Matthew Chapter 11, Verse 1
"And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding His
twelve disciples, He departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities."
That is, after He had sent them, He proceeded to withdraw Himself, to
give them room and opportunity to do what He had enjoined. For while He
was present and healing, no one would be willing to approach them.
"Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Jesus, he sent
two of his disciples, and asked Him, saying, Art thou He that should come?
or do we look for another?"
But Luke saith, they also told John of the miracles, and then he sent
them. However, this contains no matter of difficulty, but of consideration
only; for this, among other things, indicates their jealousy towards Him.
But what follows is completely among the. controverted points. Of what
nature then is this? Their saying, "Art Thou He that should come, or do
we look for another?" That is, he that knew Him before His miracles, he
that had learned it of the Spirit, he that heard it of the Father, he who
had proclaimed Him before all men; doth he now send to learn of Him, whether
it be Himself or no? And if yet thou didst not know that it is surely He,
how thinkest thou thyself credible, affirming as thou dost concerning things,
whereof thou art ignorant? For he that is to bear witness to others, must
be first worthy of credit himself. Didst thou not say, "I am not meet to
loose the latchet of His shoe? " Didst thou not say, "I knew Him not, but
He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom
thou shalt see the Spirit descending and resting upon Him, the same is
He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost?" Didst thou not see the Spirit
in form of a dove? didst thou not hear the voice? Didst thou not utterly
forbid Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized of Thee?" Didst thou not
say even to thy disciples, "He must increase, I must decrease?" Didst thou
not teach all the people, that "He should baptize them with the Holy Ghost
and with fire?" and that He "is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin
of the world?" Didst thou not before His signs and miracles proclaim all
these things? How then now, when He hath been made manifest to all, and
the fame of Him hath gone out everywhere, and dead men have been raised,
and devils driven away, and a display made of so great miracles, dost thou
after this send to learn of Him?
What then is the fact? Were all these sayings a kind of fraud: a stage
play and fables? Nay, who that hath any understanding would say so? I say
not, John, who leaped in the womb, who before his own birth proclaimed
Him, the citizen of the wilderness, the exhibitor of the conversation of
angels; but even though he were one of the common sort, and of them that
are utterly outcast, he would not have hesitated, after so many testimonies,
both on his own part and on the part of others.
Whence it is evident, that neither did he send as being himself in doubt,
nor did he ask in ignorance. Since no one surely could say this, that though
he knew it fully, yet on account of his prison he was become rather timid:
for neither was he looking to be delivered therefrom, nor if he did look
for it, would he have betrayed his duty to God, armed as he was against
various kinds of death. For unless he had been prepared for this, he would
not have evinced so great courage towards a whole people, practised in
shedding blood of prophets; nor would he have rebuked that savage tyrant
with so much boldness in the midst of the city and the forum, severely
chiding him, as though he were a little child, in hearing of all men. And
even if he were grown more timid, how was he not ashamed before his own
disciples, in whose presence he had so often borne witness unto Him, but
asked his question by them, which he should have done by others? And yet
surely he knew full well, that they too were jealous of Christ, and desired
to find some handle against Him. And how could he but be abashed before
the Jewish people, in whose presence he had proclaimed such high things?
Or what advantage accrued to him thereby, towards deliverance from his
bonds? For not for Christ's sake had he been cast into prison, nor for
having proclaimed His power, but for his own rebuke touching the unlawful
marriage. And what child so silly, what person so frantic, but that so
he would have put on himself their character?
2. What then is it which he is bringing about? For that it belongs not
to John to have doubt hereupon, no nor to any ordinary person, nor even
to one extremely foolish and frenzied; so much is evident from what we
have said.And now we have only to add the solution.
For what intent then did he send to ask? John's disciples were starting
aside from Jesus, and this surely any one may see, and they had always
a jealous feeling towards Him. And it is plain, from what they said to
their master: "He that was with thee," it is said, "beyond Jordan, to whom
thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come unto
Him." And again, "There arose a question between John's disciples and the
Jews about purifying." And again they came unto Him, and said, "Why do
we and the Pharisees fast oft, but Thy disciples fast not? " For as yet
they knew not who Christ was, but imagining Jesus to be a mere man, but
John greater than after the manner of man, were vexed at seeing the former
held in estimation, but the latter, as he had said, now ceasing. And this
hindered them from coming unto Him, their jealousy quite blocking up the
access. Now so long as John was with them, he was exhorting them continually
and instructing them, and not even so did he persuade them; but when he
was now on the point of dying, he uses the more diligence: fearing as he
did lest he might leave a foundation for bad doctrine, and they continue
broken off from Christ. For as he was diligent even at first to bring to
Christ all that pertained to himself; so on his failing to persuade them,
now towards his end he does but exert the more zeal.
Now if he had said, "Go ye away unto Him, He is better than I," he would
not have persuaded them, minded as they were not easily to be separated
from him, but rather he would have been thought to say it out of modesty,
and they would have been the more rivetted to him; or if he had held his
peace, then again nothing was gained. What then doth he? He waits to hear
from them that Christ is working miracles, and not even so doth he admonish
them, nor doth he send all, but some two (whom he perhaps knew to be more
teachable than the rest); that the inquiry might be made without suspicion,
in order that from His acts they might learn the difference between Jesus
and himself. And he saith, Go ye, and say, "Art thou He that should come,
or do we look for another? "
But Christ knowing the purpose of John, did not say, I am He; for this
would again have offended the hearers, although this was what it naturally
followed for Him to say, but He leaves them to learn it from His acts.
For it saith, "when these were come to Him, then "He cured many." And yet
what congruity was there, that being asked, "Art thou He," He should say
nothing to that, but should presently cure them that were sick; unless
it had been His mind to establish this which I have mentioned? Because
they of course would account the testimony of His deeds surer, and more
above suspicion than that of His words.
Knowing therefore, as being God, the mind with which John had sent them,
He straightway cured blind, lame, and many others; not to teach him (for
how should He him that was convinced), but these that were doubting: and
having healed them, He saith,
"Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see; the
blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, and the lepers are cleansed,
and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel
preached unto them." And he added, "And blessed is he, whosoever
shall not be offended in me;" implying that He knows even their unuttered
thoughts. For if He had said, "I am He," both this would have offended
them, as I have already said; and they would have thought, even if they
had not spoken, much as the Jews said to Him, "Thou bearest record of Thyself."
Wherefore He saith not this Himself, but leaves them to learn all from
the miracles, freeing what He taught from suspicion, and making it plainer.
Wherefore also He covertly added His reproof of them. That is, because
they were "offended in Him," He by setting forth their case and leaving
it to their own conscience alone, and by calling no witness of this His
accusation, but only themselves that knew it all, did thus also draw them
the more unto Himself, in saying, Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be
offended in me." For indeed His secret meaning was of them when He said
3. But in order to our making the truth more evident to you by the comparison
of the several statements, producing not only our own sayings, but also
what is stated by others; we must needs add some account of them.
What then do some affirm? That this which we have stated was not the
cause, but that John was in ignorance, yet not in ignorance of all; but
that He was the Christ, he knew, but whether He was also to die for mankind,
he knew not, therefore he said, "Art Thou He that should come?"
that is, He that is to descend into hell. But this is not tenable; for
neither of this was John ignorant. This at least he proclaimed even before
all the others, and bare record of this first, "Behold," saith he,
"the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Now he
called Him a lamb, as proclaiming the cross, and again in saying, "That
taketh away the sin of the world," he declared this same thing. For
not otherwise than by the cross did He effect this; as Paul likewise said:
"And the handwriting which was contrary to us, even it He took out of
the way, nailing it to His cross." And his saying too, "He shall
baptize you with the Spirit," is that of one who was foretelling the
events after the resurrection.
Well: that He was to rise again, he knew, say they, and that He was
to give the Holy Ghost; but that He should likewise be crucified, he knew
not. How then was He to rise again, who had not suffered, nor been crucified?
And how was this man greater than a prophet, who knew not even what the
prophets knew? For that he was greater than a prophet, even Christ Himself
bare record, but that the prophets knew of the passion is surely plain
to every one. For so Isaiah saith, "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearer is dumb." And before this testimony also
he saith, "There shall be a root of Jesse, and He that shall rise again
to rule the Gentiles, in Him shall the Gentiles trust." Then speaking of
His passion, and of the ensuing glory, he added. "And His rest shall be
honor." And this prophet foretold not only that He should be crucified,
but also with whom. "For," saith he, "He was numbered with the transgressors."
And not this only, but that He should not even plead For Himself; "For
this man," he saith, "openeth not His mouth:" and that He should be unjustly
condemned; "For in His humiliation," saith he, "His judgment was taken
away." And before this again, David both saith this, and describes the
judgment hall. "Why," saith he, "do the heathen rage, and the people imagine
a vain thing? The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers are gathered
together against the Lord, and against His anointed." And elsewhere he
mentions also the image of the cross, saying on this wise, "They pierced
my hand and my feet," and those things which the soldiers were emboldened
to do, he adds with all exactness, "For they parted my garments," saith
he, "among them, and for my vesture they did east lots." And elsewhere
again he saith, that they also offered Him vinegar;" For they gave me,"
saith He, "gall for my meat, and for my thirst they made me drink Vinegar."
So then the prophets, so many years before, speak of the hall of judgment,
and of the condemnation, and of them that were crucified with Him, and
of the division of the garments, and of the lot cast upon them, and of
many more things besides (for indeed it is unnecessary to allege all now,
lest we make our discourse long): and was this man, greater than them all,
ignorant of all these things? Nay, how should this be reasonable?
And why did he not say, "Art thou He that should come to hell," but
simply, "He that should come?" Although this were far more absurd than
the others, I mean their saying, "he therefore said these things, that
he might preach there also after his departure." To whom it were seasonable
to say, "Brethren, be not children in understanding, howbeit in malice
be ye children." For the present life indeed is the season for right conversation,
but after death is judgment and punishment. "For in hell," it is said,
"who will confess unto thee?"
How then were "the gates of brass burst, and the bars of iron broken
in sunder"? By His body; for then first was a body shown, immortal, and
destroying the tyranny of death. And besides, this indicates the destruction
of the might of death, not the loosing of the sins of those who had died
before His coming. And if this were not so, but He have delivered all that
were before Him from hell, how saith He, "It shall be more tolerable for
the land of Sodom and Gomorrah?" For this saying supposes that those are
also to be punished; more mildly indeed, yet still that they are to be
punished. And yet they did also suffer here the most extreme punishment,
nevertheless not even this will deliver them. And if it is so with them,
much more with such as have suffered nothing.
"What then?" one may say, "were they wronged, who lived before His coming?"
By no means, for men might then be saved, even though they had not confessed
Christ. For this was not required of them, but not to worship idols, and
to know the true God. "For the Lord thy God," it is said, "is one Lord."
Therefore the Maccabees were admired, because for the observance of the
law they suffered what they did suffer; and the three children, and many
others too amongst the Jews, having shown forth a very virtuous life, and
having maintained the standard of this their knowledge, had nothing more
required of them. For then it was sufficient for salvation, as I have said
already, to know God only; but now it is so no more, but there is need
also of the knowledge of Christ. Therefore He said, "If I had not come
and spoken unto them, they had not had sin, but now they have no cloak
for their sin."
So likewise with regard to the rule of practice. Then murder was the
destruction of him that committed it, but now even to be angry. And then
to commit adultery, and to lie with another man's wife, brought punishment,
but now even to look with unchaste eyes. For as the knowledge, so also
the rule of life is now made stricter. So that there was no need of a forerunner
And besides, if unbelievers are after death to be saved on their believing,
no man shall ever perish. For all will then repent and adore. And in proof
that this is true, hear Paul saying, "Every tongue shall confess, and every
knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under
the earth." And, "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." But
there is no advantage in that submission, for it comes not of a rightly
disposed choice, but of the necessity of things, as one may say, thenceforth
Let us not then any more bring in such old wives' doctrines, and Jewish
fables. Hear at least what Paul saith touching these things. "For as many
as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law;" where his discourse
is of those who lived in the time before the law; and, "As many as have
sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law." speaking of all after Moses.
And, "That the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness,
and unrighteousness of men," and, "indignation and wrath, tribulation and
anguish upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and
also of the Gentile." And yet countless were the evils which the Gentiles
have suffered in this world, and this is declared alike by the histories
of the heathens, and by the Scriptures that are in our hands. For who could
recount the tragic calamities of the Babylon-fans, or those of the Egyptians?
But in proof that they who, not having known Christ before His coming in
the flesh, yet refrained from idolatry and worshipped God only, and showed
forth an excellent life, shall enjoy all the blessings; hear what is said:
"But glory, and honor, and peace to every one that worketh good, to the
Jew first, and also to the Gentile." Seest thou that for their good deeds
there are many rewards, and chastisements again, and penalties for such
as have done the contrary?
4. Where now, tell me, are the utter unbelievers in hell? Why, if those
before Christ's coming, who had not so much as heard the name of hell,
nor of a resurrection, and were punished here, shall suffer punishment
there also; how much more we that have been nurtured in so many lessons
of strict virtue?
And how is it reasonable, asks one, that they that have never heard
of hell? should fall into hell, For they will say, "If thou hadst threatened
hell, we should have feared more, and have been sobered." To be sure; (is
it not so?) at our rate of living now, who hear daily the sayings about
hell, and give no heed at all.
And besides, there is this also to be said; that he who is not restrained
by the judgments in sight, much less will he be restrained by those others.
For the less reasonable sort, and those of a grosset disposition, are wont
to be sobered rather by things which are at hand, and straightway to happen,
than by such as will come to pass a long time after. "But over us," one
may say, "a greater fear is suspended, and herein were they wronged." By
no means. For first, there are not the same measures set to us as to them,
but much greater for us. Now they that have undertaken greater labors,
ought to enjoy greater help. And it is no little help, that our fear has
been increased. And if we have an advantage over them in knowing things
to come, they have an advantage over us m that the severe punishments are
presently laid upon them.
But there is something else, which the multitude say with respect to
this also. For "where," say they, "is God's justice, when any one for sinning
here, is punished both here and there?" Would ye then I should put you
in mind of your own sayings, that ye may no longer give us trouble, but
furnish the solution from within yourselves. I have heard many of our people,
if haply they were told of a murderer cut off in a court of justice, how
they had indignation, and talked in this way: "This unholy and accursed
wretch, having perpetrated thirty murders, or even many more, hath himself
undergone one death only; and where is the justice of it?" So that ye yourselves
confess, that one death is not sufficient for punishment; how give ye then
an opposite sentence now. Because not others but yourselves are the objects
of your judgment: so great a hindrance is self-love to our perceiving what
is just. Because of this, when we are judging others, we search out all
things with strictness, but when we are sitting in judgment on ourselves,
we are blinded. Since if we were to search into these things in our own
case too, as we do with regard to other men, we should give an uncorrupt
sentence. For we also have sins, deserving not two or three, but ten thousand
deaths. And to pass over all the rest, let us recollect ourselves, as many
of us as partake unworthily of the mysteries; such men being guilty of
the body and blood of Christ. Wherefore, when thou art talking of the murderer,
take account of thyself also. For he indeed hath murdered a man, but thou
art under the guilt of slaying the Lord; and he, not having partaken of
mysteries, but we, while enjoying the benefit of the sacred table.
And what are they that bite and devour their brethren, and pour out
such abundance of venom? What is he that robs the poor of their food? For
if he who imparts not of his own, is such as I have said, much more he
that takes the things of others. How many robbers do the covetous surpass
in wickedness! how many murderers and robbers of tombs, the rapacious!
and how many after spoiling men are desirous even of their blood!
"Nay," saith he, "God forbid." Now thou sayest, God forbid. When thou
hast an enemy, then say, God forbid, and call to mind what hath been said,
and show forth a life full of great strictness; lest the portion of Sodom
await us also, lest we suffer the lot of Gomorrha, lest we undergo the
ills of the Tyrians and Sidonians; or rather, test we offend Christ, which
were a thing more grievous and more to be feared than all.
For though to many hell seem to be a fearful thing, yet I for my part
will not cease continually to say, that this is more grievous and fearful
than any hell; and you I entreat to be of the same mind. For so shall we
both be delivered from hell, and enjoy the glory that is bestowed of Christ;
unto which may we all attain,by the grace and love towards man of our Lord
Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might forever and ever. Amen.
Matthew Chapter 10, Verse 7 And Matthew Chapter 10, Verse 8 And Matthew
Chapter 10, Verse 9
"And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning
John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the
wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment; behold,
they that wear soft clothing are makings' houses. But what went ye out
for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet."
For the matter indeed of John's disciples had been ordered well, and
they were gone away assured by the miracles which had just been performed;
but there was need after that of remedy as regarded the people. For although
they could not suspect anything of the kind of their own master, the common
people might from the inquiry of John's disciples form many strange suspicions,
not knowing the mind with which he sent his disciples. And it was natural
for them to reason with themselves, and say, "He that bore such abundant
witness, hath he now changed his persuasion, and doth he doubt whether
this or another be He that should come? Can it be, that in dissension with
Jesus he saith this? that the prison hath made him more timid? that his
former words were spoken vainly, and at random?" It being then natural
for them to suspect many such things, see how He corrects their weakness,
and removes these their suspicions. For "as they departed, He began to
say to the multitudes." Why, "as they departed?" That He might not seem
to be flattering the man.
And in correcting the people, He doth not publish their suspicion, but
adds only the solution of the thoughts that were mentally disturbing them:
signifying that He knew the secrets of all men. For He saith not, as unto
the Jews, "Wherefore think ye evil?" Because if they had it in their minds,
not of wickedness did they so reason, but of ignorance on the points that
had been spoken of. Wherefore neither doth He discourse unto them in the
way of rebuke, but merely sets right their understanding, and defends John,
and signifies that he is not fallen away from his former opinion, neither
is he changed, not being at all a man easily swayed and fickle, but steadfast
and sure, and far from being such as to betray the things committed unto
And in establishing this, He employs not at first his own sentence,
but their former testimony, pointing out how they bare record of his firmness,
not by their words only, but also by their deeds.
Wherefore He saith, "What went ye out into the wilderness to see?" as
though He had said, Wherefore did ye leave your cities, and your houses,
and come together all of you into the wilderness? To see a pitiful and
flexible kind of person? Nay, this were out of all reason, this is not
what is indicated by that earnestness, and the concourse of all men unto
the wilderness. So much people and so many cities would not have poured
themselves out with so great zeal towards the wilderness and the river
Jordan at that time, had ye not expected to see some great and marvellous
one, one firmer than any rock. Yea, it was not "a reed" surely, that "ye
went out to see shaken by the wind:" for the flexible and such as are lightly
brought round, and now say one thing, now another, and stand firm in nothing,
are most like that.
And see how He omits all wickedness, and mentions this, which then especially
haunted them; and removes the suspicion of lightness.
"But what went ye out for to see? a man clothed in soft raiment?
Behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses."
Now His meaning is like this: He was not of himself a waverer; and this
ye yourselves showed by your earnestness. Much less could any one say this,
that he was indeed firm, but having made himself a slave to luxury, he
afterwards became languid. For among men, some are such as they are of
themselves, others become so; for instance, one man is passionate by nature,
and another from having fallen into a long illness gets this infirmity.
Again, some men are flexible and fickle by nature, while others become
so by being slaves to luxury, and by living effeminately. "But John," saith
He, "neither was such a character by nature, for neither was it a reed
that ye went out to see; nor by giving himself to luxury did he lose the
advantage he possessed." For that he did not make himself a slave to luxury,
his garb shows, and the wilderness, and the prison. Since, had he been
minded to wear soft raiment, he would not have lived in the wilderness,
nor in the prison, but in the king's courts: it being in his power, merely
by keeping silence, to have enjoyed honor without limit. For since Herod
so reverenced him, even when he had rebuked him, and was in chains, much
more would he have courted him, had he held his peace. You see, he had
indeed given proof of his firmness and fortitude; and how could he justly
incur suspicions of that kind?
2. When therefore as well by the place, as by his garments, and by their
concourse unto Him, He had delineated his character, He proceeds to bring
in the prophet. For having said, "Why went ye out? To see a prophet?
Yea I say unto you, and more than a prophet;" He goes on, "For this
is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before Thy face,
which shall prepare Thy way before Thee." Having before set down the
testimony of the Jews, He then applies that of the prophets; or rather,
He puts in the first place the sentence of the Jews, which must have been
a very strong demonstration, the witness being borne by his enemies; secondly,
the man's life; thirdly, His own judgment; fourthly, the prophet; by all
means stopping their mouths.
Then lest they should say, "But what if at that time indeed he were
such an one, but now is changed?" He added also what follows; his garments,
his prison, and together with these the prophecy.
Then having said, that he is greater than a prophet, He signifies also
in what he is greater. And in what is he greater? In being near Him that
was come. For, "I send," saith He, "my messenger before Thy face;"
that is, nigh Thee. For as with kings, they who ride near the chariot,
these are more illustrious than the rest, just so John also appears in
his course near the advent itself. See how He signified John's excellency
by this also; and not even here doth He stop, but adds afterwards His own
suffrage as well, saying, "Verily I say unto you, among them that rare
born of women, there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist."