; where those
who unworthily approach the Mysteries were delivered over by him unto that
intolerable sentence; where he discoursed concerning love. For this cause,
I say, the subject which most pressed on him, viz. the aid required for the
saints, this alone he mentions.
And observe his consideration. When he had persuaded them concerning
the resurrection, and made them more earnest, then and not till then he
discusses this point also.
It is true indeed that on these matters he had spoken to them before,
when he said, "If we sowed unto you spiritual things, is it a great matter
if we shall reap your carnal things?" And, "Who planteth a vineyard, and
eateth not of the fruit thereof?" But because he knew the greatness of this
moral achievement, he refuses not to add a fresh mention at the end of his
And he calls the collection logi'an (a "contribution,") immediately
from the very first making out the things to be easy. For when contribution
is made by all together, that becomes light which is charged upon each.
But having spoken about the collection, he did not say immediately,
"Let every one of you lay up in store with himself;" although this of
course was the natural consequence; but having first said, "As I gave order
to the Churches of Galatia," he added this, kindling their emulation by the
account of the well-doings of others, and putting it in the form of a
narration. And this also he did when writing to the Romans; for to them
also while appearing to narrate the reason why he was going away to
Jerusalem, he introduces thereupon his discourse about alms; "But now I go
unto Jerusalem, ministering unto the saints: for it hath been the good
pleasure of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the
poor among the saints." (Rom. xv. 25.) Only those he stimulates by mention
of Macedonians and Corinthians; these of Galatians. For he saith, "As I
gave order to the Churches of Galatia, so also do ye:" for they would
surely feel ashamed ever afterwards to be found inferior to Galatians. And
he saith not, "I advised," and, "I counselled;" but, "I gave order," which
is more authoritative. And he doth not bring forward a single city, or two,
or three, but an entire nation: which also he doth in his doctrinal
instructions, saying, "Even as also in all the Churches of the saints." For
if this be potent for conviction of doctrines, much more for imitation of
[2.] "What then, I ask, didst thou give order about?"
Ver. 2. "On the first day of the week," that is, the Lord's day, "let
each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper." Mark how he
exhorts them even from the time: for indeed the day was enough to lead them
to almsgiving. Wherefore "call to mind," saith he, "what ye attained to on
this day: how all the unutterable blessings, and that which is the root and
the beginning of our life took place on this day. But not in this regard
only is the season convenient for a zealous benevolence, but also because
it hath rest and immunity from toils: the souls when released from labors
becoming readier and apter to show pity. Moreover, the communicating also
on that day in Mysteries so tremendous and immortal instils great
zealousness. On it, accordingly, "let each one of you," not merely this or
that individual, but "each one of you," whether poor or rich, woman or man,
slave or free, "lay by him store." He said not, "Let him bring it the
church," lest they might feel ashamed because of the smallness of the sum;
but "having by gradual additions swelled his contribution, let him then
produce it, when I am come but for the present lay it up," saith he, "at
home, and make thine house a church; thy little box a treasury. Become a
guardian sacred wealth, a self-ordained steward of the poor. Thy benevolent
mind assigns to thee this priesthood."
Of this our treasury(1) even now is a sign: but the sign remains, the
thing itself no where.
[3.] Now I am aware that many of this congregation will again find
fault with me when treat of these subjects, and say, "Be not, I beseech
you, be not harsh and disagreeable to four audience. Make allowances for
their disposition; give way to the mind of the hearers. For in this case
you really do put us to shame; you make us blush." But I may not endure
such words: since neither was Paul ashamed to be continually troublesome
upon such points as these and to speak words such as mendicants use. I
grant indeed that if I said, "give it me," and "lay it up in my house,"
there might perchance be something to be ashamed of in what I said: hardly
however even in that case; for "they who wait upon the altar," we read,
"have their portion with the altar." (c. ix. 13.) However, some one perhaps
might find fault as if he were framing an argument for his own interest.
But now it is for the poor that I make my supplication; nay, not so much
for the poor, as for your sake who bestow the gift. Wherefore also I am
bold to speak out. For what shame is it to say, Give unto thy Lord in His
hunger: Put raiment on Him going about naked; Receive Him being a stranger?
Thy Lord is not ashamed before the whole world to speak thus: "I was an
hungred, and ye gave Me not to eat," He who is void of all want and
requires nothing. And am I to be ashamed and hesitate? Away with this. This
shame is of the snare of the devil. I will not then be ashamed, but will
say, and that boldly, "Give to the needy;" I will say it with a louder
voice than the needy themselves. True it is, if any one can show and prove
that in saying these things we are drawing you over unto ourselves, and
under the pretence of the poor are ourselves making gain, such a course
would be worthy, I say not of Shame, but even of ten thousand thunderbolts;
and life itself would be more than persons so behaving would deserve. If,
on the contrary, by the grace of God, we are in nothing troublesome about
ourselves, but "have made the Gospel without charge" to you; laboring
indeed in no wise like Paul, but being contented with our own;--with all
boldness of speech I will say, "Give unto the needy:" yea, and I will not
leave off saying it, and of those who give not I will be a severe accuser.
For so, if I were a general and had soldiers, I should not feel ashamed at
demanding food for my men: for I vehemently set my heart upon your
[4.] But that my argument may both be more forcible and more effective,
I will take Paul for my comrade, and like him will discourse and say, "Let
each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper." Now observe also
how he avoids being burdensome. He said not, "so much," or "so much," but
"as he may prosper," whether much or little. Neither said he, "what any one
may have gained," but, "as he may prosper:" signifying that the supply is
of God. And not only so, but also by his not enjoining them to deposit all
at once, he makes his counsel easy: since the gathering little by little
hinders all perception of the burden(1) and the cost. Here you see the
reason too for his not enjoining them to produce it immediately, but giving
them a long day(2); whereof adding the cause, he saith. "That there be no
gatherings when I come:" which means, that ye may not when the season is
come for paying in contributions just then be compelled to collect them.
And this too in no ordinary degree encouraged them again: the expectation
of Paul being sure to make them more earnest.
Ver. 3. "And when I arrive, whomsoever ye shall approve, them will I
send with letters to carry your bounty(3) to Jerusalem."
He said not, "this person," and "that," but, "whomsoever ye shall
approve," whomsoever you shall choose, thus freeing his ministration from
suspicion. Wherefore to them he leaves the right of voting in the choice of
those who are to convey it. He is far enough from saying, "The payment is
yours, but the privilege of selecting those who are to carry it is not
yours." Next, that they might not think him quite absent, he adds his
letters, saying, "Whomsoever you approve, I will send with letters."(4) As
if he had said, I also will be with them and share in the ministration, by
my letters. And he said not, "These will I send to bear your alms," but,
"your bounty;" to signify that they were doing great deeds; to mark that
they were gainers themselves. And elsewhere he calls it both "a blessing"
and "a distribution." (2 Cor. ix. 5, 13.) The one that he might not make
them less active, the other that he might not elate them. But in no case
whatever hath he called it "alms."
Ver. 4. "And if it be meet for me to go also, they shall go with me."
Here again he exhorts them to liberality. As thus: "if it be so much,"
saith he, "as to require my presence also, neither will I decline this."
But he did not in the first instance promise this, nor say, "When I am come
I will carry it." For he would not have made so much of it, if he had so
set it down from the first. Afterwards however he adds it well and
seasonably. Here then you have the reason why he did not immediately
promise, nor yet altogether hold his peace concerning it: but having said,
"I will send," then at length he adds himself also. And here too again he
leaves it to their own decision; in saying, "If it be meet for me to go
also:" whereas this rested with them, namely, to make their collection
large; so large even, as to affect his plans and cause him in person to
make the journey.
[5.] Ver. 5. "But I will come to you," saith he, "when I shall have
passed through Macedonia." This he had said also above; then however with
anger: at least he added, (c. iv. 19.) "And I will know not the speech of
them that are puffed up, but the power:" but here, more mildly; that they
might even long for his coming. Then, that they might not say, "Why is it
that you honor the Macedonians above us?" he said not, "When I depart,"
but, "When I shall have passed through Macedonia; for I do pass through
Ver. 6. "But with you it may be that I shall abide, or even winter."
For I do not at all wish to take you merely in my way, but to continue
among you and spend some time. For when he wrote this letter, he was in
Ephesus, and it was winter; as you may know by his saying, "Until Pentecost
I will tarry at Ephesus; but after this I shall go away to Macedonia, and
after having gone through it, I will be with you in the summer; and perhaps
I shall even spend the winter with you." And why did he say, "perhaps;" and
did not positively affirm it? Because Paul did not foreknow all things; for
good purposes. Wherefore neither doth he absolutely affirm, in order that
if it came not to pass, he might have something to resort to; first, his
previous mention of it having been indefinite; and next, the power of the
Spirit leading him wheresoever It willed, not where he himself desired. And
this also he expresses in the second Epistle, when excusing himself on
account of his delay, and saying, "Or the things which I purpose, do I
purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be the yea yea
and the nay nay?" (2 Cor. i. 17.)
"That ye may set me forward on my journey wheresoever I go." This also
is a mark of love, and great strength of affection.
Ver. 7. "For I do not wish to see you now by the way; for I hope to
tarry awhile with you, if the Lord permit."
Now these these things he said, both to signify his love and also to
terrify the sinners, not however openly, but with outward demonstration of
Ver. 8. "But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost."
As we should expect, he tells them all exactly, informing them as
friends, For this too is a mark of friendship to say the reason why he was
not with them, why he delayed, and where he was staying,
Ver. 9. "For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there
are many adversaries."
Now if it was "great," how could there be "adversaries?" Why on this
very account the adversaries were many, because men's faith was great;
because the entrance was great and wide. But what means, "A great door?"
There are many prepared to receive the faith, many ready to approach and be
converted. There is a spacious entrance for me, things being now come to
that point that the mind of those approaching is at its prime for the
obedience of the faith. On this account, vehement was the blast of the
breath of the devil, because he saw many turning away from him.
You see then on both accounts it was needful for him to stay; both
because the gain was abundant, and because the struggle was great.
And herewith also he cheered them up, namely, by saying, that
henceforth the word works every where and springs up readily. And if there
be many who plot against it, this also is a sign of the advance of the
Gospel. For at no time doth that evil demon wax fierce, except on seeing
his goods made spoil of abundantly. (Matt. xii.)
[6.] Let us then, when we desire to effect any thing great and noble,
not regard this, the greatness of the labor which it brings, but let us
rather look to the gain. Mark, for instance, Paul, not therefore lingering,
not therefore skrinking back, because "there were many adversaries;" but
because "there was a great door," pressing on and persevering. Yea, and as
I was saying, this was a sign that the devil was being stripped, for it is
not, depend on it, by little and mean achievements that men provoke that
evil monster to wrath. And so when thou seest a righteous man performing
great and excellent deeds, yet suffering innumerable ills, marvel not; on
the contrary, one might well marvel, if the devil receiving so many blows
were to keep quiet and bear the wounds meekly. Even as you ought not to be
surprised were a serpent, continually goaded, to grow fierce and spring on
the person that goaded it. Now no serpent steals on you so fierce as the
devil, leaping up against all; and, like a scorpion with its sting raised,
he raises himself upright. Let not this then disturb you: since of course
he that returns from war and victory and slaughter must needs be bloody,
and oftentimes also have received wounds. Do thou, then, for thy part, when
thou seest any one doing alms and performing numberless other good works
and so curtailing the power of the devil, and then falling into temptations
and perils; be not troubled thereupon. This is the very reason why he fell
into temptations, because he mightily smote the devil.
"And how did God permit it?" you will say. That he might be crowned
more signally: that the other might receive a severer wound. For when after
benefits conferred a man suffers, and that grievously, and yet continually
gives thanks, it is a blow to the devil. For it is a great thing, even when
our affairs are flowing on prosperously, to show mercy and to adhere to
virtue: but it is far greater in grievous calamity not to desist from this
noble occupation; this is he who may be most truly said to do so for God's
sake. So then, though we be in peril, beloved, though we suffer ever so
greatly, let us with the greater zeal apply ourselves to our labors for
virtue's sake. For this is not at all the season if or retribution.
Here then let us not ask for our crowns, lest when the crowns come in
their season, we diminish our recompense. For as in the case of artificers,
they who support themselves and work receive higher pay; while those who
have their maintenance with their employers, are curtailed in no small part
of the wages; so also in regard to the saints: he that doth immense good
and suffers extreme evil hath his reward unimpaired and a far more abundant
recompense, not only for the good things which he hath done, but also for
the evil which he hath suffered. But he that enjoys rest and luxury here,
hath not such bright crowns there. Let us not then seek for our recompense
here. But "then" of all times let us rejoice, when doing well we suffer
ill. For God hath in store for us in that world not only the reward of our
good deeds, but that of our temptations also.
But to explain myself more clearly: suppose two rich merciful men, and
let them give to the poor: then let one continue in his riches and enjoy
all prosperity: the other fall into poverty and diseases and calamities,
and give God thanks. Now when these are gone away into the other world,
which will receive the greater reward? Is it not quite plain that it will
be he who is sick and in adversity, seeing that though he did well and
suffered ill, he felt not according to human infirmity? I suppose this is
plain to every one. And, in truth, this is the adamantine statue, this is
the considerate servant. (See S. Mat. xxv. 21.) But if we ought not to do
any thing good for the hope of the kingdom, but because it so pleaseth God,
which is more than any kingdom; what doth he deserve, who because he doth
not receive his recompense here, is become more remiss concerning virtue?
Let us then not be troubled when we see that such an one who invited
widows and made continual feasts lost his house by fire, or sustained some
other such like disaster. Yea, for this very thing he shall receive his
reward. For even Job was not so much admired for his alms-deeds as he was
for his sufferings afterwards. For this reason his friends also are little
esteemed and deemed of no account; because they sought for the recompenses
of the present world, and with a view to this gave sentence against the
just man. Let us then not seek for our return here; let us not become poor
and needy; since surely it is of extreme meanness, when heaven is proposed,
and things which are above the heaven, to be looking round on the things
which are here. Let us not by any means do so; but whichsoever of
unexpected things come upon us, hold we fast the commands of God
continually, and obey the blessed Paul.
[7.] And let us make a little chest for the poor at home; and near the
place at which you stand praying, there let it be put: and as often as you
enter in to pray, first deposit your alms, and then send up your prayer;
and as you would not wish to pray with unwashen hands(1), so neither do so
without alms: since not even the Gospel hanging by our bed(2) is more
important than that alms should be laid up for you; for if you hang up the
Gospel and do nothing, it will do you no such great good. But if you have
this little coffer, you have a defence against the devil, you give wings to
your prayer, you make your house holy, having meat for the King (S. Mat.
xxv. 34.) there laid up in store. And for this reason let the little coffer
be placed also near the bed(3), and the night will not be troubled with
fantasies. Only let nothing be cast into it, which is the fruit of
injustice. For this thing is charity; and it cannot be that charity should
ever spring out of hardheartedness.
Will you have mention also of the resources out of which you should
make your deposits, so as in this respect also to make this kind of
contribution easy? The handicraft man, for instance, the sandal-maker, or
the leather-cutter, or the brass-founder, or any other artificer,--when he
sells any article of his trade, let him give the first-fruits of its price
unto God: let him cast in a small portion here, and assign something to God
out of his portion, though it be rather scanty(4). For neither do I ask any
great thing; but so much as the childish ones among the Jews(5), full as
they are of innumerable evils, just so much let us cast in, we who look
forward to heaven. And this I say not as laying down a law, neither as
forbidding more, but as recommending a deposit of not less than a tenth
part. And this also do thou practise not in selling only, but also in
buying and receiving a recompense. Let those also who possess land observe
this law in regard to their rents: yea, let it be a law for all who gather
their incomes in an honest way. For with those who demand usury I have no
concern, neither with soldiers who do violence to others and turn to their
own advantage their neighbors' calamities. Since from that quarter God will
accept nothing. But these things I say to those who gather their substance
by righteous labor.
Yea, and if we establish ourselves in this kind of habit, we are ever
after stung by our conscience if ever we omit this rule; and after a while
we shall not even think it a hard thing; and by degrees we shall arrive at
the greater things, and by practising how to despise wealth, and by pulling
up the root of evils, we shall both pass the present life in peace, and
obtain the life to come; which may it be the portion of us all to attain
unto, &c. &c.
HOMILY XLIV: 1 Cor. xvi. 10.
Now if Timothy come to you(1), see that he be with you without fear.
PERHAPS some one may think there is something unworthy of Timothy's
courage in this piece of advice. But not on Timothy's account is this said,
but for the hearers' sake: lest by their design against him they should
hurt themselves: since he for his part had his station always in the way of
"For as a child serveth a father," saith he, "so he served with me in
furtherance of the Gospel." (Phil. ii. 22.) But lest from boldness towards
the disciple they should proceed also to the teacher, and become worse, he
checks them from afar off, saying, "that he may be with you without fear;"
that is, that none of those desperate persons rise up against him. For he
intended perhaps to rebuke them about the things concerning which Paul also
had written: and indeed Paul professed to send him for this very reason.
"For I have sent Timothy unto you," saith he, (c. iv. 17.) "who shall put
you in remembrance of my ways in Christ even as I teach every where in
every Church." In order then that they might not through confidence in
their high birth and wealth, and the support of the people, and the wisdom
from without, attack him and spit upon him and plot against him, being
grieved at the reproofs which came from him; or lest in revenge for the
teacher's rebuke they should demand satisfaction of him, so punishing the
other; therefore he saith, "that he be without fear with you." As if he had
said, "Tell me not of those who are without, the Gentiles and unbelievers.
It is your part that I require, you for whom also the whole Epistle was
composed," the persons also whom in the beginning and the outset he had
frightened. Wherefore he saith, "with you."
Then in virtue of his ministry he sets him forth as a person to be
fully trusted; saying "For the work of the Lord he worketh." That is; "look
not," saith he, "to this, his not being rich, namely, nor highly educated,
nor old: but what commands are laid upon him, what work he is doing. 'For
the work of the Lord he worketh.'" And this serves him instead of all
nobility and wealth and age and wisdom.
And he is not content with this, but adds, "Even as I also." And some
way above, "Who is my beloved son and faithful in the Lord; he shall put
you in remembrance of my ways in Christ." Seeing then that he was both
young, and had been singly entrusted with the improvement of so numerous a
people, both of which things tended to bring him into contempt, he adds, as
we might expect,
Ver. 11. "Let no one therefore despise him." And not this only doth he
demand of them, but also greater honor; wherefore also he saith, "but set
him forward in peace;" that is, without fear; causing no fightings or
contentions, no enmities or hatreds, but rendering all subjection as to a
"That he may come unto me: for I expect him with the brethren." This
also was the language of one that would alarm them. That is, in order that
they might become more considerate, as knowing that all would be told him
whatever Timothy's treatment might be, he adds therefore, "for I expect
him." And besides, hereby he both shows that Timothy is worthy of their
confidence; since being on the point of departing he waits for him; and
also signifies the love which he hath towards them, it appearing that for
their sakes he sent away one so useful to him.
Ver. 12. "But as touching Apollos the brother, I besought him much to
come unto you with the brethren."
This man appears to have been both well-educated and also older than
Timothy. Lest they should say then, "For what possible reason did he not
send the man grown, but the youth instead of him?" observe how he softens
down this point also, both calling him a brother, and saying that he had
besought him much. For lest he should seem to have held Timothy in higher
honor than him and to have exalted him more, and on this account not to
have sent him, and cause their envy to burst out more abundantly, he adds,
"I besought him much to come." What then: did not the other yield nor
consent? did he resist and show himself contentious? He saith not this, but
that he might not excite prejudice against him, and also might make excuse
for himself, he saith, "and it was not at all his will to come now." Then
to prevent their saying that all this was an excuse and pretence, he added,
"but he will come to you when he shall have opportunity." This was both an
excuse for him, and a refreshment to them who desired to see him, by the
hope which it gave of his coming.
[2.] Afterwards indicating that not in the teachers but in themselves
they ought to have their hopes of salvation, he saith,
Ver. 13. "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith."
Not in the wisdom which is without: for there it is not possible to
stand, but to be borne along; even as" in the faith" ye may" stand." "Quit
you like men, be strong." "Let all that ye do be done in love." Now in
saying these things, he seems indeed to advise; but he is reprimanding them
as indolent. Wherefore he saith, "Watch," as though they slept; "Stand," as
though they were rocking to and fro: "Quit you like men," as though they
were playing the coward: "Let all that ye do be done in love," as though
they were in dissensions. And the first caution refers to the deceivers,
viz., "Watch," "stand:" the next, to those who plot against us, "Quit you
like men:" the third, to those who make parties and endeavor to distract,
"Let all that ye do be done in love;" which thing is "the bond of
perfectness," and the root and fountain of all blessings.
But what means, "All things in love?" "Whether any one rebuke," saith
he, "or rule or be ruled, or learn or teach, let all be in love:" since in
fact all the things which have been mentioned arose from neglect of it. For
if this had not been neglected, they would not have been puffed up, they
would not have said, "I am of Paul, and I of Apollos." If this had existed,
they would not have gone to law before heathens, or rather they would not
have gone to law at all. If this had existed, that notorious person would
not have taken his father's wife: they would not have despised the weak
brethren; there would have been no factions among them; they would not have
been vain-glorious about their gifts. Therefore it is that he saith, "Let
all things be done in love."
[3.] Ver. 15. "Now I beseech you, brethren;--ye know the house of
Stephanas, that it is the first-fruits of Achaia, and that they have set
themselves to minister unto the saints."
In the beginning too he mentions this man, saying, "I baptized also the
home of Stepharias:" and now he speaks of him as "the first-fruits" not of
Corinth only, but also of all Greece. And this too is no small encomium
that he was the first to come to Christ. Wherefore also in the Epistle to
the Romans, praising certain persons on this account, he said, "Who also
were in Christ before me." (Rom. xvi. 7.) And he said not, that they were
the first who believed, but were the "first-fruits;" implying that together
with their faith they showed forth also a most excellent life, in every way
proving themselves worthy, as in the case of fruits. For so the first-
fruits ought to be better than the rest of those things whereof they are
the first-fruits: a kind of praise which Paul hath attributed to these also
by this expression: namely, that they not only had a genuine faith, as I
was saying, but also they exhibited great piety, and the climax of virtue,
and liberality in alms-giving.
And not from hence only, but from another topic likewise he indicates
their piety, i.e., from their having filled their whole house also with
And that they flourished in good works also, he declares by what
follows, saying, "They have set themselves to minister unto the saints."
Hear ye, how vast are the praises of their hospitality? For he did not say,
"they minister," but, "have set themselves:" this kind of life they have
chosen altogether, this is their business in which they are always busy.
"That ye also be in subjection unto such, that is, "that ye take a
share with them both in expenditure of money, and in personal service: that
ye be partakers with them." For both to them the labor will be light when
they have comrades, and the results of their active benevolence will extend
And he said not merely, "be fellow-helpers," but added, "whatsoever
directions they give, obey;" implying the strictest obedience. And that he
might not appear to be favoring them, he adds, "and to every one that
helpeth. in the work and laboreth." "Let this," saith he, "be a general
rule: for I do not speak about them individually, but if there be any one
like them, let him also have the same advantages." And therefore when he
begins to commend, he calls upon themselves as witnesses, saying, "I
beseech you, ye know the house of Stephanas." "For ye also yourselves are
aware," saith he, "how they labor, and have no need to learn from us."
Ver. 17. "But I was glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and
Achaicus, for that which was lacking on your part they supplied."
Ver. 18. "For they refreshed my spirit and yours."
Thus, since it was natural for them to be greatly irritated against
these persons, for it was they who had come and showed him all about the
division, inasmuch as by them also they had written the questions about the
virgins, and about the married persons:--mark how he softened them down;
both in the beginning of his Epistle by saying, "For it hath been signified
unto me by them which are of the house of Chloe;" thus at once concealing
these and bringing forward the others: (for it should seem that the latter
had given their information by means of the former:) and in this place
again, "They have supplied your lack, and refreshed my spirit and yours:"
signifying that they had come instead of all, and had chosen to undertake
so great a journey on their behalf. How then may this, their peculiar
praise, become common? "If you will solace me for what was wanting on your
part by your kindness towards them; if you will honor, if you will receive,
them, if you will communicate with them in doing good." Wherefore he saith,
"Acknowledge ye then them that are such." And while praising those that
came, he embraces also the others in his praise, the senders together with
the sent: where he saith, "'They refreshed my spirit and yours, therefore
acknowledge such as these,' because for your sakes they left country and
home." Dost thou perceive his consideration? He implies that they had
obliged not Paul only, but the Corinthians likewise, in that they bore
about in themselves the whole city. A thing which both added credit to
them, and did not allow the others to sever themselves from them, inasmuch
as in their persons they had presented themselves to Paul.
Ver. 19. "All the Churches of Asia salute you." He is continually
making the members combine and cleave together in one by means of the
"Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord;--for with them he
was lodging, being a tent-maker--"with the Church which is in their house."
This thing too is no small excellency, that they had made their very house
[4.] Ver. 20. "All the brethren salute you. Salute one another with an
holy kiss" This addition of the "holy kiss" he makes only(1) here. What may
the reason be? They had been widely at variance with one another on account
of their saying, "I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of
Christ;" on account of "one being hungry, and another drunken;" on account
of their having contentions and jealousies and suits. And from the gifts
there was much envying and great pride. Having then knit them together by
his exhortation, he naturally bids them use the holy kiss(2) also as a
means of union: for this unites, and produces one body. This is holy, when
free from deceit and hypocrisy.
Ver. 22. "The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand;" intimates that
the Epistle was composed with great seriousness; and therefore he added,
Ver. 22. "If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be
By this one word he strikes fear into all: those who made their members
the members of an harlot; those who put stumbling blocks in the way of
their brethren by the things offered in sacrifice unto idols; those who
named themselves after men; those who refuse to believe the resurrection.
And he not only strikes fear, but also points out the way of virtue and the
fountain of vice, viz. that as when our love towards Him hath become
intense, there is no kind of sin but is extinguished and cast out thereby;
so when it is too weak, it causes the same to spring up.
"Maran atha."(2) For what reason is this word used? And wherefore too
in the Hebrew-tongue? Seeing that arrogance was the cause of all the evils,
and this arrogance the wisdom from without produced, and this was the sum
and substance of all the evils, a thing which especially distracted
Corinth; in repressing their arrogance he did not even use the Greek
tongue, but the Hebrew: signifying that so far from being ashamed of that
sort of simplicity, he even embraces it with much warmth.
But what is the meaning of "Maran atha?" "Our Lord is come." For what
reason then cloth he use this phrase in particular? To confirm the doctrine
of the Economy: out of which class of topics more than any other he hath
put together those arguments which are the seeds of the Resurrection(1).
And not only this, but also to rebuke them; as if he had said, "The common
Lord of all hath condescended to come. down thus far, and are ye in the
same state, and do ye abide in your sins? Are ye not thrilled with the
excess of His love, the crown of His blessings? Yea, consider but this one
thing," saith he, "and it will suffice thee for progress in all virtue, and
thou shalt be able to extinguish all sin."
Ver. 23. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you."
This is like a teacher, to help not only with advice, but also with
Ver. 24. "My love be with you all in Christ Jesus, Amen."
Thus to hinder them from thinking that in flattery to them he so ended,
he saith, "In Christ Jesus." It having nothing in it human or carnal, but
being of a sort of spiritual nature. Wherefore it is thoroughly genuine.
For indeed the expression was that of one who loves deeply. As thus;
because he was separated from them as regards place, as it were by the
stretching out of a right hand he incloses them with the arms of his
love, saying, "My love be with you all;" just as if he said, "With all of
you I am." Whereby he intimates that the things written came not of wrath
or anger, but of provident care, seeing that after so heavy an accusation
he doth not turn himself away, but rather loves them, and embraces them
when they are afar off, by these epistles and writings throwing himself
into their arms.
[5.] For so ought he that corrects to do: since he at least, who acts
merely from anger is but satisfying his own feeling; but he who after
correcting the sinner renders also the offices of love, shows that those
words also, whatsoever he spake in reproof, were words of fond affection.
Just so let us too chasten one another; and let neither the corrector be
angry, (for this belongs not to correction, but to passion,) nor let him
that is corrected take it ill. For what is done is healing, not despite.
Now if physicians use cautery and are not found fault with, and that too,
frequently, though they quite miss their object; but even in their pain the
subjects of the cautery and amputation esteem as benefactors those who
excite this pain; much more ought he who receives reproof to be so
disposed, and as to a physician so to give heed to the corrector, and not
as to an enemy. And let us also who rebuke approach with great gentleness,
with great prudence. And if thou seest a brother committing sin, as Christ
commanded, make not your rebuke public, but "between thee and him alone:"
(Matt. xviii. 15.) not reproaching nor insulting over him when down, but in
pain and with a melting heart(2). And show thyself ready also to receive
reproof, if thou commit error in any thing.
Now that what I say may be plainer, let us put an imaginary case and so
try our rule. For God forbid that in very deed we should be provided with
such an illustration of it. Suppose any brother dwelling in the same house
with a virgin, in honor and chastity, and yet not even so quite escaping
evil report.(3) If then you should hear talk of this their dwelling
together, be not contemptuous, nor say, "Why, hath he no understanding?
Doth he not himself know what is for his good? Get love for nothing, but do
not for nothing get hatred. Why, what have I to do with taking up a
gratuitous enmity?" These are the doting words of wild beasts, or rather of
demons: for it is not so that he is hated for nothing who doth this for his
brother's correction, rather it is for great blessings and crowns
But if thou sayest, "What? hath he no understanding?" thou shall hear
from me that he hath not: drunken as he is with his passion. For if in the
heathen courts of justice, (4)those who are injured must not speak for
themselves while glowing with wrath; (although there be no fault in that
kind of sympathy ;) how much more those whom evil habit holds in
subjection. Wherefore I say that manifold as his wisdom may be, he hath not
his mind awake. For what can be wiser than David, the man who said, "The
dark and the hidden things of Thy wisdom Thou hast made known unto me?"
(Ps. li. 6. up. LXX. 1. 6.) But when he looked on the wife of the soldier
with unjust eyes, then according to what he himself said (Ps. cvii. 27.) of
those who sail on the raging sea, "all his wisdom was swallowed up;" and he
stood in need of others to correct him, and did not even perceive amidst
what evils he was. Wherefore also, bewailing his offences, he said, "As a
heavy burden they weighed grievously upon me: my wounds stank and were
corrupt because(1) of my folly." (Ps. xxxviii. 5.) He therefore that
committeth sin hath no understanding. For he is drunken and is in darkness.
Do not then say these things, neither add that other remark, "I care not at
all about it. 'For each man shall bear his own burden.'" (Gal. vi. 5.) Nay,
against thyself also it grows up into a grievous accusation, that seeing
one in error thou dost not restore him. For if it was not right according
to the law of the Jews (Exod. xxiii. 4, 5.) to slight the beast of one's
enemy; he who despises not the beast of burden nor yet the soul of an enemy
perishing, but that of a friend, what pardon shall he obtain?
Yea, neither is it enough for our excuse that he hath understanding:
since we too after our many and manifold exhortations have not been
sufficient, nor proved useful, unto ourselves. Bear this in mind then in
regard to him also that is in error; that it is natural he should receive
the best counsel rather from thee than from himself.
And say not, "But what care I about these things?" Fear thou him who
first spoke this word; for the saying, "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen.
iv. 9.) tends to the same point as this. This is the mother of all our
evils that we esteem the concerns of our own body as foreign to us. What
sayest thou? Thou carest not for thy brother? Who then is to care for him?
the unbeliever who rejoices over and reproaches and insults him? or the
devil who urges him on and supplants him?
And whence comes this? "How do I know that I shall accomplish
anything," saith he, "though I speak and advise what is right." But how is
it clear that thou wilt do no good? Why, this again is extreme folly, while
the end remains in obscurity to incur the manifold blame of confessed
indifference. And yet God who foresees the future often speaks and doth no
good; yet doth He not even so give up; and that, knowing that He shah not
even persuade men. Now if He who knows beforehand that He shall win no
advantage, ceases not from the work of correction, what excuse wilt thou
have, who art completely ignorant of the future and yet faintest and art
benumbed? Yea, and many have succeeded by frequent attempts: and when they
most of all despaired, then did they most gain their point. And though thou
shouldest gain no advantage, thou hast done thine own part.
Be not then inhuman, nor unmerciful, nor careless: for that these words
come of cruelty and indifference is plain from what follows: viz. What is
the reason that When one of the members of thy body is in pain, thou sayest
not, "What care I?" Yet whence is it plain, that if it be taken due care
of, it is restored? And yet thou leavest nothing undone, that even although
thou profit not, thou mayest not have to blame thyself for the omission of
any thing which ought to have been done. Hereupon I ask, are we to take
such care for the members of our body and to neglect those of Christ? Nay,
how can such things deserve pardon? For if I make no impression upon thee
by saying, "Have a care of thine own member;" in order that thou mayest
become better were it only through fear, I put thee in mind of the body of
Christ. But how can it be other than a matter of horror to see His flesh
putrefying, and neglect it? And if thou hadst a slave or an ass afflicted
with a mortifying sore, thou couldest not have the heart to neglect it: but
seest thou the Body of Christ full of scurvy(2), and hurriest by? and
thinkest not that such things deserve innumerable thunder-bolts? For this
cause all things are turned upside down, because of this our inhumanity,
because of our indifference. Wherefore now, I beseech you, let this cruelty
be cast out from among us.
[6.] Draw near to him whom I speak of, as dwelling with a virgin, and
speak some small praise of thy brother, making it up from the other
excellencies which he hath. And foment him with thy commendations as it
were with warm water, and so mitigate the tumor of his wound. Speak of
thyself also as wretched; accuse the common race of mankind; point out that
we are all in sins; ask for pardon, saying, that thou art undertaking
things too great for thee, but love persuades thee to dare all things. Then
in giving thine advice, do it not imperiously, but in a brotherly way. And
when by all these means thou hast reduced the swelling and soothed the pain
arising from the cutting reproof which is in store for him, and when thou
hast again and again deprecated and besought him not to be angry: when thou
hast bound him down with these things, then use the knife; neither pressing
the matter too close, nor yet undoing it; that he may neither fly off on
the one hand, nor on the other think little of it. For if thou strike not
to the quick thou hast done no good, and if thy blow be violent, thou
makest him start away.
Wherefore, even after all this, being on the very point of the reproof,
mix up again commendation with thy censures. And seeing that this
proceeding considered in itself cannot be matter of praise, (for it is not
commendable to keep house with a damsel that is a virgin;) let the purpose
of him who doth so be thy topic for effecting this; and say, "I know indeed
that thou doest it for God's sake, and that the desolation and unprotected
state of that poor woman met thine eye, and caused thee to stretch out
thine hand to her." And although he may not be doing it with this
intention, do thou speak so; and after this add what follows also; again
excusing thyself and saying, "These things I speak not to direct but to
remind thee. Thou doest it for God's sake; I too know that. But let us see
whether another evil be not produced thereby. And if there be none, keep
her in thine house, and cling to this excellent purpose. There is no one to
hinder thee. But if any mischief arise from hence exceeding the advantage,
let us take care, I beseech you, lest while we are earnest to comfort one
soul, we put a stumbling-block in the way of ten thousand." And do not add
immediately the punishments due to those who give offence, but take his own
testimony also, saying, "Thou hast no need to learn these things from me:
thou thyself knowest, 'if any one offend one of these little ones,' how
great a penalty is threatened. And thus, having sweetened thy speech and
smoothed down his wrath, apply the medicine of thy correction. And should
he again urge her forlorn condition, do not thou even so expose his
pretence, but say to him, "Let nothing of this sort make you afraid: thou
wilt have an ample plea, the offence given to others: since not for
indifference, but in care towards them, didst thou cease from this thy
And let the matter of thine advice be brief, for there is no need of
much teaching; but let the expressions of forbearance on the other hand be
many and close upon one another. And continually have thou recourse to the
topic of love; throwing into shade the painfulness of what thou sayest, and
giving him his full power, and saying, "This is what I for my part advise
and recommend; but about taking the advice thou art only judge: for I do
not compel and force thee, but submit the whole thing to thine own
If we so manage our reproof, we shall easily be able in correct those
in error: even as what we now do is surely more like the conduct of wild
beasts or irrational creatures than of men. For if any persons now perceive
any one committing errors of this kind, with the person himself they do not
at all confer, but themselves, like silly old women who have drunk too
much, whisper with another. And the saying, "Get love for nothing, but do
not get hatred for nothing," hath not here any place in their opinion. But,
when they have a fancy to speak evil, they mind not being "hated for
nothing," rather I should say, "being punished ;" since it is not hatred
alone that is hereby produced, but also punishment. But when there is need
of correction, they allege both this, and innumerable other pretexts.
Whereas then would be the time to think of these things, when thou speakest
evil, when thou calumniatest; I mean the saying, " Be not hated for
nothing," and "I can do nothing," and "it is no care of mine." But as
things are, in the former case, thou art vehemently and idly curious, and
carest not for hatred and ills innumerable; but when thou shouldest be
taking thought for the salvation of thy brother, then it is thy pleasure to
be a sort of unofficious, inoffensive person. And yet from evil speaking
arises hatred both on God's part and on men's; and this is no great care to
thee: but by giving advice privately, and reproofs of that kind, both he
and God will be made thy friends. And even should he hate thee, God goes on
loving thee the rather on this account. Nay, in fact, not even so will he
hate thee, as when his hatred came from thine evil speaking: but in that
case he will avoid thee as a foe and an enemy, whereas now he will consider
thee more venerable than any father. And if he apparently take it ill,
inwardly and privately he will feel much obliged to thee.
 Bearing in mind these things therefore let us have a care of our
own members, and not sharpen the tongue against one another, nor speak
words" which may do hurt,(1) undermining the fame of our neighbor, and as
in war and battle, giving and receiving blows. For what after all is the
good of fasting or watching, when the tongue is drunken, and feasts itself
at a table more unclean than of dog's flesh; when it is grown ravening
after blood, and pours out filth, and makes the mouth a channel of a sewer,
nay rather something more abominable than that? For that which proceeds
from thence pollutes the body: but what comes from the tongue often
suffocates the soul.
These things I say, not in anxiety about those who have an ill report
falsely: for they are worthy even of crowns, when they bear what is said
nobly; but in anxiety for you that so speak. For him that is evil reported
of falsely, the Scriptures pronounce "blessed;" but the evil-speaker they
expel from the holy Mysteries, nay even from the very precincts. For it is
said, (Ps.ci.5.) "Him that privily speaketh against his neighbor, this man
did I chase out. And he saith too that such a one is unworthy to read the
sacred books. For, "Why," saith He, (Ps. 1. 16.) "dost thou declare My
righteous laws, and takest My covenant in thy mouth?" Then, annexing the
cause He saith (v. 20.) "Thou satest and spakest against thy brother." And
here indeed he doth not distinctly add whether they be things true or false
which he speaks. But elsewhere this too makes part of His prohibition: He
implying, that even though thou speak truths, yet such things are not to be
uttered by thee. For, "Judge not," saith He," that ye be not judged:"
(Matt. vii. 1.) since he too who spoke evil of the publican was condemned,
although it was true which he laid to his neighbor's charge.
"What then," you will say, "if any one be daring and polluted, must we
not correct him? must we not expose him?" We must both expose and correct:
but in the way which I mentioned before. But if thou do it upbraiding him,
take heed lest thine imitation of that Pharisee cause thee to fall into his
state. For no advantage accrues from hence; none to thee who speakest, none
to him who hears thee, none to the person accused. But the latter, for his
part, becomes more reckless: since as long as he is unobserved, he is
sensible of shame; but as soon as he becomes manifest and notorious, he
casts off the curb also which that feeling imposed on him.
And the hearer will in his turn be yet more injured. For whether he be
conscious to himself of good deeds, he becomes puffed and swoln up with the
accusation brought against another; or of faults, he then becomes more
eager for iniquity.
Thirdly, the speaker too himself will both incur the bad opinion of the
hearer, and will provoke God to more anger against himself.
Wherefore, I beseech you, let us cast from us every word that is
unsavory. If there be any thing good unto edification, this let us speak.
But hast thou a fancy to avenge thyself on the other person? Why then
punish thyself instead of him? Nay, do thou, who art so earnestly seeking
redress from those who have annoyed thee, avenge thyself as Paul
recommended to take vengeance. "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he
thirst, give him drink "(Rom. xii. 20.) But if thou do not so,, but only
plot against him, thou pointest the sword against thyself.
Wherefore if that other speak evil, answer him with praises and
commendations. For so wilt thou be able both to take vengeance on him, and
wilt deliver thyself from evil surmising. Since he that feels pain at
hearing ill of himself, is thought to be so affected because of some
consciousness of evil: but he that laughs to scorn what is said, exhibits a
most unquestionable token of his not being conscious to himself of any evil
Seeing then that thou profitest neither thine hearer, nor thyself, nor
him that is accused, and dost but point thy sword at thine own self, even
from such considerations do thou learn more soberness. For one ought indeed
to be moved by the thought of the kingdom of heaven, and of what pleases
God: but since thou art of grosser disposition and bitest like a wild
beast, hereby even be thou instructed; that these arguments having
corrected thee, thou mayest be able to order thyself simply from
consideration of what pleases God; and having come to be above every
passion, mayest obtain the heavenly blessings:--which may God grant us all
to obtain, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and His mercy
towards mankind; with Whom, to the Father and the Holy Spirit, be glory,
power, honor, now and henceforth, and unto everlasting ages. Amen.
Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published
by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in
1867. (LNPF I/XII, Schaff). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible
Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.