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Lightfoot's Apostolic Fathers In English - J. B. Lightfoot, D. D., D.C. L., LL. D.

1. The third vision, which I saw, brethren, was as follows. 2After fasting often, and entreating the Lord to declare unto me the revelation which He promised to show me by the mouth of the aged woman, that very night the aged woman was seen of me, and she said to me, ‘Seeing that thou art so importunate and eager to know all things, come into the country where thou abidest, and about the fifth hour I will appear, and will show thee what thou oughtest to see.’ 3I asked her, saying, ‘Lady, to what part of the country?’ ‘Where thou wilt,’ saith she. I selected a beautiful and retired spot; but before I spoke to her and named the spot, she saith to me, ‘I will come, whither thou willest.’ 4I went then, brethren, into the country, and I counted up the hours, and came to the place where I appointed her to come, and I see an ivory couch placed there, and on the couch there lay a linen cushion, and on the cushion was spread a coverlet of fine linen of flax.

5When I saw these things so ordered, and no one in the place, I was amazed, and a fit of trembling seized me, and my hair stood on end; and a fit of shuddering came upon me, because I was alone. When then I recovered myself, and remembered the glory of God, and took courage, I knelt down and confessed my sins to the Lord once more, as I had done on the former occasion.

6Then she came with six young men, the same whom I had seen before, and she stood by me, and listened attentively to me, as I prayed and confessed my sins to the Lord. And she touched me, and said: ‘Hermas, make an end of constantly entreating for thy sins; entreat also for righteousness, that thou mayest take some part forthwith to thy family.’ 7Then she raiseth me by the hand, and leadeth me to the couch, and saith to the young men, ‘Go ye, and build.’ 8And after the young men had retired and we were left alone, she saith to me, ‘Sit down here.’ I say to her, ‘Lady, let the elders sit down first.’ ‘Do as I bid thee,’ saith she, ‘sit down.’ 9When then I wanted to sit down on the right side, she would not allow me, but beckoned me with her hand that I should sit on the left side. As then I was musing thereon, and was sad because she would not permit me to sit on the right side, she saith to me, ‘Art thou sad, Hermas? The place on the right side is for others, even for those who have already been well-pleasing to God, and have suffered for the Name’s sake. But thou lackest much that thou shouldest sit with them; but as thou abidest in thy simplicity, even so continue, and thou shalt sit with them, thou and as many as shall have done their deeds, and have suffered what they suffered.’

2. ‘What did they suffer?’ say I. ‘Listen,’ saith she. ‘Stripes, imprisonments, great tribulations, crosses, wild beasts, for the Name’s sake. Therefore to them belongs the right side of the Holiness—to them, and to all who shall suffer for the Name. But for the rest is the left side. Howbeit, to both, to them that sit on the right, and to them that sit on the left, are the same gifts, and the same promises, only they sit on the right and have a certain glory. 2Thou indeed art very desirous to sit on the right with them, but thy shortcomings are many; yet thou shalt be purified from thy shortcomings; yea, and all that are not doubleminded shall be purified from all their sins unto this day.’

3When she had said this, she wished to depart; but, falling at her feet, I entreated her by the Lord that she would show me the vision which she promised. 4Then she again took me by the hand, and raiseth me, and seateth me on the couch at the left hand, while she herself sat on the right. And lifting up a certain glistening rod, she saith to me, ‘Seest thou a great thing?’ I say to her, ‘Lady, I see nothing.’ She saith to me, ‘Look thou; dost thou not see in front of thee a great tower being builded upon the waters, of glistening square stones?’ 5Now the tower was being builded foursquare by the six young men that came with her. And countless other men were bringing stones, some of them from the deep, and others from the land, and were handing them to the six young men. And they took them and builded. 6The stones that were dragged from the deep they placed in every case, just as they were, into the building, for they had been shaped, and they fitted in their joining with the other stones; and they adhered so closely one with another that their joining could not possibly be detected; and the building of the tower appeared as if it were built of one stone. 7But of the other stones which were brought from the dry land, some they threw away, and some they put into the building; and others they broke in pieces, and threw to a distance from the tower. 8Now many other stones were lying round the tower, and they did not use them for the building; for some of them were mildewed, and others had cracks in them, and others were too short, and others were white and round, and did not fit into the building. 9And I saw other stones thrown to a distance from the tower, and coming to the way, and yet not staying in the way, but rolling to where there was no way; and others falling into the fire and burning there; and others falling near the waters, and yet not able to roll into the water, although they desired to roll and to come to the water.

3. When she had shown me these things, she wished to hurry away. I say to her, ‘Lady, what advantage is it to me to have seen these things, and yet not to know what the things mean?’ She answered and said unto me, ‘Thou art an over-curious fellow, in desiring to know all that concerns the tower.’ ‘Yea, lady,’ I said, ‘that I may announce it to my brethren, and that they [may be the more gladdened and] when they hear [these things] may know the Lord in great glory.’ Then said she, 2‘Many shall hear; but when they hear, some of them shall be glad, and others shall weep. Yet even these latter, if they hear and repent, shall likewise be glad. Hear thou therefore the parables of the tower; for I will reveal all things unto thee. And trouble me no more about revelation; for these revelations have an end, seeing that they have been completed. Nevertheless thou wilt not cease asking for revelations; for thou art shameless.

3‘The tower, which thou seest building, is myself, the Church, which was seen of thee both now and aforetime. Ask, therefore, what thou willest concerning the tower, and I will reveal it unto thee, that thou mayest rejoice with the saints.’ 4I say unto her, ‘Lady, since thou didst hold me worthy once for all, that thou shouldest reveal all things to me, reveal them.’ Then she saith to me, ‘Whatsoever is possible to be revealed to thee, shall be revealed. Only let thy heart be with God, and doubt not in thy mind about that which thou seest.’ 5I asked her, ‘Wherefore is the tower builded upon waters, lady?’ ‘I told thee so before,’ said she, ‘and indeed thou dost enquire diligently. So by thy enquiry thou discoverest the truth. Hear then why the tower is builded upon waters; it is because your life is saved and shall be saved by water. But the tower has been founded by the word of the Almighty and Glorious Name, and is strengthened by the unseen power of the Master.’

4. I answered and said unto her, ‘Lady, this thing is great and marvellous. But the six young men that build, who are they, lady?’

These are the holy angels of God, that were created first of all, unto whom the Lord delivered all His creation to increase and to build it, and to be masters of all creation. By their hands therefore the building of the tower will be accomplished.’ 2‘And who are the others who are bringing the stones?’ ‘They also are holy angels of God; but these six are superior to them. The building of the tower then shall be accomplished, and all alike shall rejoice in heart (as they stand) round the tower, and shall glorify God that the building of the tower was accomplished.’ 3I enquired of her, saying, ‘Lady, I could wish to know concerning the end of the stones, and their power, of what kind it is.’ She answered and said unto me, ‘It is not that thou of all men art especially worthy that it should be revealed to thee; for there are others before thee, and better than thou art, unto whom these visions ought to have been revealed. But that the name of God may be glorified, it hath been revealed to thee, and shall be revealed, for the sake of the doubtful-minded, who question in their hearts whether these things are so or not. Tell them that all these things are true, and that there is nothing beside the truth, but that all are stedfast, and valid, and established on a firm foundation.

5. ‘Hear now concerning the stones that go to the building. The stones that are squared and white, and that fit together in their joints, these are the apostles and bishops and teachers and deacons, who walked after the holiness of God, and exercised their office of bishop and teacher and deacon in purity and sanctity for the elect of God, some of them already fallen on sleep, and others still living. And because they always agreed with one another, they both had peace among themselves and listened one to another. Therefore their joinings fit together in the building of the tower.’ 2‘But they that are dragged from the deep, and placed in the building, and that fit together in their joinings with the other stones that are already builded in, who are they?’ ‘These are they that suffered for the name of the Lord.’ 3‘But the other stones that are brought from the dry land, I would fain know who these are, lady.’ She said, ‘Those that go to the building, and yet are not hewn, these the Lord hath approved because they walked in the uprightness of the Lord, and rightly performed His commandments.’ 4‘But they that are brought and placed in the building, who are they?’ ‘They are young in the faith, and faithful; but they are warned by the angels to do good, because wickedness was found in them.’ 5‘But those whom they rejected and threw away, who are they?’ ‘These have sinned, and desire to repent, therefore they were not cast to a great distance from the tower, because they will be useful for the building, if they repent. They then that shall repent, if they repent, will be strong in the faith, if they repent now while the tower is building. But if the building shall be finished, they have no more any place, but shall be castaways. This privilege only they have, that they lie near the tower.

6. ‘But wouldst thou know about them that are broken in pieces, and cast away far from the tower? These are the sons of lawlessness. They received the faith in hypocrisy, and no wickedness was absent from them. Therefore they have not salvation, for they are not useful for building by reason of their wickednesses. Therefore they were broken up and thrown far away by reason of the wrath of the Lord, for they excited Him to wrath. 2But the rest whom thou hast seen lying in great numbers, not going to the building, of these they that are mildewed are they that knew the truth, but did not abide in it, nor cleave to the saints. Therefore they are useless.’

3‘But they that have the cracks, who are they?’ ‘These are they that have discord in their hearts against one another, and are not at peace among themselves; who have an appearance of peace, but when they depart from one another, their wickednesses abide in their hearts. These are the cracks which the stones have. 4But they that are broken off short, these have believed, and have their greater part in righteousness, but have some parts of lawlessness; therefore they are too short, and are not perfect.’

5‘But the white and round stones, which did not fit into the building, who are they, lady?’ She answered and said to me, ‘How long art thou foolish and stupid, and enquirest everything, and under standest nothing? These are they that have faith, but have also riches of this world. When tribulation cometh, they deny their Lord by reason of their riches and their business affairs.’ 6And I answered and said unto her, ‘When then, lady, will they be useful for the building?’ ‘When,’ she replied, ‘their wealth, which leadeth their souls astray, shall be cut away, then will they be useful for God. For just as the round stone, unless it be cut away, and lose some portion of itself, cannot become square, so also they that are rich in this world, unless their riches be cut away, cannot become useful to the Lord. 7Learn first from thyself. When thou hadst riches, thou wast useless; but now thou art useful and profitable unto life. Be ye useful unto God, for thou thyself also art taken from the same stones.

7. ‘But the other stones which thou sawest cast far away from the tower and falling into the way and rolling out of the way into the regions where there is no way, these are they that have believed, but by reason of their double heart they abandon their true way. Thus thinking that they can find a better way, they go astray and are sore distressed, as they walk about in the regions where there is no way. 2But they that fall into the fire and are burned, these are they that finally rebelled from the living God, and it no more entered into their hearts to repent by reason of the lusts of their wantonness and of the wickednesses which they wrought. 3But the others, which fall near the waters and yet cannot roll into the water, wouldest thou know who are they? These are they that heard the word, and would be baptized unto the name of the Lord. Then, when they call to their remembrance the purity of the truth, they change their minds, and go back again after their evil desires.’ 4So she finished the explanation of the tower. 5Still importunate, I asked her further, whether for all these stones that were rejected and would not fit into the building of the tower there was repentance, and they had a place in this tower. ‘They can repent,’ she said, ‘but they cannot be fitted into this tower. 6Yet they shall be fitted into another place much more humble, but not until they have undergone torments, and have fulfilled the days of their sins. And they shall be changed for this reason, because they participated in the Righteous Word; and then shall it befal them to be relieved from their torments, if the evil deeds, that they have done, come into their heart; but if these come not into their heart, they are not saved by reason of the hardness of their hearts.’

8. When then I ceased asking her concerning all these things, she saith to me; ‘Wouldest thou see something else?’ Being very desirous of beholding, I was greatly rejoiced that I should see it. 2She looked upon me, and smiled, and she saith to me, ‘Seest thou seven women round the tower?’ ‘I see them, lady,’ say I. ‘This tower is supported by them by commandment of the Lord. 3Hear now their employments. The first of them, the woman with the strong hands, is called Faith; through her are saved the elect of God. 4And the second, that is girded about and looketh like a man, is called Continence; she is the daughter of Faith. Whosoever then shall follow her, becometh happy in his life, for he shall refrain from all evil deeds, believing that, if he refrain from every evil desire, he shall inherit eternal life.’ 5‘And the others, lady, who be they?’ ‘They are daughters one of the other. The name of the one is Simplicity, of the next, Knowledge, of the next, Guilelessness, of the next, Reverence, of the next, Love. When then thou shalt do all the works of their mother, thou canst live.’ 6‘I would fain know, lady,’ I say, ‘what power each of them possesseth.’ ‘Listen then,’ ‘saith she,’ ‘to the powers which they have. 7Their powers are mastered each by the other, and they follow each other, in the order in which they were born.

From Faith is born Continence, from Continence Simplicity, from Simplicity Guilelessness, from Guilelessness Reverence, from Reverence Knowledge, from Knowledge Love. Their works then are pure and reverent and divine. 8Whosoever therefore shall serve these women, and shall have strength to master their works, shall have his dwelling in the tower with the saints of God.’ 9Then I asked her concerning the seasons, whether the consummation is even now. But she cried aloud, saying, ‘Foolish man, seest thou not that the tower is still a-building? Whensoever therefore the tower shall be finished building, the end cometh; but it shall be built up quickly. Ask me no more questions: this reminder is sufficient for you and for the saints, and is the renewal of your spirits. 10But it was not revealed to thyself alone, but in order that thou mightest show these things unto all. After three days—11for thou must understand first, and I charge thee, Hermas, first with these words, which I am about to speak to thee—(I charge thee to) tell all these things into the ears of the saints, that hearing them and doing them they may be purified from their wickednesses, and thyself also with them.

9. ‘Hear me, my children. I brought you up in much simplicity and guilelessness and reverence, through the mercy of the Lord, Who instilled righteousness into you, that ye might be justified and sanctified from all wickedness and all crookedness. But ye will not to cease from your wickedness. 2Now then hear me and be at peace among yourselves, and have regard one to another, and assist one another, and do not partake of the creatures of God alone in abundance, but share them also with those that are in want. 3For some men through their much eating bring weakness on the flesh, and injure their flesh: whereas the flesh of those who have nought to eat is injured by their not having sufficient nourishment, and their body is ruined. 4This exclusiveness therefore is hurtful to you that have and do not share with them that are in want. 5Look ye to the judgment that cometh. Ye then that have more than enough, seek out them that are hungry, while the tower is still unfinished; for after the tower is finished, ye will desire to do good, and will find no place for it. 6Look ye therefore, ye that exult in your wealth, lest they that are in want shall moan, and their moaning shall go up unto the Lord, and ye with your [abundance of] good things be shut outside the door of the tower. 7Now therefore I say unto you that are rulers of the Church, and that occupy the chief seats; be not ye like unto the sorcerers. The sorcerers indeed carry their rugs in boxes, but ye carry your drug and your poison in your heart. 8Ye are case-hardened, and ye will not cleanse your hearts and mix your wisdom together in a clean heart, that ye may obtain mercy from the Great King. 9Look ye therefore, children, lest these divisions of yours eprive you of your life. 10How is it that ye wish to instruct the elect of the Lord, while ye yourselves have no instruction? Instruct one another therefore, and have peace among yourselves, that I also may stand gladsome before the Father, and give an account concerning you tell to your Lord.’

10. When then she ceased speaking with me, the six young me, who were building, came, and took her away to the tower, and other our lifted the couch, and took it also away to the tower. I saw not the face of these, for they were turned away. 2And, as she went, I asked her so reveal to me concerning the three forms, in which she had appeared to me. She answered and said to me; ‘As concerning these things thou must ask another, that they may be revealed to thee.’ 3Now she was seen of me, brethren, in my first vision of last year, as a very aged woman and seated on a chair. 4In the second vision her face was youthful, but her flesh and her hair were aged, and she spake to me standing; and she was more gladsome than before. 5But in the third vision she was altogether youthful and of exceeding great beauty, and her hair alone was aged; and she was gladsome exceedingly and created on a couch. Touching these things I was very greatly anxious to learn this revelation. 6And I see the aged woman in a vision of the night, saying to me, ‘Every enquiry needs humility. Fast therefore, and thou shalt receive what thou askest from the Lord.’ 7So I fasted one day; and that very night there appeared unto me a young man, and he saith to me, ‘Seeing that thou askest me revelations offhand with entreaty, take heed lest by thy much asking thou injure thy flesh. 8Sufficient for thee are these revelations. Canst thou see mightier evelations than those thou hast seen?’ 9I say unto him in reply, ‘Sir, his one thing alone I ask, concerning the three forms of the aged woman, that a complete revelation may be vouchsafed me.’ He saith of me in answer, ‘How long are ye without understanding? It is your double-mindedness that maketh you of no understanding, and because your heart is not set towards the Lord.’ 10I answered and said unto him again, ‘From thee, Sir, we shall learn the matters more accurately.’

11. ‘Listen,’ saith he, ‘concerning the three forms, of which thou enquirest. 2In the first vision wherefore did she appear to thee an aged woman and seated on a chair? Because your spirit was aged, and already decayed, and had no power by reason of your infirmities and acts of double-mindedness. 3For as aged people, having no longer hope of renewing their youth, expect nothing else but to fall asleep, so ye also, being weakened with the affairs of this world, gave yourselves over to repining, and cast not your cares on the Lord; but your spirit was broken, and ye were aged by your sorrows.’ 4‘Wherefore then she was seated on a chair, I would fain know, Sir.’ ‘Because every weak person sits on a chair by reason of his weakness, that the weakness of his body may be supported. So thou hast the symbolism of the first vision.

12. ‘But in the second vision thou sawest her standing, and with her countenance more youthful and more gladsome than before; but her flesh and her hair aged. Listen to this parable also,’ saith he. 2‘Imagine an old man, who has now lost all hope of himself by reason of his weakness and his poverty, and expecteth nothing else save the last day of his life. Suddenly an inheritance is left him. He heareth the news, riseth up and full of joy clothes himself with strength, and no longer lieth down, but standeth up, and his spirit, which was now broken by reason of his former circumstances, is renewed again, and he no longer sitteth, but taketh courage; so also was it with you, when ye heard the revelation which the Lord revealed unto you. 3For He had compassion on you, and renewed your spirits, and ye laid aside your maladies, and strength came to you, and ye were made powerful in the faith, and the Lord rejoiced to see you put on your strength. And therefore He showed you the building of the tower; yea, and other things also shall He show you, if with your whole heart ye be at peace among yourselves.

13. ‘But in the third vision ye saw her younger and fair and gladsome, and her form fair. 2For just as when to some mourner cometh some piece of good tidings, immediately he forgetteth his former sorrows, and admitteth nothing but the tidings which he hath heard, and is strengthened thenceforth unto that which is good, and his spirit is renewed by reason of the joy which he hath received; so also ye have received a renewal of your spirits by seeing these good things. 3And whereas thou sawest her seated on a couch, the position is a firm one; for the couch has four feet and standeth firmly; for the world too is upheld by means of four elements. 4They then that have fully repented shall be young again, and founded firmly, seeing that they have repented with their whole heart. There thou hast the revelation entire and complete. Thou shalt ask nothing more as touching revelation; but if anything be lacking still, it shall be revealed unto thee.’

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