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

That after the Saviour’s Cross at His rising again from the dead the Holy Ghost took up His abode in us permanently.

39 But this He said of the Spirit Which they that believe on Him should receive, for the Holy Ghost was not yet, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.

THE sense of what is before us demands for itself keen scrutiny and to understand sufficiently the depth of the mystery will be (and hardly) the achievement of much acumen. For one who revolves in his mind and looks at each of the holy Prophets, with reason goes first into deep thoughts, How was the Spirit not, albeit so great a choir of Prophets has been set forth who are found uttering in the Spirit the Divine mysteries concerning Christ in many words. For we do not go so far astray from fit thoughts, as to deem that the mind of the saints was bereft of the Spirit. For there shames us and as of necessity calls us unto the belief that they were in truth Spirit-clad, the very fact of prophecy and the things found in the holy writings.

For Samuel saith to Saul, The Spirit of the Lord shall spring upon thee and thou shalt be turned into another man, and of the blessed Elisha himself is it written, And it came to pass as the minstrel was playing that the hand of the Lord came upon him. And our Lord Jesus Christ Himself also testifieth of the blessed David that in the Spirit he speaketh mysteries. And many things may one readily heap up akin to what have been said, whereby one may exceeding easily see that the saints are Spirit-clad. But in things so obvious it were superfluous or even burdensome to weary with long discourse. How the Spirit was not, we must accurately search; for I think we must deem that the blessed Evangelist speaketh true.

Therefore the very truth, let God the All-wise, know; for we ought not too busily to apply ourselves to things above us. But as far as we can see by pious reasonings, something of this sort comes to us. This rational living thing on the earth, I mean man, was formed from the beginning in incorruption. And the cause of his incorruption and of his abidance in all virtue was evidently that the Spirit from God indwelt him; for He breathed upon his face the breath of life, as it is written. But he having from that ancient deceit turned aside unto sin, then by degrees in succession received much advance thereto, along with the remaining good things he suffers the loss of the Spirit and so at length became not only subject to corruption but also prone to all sin. But when the Framer of all designed (doing exceeding excellently) to gather up all things in Christ, and willed to recover again the nature of man to its pristine state, He promises along with the rest to give anew to it the Holy Ghost also, for no otherwise was it possible to get back to unshaken stability in good things. He defines therefore the time of the Descent of the Spirit upon us, and promises saying, In those days (those of the Saviour that is) I will pour out (to wit of My Spirit) upon all flesh. But since the time of this munificence brought the Only Begotten upon earth with Flesh, that is, made Man of a woman according to the Holy Scripture, God the Father began to give again the Spirit, and Christ first received the Spirit as First-fruits of the renewed nature. For John bare record saying, I saw the Spirit descending from Heaven and It abode upon Him.

But He received It, how? for we must needs investigate what is said. Was it then as not having? we say not so, God forbid. For the Spirit is the Son’s Own, and not supplied from without, as the things from God come to us from without, but inexists in Him naturally even as in the Father, and through Him proceedeth to the saints, apportioned by the Father as beseems each. But He is said to have received, in that He became Man, and it beseemed man to receive. And He, Son of God the Father and begotten of His Essence even before the Incarnation, year rather before all ages, nothing shames when God the Father says to Him when He became Man, My Son art THOU this day have I begotten Thee. For Him Who God before ages was begotten of Him, He says that He has this day begotten, that in Him He may receive us into sonship, for the whole human nature was in Christ, in that He was Man: so is He said to the Son who hath His Own Spirit, to give It, that we in Him may gain the Spirit. For this reason therefore does He take hold of the seed of Abraham, as it is written, and in all things was made like unto His brethren. The Only-Begotten therefore receives the Holy Ghost not for Himself (for His and in Him and through Him is the Spirit, as we before said) but, since He, having been made Man, had our whole nature in Himself, that He, might uplift it all transfashioning it unto its olden state.

Besides what has been said, we must consider this too. For we shall see by going through wise reasonings, and confirmed thereto by words out of the Divine Scripture, that not for Himself did Christ receive the Spirit, but rather for us in Himself, for all good things flow through Him into us too. For since our forefather Adam being turned aside by deceit into disobedience and sin, did not preserve the grace of the Spirit, and thus in him the whole nature lost at last the God-given good, needs did God the Word Who knows not turning, become Man, in order that by receiving as Man He might preserve the Good permanently to our nature. Of such mysteries will the Divine Psalmist himself too be our exponent: for thus saith he to the Son, Thou lovedst righteousness and hatedst wrong, therefore God, Thy God, anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows. For since (says he) Thou ever lovedst righteousness (for Thou art Righteous, O God, never able to be turned aside therefrom) and hatedst wrong always (for hatred of evil is innate in Thee of Nature as the Righteous-loving God): therefore hath God the Father anointed Thee, for Thou Who possessest unchangeable Righteousness as an Excellence of Thine own Nature, couldest never be moved unto sin which Thou knewest not: and thus, Thou preservedst undoubtedly in Thyself (in that Thou wert made Man) to the human Nature, the Holy Anointing from God the Father, i. e., the Spirit. The Only-Begotten was made therefore Man as we, that in Him first the good things returning and the grace of the Spirit rooted might be preserved securely to our whole nature, the Only Begotten and Word of God the Father lending us the Stability of His Own Nature, because the nature of man had been condemned in Adam as powerless for stability and falling (and that most easily) into perversion. As then in the turning of the first the loss of good things passes through unto the whole nature: in the same way I deem in Him too Who knoweth not turning will the gain of the abidance of the Divine Gifts be preserved to our whole race. And if we seem to any not to think and speak altogether what is proper, let him come forward and tell us why the Saviour has been called by the Divine Scriptures the Second Adam. For in that first one, the human race proceeds from not being unto being, and having come forth, decayed, because it had broken the Divine Law: in the Second, Christ, it riseth up again unto a second beginning, re-formed unto newness of life and unto a return of incorruption, for if ought be in Christ, a new creature, as Paul saith. There has therefore been given to us the renewing Spirit, that is, the Holy, the occasion of everlasting life after that Christ was glorified, i. e., after the Resurrection, when having burst the bonds of death and appeared superior to all corruption, He lived again having our whole nature in Himself, in that He was Man and One of us.

And if you investigate the reason why not before the resurrection but after it did the pouring forth of the Spirit take place, you will hear in reply, Christ became then the firstfruits of the renewed nature, when making none account of the bands of death He lived again as we have just now said. How then should those be quickened before the Firstfruit who come after It? For as the plant will not shoot up from the earth, if it be not surely sprung from its own root (for thence is the beginning to it of growth): so it were impossible that we having for our root unto incorruption our Lord Jesus Christ, should be seen springing up before our root. But He shewing that the time of the Descent of the Spirit upon us was now come, after the revival from the dead, He breathed on His disciples, saying. Receive ye the Holy Ghost. For then was the time of the renewal indeed at the doors, yea rather within the doors. And let the searcher after learning again see whether what we say on these things too be not true. For in the beginning, as said the Spirit-clad, Moses, to us, the Creator of all, taking dust of the ground and having formed man, breathed upon his face the breath of life. And what is the breath of life, save surely the Spirit of Christ Who saith, I am the Resurrection and the Life? But since He fled away from the human nature, the Spirit which is able to gather us and to form us unto the Divine Impress, the Saviour gives us this anew bringing us again unto that ancient Dignity and reforming us unto His own Image. For therefore does Paul too say to certain, Little children of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.

Let us consider again (for I will take up again the aim of my discourse) that in the holy Prophets there was a certain rich shining upon and torch-illumination from the Spirit, mighty to lead them to the apprehension of things to come and the knowledge of things hidden: but in those who believe on Christ, we are confident that not torch-illumination simply from the Spirit, but the Spirit Itself dwells and has His habitation. Whence rightly are we called temples too of God, though no one of the holy Prophets was ever called a Divine Temple. Since how shall we understand this, and what shall we say when we hear our Saviour Christ say, Verily verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist, notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than he? And what is the kingdom of Heaven? The gift of the Holy Ghost according to that which is said The kingdom of Heaven is within you: for the Spirit hath His habitation in us through faith. Seest thou then how He preferreth before every one born of a woman him that is in the kingdom of Heaven even if he be below the perfect? And let no one think that we make little of the glory of the virtue of those Saints or say that those even of least account are superior. For we say not so; for incomparable is the beauty of their conversation. But for clear understanding let us briefly interpret what has been said by our Saviour. Great in truth was the blessed Baptist and through all virtue most renowned, attaining at last to the very bounds of that righteousness which belongs to us, so that there is nought above it. Yet did he who was in this case beseech of Christ saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee and dost Thou come to Me? Seest thou how being perfect, as far as pertained to men and the born of women, he beseeches to be in a manner new-created and re-born through the Holy Ghost? seest thou how he yields the greater to those new born, by his saying that himself has need of this? for if he were in better case not baptized, what persuaded him to beseech to be baptized? But if he knew that he would be in better case, when baptism came, how does he not yield the palm to those already baptized? Greater therefore than John himself does Christ say that he is who is lesser in the kingdom of Heaven, i. e. the new baptized, who has not as yet attained excellence in work;—in this only that the blessed Baptist was yet born of a woman, but the other is begotten of God as it is written, and has become partaker of the Divine Nature, indwelling in him the Holy Ghost and already called a temple of God.

But I will recur again to what was before us. The Spirit came to be in the Prophets for the need’s sake of prophesying, He indwelleth now through Christ in believers, having begun in Him first when He was made Man. For as God He has unceasingly the Spirit Who is Essentially of His Nature and His own. He is anointed for our sakes and said to receive the Spirit as Man, not for Himself bringing in the participation of the Divine good things, but for the nature of man as we have already taught. When then the Divine Evangelist says to us, For the Spirit was not yet because that Jesus was not yet glorified, let us understand him to mean the full and complete habitation in men of the Holy Ghost.

40 Of the people therefore some when they heard this saying said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. 41 Others said, This is of a truth the Christ.

Astonishment-stricken are they at His confidence as being God-befitting, and seeing that His words no longer suit the measures of man, they betake themselves to memory of the Law, as having already fore-declared of Christ, and saying that a Prophet should be raised up like to the all-wise Moses who should interpret to Israel the words from God. For so says God concerning Him to the holy Moses, I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren like unto thee, and will put My words in His mouth and He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him. From the quality therefore of His words, and the superiority of His sayings, do they say that He is already shewn to be Him who was fore-heralded through the Law. For to whom will it belong to say, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink, and, He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water, save only to God by Nature? and this is the Christ. And even though the Jews thinking meanly of Him, call Him merely a Prophet, not knowing the excellence above all of Emmanuel, but meting Him like one of the rest, in this too again will they be caught applying themselves very much without understanding to the thoughts contained in the Law: for they deem that the Christ is other than the Prophet of the Law. And no marvel if the people lack accuracy herein, where the God-opposing multitude of the haughty Pharisees is itself found sick with an equal ignorance with that of the people. For in astonishment at the blessed Baptist it once said, Why baptizest thou then, if THOU be not the Christ nor Elias neither the Prophet? For whereas two were looked for as to come, I mean the Prophet of the Law, i. e., Christ, and Elias, they were enquiring about three, imagining that the Prophet was other than Jesus. Seasonably therefore may one say of them what is spoken by the Prophet Ezekiel, As the mother, so her daughter; thy mother’s daughter art THOU: for the people is sick with a sickness kin to that of their rulers. But we must observe that they were already full-prepared to believe, and are persuaded by the Saviour’s words to marvel at Him, yet not having the leading of the rulers, they are borne along a many-branching path of ideas, some calling Him and now believing Him to be the Christ, others the Prophet, for the word of a truth annexed, has an emphasis of reasoning now fully confirmed and bringeth in the idea of faith accepted.

42 Others said, Doth Christ come out of Galilee? said not the Scripture that of the seed of David and out of Bethlehem the village where David was Christ cometh?

No careless search do the Jews make about Christ, for they were found going through every idea and through varied ideas gathering the perception of the truth. For having first marvelled through His Words, and already taken the eminent confidence of His instructions as a guide to their conjecturing something great about Him, they search besides the Divine Scripture, thinking to find thence a most unerring conception of Him: for so is its nature. That He shall be therefore of the seed of the thrice-blessed David and shall be revealed in Bethlehem of Judæa, they believe, persuaded by the prophecies concerning this. For the Lord sware in truth unto David, saith somewhere the wise Melodist, and will not reject Him, Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. And the Prophet saith, And thou Bethlehem house of Ephrata, little art thou to be among the thousands of Judah, for out of thee shall He come forth unto Me to be Ruler of Israel, and His Goings forth from the beginning, from the days of eternity. But the unassisted mind of the Jews was astray and failed of Christ merely on account of Nazareth situate in Galilee, wherein was the common report that our Lord was brought up. For so says one of the holy Evangelists, And He came to Nazareth where He had been brought up. But they not knowing that He had been born in Bethlehem of Judæa of the Holy Virgin which was of the seed of David (for she was of the tribe of Judah by descent), from merely our Lord having been brought up at Nazareth fall away from the truth and miss of sound reasoning.

43 There was therefore a division among the people because of Him.

To no purpose do they wrangle and are split into diverse opinions, some supposing that He is the Prophet, others the Christ. And the cause of their division, that they know not Christ, nor understand the accuracy of the Holy Scriptures: for else would they believing that none other is Jesus than the Prophet of the Law, have departed from their unseasonable dispute.

44 And some of them would have taken Him, yet no man laid hands on Him.

They who had been sent by the chief priests and Pharisees to take the Lord, made the dissension of the multitude with one another a seasonable pretext for their daring deed. For they imagined that they would with less dispute suffer them to bear Him away, as no longer careful what should befall Him, but that as having been an occasion of fighting and disturbance, they would be altogether glad at His being insulted. Yet no man laid hands on Him, not from reverence to Him, nor yet putting the bridle of piety upon their anger, but checked by His Might alone (for to its own season did He give to endure His Passion for us). And hardly is the device of the Jews appeased, restrained by the hindrance from above. For they might not attempt bloodshed before the time, but must await, ungodly though they be, the time of ungodliness.

45 The officers came therefore to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why did ye not bring Him?

They who had been sent to hunt our Lord, availing to accomplish nought of what had been commanded them took themselves again to the rulers. And they are troubled exceedingly at the arrival of the officers, not seeing them bring Him Who was sought. And believing that what they suspected had already happened, they are smitten with no small fear. For since Christ was marvelled at for His Signs above nature and His Words above measure, they were wasted with the envy that was their foster-sister, and were again in no slight fear lest the people of the Jews deciding that it ought to follow Him, should get clear out of their hand. Supposing that this had happened (for things suspected are evermore ready to be believed) they eagerly enquire saying, Why did ye not bring Him? What was it that hindered you (say they) from bringing to its completion what was pleasing to the rulers? We are more ready to press forward to learn all, and sometimes not discerning what is sorrowful, in our eager desire even seize hold on the perception of things we deprecate.

46 The officers answered, Never man spake thus.

Seasonable in truth is it to say of our Saviour Christ, Who taketh the wise in their own craftiness. behold, behold as it is written, He removed the many-tangled counsel, and shewed the whole nature of affairs turned contrariwise, on all sides exposing the pollution of the rulers and their unholiness of life as being feeble and perilous, who refused not to fight against God. For the chief Priests and Pharisees, fearing lest the people of the Jews should be persuaded by the Saviour’s words, send out officers to take Him, thinking that Christ’s being out of the way would remove their care as to Him. But what they suspected, this they that had been sent by them returned actually suffering, and what it was like that they would shudder at hearing, this they learn even against their will, and hear unexpectedly from those who speak contrary to their mind, Never spake man so.

But since they say these things in excuse for not having brought the Lord, come let us expand what they said, every way considering the sense of what was spoken. For if we delight ourselves (say they) in the teaching of the holy Scriptures, if we boast that we have been instructed in the Divine Laws, if we marvel at wisdom as some unearthly good, why do we impiously drive away One so wise, and wrong in no small measure Him Whom least we ought, seeing that we rather owe Him special Love: yea we subject our own heads to the perils of the Law, thirsting to slay without cause an Innocent and Righteous One. With such a thought may we suppose that the officers’ words were with reason replete. But I think that looking at Never spake man so, one may say somewhat keener. For they well-nigh say thus, Not reasonably do ye blame us who could not now bring you Him That was sought: for how could one compel even against His Will a Man Who in regard to His Words possesseth Divine Nature? for He spake not as man, nor were His Words those befitting man, but they belong unmistakeably to Him Who is God by Nature. For let any say, if any (they say) of the holy Prophets can be found to call himself a brook, or who dared say, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink? when did the mighty Moses himself say to us, He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of water of life: these things we heard Him say. He therefore is by Nature God Who without peril exalts Himself in words above man. But to attempt to hunt as though by necessity and compulsion Him Who is above the creature, how will one not say that it is most perilous? or how could He be taken by us against His Will, Who is as far above us as God above Man? The officers put forth therefore as an evident proof of the Lord being by Nature God, the words Never spake man so. On all sides is the God-opposer smitten, and through what he thought to attain his desire, through the very same is he unwitting slain.

47 There answered them the Pharisees, Have YE too been deceived?

It seems likely that the officers were more strongly Jewish, and ever cleaving to the Pharisees and sharing their common mind, and ever soused with the words of their rulers, were persuaded to think the same with them, as being ever with them. But when they came, no ways bringing the Lord, but astonishment-stricken beyond their expectation, and late and only now marvelling at Him Whom they ought not to have hated at the beginning, and thinking that all the rest ought to be persuaded by them: they say with a kind of deep anguish, Have YE also been deceived? And understand how this saying is replete with a sort of despair of any hope as regards the people. For as though the rest of the multitude had already been deceived, so many as were not over-stable, they put forth their fear as to the officers. For the remaining multitude (says it) of the common people who are not versed in the sacred Scriptures, nor yet fortified by cleaving to us, let it be granted (if so be) to them to be joined to Him with inconsiderate impulses, and easily-caught to agree to what He hath said and done: but whence hath this error been admitted by you too? how have yourselves also been deceived? what was it drew you off from your love to us, albeit withered in equal unbelief with us? something like this does the Pharisees’ word seem to tell us.

48 Hath any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on Him? 49 but this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.

They fall away to their wonted boastfulness, casting imputation of unlearning on those who marvelled at Jesus as a wonder-worker and as bringing in things God-befitting, and crown their own heads alone with skill in the law and knowledge of the holy Scriptures. And because themselves consent not to those who rightly marvel at these things, they believe that they are full of virtue. And as though the Law bade them find fault with things worthy of marvel, and cast a perverse judgment on things that surpass wonder, they plume themselves not a little, demented and of too great lightness easily cast into all uninstructedness. And whence they the rather ought to acknowledge Jesus now present, thence are they taken wronging themselves and weighting their collar, as it is written, for professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. Albeit it had been far better to confess that they knew not the Law, than thinking and saying that they knew it well, and then dishonouring Him That was proclaimed thereby, to fall into keener doom and be pierced with woes past escape. For he which knew, (He says) his Lord’s will and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes, but he that knew not and did not, shall be beaten with few stripes. Therefore in confessing that they know the Law, themselves full well accuse their own unbelief, and laugh at the multitude as unlearned and therefore caught by our Saviour’s miracles, then unable to dissuade them through the declarations of the Law, they boastfully insult, calling them uninstructed who were ready to understand. For this is ever the wont of more ignorant teachers who having nought to say of what they are asked, repel by anger the minuteness of enquirers. And they say that they who believe are cursed, while themselves would more rightly be persuaded to say this of their own selves. For it better befits the unbeliever to be accursed, seeing that the Law declares clearly of the Prophet our Saviour Christ, And it shall be whosoever will not hearken unto the words which that Prophet shall speak in My Name, that soul shall be destroyed from among his people.

50 Nicodemus saith unto them, he who came to him aforetime, being one of them, 51 Doth our law judge a man before it heareth him and know what he doeth?

One of the rulers is Nicodemus, and he is numbered among those who had authority, yet not wholly unbelieving nor altogether vying with their folly, but already pricked, not indeed having his love to Christ yet free, yet to some degree feeling shame at the convictions of his conscience. For that he came to Him by night, and affirmed that he knew well that He was a teacher come from God and that no one could do such signs, except he had God with him, I think that all have learnt, the blessed Evangelist having clearly said it at the beginning. He therefore marvelling at Jesus along with the multitudes, is somewhat smitten at being styled along with them cursed. For consciousness is quick at persuading not to be quiet in things contrary to one. As therefore aggrieved hereat, he returns upon them equal insult, not yet openly, but putting forth against them his indignation in words which have their strength out of the Law, and not in unveiled openness. For whereas the Law (he says) tells judges on each question before them, And thou shalt enquire diligently with exactness and clearness, whether it be so; ye judged recklessly those who had not been yet called to trial, and before hearing ought of them, ye bring against them so hasty a sentence. It is YE therefore (he says) who are more truly cursed, despising the Law. For it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the Law to do them. For in that he is indignant at the Pharisees for condemning the people for only marvelling at Jesus, it is clear that he agrees with those who do believe. For being still sick of an harmful shame, and not yet mingling boldness with his zeal, he permits the faith that is in him to be not seen uncovered, but casting about it dissimulation like a darksome cloak, he as yet conceals that he is on Christ’s side; yet is he sick with a grievous sickness.

For we ought to believe fearlessly, glorying rather than ashamed, practising a transparent openness, and refusing slave-befitting dissimulation, for therefore did the wise Paul declare that he that rightly divideth the word of truth ought to be a workman unashamed, and himself too shewing the virtue that shone forth in himself somewhere says, For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.

Keen therefore (for I will resume again what I was saying) is Nicodemus’ speech: for why did himself alone speak and withstand the words of the Pharisees, albeit their bloody confederacy had many others in it? But it is clear to every one, that since he was numbered among those who marvelled at Christ, he is shewing that they are accursed in their turn who lay a curse upon those whom they least ought.

52 They answered and said unto him, Art THOU too of Galilee? search and see that out of Galilee hath not arisen a prophet.

Being a Jew (it says) and home-born, why dost thou feign to have no knowledge of the Galileans, and art strangely co-ignorant of our matters with those who are absolutely ignorant? and being most conversant with the most sacred Scriptures, and versed in the appointments of the Law, whence knewest thou not (he says) that it is not possible to look for a Prophet out of the Galilæans? This then is the aim of the Pharisees’ words. But we must notice this again: they spurn the multitudes as knowing nought of the things they ought to have had accurate knowledge of, and finding fault with their extreme want of learning; and loathing them and haughtily styling them uninstructed, themselves are caught sick of yet worse, and no wise differing from their inexperience. For those on receiving the miracles done through Christ, and gathering little by little faith in Him, at one time said, Christ when He cometh, will He do more miracles than these which this man hath done? at another time drawn off from so right an opinion, they missed only from Nazareth being situate in Galilee wherein the Divine Scripture proclaims that the Lord was brought up, and they therefore said, Doth Christ come out of Galilee? said not the Scripture that of the seed of David and out of Bethlehem the village where David was, Christ cometh? But these loudly laughing at the ill-instructedness of the people and calling them cursed therefore, were in no superiority to their ignorance. For see they too say, Search and see that out of Galilee hath not arisen a prophet.

But one may with reason moved against them say, O ye who yield to none the palm in ill-instructedness, ye who have missed and are hard, where is the boast of your pride, a footprint of wisdom in you? where the understanding that belongs to those learned in the Law? for we ought not to doubt of our Saviour Christ, but to believe, nothing hesitating, God the Father saying of Him to holy Moses, A Prophet will I raise them up from among their brethren like unto thee. From among their brethren, how must it not surely mean of the Jews and of Israel? Verily ye shall not need accusers from without, yourselves of yourselves shall be convicted of being without understanding. For whereas our Saviour Christ teacheth and openly saith, I have come down from heaven not to do Mine own will but the will of Him That sent Me, ye were then thinking bitter things, and full besides of no slight wrath, ye said again, Is not this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother WE know? how saith He now, I have come down from heaven? Since then thou confessedst in plain words that thou knewest exactly His father and mother, thou knewest surely that He is of the root of Israel: how then saidst thou that He was a Galilæan Who was born of Jews? how an alien Who was of Israel? for not surely the having been brought up in Galilee, and having spent some time there, removes him that is of Israel from his race, since nought would hinder him that is sprung of Galilæans from being a Jew by race if he should come into the land of the Jews. Vain therefore is it for the Pharisees wise in their own conceits to say of Christ our Saviour, that out of Galilee hath not arisen a Prophet. For they should rather have enquired how it was that He Who was of Jewish parents came to be a Galilæan, and so at length to consider His bringing up at Nazareth, and not on this account stray away from believing.

But we must observe again that no wise able to find fault with His miracles, albeit whetted to the uttermost hostility, they gainsay from merely His country, since He was (according to their surmise) from Galilee. Their suspicion thence being therefore loosed, not doubtful at length would have been their faith, if they had been wise.

8:12 Again therefore spake Jesus unto them, saying, I am the Light of the world.

As we said that Jesus had made His Discourse in accordance with what was written of the feast, when at its last day He was standing crying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink, because the oracle of Moses had made mention of the brook: so now too does He make His explanation most seasonable, and due to the nature of things. For since He saw that the teachers were partners in folly with the multitudes and that the laughers were sick of the like with them they laughed at, drenched (so to speak) all of them in one night of unlearning and seeking to get hold of His Mystery yet finding nought at all, He brings forward the reason of the want of understanding that is in them, crying, I am the Light of the world. Ye (He says) going through the whole holy Scripture and thinking to test the things spoken of Me through the Prophets, are far astray of the way of Life. And no marvel: for He is not in you Who revealeth mysteries and illumineth the whole world, and like a sun shineth into the hearts of them that receive Him. And needs must he who has not within him the Divine and spiritual Light surely walk in darkness and stumble on many absurdities therefrom.

But that the Only-Begotten is by Nature Light, as beaming forth from God the Father Who is by Nature Light, we have shewn at great length in the first book, on the words, He was the Very Light.

But we must note again that He says that He is the Light not specially or solely of them of Israel, but of all the world. And herein He tells a thing most true: for He says that He it is Who infused into all the nature the light of understanding, and like some deposit of seed sowed the understanding befitting man in every one who is called into being, according to what is said of Him, He was the Very Light Which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. But I think that there is something keen deep buried in the words. For if what He had said were not replete with something of this kind, He would have merely said, I am the Light. But since He hath added, Of the world, I think that now too He wills something of this sort to be hinted. God was known in Judæa alone, in Israel alone was His Name great; and all the rest of the earth a deep darkness filled, not one of those that were in the world possessing the Divine and heavenly Light, save only Israel.

But as then while all the nations in this world were together banished from the knowledge of God, and lay as it were in some rank of their own, the Lord’s portion was His people, Israel the cord of His inheritance: so again when the spiritual sun was transferred unto the whole world, and the light taken away from them of Israel and removed unto the Gentiles, Israel was found to be external to all: for while they waited for light darkness came to them, as it is written, awaiting brightness, they walked in gloom. Not in vain then saith the Saviour when communing with the Pharisees, I am the Light of the world, for He threatens well that He will remove from Israel and will transfer the grace unto the whole world, and will spread forth the ray of Divine knowledge at last upon others.

But we must observe that although by His hearers He was seen as Man and with flesh, He does not say, In Me is the Light, but, I am the Light, that none divide Christ after the Economy of the Incarnation into a pair of sons: for One Lord Jesus Christ, as Paul saith, both before Flesh and with Flesh, and One and Alone in Verity Son is the Word of God the Father, even when He was made Man, not counted apart from the Temple that was taken of a woman: for His Own is the Body, and to wholly sever after the Incarnation, as regards Sonship, is not free from blasphemy. But we must know that though we say that the Word of God was made Flesh, we do not say that He was clad in flesh alone, but in the word flesh we signify the whole man.

He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

He is again persuading them on all sides to aim at hunting after what is profitable, and to desire rather to be led by His appointments, than to choose to follow their own unlearning and bereave themselves of everlasting life. He shews how great shall be the profit to those who are obedient to Him, seeing He is by Nature Good and willeth all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. But since He knew as God that they would gainsay, He fashions His speech after an elder image of things and from what had befallen their ancestors He declares plainly that the desire to follow Him will be to their great profit. It was written then of them of Israel, that in the daytime also He led them with a cloud and all the night with a light of fire. For when they were crossing the wide desert, hasting unto the Land of promise, a cloud was suspended over them like a roof in the day driving off the sun’s flame, by Divine Counsel that is: by night a pillar of fire contending with the darkness and marking out to the travellers their un-erring road did lead them. For just as they who at that time followed the guiding and conducting fire, escaped straying, and were borne straight forward along their right and holy ground, recking nought of night or darkness: so he that followeth Me, i. e., who goeth in the track of My teachings, shall in no wise be in the dark, but shall gain the light of life, that is, the revelation of My mysteries able to lead him by the hand unto everlasting life. The Lord being a skillful workman in His speech, in no wise provokes the Pharisees, who rage and rave not a little, by telling them more openly that they shall both abide in the dark and shall die in their unbelief: but in other guise does He tell them this, transferring unto the better the force of His speech. For whereby He here promises that he who has chosen to follow Him shall have the light of life, by this same does He shew covertly, that by refusing to follow they shall have dearth of that light which availeth to recover them unto life. For is it not clear to all and unhesitatingly to be received, that to those who flee what cheers, the reverse must needs befall? True then was the word of our Saviour and undoubted that which was contrived through His skill.

13 The Pharisees therefore said, THOU bearest record of Thyself, Thy record is not true.

Dull and slow is the Pharisee, and most hardly led unto the power of seeing the Godhead of the Lord: he errs again by reason of the flesh, and imagines nought beyond what he sees. For while seeing that He uses utterances beyond man and hearing words most God-befitting, he yet conceives of bare man, not looking to the illustriousness of the Godhead nor opening the eye of his understanding to look at Emmanuel. For to whom will it belong to say, I am the light of the world, save to One and Alone God That is by Nature? who of the holy Prophets dared to say such a word? what angel ever burst forth such a word? let them traverse the whole God-inspired Scripture and search into the sacred and Divine Word, and shew us this. But they making no account of what necessarily follows, deem that they ought to contradict, and advance hotly to what alone they know accurately, accusal out of love of fault-finding. For they depreciate Him as not being the Light of the world, accusing the things spoken by Him, affirming that not true is His record. For they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge, and suppose that they can overturn and that by chicanery His record, attempting to invalidate it from just merely our own customary ways, not by the commands of the Law.

For where does the Law (let them tell us) say that a man’s testimony of himself is invalid? For wearisome I suppose and unendurable at times is a person’s witnessing excellences to himself: and verily the most wise compiler of Proverbs saith, Let thy neighbour praise thee and not thine own mouth, a stranger and not thine own lips. Yet not altogether false is that which is said by any of himself. For let any of the Pharisees come forward, and let him tell us what we shall do when the blessed Samuel testifies most excellent things to his own self. For he is somewhere found to be making his defence to those of Israel and saying, The Lord is witness against you and His anointed is witness this day that ye have not found ought in my hands. But if the Law forbad any one to witness to himself, how (tell me) came Samuel to set it at nought, albeit the Divine Scripture saith of him, Holy was Moses and Aaron among His priests, and Samuel among them that call upon His name, they called upon the Lord and He answered them, in the pillar of the cloud did He speak unto them, they kept His testimonies and the ordinances that He gave them. Seest thou how he was conjoined with Moses as having virtue commensurate with him, and is witnessed to by the Spirit as an accurate keeper of the Law? How then did he trangress the Law by witnessing to himself, will one say? But he did not trangress it; for he is witnessed to as keeping it, and he hath witnessed to himself. The Law then forbids to none to witness to himself. And moreover what shall we say, when we see the blessed David saying, O Lord my God, if I did this, if I recompensed those that recompensed me evil? yea moreover the blessed Jeremy saith, O Lord God of hosts, I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, but was circumspect because of Thy Hand: and the most wise Paul again, though taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, as himself too testified, openly cries out, For I am conscious of nought of myself.

Let the Pharisee therefore say again of each of these, THOU bearest record of thyself, thy record is not true, even though to those who refuse not to chide the very Lord of all, the behaving most ill to the rest is a matter of course. But this we say, resuming again what we were saying, that the contradiction of the Pharisees is no necessary one taken out of the ordinances of the Law, but made only out of what prevails in common custom, and from the habit not seeming to be one befitting good people. And their contradiction out of the Law is rather railing, to steal away those who are already marvelling at Him and are persuaded that they ought to believe. For they revile Him as not true, and damaging the credit of what He just now said, the wretched ones draw forth the destruction of blasphemy upon their own heads.

14 Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of Myself, My record is true, because I know whence I came and whither I go.

On Christ saying that He is what He is by Nature and truly (for He openly declared, I am the Light of the world) the multitude of the Pharisees unrecking of danger deemed that He spake falsely. For in their exceeding folly they knew not that when some set forth their own nature and tell what is essentially inherent in them, we shall not, if we think aright, suppose that they do so out of boasting, nor shall we say that they are bent on hunting vain-glory, but rather that they declare what they really are. As for example we say that when an angel pointing out his own nature says, I am an angel; when a man shewing what he is says, I am a man: yea, if one should clothe with voice the sun, and it teaching the property of its nature should say; I hasting around the circuit of the heaven, let forth bright light to those on the earth:—one would not reasonably suppose, that it were witnessing to itself things not its, but what it really was by nature. In the same way (I deem) as to our Saviour Christ too, even though He says that He is the Light, He will say the truth, and will be found boasting not less than they in things external to Him.

The many therefore living in ill-instructedness, not understanding Emmanuel, suppose that He is vain-glorious and attack Him as though one of us, and have not shuddered to say, Thy record is not true, to Him Who cannot lie, for guile was not found in His Mouth, as it is written. But it behoved Him to lead by the hand them who were astray, having fallen away exceedingly from the truth, and gone away from right reasoning, and in all forbearance to tell them that they had missed of what was becoming, unholily ascribing the love of even lying to Him Who is from above and begotten of God the Father. For true (He says) is My record, even though I bear record of Myself. For in men is sometimes seen the desire from self-love of witnessing things most excellent to themselves, even though they have them not (for prone to ill is their nature); but to Me (He says) belongs not the power of being sick of the same ills as those on the earth. For I know whence I am, Light of Light and Very God of Very God the Father, having the Nature that is beyond the reach of infirmity. For even though (He says) I became Man because of My Love for men, yet not on this account shall I be deemed bereft of God-befitting Dignity, but I remain what I am by Nature, God. A clear proof of this, is My knowing whither I go: for I shall ascend unto the heavens to the Father of Whom I am. This I suppose one would say pertained not to a man as we are, but to Him Who is by Nature God even though He became Man. Hence the words I know whence I am, indicates that the Son is by Nature of the Father, and the whither I go, a demonstration of God-befitting Authority (for He will ascend as God, above the heavens, as Paul saith); yet hath it some fit threat, even if not altogether clear, against the impiety of the Jews. For that He shall full soon depart altogether from their race, does He here evidently say; and leaving them in dearth of the Divine Light, will prepare them for being in ignorance and deep darkness, as He shews them elsewhere more clearly: for He says, While ye have the Light, walk in the light lest darkness come upon you.

15 YE judge after the flesh, I judge no man.

We shall again find the Lord of all using gentleness most worthy of love; for not with equal wrath does He repay those who blaspheme Him, albeit knowing that they ought to participate in bitter punishment: but imitating the more gentle of physicians, He will (I deem) in this too be rightly marvelled at. For they often make no account of the slights of the sick, but forbearing most patiently make their skill helpful to them, curing what gives them pain, and railed at at times, they explaining what is for the good of health persuade them to be diligent in what is for their good and make known the cause of their sickness. And the Lord Jesus Christ both bears with those who blaspheme Him and reviled He does them good, He binds up the wounds of them who insult Him: yea and most clearly counts up to them the causes of their unbelief in Him, whence their sickness befell them. For YE (He says) judge after the flesh, i. e., ye err, and with great reason, since ye look to this flesh alone, albeit ye ought far rather to give heed to the magnificence of the deeds: believing that I am such an one as you because I am clothed in your flesh, ye have been greatly deceived, and not contemplating the deep mystery of the Economy with Flesh, ye put forth a most ill-advised judgment against Me, saying that the Truth lies. But I shall put off judging you until another time, for God sent not His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved.

I think then that the question before us has been solved not amiss: but one may going through other thoughts also make the sense clear as far as we are able. YE (He says) judge after the flesh, I judge no man. Having nought at all (He says) to find fault with and not able to reasonably blame My Wonder-workings, ye depreciate them only on account of the flesh, and because I am seen a Man as you, ye impiously class Me as nothing. But I (He says) do not for this condemn you; for not because ye are men by nature, shall I therefore esteem you as nothing nor for this shall ye render account to the Judge. I find not fault with the nature, I condemn not Mine Own creation, I say not that there is any transgression in man from his being man. Yet ye by reason of the flesh esteem Me as nought, and for this did ye condemn Me: but I have not so reckoned of you, but knowing that a great and honourable thing is man even though he be made of earth, albeit Very God and in the Form of the Father Who begat Me, I humbled Myself taking servant’s form and made Man: in respect of which alone am I now condemned by you, albeit Myself condemning no man for this. And if I judge My judgment is just and true because I am not alone but I and the Father that sent Me.

“Doth then, will haply one say of those who think contrary to the doctrines of the Church, the Son know how to judge aright, only for this reason, that the Father is with Him when He does so? This being so (and that in truth) what yet hinders from saying that the Son is in a way directed unto uprightness through the Will of the Father, not possessing this in perfectness, nor able of Himself to act irreproachably?”

What then shall WE too respond to their words? Impious, sirs, is your idea and most befitting Jewish folly alone, for not as though not possessing the power of judging rightly of Himself, does the Son so speak; for the Psalmist will testify to Him saying in the Spirit, God is a Righteous Judge. And that none other save He is Judge, Himself will be our witness, saying in the Gospels, For neither doth the Father judge any man, but hath given all judgment unto the Son. Hath then God the Father given the judgment to one who knoweth not to judge rightly? But any one (I suppose) would attribute to the uttermost folly so to deem of the Righteousness of the Father, i. e. the Son. For the Father knoweth His own Offspring and gave Him judgment, and by giving it, clearly testifies His Power to judge aright. It is therefore most manifest, that not as being impotent to judge justly does He say that the Father co-judges with Him, but the words are replete with some thoughts akin to those above and in sequence.

What then He wishes to make known, we will clearly say. YE (He says) O leaders and teachers of the Jews, made an evil and most unjust judgment against Me: for by reason of only the flesh, ye deem ye ought to esteem Me as nothing, although I am by Nature God. But I when I begin to judge of you, shall not put forth such a judgment against you, for not because ye are men by nature, shall I therefore deem it fit to condemn you: but having the Father in all things Co-willer and Co-judge, I condemn you justly. And why? Ye did not receive Him Who cometh from Heaven, ye have not ceased to insult Him That was sent to you from the Father, ye depreciated Me Who came for the salvation of all, for merely the flesh’s sake, spurning far the Law which was ever dear to you. For where (tell me) doth Moses bid you condemn any because he was a man by nature? YE therefore judge and reckon unjustly: for ye have not the Law as your Cowiller herein, but by yourselves are bold to every daring deed, having not the inspiration of the Divine will: but I not so, for having in Myself the Father as My Assessor and Co-approver in all things that concern you, I judge most justly in giving up to desolation your whole country, and burying it in the misfortunes of war, yea in expelling from the very kingdom of Heaven those who have so raged against Him who willeth to save them, and who for this cause came in man’s form.

17 And in your Law it is written that the testimony of two men is true: 18 I am one that bear witness of Myself and the Father too That sent Me beareth witness of Me.

Having said that God the Father will co-judge and co-condemn those who blaspheme against Him, He taketh the pair of Persons unto something else that is profitable. For I (He says) will not refuse to tell you what I am by Nature. For I am the Light of the world. And I would not seem to any to be fond of boasting: for not in external endowments but in those that accrue to Me Essentially do I glory. But if in saying this, I seem to you not competent to receive from you approval for truth, because I am alone and have witnessed to Myself, I will take to Me God the Father co-working and co-witnessing to My Endowments. For He co-works with Me (He says) as ye see, and co-operates. For as far as regards human nature, I should not do any thing at all, if I possessed not the being God by Nature: as far as regards My being of the Father, and having in Myself the Father, I confess that I can accomplish all things, and am witnessed to by the Nature of Him who begat Me: for as having Him in Myself by means of Sameness of Nature, I come to the achieving of all things unhindered. For our Lord Jesus Christ hath of the Divine Nature all-creative Power as God even though He became Man, and He is witnessed to by the Father, having Him Co-worker in all things according as is said by Him, Of Myself I do nothing, but the Father that dwelleth in Me, Himself doeth the works. But we deem that the Father co-works with the Son, not as introducing some other power of His own for the achievement of the things done, to one who was wanting in power (for if we thus conceive, we shall concede that both the Power of the Father and that of the Son are surely imperfect, if ought of miracle be wrought by Them Both, as though One were not sufficient for the need) but conceiving of, and taking the words in more pious wise, we shall say that since there is in Father and Son One Godhead, and the un-differing Authority and Power of the Same Nature, the works of the Son will surely be those of God the Father, those again of God the Father, the works of the Son.

But He saith, I do nothing of Myself, not as though a servant or under-worker, or in position of a learner, and waiting to be commanded by the Father, or instructed in order to accomplish wonders: but rather signifying with all precision, that having sprung of the Essence of God the Father, and like Light produced Ineffably and without beginning from His Innermost Bosom and Eternally co-with Him, and conceived of and being the Image and Impress of His Person, He hath the same Mind so to speak with Him, and the same energy in everything. For that He might clearly teach that He is Co-willer in all things with Him Who begat Him, He says, I do nothing of Myself. Just as though He said, I am not turned out to any private will of My own, which is not in God the Father. Whatever the Nature of the Father wills and judges, this same is surely in Me too, since I beamed forth of His Bosom, and am the Very Fruit of His Essence.

Hard then are these things to explain, and that which is unattainable by the very understanding may not without difficulty be unfolded through the tongue: nevertheless bringing such things as far as in us lays to a pious view, we shall gain to ourselves heavenly reward, and thus preserve our mind unwounded and unmoved by turnings aside unto ought else.

But we must note that the Saviour adding and crying to the Jews, And in your Law is it written, persuades the Pharisees as of necessity to admit the pair of Persons. For I (He says) bear witness of Myself, and the Father will be with Me herein: will therefore the pair of witnesses confirmed by the book of the Law, be accepted by you, or will ye again, looking only to your envy at Me, not keep even the Law that ye admire?

19 They said therefore unto Him, Where is Thy Father?

In this too most especially may one, I deem, and with good reason cry out against the stolidity of the Jews, uttering that word of the Prophet, Behold O foolish people and without heart. For after much discourse and often with them from our Saviour Christ, Who over and over makes mention of God the Father in Heaven, the wretched ones sink down into so great folly as to dare to say, Where is Thy Father? For they think nought at all of Him Who is His God and Father in the Heavens, but look round at and seek for Joseph, believing him to be Christ’s father and no otherwise. Thou seest then how they have been with reason called a people verily foolish and heartless: for able not so much as to raise the eye of their understanding above things of earth, they shew that true it is which was said of them, Let their eyes be darkened that they see not, and bow Thou down their back away. For of irrational creatures is the back bowed, for they have this form from nature, and there is nothing of uprightness in them. And the mind of the Jews has become in some way like the beasts and has declined ever downwards, seeing nothing of heavenly things. For shall we not by the very fact itself, instructed aright in this matter, think and judge truly concerning them? for if they had at all thought of God the Father in Heaven, how would they have sought in place the Unembodied? how (tell me) would they, saying most unadvisedly of God Who filleth all things, Where is He, not fight with the whole Divine Scripture, albeit the Divine-speaking Psalmist, going through (as he was able) his words about God, and attributing to Him the power of filling all things, says, Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit, and from Thy Presence whither shall I flee? if I ascend up into heaven, THOU art there, if I go down to hell, behold Thou, if I take my wings at morning and depart unto the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall Thy Hand lead me and Thy Right Hand shall hold me. Yea and God Himself Who is over all, shewing clearly that He possesseth not nature circumscribed by space, saith to those so unholy Jews, Do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord? what house will ye build Me, or what the place of My rest? Heaven is My Throne and earth My footstool. One may therefore see the Jews in all things without understanding, when they say to the Saviour Christ, Where is Thy Father? except they say this of His reputed father after the flesh, in this too doting.

But it is likely that the words of the Jews had some other deep meaning. For since they thought that the holy Virgin had committed adultery before marriage, therefore they rail most bitterly against Christ as not even knowing from whom He is, saying, Where is Thy father? doting.

Jesus answered, Neither Me do ye know nor My Father, if ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also.

True is the word and in no respect can it be accused of lying. For they who indeed suppose Christ to be of Joseph, or of fornication, and who know not that the Word beamed forth of God the Father, how will they not with reason hear, Neither Me do ye know nor My Father? For if they had known the Word that beamed forth of God the Father, and was for our sakes made in the flesh, according to the Divine Scripture, they would have known Him too Who begat Him. For most accurate knowledge of the Father is through the Son implanted in the understanding of the more zealous after learning, as He too affirmed, saying unto God the Father, I manifested Thy Name to the men, and again, Thy knowledge was made marvellous by Me. For since we know the Son, we know by Him Him Who begat Him. For through Both is brought in the perception of the Other: and when the Father is mentioned, the memory of His Offspring surely comes in with it, and again with the signification of the Son, the Name of Him Who begat Him comes in too. For therefore is the Son a Door (so to speak) and way leading unto the knowledge of the Father. And so does He say, No man cometh unto the Father but by Me. For we must needs first learn (as is possible) what the Son is by Nature; and so, as from Image and most accurate Impress, understand well the Archetype. For in the Son is the Father seen, and in the Nature of His own Offspring as in a mirror, is He Perfectly seen. But if this be true, as it is true, let the God-opposing Arian blush. For needs must the Impress of His Essence be in every way and manner like to Him, lest ought else than what the Father is, be supposed to be perfectly beaming forth in the Son. And if He love to be known in the Son and to shine forth in Him, He knows (I suppose) of a surety that He is Consubstantial too, and in nothing whatever inferior to His Own inherent Glory: for He would not have chosen to be believed to be in lesser case than He is by Nature. And since He loves and has willed this, how must we not needs now confess that the Son is every way like the Father, in order that through Him we may know Him also That begat Him, as we have already said, ascending aright from the Image to the Archetype, and be able to have an unblameable conception of the Holy Trinity?

Thus then he who knoweth the Son, knoweth the Father too. But consider how the Lord after having said the truth to the Jews, interweaves some other device also in His speech; for having said clearly, Neither Me do ye know nor My Father, He draws gently off the mind of the Jews, that they should not think only humanly of Him, nor suppose that He is in truth the son of Joseph who was taken economically but should rather seek and enquire Who is the Word in Flesh, Who His Father by Nature.

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