Matthew Chapter 8, Verse 4
3. Having therefore healed his body, He bids him,
"Tell no man, but show himself to the priest, and offer the gift
that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them."7
Now some say, that for this intent He bade him tell no man, that they
might practise no craft about the discerning of his cure; a very foolish
suspicion on their part. For He did not so cleanse as to leave the cleansing
questionable, but He bids him "tell no man," teaching us to avoid boasting
and vainglory. And yet He well knew that the other would not obey, but
would proclaim his benefactor: nevertheless He doth His own part.
"How then elsewhere doth He bid them tell of it?" one may ask. Not as
jostling with or opposing Himself, but as teaching men to be grateful.
For neither in that place did He give command to proclaim Himself, but
to "give glory to God;"8 by this leper training us to be clear of pride
and vainglory, by the other to be thankful and grateful; and instructing
on every occasion to offer to the Lord the praise of all things that befall
us. That is, because men for the most part remember God in sickness, but
grow slacker after recovery; He bids them continually both in sickness
and in health to give heed to the Lord, in these words, "give glory to
But wherefore did He command him also to show himself to the priest,
and to offer a gift? To fulfill the law here again.9 For neither did He
in every instance set it aside, nor in every instance keep it, but sometimes
He did the one, sometimes the other; by the one making way for the high
rule10 of life that was to come, by the other checking for a while the
insolent speech of the Jews, and condescending to their infirmity. And
why marvel, if just at the beginning He Himself did this, when even the
very apostles, after they were commanded to depart unto the Gentiles, after
the doors were opened for their teaching throughout the world, and the
law shut up, and the commandments made new, and all the ancient things
had ceased, are found sometimes observing the law, sometimes neglecting
But what, it may be said, doth this saying, "Show thyself to the priest,"
contribute to the keeping of the law? No little. Because it was an ancient
law, that the leper when cleansed should not entrust to himself the judgment
of his cleansing, but should show himself to the priest, and present the
demonstration thereof to his eyes, and by that sentence be numbered amongst
the clean. For if the priest said not "The leper is cleansed," he remained
still with the unclean without the camp. Wherefore he saith, "Show thyself
to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded." He said not, "which
I command," but for a time remits him to the law, by every means stopping
their mouths. Thus, lest they should say, He had seized Upon the priests'
honor; though He performed the work Himself, yet the approving it He entrusted
to them, and made them sit as judges of His own miracles "Why, I am so
far," He saith, "from striving either with Moses or with the priests, that
I guide the objects of my favor to submit themselves unto them."
But what is, "for a testimony unto them"? For reproof, for demonstration,
for accusation, if they be unthankful. For since they said, as a deceiver
and impostor we persecute Him, as an adversary of God, and a transgressor
of the law; "Thou shalt bear me witness," saith He, "at that time, that
I am not a transgressor of the law. Nay, for having healed thee, I remit
thee to the law, and to the approval of the priests;" which was the act
of one honoring the law, and admiring Moses, and not setting himself in
opposition to the ancient doctrines.
And if they were not in fact to be the better, hereby most of all one
may perceive His respect for the law, that although He fore-knew they would
reap no benefit, He fulfilled all His part. For this very thing He did
indeed foreknow, and foretold it: not saying, "for their correction," neither,
"for their instruction," but, "for a testimony unto them," that is, for
accusation, and for reproof, and for a witness that all hath been done
on my part; and though I foreknew they would continue incorrigible, not
even so did I omit what ought to be done; only they continued keeping up
to the end their own wickedness.11
This, we may observe, He saith elsewhere also; "This gospel shall be
preached in all the world for a testimony to all the nations, and then
shall the end come;"12 to the nations, to them that obey not, to them that
believe not. Thus, lest any one should say, "And wherefore preach to all,
if all are not to believe?"-it is that I may be found to have done all
my own part, and that no man may hereafter be able to find fault, as though
he had not heard. For the very preaching shall bear witness against them,
and they will not be able hereafter to say, "We heard not;" for the word
of godliness "hath gone out unto the ends of the world."13
4. Therefore bearing these things in mind, let us also fulfill all our
duties to our neighbor, and to God let us give thanks continually. For
it is too monstrous, enjoying as we do His bounty in deed every day, not
so much as in word to acknowledge the favor; and this, though the acknowledgment
again yield all its profit to us. Since He needs not, be sure, anything
of ours: but we stand in need of all things from Him. Thus thanksgiving
itself adds nothing to Him, but causes us to be nearer to Him. For if men's
bounties, when we call them to memory, do the more warm us with their proper
love-charm;14 much more when we are continually bringing to mind the noble
acts of our Lord towards us, shall we be more diligent in regard of His
For this cause Paul also said, "Be ye thankful."15 For the best preservative
of any benefit is the remembrance of the benefit, and a continual thanksgiving.
For this cause even the awful mysteries, so full of that great salvation,
which are celebrated at every communion, are called a sacrifice of thanksgiving,16
because they are the commemoration of many benefits, and they signify the
very sum of God's care for us, and by all means they work upon us to be
thankful. For if His being born of a virgin was a great miracle, and the
evangelist said in amaze, "now all this was done;" His being also slain,
what place shall we find for that? tell me. I mean, if to be born is called
"all this;" to be crucified, and to pour forth His blood, and to give Himself
to us for a spiritual feast and banquet,-what can that be called? Let us
therefore give Him thanks continually, and let this precede both our words
and our works.
But let us be thankful not for our own blessings alone, but also for
those of others; for in this way we shall be able both to destroy our envy,
and to rivet our charity, and make it more genuine. Since it will not even
be possible for thee to go on envying them, in behalf of whom thou givest
thanks to the Lord.
Wherefore, as you know, the priest also enjoins to give thanks for the
world, for the former things, for the things that are now, for what hath
been done to us before, for what shall befall us hereafter, when that sacrifice17
is set forth.
For this is the thing both to free us from earth, and to remove us into
heaven, and to make us angels instead of men. Because they too form a choir,
and give thanks to God for His good things bestowed on us, saying, "Glory
to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men."18 "And
what is this to us, that are not upon earth, nor are men?" "Nay, it is
very much to us, for we have been taught so to love our fellow servants,
as even to account their blessings ours."
Wherefore Paul also, everywhere in his epistles, gives thanks for God's
gracious acts to the world.
Let us too therefore continually give thanks, for our own blessings,
and for those of others, alike for the small and for the great. For though
the gift be small, it is made great by being God's gift, or rather, there
is nothing small that cometh from Him, not only because it is bestowed
by Him, but also in its very nature.
And to pass over all the rest, which exceed the sand in multitude; what
is equal to the dispensation19 that hath taken place for our sake? In that
what was more precious to Him than all, even His only-begotten Son, Him
He gave for us His enemies; and not only gave, but after giving, did even
set Him before us as food;20 Himself doing all things that were for our
good, both in giving Him, and in making us thankful for all this. For because
man is for the most part unthankful, He doth Himself everywhere take in
hand and bring about what is for our good. And what He did with respect
to the Jews, by places, and times, and feasts, reminding them of His benefits,
that He did in this case also, by the manner of the sacrifice bringing
us to a perpetual remembrance of His bounty in these things.
No one hath so labored that we should be approved, and great, and in
all things right-minded, as the God who made us. Wherefore both against
our will He befriends us often, and without our knowledge oftener than
not. And if thou marvel at what I have said, I point to this as having
occurred not to any ordinary person, but to the blessed Paul. For even
that blessed man, when in much danger and affliction, often besought God
that the temptations might depart from him: nevetheless God regarded not
his request, but his profit, and to signify this He said, "My grace is
sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness."21 So
that before He hath told him the reason, He benefits him against his will,
and without his knowing it.
5. Now what great thing doth He ask, in requiring us to be thankful
in return for such tender care? Let us then obey, and everywhere keep up
this. Since neither were the Jews by anything ruined so much, as by being
unthankful; those many stripes, one after another, were brought upon them
by nothing else than this; or rather even before those stripes this had
ruined and corrupted their soul. "For the hope of the unthankful," saith
one, "is like the winter's hoar frost;"22 it benumbs and deadens the soul,
as that doth our bodies.
And this springs from pride, and from thinking one's self worthy of
something. But the contrite will acknowledge grounds of thanksgiving to
God, not for good things only, but also for what seem to be adverse; and
how much soever he may suffer, will count none of his sufferings undeserved.
Let us then also, the more we advance in virtue. so much the more make
ourselves contrite; for indeed this, more than anything else is virtue.
Because, as the sharper our sight is, the more thoroughly do we learn how
distant we are from the sky; so the more we advance in virtue, so much
the more are we instructed in the difference between God and us. And this
is no small part of true wisdom,23 to be able to perceive our own desert.
For he best knows himself, who accounts himself to be nothing. Thus we
see that both David and Abraham, when they were come up to the highest
pitch of virtue, then best fulfilled this; and would call themselves, the
one, "earth and ashes,"24 the other, "a worm;"25 and all the saints too,
like these, acknowledge their own wretchedness. So that he surely who is
lifted up in boasting, is the very person to be most ignorant of himself.
Wherefore also in our common practice we are wont to say of the proud,
"he knows not himself," "he is ignorant of himself." And he that knows
not himself, whom will he know? For as he that knows himself will know
all things, so he who knows not this, neither will he know the rest.
Such an one was he that saith, "I will exalt my throne above the Heavens."26
Being ignorant of himself, he was ignorant of all else. But not so Paul;
he rather used to call himself "one born out of due time,"27 and last of
the saints,28 and did not account himself to be worthy so much as of the
title of the apostles, after so many and so great deeds of goodness.
Him therefore let us emulate and follow. And we shall follow him, if
we rid ourselves of earth, and of things on earth. For nothing makes a
man to be so ignorant of himself, as the being rivetted to worldly concerns:
nor does anything again so much cause men to be rivetted to worldly concerns,
as ignorance of one's self: for these things depend upon each other. I
mean, that as he that is fond of outward glory, and highly esteems the
things present, if he strive for ever, is not permitted to understand himself;
so he that overlooks these things will easily know himself; and having
come to the knowledge of himself, he will proceed in order to all the other
parts of virtue.
In order therefore that we may learn this good knowledge, let us, disengaged
from all the perishable things that kindle in us so great flame, and made
aware of their vileness, show forth all lowliness of mind, and self-restraint:
that we may attain unto blessings, both present and future: by the grace
and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom be glory, might,
and honor, to the Father, together with the Holy and Good Spirit, now and
ever, and world without end. Amen.
7 Matt. viii. 4.
8 Luke xvii. 18. [This is the passage probably referred
to. The Oxford edition refers to Luke vii. 18, and the Latin version to
John ix. 24, where the exact phrase occurs, but in the mouths of Christ's
9 Lev. xiv. 1.-32.
11 [This interpretation is scarcely admissible, nor does
Chrysostom notice the disobedience of the healed man (Mark i. 45). The
"testimony" is that commanded by Moses.-R.]
12 Matt. xxiv. 14
13 Ps. xix 4; Rom. x. 18.
14 tw=| fi/ltrw|.
15 Col. iii. 15.
16 euxaristi/a. (The translator has paraphrased the passage.
Literally, "which are at every assembly (su/nacin), are called a Eucharist."
There is no suggestion of "sacrifice" in the Greek at this point.-R.]
17 [Here the word meaning "sacrifice" is used.-R.]
18 Luke ii. 14. [The form is that of the received text;
but "among men" is the correct rendering even of this reading.-R.]
20 tra/pezan, a table.
21 2 Cor. xii. 9.
22 Wisdom xvi. 20.
24 Gen. xviii. 27
25 Ps. ii. 7.
26 Isa. xiv. 13, Tw=na0ste/prwn tou= ou0ranou=, LXX.
27 1 Cor. xv. 8, 9.
28 Eph. iii. 8,e0laxistote/ron, here e0sxaton.