Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 16
Chrys.: As the Lord sent the multitudes away after the miracle of the five loaves, so also now, not on foot, but [p. 574] by boat, that the multitudes may not follow Him; "And He sent away the multitude, and entered into a ship, and came into the coasts of Magedan."
Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 51: Mark says Dalmanutha; no doubt the same place under a different name; for many copies of the Gospel according to Mark have Magedan.
Raban.: This Magedan is the country opposite Gerasa, and is interpreted 'fruits,' or 'a messenger.' It signifies a garden, of which it is said, "A garden enclosed, a fountain sealed," [Song of Songs 4:!2] wherein the fruits of virtues grow, and where the name of the Lord is announced.
It teaches us that preachers having ministered the word to the multitude ought to be refreshed themselves with the fruits of the virtues within the chamber of their own heart.
It follows; "And there come unto him Pharisees and Sadducees tempting him, and desired him to shew them a sign from heaven."
Remig.: Wondrous blindness of the Pharisees and Sadducees! They asked a sign from heaven, as though the things they now saw were not signs. John shews what sign it was they desired; for he relates, that after the feeding with the five loaves, the multitudes came to the Lord and said, "What sign doest thou, that we may see it and believe on thee? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert, as it is written, He gave them bread to eat from heaven." [John 6:30-31]
Therefore when they say here, Shew us a sign from heaven, they mean, Cause that it rain manna for one or two days, that the whole people may eat, as was done for a long time in the desert. He looking into their thoughts as God, and knowing that even if a sign from heaven should be shewed them they would not believe, would not give them the sign for which they asked, as it follows, "But he answered and said unto them, When the evening is come, ye say, It will be fair weather; for the sky is red, &c."
Jerome: This is not found in most copies of the Greek text [ed. note: That is, ver 2 and 3. They are omitted in many manuscripts and versions]. But the sense is clear, that fair and rainy days may be foretold by the condition and harmony of the elements. But the Scribes and Pharisees who seemed to be doctors of the Law could not discern the Saviour's coming by the predictions of the Prophets.
Aug., Quaest Ev., i, 20: We might also understand this saying, [p. 575] "When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather, for the sky is red," in this way, By the blood of Christ's passion at His first coming, indulgence of sin is given. "And in the morning, It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and lowring;" that is, at His second coming He will come with fire before Him.
Gloss.: Otherwise; "The sky is red and lowring;" that is, the Apostles suffer after the resurrection, by which ye may know that I shall judge hereafter; for if I spare not the good who are mine from present suffering, I shall not spare others hereafter; "Ye can therefore discern the face of the sky, but the signs of the times ye cannot."
Raban.: "The signs of the times" He means of His own coming, or passion, to which the evening redness of the heavens may be likened; and the tribulation which shall be before His coming, to which the morning redness with the lowring sky may be compared.
Chrys.: As then in the sky there is one sign of fair weather, and another of rain, so ought ye to think concerning me; now, in this My first coming, there is need of these signs which are done in the earth; but those which are done in heaven are reserved for the time of the second coming. Now I come as a physician, then as a judge; now I come in secret, then with much pomp, when the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. But now is not the time of these signs, now have I come to die, and to suffer humiliations; as it follows, "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall no sign he given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet."
Aug.: This Matthew has already given; whence we may store up for our information, that the Lord spoke the same things many times, that where there are contradictions which cannot be explained, it may be understood that the same sayings were uttered on two different occasions.
Gloss. interlin.: He says, "Evil and adulterous generation," that is, unbelieving, having carnal, and not spiritual understanding.
Raban.: To this generation that thus tempted the Lord is not given a sign from heaven, such as they sought for, though many signs are given on the earth; but only to the generation of such as sought the Lord, in whose sight He ascended into heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit.
Jerome: But what is [p. 576] meant by the sign of Jonas has been explained above.
Chrys.: And when the Pharisees heard this, they ought to have asked Him, What it was He meant? But they had not asked at first with any desire of learning, and therefore the Lord leaves them, as it follows, "And he left them, and went his way."
Jerome: That is, leaving the evil generation of the Jews, He passed over the strait, and the people of the Gentiles followed Him.
Hilary: Observe, we do not read here as in other places, that He sent the multitudes away and departed; but because the error of unbelief held the minds of the presumptuous, it is said that He left them.
Gloss., non occ.: As the Lord had left the Pharisees on account of their unbelief, so now He teaches His disciples to be on their guard against their doctrine; whence it follows, "And when His disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread."
Remig.: They were bound to their Master with so great affection, that they were unwilling to part from Him for even a moment of time. And herein it should be observed how far they were from any longing for delicacies, when they took so small care for necessaries, that they had even forgotten to take bread, without which human weakness cannot support itself.
"He said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees."
Hilary: Herein the Apostles are admonished not to be partakers in the doctrine of the Jews; for the works of the Law were established to produce faith, and to prefigure the things that were to follow; and they on whose times truth itself had chanced should look for no further types of truth; lest the teaching of the Pharisees, which knew not of Christ, should stay the effect of Gospel truth.
Jerome: For he that takes heed of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, does not observe the precepts of the Law and of the letter, and neglects the traditions of men that he may do the commandments of God. This is the leaven of which the Apostle speaks, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." [1 Cor 5:6]
By every means also we should avoid that leaven which Marcion, Valentinus, and all the heretics had. For the nature of leaven is such, that when mixed with flour, that which seemed a little increases to a large quantity, and brings the whole mixture to its own flavour. Thus heretical doctrine if it have cast but a small spark into your breast, in a short time a mighty flame is raised, and drives the whole temper of the man along with it.
Chrys.: Why did He not say plainly, Take heed of the doctrine of the Pharisees? Because He would remind them of those things that had been done in the multiplication of the loaves, knowing them to be forgetful. To have given them this charge at once bluntly would have seemed unreasonable; but to find fault with them on occasion banished by themselves prepared the way for the charge; therefore it is that the Evangelist brings forward their thoughts; "But they thought within themselves, [p. 578] saying, It is because we have taken no bread."
Jerome: How had they no bread, seeing that as soon as they had filled seven baskets they entered into the boat, and came into the parts of Magedan? There they hear that they ought to take heed of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. But the Scripture is witness that they had forgotten to take the baskets with them.
Chrys.: Because the disciples still grovelled about Jewish observances, the Lord sharply rebukes them for the benefit of all; whence it follows, "But Jesus knowing their thoughts said unto them, O ye of little faith, why consider ye among yourselves because ye have no bread?"
Gloss. ord.: As much as to say; Why do ye think that I spake of earthly bread, for which ye ought not to have a thought, having beheld Me of so little make such abundant overplus?
Chrys.: This He does that He may put away from them all care for food. But why did He not reprove them, when they said, "Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness?" for that seemed a more fitting occasion. He did not blame them at that time that He might not seem to be by that urged on to do miracles, and He was unwilling to find fault with them before the people.
Also there was more reason in the charge, when after two miracles of multiplication of loaves, they had anxiety about food. Observe with what mildness He rebukes them; He makes an excuse in answer Himself, saying, "Do ye not yet understand, nor remember the five loaves?"
Gloss. interlin.: As much as to say, Do ye not understand the mystery, nor remember the miracle?
Chrys.: By this calling to mind what was past, and rousing their attention to what was to come.
Jerome: Thus He takes this occasion to instruct them what is meant by the five loaves and the seven loaves, the five thousand and the four thousand, who were fed in the desert. For if the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees signified not earthly food, but corrupt traditions and heretical dogmas, why should not the food with which the people of God is nourished signify the true and uncorrupt doctrine?
Chrys.: But that you may learn what force Christ's reproof had upon His disciples, and how it roused their sluggish spirit, hear what says the Evangelist; "Then they understood how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and [p. 579] the Sadducees;" yet He had not interpreted this to them. This instruction of the Lord then drew them away from Jewish observances, and made them attentive instead of careless, and raised them out of their little faith, that whenever they should seem to have but little provision of bread they should have no fear about food, but should despise all those things.
Gloss., non occ.: As soon as the Lord had taken His disciples out of the teaching of the Pharisees, He then suitably proceeds to lay deep the foundations of the Gospel doctrine; and to give this the greater solemnity, it is introduced by the name of the place, "When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi."
Chrys., Hom., liv: He adds 'of Philip,' to distinguish it from the other Caesarea, of Strato. And He asks this question in the former [p. 580] place, leading His disciples far out of the way of the Jews, that being set free from all fear, they might say freely what was in their mind.
Jerome: This Philip was the
brother of Herod, the tetrarch of
Gloss., ap. Anselm: When about to confirm the disciples in the faith, He would first take away from their minds the errors and opinions of others, whence it follows, "And he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that the Son of Man is?"
Origen: Christ puts this question to His disciples, that from their answer we may learn that there were at that time among the Jews various opinions concerning Christ; and to the end that we should always investigate what opinion men may form of us; that if any ill be said of us, we may cut off the occasions of it; or if any good, we may multiply the occasions of it.
Gloss., non occ.: So by this instance of the Apostles, the followers of the Bishops are instructed, that whatever opinions they may hear out of doors concerning their Bishops, they should tell them to them.
Jerome: Beautifully is the question put, "Whom do men say that the Son of Man is?" For they who speak of the Son of Man, are men: but they who understood His divine nature are called not men but Gods.
Chrys.: He says not, Whom do the Scribes and Pharisees say that I am? but, Whom do men say that I am? searching into the minds of the common people, which were not perverted to evil. For though their opinion concerning Christ was much below what it ought to have been, yet it was free from wilful wickedness; but the opinion of the Pharisees concerning Christ was full of much malice.
Hilary: By asking, "Whom do men say that the Son of Man is?" He implied that something ought to be thought respecting Him beyond what appeared, for He was the Son of Man. And in thus enquiring after men's opinion respecting Himself, we are not to think that He made confession of Himself; for that which He asked for was something concealed, to which the faith of believers ought to extend itself.
We must hold that form of confession, that we so mention the Son of God as not to forget the Son of Man, for the one without the other offers us no hope of salvation; and therefore He said emphatically, "Whom do men say that the Son of Man is?" [p. 581]
Jerome: He says not, Whom do men say that I am? but, "Whom do men say that the Son of Man is?" that He should not seem to ask ostentatiously concerning Himself. Observe, that wherever the Old Testament has 'Son of Man,' the phrase in the Hebrew is 'Son of Adam.'
Origen: Then the disciples recount the divers opinions of the Jews relating to Christ; "And they said, some say John the Baptist," following Herod's opinion [margin note: see Matt 14:2]; "others Elias," supposing either that Elias had gone through a second birth, or that having continued alive in the body, He had at this time appeared; "others Jeremias", whom the Lord had ordained to be Prophet among the Gentiles, not understanding that Jeremias was a type of Christ; "or one of the Prophets," in a like way, because of those things which God spoke to them through the Prophets, yet they were not fulfilled in them, but in Christ.
Jerome: It was as easy for the multitudes to be wrong in supposing Him to be Elias and Jeremias, as Herod in supposing Him to be John the Baptist; whence I wonder that some interpreters should have sought for the causes of these several errors.
Chrys.: The disciples having recounted the opinion of the common people, He then by a second question invites them to higher thoughts concerning Him; and therefore it follows, "Jesus saith unto them, Whom say ye that I am?" You who are with Me always, and have seen greater miracles than the multitudes, ought not to agree in the opinion of the multitudes. For this reason He did not put this question to them at the commencement of His preaching, but after He had done many signs; then also He spoke many things to them concerning His Deity
Jerome: Observe how by this connexion of the discourse the Apostles are not styled men but Gods. For when He had said, "Whom say ye that the Son of Man is?" He adds, "Whom say ye that I am?" as much as to say, They being men think of Me as man, ye who are Gods, whom do you think Me?
Raban.: He enquires the opinions of His disciples and of those without, not because He was ignorant of them; His disciples He asks, that He may reward with due reward their confession of a right faith; and the opinions of those without He enquires, that having the wrong opinions first set forth, it might be proved that the disciples had received the truth of their confession not from common opinion, but out [p. 582] of the hidden treasure of the Lord's revelation.
Chrys.: When the Lord enquires concerning the opinion of the multitudes, all the disciples answer; but when all the disciples are asked, Peter as the mouth and head [margin note: ] of the Apostles answers for all, as it follows, "Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God."
Origen: Peter denied that Jesus was any of those things which the Jews supposed, by his confession, "Thou art the Christ," which the Jews were ignorant of; but he added what was more, "the Son of the living God," who had said by his Prophets, "I live, saith the Lord." [Eze 33:11] And therefore was He called the living Lord, but in a more especial manner as being eminent above all that had life; for He alone has immortality, and is the fount of life, wherefore He is rightly called God the Father; for He is life as it were flowing out of a fountain, who said, "I am the life." [John 14:6]
Jerome: He calls Him "the living God," in comparison of those gods who are esteemed gods, but are dead; such, I mean, as Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, Hercules, and the other monsters of idols.
Hilary: This is the true and unalterable faith, that from God came forth God the Son, who has eternity out of the eternity of the Father. That this God took unto Him a body and was made man is a perfect confession. Thus He embraced all in that He here expresses both His nature and His name, in which is the sum of virtues.
Raban.: And by a remarkable distinction it was that the Lord Himself puts forward the lowliness of the humanity which He had taken upon Him, while His disciple shews us the excellence of His divine eternity.
Hilary: This confession of Peter met a worthy reward, for that he had seen the Son of God in the man. Whence it follows, "Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jonas, for flesh and blood has not revealed this unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven."
Jerome: This return Christ makes to the Apostle for the testimony which Peter had spoken concerning Him, "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God." The Lord said unto him, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jonas?" Why? Because flesh and blood has not revealed this unto thee, but My Father. That which flesh and blood could not reveal, was revealed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. By his confession then he obtains a title, which should signify that [p. 583] he had received a revelation from the Holy Spirit, whose son he shall also be called; for Barjonas in our tongue signifies The son of a dove.
Others take it in the simple sense, that Peter is the son of John [ed. note: In John 21, the Vulgate has 'Johannis,' but in John 1, 43, 'Jona.'], according to that question in another place, "Simon, son of John, lovest thou me?" [John 21:15] affirming that it is an error of the copyists in writing here Barjonas for Barjoannas, dropping one syllable. Now Joanna is interpreted 'The grace of God.' But either name has its mystical interpretation; the dove signifies the Holy Spirit; and the grace of God signifies the spiritual gift.
Chrys.: It would be without meaning to say, Thou art the son of Jonas, unless he intended to shew that Christ is as naturally the Son of God, as Peter is the son of Jonas, that is, of the same substance as him that begot him.
Jerome: Compare what is here said, "flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee," with the Apostolic declaration, "Immediately I was not content with flesh and blood," [Gal 1:16] meaning there by this expression the Jews; so that here also the same thing is shewn in different words, that not by the teaching of the Pharisees, but by the grace of God, Christ was revealed to him the Son of God.
Hilary: Otherwise; He is blessed, because to have looked and to have seen beyond human sight is matter of praise, not beholding that which is of flesh and blood, but seeing the Son of God by the revelation of the heavenly Father; and he was held worthy to be the first to acknowledge the divinity which was in Christ.
Origen: It must be enquired in this place whether, when they were first sent out, the disciples knew that He was the Christ. For this speech shews that Peter then first confessed Him to be the Son of the living God. And look whether you can solve a question of this sort, by saying that to believe Jesus to be the Christ is less than to know Him; and so suppose that when they were sent to preach they believed that Jesus was the Christ, and afterwards as they made progress they knew Him to be so. Or must we answer thus? That then the Apostles had the beginnings of a knowledge of Christ, and knew some little concerning Him; and that they made progress afterwards in the knowledge of Him, so that they were able to receive the knowledge of Christ revealed by the Father, as Peter, who is [p. 584] here blessed, not only for that he says, "Thou art the Christ," but much more for that he adds, "the Son of the living God."
Chrys.: And truly if Peter had not confessed that Christ was in a peculiar sense born of the Father, there had been no need of revelation; nor would he have been worthy of this blessing for confessing Christ to be one of many adopted sons; for before this they who were with Him in the ship had said, "Truly thou art the Son of God." Nathanael also said, "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God." [John 1:49] Yet were not these blessed because they did not confess such sonship as does Peter here, but thought Him one among many, not in the true sense a son; or, if chief above all, yet not the substance of the Father.
But see how the Father reveals the Son, and the Son the Father; from none other comes it to confess the Son than of the Feather, and from none other to confess the Father than of the Son; so that from this place even it is manifest that the Son is of the same substance, and to be worshipped together with the Father. Christ then proceeds to shew that many would hereafter believe what Peter had now confessed, whence He adds, "And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter,"
Jerome: As much as to say, You have said to me, "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God," therefore I say unto thee, not in a mere speech, and that goes not on into operation; but I say unto thee, and for Me to speak is to make it so [ed. note: See Mr. Newman's Lectures on Justification, Lect iii, p.87], "that thou art Peter." For as from Christ proceeded that light to the Apostles, whereby they were called the light of the world, and those other names which were imposed upon them by the Lord, so upon Simon who believed in Christ the Rock, He bestowed the name of Peter (Rock.)
Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 53: But let none suppose that Peter received that name here; he received it at no other time than where John relates that it was said unto him, "Thou shalt be called Cephas, which is interpreted, Peter." [John 1:42] Chrys.: And pursuing the metaphor of the rock, it is rightly said to him as follows: "And upon this rock I will build my Church."
Chrys.: That is, On this faith and confession I will build my Church. Herein shewing that many should believe what Peter had confessed, and raising his understanding, and making him His shepherd.
Aug., Retract., i, 21: I have said in a certain place of the Apostle Peter, that [p. 585] it was on him, as on a rock, that the Church was built. but I know that since that I have often explained these words of the Lord, "Thou art Peter, and on this rock will I build my Church," as meaning upon Him whom Peter had confessed in the words, "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God;: and so that Peter, taking his name from this rock, would represent the Church, which is built upon this rock. For it is not said to him, Thou art the rock, but, "Thou art Peter." But the rock was Christ, [1 Cor 10:4] whom because Simon thus confessed, as the whole Church confesses Him, he was named Peter. Let the reader choose whether of these two opinions seems to him the more probable.
Hilary: But in this bestowing of a new name is a happy foundation of the Church, and a rock worthy of that building, which should break up the laws of hell, burst the gates of Tartarus, and all the shackles of death. And to shew the firmness of this Church thus built upon a rock, He adds, "And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
Gloss. interlin.: That is, shall not separate it from the love and faith of Me.
Jerome: I suppose the gates of hell to mean vice and sin, or at least the doctrines of heretics by which men are ensnared and drawn into hell.
Origen: But in heavenly things every spiritual sin is a gate of hell, to which are opposed the gates of righteousness.
Raban.: The gates of hell are the torments and promises of the persecutors. Also, the evil works of the unbelievers, and vain conversation, are gates of hell, because they shew the path of destruction.
Origen: He does not express what it is which they shall not prevail against, whether the rock on which He builds the Church, or the Church which He builds on the rock; but it is clear that neither against the rock nor against the Church will the gates of hell prevail.
Cyril [ed. note: ' This passage is quoted in the Catena from 'Cyril in Lib. Thes.' but does not occur in any of S. Cyril's works. On the subject of this interpolation, vid. Launoy's Epistles, part i. Ep. 1-3. and v. Ep. 9. c. 6-12. From him it appears that, besides the passage introduced into the Catena, S. Thomas ascribes similar ones to S. Cyril in his comment on the Sentences, Lib. iv. cl. 24. 3. and in his books 'contr. impugn.reliq.' and 'contra errores Graee.' He is apparently the first to cite them, and they seem to have been written later than Nicholas I. and Leo IX. (A. D. 867-1054.) He was young when he used them, and he is silent about them in his Summa, (which was the work of his last ten years,) in three or four places where the reference might have been expected.]
According to this promise of the Lord, the Apostolic Church of Peter remains pure and spotless from all leading into error, or heretical fraud, above all Heads and Bishops, and Primates of Churches and people, [p. 586] with its own Pontiffs, with most abundant faith, and the authority of Peter. And while other Churches have to blush for the error of some of their members, this reigns alone immoveably established, enforcing silence, and stopping the mouths of all heretics; and we [ed. note: The editions read here, 'et nos necessario salutis,' the meaning of which, says Nicolai, it is impossible to divine], not drunken with the wine of pride, confess together with it the type of truth, and of the holy apostolic tradition.
Jerome: Let none think that this is said of death, implying that the Apostles should not be subject to the condition of death, when we see their martyrdoms so illustrious.
Origen: Wherefore if we, by the revelation of our Father who is in heaven, shall confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, having also our conversation in heaven, to us also shall be said, "Thou art Peter;" for every one is a Rock who is an imitator of Christ. But against whomsoever the gates of hell prevail, he is neither to be called a rock upon which Christ builds His Church; neither a Church, or part of the Church, which Christ builds upon a rock.
Chrys.: Then He speaks of another honour of Peter, when He adds, "And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven;" as much as to say, As the Father hath given thee to know Me, I also will give something unto thee, namely, the keys of the kingdom of heaven.
Raban.: For as with a zeal beyond the others he had confessed the King of heaven, he is deservedly entrusted more than the others with the keys of the heavenly kingdom, that it might be clear to all, that without that confession and faith none ought to enter the kingdom of heaven. By the keys of the kingdom He means discernment [margin note: discretio] and power; power, by which he binds and looses; discernment, by which he separates the worthy from the unworthy.
It follows, "And whatsoever thou shalt bind;" that is, whomsoever thou shalt judge unworthy of forgiveness while he lives, shall be judged unworthy with God; and "whatsoever thou shalt loose," that is, whomsoever thou shalt judge worthy to be forgiven while he lives, shall obtain forgiveness of his sins from God.
Origen: See how great power has that rock upon which the Church is built, that its sentences are to continue firm as though God gave sentence by it.
Chrys.: See how Christ leads Peter to a high understanding concerning himself. [p. 587] These things that He here promises to give him, belong to God alone, namely to forgive sins, and to make the Church immoveable amidst the storms of so many persecutions and trials.
Raban.: But this power of binding and loosing, though it seems given by the Lord to Peter alone, is indeed given also to the other Apostles, [margin note: see Matt 18:18] and is even now in the Bishops and Presbyters in every Church. But Peter received in a special manner the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and a supremacy of judicial power, that all the faithful throughout the world might understand that all who in any manner separate themselves from the unity of the faith, or from communion with him, such should neither be able to be loosed from the bonds of sin, nor to enter the gate of the heavenly kingdom.
Gloss., ap. Anselm: This power was committed specially to Peter, that we might thereby be invited to unity. For He therefore appointed him the head of the Apostles, that the Church might have one principal Vicar of Christ, to whom the different members of the Church should have recourse, if ever they should have dissensions among them.
But if there were many heads in the Church, the bond of unity would be broken. Some say that the words "upon earth" denote that power was not given to men to bind and loose the dead, but the living; for he who should loose the dead would do this not upon earth, but after the earth.
Second Council of Constantinople, Concil. Con. ii. Collat. 8: How is it that some do presume to say that these things are said only of the living? Know they not that the sentence of anathema is nothing else but separation? They are to be avoided who are held of grievous faults, whether they are among the living, or not. For it is always behoveful to fly from the wicked. Moreover there are divers letters read of Augustine of religious memory, who was of great renown among the African bishops, which affirmed [margin note: see Aug. Ep. 185, 4] that heretics ought to be anathematized even after death. Such an ecclesiastical tradition other African Bishops also have preserved. And the Holy Roman Church also has anathematized some Bishops after death, although no accusation had been brought against their faith in their lifetime. [ed. note: This passage is quoted from the sentence of the Council. It alleges the authority of S. Cyril, from one of whose lost works against Theodorus the sentence beginning, "They are to be avoided, &c," is quoted.]
Jerome: Bishops and Presbyters, not understanding [p. 588] this passage, assume to themselves something of the lofty pretensions of the Pharisees, and suppose that they may either condemn the innocent, or absolve the guilty; whereas what will be enquired into before the Lord will be not the sentence of the Priests, but the life of him that is being judged.
We read in Leviticus of the lepers, how they are commanded to shew themselves to the Priests; and if they have the leprosy, then they are made unclean by the Priest; not that the Priest makes them leprous and unclean, but that the Priest has knowledge of what is leprosy and what is not leprosy, and can discern who is clean, and who is unclean. In the same way then as there the Priest makes the leper unclean, here the Bishop or Presbyter binds or looses not those who are without sin, or guilt, but in discharge of his function when he has heard the varieties of their sins, he knows who is to be bound, and who loosed.
Origen: Let him then be without blame who binds or looses another, that he may be found worthy to bind or loose in heaven. Moreover, to him who shall be able by his virtues to shut the gates of hell, are given in reward the keys of the kingdom of heaven. For every kind of virtue when any has begun to practise it, as it were opens itself before Him, the Lord, namely, opening it through His grace, so that the same virtue is found to be both the gate, and the key of the gate. But it may be that each virtue is itself the kingdom of heaven.
21. From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and Chief Priests and Scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
Origen: Seeing Peter had confessed Him to be Christ the Son of the living God, because He would not have them preach this in the mean time, He adds, "Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man, that he was Jesus the Christ."
Jerome: When then above He sends His disciples to preach, and commands them to proclaim [p. 589] His advent, this seems contrary to His command here, that they should not say that He is Jesus the Christ. To me it seems that it is one thing to preach Christ, and another to preach Jesus the Christ. Christ is a common title of dignity, Jesus the proper name of the Saviour.
Origen: Or they then spake of Him in lowly words, as only a great and wonderful man, but as yet proclaimed Him not as the Christ. Yet if any will have it that He was even at the first proclaimed to be Christ, be may say that now He chose that first short announcement of His name to be left in silence and not repeated, that little which they had heard concerning Christ might be digested into their minds. Or the difficulty may be solved thus: that the fairer relation concerning their preaching Christ does not belong to the time before His Resurrection, but to the time that should be after the Resurrection; and that the command now given is meant for the time present; for it were of no use to preach Him, and to be silent conceiving His cross. Moreover, He commanded them that they should tell no man that He was the Christ, and prepared them that they should afterwards say that He was Christ who was crucified, and who rose again from the dead.
Jerome: But that none should suppose that this is only any explanation, and not an evangelic interpretation, what follows explains the reasons of His forbidding them to preach Him at that time; "Then began Jesus to shew unto his disciples that he must needs go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and Scribes, and Chief Priests, and be put to death, and rise again the third day."
The meaning is; Then preach Me when I shall have suffered these things, for it will be of no avail that Christ be preached publicly, and His Majesty spread abroad among the people, when after a little time they shall see Him scourged and crucified.
Chrys.: For what having once had root has afterwards been torn up, if it is again planted, is with difficulty retained among the multitude; but what having been once rooted has continued ever after unmoved, is easily brought on to a further growth. He therefore dwells on these sorrowful things, and repeats His discourse upon them, that He may open the minds of His disciples.
Origen: And observe that it is not said, 'He began to say,' or 'to teach,' [p. 590] but "to shew;" for as things are said to be shewn to the sense, so the things which Christ spake are said to be shewn by Him. Nor indeed do I think, that to those who saw Him suffering many things in the flesh, were those things which they saw so shewn as this representation in words shewed to the disciples the mystery of the passion and resurrection of Christ. At that time, indeed, He only "began to shew them," and afterwards when they were more able to receive it, He shewed them more fully; for all that Jesus began to do, that He accomplished.
He must needs go to Jerusalem, to be put to death indeed in the Jerusalem which is below, but to rise again and reign in the heavenly Jerusalem. But when Christ rose again, and others were risen with Him, they no longer sought the Jerusalem which is beneath, or the house of prayer in it, but that which is above. He suffers many things from the elders of the earthly Jerusalem, that He may be glorified by those heavenly elders who receive His mercies. He rose again from the dead on the third day, that He may deliver from the evil one, and purchase for such as are so delivered this gift, that they be baptized in spirit, soul, and body, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who are three days perpetually present to those that through them have been made children of light.
Origen: While Christ was yet speaking the beginnings of the things which He was shewing unto them, Peter considered them unworthy of the Son of the living God. And forgetting that the Son of the living God does nothing, and acts in no way worthy of blame, he began to rebuke Him; and this is what is said, "And Peter took him, and began to rebuke [p. 591] him."
Jerome: We have often said that Peter had too hot a zeal, and a very great affection towards the Lord the Saviour. Therefore after that his confession, and the reward of which he had heard from the Saviour, he would not have that his confession destroyed, and thought it impossible that the Son of God could be put to death, but takes Him to him affectionately, or takes Him aside that he may not seem to be rebuking his Master in the presence of his fellow disciples, and begins to chide Him with the feeling of one that loved Him, and to contradict Him, and say, "Be it far from thee, Lord;" or as it is better in the Greek, , , that is, Be propitious to Thyself, Lord, this shall not be unto Thee.
Origen: As though Christ Himself had needed a propitiation. His affection Christ allows, but charges him with ignorance; as it follows, "He turned and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence unto me."
Hilary: The Lord, knowing the suggestion of the craft of the devil, says to Peter, "Get thee behind me;" that is, that he should follow the example of His passion; but to him by whom this expression was suggested, He turns and says, "Satan, thou art an offence unto me." For we cannot suppose that the name of Satan, and the sin of being an offence, would be imputed to Peter after those so great declarations of blessedness and power that had been granted him.
Jerome: But to me this error of the Apostle, proceeding from the warmth of his affection, will never seem a suggestion of the devil. Let the thoughtful reader consider that that blessedness of power was promised to Peter in time to come, not given him at the time present; had it been conveyed to him immediately, the error of a false confession would never have found place in him.
Chrys.: For what wonder is it that this should befal Peter, who had never received a revelation concerning these things? For that you may learn that confession which he made concerning Christ was not spoken of himself, observe how in these things which had not been revealed to him, he is at a loss. Estimating the things of Christ by human and earthly principles, he judged it mean and unworthy of Him that He should suffer. Therefore the Lord added, "For thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that [p. 592] be of men."
Jerome: As much as to say; It is of My will, and of the Father's will, that I should die for the salvation of men; you considering only your own will would not that the grain of wheat should fall into the ground, that it may bring forth much fruit; therefore as you speak what is opposed to My will, you ought to be called My adversary. For Satan is interpreted 'adverse' or 'contrary.'
Origen: Yet the words in which Peter and those in which Satan are rebuked, are not, as is commonly thought, the same; to Peter it is said, "Get thee behind me, Satan;" that is, follow me, thou that art contrary to my will; to the Devil it is said, "Go thy way, Satan," understanding not 'behind me,' but 'into everlasting fire.'
He said therefore to Peter, "Get thee behind me," as to one who through ignorance was ceasing to walk after Christ. And He called him Satan, as one, who through ignorance had somewhat contrary to God. But he is blessed to whom Christ turns, even though He turn in order to rebuke him. But why said He to Peter, "Thou art an offence unto me, when in the Psalm it is said, Great peace have they that love thy law, and there is no offence to them?" [Ps 119:165] It must be answered, that not only is Jesus not offended, but neither is any man who is perfect in the love of God; and yet he who does or speaks any thing of the nature of an offence, may be an offence even to one who is incapable of being offended. Or he may hold every disciple that sinneth as an offence, as Paul speaks, "Who is offended, and I burn not?" [2 Cor 11:29]
Chrys., Hom. iv: Peter had said, "Be it far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee;" and had been answered, "Get thee behind me, Satan;" but the Lord was not satisfied with this rebuke, but over and above desired to shew the impropriety [p. 593] of those things which Peter had said, and the fruit of His own passion; whence it is added, "Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man will to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me;" as much as to say, You say unto me, "Be it far from thee;" but I say unto you, that not only is it harmful for you to hinder Me from My Passion, but yourself will not be able to be saved unless you suffer and die, and renounce your life always.
And note, that He does not speak of it as compulsory, for He does not say, Though ye will not yet must ye suffer this, but, "If any man will." By saying this He rather attracted them; for he who leaves his auditor at liberty, attracts him the more; whereas he that uses violence oftentimes hinders him.
And He proposes this doctrine, not to His disciples only, but in common to the whole world, saying, "If any man will," that is, if woman, if man, if king, if free, if slave; there are three things mentioned; "let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me."
Gregory, Hom. in Ev., xxxii, 2: For unless a man departs from himself, he does not draw near to Him who is above him. But if we leave ourselves, whither shall we go out of ourselves? Or if we have forsaken ourselves, who is it then that goes? Indeed, we are one thing when fallen by sin, another thing as we were made by nature. It is therefore then that we leave and deny ourselves, when we avoid that which we were of old, and strive towards that to which we are called in newness.
Greg., in Ezech., Hom. i, 10: He denies himself whosoever is changed for the better, and begins to be what he was not, and ceases to be what he was.
Greg., Mor., xxxiii, 6: He also denies himself, who having trode under foot the risings of pride, shews himself in the eyes of God to be estranged from himself.
Origen: But though a man may seem to keep from sin, yet if he does not believe in the cross of Christ, he cannot be said to be crucified with Christ; whence it follows, "And take up his cross."
Chrys.: Otherwise; He that disowns another, whether a brother, or a servant, or whosoever it be, he may see him beaten, or suffering aught else, and neither succours nor befriends him; thus it is He would have us deny our body, and whether it be beaten or addicted in any other way, not to spare it. For this is to spare. So parents do then most spare their children when they hand them over to tutors, bidding them [p. 594] not to spare them. And that you should not think that this denial of self extends only to words or affronts, he shews to what degree we should deny ourselves, namely, to death the most shameful, even that of the cross; this He signifies when He says, "And take up his cross, and follow me."
Hilary: We are to follow our Lord by taking up the cross of His passion; and if not in deed, yet in will, bear Him company.
Chrys.: And because malefactors often suffer grievous things, that you should not suppose that simply to suffer evil is enough, He adds the reason of suffering, when He says, "And follow me." For His sake you are to endure all, and to learn His other virtues; for this is to follow Christ aright, to be diligent in the practice of virtues, and to suffer all things for His sake.
Greg., Hom. in Ev., xxxii, 3: There are two ways of taking our cross; when the body is afflicted by abstinence, or when the heart is pained by compassion for another. Forasmuch as our very virtues are beset with faults, we must declare that vainglory sometimes attends abstinence of flesh, for the emaciated body and pale countenance betray this high virtue to the praise of the world. Compassion again is sometimes attended by a false affection, which is hereby led to be consenting unto sin; to shut out these, He adds, "and follow me."
Jerome: Otherwise; He takes up his cross who is crucified to the world; and he to whom the world is crucified, follows his crucified Lord.
Chrys.: And then because this seemed severe, He softens it by shewing the abundant rewards of our pains, and the punishment of evil, "He that will save his life shall lose it."
Origen: This may be understood in two ways. First thus; if any lover of this present life spares his life, fearing to die, and supposing that his life is ended with this death; he seeking in this way to save his life, shall lose it, estranging it from life eternal. But if any, despising the present life, shall contend for the truth unto death, he shall lose his life as far as this present life is concerned, but forasmuch as he loses it for Christ, he shall the more save it for life eternal.
Otherwise thus; if any understand what is true salvation, and desire to obtain it for the salvation of his own life, he by denying himself loses his life as to the enjoyments of the flesh, but saves it by works of piety. He shews by saying, "For he that will," that this passage must be connected in [p. 595] sense with that which went before. If then we understand the first, "Let him deny himself," of the death of the body, we must take this that follows of death only; but if we understand the first of mortifying the propensities of the flesh, then, to lose his life, signifies to give up carnal pleasures.
Chrys.: Because He had said, Whoso will save, shall lose, and whoso will lose shall save, opposing saving to losing, that none should hence conclude that there was any equality between the losing on one side, and the saving on the other, He adds, "What does it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his soul?" As though He had said, Say not that he who escapes the dangers which threaten him for Christ's sake, saves his soul, that is, his temporal life; but add to his temporal life the whole world, and what of all these things will profit a man if his soul perishes for ever?
Suppose you should see all your servants in joy, and yourself placed in the greatest evils, what profit would you reap from being their master! Think over this within your own soul, when by the indulgence of the flesh that soul looks for its own destruction.
Origen: I suppose also that he gains the world who does not deny himself, nor loses his own life as to carnal pleasures, and thence suffers the loss of his soul. These two things being set before us, we must rather choose to lose the world, and gain our souls.
Chrys.: But if you should reign over the whole world, you would not be able to buy your soul; whence it follows, "Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" As much as to say, if you lose [p. 596] goods, you may have it in your power to give other goods to recover them; but if you lose your soul, you can neither give another soul, nor any thing else in ransom for it. And what marvel is it if this happen in the soul, when we see the same happen in the body; for if you should surround a body afflicted with an incurable disease with ten thousand diadems, they would not heal it.
Origen: And at first sight indeed the ransom of the soul might he supposed to be in his substance, that a man should give his substance to the poor, and so should save his soul. But I suppose that a man has nothing that giving as a ransom for his soul he should deliver it from death. God gave the ransom for the souls of men, namely the precious blood of His Son.
Greg., Hom. in Ev., xxxii, 4: Or the connexion may be thus; The Holy Church has a period of persecution, and a period of peace; and our Redeemer accordingly distinguishes between these periods in His commands; in time of persecution the life is to be laid down; but in time of peace, those earthly lusts which might gain too great power over us are to be broken through; whence He says, "What does it profit a man?"
Jerome: Having thus called upon His disciples to deny themselves and take up their cross, the hearers were filled with great terror, therefore these severe tidings are followed by more joyful; "For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father with the holy Angels." Dost thou fear death? Hear the glory of the triumph. Dost thou dread the cross? Hear the attendance of the Angels.
Origen: As much as to say; The Son of Man is now come, but not in glory; for He ought not to have been ordained in His glory to bear our sins; but then He shall come in His glory, when He shall first have made ready His disciples, being made as they are, that He might make them as He is Himself, in the likeness of His glory.
Chrys.: He said not in such glory as is that of the Father, that you might not suppose a difference of glory, but He says, "The glory of the Father," that it might be shewn to be the same glory. But if the glory is one, it is evident that the substance is one. What then fearest thou, Peter, hearing of death? For then shalt thou see Me in glory. But if I be in glory, so also shall ye be. But in making mention of His glory, He mingleth therewith things terrible, bringing forward [p. 597] the judgment, as it follows, "And then shall he render to each man according to his works."
Jerome: For there is no difference of Jew or Gentile, man or woman, poor or rich, where not persons but works are accepted.
Chrys.: This He said to call to their minds not only the punishment of sinners, but the prizes and crowns of the righteous.
Jerome: But the secret thought of the Apostles might have suffered an offence of this sort; The killings and deaths you speak of as to be now, but the promise of your coming in glory is put off to a long distant time. He that knows secret things therefore, seeing that they might object this, requites a present fear with a present reward, saying, "Verily I say unto you, There be some of those standing here that shall not taste death until the Son of Man come in his kingdom."
Chrys., Hom. lvi: Willing to shew what is that glory in which He shall come hereafter, He revealed it to them in this present life, so far as it was possible for them to receive it, that they might not have sorrow in their Lord's death
Remig. see Bed. in Luc. 9, 27: What is here said, therefore, was fulfilled in the three disciples to whom the in Lord, when transfigured in the mount, shewed the joys of the eternal inheritance; these saw "Him coming in His kingdom," that is, shining in His effulgent radiance, in which, after the judgment passed, He shall be beheld by all the saints.
Chrys.: Therefore He does not reveal the names of those who should ascend into the mount, because the rest would be very desirous to accompany them whither they might look upon the pattern of His glory, and would be grieved as though they were passed over.
Greg.: Or, by the kingdom of God is meant the present Church, and because some of His disciples were to live so long in the body as to behold the Church of God built up and raised against the glory of this world, this comfortable promise is given them, "There be some of them standing here."
Origen: Morally; To those who are nearly brought to the faith, the Word of God wears the form of a servant; but to those that are perfect, He comes in the glory of the Father. His angels are the words of the Prophets, which it is not possible to comprehend spiritually, until the word of Christ has been first spiritually comprehended, and then will their words be seen in like majesty with [p. 598] His. Then will He give of His own glory to every man according to his deeds; for the better each man is in his deeds, so much the more spiritually does he understand Christ and His Prophets. They that stand where Jesus stands, are they that have the foundations of their souls rested upon Jesus; of whom such as stood firmest are said not to taste death till they see the Word of God; which comes in His kingdom when they see that excellence of God which they cannot see while they are involved in divers sins, which is to taste death, forasmuch as the soul that sinneth, dies.
For as life, and the living bread, is He that came down from heaven, so His enemy death is the bread of death. And of these breads there are some that eat but a little, just tasting them, while some eat more abundantly. They that sin neither often, nor greatly, these only taste death; they that have partaken more perfectly of spiritual virtue do not taste it only, but feed ever on the living bread. That He says, "Until they see," does not fix any time at which shall be done what had not been done before, but mentions just what is necessary; for he that once sees Him in His glory, shall after that by no means taste death.
Raban., e Bed. in Luc., 9: It is of the saints He speaks as tasting death, by whom the death of the body is tasted just as it were sipping, while the life of the soul is held fast in possession.