Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 22
Chrys., Hom. lxix: Forasmuch as He had said, And it shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof," He now proceeds to shew what nation that is.
Gloss., interlin.: "Answered," that is, meeting their evil thoughts of putting Him to death.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 71: This parable is related only by Matthew. Luke gives one like it, but it is not the same, as the order shews.
Greg., Hom. in Ev., xxxviii, 2: Here, by the wedding-feast is denoted the present Church; there, by the supper, the last and eternal feast. For into this enter some who shall perish; into that whosoever has once entered in shall never be put forth. But if any should maintain that these are the same lessons, we may perhaps explain that that part concerning the guest who had come in without a wedding garment, which Luke has not mentioned, Matthew has related. That the one calls it supper, the other dinner, makes no difference; for with the ancients the dinner was at the ninth hour, and was therefore often called supper.
Origen: The kingdom of heaven, in respect of Him who reigns there, is like a king; in respect of Him who shares the kingdom, it is like a king's son; in respect of those things which are in the kingdom, it is like servants and guests, and among them the king's armies. It is specified, "A man that is a king," that what is spoken may be as by a man to men, and that a man may regulate men unwilling to be regulated by God. But the kingdom of heaven will then cease to be like a man, when zeal and contention and all other passions and sins having ceased, we [p. 740] shall cease to walk after men, and shall see Him as He is. For now we see Him not as He is, but as He has been made for us in our dispensation.
Greg: God the Father made a marriage feast for God the Son, when He joined Him to human nature in the womb of the Virgin. But far be it from us to conclude, that because marriage takes place between two separate persons, that therefore the person of our Redeemer was made up of two separate persons. We say indeed that He exists of two natures, and in two natures, but we hold it unlawful to believe that He was compounded of two persons. It is safer therefore to say, that the marriage feast was made by the King the Father for the King the Son when He joined to Him the Holy Church in the mystery of His incarnation. The womb of the Virgin Mother was the bridechamber of this Bridegroom.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; When the resurrection of the saints shall be, then the life, which is Christ, shall revive man, swallowing up his mortality in its own immortality. For now we receive the Holy Spirit as a pledge of the future union, but then we shall have Christ Himself more fully in us.
Origen: Or, by the marriage of Bridegroom with Bride, that is, of Christ with the soul, understand the Assumption of the Word, the produce whereof is good works.
Hilary: Rightly has the Father already made this wedding, because this eternal union and espousal of the new body is already perfect in Christ.
Pseudo-Chrys.: When the servants were sent to call them, they must have been invited before. Men have been invited from the time of Abraham, to whom was promised Christ's incarnation.
Jerome: "He sent his servant," without doubt Moses, by whom He gave the Law, to those who had been invited. But if you read "servants" as most copies have, it must be referred to the Prophets, by whom they were invited, but neglected to come. By the servants who were sent the second time, we may better understand the Prophets than the Apostles; that is to say, if servant is read in the first place; but if 'servants,' then by the second servants are to be understood the Apostles;
Pseudo-Chrys.: whom He sent
when He said unto them, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, but rather
go to the lost sheep of the house of
Origen: The servants who were first sent to [p. 741] call them that were bidden to the wedding, are to be taken as the Prophets converting the people by their prophecy to the festival of the restoration of the Church to Christ. They who would not come at the first message are they who refused to hear the words of the Prophets. The others who were sent a second time were another assembly of Prophets.
Hilary: Or; The servants who
were first sent to call them that were bidden, are the Apostles; they who,
being before bidden, are now invited to come in, are the people of
Greg: But because these who were first invited would not come to the feast, the second summons says, "Behold, I have prepared my dinner."
Jerome: The dinner that is prepared, the oxen and the fatlings that are killed, is either a description of regal magnificence by the way of metaphor, that by carnal things spiritual may be understood; or the greatness of the doctrines, and the manifold teaching of God in His law, may be understood.
Pseudo-Chrys.: When therefore the Lord bade the Apostles, "Go ye and preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand," it was the same message as is here given, "I have prepared my dinner;" i. e. I have set out the table of Scripture out of the Law and the Prophets.
Greg.: By the oxen are signified the Fathers of the Old Testament; who by sufferance of the Law gored their enemies with the horn of bodily strength. By fatlings are meant fatted animals, for from 'alere', comes 'altilia,' as it were 'alitilia' or 'alita.' By the "fatlings" are intended the Fathers of the New Testament; who while they receive sweet grace of inward fattening, are raised by the wing of contemplation from earthly desires to things above.
He says therefore, "My oxen and my fatlings are killed;" as much as to say, Look to the deaths of the Fathers who have been before you, and desire some amendment of your lives.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise; He says "oxen and fatlings," not as though the oxen were not fatted, but because all the oxen were not fat. Therefore the fatlings denote the Prophets who were filled with the Holy Spirit; the oxen [p. 742] those who were both Priests and Prophets, as Jeremiah and Ezekiel; for as the oxen are the leaders of the herd, so also the Priests are leaders of the people.
Hilary: Or otherwise; The oxen are the glorious army of Martyrs, offered, like choice victims, for the confession of God; the fatlings are spiritual men, as birds fed for flight upon heavenly food, that they may fill others with the abundance of the food they have eaten.
Greg.: It is to be observed, that in the first invitation nothing was said of the oxen or fatlings, but in the second it is announced that they are already killed, because Almighty God when we will not hear His words gives examples, that what we suppose impossible may become easy to us to surmount, when we hear that others have passed through it before us.
Origen: Or; The dinner which is prepared is the oracle of God; and so the more mighty of the oracles of God are the oxen; the sweet and pleasant are the fatlings. For if any one bring forward feeble words, without power, and not having strong force of reason, these are the lean things; the fatlings are when to the establishment of each proposition many examples are brought forward backed by reasonable proofs.
For example, supposing one holding discourse of chastity, it might well be represented by the turtle-dove; but should he bring forward the same holy discourse full of reasonable proof out of Scripture, so as to delight and strengthen the mind of his hearer, then he brings the dove fatted.
Pseudo-Chrys.: That He says, "And all things are now ready," means, that all that is required to salvation is already filled up in the Scriptures; there the ignorant may find instruction; the self-willed may read of terrors; he who is in difficulty may there find promises to rouse him to activity.
Gloss., interlin.: Or, "All things are now ready," i.e. The entrance into the kingdom, which had been hitherto closed, is now ready through faith in My incarnation.
Pseudo-Chrys., non occ. sed vid. Gloss. ord.: Or He says, "All things are now ready" which belong to the mystery of the Lord's Passion, and our redemption. He says, "Come to the marriage," not with your feet, but with faith, and good conduct. "But they made light of it;" why they did so He shews when He adds, "And they went their way, one to his farm, another to his merchandize."
Chrys.: These occupations seem to be [p. 743] entirely reasonable; but we learn hence, that however necessary the things that take up our time, we ought to prefer spiritual things to every thing beside. But it seems to me that they only pretended these engagements as a cloak for their disregard of the invitation.
Hilary: For men are taken up with worldly ambition as with a farm; and many through covetousness are engrossed with trafficking.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or otherwise; When we work with the labour of our hands, for example, cultivating our field or our vineyard, or any manufacture of wood or iron, we seem to be occupied with our "farm;" any other mode of getting money unattended with manual labour is here called "merchandize." O most miserable world! and miserable ye that follow it! The pursuits of this world have ever shut men out of life.
Greg.: Whosoever then intent upon earthly business, or devoted to the actions of this world, feigns to be meditating upon the mystery of the Lord's Passion, and to be living accordingly, is he that refuses to come to the King's wedding on pretext of going to his farm or his merchandize. Nay often, which is worse, some who are called not only reject the grace, but become persecutors, "And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them despitefully and slew them."
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, by the business of a farm, He denotes the Jewish populace, whom the delights of this world separated from Christ; by the excuse of merchandize, the Priests and other ministers of the Temple, who, coming to the service of the Law and the Temple through greediness of gain, have been shut out of the faith by covetousness. Of these He said not 'They were filled with envy,' but "They made light of it." For they who through hate and spite crucified Christ, are they who were filled with envy; but they who being entangled in business did not believe on Him, are not said to have been filled with envy, but to have made light of it.
The Lord is silent respecting His own death, because He had spoken of it in the foregoing parable, but He shews forth the death of His disciples, whom after His ascension the Jews put to death, stoning Stephen and executing James the son of Alphaeus, for which things Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. And it is to be observed, that anger is attributed to God figuratively and not properly; He is then said to be angry when [p. 744] He punishes.
Jerome: When He was doing works of mercy, and bidding to His marriage-feast, He was called a man; now when He comes to vengeance, the man is dropped, and He is called only a King. [margin note: homin regi]
Origen: Let those who sin against the God of the Law, and the Prophets, and the whole creation, declare whether He who is here called man, and is said to be angry, is indeed the Father Himself. If they allow this, they will be forced to own that many things are said of Him applicable to the passible nature of man; not for that He has passions, but because He is represented to us after the manner of passible human nature. In this way we take God's anger, repentance, and the other things of the like sort in the Prophets.
Jerome: By "His armies" we understand that Romans under Vespasian and Titus, who having slaughtered the inhabitants of Judaea, laid in ashes the faithless city.
Pseudo-Chrys.: The Roman army is called God's army; because "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof;" [Ps 24:1] nor would the Romans have come to Jerusalem, had not the Lord stirred them thither.
Greg.: Or, The armies of our King are the legions of His Angels. He is said therefore to have sent His armies, and to have destroyed those murderers, because all judgment is executed upon men by the Angels. He destroys those murderers, when He cuts off persecutors; and burns up their city, because not only their souls, but the body of flesh they had tenanted, is tormented in the everlasting fire of hell.
Origen: Or, the city of those wicked men is in each doctrine the assembly of those who meet in the wisdom of the rulers of this world; which the King sets fire to and destroys, as consisting of evil buildings.
Greg.: But when He sees that His invitation is spurned at, He will not have His Son's marriage-feast empty; the word of God will find where it may stay itself.
Origen: "He saith to His servants," that is, to the Apostles; or to the Angels, who were set over the calling of the Gentiles, "The wedding is ready."
Remig.: That is, the whole sacrament of the human dispensation is completed and closed. "But they which were bidden," that is the Jews, "were not worthy," because, "ignorant of the righteousness God, and going about to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted themselves to the [p. 745] righteousness of God. [Rom 10:3]
The Jewish nation then being rejected, the Gentile people were taken in to the marriage-feast; whence it follows, "Go ye out into the crossings of the streets, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the wedding."
Jerome: For the Gentile nation was not in the streets, but in the crossings of the streets.
Remig.: These are the errors of the gentiles.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or; The streets are all the professions of this world, as philosophy, soldiery, and the like. And therefore He says, "Go out into the crossings of the streets," that they may call to the faith men of every condition. Moreover, as chastity is the way that leads to God, so fornication is the way that leads to the Devil; and so it is in the other virtues and vices. Thus He bids them invite to the faith men of every profession or condition.
Hilary: By the street also is to be understood the time of this world, and they are therefore bid to go to the crossings of the streets, because the past is remitted to all.
Greg.: Or otherwise; In holy Scripture, way is taken to mean actions; so that the crossings of the ways we understand as failure in action, for they usually come to God readily, who have had little prosperity in worldly actions.
Origen: Or otherwise; I suppose this first bidding to the wedding to have been a bidding of some of the more noble minds. For God would have those before all come to the feast of the divine oracles who are of the more ready wit to understand them; and forasmuch as they who are such are loth to come to that kind of summons, other servants are sent to move them to come, and to promise that they shall find the dinner prepared. For as in the things of the body, one is the bride, others the inviters to the feast, and they that are bidden are others again; so God knows the various ranks of souls, and their powers, and the reasons why these are taken into the condition of the Bride, others in the rank of the servants that call, and others among the number of those that are bidden as guests. But they who had been thus especially invited contemned the first inviters as poor in understanding, and went their way, following their own devices, as more delighting in them than in those things which the King by his servants promised. Yet are these more venial than they who ill-treat and put to death the servants sent unto them; [p. 746] those, that is, who daringly assail with weapons of contentious words the servants sent, who are unequal to solve their subtle difficulties, and those are illtreated or put to death by them.
The servants going forth are either Christ's Apostles going from Judaea and Jerusalem, or the Holy Angels from the inner worlds, and going to the various ways of various manners, gathered together whomsoever they found, not caring whether before their calling they had been good or bad.
By the good here we may understand simply the more humble and upright of those who come to the worship of God, to whom agreed what the Apostle says, "When the Gentile which have not the Law do by nature the things contained in the Law, they are a law unto themselves." [Rom 2:14]
Jerome: For there is an infinite difference among the Gentiles themselves; some are more prone to vice, others are endowed with more incorrupt and virtuous manners.
Greg.: Or; He means that in this present Church there cannot be bad without good, nor good without bad. He is not good who refuses to endure the bad.
Origen: The marriage-feast of Christ and the Church is filled, when they who were found by the Apostles, being restored to God, sat down to the feast. But since it behoved that both bad and good should be called, not that the bad should continue bad, but that they should put off the garments unmeet for the wedding, and should put on the marriage garments, to wit, bowels of mercy and kindness, for this cause the King goes out, that He may see them set down before the supper is set before them, that they may be detained who have the wedding garment in which He is delighted, and that he may condemn the opposite.
Pseudo-Chrys.: "The King came in to see the guests;" not as though there was any place where He is not; but where He will look to give judgment, there He is said to be present; where He will not, there He seems to be absent. The day of His coming to behold is the day of judgment, when He will visit Christians seated at the board of the Scriptures.
Origen: But when He was come in, He found there one who had not put off his old behaviour; "He saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment." He speaks of one only, because all, who after faith continue to serve that wickedness which they had before the faith, are but of one [p. 747] kind.
Greg.: What ought we to understand by the wedding garment, but charity? For this the Lord had upon Him, when He came to espouse the Church to Himself. He then enters in to the wedding feast, but without the wedding garment, who has faith in the Church, but not charity.
Aug., cont. Faust., xxii, 19: Or, he goes to the feast without a garment, who goes seeking his own, and not the Bridegroom's honour.
Hilary: Or; The wedding garment is the grace of the Holy Spirit, and the purity of that heavenly temper, which taken up on the confession of a good enquiry is to be preserved pure and unspotted for the company of the Kingdom of heaven.
Jerome: Or; The marriage garment is the commandments of the Lord, and the works which are done under the Law and the Gospel, and form the clothing of the new man. Whoso among the Christian body shall be found in the day of judgment not to have these, is straightway condemned. "He saith unto him, Friend, How camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment?" He calls him "friend," because he was invited to the shredding as being a friend by faith; but He charges him with want of manners in polluting by his filthy dress the elegance of the wedding entertainment.
Origen: And forasmuch as he who is in sin, and puts not on the Lord Jesus Christ, has no excuse, it follows, "But he was speechless."
Jerome: For in that day there will be no room for blustering manner [marg. note: al. peonitentiae], nor power of denial, when all the Angels and the world itself are witnesses against the sinner.
Origen: He who has thus insulted the marriage feast is not only cast out therefrom, but besides by the King's officers, who are set over his prisons, is chained up from that power of walking which he employed not to walk to any good thing, and that power of reaching forth his hand, wherewith he had fulfilled no work for any good; and is sentenced to a place whence all light is banished, which is called "outer darkness."
Greg.: The hands and feet are then bound by a severe sentence of judgment, which before refused to be bound from wicked actions by amendment of life. Or punishment binds them, whom sin had before bound from good works.
Aug, de Trin. xi, 6: The bonds of wicked and depraved desires are the chains which bind him who deserves to be cast out into outer darkness.
Greg.: By inward darkness we express blindness, [p. 748] of heart; "outer darkness" signifies the everlasting night of damnation.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, it points to the difference of punishment inflicted on sinners. Outer darkness being the deepest, inward darkness the lesser, as it were the out- skirts of the place.
Jerome: By a metaphor taken from the body, "there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth," is shewn the greatness of the torments. The binding of the hands and feet also, and the weeping of eyes, and the gnashing of teeth, understand as proving the truth of the resurrection of the body.
Greg.: There shall gnash those teeth which here delighted in gluttony; there shall weep those eyes which here roamed in illicit desire; every member shall there have its peculiar punishment, which here was a slave to its peculiar vice.
Jerome: And because in the marriage and supper the chief thing is the end and not the beginning, therefore He adds, "For many are called, but few chosen."
Hilary: For to invite all without exception is a courtesy of public benevolence; but out of the invited or called, the election will be of worth, by distinction of merit.
Greg.: For some never begin a good course, and some never continue in that good course which they have begun. Let each one's care about himself be in proportion to his ignorance of what is yet to come.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or otherwise; Whenever God will try His Church, He enters into it that He may see the guests; and if He finds any one not having on the wedding garment, He enquires of him, How then were you made a Christian, if you neglect these works? Such a one Christ gives over to His ministers, that is, to seducing leaders, who bind his hands, that is, his works, and his feet, that is, the motions of his mind, and cast him into darkness, that is, into the errors of the Gentiles or the Jews, or into heresy. The nigher darkness is that of the Gentiles, for they have never heard the truth which they despise; the outer darkness is that of the Jews, who have heard but do not believe; the outermost is that of the heretics, who have heard and have learned.
16. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, "Master, we know that thou [p. 749] art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.
Pseudo-Chrys.: As when one seeks to dam a stream of running water, as soon as one outlet is stopped up it makes another channel for itself; so the malevolence of the Jews, foiled on one hand, seeks itself out another course.
"Then went the Pharisees; went" to the Herodians. Such as the plan was, such were the planners; "They send unto Him their disciples with the Herodians."
Gloss. ord.: Who as unknown to Him, were more likely to ensnare Him, and so through them they might take Him, which they feared to do of themselves because of the populace.
Jerome: Lately under Caesar Augustus, Judaea, which was subject to the Romans, had been made tributary when the census was held of the whole world; and there was a great division among the people, some saying that tribute ought to be paid to the Romans in return for the security and quiet which their arms maintained for all. The Pharisees on the other hand, self- satisfied in their own righteousness, contended that the people of God who paid tithes and gave first-fruits, and did all the other things which are written in the Law, ought not to be subject to human laws.
But Augustus had given the Jews [p. 750] as king, Herod, son of Antipater, a foreigner and proselyte; he was to exact the tribute, yet to be subject to the Roman dominion. The Pharisees therefore send their disciples with the Herodians, that is, with Herod's soldiers, or those whom the Pharisees in mockery called Herodians, because they paid tribute to the Romans, and were not devoted to the worship of God.
Chrys., Hom. lxx: They send their disciples and Herod's soldiers together, that whatever opinion He might give might be found fault with. Yet would they rather have had Him say somewhat against the Herodians; for being themselves afraid to lay hands on Him because of the populace, they sought to bring Him into danger through His liability to pay tribute.
Pseudo-Chrys.: This is the commonest act of hypocrites, to commend those they would ruin. Thus, these break out into praises of Him, saying, "Master, we know that Thou art true." They call Him Master, that, deceived by this shew of honour and respect, He might in simplicity open all His heart to them, as seeking to gain them for disciples.
Gloss., non occ.: There are three ways in which it is possible for one not to teach the truth. First, on the side of the teacher, who may either not know, or not love the truth; guarding against this, they say, "We know that Thou art true."
Secondly, on the side of God, there are some who, putting aside all fear of Him, do not utter honestly the truth which they know respecting Him; to exclude this they say, "And teachest the way of God in truth."
Thirdly, on the side of our neighbour, when through fear or affection any one withholds the truth; to exclude this they say, "And carest for no man," for Thou regardest not the person of man.
Chrys.: This was a covert allusion to Herod and Caesar.
Jerome: This smooth and treacherous enquiry was a kind of challenge to the answerer to fear God rather than Caesar, and immediately they say, "Tell us therefore, what thinkest Thou? Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not?"
Should He say tribute should not be paid, the Herodians would immediately accuse Him as a person disaffected to the Emperor.
Chrys.: They knew that certain had before suffered death for this very thing, as plotting a rebellion against the Romans, therefore they sought by such discourse to bring Him into the same suspicion.
Pseudo-Chrys.: He makes an answer not [p. 751] corresponding to the smooth tone of their address, but harsh, suitable to their cruel thoughts; for God answers men's hearts, and not their words.
Jerome: This is the first excellence of the answerer, that He discerns the thoughts of His examiners, and calls them not disciples but tempter. A hypocrite is he who is one thing, and feigns himself another.
Pseudo-Chrys.: He therefore calls them hypocrites, that seeing Him to be a discerner of human hearts, they might not be hardy enough to carry through their design. Observe thus how the Pharisees spoke fair that they might destroy Him, but Jesus put them to shame that He might save them; for God's wrath is more profitable to man, than man's favour.
Jerome: Wisdom does ever wisely, and so the tempters are best confuted out of their own words; therefore it follows, "Shew me the tribute money; and they brought unto Him a denarius." This was a coin reckoned equivalent to ten sesterces, and bore the image of Caesar. Let those who think that the Saviour asks because He is ignorant, learn from the present place that it is not so, for at all events Jesus must have known whose image was on the coin.
"They say unto Him, Caesar's;" not Augustus, but Tiberius, under whom also the Lord suffered. All the Roman Emperors were called Caesar, from Caius Caesar who first seized the chief power. "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's;" i. e. the coin, tribute, or money.
Hilary: For if there remain with us nothing that is Caesar's, we shall not be bound by the condition of rendering to him the things that are his; but if we lean upon what is his, if we avail ourselves of the lawful protection of his power, we cannot complain of it as any wrong if we are required to render to Caesar the things of Caesar.
Chrys.: But when you hear this command to render to Caesar the things of Caesar, know that such things only are intended which in nothing are opposed to religion; if such there be, it is no longer Caesar's but the Devil's tribute. And moreover, that they might not say that He was subjecting them to man, He adds, "And unto God the things that are God's."
Jerome: That is, tithes, first-fruits, oblation, and victims; as the Lord Himself rendered to Caesar tribute, both for Himself and for Peter; and also rendered unto God the things that are God's in doing the will of His Father. [p. 752]
Hilary: It behoves us also to render unto God the things that are His, namely, body, soul, and will. For Caesar's coin is in the gold, in which His image was portrayed, that is, God's coin, on which the Divine image is stamped; give therefore your money to Caesar, but preserve a conscience void of offence for God.
Origen: From this place we learn by the Saviour's example not to be allured by those things which have many voices for them, and thence seem famous, but to incline rather to those things which are spoken according to some method of reason. But we may also understand this place morally, that we ought to give some things to the body as a tribute to Caesar, that is to say, necessaries. And such things as are congenial to our souls' nature, that is, such things as lead to virtue, those we ought to offer to God.
They then who without any moderation inculcate the law of God, and command us to have no care for the things required by the body, are the Pharisees, who forbad to give tribute to Caesar, "forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created." [1 Tim. 4:3]
They, on the other hand, who allow too much indulgence to the body are the Herodians. But our Saviour would neither that virtue should be enfeebled by immoderate devotedness to the flesh; nor that our fleshly nature should be oppressed by our unremitting efforts after virtue.
Or the prince of this world, that is, the Devil, is called Caesar; and we cannot render to God the things that are God's, unless we have first rendered to this prince all that is his, that is, have cast off all wickedness. This moreover let us learn from this place, that to those who tempt us we should neither be totally silent, nor yet answer openly, but with caution, to cut off all occasion from those who seek occasion in us, and teach without blame the things which may save those who are willing to be saved.
Jerome: They who ought to have believed did but wonder at His great wisdom, that their craft had found no means for ensnaring Him: whence it follows, "When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left Him, and went their way," carrying away their unbelief and wonder together.
Chrys.: The disciples of the Pharisees with the Herodians being thus confuted, the Sadducees next offer themselves, whereas the overthrow of those before them ought to have kept them back. But presumption is shameless, stubborn, and ready to attempt things impossible. So the Evangelist, wondering at their folly, expresses this saying, "The same day came to him the Sadducees."
Pseudo-Chrys.: As soon as the Pharisees were gone, came the Sadducees; perhaps with like intent, for there was a strife among them who should be the [p. 754] first to seize Him. Or if by argument they should not be able to overcome Him, they might at least by perseverance wear out His understanding.
Jerome: There were two sects among the Jews, the Pharisees and the Sadducees; the Pharisees pretended to the righteousness of traditions and observances, whence they were called by the people 'separate.' The Sadducees (the word is interpreted 'righteous') also passed themselves for what they were not; and whereas the first believed the resurrection of body and soul, and confessed both Angel and spirit, these, according to the Acts of the Apostles [marg. note: Acts 23:8], denied them all, as it is here also said, "Who say that there is no resurrection."
Origen: They not only denied the resurrection of the body, but took away the immortality of the soul.
Pseudo-Chrys.: For the Devil finding himself unable to crush utterly the religion of God, brought in the sect of the Sadducees denying the resurrection of the dead, thus breaking down all purpose of a righteous life, for who is there would endure a daily struggle against himself, unless he looked to the hope of the resurrection?
Aug., Enchir., 88: But that earthy matter of which the flesh of men is made perishes not before God; but into whatsoever dust or ashes reduced, into whatsoever gases or vapours dispersed, into whatsoever other bodies incorporated, though resolved into the elements, though become the food or part of the flesh of animals or men, yet is it in a moment of time restored to that human soul, which at the first quickened it that it became man, lived and grew.
Pseudo-Chrys.: But the Sadducees thought they had now discovered a most convincing argument in favour of their error.
Chrys., non occ.: For because death to the Jews, who did all things for the present life, seemed an unmixed evil, Moses ordered that the wife of one who died without sons should be given to his brother, that a son might be born to the dead man by his brother, and his name should not perish, which [p. 755] was some alleviation of death. And none other but a brother or relation was commanded to take the wife of the dead; otherwise the child born would not have been considered the son of the dead; and also because a stranger could have no concern in establishing the house of him that was dead, as a brother whose kindred obliged him thereto.
Jerome: As they disbelieved the resurrection of the body, and supposed that the soul perished with the body, they accordingly invent a fable to display the fondness of the belief of a resurrection. Thus they put forward a base fiction to overthrow the verity of the resurrection, and conclude with asking, "in the resurrection whose shall she be?" Though it might be that such an instance might really occur in their nation.
Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 32: Mystically; by these seven brethren are understood the wicked, who could not bring forth the fruit of righteousness in the earth through all the seven ages of the world, during which this earth has being, for afterwards this earth also shall pass away, through which all those seven passed away unfruitful.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Wisely does He first convict them of folly, in that they did not read; and afterwards of ignorance, in that they did not know God. For of diligence in reading springs knowledge of God, but ignorance is the offspring of neglect.
Jerome: They therefore err because they know not the Scriptures; and because they know not the power of God.
Origen: Two things there are which He says they know not, the Scriptures and the power of God, by which is brought to pass the resurrection, and the new life in it.
Or by the power of God, which the Lord here convicts the Sadducees that they knew not, He intends Himself, who was the power of God; and Him they knew not [marg. note: 1 Cor 1:24], as not knowing the Scriptures which spoke of Him; and thence also they believed not the resurrection, which He should effect. But it is asked when the Saviour says, "Ye do err not knowing the Scriptures," if He means that this text, "They neither marry, nor are given in marriage," is in some Scripture, though it is not read in the Old Testament? We say that these very words are indeed not found, but that the truth is in a mystery implied in the moral sense of Scripture; the Law, which is "a shadow of good things to come," whenever it speaks of husbands and wives, speaks chiefly of spiritual [p. 756] wedlock.
But neither this do I find any where spoken in Scripture that the Saints shall be after their departure as the Angels of God, unless one will understand this also to be inferred morally; as where it is said, "And, thou shalt go to thy fathers," [Gen 15:15] and "He was gathered to his people." [Gen 25:8] Or one may say; He blamed them that they read not the other Scriptures which are besides the Law, and therefore they erred.
Another says, That they knew not the Scriptures of the Mosaic Law, for this reason, that they did not sift their divine sense.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, when He says, "In the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage," He referred to what He had said, "Ye know not the power of God;" but when He proceeded, "I am the God of Abraham, &c." to that "Ye know not the Scriptures."
And thus ought we to do; to cavillers first to set forth Scripture authority on any question, and then to shew the grounds of reason; but to those who ask out of ignorance to shew first the reason, and then the authority. For cavillers ought to be refuted, enquirers taught. To these then who put their question in ignorance, He first shews the reason, saying, "In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage."
Jerome: In these words the Latin language cannot follow the Greek idiom. For the Latin word 'nubere' is correctly said only of the woman. But we must take it so as to understand "marry" of men, "to be given in marriage" of women.
Pseudo-Chrys.: In this life that we may die, therefore we are born; and we marry to the end that which death consumes, birth may replenish; therefore where the law of death is taken away, the cause of birth is taken away likewise.
Hilary: It had been enough to have cut off this opinion of the Sadducees of sensual enjoyment, that where the function ceased, the empty pleasure of the body accompanying it ceased also; but He adds, "But are as the Angels of God in heaven."
Chrys.: Which is an apt reply to their question. For their reason for judging that there would be no resurrection, was that they supposed that their condition when risen would be the same; this reason then He removes by shewing that their condition would be altered.
Pseudo-Chrys.: It should be noted, that when He spoke of fasting, alms, and other spiritual virtues, He did not bring [p. 757] in the comparison of Angels, but only here where He speaks of the ceasing of marriage. For as all acts of the flesh are primal acts, but this of lust especially so; so all the virtues are angelic acts, but especially chastity, by which our nature is bound to the other virtues.
Jerome: This that is added, "But are as the Angels of God in heaven," is an assurance that our conversation in heaven shall be spiritual.
Dionys., de Divin., Nom. i: For then when we shall be incorruptible and immortal, by the visible presence of God Himself we shall be filled with most chaste contemplations, and shall share the gift of light to the understanding in our impassible and immaterial soul after the fashion of the exalted souls in heaven; on which account it is said that we shall be equal to the Angels.
Hilary: The same cavil that the Sadducees here offer respecting marriage is renewed by many who ask in what form the female sex shall rise again. But what the authority of Scripture leads us to think concerning the Angels, so must we suppose that it will be with women in the resurrection of our species.
Aug., City of God, book 22, ch. 17: To me they seem to think most justly, who doubt not that both sexes shall rise again. For there shall be no desire which is the cause of confusion, for before they had sinned they were naked; and that nature which they then had shall be preserved, which was quit both of conception and of child-birth. Also the members of the woman shall not be adapted to their former use, but framed for a new beauty, one by which the beholder is not allured to lust, which shall not then be, but God's wisdom and mercy shall be praised, which made that to be which was not, and delivered from corruption that which was made.
Jerome: For none could say of a stone and a tree or inanimate things, that they shall not marry nor be given in marriage, but of such things only as having capacity for marriage, shall yet in a sort not marry.
Raban.: These things which are spoken concerning the conditions of the resurrection He spoke in answer to their enquiry, but of the resurrection itself He replies aptly against their unbelief.
Chrys.: And because they had put forward Moses in their Question, He confutes them by Moses, adding, "But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read."
Jerome: In proof of the resurrection there were many plainer passages [p. 758] which He might have cited; among others that of Isaiah, "The dead shall be raised; they that are in the tombs shall rise again:" [Isa 26:29, Septuagint] and in another place, "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake." [Dan 12:2]
It is enquired therefore why the Lord should have chosen this testimony which seems ambiguous, and not sufficiently belonging to the truth of the resurrection; and as if by this He had proved the point adds, "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
We have said above that the Sadducees confessed neither Angel, nor spirit, nor resurrection of the body, and taught also the death of the soul. But they also received only the five boots of Moses, rejecting the Prophets. It would have been foolish therefore to have brought forward testimonies whose authority they did not admit. To prove the immortality of souls therefore, He brings forward an instance out of Moses, "I am the God of Abraham, &c." and then straight subjoins, "He it not the God of the dead, but of the living;" so that having established that souls abide after death, (forasmuch as God could not be the God of those who had no existence any where,) there might fitly come in the resurrection of bodies which had together with their souls done good or evil.
Chrys.: How then is it said in another place, "Whether we live or die, we are the Lord's." [Rom 14:8] This which is said here differs from that. The dead are the Lord's, those, that is, who are to live again, not those who have disappeared for ever, and shall not rise again.
Hilary: It should be further considered, that this was said to Moses at a time when those holy Patriarchs had gone to their rest. They therefore of whom He was the God were in being; for they could have had nothing, if they had not been in being; for in the nature of things that, of which somewhat else is, must have itself a being; so they who have a God must themselves be alive, since God is eternal, and it is not possible that which is dead should have that which is eternal. How then shall it be affirmed that those do not, and shall not hereafter, exist, of whom Eternity itself has said that He is?
Origen: God moreover is He who says, "I am that I am;" [Ex 3:14] so that it is impossible that He should be called the God of those who are not. And see that He said not, I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." But in another place He said thus, [p. 759] "The God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee." [Ex 7:16]
For they who in comparison of other men are most perfect before God, have God entirely in them, wherefore He is not said to be their God in common, but of each in particular. As when we say, That farm is theirs, we shew that each of them does not own the whole of it; but when we say, That farm is his, we mean that he is owner of the whole of it. When then it is said, "The God of the Hebrews," this shews their imperfection, that each of them has some small portion in God. But it is said, "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob," because each one of these possessed God entirely. And it is to the no small honour of the Patriarchs that they lived to God.
Aug., cont. Faust., xvi. 24: Seasonably may we confute the Manichaeans by this same passage by which the Sadducees were then confuted, for they too, though in another manner, deny the resurrection.
Aug., in Joan. Tr., xi, 8: God is therefore called in particular "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob," because in these three are expressed all the modes of begetting the sons of God. For God begets most times of a good preacher a good son, and of a bad preacher a bad son. This is signified in Abraham, who of a free woman had a believing son, and of a bondslave an unbelieving son. Sometimes indeed of a good preacher He begets both good and bad sons, which is signified in Isaac, who of the same free woman begot one good and the other bad. And sometimes He begets good sons both of good and bad preachers; which is signified in Jacob, who begot good sons both of free women and of bondmaids.
Pseudo-Chrys.: And see how the assault of the Jews against Christ becomes more faint. Their first challenge was in a threatening tone, "By what authority doest thou these things," to oppose which firmness of spirit was needed. Their second was with guile, to meet which was needed wisdom. This last was with ignorant presumption which is easier to cope with than the others. For he that thinks he knows somewhat, when he knows nothing, is an easy conquest for one who has understanding. Thus the attacks of an enemy are vehement at first, but if one endure them with a courageous spirit, he will find them more feeble.
"And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine."
Remig.: Not the Sadducees but the multitudes [p. 760] were astonished. This is daily done in the Church; when by Divine inspiration the adversaries of the Church are overcome, the multitude of the faithful rejoice.
Jerome: The Pharisees having been themselves already confuted (in the matter of the denarius), and now seeing their adversaries also overthrown, should have taken warning to attempt no further deceit against Him; but hate and jealousy are the parents of impudence.
Origen: Jesus had put the Sadducees to silence, to shew that the tongue of falsehood is silenced by the brightness of truth. For as it belongs to the righteous man to be silent when it is good to be silent, and to speak when it is good to speak, and not to hold his peace; so it belongs to every teacher of a lie not indeed to be silent, but to be silent as far as any good purpose is concerned.
Jerome: The Pharisees and Sadducees, thus foes to one another, unite in one common purpose to tempt Jesus.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or the Pharisees meet together, that their numbers may silence Him whom their reasonings could not confute; thus, while they array numbers against Him, shewing that truth failed them; they said among themselves, Let one speak for all, and all speak, through one, so if He prevail, the victory may seem to belong to all; if He be overthrown, the defeat may rest with Him alone; so it follows, "Then one of [p. 761] them, a teacher of the Law, asked him a question, tempting Him."
Origen: All who thus ask questions of any teacher to try him, and not to learn of him, we must regard as brethren of this Pharisee, according to what is said below, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of mine, ye have done it unto me." [Matt 25:40]
Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 73: Let no one find a difficulty in this, that Matthew speaks of this man as putting his question to tempt the Lord, whereas Mark does not mention this, but concludes with what the Lord said to him upon his answering wisely, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God." [Mark 12:34] For it is possible that, though he came to tempt, yet the Lord's answer may have wrought correction within him.
Or, the tempting here meant need not be that of one designing to deceive an enemy, but rather the cautious approach of one making proof of a stranger. And that is not written in vain, "Whoso believeth lightly, he is of a vain heart." [Eccl. 19:4]
Origen: He said "Master" tempting Him, for none but a disciple would thus address Christ. Whoever then does not learn of the Word, nor yields himself wholly up to it, yet calls it Master, he is brother to this Pharisee thus tempting Christ. Perhaps while they read the Law before the Saviour's coming, it was a question among them which was the great commandment in it; nor would the Pharisee have asked this, if it had not been long time enquired among themselves, but never found till Jesus came and declared it.
Pseudo-Chrys.: He who now enquires for the greatest commandment had not observed the least. He only ought to seek for a higher righteousness who has fulfilled the lower.
Jerome: Or he enquires not for the sake of the commands, but which is the first and great commandment, that seeing all that God commands is great, he may have occasion to cavil whatever the answer be.
Pseudo-Chrys.: But the Lord so answers him, as at once to lay bare the dissimulation of his enquiry, "Jesus saith unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Thou shalt love," not 'fear,' for to love is more than to fear; to fear belongs to slaves, to love to sons; fear is in compulsion, love in freedom. Whoso serves God in fear escapes punishment, but has not the reward of righteousness because he did well unwillingly through fear. God does not desire to be served servilely by [p. 762] men as a master, but to be loved as a father, for that He has given the spirit of adoption to men.
But to love God with the whole heart, is to have the heart inclined to the love of no one thing more than of God. To love God again with the whole soul is to have the mind stayed upon the truth, and to be firm in the faith. For the love of the heart and the love of the soul are different. The first is in a sort carnal, that we should love God even with our flesh, which we cannot do unless we first depart from the love of the things of this world. The love of the heart is felt in the heart, but the love of the soul is not felt, but is perceived because it consists in a judgment of the soul. For he who believes that all good is in God, and that without Him is no good, he loves God with his whole soul. But to love God with the whole mind, is to have all the faculties open and unoccupied for Him. He only loves God with his whole mind, whose intellect ministers to God, whose wisdom is employed about God, whose thoughts travail in the things of God, and whose memory holds the things which are good.
Aug., de Doctr. Christ., i, 22: Or otherwise; You are commanded to love God "with all thy heart," that your whole thoughts -- "with all thy soul," that your whole life -- "with all thy mind," that your whole understanding -- may be given to Him from whom you have that you give. Thus He has left no part of our life which may justly be unfilled of Him, or give place to the desire after any other final good [marg. note: alia re frui]; but if aught else present itself for the soul's love, it should be absorbed into that channel in which the whole current of love runs. For man is then the most perfect when his whole life tends towards the life [marg. note: al. bonum] unchangeable, and clings to it with the whole purpose of his soul.
Gloss., interlin.: Or, "with all thy heart," i.e. understanding; "with all thy soul," i.e. thy will; "with all thy mind," i.e. memory; so you shall think, will, remember nothing contrary to Him.
Origen: Or otherwise; "With all thy heart," that is, in all recollection, act, thought; "with all thy soul," to be ready, that is, to lay it down for God's religion; "with all thy mind," bringing forth nothing but what is of God. And consider whether you cannot thus take the heart of the understanding, by which we contemplate things intellectual, and the "mind" of that by which we utter thoughts, walking as it were with the mind through each expression, [p. 763] and uttering it.
If the Lord had given no answer to the Pharisee who thus tempted Him, we should have judged that there was no commandment greater than the rest. But when the Lord adds, "This is the first and great commandment," we learn how we ought to think of the commandments, that there is a great one, and that there are less down to the least. And the Lord says not only that it is a great, but that it is the first commandment, not in order of Scripture, but in supremacy of value.
They only take upon them the greatness and supremacy of this precept, who not only love the Lord their God, but add these three conditions. Nor did He only teach the first and great commandment, but added that there was a second like unto the first, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself:" But if "Whoso loveth iniquity hath hated his own soul," [Ps 11:5] it is manifest that he does not love his neighbour as himself, when he does not love himself.
Aug., de Doctr. Christ., i, 30; see Rom 13:10: It is clear that every man is to be regarded as a neighbour, because evil is to be done to no man. Further, if every one to whom we are bound to shew service of mercy, or who is bound to shew it to us, be rightly called our neighbour, it is manifest that in this precept are comprehended the holy Angels who perform for us those services of which we may read in Scripture.
Whence also our Lord Himself would be called our neighbour; for it was Himself whom He represents as the good Samaritan, who gave succour to the man who was left half-dead by the way.
Aug., de Trin., viii, 6: He that loves men ought to love them either because they are righteous, or that they may be righteous; and so also ought he to love himself either for that he is, or that he may be righteous. And thus without peril he may love his neighbour as himself.
Aug., de Doctr. Christ., i, 22: But if even yourself you ought not to love for your own sake, but because of Him in whom is the rightful end of your love, let not another man be displeased that you love even him for God's sake. Whoso then rightly loves his neighbour, ought to endeavour with him that he also with his whole heart love God.
Pseudo-Chrys.: But who loves man is as who loves God; for man is God's image, wherein God is loved, as a King is honoured in his statue. For this cause this commandment is said to be like the first.
Hilary: Or otherwise; That the second command is like [p. 764] the first signifies that the obligation and merit of both are alike; for no love of God without Christ, or of Christ without God, can profit to salvation.
It follows, "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 33: "Hang," that is, refer thither as their end.
Raban.: For to these two commandments belongs the whole decalogue; the commandments of the first table to the love of God, those of the second to the love of our neighbour.
Origen: Or, because he that has fulfilled the things that are written concerning the love of God and our neighbour, is worthy to receive from God the great reward, that he should be enabled to understand the Law and the Prophets.
Aug., de Trin., viii. 7: Since there are two commandments, the love of God and the love of our neighbour, on which hang the Law and the Prophets, not without reason does Scripture put one for both; sometimes the love of God; as in that, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God;" [Rom 8:28] and sometimes the love of our neighbour; as in that, "All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." [Gal 5:14]
And that because if a man love his neighbour, it follows therefrom that he loves God also; for it is the selfsame affection by which we love God, and by which we love our neighbour, save that we love God for Himself, but ourselves and our neighbour for God's sake.
Aug., de Doctr. Christ., i, 26, 30: But since the Divine substance is more excellent and higher than our nature, the command to love God is distinct from that to love our neighbour. But if by yourself, you understand your whole self, that is both your soul and your body, and in like manner of your neighbour, there is no sort of things to be loved omitted in these commands. The love of God goes first, and the rule thereof is so set out to us as to make all other loves center in that, so that nothing seems said of loving yourself.
But then follows, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," so that love of yourself is not omitted.
Pseudo-Chrys.: The Jews tempted Christ, supposing Him to be mere man; had they believed Him to be the Son of God, they would not have tempted Him. Christ therefore, willing to shew that He knew the treachery of their hearts, and that He was God, yet would not declare this truth to them plainly, that they might not take occasion thence to charge Him with blasphemy, and yet would not totally conceal this truth; because to that end had He come that He should preach the truth.
He therefore puts a question to them, such as should declare to them who He was; "What think ye of Christ? whose Son is He?"
Chrys., Hom. lxxi: He first asked His disciples what others said of Christ, and then what they themselves said; but not so to these. For they would have said that He was a deceiver, and wicked. They thought that Christ was to be mere man, and therefore "they say unto Him, The Son of David." To reprove this, He brings forward the Prophet, witnessing His dominion, proper Sonship, and His joint honour with His Father.
Jerome: This passage is out of the 109th Psalm. Christ is therefore called David's Lord, not in respect of His descent from him, but in respect of His eternal generation from the Father, wherein He was before His fleshly Father. And he calls Him Lord, not by a mere chance, nor of his own thought, but by the Holy Spirit.
Remig.: That He says, "Sit thou on my right hand," is not to be taken as though God had a body, and either a right hand or a left hand; but to sit on the right hand of God is to abide in the honour and equality of the Father's majesty.
Pseudo-Chrys.: I suppose that He formed this question, not only against the Pharisees, but also against the heretics; for [p. 766] according to the flesh He was truly David's Son, but his Lord according to His Godhead.
Chrys.: But He rests not with this, but that they may fear, He adds, "Till I make thine enemies thy footstool;" that at least by terror He might gain them.
Origen: For God puts Christ's enemies as a footstool beneath His feet, for their salvation as well as their destruction.
Remig.: But "till" is used for indefinite time, that the meaning be, Sit Thou for ever, and for ever hold thine enemies beneath thy feet.
Gloss., ap. Anselm: That it is by the Father that the enemies are put under the Son, denotes not the Son's weakness, but the union of His nature with His Father. For the Son also puts under Him the Father's enemies, when He glorifies His name upon earth. He concludes from this authority, "If David then call Him Lord, how is He his son?"
Jerome: This question is still available for us against the Jews; for these who believe that Christ is yet to come, assert that He is a mere man, though a holy one, of the race of David. Let us then thus taught by the Lord ask them, If He be mere man, and only the Son of David, how does David call Him his Lord?
To evade the truth of this question, the Jews invent many frivolous answers. They allege Abraham's steward, he whose son was Eliezer of Damascus, and say that this Psalm was composed in his person, when after the overthrow of the five kings, the Lord God said to his lord Abraham, "Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool."
Let us ask how Abraham could say the things that follow, and compel them to tell us how Abraham was born before Lucifer, and how he was a Priest after the order of Melchisedech, for whom Melchisedech brought bread and wine, and of whom he received tithes of the spoil?
Chrys.: This conclusion He put to their questionings, as final, and sufficient to stop their mouth. Henceforward accordingly they held their peace, not by their own good-will, but from not having aught to say.
Origen: For had their question sprung of desire to know, He would never have proposed to them such things as should have deterred them from asking further.
Raban.: Hence we learn that the poison of jealousy may be overcome, but can hardly of itself rest at peace.