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Commentary On The Gospel According To Saint John Volumes 1&2

On the feast of Tabernacles, that it signifies the restitution of the hope due to the Saints, and the resurrection from the dead; on the words, Now the feast of the Jews, that of Tabernacles was at hand.

Chap. 7 And after these things Jesus used to walk in Galilee, for He would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews were seeking to kill Him.

AFTER these both words and deeds (he says) Christ again more gladly made His sojournings in Galilee: for this, I suppose, is the meaning of used to walk, yet he shews that His being with them was not of His Own choice, but rather happened of necessity, adding the reason. For the Jews (he says) wished to kill Him. Wherefore He gave Himself over for a long time to the aliens, refusing to walk in Jewry. But I suppose again that in these words no less is Israel found fault with for its extreme perverseness, if indeed the being found among the Gentiles was shewn to be far better than living with it. And this it was that was uttered by the prophet Jeremiah, I have forsaken Mine House, I have left Mine heritage; I gave My loved Soul into the hand of her enemies. For Christ’s being made an outcast because of the impiety of them that persecute Him, and going away among the Galileans, how is it not plainly the giving up of His Own Soul into the hands of her enemies? For the Gentiles are Christ’s enemies, in that they do service to another and worship the creature instead of the Creator, because they had not yet received the faith in Him. And this Himself will teach us clearly, saying, He that is not with Me is against Me. But I suppose every one will say that the Gentiles were not with Christ, previous to their true knowledge of God and faith; they were therefore against Him, and hence in the rank of His enemies. This being so and clearly acknowledged, so great abomination was practised among them of Israel, that He was in better case, living among His enemies, and making His abode with them with whom He least ought was pleasanter, than what was meeter far and more congenial, to be among them who are His kinsmen after the flesh and, on this ground, bound to love Him. With greatest reason then did Christ depart unto the Gentiles, and by the very act of doing so did He in a manner say, that if they did not desist from persecuting Him, and from destroying with their mad folly their Benefactor, Christ would wholly give Himself to those without, and remove unto the Gentiles. As then we said that He hinted this by this act, so again we shall find that by a figure of old did He threaten His departure from Jerusalem.

When then He was ordering the laws about sacrifices, as is written also in Leviticus, having fore-appointed, as for an image of Christ, that a bullock should be brought as a gift and a whole burnt-offering to the Lord, he again outlines Him in another way, saying, If his gift to the Lord be of the sheep, of the lambs and of the kids, for a whole burnt sacrifice, he shall bring a male without blemish, and shall lay his hand upon the head thereof and they shall kill it on the side of the altar northward before the Lord. How then the Mystery of Christ is shaped unto us by these things, we must needs enquire. And first I think we ought to speak of the situation both of the Temple itself at Jerusalem and of the Divine altar, that so we may understand, what is the meaning of that the sheep is not to look straight before it, but rather to be turned toward the north. The territory of the Jews therefore lies in the more southern quarters of the earth, and the temple faces eastward and opens its doors toward the first rays of the sun; yea and the Divine altar itself, reared over against the holy, as it wore in the sight of God, shewed its front to those who enter from the East, its two sides looking one south, the other north. That it actually is as we have said, you may have full proof from the passage of the Prophet Ezekiel. For when he was being taught about the death of Phaltias, i. e., in spiritual vision, he says thus, And I saw, and lo about five and twenty men, their backs towards the temple of the Lord and their faces right away, and they were worshipping the sun toward the east. But if a man worshiping the rising sun have the temple behind him, how must one not suppose that the front of the temple was turned eastward? But in the same position was the Divine altar itself, as we have said. Therefore the front giving entry both of the temple itself and of the Divine altar was to the east: the two sides, one to the south, the other to the north; and the side yet remaining, which is conceived of as the back, looking westward. The things therefore we have said being thus, we shall find that north of it lies the neighbour of Judæa, Galilee, that is, the country of the Gentiles, as it is written, Galilee of the Gentiles, Since then our Lord Jesus Christ was about, after His saving Passion, to depart out of the country of the Jews, and go into Galilee, that is, to the church of the Gentiles, the sheep that was taken in type as a sacrifice, was slain at the side of the Altar so as to look northward, according as it is spoken by the Psalmist of Christ, His eyes look unto the nations.

But since the blessed Evangelist says that He refused His Presence to the Jews, because they were plotting to kill Him, we will add this to what we have said, that we do not consider the withdrawal of Christ as an imputation of cowardice, nor yet will we therefore accuse of weakness Him That is mighty unto all things, but we will accept the mode of the economy. For it beseemed Him not before His time, but in His own time to endure the Cross for all.

3 His brethren therefore said unto Him, Depart hence and go into Judæa, that Thy disciples also may see the works that Thou doest 4 (for no man doeth anything in secret, and himself seeketh to be known openly); if Thou do these things, manifest Thyself to the world. 5 For neither did His brethren believe on Him.

The reputed brethren of the Saviour not yet recognizing God the Word indwelling in His Holy Flesh, nor knowing at the time when they are saying these things, that He was made Man, have still petty conceptions of Him and think far too little of the grace and excellence that is in Him, seeing nothing more than the rest, deluded by the common opinions of Him, thinking that He too was in truth begotten of their father Joseph, and not seeing the hidden provision of the Mystery. For when many (as is like) miracles were being wrought secretly by Christ in Galilee, they persuade Him to seek after vain glory, and advise Him to receive the wonder of the spectators, as though it were some great thing, as though for the sake of this alone, He were willing to perform the several miracles He had wrought, in order that He might just seem an object of wonder to the beholders, and might revel in the praise of men, after the fashion of some whose habit is to seek for glory. For see how they counsel Him to go up to Judœa, and to work miracles there rather, not in order that His disciples might believe on Him, but that they might see the works which He doeth. For (say they) if Thou wilt be known (for this is the meaning of “openly”) be not a worker of marvels in secret, nor, since Thou art preeminent in Thy Power of doing all things, shun publicity: for so shalt Thou be renowned to the world, and more illustrious among beholders. This then is their address here. And profitably does the most wise Evangelist note that not yet had His brethren believed on Him. For it would indeed have been one of the strangest things, that they who through faith had already taken hold of God-befitting acknowledgment of Him, should be guilty of such cold expressions. But at that time having not as yet believed they speak wisely, but when they understanding the great mystery concerning Him had believed, they hasten on to such a height of piety and virtue, as both to be called Apostles, and to attain illustrious piety. This too you have, fore-sung by the voice of Prophets. And verily the blessed Jeremiah says, as to our Lord Jesus Christ, For both thy brethren and the house of thy father, they too despised Thee, and they cried out; of thy followers were they gathered together: believe them not, for they will speak fair words unto Thee. For His brethren who before the faith thought little of Him, and in the words just spoken, all but attempt to cry out against Him, were gathered together through faith, and have spoken fair words unto Him, both aiding others, and striving with words in behalf of the faith. Very watchfully did the Prophet, having named His brethren, profitably add, The house of Thy father, lest they too should be supposed to have been of the blessed Virgin, rather than of His father Joseph alone.

6 Jesus saith therefore unto them, My time is not yet come, but your time is always ready.

The Saviour’s discourse is always overshadowed, for so is it written of Him, And He shall be a Man That hideth His Words. And that this too was contrived to their profit, who that is wise will not say? Not yet therefore is the time (He says) for unrestrained publicity, nor yet of manifestation unveiled unto all, since the mind of the Jews is not yet ripe unto understanding, so as to be able to receive My words without wrath and anger: nor yet doth fit opportunity summon Me now to be altogether made known unto the world, since the Jews have not yet wholly fallen from grace, nor yet so raged against Me, that I must needs at length depart unto others. For this reason then does He say that not yet is His time come, but says that theirs is come, and is always ready. For we say that men of the world may do as they list, no necessity hampering them, or calling them to an opportune economy which avises them whether they ought to do any thing or not, as was the case with Christ. On the contrary, the manner of living of those who have chosen life in the world, is remiss and free from more laborious care, bringing in opportunity ever ready and unfolded unto what likes them best and readily permitting those who practise it, to go whithersoever they list.

When therefore things are necessarily subjected to economies, not every time is fit for doing what has to be done, but that which fits each several duty, according as the nature of the thing demands: but on one who has chosen to live unbound is no such thing imposed: but rather, the path to wherever they would go, is ever most ready and wholly unlet.

7 The world cannot hate you, but Me it hateth, because I testify of it that its works are evil.

Very kindly now also doth the Saviour reprove His brethren, who are still too worldly-minded and disposed, and brings forward a second defence, mingled with skill, whereby He shews that not only are they ignorant Who He is by Nature, but are still so far removed from love to Him, as to choose to live in a way not unconformed to them who admire living in the world, and not rather in virtue. For it would have been verily most absurd to say to everybody else what would be of use, having laid aside all disguise about it, yet not to bestow on His reputed brethren, in far greater measure, things wherewith they, having now the Giver of wisdom, might learn with no slight profit. And this is the custom of our Saviour Christ. For He sometimes seizing favourable opportunity fashioneth great instruction unto His hearers. Ever dear therefore (saith He) to each is that which is akin to it, and identity of habit wondrously bringeth together unto agreement. The world doth not hate you (for ye savour yet that which is of it) but Me it hateth, taking not kindly its being accused by Me for its unseemly deeds. Therefore with safety will YE go up to the feast, I not. For I shall surely dispute and being present tell them what is for their good; but bitter to lovers of pleasure is reproof, and meet for kindling unto wrath him that receives it not in due sobriety of mind.

But in these words again doth the Lord profit us too. For it is profitable not to make one’s reproofs inconsiderately, nor to give to all instruction through reproof, but to know what is written, Rebuke not the bad lest they hate thee (for hatred is not unharmful to us) but rather to be zealous to speak in the ears of them that hear, as it is written. For the world loveth sin, the Lord is a corrector of them that act not rightly: and correction must often be attained by reproof. For the mere enumeration of sin, is a rebuke to those who love it, and the reproof of iniquity, is blame to those who have it. When therefore necessity calls the teacher to administer reproof, and the mode of cure requires this to be gone through, and he that is being against his will instructed by rebuke is exceeding angry, then must the ills of hatred surely arise. Therefore does the Saviour say He is hated by the world, in that it cannot yet bear exhortation with rebuke, when it ought to do so for profit sake. For the mind that is in bondage to evil pleasures, is quite angry with the advice that would persuade it to due sobriety. And these things the Saviour says, not altogether saying that He will not go to Jerusalem, nor refusing to give the reproofs which may be profitable to the sinners, but minded to do this too and every thing else at the fit time. And we must observe that He says something of the same kind to His own disciples also. For when He was encouraging them, and teaching them not to be too indignant at the things that should come to pass, when they should preach Him to the world, and fall into a thousand trials in consequence, He says, If ye were of the world, the world would love his own, but because ye are not of the world, therefore the world hateth you; calling the world here not the visible creation, but rather they who savour the things of the world, by whom one who loves not the same as they and that exceedingly is deemed an hard man and an adverse and an enemy: but akin and dear is he who consents with them, and by sameness of life is entangled together with them in congeniality in baseness.

8 Go YE up unto this feast, I go not up unto this feast, for My time is not yet fulfilled.

The Lord now says clearly that He will not feast with the Jews, or go with them, to partake with them in their rejoicing in shadows. For that which is once said to a few, albeit reputed His brethren, will be extended in its force to the whole race of Israel. For no one will say that Jesus refused to be with His brethren on their own account in particular, seeing He was plainly with them in Galilee, and we must suppose that not without a purpose by reason of His generally supposed relationship after the flesh, did He also dwell with them. It is manifest then, that the whole multitude of the Jews being introduced in a type by His brethren, Christ declines feasting with them, according to that which is said by one of the holy Prophets, I have hated, I have thrust away your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies: for even though ye offer Me whole burnt offerings and sacrifices, I will not accept them, and will not look at your assembly of thanksgiving: take thou away from Me the noise of thy songs and the psalm of thine instruments I will not hear. For God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth, as the Saviour Himself saith. But being a Spirit, He would (one may think) take pleasure in spiritual honours and offerings, for a type too whereof by command of the law, were the sacrifices of oxen and sheep, oblations moreover of frankincense, of fine flour and wine and oil, duly appointed, signifying by more visible forms the many hues of the virtue of them that worship in spirit. Do YE then (He says) who still love the shadow, and are more grossly and Jewishly affected concerning these things, go up to the assembly that is in shadows and types; Me it pleaseth not so to feast; to this feast I go not up, that, namely, in type and outline: for I have no pleasure in it, but rather I await the time of the true assembly, which is not yet full come. For then, then (He says) shall I be together with My company rejoicing in the brightness of the saints, in the glory of the Father, flashing forth extreme brilliance. But He says His and calls the time His own. For His is the feast, He the Master of it. For to Him did the blessed Jeremiah ascribe it, saying to those who have neglected piety to God-ward, and held for nought the desire to excel in goodness, What will ye do in the day of the Assembly, and in the days of the feast of the Lord? For ye (He says) who totally reject all toil for virtue, and have not the bright robe of the love of God, what will ye do in the day of the assembly, how shall ye come in to the Divine and Heavenly Feast, or how shall not the master of the Feast with reason thrust you forth from the most glorious choir of them that were bidden, saying, Friend, how earnest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? Akin to this, and bringing us the same meaning, is that in the Prophet Zechariah, And it shall come to pass (he says) that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of Hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. He says that they which are left shall go up to worship the great King, and to accomplish the feast of tabernacles. For whereas many have been called by grace, not many are they who go up to the city above; for few are the chosen, as the Saviour saith, taken to wit out of every nation. But in saying that they shall go up to worship, he shews that they no longer perform the worship of the law, but rather that in spirit, and keep the feast of tabernacles in truth, well-nigh with clear voice singing that verse of the Psalms, Blessed be the Lord, because He hath heard the voice of my supplication: on Him trusted my heart, and I was holpen, and my flesh revived. For the flesh revived, and will live again, and that not apart from Christ: for He hath been made to us the First-fruits of the resurrection, and the door of the truer feast of tabernacles. And this it was that was said by one of the holy Prophets, I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen. For the tabernacle that fell, of Christ Who is of the seed of David according to the flesh, was first raised to incorruption by the Power of God the Father, according to what is said to the Jews by one of the Apostles concerning Him, This Man delivered up by the determinate counsel. and fore-knowledge of God, ye took by hand of ungodly men’ and crucified and slew: Whom God raised up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible that He should be holden of it, and again, This Jesus God raised up, whereof all WE are witnesses. For that it is the custom of the Divine Scripture, to call Christ, Who was of David after the flesh, David, is not at all hard to see.

9 when He had said these words unto them, He abode in Galilee: 10 but when His brethren were gone up, then went He also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.

Christ dwells gladly in Galilee, and banished from the country of Judæa, takes up His Abode more peaceably and securely, that again the multitude of the Gentiles albeit exceedingly uninstructed, by reason of the error that yet holdeth them, might be shewn to be nobler than those who seemed to be skilled in the law. By this He shewed both His just love for them, and most reasonable hatred of them of Judæa. For how would not He Who knoweth all things before they be, be so affected, as to deem the church of the Gentiles already worthy of the Divine Love, since it was so easily called to believe on Him; and at length to cast off and justly loathe Jerusalem as senseless, He who even before the times of His coming is said to have desired her beauty, according to the voice of the Psalmist, but called the stiff-necked Jerusalem an harlot and an adulteress, and of the like of this what did He not call her? Most clearly in truth doth He by the Prophet Ezckiel say to her, Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the Lord, and by the voice of Jeremiah accuseth her as an adulteress, calling out, As a wife rejecteth her husband, so the house of Israel rejected Me, saith the Lord. As having then according to the fore-knowledge of God-befitting Counsel, surveyed the beauty of the Church of the Gentiles, and the baseness of the synagogue of the Jews in its wicked ways, He already before-loveth the one and goeth in unto her, as to a bride in the chamber, but fore-hateth the other, reserving for the fit time what was due in full measure to each. For He neither brings wholly upon them of Israel punishment before the time, nor gives Himself wholly to Galilee before the saving cross: for then He could with justice and on reasonable causes, withdraw from His Love to them. Having then said that He would not go up to this feast, and having permitted His brethren to do so, if they would; by Himself (for He affirmed that His time was not yet come) does He go up after them, not saying one thing and doing the contrary to what He says (for that would be lying, albeit guile, that is, falsehood is said not to have been found at all in His Mouth) but minded to what He promised. For He goeth not up to feast with them, but rather to admonish them, and (since He came to save) to say and teach the things which lead to life everlasting. For that this was His aim, His not wishing to go with them that were going up, and going up hardly and secretly, not openly and with the joy of those who go to a festival, will clearly shew.

And verily, when at length He was going up to his saving Passion, He went up not in secret, but borne upon an ass’s colt, as a type of the new people, with an almost innumerable company of children preceding Him, fulfilling the part of the people that should be born, of whom it is written, And a people which is created shall praise the Lord. And the children going before were shouting, Blessed is He That cometh in the Name of the Lord, Hosanna in the Highest. Therefore by coming up in secret, He shews that Christ came to Jerusalem by no means to feast with them, but rather to dispute against them: for as we have before said, He doth not wholly depart from Israel, till on being delivered up to death, it is clear that He deservedly did so.

But as to His saying that He would not go up, and afterwards not refusing to go up, you will find the type of it fulfilled long ago in the book called Exodus. For the Divine and most holy Moses was making long stay in the Mount with God, awaiting the law that was to be given by Him. And Israel disregardful of piety towards God, was making a calf in the wilderness. But the Law-giver is justly angered at these things, and having cried out against the lightness of those who so readily turned aside to what they ought not, and having threatened to utterly destroy them at once, at last He says to the holy Moses, Depart and go up hence, THOU and thy people which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt unto the land which I sware to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, Unto your seed will I give it: and I will send an angel before thee. Then Moses says to Him, If Thyself go not with me, bring me not up hence, and how shall it be truly known that I have found grace in Thy Sight, I and Thy people, is it not in that Thou goest with us? And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken, for thou foundest grace in My Sight. Seest thou how He, grieved at the apostacy of Israel, affirmed that He would not go up with them into the land of promise, but said that He would send an Angel, yet out of respect to Moses and the remembrance of their fathers, He granted them pardon and promised again to go with them.

Having then said that He would not feast with the Jews as being haughty and violent, as dishonouring God by their denial of Him, as these did by making the calf, yet being very slow to anger towards the offences of those who grieve Him, and rather fulfilling His Promise to the holy fathers, He goes up to teach and to set before them the doctrines of salvation, not committing such a ministry to an Angel, just as He did not then, but rather being Himself the worker even for the salvation of the unthankful.

11 The Jews therefore were seeking Him at the feast, and said, Where is that Man?

The Jews seek Jesus, not that they may believe on Him when they have found Him (for surely would He preventing their search, have offered Himself, according as it is said of Him, I was found of them that sought Me not, I was made manifest unto them that asked not after Me) but of their exceeding transgression falling into the vain toil of the Greeks, and emulous of their habits rather than of those things whereby it was like that they should be enlightened by the grace from above. For those of the Greeks who seem to be wise, filled with worldly and devilish wisdom, expend long and subtle discourses, and revolve cycles of vain propositions, and weaving the spider’s web, as it is written, make feint to investigate what is the nature of truth or goodness or justice, and, moulding to themselves a shadow only of the true knowledge, abide wholly untasting of the virtue that is in deeds, and remaining destitute of the true wisdom which is from above, make their exercises about words alone to no profit. The Jews again, brothers and neighbours of their unlearning, seek for Jesus, not that they may believe on Him when they have found Him, as the nature of things proved, but that they hitting Him with their many revilings, might bring the fire unquenchable upon their own heads. And in another respect we shall suppose they made most idle search. For they only pretend to seek Him, because He is not present. For (says one) ‘the Wonder-worker ought to be present with the feasters,’ seeking rather pleasure in the enjoyment of it, and not at all the profit from the marvel; but wrapped round in conceit of knowledge of the law, and thinking that they were to no slight degree instructed in the sacred writings, they are unmindful of the Prophet’s voice thus speaking, Seek ye God, and in finding Him call upon Him; when He shall draw nigh you, let the wicked man forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his counsel, and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy. Seest thou how it will not suffice unto salvation to seek only, but when we have found, to turn to also, i. e., by obedience and faith? So might the foolish and refractory people of the Jews have been saved: but since in this too they are found exceedingly unwise, they will at length with reason hear, How do ye say, WE are wise, and the Law of the Lord is with us? in vain to the scribes was their lying pen. The wise men were ashamed, dismayed, taken: what wisdom is in them? because they rejected the Word of the LORD? For how did they not reject It, who received It not? how did they not despise It, who in boorish wise refused not to say of It, Where is That Man? For the expression That Man, belongs to the abandoned, and them who no longer deem fit to wonder at Him, although from His so marvellous working, they ought to have had the most exalted conception of Him.

12 And there was much murmuring of the people concerning Him. Some said, He is good, others said, Nay, but He deceiveth the people.

Ever hard of attainment and difficult of acquirement is goodness, and the power of tracking the beauty of truth is hard of accomplishment to the many, specially the more unlearned and those who have no acuteness of understanding, who from most foolish swayings of thoughts without understanding turn aside to what seems to them easier, and not enduring to prove the nature of whatever offers itself, will never attain to the true quality of things, albeit Paul says, Be ye approved bankers, and persuades us to prove all things, so as by accurate investigation to arrive at the attainment of what is profitable. Let them hear then, who of their exceeding folly marvel not at Jesus but think that it is fit to condemn Him without enquiry, Taste and see that the LORD is good. For as they who prove choice honey by the taste, and from the merest taste perceive what they are in search of, so they who make even a little trial of the words of the Saviour, will acknowledge that He is good, and will marvel in learning it. The wiser then among the Jews plead Christ’s cause, and give right judgment concerning Him, consenting to Him as Good, considering (as is like) this above all, that it would not be possible for one to accomplish the things which God evidently works, unless He were by Nature God, or partaker of God, and therefore Good, to Whom would befit the approval of all, and to be instrengthened with grace from above, even though this were not so in Christ, for Christ is Himself the Lord of powers. But they wade in most absurd imaginations, and go astray far from the truth, who shrink not from calling Him a deceiver, who directs unto the unerring path of righteousness. Let the foolish Jew then hear, Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil, that put darkness for light and light for darkness. For along with approving wickedness, ranks the finding fault with good, and keeping back from evil its most deserved reproof, and casting upon them that are ranged on the side of good the blame which is no wise due unto them. But the charges against them for these their revilings were foretold also, for Woe (He says) unto them, for they swerved from Me, wretched are they because they transgressed against Me: I redeemed them, THEY spake lies against Me.

13 Howbeit no man was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews.

There was murmuring among the Jews, and for fear of the Jews, he says that no man could speak openly, The Divine Evangelist then is calling the rulers of the Jews emphatically Jews, not deigning (as seems to me) to call them elders or priests, or the like, kindled with pious jealousy unto grief to themward, whom with reason does God accuse of destroying His spiritual vineyard, saying in the prophets, Many pastors destroyed My vineyard, they defiled My portion, they gave My longed-for portion for an impassable wilderness, it hath become a vanishing of perdition. For how shall we not suppose that the Lord’s vineyard hath in truth been destroyed by their abominations, when they shewed that even to agree with the good, and only to marvel at that which is worthy of marvel is hazardous? But that this too works a sorer punishment for the rulers of the Jews and the rest of them, what wise man will doubt? Lo, for lo, the whole people fear and tremble before them, yet are not instructed in the law, nor yet taught to live in a fitting manner, although very zealously subjected to their injunctions. For fear is a proof of the very highest subjection. They were compelled then to transgress rather than wisely to look into the purpose of the Law-giver, and (in that they dare not so much as praise what is good) to give by no means a voluntary, but a constrained, judgment of evil against whosoever the others choose, and to condemn as base, Him That is worthy of praise and admiration. Just as a man therefore who has good skill in sea-faring matters, and sits at the ship’s helm, and having her at his command dashes her against the rocks, would be himself held guilty of the wreck: or as if one accustomed to drive, were borne along by swiftest ponies, and being able by the checks of the reins to hold their easily-directed flight whithersoever he would, were to dash the wheels against a stone, not to the ponies would he reasonably attach the blame of the misfortune, but rather to himself:—in like manner, I deem, the rulers of the Jews, having the people of the Jews not only honouring them, but even serving them by fear as well, if they manage them contrary to Divine Commands, shall justly themselves incur responsibility for the loss of all. But that themselves were the cause of the perdition of the people, the prophet Jeremiah will testify, saying, For the pastors became brutish, and sought not out the LORD: therefore the whole flock understood not and were scattered.

14 When it was now mid-feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching.

Temple-befitting is the teaching of our Saviour: for where else should we rather hear the Divine Voice, save in the places where the Divinity is believed to dwell? For God tendeth all things, and will not be conceived of as circumscribed by space, in respect of His Own Nature, but is wholly uncontained by things that are, yet is it more meet that we should suppose that He dwells in the holy places, and we most reasonably deem that the will of the Divine Nature will specially be heard by us in sacred places. But what again was pictured to them of old in type and shadow this now Christ transforms into truth; for God says to the hierophant Moses, And thou shalt set the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimonies that I shall give thee; and there will I be known to thee, and will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, in respect of all things which I shall command thee unto the children of Israel. But our Lord Jesus Christ, when it was now the middle of the feast, as it is written, having entered as God into the holy places dedicate unto God, there speaks to the multitudes, although He went up in secret. As therefore upon the mercy seat in the tabernacle, God’s descent was secret, and then scarcely perceived, when the time for His speaking was come, and to one then also, to the blessed Moses, did God talk, speaking to none other:—so did Christ too instruct the one race of the Jews; and converse with one people, having not yet unfolded His grace as common to the Gentiles. And exceeding well does the blessed Evangelist say, not simply, Entered, but Went up into, the temple. For a high thing, and very far surpassing our grovelling baseness, was His entry into the Divine school, and sojourn in the holy places. But the type of the act is true as to us. For it was Christ who sanctifieth the temple, and of this Moses of old was a type anointing the tabernacle with the hallowed oil, and sanctifying it, as it is written: albeit it needed rather that man should be sanctified by the holy places, than sanctify them: but there is no account taken of things done in a type for the truth’s sake, for the sake of which the things in shadows were moulded, as one may see in the holy Prophets also. For one was commanded against his will to go in unto an harlot, another to walk naked, yea, also to lie upon his right side for many days. These things were performed for the sake of their meanings, and not surely for their own sakes. Thus then, the blessed Moses too was bidden to sanctify the tabernacle, albeit he needed rather to receive sanctification from it, that Christ again may be understood in him, sanctifying His Own Temple, although He lived with flesh among the Jews, and in it spake to the multitude, as did God of old from the mercy seat.

15 The Jews therefore were marvelling, saying, How knoweth This Man letters, having not learned?

Not unreasonable is the wonder of the Jews, but there is something subtle in their argument. For it was likely that they would be astonished at seeing Him strangely excel both in word and knowledge, Who could not have been rich from instruction. For the mind of man is recipient of wisdom, and even though one do not as yet seem wise, yet is his nature exceedingly well adapted to the attainment of wisdom and knowledge on some subjects. But in the case of those who are not well exercised in learning, the natural advantage gets somehow stopped up and dulled; in that of those who are accustomed to go through such toils, and to revel in literary exercises, it is very clear, and apt for good practice, and is found to have no mean store of letters and wise contrivances. The Jews then are astonished, giving heed to the Saviour Christ, not yet as being by nature God, but still as a mere Man, and they marvel that He abounds in wisdom, not having the provider hereof, i. e., practise in reading, for that He knows letters untaught. This too then with the rest is a charge of Jewish folly: for it should have seemed nothing wonderful to them, that Wisdom, the Artificer of all things, that is, the Only-Begotten Word of God, Which was among them lying hid in the form of a Man, should not need letters.

This again must be observed for our profit. For above when they were seeking for Jesus they say, Where is That Man? (as though they knew Him by His miracles alone: not yet knowing accurately, Who, or of Whom, or whence He was) but here not as though ignorant of ought respecting Him, but as knowing all things clearly, they say that He also knoweth letters not having learned. The more obscure enquiry therefore respecting Him of the common people and of those who had no accurate knowledge of Him, uttered Where is That man contemptuously, that of those who knew Him the other. More severe punishment then shall they undergo who were not ignorant than they who were: for to the one their ignorance is an excuse, to the other their knowledge condemnation. Therefore is it said that to some it is better not to have known the way of truth. For in knowledge there is greater punishment, because men are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Jesus then, according to the difficulty of the Jews, knew letters, having not learned, Moses was learned (as it is written) in all the wisdom of the Egyptians: yet as knowing nothing at all, albeit exceeding wise among those, was he instructed unto better knowledge by the oracles from God, the wisdom of the world being convicted as feeble, through the Diviner and more excellent, in which or through which we are instructed in the things of Christ, receiving the understanding which is truly from above and from God. Christ then is the in all things perfectly Good, the one of all things both Wisdom and Understanding, in respect whereof He has the excellency not by teaching, but innate. And verily the Prophet Isaiah saith of Him, that before the Child shall know good or evil, He shall refuse evil to choose good. And let us not foolishly suppose, that the Divine and Heavenly Offspring, in discernment of reasonings or by the choice of the better turneth away from evil, and applies Itself rather to good: but as if one should say of fire, that it refuses cold; its not admitting the being cold does not indicate choice of wills in it, but rather most steady adherence of nature to what is its own, so is it in respect of Christ. For all good things are in God of Nature, and are not introduced from without; and so wisdom too was in Him, yea rather, Himself is properly and specially the Fount of wisdom, through which He gives wisdom in part to those in participation thereof, both Heavenly and earthly reasonable beings.

16 Jesus answered them and said, My doctrine is not Mine, but His That sent Me.

We shall find that indeed true that is written by one of the wise men, The Spirit of the Lord hath filled the world, and the ear of hearing heareth all things. But to those who of utter folly, yea rather of blasphemy, suppose that ought they utter will escape the Divine Mind, the Godlike Psalmist says, Understand, ye brutish among the people, and ye fools, when will ye be wise? He that planted the ear, heareth He not? for how could it possibly happen that He should not surely hear all things, who implanteth the sense of hearing into them that were made by Him?

See therefore in this too again that the Lord is by Nature God. For the secret whispers of the Jews in the crowd He is not ignorant of; He receives them into His Ears in God-befitting way, albeit from fear of the rulers they say nothing openly concerning Him. And when on one occasion certain of those who had rushed together into the temple, marveled and were reasoning (as is like) or gently saying one to another, How knoweth This Man letters not having learned? needs does He again shew Himself Equal to God the Father Who learneth nothing at all, but hath the knowledge of all things by Nature and without learning, because He surpasseth all understanding and soareth above all wisdom that is in things that are. It was then possible for Him from other things too, to shew and to assure His hearers, that whatsoever things are in the Father, these also are in Him, by reason of Identity of Nature: which thing also He used to do in other things also, from being able to do the same things and having like Operation unto all things, mounting up unto Equal Dignity: for what things soever the Father doeth, these (He saith) doth the Son too likewise, and again, For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, so the Son too quickeneth whom He will.

But here it was (I suppose) seasonable and most suitable, to make a demonstration of the most necessary points. For His discourse about wisdom and learning without letters was made with those who had been considering these things. It behoved Him then to shew that this existed in Him, just as in the Father. What then is the mode of proof? From His having Equality of wisdom with Him, even though according to true and wise reasoning, He most surely is Himself Wisdom and of God the Father, to Whom in all things like. He says He teaches the same things with Him, without any distinction. For either on account of the exact likeness of His doctrine to that of the Father, does He say that it is the Father’s, or because He is Himself the Wisdom of the Father, through Which He speaketh and ordereth all things, does He say that the doctrine too is His: yet something else besides doth He dispense, contributing not slightly to the salvation of His pupils. For since they seeing a Man, on account of the flesh which was of earth received not the word as being of God, and therefore seemed to be sick of a plausible unbelief, profitably doth He attribute the teaching to God the Father, yet saying what was true, and from fear of their being fighters against God, if they held out any longer against the decrees from above, persuading them to receive His words.

But we must know that by His saying again that He was sent, He does not shew that He is second in Dignity to the Father. For we must not imagine a mission befitting a servant, even though because clad in servant’s form He might rightly say even this of Himself. But He was sent as Word from Mind, as the Sun’s radiance from itself. For these I suppose are processions from those things in which they are, from their appearing to issue forth, yet exist they naturally and immovably in those things whence they are. For we ought not, because word issues forth from mind, and radiance from the sun, therefore at all to suppose that the things which produced are left of those which have gone forth of them, but rather we shall see both those in these, and these again existing in the former. For mind will never be word-less, nor yet word again without the mind fashioned therein. Analogously to this, shall we conceive of the other also.

17 If any man do His Will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I am speaking of Myself.

We ought uncritically and without all doubt to receive the words of the Truth, and to believe that a thing once said, cannot be otherwise than as it was declared to be. But He permits not His saying to be without proof, on account of the unbelievers, but introduces a most evident and exceeding clear solution, tempering with much skill the fashion of His words. And what the skill is, what the order of the economy, we will again say. They were seeking to kill Him on account of the paralytic, him (I mean) that was healed on the sabbath day. Gently then does He alike scare them from their dreadful purpose against Him, and clearly does He convict those who are travailing with their blood-thirsty purpose against Him, that they were choosing to fulfil their own lust rather than the will of the Law-giver. For then (saith He) shall ye know perfectly of My doctrine, that it is of God the Father, when ye shall choose to follow His Will rather than your own. But the Will of the Law-giver and of God, is to abstain wholly from murder. Then, then (He saith) shall ye, not holden beforehand by unjust hatred, nor thrust forth in brutish guise to no seasonable anger, know clearly, whether the word of My teaching is of God, or whether I am speaking of Myself. Having therefore interwoven reproof with profit, He with justice accuses them, for that they unreasonably mock at what He teaches, though God the Father consenteth and co-willeth, or what also is true, co-teacheth and co-interpreteth. But He puts Of Myself, for, Privately and wholly severed from being after the Co-Will and Purpose of the Father. And I do not suppose any person of sound mind will think that He accuses His own words of being spurious, but says that they will never be otherwise than in accordance with the Will of God the Father. For He speaks by His own Word and Wisdom, His Own Offspring; but That speaks not at all diversely from Himself, for how could It?

18 He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory.

He giveth this evident proof that He doth not labour for His Own glory by His teaching, that He does not use any strange words and foreign to the law (for this were to speak of Himself), but that He is exhorting them rather to be obedient to the former oracles, while He removes only the unprofitable and gross shadow of the letter, and transforms it persuasively unto the spiritual sense, which already lay hid in types. What then He says in the Gospel according unto Matthew, I came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil; this again He indirectly intimates here. For the Gospel polity hath but the transformation of the letter into the truth, and having transfashioned the Mosaic type unto what is more fitting, hath the knowledge of the worship in spirit. Christ therefore speaketh and not of Himself, that is, nothing diverse from the things already foretold. For He doth not put away Moses, nor doth He teach us to reject the instruction of the law, but over what had been shadowed out in type, as it were some brighter tint to overlay the Truth. Very skilfully acquiring the good will of the Jews, does He offer the honour and glory to God the Father. For since the Jews knowing not the Word that had appeared from God the Father, were supposing that the Law had been given by the Father only, with reason did He affirm that He was glorified by the keeping of the Law, and endured the contrary if it were not kept as it ought. But even though the Son is partaker of the glory of the Father, and through Him had God the Father spoken to Moses, He yet assents to their opinions economically. But in that He speaks nothing of Himself that does not agree with the law, He confesses that not surely His own glory is it that He is zealous to build up, but that due to the Law.

Besides this, this too must be observed. For indirectly and darkly, He finds fault with the Jews who are falling into those very things which they ignorantly blame, and are accustomed to snatch at glory for themselves rather than God the Lord of all: and how, I will tell. For they falling away from the commandments of the law, were borne each to what liketh him, teaching, as it is written, for doctrines the commandments of men. For this again well does Christ convict them as transgressors, and as sinning against the very Law—giver, in that they persuaded their hearers not to live after His ordinances, but rather to give heed to their doctrines. Therefore, albeit Christ says still indefinitely and absolutely, He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory, He is reproving the disease of the madness of the Pharisees, in that through their chusing to speak rather their own words, they are stealing the glory of the Lawgiver, and transferring to themselves the things due to God, they thence shun not at length to seek to kill Him. On which account specially convicts He them of transgressing, excusing themselves duly under the pretence that they were zealous to keep the law, and thereby honour God the Father.

But he that seeketh (saith He) His Glory That sent Him, This one is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. As he who doth not seek rather the honour of God but his own, is not true, but most exceedingly unjust: for he is not true, seeing he slandereth the Law, and bringeth in his own will in its place; most unjust too, in that he thrusteth aside the righteous judgment of the Lawgiver, and putteth his own above his Lord’s. Righteous then and true is Christ, obnoxious to none of the aforesaid charges.

19 Hath not Moses given you the law, and no one of you keepeth the law? why are ye seeking to kill Me?

By many devices cometh about the discourse of the Saviour to one aim. For having in the preceding, indirectly blamed (as was meet) the Pharisees who supposed that they ought not to obey the commands from above, but to introduce their own opinions, and were zealous rather to gain honour from those under them, and did not offer it to the Lord of all, but diverted it to their own persons, that thence they were daring to transgress more freely:—He again, in other and severest wise, prepares for them open at length and unveiled reproof. For He being condemned for breach of the sabbath, and enduring the most unjust accusation of lawlessness for this, convicted them not of individually transgressing the law, but that the whole nation of the Jews had made the law of Moses of no account. For tell Me (He saith) ye who condemn the man who is zealous to shew mercy on the sabbath day, who have passed foullest censure upon those who do well, and freely condemn the compassionate, hath not the commandment not to murder been delivered you by Moses, whom ye admire? did ye not hear him say, The innocent and righteous slay thou not? why then do ye grieve even your own Moses, by so readily transgressing the Law that was appointed through him? An argument and clear proof of this, is that ye persecute Me who have done no wrong, and are unjustly eager to slay Him who can never be accused of that whereby He should suffer this.

Very pointed then is the Saviour’s discourse and most severely herein does He attack the mad folly of the Jews, and shew that they who fall as it were with unbridled course unto condemning Him for His transgression of the sabbath, shew themselves transgressors, and chusers of murder, and for this cause alone fall into the worst of all sins. He all but cries aloud, The paralytic who had fallen into a bitter and incurable complaint, and who was spent with weakness at length intolerable, I have healed on the sabbath day: but for My well-doing, I am condemned as though I had been taken in the worst of crimes, and for this ye determined murder against Me. What manner of punishment then (He says) shall be devised for you commensurate with such monstrous deeds? for lo, yourselves too are transgressing the law; but the mode of your transgressions, is not of like nature with the charges against Me. For not as well-doers, like Me, are ye persuaded to do this, but with a view to murder, which is worse than all transgression. How then is Moses with you in these things, on whose account I, though a Preserver, am condemned? did not he appoint you the law concerning this? do not ye again, while trampling on My Word, ignore its transgression, by devising murder unjustly? Such things then might Christ well say to the ungodly Pharisees. But He abstracts the Law for the present from His Own Person, although He is Himself the Lawgiver, and attributes it as it were to the Father Alone, by Him specially shaming into silence the shameless Jews, among whom He was considered greater than He. For, as we have often said, they did not yet acknowledge that He is God by Nature, nor did they yet know the deep mystery of the economy with Flesh, but admired rather the glory of Moses.

20 The people answered, Thou hast a devil; who is seeking to kill thee? 21 Jesus answered and said unto them

They feel the charges, and hit by the bitter words thence proceeding, they betake themselves to denial, not actually repudiating their murderous design, but only with all diligence putting from them the appearance of breaking the Law, the boast of the Pharisees in appearance only. Therefore was Christ wont to call them whited sepulchres also, outwardly clad in the beauty of the ingenuity of art, but within full of the uncleanness of the dead. But I suppose that they say these things to take away fear as to His expecting to suffer anything, not truly giving Him an assurance that He will not suffer, but drawing Him forth unto a hazardous confidence, and thinking to persuade Him not to be zealous to be hid from them. For then it would be no hard matter to plot against Him, at least as they supposed. For they ignorantly deemed, not knowing Him That was persecuted, that He would be obnoxious to their perverseness, even though He willed not to suffer, and would be caught, like one of those who knew not the thought that lay hid in their minds. The fruit then of their stubbornness is their denial, and another kind of blasphemy against Christ. For by what things they endeavour to repel His words, as untrue, they condemn Him as a Liar, adding iniquity to their iniquity, as it is written.

One work I did, and do ye all marvel?

We will read the verse, as a question, with a comma, and a full stop. But we will not be ignorant of the subtle meaning of the word, replete with a most wise economy. For observe how on relating to the Jews His Loving-kindness to the impotent man, He does not say unguardedly, I have healed the man on the sabbath day, and do ye therefore marvel? but more cautiously and far more heedfully, He says, One work I did, soothing the unseasonable anger of the multitude; for it was not unlikely, that they, cut by the transgression against the sabbath, would even now attempt to stone Jesus. For indiscreet of counsel, according to the Greek poets, and prone to anger is ever the multitude, both applying gentlest accord to whatsoever it is minded to, and easily excited like a bull unto intolerable daring, it is caught more apt than it ought in daring undertakings to dreadful ends. Having therefore put away all boast for their profit’s sake, He makes use of the gentlest words and with exceeding moderation He says, One work I did, and do ye all marvel? On account of this one work (He says) although it was wrought for the salvation and life of the prostrate, do ye condemn the mighty Worker thereof, as though for offences truly heinous, and looking only to the honour of the Sabbath, accord not wonder to the miracle? (for this indeed would have been more fitting) but because the commandment of the law has been broken according to your foolish imagination, for no slight or worthless reasons, but for the salvation and life of a man, ye are unreasonably angry, when ye ought rather to praise Him Who is clad with so great and God-befitting power. Untutored then by these things also are the people of the Jews proved to be, expending undue astonishment upon the man that was healed, and not rather offering it to Christ Who miraculously preserveth.

But we must know, that He, in addressing them of Israel and saying, One work I did, and do ye all marvel? again indirectly reproves and makes known something of this kind. For on account of this one (according to you) offence of Mine (He says) ye marvel at My purpose, as though I were bold to thrust aside the Lawgiver: then how deem ye that God feels towards you, who not once merely offend against the Law, but make nothing of transgressing it, in matters for which ye judge others?

22 Therefore hath Moses given you circumcision (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers) and ye on the sabbath-day circumcise a man.

Of deep meaning is the word, and hard to be reached the purpose of the text, but it will be manifest through the grace of Him That illuminateth. Defeating then by many words the uninstructedness of the Jews, and manifoldly teaching them that they ought not to go off to unseasonable wrath on account of the breach of the sabbath, by reason the Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath day: but having at length attained no good effect by reason of the ill-counsel of the hearers, He passes on to another mode of economy, and endeavours to shew clearly that the hierophant Moses himself, the minister of the Law, brake the Law of the sabbath on account of the circumcision, which had extended from the custom of the fathers even unto his own times, that he too might with reason be shewn to be an observer of the custom of the fathers, and since God works on the sabbath, therefore He revealing Himself too as a worker holds that it is in no wise a transgression of the sabbath, by reason of His being ever like minded with the Father. Wherefore He also said, My Father worketh hitherto and I work. In order then (He saith) that ye, beholding Me working on the sabbath day, may not marvel as at some strange and most monstrous thing, Moses hath given you circumcision on the sabbath, and he was beforehand in breaking the Law respecting it. And why? He did not think he should be doing right, in dishonouring the Law given to the Fathers, and their custom, on account of the sabbath day. Therefore a man is circumcised on the sabbath day too. But if Moses considered that he ought to honour the custom of the fathers, and made that superior to the honour of the sabbath, why are ye vainly troubled at Me, and marvel at Me, as though I were one of those wont heedlessly to transgress the Law, out of contempt for the Law? albeit (He says) I work equally with the Father, and ever agree with Him in every purpose: and since He works on the Sabbath day, well do I refuse to be idle thereon. He says that Moses gave them circumcision, although it was not of him according to what has been just said, but of the fathers, because the ordinance of circumcision was given to the fathers, but its rites were more definitely and clearly ordered by Moses. For our forefather Abraham was circumcised, but not on the eighth day, nor was a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons offered for him, in accordance with the rites of Moses.

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