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

That His Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit, is naturally in the Son and in His Substance, as He is also in the Substance of the Father

15 All things whatsoever the Father hath are Mine: and therefore I said unto you, that He taketh of Mine and shall declare it unto you.

The Son once more shows to us herein the complete and perfect character of the Person of the Father Himself also, and allows us to see why He said that He, being the fruit of the Father’s Substance, engrosses in Himself all that belongs to It, and says that It is all His own, and with reason. For, as there is nothing to dissever or estrange the Son from the Father, so far as their complete similarity and equality is concerned, save only that He is not Himself the Father, and as the Divine Substance does not show Itself differently in the Two Persons, surely Their attributes are common, or rather identical; so that what the Father hath is the Son’s, and what He That begat hath, belongs also to Him that is begotten of Him. For this reason, I think, in His watchful care over us, He has thus spoken to us concerning this. For He did not say, All things whatsoever the Father hath I have also, in order to prevent our imagining He meant a mere likeness founded on similarity, only moulded by adventitious graces into conformity with the Archetype, as is the case with us; for we are after God’s likeness. Rather, when He says, All things whatsoever the Father hath are Mine, He illustrates hereby the perfect union which He hath with His Father, and the meaning of their Consubstantiality existing in unchangeable attributes. And this you may see, that He clearly says elsewhere, when addressing the Father, All things that are Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine. For surely they are identical in nature, in whom there is no severance at all, but complete and perfect essential equality and likeness. God the Father then hath, of Himself, and in Himself, His own Spirit; that is, the Holy Spirit, through Whom He dwelleth in the Saints, and reveals His mysteries to them; not as though the Spirit were called to perform a merely ministerial function (do not think this), but rather, as He is in Him essentially, and proceeds from Him inseparably and indivisibly, interpreting what is in reality His own when He interprets that which belongs to Him in Whom He exists, and from Whom He springs. For God only has union with the creation through His Son in the Spirit. And this Spirit is also an attribute of the Only-begotten, for He is Consubstantial with the Father.

Since then, He says, it is seen to be natural to God the Father to reveal Himself in His own Spirit to those who are worthy of Him, and to accomplish through Him all His purposes, and since this kind of action belongs to Me also, for this cause I said, “He receiveth of Me and will show it unto you.” And let no man be perplexed when he here hears the word “receiveth,” but rather let him consider the following fact, and he will do well. The things of God are spoken of in language as though God were even as we are; but this is not really the case, for His ways are superhuman. We say then that the Spirit receives of the Father and the Son the things that are Theirs in the following way; not as though at one moment He were devoid of the knowledge and power inherent in Them, and at the next hardly acquires such knowledge and power when He is conceived of as receiving from Them. For the Spirit is wise and powerful, nay, rather, absolute Wisdom and Power, not by participation in anything else, but by His own Nature. But, rather, just as we should say that the fragrance of sweet-smelling herbs which assails our nostrils is distinct from the herbs so far as their conception in thought is concerned, but proceeds from the herbs in which it originates only by being a recipient of their faculty of giving scent in order to its display, and is not in fact distinct from them, because its existence is due to, and is wrapped up in, them; even such an idea, or rather one transcending this, must you imagine about the relation of God to the Holy Spirit. For He is, as it were, a sweet savour of His Substance, working plainly on the senses, conveying to the creature an effluence from God, and instilling in him through Itself participation in the Sovereign Substance of the Universe. For if the fragrance of sweet herbs imparts some of its power to garments with which it comes in contact, and in some sort transforms its surroundings into likeness with itself, surely the Holy Ghost has power, since He is by nature of God, to make those in whom He abides partakers in the Divine Nature through Himself. The Son then, being the Fruit and express Image of the Father’s Person by nature, engrosses all that is His. And therefore He says, All things whatsoever the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I unto you, that He taketh of Mine and shall declare it unto you—the Spirit, that is, Who is through Him and in Him, by Whom He personally dwells in the Saints. For His Spirit is not distinct from Him, even though He may be conceived of as having a separate and independent existence: for the Spirit is Spirit, and not the Son.

16 A little while, and ye behold Me no more; and again a little while, and ye shall see Me; because I go to the Father.

After having first said that He would reveal to them by His Spirit everything that was necessary and essential for them to know, He discourses to them of His Passion, nigh unto which was His Ascension into heaven, rendering the coming of the Spirit very necessary; for it was no longer possible for Him, after He had gone up to the Father, to hold converse in the flesh with His holy Apostles. And He makes His discourse with the greatest caution, thereby robbing their sorrow of its sting; for well He knew that great fear would once more reign in their hearts, and that they would be consumed with an agony of grief, expecting to be overwhelmed by terrible and unendurable evils, when their bereavement should come to pass and the Saviour ascend to the Father. For this cause, I think, He does not tell them that He would die—the madness of the Jews requiring even His life of Him—but keeps this secret. Rather in His great consideration for them He greatly softens the rigour of His discourse, and shows them that close upon their suffering would follow the joy of heart which His Resurrection would occasion them, saying: A little while, and ye behold Me no more; and again a little while, and ye shall see Me. For now the time of His death drew nigh which would take the Lord out of the sight of His disciples for a very short season, until, after despoiling hell and throwing open the gates of darkness to those that dwelt therein, He built up again the temple of His Body. Whereupon He manifested Himself once more to His disciples, and promised to be with them alway [even unto the end] of the world, according to the Scripture. For even though He be absent in the body, taking His place for our sake at the Father’s side and sitting at His right Hand, still He dwells by the Spirit with those who are worthy of Him, and has perpetual converse with His Saints; for He has promised that He will not leave us comfortless. As then, there was but a short interval of time before His Passion would begin, He says, A little while, and ye see Me no more; for He was to be hidden from sight in a manner by death for a brief space: and again, He says, a little while, and ye shall see Me. For on the third day He revived, having preached unto the spirits in prison. The proof of His love towards mankind was hereby rendered most complete by His giving salvation, I say, not merely to the quick, but also by His preaching remission of sins to those who were already dead, and who sat in darkness in the depths of the abyss according to the Scripture.

And remark how, with reference to His Passion and His Resurrection, He said: A little while, and ye behold Me no more; and again a little while, and ye shall see Me; and how, merely adding, because I go to My Father, leaves the rest unsaid. He did not explain to them how long He would remain there, or when He would come again. And why was this? Because it is not for us to know times and seasons which the Father hath set within His own authority, according to the words of our Saviour Himself.

17 Some of His disciples therefore said one to another, What is this that He saith unto us, A little while, and ye behold Me not; and again a little while, and ye shall see Me; and, Because I go to the Father? 18 They said therefore, What is this that He saith, A little while? We know not what He saith.

The inspired disciples, not yet understanding what He had said, converse among themselves, and are in doubt as to what a little while, and again a little while, and ye shall not see Me, might mean. Christ, however, anticipates their desire for information, and once more very seasonably shows them that He knows their hearts as God, and that He is as well aware of what they are turning over in their minds, and what was as yet buried in the depths of their hearts, as though they had already given utterance to it in speech. For what is there which can be hid from Him before Whom all things are naked? Wherefore also He saith to one of the Saints: Who is this that hideth counsel from Me, and putteth together words in his heart and thinketh that he keepeth it secret from Me? He then at every turn uses occasion as it offers to nurture in them secure and unshaken faith.

19 Jesus perceived that they were desirous to ask Him, and He said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves concerning this, that I said, A little while, and ye behold Me not, and again a little while, and ye shall see Me? 20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

As then they were thirsting for information and sought to know more exactly the meaning of His words, He gives a clearer exposition of His Passion, and vouchsafes them the foreknowledge of the sufferings that He was about to undergo to their great profit. It was not in order that He might engender in them premature alarm that He deemed it meet to give them this explanation beforehand, but in order that, forearmed by their knowledge, they might perchance be found more courageous to withstand the terror that would assail them. For that of which the advent is expected is milder in its approach than that which is wholly unlooked for. When then you who are truly Mine and united to Me by your love towards Me shall behold your Guide and Master undergoing the brunt of the madness of the Jews, their insults and outrages, and all that their mad frenzy will prompt, then, indeed, ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; that is, those who are not minded to follow God’s Will, but are, as it were, enchained by worldly lusts. He refers also to the vulgar herd of Jewish rabble, as well as the impious band of enemies of God who had secured the lead among them, namely, the Scribes and Pharisees, who made jests at the trials our Saviour had to endure, and raised many cries to their own damnation, at one time saying, If Thou art the Son of God come down now from the cross, and we will believe Thee: and at another, Thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it in three days, save Thyself such will be the foul utterances of the blasphemous tongue of the Jews. But while the men of the world would be of this mind, and such will be their deeds and cries, “you will mourn;” but not for long will you have this suffering to endure, for your sorrow will be turned into joy. For I shall live again, and will wholly remove the cause of your despondency, and I will comfort the mourners, and will renew in them a good courage that will be eternal and without end. For the joy of the Saints ceaseth not. For Christ is alive for evermore, and through Him the bonds of death are loosed for all mankind. It is perhaps, too, not impertinent to reflect that the worldly will contrariwise be doomed to a fate of endless misery. For if, when Christ died after the flesh, those who were truly His mourned, but the world rejoiced at His Passion; and if, when death and corruption were rendered powerless by the Resurrection of our Saviour Christ from the dead, the mourning of the Saints was turned into joy, surely in like manner also the joy of the worldly-minded will be lost in sorrow.

21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but when she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for the joy that a man is born into the world. 22 And ye therefore now have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no one taketh from you.

He once more dilates upon the solace He had given them, and illustrates it by divers words, in every way aiding them to dispel the bitterness of their sorrow. For observe how earnestly He persuades them, by obvious illustration, of the necessity of endurance, and of not being over dismayed by troubles or sorrows, if they must surely and inevitably end in rejoicing. For the child, He says, is the fruit of sore travail; and it is through pain that the joy they have in their children comes to mothers. And if at the first they had felt fainthearted at the prospect of the travail of childbirth, they would never have consented to conceive; but would rather have chosen to escape marriage, which is the cause, and would never have become mothers at all; avoiding by their cowardice a state which is highly desirable and thrice blest. In like manner then will your suffering also not fail to meet its reward. For you will rejoice when you see a new child born into the world, incorruptible and beyond the reach of death. Plainly He alludes to Himself here. He tells them that the joy of heart that they will have in Him cannot be taken away from them or lost. For, as Paul says, or rather as the Very Truth Itself implies, having died once for all, He dieth no more. The joy of heart then that rests upon Him hath in very truth a sure foundation. For, if we mourned at His death, who shall take from us our joy, now that we know that He lives and will be alive for evermore—He Who gives and ordains for us all spiritual blessings? No man then “taketh their joy” from the Saints, as our Saviour says; but they who nailed Him to the Cross were bereft of their joy once and for ever. For now that His suffering is ended, which they thought an occasion for rejoicing, sorrow will be their portion of inevitable necessity.

23 And in that day ye shall ask Me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If ye shall ask anything of the Father, He will give it you in My Name. 24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My Name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be fulfilled.

He says that His holy disciples will increase in wisdom and knowledge when they should be clothed with power from on high according to the Scripture, and with their minds illumined by the torchlight of the Spirit should be able to conceive all wisdom, even though they asked no question of Him Who was no longer present with them in the flesh. The Saviour does not indeed say this because they will have no more need of light from Him, but because when they had received His own Spirit, and had Him indwelling in their hearts, they would have in their minds no lack of every good thing, and would be fulfilled with the most perfect knowledge. And by perfect knowledge we mean that which is correct and incapable of error, and which cannot endure to think or say any evil thing, and which has a right belief concerning the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity. For if we see now in a mirror darkly, and we know in part, still while we wander not astray from the doctrines of the truth but adhere to the spirit of the holy and inspired writings, the knowledge that we have is not imperfect, a knowledge which no man can acquire save by the light of the Holy Spirit given unto him. Hereby he exhorts the disciples to pray for spiritual graces, and at the same time gives them this encouragement—that what they ask they will not fail to obtain; adding the comforting assurance of the word “verily” to His promise that if they will go to the Father’s throne and make any request, they will receive it of Him, He Himself acting as Mediator and leading them into the Father’s Presence. For this is the meaning of the words in my Name; for we cannot draw nigh unto God the Father save by the Son alone. For through Him we have obtained access in One Spirit unto the Father, according to the Scripture. Therefore also He saith: I am the Door: I am the Way: no one cometh unto the Father but by Me. For inasmuch as the Son is also God, together with the Father He conveys good gifts to the Saints, and associates Himself with Him in granting us the portion of the blessed. Moreover, the inspired Paul most evidently confirms our belief herein by writing these words: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. And in right of His titles, Mediator, High Priest, and Advocate, He conveys to the Father prayers on our behalf, for He gives us all boldness to address the Father. In the Name then of Our Saviour Christ we must make our requests, for so will the Father most readily grant them, and will give to those that ask good gifts, that we may take them and rejoice therein. So being fulfilled with spiritual graces, and enriched with the grant of knowledge from Him through the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts, we shall gain a very easy triumph over every strange and abominable lust; and thus being active in good works, and attaining to the practice of every virtue with fervent zeal, and strengthened with everything whatsoever that maketh for sanctification, we rejoice with exceeding joy at the prospect of the reward that awaits us; and, dismissing the despondency that springs from an evil conscience, we have our hearts enriched with the joy that is in Christ. This did not enter into the life of the men of old time; they never practised this manner of prayer, for they knew it not. But now is it ordained for us by Christ, at the appropriate season, when the time of the accomplishment of our redemption was fulfilled, and the perfect fruition of all good was gained for us by Him. For just as the Law accomplished nothing, and as righteousness according to the Law was incomplete, so also was the mode of prayer inculcated thereby.

25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: the hour cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but shall tell you plainly of the Father.

By proverbs He means language that is indistinct and does not bear its meaning on the surface, but is in some sort veiled by obscurities so subtle that He says His hearers could not very readily comprehend it; for this was the fashion of what was said in proverbs. What I have told you then, He says, I have told you as it were in proverbs and riddles, reserving for the fitting season which has not yet come, though it is drawing nigh, the revelation of these things beyond possibility of doubt. For the hour will indeed come, He says; that is, the proper time in which I shall in plain language expound to you the things that concern the Father’s glory, and implant in you a knowledge that surpasses human understanding. What that time would be, He did not tell them very clearly. We must surmise that He either meant that time when we were enriched with the knowledge that comes to us through the Spirit, Whom Christ Himself brought down to us after His Resurrection from the dead; or it may be the time to come after the end of the world, in which we shall behold unveiled and open to our gaze the glory of God, Who will Himself impart to us knowledge concerning Himself in perfect clearness. Therefore also Paul says, that prophecies shall be done away, and knowledge shall cease having no other meaning in his mind than that which we have accepted for this passage. For we see in a mirror, and we know in part, as we just now said. But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. How or in what manner this shall come to pass I will go on to explain, if you are willing to listen.

For, just as in the darkness of the night the bright beauty of the stars shines forth, each casting abroad its own ray of light, but when the sun arises with his radiant beams then that light which is but in part is done away, and the lustre of the stars waxes feeble and ineffective, in like manner I think also the knowledge that we now have will cease, and that which is in part will vanish away at that moment of time when the perfect light has come upon us, and sheds forth its radiancy, filling us with perfect knowledge of God. Then, when we are enabled to approach God in confidence, Christ will tell us the things which concern His Father. For now by shadows and illustrations, and various images and types deduced from different phases of human life, we feebly trace our steps to a vague uncertain knowledge, through the inherent weakness of our minds. Then, however, we shall stand in no need of any type or riddle or parable, but shall behold after a fashion, face to face and with unshackled mind, the fair vision of the Divine Nature of God the Father, having seen the glory of Him Who proceeded from Him. For we shall see Him even as He is, according to the saying of John. For now we know Him in the perfection of the glory that belongs to His Divine Nature because of our humanity. But when the season of His incarnation is past, and the mystery of our redemption completely wrought out, henceforth He will be seen in His own glory and in the glory of God the Father. For being God by Nature, and thereby Consubstantial with His Father, He will surely enjoy equal honours with Him, and will shine henceforth in the glory of His Godhead.

26 In that day ye shall ask in My Name: and I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from the Father.

He suffers them not to ask for anything at all by prayer and supplication, except only in His Name. He promises, however, that His Father will very readily grant their requests, not indeed as induced thereto by the intercessions of the Son in His capacity as our Mediator and Advocate, but prompted by His own Will to be liberal in His dealings towards them, and making haste to shower upon those who love Christ the exceeding riches of His goodness, as though He were but paying them their due. And no man in his senses can think, nor can any one be so ignorant as to affirm, that the disciples or any others of the Saints stand in no need of the mediation of the Son in working out their own salvation. For all things proceed through Him from the Father in the Spirit, since He is the Advocate, as John saith, not for our sins only, but also for the whole world And in saying this, He shows us too, to our profit, that very acceptable to God the Father is the honour and love which we have towards His Offspring. Not understanding this, the miserable people of the Jews did not shrink from assailing Him with intolerable blasphemies, and sought to kill Him, according to the Scripture, because of the conversion of the mind of His believers from the obscure commandment of the Law to the clearness of the life according to the Gospel. For these wretched men said in their ignorance, or rather in their desire to sharpen their blasphemous tongues against Him, If this man were from God, He would not have broken the Sabbath day. He says then, that God the Father will very readily vouchsafe His favour to those who have undoubting faith, and are well assured that He came out from God the Father. For the Father will, as it were, He says, hail in advance, and anticipate, the request of the Mediator, and overwhelm with spiritual blessings the mind of those who have a right understanding concerning Me, and not according to the imaginations of those who are too much enamoured of the letter of the Law.

And by the words I came out from God, we must surmise that He means either I was begotten from, and manifested Myself out of, His Substance (the words being taken with reference to what goes before as to His existing in a sense independently of His Father but not altogether separately from Him; for the Father is in the Son, and the Son again by Nature in the Father); or we must take the words “I came out from,” as meaning I became even as you are; that is, a Man, endued with your form and nature. For the peculiar nature of any being may be conceived of as the place from which it proceeds, when it is transformed into anything else and becomes what it was not before. We are indeed far from asserting that when He took the form of man even as ourselves, being at the same time truly the Only-begotten, He divested Himself of His Godhead. For He is the same yesterday, and to-day, yea and for ever. But when He took upon Himself a nature that was not His own, while at the same time He retained His peculiar attributes, He may be conceived of as having come forth from God, in a sense appropriate to this passage. You may take, if you choose, the words I came forth from the Father, in yet another sense, as follows: The Pharisees, only apt in error, as I have already said, thought that Christ came before the world like one of the false prophets, with no mission from God, but of His own motion; inasmuch as they were accustomed to point out to those that went to Him, that Christ’s teaching conflicted with the Law. And for this reason they considered Him guilty of disobedience, declaring that the keeping of the Law is most acceptable to God the Father, but it was broken by His teaching. They therefore rejected Christ as an enemy of God, and as having chosen to oppose the dispensation given to them from Him through Moses, and argued that He was for this reason an alien from God. But not so the blessed disciples. For they loved Him, and had their minds exalted above the madness of the Jews, and they had a genuine faith that He came out from God, as we have just been told. For this cause then were they beloved of the Father, and were requited, as it were, by receiving equal favour from Him. And if they who believe that the Son came out from God are very dear and acceptable to God the Father, surely they who are diseased with the contrary opinion are accursed and abominable in God’s sight. And if God is very ready to hearken to those who love the Son, clearly He will not accept the prayers of His enemies; and this is what is said by the mouth of Isaiah to them: And when ye spread forth your hands to Me, I will hide Mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

28 I came out from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father.

Herein, then, in the fact that our Lord went back to the Father and returned with power to the place from which He knew that He had gone forth, is proof clear and incontrovertible, that He was not one of the false prophets, and that He did not come to utter to us the promptings of man’s private judgment, or to teach us doctrines contrary to the Father’s Will, as the demented Jews ignorantly imagined. Granting then, (so a man might speak, wishing to combat the perverse opinions of the Jews) that He was not the true Christ, as you say, O Jews, and that without the approval of God the Father He introduced the teaching of the life according to the Gospel, showing that the commandment of the Law was now barren, and so profitless for the attainment of perfection in piety; (for you accuse Him as a Sabbath-breaker, and, when He did any wonderful works among you, you impiously said that He used to do them by Beelzebub the prince of the devils); how then was it that He ascended into heaven itself? How was it that the Father gave a share of His throne, and the angels threw open wide the gates of heaven, to Him Who combated His decrees as you say, and propounded doctrines contrary to the Will of the Sovereign of the Universe? Was His Ascension unobserved? Of a truth, great was the crowd of witnesses to whom the Divine and heavenly messenger spake the words: Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? this Jesus, Which was received up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye beheld Him going into heaven. What hast thou, O Jews, to say in reply? Wilt thou not honour with obedience even the voice of an angel? Wilt thou not accept the testimony of the witnesses, though those who gazed upon the scene were many in number? And yet the Law says clearly, In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. How then any longer can the reproach of being a false prophet be brought with any justice against Him, Who of His own power returns to the Father in heaven? And will it not rather follow, by the convincing logic of facts, that we should entertain the firm conviction that He came from God, that is from the Father, and is in fact no other than He Whom the Law and the prophets foretold unto us?

And when He says that He came into this world and again left the world and went to the Father, He does not mean that He either abandoned the Father when He became Man, nor that He abandoned the race of man when in His flesh He went to the Father; for He is truly God, and with His ineffable power filleth all things, and is not far from anything that exists.

29 His disciples say unto Him, Lo, now speakest Thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. 30 Now know we that Thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask Thee: by this we believe that Thou earnest forth from God.

They marvel at the convincing nature of the proof He gives them, and are amazed at the clearness of His language, for without any concealment He made His speech to them right openly. They rejoice therefore at receiving a proof rid of all difficulty, and declare that His words have in them nothing hard to understand, but that His language here is so easily intelligible that it does not seem in the smallest degree to partake of the nature of a parable. And they get also this additional benefit: Since Thou knowest, they say, what is whispered in secret, and hast now given us this information in the words Thou hast just spoken, anticipating thereby the questions we might have asked in our desire to elicit it, we are persuaded that Thou art indeed come from God. For to know, they say, what is secret and hidden can belong to the God of all and to none other. And since Thou knowest all things of Thyself, is it not beyond question that Thou hast emanated from God that knoweth all things? So this truly Divine and marvellous sign also availed to nurture in the disciples with the rest undoubting faith, so that we can see in them the truth of the saying: Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. And they say, “Now are we sure;” not meaning thereby that they then let into their minds the first beginning of faith when they heard these words and recognised the sign, I mean the omniscience of Christ; but rather that they began to establish firmly in their hearts the faith that had at first gained admittance there, and to attain a state of unalterable conviction that He was God, and sprang from the true and living God. We shall accept then the expression “Now are we sure,” as referring not to the first beginning of faith, but to the occasion of its first being firmly settled in that apprehension of Christ’s Nature now honoured with approval.

31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? 32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea is now come, that ye shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.

The Saviour, however, very gently tells them that the time when they should be confirmed in all goodness was not yet; but that this would come to pass on the occasion of the descent of the Holy Ghost unto them from heaven and power from on high, according to the Scripture. For then, declaring that their human faintheartedness was perfected in strength, they were pre-eminent for their invincible hardihood, not fearing the risings of the Jews against them, nor the unbridled wrath of the Pharisees, nor any other peril, but showing themselves the champions of the Divine message, and openly declaring: We must obey God rather than men; for we cannot but speak the things which we saw and heard. While then He points out that they are not yet confirmed in perfect faith, through their not having partaken of communion with the Spirit; setting before them, as a proof, the cowardice that they would presently display; at the same time, by foretelling that this would shortly come to pass, He manifestly confers on them no small benefit. For they would be grounded more firmly in the faith, that He was by Nature God, when they had fully grasped the belief that the future was in no way hid from Him. Behold then, He says, the time will shortly come, nay, is now at hand, when ye will leave Me alone and depart to your own. Herein He says indirectly, only by implication, that, overcome by unmanly cowardice, they would take thought only for their own lives; and, preferring their own safety to the affection they owed to their Master, would flee to the nearest place of refuge. How then “are ye now sure,” when you have not yet quit yourselves of the reproach of imputations on your courage, because as yet you have no participation in the courage which is given by the Spirit? And that the blessed disciples betook themselves to flight and were terrified at the onslaught of the Jews, when the traitor appeared bringing with him the impious band of soldiers and the servants of the leaders, is beyond question. Then did they leave Christ alone; that is, with reference to the absence of all those who were wont to follow and attend upon Him: for He was not alone, insomuch as He was God, and of God, and in God, by Nature and indivisibly. Christ indeed says this, speaking rather as Man and for our sakes, with intent to teach us that when we are assailed by temptation, persecution, and such like, and are called to encounter some peril that may bring us glory, I mean in God’s service, we are not therefore to be fainthearted about our ability to escape, because none of our brethren of kindred soul to us are running the race side by side with us, cheering us so far as in them lies, and all but sharing by their sympathy the danger which is imminent. For even if all these betake themselves to flight, gaining in their own persons an advantage over us by their cowardice which is grievous and hard to bear, we ought to bear in mind that God’s arm will not be shortened on that account. For He will alone avail to save him that is faithful unto Him. For we are not alone; and, though we see no friend beside us, as I have just said, we have God Who is all powerful with us at our side, to aid and fight in the conflict, shielding us with all-sufficient succour, as the Psalmist says: With favour hast Thou encompassed us as with a shield! We make these observations on this passage, not as considering love of life something honourable and worthy admiration, on occasions when we can bring our life in the body to a glorious end, fighting in the ranks with those who risk their lives for God’s sake, but that we may rather be persuaded of this, that even though there be none willing and zealous to share the conflict with us, we ought not to be faint at heart, for we shall not be alone, for God is with us.

33 These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Christ herein, so to say, well sums up to our profit His discourse to them; and, compressing into a few words the meaning of what He had said, sets before them in brief the knowledge of His Will. For I have now, He says, spoken these words unto you, exhorting you to have peace in Me, and that ye may also know clearly that you will meet with trouble in the world, and will be involved in many tribulations for My sake. But you will not be vanquished by the perils that encompass you, for I have overcome the world.

But that I may make what I have said as clear as possible unto you, come let me first explain what “having peace in Christ” means. For the world, or those who are enamoured of the things in the world, are continually at peace among themselves, but in nowise have they peace in Christ. As, for example, the dissolute seekers of the pleasures of sense are therefore most dear and acceptable to those of similar pursuits; and the man who covets riches that do not belong to him, and is for this reason grasping or thievish, will be altogether to the taste of those who practise a kindred vice. For every creature loves his kind, according to the saying, and man will be attracted to his like. But in all connexions of this sort the holy name of peace is put to base uses; and the proverb is true, but it is not with the Saints as it is with the wicked. For sin is not the bond of peace, but faith, hope, love, and the power of piety towards God. And this is in Christ. The chiefest then of all good gifts towards us is clearly peace in Christ, which brings in its train brotherly love as near akin to itself. Paul says that love is the perfect fulfilling of the Divine Law; and that to those who love one another will surely come the love of God Himself above all things else is beyond question, as John says that if a man love his brother he will as a consequence love God Himself.

He points out also another truth, I mean in the words: In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. Any one choosing to construe these words in a simple sense might reason thus: Christ appeared superior to, and stronger than, every sin and worldly hindrance; and since He has conquered, He will also bestow the power to conquer upon such as attempt the struggle for His sake. And if any man seek to find a more recondite meaning for the words, he might reflect in this wise: Just as we have hereby overcome corruption and death, since as Man, for us and for our sakes Christ became alive again, making His own Resurrection the beginning of the conquest over death, the power of His Resurrection will surely extend even unto us, since He that overcame death was one of us, insomuch as He was Incarnate Man; and as we overcome sin, and as we overcome death that wholly died in Christ first, Christ, that is, being the purveyor to us of the blessing as His own kindred, so also we ought to be of good cheer, because we shall overcome the world; for Christ as Man overcame it for our sakes, being herein the Beginning and the Gate and the Way for the race of man. For they who once were fallen and vanquished have now overcome and are conquerors, through Him Who conquered as one of ourselves, and for our sakes. For if He conquered as God, then it profiteth us nothing; but if as man, we are herein conquerors. For He is to us the Second Adam come from heaven, according to the Scripture. Just as then we have borne the image of the earthy, according to its likeness falling under the yoke of sin, so likewise also shall we bear the image of the heavenly, that is Christ, overcoming the power of sin and triumphing over all the tribulation of the world; for Christ has overcome the world.

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