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

That the Son is by Nature God, wholly remote from likeness to the creature, as regards Essence.

YE are of this world, I am not of this world.

HE shewed herein and very clearly what is the meaning of Above, what of Beneath. For since it was like that the Pharisees able to understand nothing would consider what had been said in a more corporal manner, and understand the Above and Beneath of place and would thence stray into many notions, profitably did our Lord Jesus Christ bare His word of the obscurity that seemed to have been cast upon it and from all want of clearness, putting more clearly in the sequel what He had said darkly. For YE (He says) are of this world, i. e., from beneath, I am not of this world, this then is From above. For God o’erpasses all that is created, not having superiority in local exaltation (for it were foolish and utterly uninstructed to conceive of the Incorporeal as local) but surpassing things originate by the ineffable Excellences of Nature. Of this Essence does the Word say that He is, not the creation, but the Fruit and Offspring. For observe how He says not, From above have I been created and made, but rather, I am, that He may shew both whence He is and that He was ever Eternally with His own Progenitor. For He is as the Father too is: but He That IS and is Eternally with Him That IS, how He was not, let the folly of them who think otherwise say.

But haply the foe of the Truth will withstand us saying, “Not without qualification hath Christ said, I am not of the world, but by adding This, He hath shewn accurately that there is another world, the spiritual, whence He might be.”

Therefore among creatures is the Son (for this is what thy language, O sir, is working out for us), among those who have originate nature will the Creator be surely classed, putting about Him some angelic perchance and slave-befitting dignity you deem that yourself will escape the charge of blasphemy. For do you not know, that though you attribute to Him that highest position and status which the holy angels will be conceived of as having, though you confess that He is above every Princedom and Authority and Throne, and yet believe Him to be originate, you sin against Him no whit the less? For there is no worthy place whatever of superiority over the rest to the Only-Begotten, so long as He is at all conceived of as created. For not in having precedence of any hath He glory but in being not originate, yea rather God of God by Nature. But THOU again art classing Him Who beamed forth from God and therefore is God, with things originate, and thou reckonest Him to be a part of the world, and if not perchance of this one yet of another (for imagined distinction of worlds will make no difference at all, in respect of having been made): and dost thou not blush putting the Word Who sitteth with Him Who begat Him, in the category of His guards and those who stand before Him? for dost thou not hear Gabriel saying to Zacharias, I am Gabriel that stand in the Presence of God and I was sent to speak unto thee, and Isaiah, I saw the Lord of Sabaoth sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, and the Seraphim were standing round about Him. And (marvel!) the Prophet was beholding the Son and called Him Lord of Sabaoth, and introduces Him as King with the highest Powers as Body-guard. And that it really was the Glory of the Only-Begotten which he was beholding, the wise John will testify saying, These things said Esaias because he saw His glory: and of Him spake he. Wherefore the Divine Paul too, both from His Co-sitting with God the Father and from His being called Son by Nature, coming to most accurate perception of the Mystery and gathering the knowledge pertaining to the idea, says, For unto which of the Angels said (i. e., God the Father) at any time, My Son art THOU, this day have I begotten Thee? (for in the word I have begotten, He shews that the Son is by Nature God of God) and again, But to which of the Angels said He at any time, Sit on My Right Hand? And he does not in saying this accuse God the Father of either being wont to do aught unjust or as dishonouring the nature of the angels, when He honoured that by a position below the Son. For what hinders (may one say) since God the Father is just and good, His making the nature too of the angels assessor with Himself, if the Son be altogether among things originate, and con-natural with them in respect of having been created, even though by some other excellences He surpass the measure belonging to them, just as they may surpass us. But not unrighteous is God the Father, who bade the Angels to stand in the Presence, and gave this Dignity to their nature, having His own Son co-seated with Himself, since He knows that He is by Nature God, and that His own Offspring is not alien from His Essence. How then is He any longer originate, how of an originate world and not rather in the same [state] wherein is Very God, i. e., above all things that are conceived of and acknowledged to exist in every world?

But since ye put out as something great and resistless Christ saying with some fair distinction, I am not of this world; and by the word this, ye affirm that the other world is meant, saying that He is of it, let us see again if ye are not staying yourselves upon rotten arguments, prompted to reason and think thus by only your own want of thought. For the word This, or of this (as it may be), or whatever we say pronomically, is demonstrative, and not altogether or necessarily indicative of another. And verily the blessed Baruch, pointing out to us the One and only God, says, This is our God, there shall none other be accounted of in comparison with Him, but if the word This were altogether significant of another, how would not another be accounted of in comparison of Him? yea and the righteous Symeon too, prophesying the mystery of Christ, says, Behold this child is set for the fall and rising again of many dead in Israel and for a sign which is spoken against, although unto whom is it not most manifest, that not as severing us from other persons does the righteous man say, This, but intimating that He Who is now present and has been set for this, is by Himself? Therefore when Christ says, I am not of this world, not surely as being of another world does He say it, but as defining and laying down in a more corporeal form, as if two places, the originate nature I mean and that of the Man Who is Ineffable and above every essence, He puts the Jews in the place of things originate, saying, YE are of this world, Himself He altogether severing from things created, and connecting with the other place, I mean Godhead, says, I am not of this world. Hence contrasting (for our knowledge) the Godhead with the world, He gives Of this to the latter, Himself He apportions to God Who hath begotten Him and to the Essence which is Supreme over all.

“But” (says he) “God the Father will in nothing wrong the nature of the angels, if He do not please to honour it in the same degree as the Son. For variety in the creation, or the apportioning glory in befitting degree to each, in no wise argues that God is unjust, since how then should WE be less than the angels, albeit we confess that God is Righteous? What then WE are in respect of the angels, that are the angels too in respect of the Son; for they yield as to one better than they, the being in greater honour than themselves be.”

But, most excellent sir, shall we reply, shaming the unlearned heretic, if even though we be remote from the glory of the angels, since we come short of the piety too that is inherent in them and though there be much variety in the creation and diversity, and superiority in honour or inferiority according to the will of Him Who made them, yet is the being created common to all, and in this there is nought at all that surpasseth or cometh short of other. For that an angel should excel a man in honour and glory is nought wonderful, or an archangel too an angel; but the power of mounting up to the glory of Him Who made all things, we shall find to accrue to no one of creatures: for not any of the things that have been made will be God, nor will the bond be equal in honour with the Lord, co-sitting with Him and co-reigning. What measure then of honour will there be to the Son? being according to you originate and of the spiritual world, will He have God-befitting Dignity? how will that which is connatural with the creation mount up to the same glory as He Who is by Nature God, albeit God saith, My Glory will I not give to another? what (tell me) put the devil forth of the heavenly halls? was it the thirsting for honour which beseemed the originate nature, yet better and greater than the measure which accrued to him, and was it in this that the nature of his crimes lay? or was it that be dared to say, I will he like the Most High? For the creature pictured to itself that it could mount up to the Nature of its Maker and be co-throned with God Who has the power over all. Wherefore he hath also fallen as lightning, as it is written, from heaven. But THOU springing heedlessly upon things so insecure, accountst it nothing that the Son being according to you of some world, and consequently parcel of the creation, should be called by way of honour by God the Father to sit with Him, though Essence in no wise bestow upon Him this nor call Him to Dignity befitting and due to it. For He receives, if it be as YE in your babbling say, things above the creature in the way of favour. Away with such blasphemy, man, for we will not be thus minded, may God avert it! For we believe that angels and archangels and those in yet higher place than they, are diversely honoured by the Authority and Counsel of the All-wise God, Who allots to each of the things that are a just Decree: but as to the Son by Nature, we will not imagine that He is so, for no glory by way of favour and imported hath He, but since He is of the Essence of God the Father, Very God of God by Nature and Very, He is co-throned and co-seated with Him, having all things under His Feet as God, and of the Father with the Father ther in God-befitting way aloft above the whole creation. Wherefore rightly heareth He, For all things are Thy servants. And since from all sides He is found to be Very God, it is (I suppose) wholly clear that He is not of this world, i. e., originate. For the world here signifies to us the nature of created things, carrying the comparison from a part unto the whole that is conceived of as created. As then God withdrawing Himself from all connaturalness with the creature said in the Prophets, For I am God and not man (and not because He said that He is not man as we, shall we surely therefore class Him with angels or any other of things originate, but from part going unto the whole, will confess that God is by Nature Other than all things originate), so I deem that we ought piously to understand the hard things that come in our way; for we see in a mirror by a figure, as Paul saith.

24 I said therefore unto you that ye shall die in your sins.

Having by few words overturned the most ill-counselled fantasy of those who thus conceived, and convicted them again of talking nonsense about Himself, He returns so to speak to the original aim of His Speech, and resuming it again He shews them in how great ill they will be and into what they will fall, if they most unreasonably repulse any believing on Him. A thing very befitting a wise and grave master is this too: for I think that a teacher ought not to quarrel with the ignorance of his hearers nor to be slack in his care for them, even if perchance they do not very readily take in the knowledge of the lessons, but anew, yea many times, to return to the same things and go through the same words (since verily the enduring ploughman cleaving the field and having exhausted no slight toil thereon, when he has sown the seed in the furrows, if he see any spoilt, he turns again to the plough, and grudges not to sow upon the now ruined parts): for having missed his aim the first time he will not altogether do the same the second. A like habit the Divine Paul too practising somewhere says, To say the same things to you to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Seest thou that as the teacher is found superior to sloth, then to the hearers often follows the being in safe practice? Serviceably then does our Lord Jesus Christ repeating His Discourse with the Jews affirm that the penalty of not believing on Him will be in no passing things: for He says that they who believe not must surely die in their sins. And that death in transgressions is an heavy burden, because it will deliver the soul of man unto the all-devouring flame, none may doubt.

For if ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins.

He explains more exactly what will happen, and having made the mode of salvation most evident, He shews again by what way they going shall mount up to the life of the saints, and shall attain to the city that is above, the heavenly Jerusalem. And not only does He say that one ought to believe but affirms that it must needs be on Him. For we are justified by believing on Him as on God from God, as on the Saviour and Redeemer and King of all and Lord in truth. Therefore He says, Ye shall perish if ye believe not that I am. But the I (He says) is He of Whom it is written in the Prophets, Shine shine o Jerusalem for thy Light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For I (saith He) am He Who of old bade go to the putting off of the diseases of the soul and Who promised the healing of love through saying, Return ye returning children and I will heal your backslidings. I am He Who declared that the God-befitting and olden goodness and incomparable forbearance should be poured on you, and therefore cried aloud, I, I am He That blotteth out thy sins and I will not remember. I am (He says) He Who by the Prophet Isaiah also said, Wash you, make you clean, put away your wickednesses from your hearts from before Mine Eyes, cease from your wickednesses, and come and let us reason together saith the Lord, even though your sins be as scarlet, I will whiten them as snow, even though they be like crimson, I will whiten them as wool. I (says He) am He concerning whom again Isaiah the Prophet himself says, O Zion that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain, o Jerusalem that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength, lift ye up, be not afraid; behold your God, behold the Lord cometh with strength and His Arm with rule, behold His reward with Him and His work before Him: like a shepherd shall He feed His flock, He shall gather the lambs with His Arm and shall comfort those that are with young: and again, Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf shall hear; then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the stammerers be clear. I am (He saith) He of Whom again it is written that suddenly shall come to His Temple the Lord Whom YE are seeking, even the Messenger of the covenant Whom YE are desiring, behold He cometh, saith the Lord of hosts, and who shall abide the Day of His Coming? or who shall stand in His Sight? for He shall enter in as fire in a smelting house and as the sope of fullers. I am (He saith) He Who for the salvation of all men promised to offer Myself for a Sacrifice to God the Father through the voice of the Psalmist and cried, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldst not, a Body preparedst Thou Me; whole burnt offerings and for sin Thou delightedst not in, then I said, Lo I come, in the chapter of the Book it is written of Me, to do Thy Will, O God. I am, He saith, and the very law through Moses did preach Me, saying thus, A Prophet of thy brethren like unto me will the Lord thy God raise up unto thee, unto Him shall ye hearken; according to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly.

Therefore with reason (says He) shall ye perish and shall pay to the Judge most righteous Doom, for your much un-holiness of manners not giving heed to Him Who through many saints was fore-heralded to you, and attested by the things too which I work. For verily and in truth no argument will liberate from the obligation of undergoing punishment those who believe not on Him, seeing that the Divinely-inspired Scripture is filled with testimonies and words regarding Him and Himself affords by His Works Splendour conformable to what was long ago prophesied of Him.

25 They said therefore to Him, Who art THOU?

Their word commingled with fiercest anger proceeds from boastfulness. For they eagerly ask, not to learn and believe, but out of much madness they spring (so to speak) on Christ. For He says in more simple word, I am, not adding, God of God, nor yet ought else to indicate His inherent Glory; but in lowly wise and apart from all boasting He says only this I am, leaving it to the better instructed to add what was wanting; and they go on to wildest and unbridled madness, and from unmeasured haughtiness they all but cut short the Saviour’s word not yet advanced to its completion, and so to say rebuke and interrupt Him in the middle and say, Who art THOU? This is the part of one who openly says, Dost Thou dare to think of Thyself ought greater than WE know? we know that Thou art son of the carpenter, a man low and most poor, of no note with us and altogether nought. They therefore condemn the Lord as being nought, looking only to His family after the flesh, but the Magnificence that pertains to His works, and still more His Generation from above and from the Father, whence they might specially recognize that He is by Nature God, they do not so much as admit into their mind. For who will work the things that befit God Alone? will not He surely Who is by Nature God? but Christ wrought them; He therefore was and is God, even when made Flesh for the salvation and life of all. But they whose belief is confined to their own mis-counsels, and take no account at all of our Divine and Divinely-inspired Scripture; they in regard of the very things for which they ought to give thanks, do disparage Him, knowing neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.

Punctuating therefore with emphasis at the word THOU, and throwing back what is called the acute accent, we take the word as a question with note of admiration: for they say THOU, as though, Thou Who art nothing at all, and art known by us to be so, Thou Who art mean and of mean extraction, what canst Thou say illustrious of Thyself, what worth speaking of those about Thee? For nought of such daring is foreign to Jewish madness.

Jesus said unto them, That I speak to you at the beginning.

I am dishonoured (He says) albeit I invite unto everlasting life, unto forgiveness of sins, unto putting off of death and corruption, unto holiness, unto righteousness, unto glory, unto boasting in the sonship with God: yea I Who would crown you with all these, am counted for nought, and esteemed by you thus worthless, yea verily I am in deserved condition (He says) because I made a beginning of discourse with you, because I have spoken somewhat that could profit you, and devised to save those who were on the point of descending to such deep depravity as to aim at repaying bitter requital to Him Who hath elected to save them.

Something else besides does Christ appear to indicate to us hereby. It was right (He says) that I should not converse at all with you at the beginning but on them rather should confer this who shall most gladly rejoice in My words and without delay submit their neck to the Gospel ordinances. He means by these the multitude of the Gentiles. But while we conceive of Him as saying thus, we will guard against the words of the adversaries. For one of those who are wont to fight against Christ will haply say, “If the Son ought not to address the Jews at the beginning, but rather the Gentiles, He missed of what was fit, by doing this rather than that.” But we will reply, Not as repenting of His own or of the Father’s Will, does the Son say thus, nor yet as having transgressed what befitted the Economy (for God would not have devised ought which did not altogether beseem to be): but by saying that not to you was it right to speak at the beginning, nor among you to lay a foundation of saving teaching, He shews that both the Father and Himself are by Nature True and Loving to man. For lo He freely gave to the unholy Jews though not worthy of it the saving word, having put in the second place the multitude of the Gentiles albeit more readily making it their aim both to believe and obey Him.

What was it then which persuaded Him to prefer and fore-honour before the rest the stiffnecked people of the Jews? To them He made through the holy Prophets the promise of His Coming, to them was the grace due for the fathers’ sake. Wherefore He also said, I was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and to the Syrophenician woman, It is not meet to take the children’s bread and to cast it to the dogs. Therefore has Israel been honoured and ranked before the Gentiles, although he had the crookeder disposition. But since he knew not the Lord of all and the Perfecter of the promised good things, the grace of the teaching departed at last to the Gentiles, whom it behoved the Lord at the beginning and first to have addressed, not in regard of the promise made to the fathers, but in regard of their innate obedience.

26 I have many things to say and to judge of you.

Seeing that the Jews condemn Him more recklessly, and though they have nothing at all to accuse Him of, are haughty on account only of the poorness of His Birth after the Flesh, and therefore say that He is nought, He shamed them mildly, having said above more openly, YE judge after the flesh, I judge no man. But judging after the flesh will reasonably have some such meaning as this: They who delight only in earthly things, see nought of the heavenly good things, but looking only to illustriousness in this life, admire the wealthy or him who boasts in some other petty glories. But they who after the law of God examine thoroughly into the nature of things say that he is really the man worthy of love and admiration, who has within him the desire to live according to the counsel and will of Him Who hath made him. For low position after the flesh will nothing harm the soul of the man who is accustomed to do well, and on the other hand illustrious portion in this life and the splendour of wealth will nothing profit those who refuse to live aright. They therefore judge after the flesh, as we said just now, who look not to holiness, who use not to prove their walk, their manners, but turn aside their mind to only earthly things and deem worthy of all admiration him that is brought up in wealth and luxury. YE then, O most unwise rulers of the Jews, albeit by the Law of Moses instructed unto accuracy of giving judgment, judging upon no grounds at all, condemn for only bodily low estate Him Who through many wondrous works is shewn to you to be God. But I will not imitate your ill-instructedness, nor will I pass such kind of judgment on you: for nothing at all is human nature. For what is this perishable and earthly body? rottenness and the worm and nought else. Yet I will not for this reason condemn you, nor because ye are men by nature, will I therefore decide that ye ought wholly to be spurned: I have many things to say and to judge of you, that is, every accusing word has a full office to you-ward, not of one thing alone shall I accuse you, but of many, and in none shall I speak falsely as do YE. I have to judge you as disbelieving, as braggarts, as insulters, as fighters against God, as without feeling, as unthankful, as wicked, as lovers of pleasure rather than habitually loving God, as receiving honour one of another and seeking not the honour that cometh from the Only, as setting on fire the spiritual vineyard, as not feeding aright the flock entrusted to you by God, as not leading them by the hand unto Him That is proclaimed by the Law and the Prophets, i. e., Me. Such things will the Saviour be declaring to the Jews, but by adding, I have yet many things to say and to judge of you, He threatens them that He will one Day appear as their Judge, Who seemed to them to be nought by reason of the Flesh.

But He That sent Me is True, and I the things which I heard from Him, these speak I unto the world.

Having taken leave of the Jews’ ill-instructedness, and reckoned as nought those who dared without restraint to revile Him, He returns again to what He was saying at the beginning, reserving the judging them and that in all freedom for not this present but for the fitting time, and retaining to the time of the Appearance its proper aim (for He came not to judge the world but to save the world, as Himself says). Wherefore keeping fast hold of the things befitting Him, and repeating the word that calls unto salvation, He carries on His exhortation. For herein was it meet that we should both marvel at the measure of His Forbearance and the exceedingness of His inherent Love for man: wherefore doth Peter too write of Him, Who when He was reviled, reviled not again, when He suffered, He threatened not but committed Himself to Him That judgeth righteously. Therefore will I expend (He says) discourse upon you now in particular, not for what ye are wont to do it, for faultfinding I mean and exercise unto nought that is profitable: but having reserved the judging you for its fit time, I will keep to what is for your good, and will not cease from care of you, even though ye of your innate madness foolishly insult Me. I said therefore to you just now, I am the Light of the world, he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of Life; at this ye unreasonably vexed sprang sharply upon Me saying, THOU bearest record of Thyself, Thy record is not true; to this again I, Even though I bear record of Myself, My record is true, for I know whence I came and whither I go. But if I seem to be burdensome to you saying these things to you, if I be not a reliable witness of the Dignities accruing to Me by Nature, yet He That sent Me is True and the things which I heard of Him, these speak I unto the world. I speak the same (He says) as the Father Who sent Me, I utter words conformable to His, in saying that I am by Nature Light. The things then which I heard God the Father say of Me, these things I speak to the world. If then I speak false according to you, and My record is not true, ye must certainly needs say that the Father spake falsely before Me. But He is True: therefore I do not speak falsely, and if ye do not believe My Words, reverence (He says) the Voice of Him That sent Me. For what said He of Me? Behold a Man, The Day-spring His Name, and again to those who reverence Him, And unto you that fear My Name shall the Sun of righteousness arise and healing in His wings; and to Me Whom ye unknowing insult, He says, Behold I have given Thee for a Covenant of the people for a light of the nations. But that I am also a Light was told you by Him, for He says, Shine shine O Jerusalem for thy Light is come and the glory of the Lord hath risen upon thee. These things did I hear the Father Who sent Me say of Me, and therefore do I say that I am the Light of the world, but YE disparaged Me, because of the Flesh only judging not rightly, and therefore are ye bold to say frequently, THOU bearest record of Thyself, Thy record is not true.

Therefore (for it is meet to sum up the whole mind of what is before us) He shews that the Jews are fighting right against God, and that not only with His words, but also with the Father’s decree. For He knows that His Son is by Nature Light and calls Him therefore Dayspring and Sun of Righteousness, but they pulling down the destruction of unbelief upon their own heads reject the Truth calling good evil and therefore shall rightly the Woe follow them.

27 They knew not that He spake to them of the Father.

The Spirit-clad is astonishment-stricken at the senselessness of the Jews, and with great reason: for what more without understanding than such, who, when much discourse and often had been made to them concerning God the Father, conceive not of Him a whit when they hear our Saviour saying, But He That sent Me is True? What then is the plea, and why the blessed Evangelist says that the Jews knew not that Christ in these words signified God the Father to them, we must needs say. For since the Saviour said to them, If ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also, in order that in this too He may be found saying what was true, the Evangelist brings in those who know not the Son, as ignorant of the Father too. For the Son is (so to speak) a Door and Gate unto the knowledge of the Father, wherefore He also said, No man cometh unto the Father but by Me. For the mind darting up from Image to Archetype imageth the other from what is before it. It was necessary therefore to shew that the Jews had no conception of the Father, since they would not be led, upward mounting6 from knowledge of the Son to conception of the Father. Wherefore does the Evangelist clearly shew that when Christ says, He That sent Me is True, they knew not that He spake to them of the Father.

28 When ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall ye know that I am.

Imitating the most excellent physicians, He lays bare the cause of their soul’s infirmity and clearly opens what it was that hinders their going with resolution to understanding and faith towards Him. For since looking at the Flesh and its family, they were induced to think slightingly of Him and, having this vail over the eyes of their understanding, they would not know that He is God even though He is seen as Man, needs did He address them saying, When ye have lifted up the Son of Man then shall ye know that I am, i. e., when ye cease from your slight and grovelling conception of Me, when ye have some lofty and super-mundane thought of Me, and believe that I am God of God, even though for your sakes I am become Man as you, then shall ye know clearly that I am the Light of the world (for this I just now told you): for what would any longer hinder (He says) Him Who is wholly admitted to be Very God, from being also Light of the world? For not to so great depth of madness and daring will any go as then too to venture to say, Thy record is not true, for he will in no wise accuse what God by Nature and Very shall say.

It is then most evident from the words too of the Saviour, that if we have a mean opinion of Him and consider Him to be bare Man and bereft of the Godhead by Nature, we shall surely both disbelieve Him and not admit Him as Saviour and Redeemer. And what is the result? we have fallen from our hope. For if salvation is through faith and faith be gone, what will yet save us? But if we believe and lift up to God-befitting height the Only-Begotten even though He hath become Man, advancing as with a fair wind and speeding across the all-troublous sea of life, we shall safe moor in the city that is above, there to receive the rewards of believing.

The same in another way

When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am.

Having with many and good words bathed the wrath of the Jews, He sees it not a whit the less swelling. For they cease not heedlessly blaspheming, yea at one time they set aside His Speech and impiously call Him a liar: for to say Thy record is not true, what else is it than this? at another, time again, to Him out of love declaring the things that belong to salvation and on this account saying, If ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins, they began hotly to oppose Him and arraying against those utterances of love their words of madness said, Who art THOU? For them therefore who thus unmitigatedly wallowed in unreasoning audacity there was need of a word that should sober them and persuade them to be more gently disposed and put a bridle on their tongue even against its will. Therefore was He threatening them telling them most clearly that they shall not escape punishment for their impiety, but even though they see Him for the present forbearing, yet when their impiety towards Him has gone forth to its dread consummation, I mean Death and the Cross, they shall undergo all-dread justice and shall receive in return intolerable lot, that of the war with the Romans, which after the Saviour’s Cross befell them from the wrath above from God. And that they should suffer all-terrible things, the Saviour again signified more clearly to them saying, at one time to the weeping women, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me but weep for yourselves and for your children, at another again, When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then shall ye say to the mountains, Cover us and to the hills, Fall on us. For to such an extent do the sufferings of the war overcome the Jews, that every kind of death was to them pleasanter and rather to be chosen than the trial of them: their removal from their country, the enslavements of those who inhabit it and their most savage slaughter and the famines in every city and their child-devourings therein Josephus too relates in his history.

When then (He says) ye having betrayed to the cross the Son of man endure your retributive punishment, and pay penalties correspondent to your daring deeds against Me, then shall ye weeping know that I am the All-Powerful, that is God. For if one sparrow enter not the snare of the fowler without the will of God, how shall a whole country, (He saith) and the beloved nation go on to destruction so complete, except God supreme over all had surely permitted that so it should be? Evil therefore and all-dread is the contempt of God which bringeth to the consummation of things to be deprecated. Wherefore Paul too rebuketh some, saying of God, Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God is leading thee to repentance, but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath in the Day of wrath?

The same in another way

Christ spent long time dwelling with the Jews, and speaking in every synagogue, so to say, and addressing them every sabbath-day and, setting before them often and ungrudgingly profitable teaching, was continually inviting them to the illumination through the Spirit, and verily He saith, in that He is God by Nature and Very, I am the light of the world; but they thinking most foolishly were ever gainsaying Him who said these things, for (says he) THOU bearest record of Thyself, Thy record is not true. And not at contradictions in words did the daring of the Jews stay, nor only in love of reviling was their untamed audacity consummated, but going without stint through all savageness, they at last betrayed Him both to Cross and Death. But since He was by Nature Life, having burst the bonds of death, He arose from the dead and (as was reasonable) departs from Jewish defilement and hasted away from Israel and that with justice, and betaking Himself to the Gentiles, He invited all to the Light, and to the blind He freely bestowed recovery of sight. It befell then that after the Death on the Cross of our Saviour Christ, the understandings of the Jews were darkened, in that the Light had departed forth from them, and that the hearts of the Gentiles were enlightened, in that the Very Light beamed upon them. When then, He says, ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall ye know that I am, instead of, I will await the consummation of your impiety, I will not bring upon you wrath before its time, I will accept the Passion and Death, I will endure along with the rest this too. But when ye shall betray to the Cross the Son of Man deemed by you to be bare man, then shall ye know, even against your will, that not falsely have I said that I am the Light of the world. For when ye see yourselves darkened, the innumerable multitude of the Gentiles enlightened by having Me with them, how will ye I not even against your will agree that I am of a truth the light of the world? For that the Saviour was going to depart from the Synagogue of the Jews after His coming to Life again from the dead, is doubtful to none (for it has been accomplished and done): yet may one see it somehow (yea even clearly) from His words, While ye have the Light walk in the Light, lest darkness come upon you. For the repression and withdrawal of light generates darkness, and again the presence of light causes darkness to vanish. Therefore is Christ shewn as being of a truth Light, Who darkened the Jews through His Departure from them, and enlightened the Gentiles through His Presence with them: and a bitter lesson to the Jews was their experience of dread things.

The same in another way

When ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall ye know that I am.

Since looking only (He says) to the flesh, ye believe that I am mere Man, and deem that I am one like yourselves, but the Dignity of the Godhead and the Glory from thence, do not so much as enter your mind:—a most evident token to you of My being God of Truly God and Light of Light, shall be your all-dread and most lawless deed of daring, the Cross that is and the Death of the Flesh thereupon. For when ye see the issue of your mad folly frustrate of its purpose and the snare of death crushed in pieces (for I shall surely rise I from the dead): then shall ye even against your will and of necessity at length assent to what I said to you and shall confess that I am by Nature God. For I shall be superior to death and decay, I being by Nature Life shall raise again My Temple. But if to o’ermaster death and to triumph over the meshes of corruption belong to Him Who is by Nature God and to no other being, how shall I not (all contradiction and all doubt being removed) be shewn thereby to overcome all things mightily and without trouble? therefore does the Saviour say that His Cross shall be a sign to the Jews and a most evident demonstration of His being by Nature God.

And this you may see Him elsewhere too, clearly saying: for when many and unnumbered prodigies had been shewn forth by Him, the Pharisees once came to Him tempting Him and saying, Master, we would see a sign from Thee. But He since He saw the imaginations which were going on in them, and was not ignorant that they were bitterly minded, says, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and a sign shall not be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas; for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man too be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Hearest thou how to the Jews asking a sign as a proof that He is God by Nature, even though they said it tempting Him, He says that no other shall be shewn to them save the sign of the prophet Jonas, i. e. the three days death and the coming to life again from the dead? For what token of God-befitting authority so great and manifest, as to undo death and overthrow decay, albeit by Divine sentence having the mastery over human nature? For in Adam it heard, Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return; but it was in the power of Christ the Saviour both to end His Anger, and by blessings to overthrow the death which from His curse prevailed. But that the Jews exceedingly feared the sign of the resurrection as mighty to convince that Christ is by Nature God, their final deed will clearly tell us, for when they heard of the Resurrection of the Saviour, and that He was not found in the tomb, terrified and exceeding fearful thereat, they planned to buy off the informations of the soldiers by large money. For they gave them money to say, His disciples came by night and stole Him while we slept. Mighty therefore is the sign of the Resurrection, having undoubted demonstration that Jesus is God, whereat the hard and unbending heart of the Jews was sore troubled.

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