Latter Part of Homily I
Ver. 3. "We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
He seems to me to refer everything to the Father, that what he has to
say may not at once offend them.
"Praying always for you."
He shows his love, not by giving thanks only, but also by continual
prayer, in that those whom he did not see, he had continually within himself.
Ver. 4. "Having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus."
A little above he said, "our Lord." "He," saith he, "is Lord, not the
servants." "Of Jesus Christ." These names also are symbols of His benefit
to us, for "He," it means, "shall save His people from their sins." (Matt.
Ver. 4. "Having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love
which ye have toward all the saints."
Already he conciliates them. It was Epaphroditus who brought him this
account. But he sends the Epistle by Tychicus, retaining Epaphroditus with
himself. "And of the love," he saith, "which ye have toward all the saints,"
not toward this one and that: of course then toward us also.
Ver. 5. "Because of the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens."
He speaks of the good things to come. This is with a view to their temptations,
that they should not seek their rest here. For lest any should say, "And
where is the good of their love toward the saints, if they themselves are
in affliction?" he says, "We rejoice that ye are securing for yourselves
a noble reception in heaven." "Because of the hope," he saith, "which is
laid up." He shows its secureness. "Whereof ye heard before in the word
of the truth." Here the expression is as if he would chide them, as having
changed from it when they had long held it.
"Whereof," saith he, "ye heard before in the word of the truth of the
Gospel." And he bears witness to its truth. With good reason, for in it
there is nothing false.
"Of the Gospel." He doth not say, "of the preaching," but he calleth
it the "Gospel," continually reminding them of God's benefits. And having
first praised them, he next reminds them of these.
Ver. 6. "Which is come unto you, even as it is also in all the world."
He now gives them credit. "Is come," he said metaphorically. He means,
it did not come and go away, but that it remained, and was there. Then
because to the many the strongest confirmation of doctrines is that they
hold them in common with many, he therefore added, "As also it is in all
It is present everywhere, everywhere victorious, everywhere established.
"And is bearing fruit, and increasing, as it doth in you also."
"Bearing fruit." In works. "Increasing." By the accession of many, by
becoming firmer; for plants then begin to thicken when they have become
"As also among you," says he.
He first gains the hearer by his praises, so that even though disinclined,
he may not refuse to hear him.
"Since the day ye heard it."
Marvelous! that ye quickly came unto it and believed; and straightway,
from the very first, showed forth its fruits.
"Since the day ye heard, and knew the grace of God in truth."
Not in word, saith he, nor in deceit, but in very deeds. Either then
this is what he means by "bearing fruit," or else, the signs and wonders.
Because as soon as ye received it, so soon ye knew the grace of God. What
then forthwith gave proofs of its inherent virtue, is it not a hard thing
that that should now be disbelieved?
Ver. 7. "Even as ye learned of Epaphras our beloved fellow-servant."
He, it is probable, had preached there. "Ye learned" the Gospel. Then
to show the trust-worthiness of the man, he says, "our fellow servant."
"Who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf; who also declared
unto us your love in the Spirit."
Doubt not, he saith, of the hope which is to come: ye see that the world
is being converted. And what need to allege the cases of others? what happened
in your own is even independently a sufficient ground for belief, for,
"ye knew the grace of God in truth:" that is, in works. So that these two
things, viz. the belief of all, and your own too, confirm the things that
are to come. Nor was the fact one thing, and what Epaphras said, another.
"Who is," saith he, "faithful," that is, true. How, "a minister on your
behalf"? In that he had gone to him. "Who also declared to us," saith he,
"your love in the Spirit," that is, the spiritual love ye bear us. If this
man be the minister of Christ; how say ye, that you approach God by angels?
"Who also declared unto us," saith he, "your love in the Spirit." For this
love is wonderful and steadfast; all other has but the name. And there
are some persons who are not of this kind, but such is not friendship,
wherefore also it is easily dissolved.
There are many causes which produce friendship; and we will pass over
those which are infamous, (for none will take an objection against us in
their favor, seeing they are evil.) But let us, if you will, review those
which are natural, and those which arise out of the relations of life.
Now of the social sort are these, for instance; one receives a kindness,
or inherits a friend from forefathers, or has been a companion at table
or in travel: or is neighbor to another (and these are virtuous); or is
of the same trade, which last however is not sincere; for it is attended
by a certain emulation and envy. But the natural are such as that of father
to son, son to father, brother to brother, grandfather to descendant, mother
to children, and if you like let us add also that of wife to husband; for
all matrimonial attachments are also of this life, and earthly. Now these
latter appear stronger than the former: appear, I said, because often they
are surpassed by them. For friends have at times shown a more genuinely
kind disposition than brothers, or than sons toward fathers; and when he
whom a man hath begotten would not succor him, one who knew him not has
stood by him, and succored him. But the spiritual love is higher than all,
as it were some queen ruling her subjects; and in her form is bright: for
not as the other, hath she aught of earth for her parent; neither habitual
intercourse, nor benefits, nor nature, nor time; but she descendeth from
above, out of heaven. And why wonderest thou that she needeth no benefits
in order that she should subsist, seeing that neither by injuries is she
Now that this love is greater than the other, hear Paul saying; "For
I could wish that I myself were anathema from Christ for my brethren."
(Rom. ix. 3) What father would have thus wished himself in misery? And
again, "To depart, and to be with Christ" is "very far better; yet to abide
in the flesh" is "more needful for your sake." (Phil. i. 23, 24) What mother
would have chosen so to speak, regardless of herself? And again hear him
saying, "For being bereaved of you for a short season, in presence, not
in heart." (1 Thess. ii. 17.) And here indeed [in the world], when a father
hath been insulted, he withdraws his love; not so however there, but he
went to those who stoned him, seeking to do them good. For nothing, nothing
is so strong as the bond of the Spirit. For he who became a friend from
receiving benefits, will, should these be discontinued, become an enemy;
he whom habitual intercourse made inseparable, will, when the habit is
broken through, let his friendship become extinct. A wife again, should
a broil have taken place, will leave her husband, and withdraw affection;
the son, when he sees his father living to a great age, is dissatisfied.
But in case of spiritual love there is nothing of this. For by none of
these things can it be dissolved; seeing it is not composed out of them.
Neither time, nor length of journey, nor ill usage, nor being evil spoken
of, nor anger, nor insult, nor any other thing, make inroads upon it, nor
have the power of dissolving it. And that thou mayest know this Moses was
stoned, and yet he made entreaty for them. (Ex. xvii. 4.) What father would
have done this for one that stoned him, and would not rather have stoned
him too to death?
Let us then follow after these friendships which are of the Spirit,
for they are strong, and hard to be dissolved, and not those which arise
from the table, for these we are forbidden to carry in Thither. For hear
Christ saying in the Gospel, Call not thy friends nor thy neighbors, if
thou makest a feast, but the lame, the maimed. (Luke xiv. 12.) With reason:
for great is the recompense for these. But thou canst not, nor endurest
to feast with lame and blind, but thinkest it grievous and offensive, and
refusest. Now it were indeed best that thou shouldest not refuse, however
it is not necessary to do it. If thou seatest them not with thee, send
to them of the dishes on thy own table. And he that inviteth his friends,
hath done no great thing: for he hath received his recompense here. But
he that called the maimed, and poor, hath God for his Debtor. Let us then
not repine when we receive not a reward here, but when we do receive; for
we shall have nothing more to receive There. In like manner, if man recompense,
God recompenseth not; if man recompense not, then God will recompense.
Let us then not seek those out for our benefits, who have it in their power
to requite us again, nor bestow our favors on them with such an expectation:
this were a cold thought. If thou invite a friend, the gratitude lasts
till evening; and therefore the friendship for the nonce is spent more
quickly than the expenses are paid. But if thou call the poor and the maimed,
never shall the gratitude perish, for God, who remembereth ever, and never
forgetteth, thou hast even Him for thy Debtor. What squeamishness is this,
pray, that thou canst not sit down in company with the poor? What sayest
thou? He is unclean and filthy? Then wash him, and lead him up to thy table.
But he hath filthy garments? Then change them, and give him clean apparel.
Seest thou not how great the gain is? Christ cometh unto thee through him,
and dost thou make petty calculations of such things? When thou art inviting
the King to thy table, dost thou fear because of such things as these?
Let us suppose two tables, and let one be filled with those, and have
the blind, the halt, the maimed in hand or leg, the barefoot, those clad
with but one scanty garment, and that worn out: but let the other have
grandees, generals, governors, great officers, arrayed in costly robes,
and fine lawn, belted with golden girdles. Again, here at the table of
the poor let there be neither silver, nor store of wine, but just enough
to refresh and gladden, and let the drinking cups and the rest of the vessels
be made from glass only; but there, at the table of the rich, let all the
vessels be of silver and gold, and the semicircular table, not such as
one person can lift, but as two young men can with difficulty move, and
the wine-jars lie in order, glittering far beyond the silver with gold,
and let the semicircle be smoothly laid all over with soft drapery. Here,
again, let there be many servants, in garments not less ornamented than
those of the guests, and bravely appareled, and wearing loose trowsers,
men beauteous to look upon, in the very flower of life, plump, and well
conditioned; but there let there be only two servants disdaining all that
proud vanity. And let those have costly meats, but these only enough to
appease hunger and inspire cheerfulness. Have I said enough? and are both
tables laid out with sufficient minuteness? Is anything wanting? I think
not. For I have gone over the guests, and the costliness both of the vessels,
and of the linen, and the meats. However, if we should have omitted aught,
we shall discover it as we proceed with the discourse.
Come then, now that we have correctly drawn each table in its proper
outline, let us see at which ye will seat yourselves. For I for my part
am going to that of the blind, and the lame, but probably the more part
of you will choose the other, that of the generals, that is so gay and
splendid. Let us then see which of them doth more abound in pleasure; for
as yet let us not examine into the things of hereafter, seeing that in
those at least this of mine hath the superiority. Wherefore? Because this
one hath sitting down at it, the other men, this hath the Master, that
the servants. But say we nothing of these things as yet; but let us see
which hath the more of present pleasure. And even in this respect, then,
this pleasure is greater, for it is more pleasure to sit down with a King
than with his servants. But let us withdraw this consideration also; let
us examine the matter simply by itself. I, then, and those who choose the
table I do, shall with much freedom and ease of mind both say and hear
everything: but you trembling and fearing, and ashamed before those you
sit down with, will not even have the heart to reach out your hands, just
as though you had got to a school, and not a dinner, just as though you
were trembling before dreadful masters. But not so they. But, saith one,
the honor is great. Nay, I further am in more honor; for your mean estate
appears grander, when even whilst sharing the same table, the words ye
utter are those of slaves.
For the servant then most of all shows as such, when he sits down with
his master; for he is in a place where he ought not to be; nor hath he
from such familiarity so much dignity as he hath abasement, for he is then
abased exceedingly. And one may see a servant by himself make a brave appearance,
and the poor man seem splendid by himself, rather than when he is walking
with a rich one; for the low when near the lofty, then appears low, and
the juxtaposition makes the low seem lower, not loftier. So too your sitting
down with them makes you seem as of yet meaner condition. But not so, us.
In these two things, then, we have the advantage, in freedom, and in honor;
which have nothing equal to them in regard of pleasure. For I at least
would prefer a crust with freedom, to thousands of dainties with slavery.
For, saith one, "Better is an entertainment of herbs with love and kindness,
than an ox from the stall with hatred." (Prov. xv. 17.) For whatsoever
those may say, they who are present must needs praise it, or give offense;
assuming thus the rank of parasites, or rather, being worse than they.
For parasites indeed, even though it be with shame and insult, have yet
liberty of speech: but ye have not even this. But your meanness is indeed
as great, (for ye fear and crouch,) but not so your honor. Surely then
that table is deprived of every pleasure, but this is replete with all
delight of soul.
But let us examine the nature even of the meats themselves. For there
indeed it is necessary to burst one's self with the large quantity of wine,
even against one's will, but here none who is disinclined need eat or drink.
So that there indeed the pleasure arising from the quality of the food
is cancelled by the dishonor which precedes, and the discomfort which follows
the surfeit. For not less than hunger doth surfeiting destroy and rack
our bodies; but even far more grievously; and whomsoever you like to give
me, I shall more easily destroy by bursting him with surfeit than by hunger.
For thus the latter is easier to be borne than the other, for one might
indeed endure hunger for twenty days, but surfeiting not for as many as
two only. And the country people who are perpetually struggling with the
one, are healthy, and need no physicians; but the other, surfeiting I mean,
none can endure without perpetually calling in physicians; yea, rather,
its tyranny hath often baffled even their attempt to rescue.
So far then as pleasure is concerned, this [table of mine] hath the
advantage. For if honor hath more pleasure than dishonor, if authority
than subjection, and if manly confidence than trembling and fear, and if
enjoyment of what is enough, than to be plunged out of depth in the tide
of luxury; on the score of pleasure this table is better than the other.
It is besides better in regard of expense; for the other is expensive,
but this, not so.
But what? is it then to the guests alone that this table is the more
pleasurable, or bringeth it more pleasure than the other to him who inviteth
them, as well? for this is what we are enquiring after rather. Now he who
invites those makes preparation many days before, and is forced to have
trouble and anxious thoughts and cares, neither sleeping by night, nor
resting by day; but forming with himself many plans, conversing with cooks,
confectioners, deckers of tables. Then when the very day is come, one may
see him in greater fear than those who are going to fight a boxing match,
lest aught should turn out other than was expected, lest he be shot with
the glance of envy, test he thereby procure himself a multitude of accusers.
But the other escapeth all this anxious thought and trouble by extemporizing
his table, and not being careful about it for many days before. And then,
truly, after this, the former indeed hath straightway lost the grateful
return; but the other hath God for his Debtor; and is nourished with good
hopes, being every day feasted from off that table. For the meats indeed
are spent, but the grateful thought is never spent, but every day he rejoices
and exults more than they that are gorged with their excess of wine. For
nothing doth so nourish the soul as a virtuous hope, and the expectation
of good things.
But now let us consider what follows. There indeed are flutes, and harps,
and pipes; but here is no music of sounds unsuitable; but what? hymns,
singing of psalms. There indeed the Demons are hymned; but here, the Lord
of all, God. Seest thou with what gratitude this one aboundeth, with what
ingratitude and insensibility that? For, tell me, when God hath nourished
thee with His good things, and when thou oughtest to give Him thanks after
being fed, dost thou even introduce the Demons? For these songs to the
lyre, are none other than songs to Demons. When thou oughtest to say, "Blessed
art Thou, O Lord, that Thou hast nourished me with Thy good things," dost
thou like a worthless dog not even so much as remember Him, but, over and
above, introducest the Demons? Nay rather, dogs, whether they receive anything
or not, fawn upon those they know, but thou dost not even this. The dog,
although he receives nothing, fawns upon his master; but thou, even when
thou hast received, barkest at Him. Again, the dog, even though he be well
treated by a stranger, not even so will be reconciled of his hatred of
him, nor be enticed on to be friends with him: but thou, even though suffering
mischief incalculable from the Demons, introducest them at thy feasts.
So that, in two ways, thou art worse than the dog. And the mention I have
now made of dogs is happy, in regard of those who give thanks then only
when they receive a benefit. Take shame, I pray you, at the dogs, which
when furnishing still fawn upon their masters. But thou, if thou hast haply
heard that the Demon has cured anyone, straightway forsakest thy Master;
O more unreasoning than the dogs!
But, saith one, the harlots are a pleasure to look upon. What sort of
pleasure are they? yea rather what infamy are they not? Thy house has become
a brothel, madness, and fury; and art thou not ashamed to call this pleasure?
If then it be allowed to use them, greater than all pleasure is the shame,
and the discomfort which arises from the shame, to make one's house a brothel,
like hogs in wallowing in the mire? But if so far only be allowed as to
see them, lo! again the pain is greater. For to see is no pleasure, where
to use is not allowed, but the lust becomes only the greater, and the flame
But wouldest thou learn the end? Those, indeed, when they rise up from
the table, are like the madmen and those that have lost their wits; foolhardy,
quarrelsome, laughing-stocks for the very slaves; and the servants indeed
retire sober, but these, drunk. O the shame! But with the other is nothing
of this sort; but closing the table with thanksgiving, they so retire to
their homes, with pleasure sleeping, with pleasure waking, free from all
shame and accusation.
If thou wilt consider also the guests themselves, thou wilt see that
the one are within just what the others are without; blind, maimed, lame;
and as are the bodies of these, such are the souls of those, laboring under
dropsy and inflammation. For of such sort is pride; for after the luxurious
gratification a maiming takes place; of such sort is surfeiting and drunkenness,
making men lame and maimed. And thou wilt see too that these have souls
like the bodies of the others, brilliant, ornamented. For they who live
in giving of thanks, who seek nothing beyond a sufficiency, they whose
philosophy is of this sort are in all brightness.
But let us see the end both here and there. There, indeed, is unchaste
pleasure, loose laughter, drunkenness, buffoonery, filthy language; (for
since they in their own persons are ashamed to talk filthily, this is brought
about by means of the harlots;) but here is love of mankind, gentleness.
Near to him who invites those stands vainglory arming him, but near the
other, love of man, and gentleness. For the one table, love of man prepareth,
but the other, vainglory, and cruelty, out of injustice and grasping. And
that one ends in what I have said, in loss of wits, in delirium, in madness;
(for such are the offshoots of vainglory;) but this one in thanksgiving
and the glory of God. And the praise too, which cometh of men, attendeth
more abundantly upon this; for that man is even regarded with an envious
eye, but this all men regard as their common father, even they who have
received no benefit at his hands. And as with the injured even they who
have not been injured sympathize, and all become in common enemies (to
the injurer): so too, when some receive kindness, they also who have not
received any, not less than they who have, praise and admire him that conferred
it. And there indeed is much envy, but here much tender solicitude, many
prayers from all.
And so much indeed here; but There, when Christ is come, this one indeed
shall stand with much boldness, and shall hear before the whole world,
"Thou sawest Me an hungered, and didst feed Me; naked, and didst clothe
Me; a stranger, and didst take Me in" (Matt. xxv. 35); and all the like
words: but the other shall hear the contrary; "Wicked and slothful servant"
(Matt. xxv. 26); and again, "Woe unto them that luxuriate upon their couches,
and sleep upon beds of ivory, and drink the refined wine, and anoint themselves
with the chief ointments; they counted upon these things as staying, and
not as fleeting." (Amos vi. 4, 5, 6, Sept.)
I have not said this without purpose, but with the view of changing
your minds; and that you should do nothing that is fruitless. What then,
saith one, of the fact that I do both the one and the other? This argument
is much resorted to by all. And what need, tell me, when everything might
be done usefully, to make a division, and to expend part on what is not
wanted, but even without any purpose at all, and part usefully? Tell me,
hadst thou, when sowing, cast some upon a rock, and some upon very good
ground; is it likely that thou wouldest have been contented so, and have
said, Where is the harm, if we cast some to no purpose, and some upon very
good ground? For why not all into the very good ground? Why lessen the
gain? And if thou have occasion to be getting money together, thou wilt
not talk in that way, but wilt get it together from every quarter; but
in the other case thou dost not so. And if to lend on usury; thou wilt
not say, "Wherefore shall we give some to the poor, and some to the rich,"
but all is given to the former: yet in the case before us, where the gain
is so great, thou dost not thus calculate, and will not at length desist
from expending without purpose, and laying out without return?
"But," saith one, "this also hath a gain." Of what kind, tell me? "It
increaseth friendships." Nothing is colder than men who are made friends
by these things, by the table, and surfeiting. The friendships of parasites
are born only from that source.
Insult not a thing so marvelous as love, nor say that this is its root.
As if one were to say, that a tree which bore gold and precious stones
had not its root of the same, but that it was gendered of rottenness; so
doest even thou: for even though friendship should be born from that source,
nothing could possibly be colder. But those other tables produce friendship,
not with man, but with God; and that an intense one, so thou be intent
on preparing them. For he that expendeth part in this way and part in that,
even should he have bestowed much, hath done no great thing: but he that
expendeth all in this way, even though he should have given little, hath
done the whole. For what is required is that we give, not much or little,
but not less than is in our power. Think we on him with the five talents,
and on him with the two. (Matt. xxv. 15.) Think we on her who cast in those
two mites. (Mark xii. 41.) Think we on the widow in Elijah's days. She
who threw in those two mites said not, What harm if I keep the one mite
for myself, and give the other? but gave her whole living. (1 Kings xvii.)
But thou, in the midst of so great plenty, art more penurious than she.
Let us then not be careless of our own salvation, but apply ourselves to
almsgiving. For nothing is better than this, as the time to come shall
show; meanwhile the present shows it also. Live we then to the glory of
God, and do those things that please Him, that we may be counted worthy
of the good things of promise; which may all we obtain, through the grace
and love toward man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory and
the power and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
First Part of Homily II.
Colossians i. 9, 10.-"For this cause we also, since the day we heard
it, do not cease to pray and make request for you, that ye may be filled
with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding;
to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing, bearing fruit in every
good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God."
"For this cause." What cause? Because we heard of your faith and love,
because we have good hopes, we are hopeful to ask for future blessings
also. For as in the games we cheer on those most who are near upon gaining
the victory, just so doth Paul also most exhort those who have achieved
the greater part.
"Since the day we heard it," saith he, "we do not cease to pray for
you." Not for one day do we pray for you, nor yet for two, nor three. Herein
he both shows his love, and gives them a gentle hint that they had not
yet arrived at the end. For the words, "that ye may be filled," are of
this significancy. And observe, I pray, the prudence of this blessed one.
He nowhere says that they are destitute of everything, but that they are
deficient; everywhere the words, "that ye may be filled," show this. And
again, "unto all pleasing, in every good work" (ver. 11), and again, "strengthened
with all power," and again, "unto all patience and long-suffering"; for
the constant addition of "all" bears witness to their doing well in part,
though, it might be, not in all. And, "that ye may be filled," he saith;
not, "that ye may receive," for they had received; but "that ye may be
filled" with what as yet was lacking. Thus both the rebuke was given without
offense, and the praise did not suffer them to sink down, and become supine,
as if it had been complete. But what is, "that ye may be filled with the
knowledge of His will"? That through the Son we should be brought unto
Him, and no more through Angels. Now that ye must be brought unto Him,
ye have learnt, but it remains for you to learn this, and why He sent the
Son. For had it been that we were to have been saved by Angels, He would
not have sent Him, would not have given Him up. "In all spiritual wisdom,"
he saith, "and understanding." For since the philosophers deceived them;
I wish you, he saith, to be in spiritual wisdom, not after the wisdom of
men. But if in order to know the will of God, there needs spiritual wisdom;
to know His Essence what it is, there is need of continual prayers.
And Paul shows here, that since that time he has been praying, and has
not yet prevailed, and yet has not desisted; for the words, "from the day
we heard it," show this. But it implies condemnation to them, if, from
that time, even assisted by prayers, they had not amended themselves. "And
making request," he says, with much earnestness, for this the expression
"ye knew" shows. But it is necessary still to know somewhat besides. "To
walk worthily," he says, "of the Lord." Here he speaks of life and its
works, for so he doth also everywhere: with faith he always couples conduct.
"Unto all pleasing." And how, "all pleasing"? "Bearing fruit in every good
work, and increasing in the knowledge of God." Seeing, saith he, He hath
fully revealed Himself unto you, and seeing ye have received knowledge
so great; do ye then show forth a conduct worthy of the faith; for this
needeth elevated conduct, greater far than the old dispensation. For, he
that hath known God, and been counted worthy to be God's servant, yea,
rather, even His Son, see how great virtue he needeth. "Strengthened with
all power." He is here speaking of trials and persecutions. We pray that
ye might be filled with strength, that ye faint not for sorrow, nor despair.
"According to the might of His glory." But that ye may take up again such
forwardness as it becometh the power of His glory to give. "Unto all patience
and long-suffering." What he saith is of this sort. Summarily, he saith,
we pray that ye may lead a life of virtue, and worthy of your citizenship,
and may stand firmly, being strengthened as it is reasonable to be strengthened
by God. For this cause he doth not as yet touch upon doctrines, but dwells
upon life, wherein he had nothing to charge them with, and having praised
them where praise was due, he then comes down to accusation. And this he
does everywhere: when he is about writing to any with somewhat to blame
them for, and somewhat to praise, he first praises them, and then comes
down to his Charges. For he first conciliates the hearer, and frees his
accusation from all suspicion, and shows that for his own part he could
have been glad to praise them throughout; but by the necessity of the case
is forced into saying what he does. And so he doth in the first Epistle
to the Corinthians. For after having exceedingly praised them as loving
him, even from the case of the fornicator, he comes down to accuse them.
But in that to the Galatians not so, but the reverse. Yea, rather, if one
should look close into it, even there the accusation follows upon praise.
For seeing he had no good deeds of theirs then to speak of, and the charge
was an exceeding grave one, and they were every one of them corrupted;
and were able to bear it because they were strong, he begins with accusation,
saying, "I marvel." (Gal. i. 6) So that this also is praise. But afterwards
he praises them, not for what they were, but what they had been, saying,
"If possible, ye would have plucked out your eyes, and given them to me."
(Gal. v. 15).
"Bearing fruit," he saith: this hath reference to works. "Strengthened":
this to trials. "Unto all patience and longsuffering": long-suffering towards
one another, patience towards those without. For longsuffering is toward
those whom we can requite, but patience toward those whom we cannot. For
this reason the term patient is never applied to God, but longsuffering
frequently; as this same blessed one saith other where in his writings,
"Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness, and forbearance, and longsuffering?"
"Unto all pleasing." Not, one while, and afterwards not so. "In all spiritual
wisdom," he saith, "and understanding." For otherwise it is not possible
to know His will. Although indeed they thought they had His will; but that
wisdom was not spiritual. "To walk," saith he, "worthily of the Lord."
For this is the way of the best life. For he that hath understood God's
love to man, (and he doth understand it if he have seen the Son delivered
up,) will have greater forwardness. And besides, we pray not for this alone
that ye may know, but that ye may show forth your knowledge in works; for
he that knows without doing, is even in the way to punishment. "To walk,"
he saith, that is, always, not once, but continually. As to walk is necessary
for us, so also is to live rightly. And when on this subject he constantly
uses the term "walk," and with reason, showing that such is the life set
before us. But not of this sort is that of the world. And great too is
the praise. "To walk," he saith, "worthily of the Lord," and "in every
good work," so as to be always advancing, and nowhere standing still, and,
with a metaphor, "bearing fruit and increasing in the knowledge of God,"
that ye might be in such measure "strengthened," according to the might
of God, as is possible for man to be. "Through His power," great is the
consolation.-He said not strength, but "power," which is greater: "through
the power," he saith, "of His glory," because that everywhere His glory
hath the power. He thus comforts him that is under reproach: and again,
"To walk worthily of the Lord." He saith of the Son, that He hath the power
everywhere both in heaven and in earth, because His glory reigneth everywhere.
He saith not "strengthened" simply, but so, as they might be expected to
be who are in the service of so strong a Master. "In the knowledge of God."
And at the same time he touches in passing upon the methods of knowledge;
for this is to be in error, not to know God as one ought; or he means,
so as to increase in the knowledge of God. For if he that hath not known
the Son, knoweth not the Father either; justly is there need of increased
knowledge: for there is no use in life without this. "Unto all patience
and longsuffering," he saith, "with joy, giving thanks" (ver. 12) unto
God. Then being about to exhort them, he makes no mention of what by and
by shall be laid up for them; he did hint at this however in the beginning
of the Epistle, saying, "Because of the hope which is laid up for you in
the heavens" (ver. 5): but in this place he mentions the things which were
already theirs, for these are the causes of the other. And he doth the
same in many places. For that which hath already come to pass gains belief,
and more carries the hearer along with it. "With joy," he saith, "giving
thanks" to God. The connection is this. We cease not praying for you, and
giving thanks for the benefits already received.
Seest thou how he bears himself along into speaking of the Son? For
if "we give thanks with much joy," it is a great thing that is spoken of.
For it is possible to give thanks only from fear, it is possible to give
thanks even when in sorrow. For instance; Job gave thanks indeed, but in
anguish; and he said, "The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away." (Job i.
21.) For, let not any say that what had come to pass pained him not, nor
clothed him with dejection of soul; nor let his great praise be taken away
from that righteous one. But when it is thus, it is not for fear, nor because
of His being Lord alone, but for the very nature of the things themselves,
that we give thanks. "To Him who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance
of the saints in light." He hath said a great thing. What has been given,
he saith, is of this nature; He hath not only given, but also made us strong
to receive. Now by saying, "Who made us meet," he showed that the thing
was one of great weight. For example, were some low person to have become
a king, he hath it in his power to give a governorship to whom he will;
and this is the extent of his power, to give the dignity: he cannot also
make the person fit for the office, and oftentimes the honor makes one
so preferred even ridiculous. If however he have both conferred on one
the dignity, and also made him fit for the honor, and equal to the administration,
then indeed the thing is an honor. This then is what he also saith here;
that He hath not only given us the honor, but hath also made us strong
enough to receive it.
For the honor here is twofold, the giving, and the making fit for the
gift. He said not, gave, simply; but, "made us meet to be partakers of
the inheritance of the saints in light," that is, who hath appointed us
a place with the saints. But he did not say simply placed us, but hath
given us to enjoy even the very same things, for "the portion" is that
which each one receives. For it is possible to be in the same city, and
yet not enjoy the same things; but to have the same "portion," and yet
not enjoy the same, is impossible. It is possible to be in the same inheritance,
and yet not to have the same portion; for instance, all we (clergy) are
in the inheritance, but we have not all the same portion. But here he doth
not say this, but with the inheritance adds the portion also. But why doth
he call it inheritance (or lot)? To show that by his own achievements no
one obtains the kingdom, but as a lot is rather the result of good luck,
so in truth is it here also. For a life so good as to be counted worthy
of the kingdom doth no one show forth, but the whole is of His free gift.
Therefore He saith, "When ye have done all, say, We are unprofitable servants,
for we have done that which was our duty to do." (Luke xvii. 10.) "To be
partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light,"-he means, both the
future and the present light, -that is, in knowledge. He seems to me to
be speaking at once of both the present and the future. Then he shows of
what things we have been counted worthy. For this is not the only marvel,
that we are counted worthy of the kingdom; but it should also be added
who we are that are so counted; for it is not unimportant. And he doth
this in the Epistle to the Romans, saying, "For scarcely for a righteous
man will one die, but peradventure for the good man some one would even
dare to die." (Rom. v. 7.)