Home      Back to Good Friday       





Tractates by St Augustine on the Gospel 

(Tractates CXV to CXX  in Vol VII, NPNF(1st))


Tractate CXV. 

John XVIII. 33-40. 

1. What Pilate said to Christ, or what He replied to Pilate, has to be considered and handled in the present discourse. For after the words had been addressed to the Jews, "Take ye him, and judge him according to your law," and the Jews had replied, "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death, Pilate entered again into the judgment hall, and called Jesus, and said unto Him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus answered, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?" The Lord indeed knew both what He Himself asked, and what reply the other was to give; but yet He wished it to be spoken, not for the sake of information to Himself, but that what He wished us to know might be recorded in Scripture. "Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation, and the chief priests, have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence." This is what the good Master wished us to know; but first there had to be shown us the vain notion that men had regarding His kingdom, whether Gentiles or Jews, from whom Pilate had heard it; as if He ought to have been punished with death on the ground of aspiring to an unlawful kingdom; or as those in the possession of royal power usually manifest their ill-will to such as are yet to attain it, as if, for example, precautions were to be used lest His kingdom should prove adverse either to the Romans or to the Jews. But the Lord was able to reply to the first question of the governor, when he asked Him, "Art thou the King of the Jews?" with the words, "My kingdom is not of this world," etc.; but by questioning him in turn, whether he said this thing of himself, or heard it from others, He wished by his answer to show that He had been charged with this as a crime before him by the Jews: laying open to us the thoughts of men, which were all known to Himself, that they are but vain; and now, after Pilate's answer, giving them, both Jews and Gentiles, all the more reasonable and fitting a reply, "My kingdom is not of this world." But had He made an immediate answer to Pilate's question, His reply would have appeared to refer to the Gentiles only, without including the Jews, as entertaining such an opinion regarding Him. But now when Pilate replied, "Am I a Jew? Thine own nation, and the chief priests, have delivered thee to me;" he removed from himself the suspicion of being possibly supposed to have spoken of his own accord, in saying that Jesus was the king of the Jews, by showing that such a statement had been communicated to him by the Jews. And then by saying, "What hast thou done?" he made it sufficiently clear that this was charged against Him as a crime: as if he had said, If thou deniest such kingly claims, what hast thou done to cause thy being delivered unto me? As if there would be no ground for wonder that one should be delivered up to a judge for punishment, who proclaimed himself a king; but if no such assertion were made, it became needful to inquire of Him, what else, if anything, He had done, that He should thus deserve to be delivered unto the judge. 

2. Hear then, ye Jews and Gentiles; hear, O circumcision; hear, O uncircumcision; hear, all ye kingdoms of the earth: I interfere not with your government in this world, "My kingdom is not of this world." Cherish ye not the utterly vain terror that threw Herod the elder into consternation when the birth of Christ was announced, and led him to the murder of so many infants in the hope of including Christ in the fatal number, made more cruel by his fear than by his anger: "My kingdom," He said, "is not of this world." What would you more? Come to the kingdom that is not of this world; come, believing, and fall not into the madness of anger through fear. He says, indeed, prophetically of God the Father, "Yet have I been appointed king by Him upon His holy hill of Zion;" but that hill of Zion is not of this world. For what is His kingdom, save those who believe in Him, to whom He says, "Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world"? And yet He wished them to be in the world: on that very account saying of them to the Father, "I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil." Hence also He says not here, "My kingdom is not" in this world; but, "is not of this world." And when He proved this by saying, "If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews," He saith not, "But now is my kingdom not" here, but, "is not from hence." For His kingdom is here until the end of the world, having tares intermingled therewith until the harvest; for the harvest is the end of the world, when the reapers, that is to say, the angels, shall come and gather out of His kingdom everything that offendeth; which certainly would not be done, were it not that His kingdom is here. But still it is not from hence; for it only sojourns as a stranger in the world: because He says to His kingdom, "Ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world." They were therefore of the world, so long as they were not His kingdom, but belonged to the prince of this world. Of the world therefore are all mankind, created indeed by the true God, but generated from Adam as a vitiated and condemned stock; and there are made into a kingdom no longer of the world, all from thence that have been regenerated in Christ. For so did God rescue us from the power of darkness, and translate us into the kingdom of the Son of His love: and of this kingdom it is that He saith, "My kingdom is not of this world;" or, "My kingdom is not from hence." 

3. "Pilate therefore said unto Him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king." Not that He was afraid to confess Himself a king, but "Thou sayest" has been so balanced that He neither denies Himself to be a king (for He is a king whose kingdom is not of this world), nor does He confess that He is such a king as to warrant the supposition that His kingdom is of this world. For as this was the very idea in Pilate's mind when he said, '"Art thou a king then?" so the answer he got was, "Thou sayest that I am a king." For it was said, "Thou sayest," as if it had been said, Carnal thyself, thou sayest it carnally. 

4. Thereafter He adds, "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth." * * Whence it is evident that He here referred to His own temporal nativity, when by becoming incarnate He came into the world, and not to that which had no beginning, whereby He was God through whom the Father created the world. For this, then, that is, on this account, He declared that He was born, and to this end He came into the world, to wit, by being born of the Virgin, that He might bear witness unto the truth. But because all men have not faith, He still further said, "Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice." He heareth, that is to say, with the ears of the inward man, or, in other words, He obeyeth my voice, which is equivalent to saying, He believeth me. When Christ, therefore, beareth witness unto the truth, He beareth witness, of course, unto Himself; for from His own lips are the words, "I am the truth;" as He said also in another place, "I bear witness of myself." But when He said, "Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice," He commendeth the grace whereby He calleth according to His own purpose. Of which purpose the apostle says, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to those who are called according to the purpose of God," to wit, the purpose of Him that calleth, not of those who are called; which is put still. more clearly in another place in this way, "Labor together in the gospel according to the power of God, who saveth us and calleth us with His holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace." For if our thoughts turn to the nature wherein we have been created, inasmuch as we were all created by the Truth, who is there that is not of the truth? But it is not all to whom it is given of the truth to hear, that is, to obey the truth, and to believe in the truth; while in no case certainly is there any preceding of merit, lest grace should cease to be grace. For had He said, Every one that heareth my voice is of the truth, then it would be supposed that he was declared to be of the truth because he conforms to the truth; it is not this, however, that He says, but, "Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice." And in this way he is not of the truth simply because he heareth His voice; but only on this account he heareth, because he is of the truth, that is, because this is a gift bestowed on him of the truth. And what else is this, but that by Christ's gracious bestowal he believeth on Christ? 

5. "Pilate said unto Him, What is truth?" Nor did he wait to hear the answer; but "when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and said unto them, I find in him no fault. But ye have a custom that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?" I believe when Pilate said, "What is truth?" there immediately occurred to his mind the custom of the Jews, according to which he was wont to release unto them one at the passover; and therefore he did not wait to hear Jesus' answer to his question, What is truth? to avoid delay on recollecting the custom whereby He might be released unto them during the passover-a thing which it is clear he greatly desired. It could not, however, be torn from his heart that Jesus was the King of the Jews, but was fixed there, as in the superscription, by the truth itself, whereof he had just inquired what it was. "But on hearing this, they all cried again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber." We blame you not, O jews, for liberating the guilty during the passover, but for slaying the innocent; and yet unless that were done, the true passover would not take place. But a shadowy of the truth was retained by the erring Jews, and by a marvellous dispensation of divine wisdom the truth of that same shadow was fulfilled by deluded men; because in order that the true passover might be kept, Christ was led as a sheep to the sacrificial slaughter. Hence there follows the account of the injurious treatment received by Christ at the hands of Pilate and his cohort; but this must be taken up in another discourse. 

Tractate CXVI. 

John XIX. 1-16. 

1. On the Jews crying out that they did not wish Jesus to be released unto them all the passover, but Barabbas the robber; nottim Saviour, but the murderer; not the Giverof life, but the destroyer,-"then Pilate tookJesus and scourged Him." We must believe that Pilate acted thus for no other reason than that the Jews, glutted with the injuries done to Him, might consider themselves satisfied, and desist from madly pursuing Him eve,unto death. With a similar intention was it that, as governor, he also permitted his cohort to do what follows, or even perhaps ordered them, although the evangelist is silent on the subject. For he tells us what the soldiers did thereafter, but not that Pilate ordered it. "And the soldiers," he says, "platted a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and they clothed Him with a purple robe. And they came to Him and said, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote Him with their hands." Thus were fulfilled the very things which Christ had foretold of Himself; thus were the martyrs moulded for the endurance of all that their persecutors should be pleased to inflict; thus, by concealing for a time the terror of His power, He commended to us the prior imitation of His patience; thus the kingdom which was not of this world overcame that proud world, not by the ferocity of fighting, but by the humility of suffering; and thus the grain of corn that was yet to be multiplied was sown amid the horrors of shame, that it might come to fruition amid the wonders of glory. 

2. "Pilate went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And he saith unto them, Behold the man!" Hence it is apparent that these things were done by the soldiers not without Pilate's knowledge, whether it was that he ordered them or only permitted them, namely, for the reason we have stated above, that His enemies might all the more willingly drink in the sight of such derisive treatment, and cease to thirst further for His blood. Jesus goes forth to them wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, not resplendent in kingly power, but laden with reproach; and the words are addressed to them, Behold the man! If you hate your king, spare him now when you see him sunk so low; he has been scourged, crowned with thorns, clothed with the garments of derision, jeered at with the bitterest insults, struck with the open hand; his ignominy is at the boiling point, let your ill-will sink to zero. But there is no such cooling on the part of the latter, but rather a further increase of heat and vehemence. 

3. "When the chief priests, therefore, and attendants saw Him, they cried out, saying, Crucify, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them Take ye him and crucify him; for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by the law he ought to die because he made himself the Son of God." Behold another and still greater ground of hatred. The former, indeed, seemed but a small matter, as that shown towards the usurpation, by an unlawful act of daring, of the royal power; and yet of neither did Jesus falsely claim possession, but each of them is truly His as both the only-begotten Son of God, and by Him appointed King upon His holy hill of Zion; and both might He now have shown to be His, were it not that in proportion to the greatness of His power, He preferred to manifest the corresponding greatness of His patience. 

4. "When Pilate, therefore, heard that saying, he was the more afraid; and entered again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer." It is found, in comparing the narratives of all the evangelists, that this silence on the part of our Lord Jesus Christ took place more than once, both before the chief priests and before. Herod, to whom, as Luke intimates, Pilate had sent Him for a hearing, and before Pilate himself; so that it was not in vain that the prophecy regarding Him had preceded, "As the lamb before its shearer was dumb, so He opened not His mouth," especially on those occasions when He answered not His questioners. For although He frequently replied to questions addressed to Him, yet because of those in regard to which He declined making any reply, the metaphor of the lamb is supplied, in order that in His silence He might be accounted not as guilty, but innocent. When, therefore, He was passing through the process of judgment, wherever He opened not His mouth it was in the character of a lamb that He did so; that is, not as one with an evil conscience who was convicted of his sins, but as one who in His meekness was sacrificed for the sins of others. 

5. "Then saith Pilate unto Him, Speakest thou not unto me knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered: Thou wouldest have no power against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin." Here, you see, He replied; and yet wherever He replied not, it is not as one who is criminal or cunning, but as a lamb; that is, in simplicity and innocence He opened not His mouth. Accordingly, where He made no answer, He was silent as a sheep; where He answered, He taught as the Shepherd. Let us therefore set ourselves to learn what He said, what He taught also by the apostle, that "there is no power but of God;" and that he is a greater sinner who maliciously delivereth up to the power the innocent to be slain, than the power itself, if it slay him through fear of another power that is greater still. Of such a sort, indeed, was the power which God had given to Pilate, that he should also be under the power of Caesar. Wherefore "thou wouldest have," He says, "no power against me," that is, even the little measure thou really hast, "except" this very measure, whatever its amount, "were given thee from above." But knowing as I do its amount, for it is not so great as to render thee altogether independent, "therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin." He, indeed, delivered me to thy power at the bidding of envy, whilst thou art to exercise thy power upon me through the impulse of fear. And yet not even through the impulse of fear ought one man to slay another, especially the innocent; nevertheless to do so by an officious zeal is a much greater evil than under the constraint of fear. And therefore the truth-speaking Teacher saith not, "He that delivered me to thee," he only hath sin, as if the other had none; but He saith, "hath the greater sin," letting him understand that he himself was not exempt from blame. For that of the latter is not reduced to nothing because the other is greater. 

6. "Hence Pilate sought to release Him." What is to be understood by the word here used, "hence," as if he had not been seeking to do so before? Read what precedes, and thou wilt find that he had already for some time been seeking to release Jesus. By the original word, therefore, we are to understand, on this account, that is, for this reason, that he might not contract sin by slaying an innocent man who had been delivered into his hands, even though his sin would be less than that of the Jews, who delivered Him to him to be put to death. "From thence," therefore, that is, for this reason, that he might not commit such a sin, "he sought" not now for the first time, but from the beginning, "to release Him." 

7. "But the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Caesar." They thought to inspire Pilate with greater fear by terrifying him about Caesar, in order that he might put Christ to death, than formerly when they said, "We have the law, and by the law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God." It was not their law, indeed, that impelled him through fear to the deed of murder, but rather it was his fear of the Son of God that held him back from the crime. But now he could not set Caesar, who was the author of his own power, at nought, in the same way as the law of another nation. 

8. As yet, however, the evangelist proceeds to say: "But when Pilate heard these sayings, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down before the tribunal, in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour." The question, at what hour the Lord was crucified, because of the testimony supplied by another evangelist, who says, "And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him," we shall consider as we can, if the Lord please, when we are come to the passage itself where His crucifixion is recorded. When Pilate, therefore, had sat down before the tribunal, "he saith unto the Jews, Behold your king! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate said unto them, Shall I crucify your king?" As yet he tries to overcome the terror with which they had inspired him about Caesar, by seeking to break them from their purpose on the ground of the ignominy it brought on themselves, with the words, "Shall I crucify your king?" when he failed to soften them on the ground of the ignominy done to Christ; but by and by he is overcome by fear. 

9. For "the chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he Him therefore unto them to be crucified." For he would have every appearance of acting against Caesar if, on their declaration that they had no king but Caesar, he were wishing to impose on them another king by releasing without punishment one whom for these very attempts they had delivered unto him to be put to death. "Therefore he delivered Him unto them to be crucified." But was it, then, anything different that he had previously desired when he said, "Take ye him, and crucify him;" or even earlier still, "Take ye him, and judge him according to your law?" And why did they show so great reluctance, when they said, "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death," and were in every way urgent to have Him slain not by themselves, but by the governor, and therefore refused to receive Him for the purpose of putting Him to death, if now for the same purpose they actually do receive Him? Or if such be not the case, why was it said, "Then delivered he Him therefore unto them to be crucified?" Or is it of any importance? Plainly it is. For it was not said, "Then delivered he Him therefore unto them" that they might crucify Him, but "that He might be crucified," that is, that He might be crucified by the judicial sentence and power of the governor. But it is for this reason that the evangelist has said that He was delivered to them, that he might show that they were implicated in the crime from which they tried to hold themselves aloof; for Pilate would have done no such thing, save to implement what he perceived to be their fixed desire. The words, however, that follow, "And they took Jesus, and led Him away," may now refer to the soldiers, the attendants of the governor. For it is more clearly stated afterwards, "When the soldiers therefore had crucified Him," although the evangelist properly does so even when he attributes the whole to the Jews, for they it was that received what they had with the utmost greediness demanded, and they it was that did all that they compelled to be done. But the events that follow must be made the subject of consideration in another discourse. 

Tractate CXVII. 

John XIX. 17-22. 

1. On Pilate's judgment and condemnation before the tribunal, they took the Lord Jesus Christ, about the sixth hour, and led Him away. "And He, bearing His cross, went forth into the place that is called Calvary, but in Hebrew, Golgotha; where they crucified Him." What else, then, is the meaning of the evangelist Mark saying, "And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him," but this, that the Lord was crucified at the third hour by the tongues of the Jews, at the sixth hour by the hands of the soldiers? That we may understand that the fifth hour was now completed, and there was some beginning made of the sixth, when Pilate took his seat before the tribunal, which is expressed by John as "about the sixth hour;" and when He was led forth, and nailed to the tree with the two robbers, and the events recorded were enacted beside His cross, the completion of the sixth hour was fully reached, being the hour from which, on to the ninth, the sun was obscured, and the darkness took place, we have it jointly attested on the authority of the three evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. But as the Jews attempted to transfer the crime of slaying Christ from themselves to the Romans, that is to say, to Pilate and his soldiers, therefore Mark suppresses the hourat which Christ was crucified by the soldiers,and which then began to enter upon the sixth, and remembers rather to give an express place to the third hour, at which they are understood to have cried out before Pilate, "Crucify, crucify him" (verse 6), that it not only may be seen that the former crucified Jesus, namely, the soldiers who hung Him on the tree at the sixth hour, but the Jews also, who at the third hour cried out to have Him crucified. 

2. There is also another solution of this question, that we should not here understand the sixth hour of the day, because John says not, And it was about the sixth hour of the day, or about the sixth hour, but says, "And it was the parasceve of the passover, about the sixth hour" (ver. 14). And parasceve is in Latin praeparatio (preparation); but the Jews are fonder of using the Greek words in observances of this sort, even those of them who speak Latin rather than Greek. It was therefore the preparation of the passover. But "our passover, Christ," as the apostle says, "has been sacrificed;" and if we reckon the preparation of this passover from the ninth hour of the night (for then the chief priests seem to have given their verdict for the sacrifice of the Lord, when they said, "He is guilty of death," and when the hearing of His case was still proceeding in the high priest's house: whence there is a kind of harmony in understanding that therewith began the preparation of the true passover, whose shadow was the passover of the Jews, that is, of the sacrificing of Christ, when the priests gave their sentence that He was to be sacrificed), certainly from that hour of the night, which is conjectured to have been then the ninth, on to the third hour of the day, when the evangelist Mark testifies that Christ was crucified, there are six hours, three of the night, and three of the day. Hence in the case of this parasceve of the passover, that is, the preparation of the sacrifice of Christ, which began with the ninth hour of the night, it was about the sixth hour; that is to say, the fifth hour was completed, and the sixth had already begun to run, when Pilate ascended the tribunal: for that same preparation, which had begun with the ninth hour of the night, still continued till the sacrifice of Christ, which was the event in course of preparation, was completed, which took place at the third hour, according to Mark, not of the preparation, but of the day; while it was also the sixth hour, not of the day, but of the preparation, by reckoning, of course, six hours from the ninth hour of the night to the third of the day. Of these two solutions of this difficult question let each choose the one that pleases him. But one will judge better what to choose who reads the very elaborate discussions on "The Harmony of the Evangelists." And if other solutions of it can also be found, the stability of gospel truth will have a more cumulative defense against the calumnies of unbelieving and profane vanity. And now, after these brief discussions, let us return to the narrative of the evangelist John. 

3. "And they took Jesus," he says, "and led Him away; and He, bearing His cross, went forth unto the place that is called Calvary, in the Hebrew, Golgotha; where they crucified Him." Jesus, therefore, went to the place where He was to be crucified, bearing His cross. A grand spectacle! but if it be impiety that is the onlooker, a grand laughing-stock; if piety, a grand mystery: if impiety be the onlooker, a grand demonstration of ignominy; if piety, a grand bulwark of faith: if it is impiety that looketh on, it laughs at the King bearing, in place of His kingly rod, the tree of His punishment; if it is piety, it sees the King bearing the tree for His own crucifixion, which He was yet to affix even on the foreheads of kings, exposed to the contemptuous glances of the impious in connection with that wherein the hearts of saints were thereafter to glory. For to Paul, who was yet to say, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ," He was commending that same cross of His by carrying it on His own shoulders, and bearing the candelabrum of that light that was yet to burn, and not to be placed under a bushel. "Bearing," therefore, "His cross, He went forth into the place that is called Calvary, in the Hebrew, Golgotha; where they crucified Him, and two others with. Him on either side one, and Jesus in the midst." These two, as we have learned in the narrative of the other evangelists, were thieves with whom He was crucified, and between whom He was fixed, whereof the prophecy sent before had declared, "And He was numbered among the transgressors." 

4. "And Pilate wrote a title also, and put it on the cross, and the writing was, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, The King of the Jews." For these three languages were conspicuous in that place beyond all others: the Hebrew on account of the Jews, who gloried in the law of God; the Greek, because of the wise men among the Gentiles; and the Latin, on account of the Romans, who at that very time were exercising sovereign power over many and almost all countries. 

5. "Then said the chief priests of the Jews unto Pilate Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written." Oh the ineffable power of the working of God, even in the hearts of the ignorant! Was there not some hidden voice that sounded through Pilate's inner man with a kind, if one may so say, of loud-toned silence, the words that had been prophesied so long before in the very letter of the Psalms, "Corrupt not the inscription of the title"? Here, then, you see, he corrupted it not; what he has written he has written. But the high priests, who wished it to be corrupted, what did they say? "Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews." What is it, madmen, that you say? Why do you oppose the doing of that which you are utterly unable to alter? Will it by any such means become the less true that Jesus said, "I am King of the Jews"? If that cannot be tampered with which Pilate has written, can that be tampered with which the truth has uttered? But is Christ king only of the Jews, or of the Gentiles also? Yes, of the Gentiles also. For when He said in prophecy, "I am set king by Him upon His holy hill of Zion, declaring the decree of the Lord," that no one might say, because of the hill of Zion, that He was set king over the Jews alone, He immediately added, "The Lord said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of me, and I will give Thee the Gentiles for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy poossession." Whence He Himself, speaking now with His own lips among the Jews, said, "Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one flock and one Shepherd." Why then would we have some great mystery to be understood in this superscription, wherein it was written, "King of the Jews," if Christ is king also of the Gentiles? For this reason, because it was the wild olive tree that was made partaker of the fatness of the olive tree, and not the olive tree that was made partaker of the bitterness of the wild olive tree. For inasmuch as the title, "King of the Jews," was truthfully written regarding Christ, who are they that are to be understood as the Jews but the seed of Abraham, the children of the promise, who are also the children of God? For "they," saith the apostle, "who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." And the Gentiles were those to whom he said, "But if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Christ therefore is king of the Jews, but of those who are Jews by the circumcision of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God; who belong to the Jerusalem thatis free, our eternal mother in heaven, the spiritual Sarah, who casteth out the bond maid and her children from the house of liberty. And therefore what Pilate wrote he wrote, because what the Lord said He said. 

Tractate CXVIII. 

John XIX. 23, 24. 

1. The things that were done beside the Lord's cross, when at length He was now crucified, we would take up, in dependence on His help, in the present discourse. "Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Him, took His garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also His coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots." It was done as the Jews wished; not that it was they themselves, but the soldiers who obeyed Pilate, who himself acted as judge, that crucified Jesus: and yet if we reflect on their wills, their plots, their endeavors, their delivering up, and, lastly, on their extorting clamors, it was the Jews certainly, more than any else, who crucified Jesus. 

2. But we must not speak in a mere cursory way of the partition and dividing by lot of His garments. For although all the four evangelists make mention thereof, yet the others do so more briefly than John: and their notice of it is obscure, while his is in the plainest manner possible. For Matthew says, "And after they crucified Him, they parted His garments, casting lots." Mark: "And they crucified Him, and parted His garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take." Luke: "And they parted His raiment, and cast lots." But John has told us also how many parts they made of His garments, namely, four, that they might take one part apiece. From which it, is apparent that there were four soldiers, who obeyed the governor's orders in crucifying Him. For he plainly says: "Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Him, took His garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and likewise the coat," where there is understood, they took: so that the meaning is, they took His garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and they took also His coat. And he so spake, that we might see that there was no lot cast on His other garments; but His coat, whichthey took along with the others, they did not similarly divide. For in regard to it he proceeds to explain, "Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout." And then telling us why they cast lots on it, he says, "They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be." Hence it is clear that in the case of the other garments they had equal parts, so that there was no need to cast lots: but that as regards this one, they could not have had a part each without rending it, and thereby possessing themselves only of useless fragments of it; to prevent which, they preferred letting it come to one of them by lot. The account given by this evangelist is also in harmony with the testimony of prophecy, which he likewise immediately subjoins, saying, "That the scripture might be fulfilled which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots." For He says not, they cast lots, but "they parted:" nor does He say, casting lots they parted; but while making no mention whatever of the lot in regard to the rest of the garments, He afterwards said, "and for my vesture they did cast lots," in reference solely to the coat that remained. On which I shall speak as He Himself enables me, after I have first refuted the calumny, which may possibly arise, as if the evangelists disagreed with one another, by showing that the words of none of the others are inconsistent with the narrative of John. 

3. For Matthew, in saying, "They parted His garments, casting lots," wished it to be understood, that in the whole affair of parting the garments, the coat was also included, on which they cast lots; for in course of parting all the garments, of which it also was one on it alone they cast lots. To the same purpose also are the words of Luke: "Parting His garments, they cast lots;" for in the process of parting they came to the coat whereon the lot was cast, that the entire parting of His garments among them might be completed. And what difference is there whether it is said, "Parting they cast lots," according to Luke; or, "They parted, casting the lot," according to Matthew: unless it be that Luke, in saying "lots," used the plural for the singular number,-a form of speech that is not unusual in the Holy Scriptures, although some copies are found to have "lot," and not "lots"? Mark, therefore, is the only one who seems to have introduced any kind of difficulty; for in saying, "Casting the lot upon them, what every man should take," his words seem to imply, as if the lot was cast on all the garments, and not on the coat alone. But here also brevity is the cause of the obscurity; for the words, "Casting the lot upon them," are as if it were said, Casting the lot when they were in the process of division; which was also the case. For the partition of all His garments would not have been complete, had it not been declared by lot which of them also should get possession of the coat, so as thereby to bring any contention on the part of the dividers to an end, or rather prevent any such from arising. In saying, therefore, "What every man should take," so far as that has to do with the lot, we must not take it as referring to all the garments that were divided; for the lot was cast, who should take the coat: whereof having omitted to describe the particular form, and how, in the equal division that was made of the parts, it remained by itself, in order, without being rent, to be awarded by lot, he therefore made use of the expression, "what every man should take," in other words, who it was that should take it: as if the whole were thus expressed, They parted His garments, casting the lot upon them, who should take the coat, which had remained over in addition to their equal shares of the rest. 

4. Some one, perhaps, may inquire what is signified by the division that was made of His garments into so many parts, and of the casting of lots for the coat. The raiment of the Lord Jesus Christ parted into four, symbolized His quadripartite Church, as spread abroad over the whole world, which consists of four quarters, and equally, that is to say, harmoniously, distributed over all these quarters. On which account He elsewhere says, that He will send His angels to gather His elect from the four winds: and what is that, but from the four quarters of the world, east, west, north, and south? But the coat, on which lots were cast, signifies the unity of all the parts, which is contained in the bond of charity. And when the apostle is about to speak of charity, he says, "I show you a more excellent way;" and in another place, "To know also the love of Christ, which far excelleth knowledge;" and still further elsewhere, "And above all these things charity which is the bond of perfectness." If, then, charity both has a more excellent way, and far excelleth knowledge, and is enjoined above all things, it is with great propriety that the garment, by which it is signified, is represented as woven from the top. And it was without seam, that its sewing might never be separated; and came into the possession of one man, because He gathereth all into one. Just as in the case of the apostles, who formed the exact number of twelve, in other words, were divisible into four parts of three each, when the question was put to all of them, Peter was the only one that answered, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;" and to whom it was said, "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven," as if he alone received the power of binding and loosing: seeing, then, that one so spake in behalf of all, and received the latter along with all, as if personifying the unity itself; therefore one stands for all, because there is unity in all. Whence, also, after here saying, "woven from the top," he added, "throughout." And this also, if referred to its meaning, implies that no one is excluded from a share thereof, who is discovered to belong to the whole: from which whole, as the Greek language indicates, the Church derives her name of Catholic. And by the casting of lots, what else is commended but the grace of God? For in this way in the person of one it reached to all, since the lot satisfied them all, because the grace of God also in its unity reacheth unto all; and when the lot is cast, the award is decided, not by the merits of each individual, hut by the secret judgment of God. 

5. And yet let no one say that such things had no good signification because they were done by the bad, that is to say, not by those who followed Christ, but by those who persecuted Him. For what could we have to say of the cross itself, which every one knows was in like manner made and fastened to Christ by enemies and sinners? And yet it is to it we may rightly understand the words of the apostle to be applicable, "what is the breadth, and the length,and the height, and the depth." For its breadth lies in the transverse beam, on which the hands of the Crucified are extended; and signifies good works in all the breadth of love: its length extends from the transverse beam to the ground, and is that whereto the back and feet are affixed; and signifies perseverance through the whole length of time to the end: its height is in the summit, which rises upwards above the transverse beam; and signifies the supernal goal, to which all works have reference, since all things that are done well and perseveringly, in respect of their breadth and length, are to be done also with due regard to the exalted character of the divine rewards: its depth is found in the part that is fixed into the ground; for there it is both concealed and invisible, and yet from thence spring up all those parts that are outstanding and evident to the senses; just as all that is good in us proceeds from the depths of the grace of God, which is beyond the reach of human comprehension and judgment. But even though the cross of Christ signified no more than what was said by the apostle, "And they who are Jesus Christ's have crucified the flesh with the passions and lusts," how great a good it is! And yet it does not this, unless the good spirit be lusting against the flesh, seeing that it was the opposing, or, in other words, the evil spirit that constructed the cross of Christ. And lastly, as every one knows, what else is the sign of Christ but the cross of Christ? For unless that sign be applied, whether it be to the foreheads of believers, or to the very water out of which they are regenerated, or to the oil with which they receive the anointing chrism, or to the sacrifice that nourishes them, none of them is properly administered. How then can it be that no good is signified by that which is done by the wicked, when by the cross of Christ, which the wicked made, every good thing is sealed to us in the celebration of His sacraments? But here we stop; and what follows we shall consider at another time in the course of dissertation, as God shall grant us assistance. 

Tractate CXIX. 

John XIX. 24-30. 

1. The Lord being now crucified, and the parting of His garments having also been completed by the casting of the lot, let us look at what the evangelist John thereafter relates. "And these things," he says, "the soldiers did. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary [the wife] of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour the disciple took her unto his own home." This, without a doubt, was the hour whereof Jesus, when about to turn the water into wine, had said to His mother, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come." This hour, therefore, He had foretold, which at that time had not yet arrived, when it should be His to acknowledge her at the point of death, and with reference to which He had been born as a mortal man. At that time, therefore, when about to engage in divine acts, He repelled, as one unknown, her who was the mother, not of His divinity, but of His [human] infirmity; but now, when in the midst of human sufferings, He commended with human affection [the mother] by whom He had become man. For then, He who had created Mary became known in His power; but now, that which Mary had brought forth was hanging on the cross. 

2. A passage, therefore, of a moral character is here inserted. The good Teacher does what He thereby reminds us ought to be done, and by His own example instructed His disciples that care for their parents ought to be a matter of concern to pious children: as if that tree to which the members of the dying One were affixed were the very chair of office from which the Master was imparting instruction. From this wholesome doctrine it was that the Apostle Paul had learned what he taught in turn, when he said, "But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." And what are so much home concerns to any one, as parents to children, or children to parents? Of this most wholesome precept, therefore, the very Master of the saints set the example from Himself, when, not as God for the hand-maid whom He had created and governed, but as a man for the mother, of whom He had been created, and whom He was now leaving behind, He provided in some measure another son in place of Himself. And why He did so, He indicates in the words that follow: for the evangelist says, "And from that hour the disciple took her unto his own," speaking of himself. In this way, indeed, he usually refers to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved: who certainly loved them all, but him beyond the others, and with a closer familiarity, so that He even made him lean upon His bosom at supper; in order, I believe, in this way to commend the more highly the divine excellence of this very gospel, which He was thereafter to preach through his instrumentality. 

3. But what was this "his own," unto which John took the mother of the Lord? For he was not outside the circle of those who said unto Him, "Lo, we have left all, and followed Thee." No, but on that same occasion he had also heard the words, Every one that hath forsaken these things for my sake, shall receive an hundred times as much in this world. That disciple, therefore, had an hundredfold more than he had cast away, whereunto to receive the mother of Him who had graciously bestowed it all. But it was in that society that the blessed John had received an hundredfold, where no one called anything his own, but they had all things in common; even as it is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. For the apostles were as if having nothing, and yet possessing all things How was it, then, that the disciple and servant received unto his own the mother of his Lord and Master, where no one called anything his own? Or, seeing we read a little further on in the same book, "For as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of them, and laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need," are we not to understand that such distribution was made to this disciple of what was needful, that there was also added to it the portion of the blessed Mary, as if she were his mother; and ought we not the rather so to take the words, "From that hour the disciple took her unto his own," that everything necessary for her was entrusted to his care? He received her, therefore, not unto his own lands, for he had none of his own; but to his own dutiful services, the discharge of which, by a special dispensation, was entrusted to himself. 

4. He then adds: "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and fixed it upon hyssop, and put it to His mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost." Who has the power of so adjusting what he does, as this Man had of arranging all that He suffered? But this Man was the Mediator between God and men; the Man of whom we read in prophecy, He is man also, and who shall acknowledge Him for the men who did such things acknowledged not this Man as God. For He who was manifest as man, was hid as God: He who was manifest suffered all these things, and He Himself also, who was hid, arranged them all. He saw, therefore, that all was accomplished that required to be done before He received the vinegar, and gave up the ghost; and that this also might be accomplished which the scripture had foretold, "And in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink," He said, "I thirst:" as if it were, One thing still you have failed to do, give me what you Are. For the Jews were themselves the vinegar, degenerated as they were from the wine of the patriarchs and prophets; and filled like a full vessel with the wickedness of this world, with hearts like a sponge, deceitful in the formation of its cavernous and tortuous recesses. But the hyssop, whereon they placed the sponge filled with vinegar, being a lowly herb, and purging the heart, we fitly take for the humility of Christ Himself; which they thus enclosed, and imagined they had completely ensnared. Hence we have it said in the psalm, "Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed." For it is by Christ's humility that we are cleansed; because, had He not humbled Himself, and became obedient unto the death of the cross, His blood certainly would not have been shed for the remission of sins, or, in other words, for our cleansing. 

5. Nor need we be disturbed with the question, how the sponge could be applied to His mouth when He was lifted up from the earth on the cross. For as we read in the other evangelists, what is omitted by this one, it was fixed on a reed, so that such drink as was contained in the sponge might be raised to the highest part of the cross. By the reed, however, the scripture was signified, which was fulfilled by this very act. For as a tongue is called either Greek or Latin, or any other, significant of the sound, which is uttered by the tongue; so the reed may give its name to the letter which is written with a reed. We most usually, however, call those tongues that express the sounds of the human voice: while in calling scripture a reed, the very rareness of the thing only enhances the mystical nature of that which it symbolizes. A wicked people did such things, a compassionate Christ suffered them. They who did them, knew not what they did; but He who suffered, not only knew what was done, and why it was so, but also wrought what was good through those who were doing what was evil. 

6. "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished." What, but all that prophecy had foretold so long before? And then, because nothing now remained that still required to be done before He died, as if He, who had power to lay down His life and to take it up again, had at length completed all for whose completion He was waiting, "He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost." Who can thus sleep when he pleases, as Jesus died when He pleased? Who is there that thus puts off his garment when he pleases, as He put off His flesh at His pleasure? Who is there that thus departs when he pleases, as He departed this life at His pleasure? How great the power, to be hoped for or dreaded, that must be His as judge, if such was the power He exhibited as a dying man! 

Tractate CXX. 

John XIX. 31-37. 

1. After that the Lord Jesus had accomplished all that He foreknew required accomplishment before His death, and had, when it pleased Himself, given up the ghost, what followed thereafter, as related by the evangelist, let us now consider. "The Jews therefore," he says, "because it was the preparation (parasceve), that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath-day (for that Sabbath-day was an high day), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away." Not that their legs might be taken away, but the persons themselves whose legs were broken for the purpose of effecting their death, and permitting them to be detached from the tree, lest their continuing to hang on the crosses should defile the great festal day by the horrible spectacle of their day-long torments. 

2. "Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other who was, crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear laid open His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water." A suggestive word was made use of by the evangelist, in not saying pierced, or wounded His side, or anything else, but "opened;that thereby, in a sense, the gate of life might be thrown open, from whence have flowed forth the sacraments of the Church, without which there is no entrance to the life which is the true life. That blood was shed for the remission of sins; that water it is that makes up the health-giving cup, and supplies at once the layer of baptism and water for drinking. This was announced beforehand, when Noah was commanded to make a door in the side of the ark, whereby the animals might enter which were not destined to perish in the flood, and by which the Church was prefigured. Because of this, the first woman was formed from the side of the man when asleep, and was called Life, and the mother of all living. Truly it pointed to a great good, prior to the great evil of the transgression (in the guise of one thus lying asleep). This second Adam bowed His head and fell asleep on the cross, that a spouse might be formed for Him from that which flowed from the sleeper's side. O death, whereby the dead are raised anew to life! What can be purer than such blood? What more health-giving than such a wound? 

3. "And he that saw it," he says, "bare record, and his record is true; and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye also might believe." He said not, That ye also might know, but "that ye might believe;" for he knoweth who hath seen, that he who hath not seen might believe his testimony. And believing belongs more to the nature of faith than seeing. For what else is meant by believing than giving to faith a suitable reception? "For these things were done," he adds, "that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of Him ye shall not break. And again, another scripture saith, They shall look on Him whom they pierced." He has furnished two testimonies from the Scriptures for each of the things which he has recorded as having been done. For to the words, "But widen they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs," belongeth the testimony, "A bone of Him ye shall not break:" an injunction which was laid upon those who were commanded to celebrate the passover by the sacrifice of a sheep in the old law, which went before as a shadow of the passion of Christ. Whence "our passover has been offered, even Christ," of whom the prophet Isaiah also had predicted, "He shall be led as a lamb to the slaughter." In like manner to the words which he subjoined, "But one of the soldiers laid open His side with a spear," belongeth the other testimony, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced;" where Christ is promised in the very flesh wherein He was afterwards to come to be crucified.