“And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.”
Mark1 how at every step of the right progress in respect of the Gentiles, the beginning is brought in as matter of necessity. Before this (Peter) being found fault with, justified himself, and said all that he said in the’ tone of apology, which was what made his words acceptable: then, the Jews having turned away, upon this (Paul) came to the Gentiles.
Here again, seeing another extravagance coming in, upon this (the apostle) enacts the law. For as it is likely that they, as being taught of God, discoursed to all indifferently, this moved to jealousy them of the Jews (who had believed). And they did not merely speak of circumcision, but they said, Ye cannot even be saved. Whereas the very opposite to this was the case, that receiving circumcision they could not be saved. Do you mark how closely the trials succeed each other, from within, from without?
It is well ordered too, that this happens when Paul is present, that he may answer them. “When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.” (v. 2.) And Paul does not say, What? Have I not a right to be believed after so many signs? but he complied for their sakes. “And being brought on their way by the Church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.” (v. 3.)
And observe, the consequence is that all the Samaritans also, learn what has come to the Gentiles: and they rejoiced. “And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the Church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.” (v. 4.) See what a providence is here! “But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together to consider of this matter.
And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that of old days God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the Gospel, and believe.” (v. 5–7.) Observe Peter from the first standing aloof (κεχωρισμένον) from the affair, and even to this time judaizing. And yet (says he) “ye know.” (ch. 10:45; 11:2.) Perhaps those were present who of old found fault with him in the matter of Cornelius, and went in with him (on that occasion): for this reason he brings them forward as witnesses.
“From old days,” he says, “did choose among you.” What means, “Among you?” Either, in Palestine, or, you being present. “By my mouth.” Observe how he shows that it was God speaking by him, and no human utterance. “And God, that knoweth the hearts, gave testimony unto them:” he refers them to the spiritual testimony: “by giving them the Holy Ghost even as unto us.” (v. 8.) Everywhere he puts the Gentiles upon a thorough equality. “And put no difference between us and them, having purified their hearts by faith.” (v. 9.)
From faith alone, he says, they obtained the same gifts. This is also meant as a lesson to those (objectors); this is able to teach even them that faith only is needed, not works nor circumcision. For indeed they do not say all this only by way of apology for the Gentiles, but to teach (the Jewish believers) also to abandon the Law. However, at present this is not said. “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples?” (v. 10.) What means, “Tempt ye God?” As if He had not power to save by faith.
Consequently, it proceeds from a want of faith, this bringing in the Law. Then he shows that they themselves were nothing benefited by it, and he turns the whole (stress of his speech) against the Law, not against them, and (so) cuts short the accusation of them: “which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear. But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus we shall be saved, even as they.” (v. 11.) How full of power these words!
The same that Paul says at large in the Epistle to the Romans, the same says Peter here. “For if Abraham,” says (Paul), “was justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God.” (Rom. 4:2.) Do you perceive that all this is more a lesson for them than apology for the Gentiles? However, if he had spoken this without a plea for speaking, he1 would have been suspected: an occasion having offered, he lays hold of it, and speaks out fearlessly. See on all occasions how the designs of their foes are made to work with them. If those had not stirred the question, these things would not have been spoken, nor what follows.2
(Recapitulation.) (b) But3 let us look more closely at what has been said. “And certain men,” etc. In Jerusalem, then, there were not any believers from among the Gentiles: but in Antioch of course there were. Therefore4 there came down certain yet laboring under this disease of the love of rule, and wishing to have those of the Gentiles attached to them. And yet Paul, though he too was learned in the Law, was not thus affected. “When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small disputation with them,” etc. (v. 2.) But when he returned from thence, the doctrine also became more exact. For if they at Jerusalem enjoin no such thing, much more these (have no right to do so). “And being brought on their way,” etc, “they caused no small joy to the brethren.” (v. 3.)
Do you mark, as many as are not enamoured of rule, rejoiced in their believing? It was no ambitious feeling that prompted their recitals, neither was it for display, but in justification of the preaching to the Gentiles. (v. 4.) Thus they say nothing of what had happened in the matter of the Jews.5 “But there arose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed,” etc. (v. 5.) (a) But even if they would needs bring over the Gentiles to their side, they learn that neither must the Apostles overlook it.6 “And the Apostles and elders,” etc. (v. 6.) “Among us,” he says, “God chose:” and “from old days:” long ago, he says, not now. And7 this too is no small point—at a time when Jews believed, not turned away (from the Gospel).
“Among us;” an argument from the place: “of old days,” from the time. And that expression, “Chose:” just as in their own case8 he says not, (so) willed it, but, “Chose that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the Gospel and believe.” Whence is this proved? From the Spirit. Then he shows that the testimony given them is not of grace merely, but of their virtue. “And God which knoweth the hearts bare them witness” (v. 8); having afforded to them nothing less (than to us), for, he says, “Put no difference between us and them.” (v. 9.) Why then, hearts are what one must everywhere look to.1 And it is very appositely said, “God that knoweth the hearts bare them witness:” as in the former instance, “Thou, Lord, that knowest the hearts of all men.” (ch. 1:24.)
For to show that this is the meaning, observe what he adds, “Put no difference between us and them.” When he has mentioned the testimony borne to them, then he utters that great word, the same which Paul speaks, “Neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision.” (1 Cor. 7:19.) “That he may make the twain one in Himself.” (Eph. 2:5.) Of all these the seeds lie in Peter’s discourse. And he does not say (between) them of the circumcision, but “Between us,” that is the Apostles, “and them.” Then, that the expression, “no difference” may not seem an outrage, After faith, he says—“Having purified their hearts by faith” (v. 10)—He thoroughly cleansed them first.2 Then he shows, not that the Law was evil, but themselves weak.—“But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus we shall be saved even as they.” (v. 11.)
Mark how he ends with a fearful consideration. He3 does not discourse to them from the Prophets, but from things present, of which themselves were witnesses. Of course4 (the Prophets) also themselves anon add their testimony (infra v. 15), and make the reason stronger by what has now come to pass. And observe, he first permits the question to be moved in the Church, and then speaks. “And put no difference between”—he said not, them of the circumcision, but “us and them,” i. e. the Gentiles: for5 this (gradual advance) little by little is stronger. “Why therefore tempt ye God?” who is become (the) God of the Gentiles: far this was tempting:6 whether He is able to save even after the Law. See what he does. He shows that they are in danger. For if, what the Law could not do, faith had power to do, “we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus we shall be saved even as they” (comp. Gal. 2:16): but faith falling off, behold, themselves (are) in destruction. And he did not say, Why do ye disbelieve? which was more harsh, but, “Tempt God,” and that when the fact is demonstrated.
(c) Great effrontery this, of the Pharisees, that even after faith they set up the Law, and will not obey the Apostles. But see these, how mildly they speak, and not in the tone of authority: such words are amiable, and more apt to fix themselves in the mind. Observe, it is nowhere a display of words, but demonstration by facts, by the Spirit. And yet, though they have such proofs, they still speak gently. And observe they7 do not come accusing those at Antioch, but “declaring all things that God had done with them:” (v. 4) but thence again these men lay hold upon the occasion (to compass their own objects), “but there rose up,” etc. (v. 1.) Such were the pains they took in their love of power: and it was not with the knowledge of the Apostles that they Paul and Barnabas were blamed. But still they brought forward none of these charges: but when they have proved the matter, then (the Apostles) write in stronger terms.
For gentleness8 is everywhere a great good: gentleness, I say, not stupid indifference; gentleness, not adulation: for between these there is a vast difference. Nothing ruffled Paul, nothing discomposed Peter. When thou hast convincing proofs, why lose thy temper, to render these of none effect? It is impossible for one who is out of temper ever to persuade. Yesterday also we discoursed about anger; but there is no reason why we should not to-day also; perchance a second exhortation coming directly after the first will effect somewhat. For indeed a medicine though of virtue to heal a wound, unless it be constantly renewed, mars all. And think not that our continual discoursing about the same things is a condemning of you: for if we condemned you, we should not discourse; but now, hoping that you will gain much, we speak these things.
Would indeed that we did speak constantly of the same things: would that there were no other subject of our discourses, than how we might overcome our passions. For is it not contrary to all reason, that while emperors, living in luxury and so great honor, have no subject of discourse either while sitting at table, or at any other time, save only how to overcome their enemies1—and therefore it is that they hold their assemblies each day, and appoint generals and soldiers, and demand taxes and tributes; and that of all state affairs, the moving causes are these two, the overcoming of those who make war upon them, and the establishing of their subjects in peace—we have no mind for such themes as this, nor ever even dream of conversing upon them: but how we may buy land, or purchase slaves, and make our property greater, these are subjects we can talk about every day, and never be tired of them: while concerning things in ourselves and really our own, we neither wish to speak ourselves, nor so much as dream of tolerating advice, nor of enduring to hear others speaking about them? But answer me, what do you talk about? About dinner? Why that is a subject for cooks. Of money? Nay, that is a theme for hucksters and merchants. Of buildings? That belongs to carpenters and builders. Of land? That talk is for husbandmen.
But for us, there is no other proper business, save this, how we may make wealth for the soul. Then let not the discourse be wearisome to you. Why is it that none finds fault with the physician for always discoursing of the healing art, nor with people of other crafts for talking about their peculiar arts? If indeed the mastery over our passions were really achieved, so that there were no need of putting us in mind, we might reasonably be taxed with ambition and display: or rather, not then either. For even if it were gained, for all that, there would be need of discoursing, that one might not relapse and remain uncorrected: as in fact physicians discourse not only to the sick, but also to the whole, and they have books on this subject, on the one part how to free from disease, on the other how to preserve health. So that even if we are well, still we must not give over, but must do all in order to the preserving of our health. And when we are sick there is a twofold necessity for advice: first, that we may be freed from the disease; secondly, that having been freed, we may not fall into it again. Well then, we are discoursing now by the method of treating the sick, not by the rules for the treatment of the healthy.
How then may one root out this evil passion? how subdue (ὑποσκελίσειε) this violent fever? Let us see whence it had its birth, and let us remove the cause. Whence is it wont to arise? From arrogance and much haughtiness. This cause then let us remove, and the disease is removed together with it. But what is arrogance? whence does it arise? for perhaps we are likely to have to go back to a still higher origin. But whatever course the reason of the thing may point out, that let us take, that we may go to the bottom of the mischief, and pluck it up by the roots. Whence then comes arrogance? From our not looking into our own concerns, but instead of that, busying ourselves about the nature of land, though we are not husbandmen, and the nature of gold, though we are not merchants, and concerning clothing, and everything else: while to ourselves and our own nature we never look at all. And who, you will say, is ignorant of his own nature?
Many: perhaps all, save a few: and if ye will, I will show the proof of it. For, tell me, what is man? If one were asked, will he be able to answer outright to the questions, In what he differs from the brutes, in what he is akin to the heavenly inhabitants, what can be made of man? For as in the case of any other material, so also in this case: man is the subject-matter, but of this can be made either an angel or a beast. Does not this seem a strange saying? And yet ye have often heard it in the Scriptures. For of certain human beings it was said, “he is the angel of the Lord” (Mal. 2:7): and “from his lips,” saith it, “they shall seek judgment” (Mal. 3:1): and again, “I send My angel before Thy face:” but of some, “Serpents, generation of vipers.” (Matt. 12:34.) So then, it all depends upon the use.
Why do I say, an angel? the man can become God, and a child of God. For we read, “I have said, Ye are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High.” (Ps. 82:6.) And what is greater, the power to become both God and angel and child of God is put into his own hands. Yea, so it is, man can be the maker of an angel. Perchance this saying has startled you? Hear however Christ saying: “In the Resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like unto the angels.” (Matt. 22:30.) And again, “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” (Matt. 19:12.) In a word, it is virtue which makes angels: but this is in our power: therefore we are able to make angels, though not in nature, certainly in will. For indeed if virtue be absent, it is no advantage to be an angel by nature; and the Devil is a proof of this, who was an angel once: but if virtue be present, it is no loss to be a man by nature; and John is a proof of this, who was a man, and Elias who went up into heaven, and all those who are about to depart thither.
For these indeed, though with bodies, were not prevented from dwelling in heaven: while those others, though without bodies, could not remain in heaven. Let no one then grieve or be vexed with his nature as if it were a hindrance to him, but with his will. He (the Devil) from being incorporeal became a lion: for lo! it saith, “Our adversary, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8): we from being corporeal, become angels. For just as if a person, having found some precious material, should despise it, as not being an artificer, it will be a great loss to him, whether it be pearls, or a pearl shell, or any other such thing that he has seen; so we likewise, if we are ignorant of our own nature, shall despise it much: but if we know what it is, we shall exhibit much zeal, and reap the greatest profits. For from this nature is wrought a king’s robe, from this a king’s house, from this nature are fashioned a king’s members: all are kingly. Let us not then misuse our own nature to our hurt. He has made us “a little lower than the angels,” (Ps. 8:5), I mean, by reason of death: but even that little we have now recovered. There is nothing therefore to hinder us from becoming nigh to the angels, if we will. Let us then will it, let us will it, and having exercised ourselves thoroughly, let us return honor to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, world without end, Amen.
Acts 15:13, 15.
“And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Symeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets.”
This (James) was bishop, as they say, and therefore he speaks last, and herein is fulfilled that saying, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” (Deut. 17:6; Matt. 18:16.) But observe the discretion shown by him also, in making his argument good from the prophets, both new and old.1 For he had no acts of his own to declare, as Peter had and Paul. And indeed it is wisely ordered that this (the active) part is assigned to those, as not intended. to be locally fixed in Jerusalem, whereas (James) here, who performs the part of teacher, is no way responsible for what has been done, while however he is not divided from them in opinion.2 (b) “Men and brethren,” he says, “hearken unto me.” Great is the moderation of the man. His also is a more complete oration, as indeed it puts the completion to the matter under discussion. (a) “Symeon,” he says, “declared:” (namely,) in Luke, in that he prophesied, “Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all nations, a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.”1 (c) “How God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His Name.” (Luke 2:25.)
Then, since that (witness), though2 from the time indeed he was manifest, yet had not authority by reason of his not being ancient, therefore he produces ancient prophecy also, saying, “And to this agree the words of the Prophets, as it is written: After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up.” (v. 16.) What? was Jerusalem raised up? Was it not rather thrown down? What3 sort of raising up does he call that which took place after the return from Babylon? “That the residue of men,” he says, “may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles upon whom My Name is called.” (v. 17.)
Then, what makes his word authoritative—“Saith the Lord, which doeth all these things:” and, for that this is no new thing, but all was planned from the beginning, “Known unto God are all His works from everlasting.”4 (v. 18.) And then again his authority (καὶ τὸ ἀξίωμα πάλιν) (as Bishop): “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: but that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollution of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” (v. 19–21.) Since5 then they had heard of the Law, with good reason he enjoins these things from the Law, that he may not seem to make it of no authority. And (yet) observe how he does not let them be told these things from the Law, but from himself, saying, It is not that I heard these things from the Law, but how?
“We have judged.” Then the decree is made in common. “Then pleased it the Apostles and elders, together with the whole Church, to choose men of their own company”—do you observe they do not merely enact these matters, and nothing more?—“and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: and they wrote letters by them after this manner.” (v. 22.) And observe, the more to authenticate the decree, they send men of their own, that there may be no room for regarding Paul and his company with suspicion. “The Apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia.” (v. 23.) And mark6 with what forbearance of all harsh vituperation of those (brethren) they indite their epistle.
“Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the Law: to whom we gave no such commandment.” (v. 24.) Sufficient was this charge against the temerity of those men, and worthy of the Apostles’ moderation, that they said nothing beyond this. Then to show that they do not act despotically, that all are agreed in this, that with deliberation they write this—“It seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send men of ours whom we have chosen” (v. 25)—then, that it may not look like disparagement of Paul and Barnabas, that those men are sent, observe the encomium passed upon them—“together with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us”—it is not man’s doing, it says—“to lay upon you no greater burden”—again it calls the Law a burden: then apologizing even for these injunctions—“save these necessary things” (v. 26–28): “That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. (v. 29.)
For these things the New Testament did not enjoin: we nowhere find that Christ discoursed about these matters; but these things they take from the Law. “From things strangled,” it says, “and from blood.” here it prohibits murder. (Comp. Gen. 9:5.) “So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.” (v. 30–31.) Then those (brethren) also exhorted them: and having established them, for towards Paul they were contentiously disposed, so departed from them in peace. “And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the Apostles.” (v. 32–33.) No more factions and fightings, but thenceforth Paul taught.1
(Recapitulation.) “Then all the multitude kept silence,” etc. (v. 12.) There was no arrogance in the Church. After Peter Paul speaks, and none silences him: James waits patiently, not starts up2 (for the next word). Great the orderliness (of the proceedings). No word speaks John here, no word the other Apostles, but held their peace, for James was invested with the chief rule, and think it no hardship. So clean was their soul from love of glory. “And after that they had held their peace, James answered,” etc. (v. 13.) (b) Peter indeed spoke more strongly, but James here more mildly: for thus it behooves one in high authority, to leave what is unpleasant for others to say, while he himself appears in the milder part. (a) But what means it, “How God first (πρῶτον) did visit?” (v. 14.) (It means) from the beginning (ἐξ ἀρχῆς).3 (c) Moreover he well says, “Symeon expounded” (ἐξηγήσατο) (or, interpreted), implying that he too spake the mind of others. “And to this agree,” etc. Observe how he shows that this is a doctrine of old time.
“To take out of the Gentiles,” he says, “a people for His Name.” (v. 15.) Not simply, Chose, but, “for His Name,” that is for His glory. His Name is not shamed by the taking (προλήψει) the Gentiles first, but it is even a greater glory.—Here some even great thing is hinted at: that these are chosen before all.4 “After this I will return, and rebuild the tabernacle of David which is fallen down.” (v. 16.) But if one would look into the matter closely, the kingdom of David does in fact now stand, his Offspring reigning everywhere. For what is the good of the buildings and the city, with none obeying there? And what is the harm arising from the destruction of the city, when all are willing to give their very souls? There is that come which is more illustrious than David: in all parts of the world is he now sung. This has come to pass: if so, then must this also come to pass, “And I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:” to what end? “that the residue of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom My Name is called.” (v. 17.)
If then it was to this end that the city rose again (namely) because of Him (that was to come) of them, it shows that of the building of the city the cause is, the calling of the Gentiles. Who are “the residue?” those who are then left.5 “And all the Gentiles, upon whom My Name is called:” but observe, how he keeps the due order, and brings them in second. “Saith the Lord, which doeth these things.” Not “saith” (only), but “doeth.” Why then, it was God’s work.—“But the question is other than this (namely), what Peter spoke more plainly, whether they must be circumcised. Then why dost thou harangue about these matters?” For what the objectors asserted, was not that they must not be received upon believing, but that it must be with the Law. And upon this Peter well pleaded: but then, as this very thing above all others troubled the hearers, therefore he sets this to rights again (θεραπεύει).
And observe, that which was needful to be enacted as a rule, that it is not necessary to keep the Law, this Peter introduced: but the milder part,1 the truth which was received of old, this James saith, and dwells upon that concerning which nothing is2 written, in order that having soothed their minds by that which is acknowledged, he may opportunely introduce this likewise. “Wherefore,” saith he, “my sentence is, not to trouble them which from among the Gentiles do turn unto God” (v. 19), that is, not to subvert: for, if God called them, and these observances subvert, we fight against God. And3 again, “them which from the Gentiles,” he saith, “do turn.” And he says well, with authority, the “my sentence is. But that we write unto them that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication”—(b) and yet they often insisted upon these points in discoursing to them4—but, that he may seem also to honor the Law (he mentions), these also, speaking (however) not as from Moses but from the Apostles, and to make the commandments many, he has divided the one into two (saying), “and from things strangled, and from blood.” (v. 20.)
For these, although relating to the body, were necessary to be observed, because (these things) caused great evils, “For Moses hath of old times in every city,” etc. (v. 21.) This above all quieted them. (ἀνέπαυσεν) (a) For this cause I affirm that it is good (so “to write to them.”) Then why do we not write the same injunctions to Jews also? Moses discourses unto them. See what condescension (to their weakness)! Where it did no harm, he set him up as teacher, and indulged them with a gratification which hindered nothing, by permitting Jews to hear him in regard of these matters, even while leading away from him them of the Gentiles. See what wisdom! He seems to honor him, and to set him up as the authority for his own people, and by this very thing he leads away the Gentiles from him!5
“Being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” Then why do they not learn (what is to be learnt) out of him, for instance?6 Through the perversity of these men. He shows that even these (the Jews) need observe no more (than these necessary things). And if we do not write to them, it is not that they are bound to observe anything more, but only that they have one to tell them. And he does not say, Not to offend, nor to turn them back,1 which is what Paul said to the Galatians, but, “not to trouble them:” he shows that the point (κατόρθωμα) if carried is nothing but a mere troubling. Thus he made an end of the whole matter;2 and while he seems to preserve the Law by adopting these rules from it, he unbinds it by taking only these. (c)3 There was a design of Providence in the disputation also, that after the disputation the doctrine might be more firm. “Then pleased it the Apostles to send chosen men of their own company,” etc., no ordinary persons, but the “leading men; having written” (letters) “by them after this manner.
To those in Antioch,” it says, “and Syria and Cilicia,” (v. 22, 23) where the disease had its birth. Observe how they say nothing harsher (φορτικώτερον) against those men, but look to one thing only, namely, to undo (the mischief) which has been done. For this would make even the movers of the faction there to confess (that they were wrong). They do not say, The seducers, the pestilent fellows, or suchlike: though where need is, Paul does this, as when he says, “O full of all guile” (ch. 13:10): but here, the point being carried, there was no need. And observe, they do not put it, That certain from us ordered you to keep the Law, but, “Troubled you with words, subverting your souls,”—nothing could be more proper (κυριώτερον) than that word: none (of the other speakers) has so spoken of the things done by those men.
“The souls,” he says, already strongly established, these persons are ἀνασχευάζοντες as in speaking of a building, “taking them down again:” displacing them (μετατιθέντες) from the (foundation).4 “To whom,” he says, “we gave no such commandment. It seemed good therefore to us being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you together with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men that have hazarded their lives for the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v. 25, 26.) If “beloved,” they will not despise them, if they “have hazarded their lives,” they have themselves a right to be believed. “We have sent,” it saith, “Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by word of mouth.” (v. 27.)
For it was necessary that there should be not merely the Epistle there by itself, lest they should say that Paul and Barnabas had suppressed5 (the real purport), that they said one thing instead of another. The encomium passed upon Paul stopped their mouths. For this is the reason why neither Paul comes alone nor Barnabas (with him), but others also from the Church; that he may not be suspected, seeing it was he that advocated that doctrine: nor yet those from Jerusalem alone. It shows that they have a right to be believed. “For it seemed good,” say they, “to the Holy Ghost and to us” (v. 28): not making themselves equal (to Him6)—they are not so mad. But why does it put this (so)? Why did they add, “And to us,” and yet it had sufficed to say, “To the Holy Ghost?” The one, “To the Holy Ghost,” that they may not deem it to be of man; the other, “To us,” that they may be taught that they also themselves admit (the Gentiles), although themselves being in circumcision.
They have to speak to men who are still weak and afraid of them: this is the reason why this also is added. And it shows that it is not by way of condescension that they speak, neither because they spared them, nor as considering them weak, but the contrary; for great was the reverence of the teachers also.7 “To lay upon you no greater burden”—they1 are ever calling it a burden—and again, “save these necessary things:” for that was a superfluous burden. See here a brief Epistle, with nothing more in it (than was needed), neither arts of persuasion (κατασκευὰς) nor reasonings, but simply a command: for it was the Spirit’s legislating. “So when they were dismissed they came to Antioch, and having gathered the multitude together, they delivered to them the epistle.” (v. 30.) After the epistle, then (Judas and Silas) also themselves exhort them by word (v. 31): for this also was needful, that (Paul and Barnabas) might be quit of all suspicion. “Being prophets also themselves,” it says, exhorted the brethren “with many words.” It shows here the right that Paul and Barnabas have to be believed. For Paul also might have done this, but it behooved to be done by these.2 “And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace. (v. 33.)
No3 more faction. On this occasion, I suppose, it was that they received the right hand, as he says himself, “They gave to me and Barnabas right hands of fellowship.” (Gal. 2:9.) There he says, “They added nothing to me.”4 (ib. 6.) For they confirmed his view: they praised and admired it.—It shows that even from human reasonings it is possible to see this, not to say from the Holy Ghost only, that they sinned a sin not easy to be corrected. For such things need not the Spirit.—It shows that the rest are not necessary, but superfluous. seeing these things are necessary. “From which if ye keep yourselves,” it saith, “ye shall do well.” It shows that nothing is lacking to them, but this is sufficient. For it might have been done also without letters, but that there may be a law in writing (they send this Epistle): again, that they may obey the law (the Apostles), also told those men (the same things), and they did this, “and confirmed them, and having tarried a space were let go in peace.”
Let us not then be offended on account of the heretics. For look, here at the very outset of the preaching, how many offences there were: I speak not of those which arose from them that were without; for these were nothing: but of the offences which were within. For instance, first Ananias, then the “murmuring,” then Simon the sorcerer; afterwards they that accused Peter on account of Cornelius, next the famine,5 lastly this very thing, the chief of the evils. For indeed it is impossible when any good thing has taken place, that some evil should not also subsist along with it. Let us not then be disturbed, if certain are offended, but let us thank God even for this, because it makes us more approved.
For not tribulations only, but even temptations also render us more illustrious. A man is no such great lover of the truth, only for holding to it when there is none to lead him astray from it: to hold fast to the truth when many are drawing him away, this makes the proved man. What then? Is this why offences come? I am not speaking as if God were the author of them: God forbid! but I mean, that even out of their wickedness He works good to us: it was never His wish that they should arise: “Grant to them,” He saith, “that they may be one” (John 17:21): but since offences do come, they are no hurt, to these, but even a benefit: just as the persecutors unwillingly benefit the Martyrs by dragging them to martyrdom, and yet they are not driven to this by God; just so is it here.
Let us not look (only at this), that men are offended: this very thing is itself a proof of the excellence of the doctrine—that many stimulate and counterfeit it: for it would not be so, if it were not good. And this I will now show, and make on all hands plain to you. Of perfumes, the fragrant spices are they which people adulterate and counterfeit; as, for instance, the amomum leaf. For because these are rare and of necessary use, therefore there come to be spurious imitations likewise. Nobody would care to counterfeit any common article. The pure life gets many a false pretender to it: no man would care to counterfeit the man of vicious life; no, but the man of monastic life.—
What then shall we say to the heathen? There comes a heathen and says, “I wish to become a Christian, but I know not whom to join: there is much fighting and faction among you, much confusion: which doctrine am I to choose?” How shall we answer him? “Each of you” (says he) “asserts, ‘I speak the truth.’ ” (b) No1 doubt: this is in our favor. For if we told you to be persuaded by arguments, you might well be perplexed: but if we bid you believe the Scriptures, and these are simple and true, the decision is easy for you. If any agree with the Scriptures, he is the Christian; if any fight against them, he is far from this rule. (a) “But which am I to believe, knowing as I do nothing at all of the Scriptures? The others also allege the same thing for themselves. What then (c) if the other come, and say that the Scripture has this, and you that it has something different, and ye interpret the Scriptures diversely, dragging their sense (each his own way)?” And you then, I ask, have you no understanding, no judgment? “And how should I be able (to decide),” says he, “I who do not even know how to judge of your doctrines? I wish to become a learner, and you are making me forthwith a teacher.”
If he say this, what, say you, are we to answer him? How shall we persuade him? Let us ask whether all this be not mere pretence and subterfuge. Let us ask whether he has decided (κατέγνωκε) against the heathen (that they are wrong). The fact2 he will assuredly affirm, for of course, if he had not so decided, he would not have come to (enquire about) our matters: let us ask the grounds on which he has decided, for to be sure he has not settled the matter out of hand. Clearly he will say, “Because (their gods) are creatures, and are not the uncreated God.” Good. If then he find this in the other parties (αἱρέσεις), but among us the contrary, what argument need we? We all confess that Christ is God. But let us see who fight (against this truth), and who not. Now we, affirming Him to be God, speak of Him things worthy of God, that He hath power, that He is not a slave, that He is free, that He doeth of Himself: whereas the other says the reverse.
Again I ask: if you would learn (to be) a physician,3? And yet among them are many (different) doctrines. For if you accept without more ado just what you are told, this is not acting like a man: but if you have judgment and sense, you shall assuredly know what is good. We affirm the Son to be God, we verify (ἐπαληθεύομεν) what we affirm: but they affirm indeed, but (in fact) confess not.—But4 to mention (something) even plainer: those have certain persons from whom they are called, openly showing the name of the heresiarch himself, and each heresy in like manner: with us, no man has given us a name, but the faith itself. However, this (talk of yours) is mere pretence and subterfuge. For answer me: how is it that if you would buy a cloak, though ignorant of the art of weaving, you do not speak such words as these—“I do not know how to buy; they cheat me”—but do all you can to learn, and so whatever else it be that you would buy: but here you speak these words? For at this rate, you will accept nothing at all. For let there be one that has no (religious) doctrine whatever: if he should say what you say about the Christians—
“There is such a multitude of men, and they have different doctrines; this a heathen, that a Jew, the other a Christian: no need to accept any doctrine whatever, for they are at variance one with another; but I am a learner, and do not wish to be a judge”5—but if you have yielded (so far as) to pronounce against (καταγινώσκειν) one doctrine, this pretext no longer has place for you. For just as you were able to reject the spurious, so here also, having come, you shall be able to prove what is profitable. For he that has not pronounced against any doctrine at all, may easily say this: but he that has pronounced against any, though he have chosen none, by going on in the same way, will be able to see what he ought to do. Then let us not make pretexts and excuses, and all will be easy. For, to show you that all this is mere excuse, answer me this: Do you know what you ought to do, and what to leave undone? Then why do you not what you ought? Do that, and by right reason seek of God, and He will assuredly reveal it to thee.
“God,” it saith, “is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him.” (ch. 10:34, 35.) It cannot be that he who hears without prejudice should not be persuaded. For just as, if there were a rule, by which everything behooved to be put straight, it would not need much consideration, but it would be easy to detect the person who measures falsely (τὸν παραμετροῦντα λαβεῖν), so is it here. “Then how is it they do not see it at a glance?” Many things are the cause of this: both preconceived opinion, and human causes (αἰτίαι). The others, say you, say the same thing about us. How? For are we separated from the Church? have we our heresiarchs? Are we called after men—as one of them has Marcion,1 another Manichæus, a third Arius, for the author and leader (of his sect)? Whereas if we likewise do receive an appellation from any man, we do not take them that have been the authors of some heresy, but men that presided over us, and governed the Church.
We have no “masters upon the earth”—God forbid—we have “One Master that is in heaven.” (Matt. 23:9, 10.) “And those also,” says he, “say the same.” But there stands the name set over them, accusing them, and stopping their mouths.—How2 is it, there have been many heathen, and none of them asked these questions: and among the philosophers there were these (differences), and yet none of those holding the right party (αἵρεσιν) was hindered (thereby)?—Why did not (those believers) say, when (the others) raised these questions, “Both these and those are Jews: which must we believe?” But they believed as they ought. Then let us also obey the laws of God, and do all things according to His good pleasure,3 that having virtuously passed this life present, we may be enabled to attain unto the good things promised to them that love Him, by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together, be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
“Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.”
Observe again their humility, how they let others also take part in the preaching. “And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good (ἡξίου see note 3, p. 213) to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention (or exasperation) was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other.” (v. 36–39.)
And already indeed Luke has described to us the character of the Apostles,4 that the one was more tender and indulgent, but this one more strict and austere. For the gifts are diverse—(the gifts, I say), for that this is a gift is manifest—but the one befitting one, the other another set of characters, and if they change places, harm results instead of good. (b) In the Prophets5 too we find this: diverse minds, diverse characters: for instance, Elias austere, Moses meek. So here Paul is more vehement. And observe for all this, how gentle he is. “Thought not good,” it says, “to take him with them that had departed from them from Pamphylia.” (a) And there seems indeed to be exasperation (παροξυσμός), but in fact the whole matter is a plan of the Divine Providence, that each should receive his proper place: and it behooved that they should not be upon a par, but the one should lead, and the other be led. “And so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; and Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the Churches.” (v. 39–41.)
And this also is a work of Providence. For the Cyprians had exhibited nothing of the like sort as they at Antioch and the rest: and those needed the softer character, but these needed such a character as Paul’s. “Which1 then,” say you, “did well? he that took, or he that left?” (c) For just as a general would not choose to have a low person always to his baggage-bearer, so neither did the Apostle. This corrected the others, and instructed (Mark) himself. “Then did Barnabas ill?” say you. “And how is it not amiss (ἄτοπον), that upon so small a matter there should arise so great an evil?” In the first place then, no evil did come of it, if, sufficing each for whole nations, they were divided the one from the other, but a great good. And besides, they would not readily have chosen to leave each other. But admire, I pray you, the writer, how he does not conceal this either.
“But at any rate,” say you, “if they must needs part, let it be without exasperation.” Nay, but if nothing more, observe this, that in this too is shown what was of man2 (in the preaching of the Gospel). For if the like behooved to be shown (even) in what Christ did, much more here. And besides, the contention cannot be said to be evil, when each disputes for such objects (as here) and with just reason. I grant you, if the exasperation were in seeking his own, and contending for his own honor, this might well be (reproved): but if wishing, both the one and the other, to instruct and teach, the one took this way and the other that, what is there to find fault with? For in many things they acted upon their human judgment; for they were not stocks or stones. And observe how Paul impeaches (Mark), and gives the reason. For of his exceeding humility3 he reverenced Barnabas, as having been partner with him in so great works, and being with him: but still he did not so reverence him, as to overlook (what was necessary).
Now which of them advised best, it is not for us to pronounce: but thus far (we may affirm), that it was a great arrangement of Providence, if these4 were to be vouchsafed a second visitation, but those were not to be visited even once.5
(a) “Teaching and preaching the word of the Lord.” (v. 35.) They6 did not simply tarry in Antioch, but taught. What did they “teach,” and what “preach” (evangelize)? They both (taught) those that were already believers, and (evangelized) those that were not yet such. “And some days after,” etc. (v. 36.) For because there were offences without number, their presence was needed. (d) “How they do,” he says. And this he did not know: naturally. See him ever alert, solicitous, not bearing to sit idle, though he underwent dangers without end. Do you mark, it was not of cowardice that he came to Antioch? He acts just as a physician does in the case of the sick. And the need of visiting them he showed by saying, “In which we preached the word. And Barnabas determined,” etc. (v. 37–40.) (So) Barnabas7 “departed, and went not with (him).” (b) The point to be considered, is not that they differed in their opinions, but that they accommodated themselves the one to the other (seeing), that thus it was a greater good their being parted:8 and the matter took a pretext from this.
What then? did they withdraw in enmity? God forbid! In fact you see after this Barnabas receiving many encomiums from Paul in the Epistles. There was “sharp contention,” it says, not enmity nor quarrelling. The contention availed so far as to part them. “And Barnabas took Mark,” etc. And with reason: for what each supposed to be profitable, he did not forego1 thereafter, because of the fellowship with the other. Nay, it seems to me that the parting took place advisedly (κατὰ σύνεσιν), and that they said one to another, “As I wish not, and thou wishest, therefore, that we may not fight, let us distribute the places.” So that in fact they did this, altogether yielding each to the other: for Barnabas wished Paul’s plan to stand, therefore withdrew; on the other hand, Paul wished the other’s plan to stand, therefore he withdrew.
Would to God we too made such separations, as to go forth for preaching. A wonderful man this is; and exceedingly great! To Mark this contest was exceedingly beneficial. For the awe inspired by Paul converted him, while the kindness of Barnabas caused that he was not left behind: so that they contend indeed, but the gain comes to one and the same end. For indeed, seeing Paul choosing to leave him, he would be exceedingly awed, and would condemn himself, and seeing Barnabas so taking his part, he would love him exceedingly: and so the disciple was corrected by the contention of the teachers: so far was he from being offended thereby. For if indeed they did this with a view to their own honor, he might well be offended: but if for his salvation, and they contend for one and the same object, to show that he who honored him had well determined,2 what is there amiss (ἄτοπον) in it?
(e) “But Paul,” it says, “departed, having chosen Silas, and being commended to the grace of God.” What is this? They prayed it says: they besought God. See on all occasions how the prayer of the brethren can do great things. And now he journeyed by land, wishing even by his journeying to benefit those who saw (τοὺς ὁρῶντας) him. For when indeed they were in haste they sailed, but now not so. (c) “And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the Churches. Then came he to Derbe and Lystra.” (v. 41.) Mark the wisdom of Paul: he does not go to other cities before he has visited them which had received the Word. For it is folly to run at random. This let us also do: let us teach the first in the first place, that these may not become an hindrance to them that are to come after.
“And, behold a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters; for they knew all that his father was a Greek.” (ch. 16:1–3.) It is indeed amazing, the wisdom of Paul! He that has had so many battles about circumcision, he that moved all things to this end, and did not give over until he had carried his point, now that the decree is made sure, circumcises the disciple. He not only does not forbid others, but himself does this thing. (b) “Him,” it says, “he would have to go forth with him.” And the wonder is this, that he even took him unto him.3
“Because of the Jews,” it says, “which were in those parts:” for they would not endure to hear the word from one uncircumcised. (a) Nothing could be wiser. So that in all things he looked to what was profitable: he did nothing upon his own preference (προλήψει). (c) And what (then)? Mark the success: he circumcised, that he might take away circumcision: for he preached the decrees of the Apostles. “And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the Apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the Churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.” (v. 4, 5.)
Dost thou mark fighting, and by fighting, edification? Not warred upon by others, but themselves doing contrary things, so they edified the Church! They introduced a decree not to circumcise, and he circumcises! “And so were the Churches,” it says, “established in the faith,” and in multitude: “increased,” it says, “in number daily.” Then he does not continue to tarry with these, as having come to visit them: but how? he goes further. “Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy, Ghost to preach the word in Asia,” (v. 6.) having left Phrygia and Galatia, they hastened into the interior. For, it says, “After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.” (v. 7.) Wherefore they were forbidden, he does not say, but that they were “forbidden,” he does say, teaching us to obey and not ask questions, and showing that they did many things as men.
“And the Spirit,” it says, “suffered them not: but having passed by Mysia they came down to Troas.” (v. 8.) “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” (v. 9.) Why a vision, and not the Holy Ghost? because He forbade the other.1 He would even in this way draw them over: since to the saints also He appeared in a dream, and in the beginning (Paul) himself saw a vision, “a man coming in and laying his hands upon him.” (ch. 9:12.) In2 this manner also Christ appears to him, saying, “Thou must stand before Cæsar.”
Then for this reason also He draws him thither, that the preaching may be extended. This is why he was forbidden to tarry long in the other cities, Christ urging him on. For these were to enjoy the benefit of John for a long time, and perhaps did not extremely need him (Paul), but thither he behooved to go. And now he crosses over and goes forth. “And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the Gospel unto them.” (v. 10.) Then the writer mentions also the places, as relating a history, and showing where he made a stay (namely), in the greater cities, but passed by the rest. “Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; and from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony.” (v. 11, 12.) It is a high distinction for a city, the being a colony. “And in this city we were tarrying certain days.” But let us look over again what has been said.
(Recapitulation.) “And after some days, Paul said,” etc. (ch. 15:36.) He put to Barnabas a necessity for their going abroad, saying “Let us visit the cities in which we preached the word.” “But Paul begged,” etc. (v. 38.) And yet no need for him to beg, who had to make an accusation presently. This3 happens even in the case where God and men are the parties: the man requests, God is wroth. For instance, when He saith, “If her father had spit in her face” (Num. 12:14): and again, “Let me alone, and in Mine anger I will blot out this people.” (Ex. 32:32.) And Samuel when he mourns for Saul. (1 Sam. 15:35.) For by both, great good is done. Thus also here: the one is wroth, the other not so. The same happens also in matters where we are concerned. And the sharp contention with good reason, that Mark may receive a lesson, and the affair may not seem mere stage-playing.
For it is not to be thought that he4 who bids, “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath,” (Eph. 4:26) would have been wroth because of such a matter as this: nor that he who on all occasions gave way would not have given way here, he who so greatly loved Paul that before this he sought him in Tarsus, and brought him to the Apostles, and undertook the alms in common with him, and in common the business relating to the decree. But they take themselves so as to instruct and make perfect by their separation them that need the teaching which was to come from them. And he rebukes others indeed, but bids do good to all men. As in fact he does elsewhere, saying, “But ye, be not weary in well-doing.” (2 Thess. 3:13.) This we also do in our common practice. Here it seems to me that others also were alike displeased with Paul. And thereupon taking them also apart, he does all, and exhorts and admonishes. Much can concord do, much can charity. Though it be for a great matter thou askest; though thou be unworthy, thou shalt be heard for thy purpose of heart: fear not.
“He went,” it says, “through” the cities “And, behold, there was a disciple, by name Timothy, who had a good report of the brethren which were in Lystra and Iconium.” (v. 41; 16:1.) Great was the grace of Timothy. When Barnabas departed (ἀπέστη), he finds another, equivalent to him. Of him he saith, “Remembering thy tears and thy unfeigned faith, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and in thy mother Eunice.” (2 Tim. 1:5.) His father continued to be a Gentile,1 and therefore it was that (Timothy) was not circumcised. (a) Observe the Law already broken. Or if not so, I suppose he was born after the preaching of the Gospel: but this is perhaps not so. (c) He was about to make him a bishop, and it was not meet that he should be uncircumcised. (e) And this was not a small matter, seeing it offended after so long a time:2 (b) “for from a child,” he says, “thou hast known the Holy Scriptures.” (ib. 3:15.) (d) “And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep.” (v. 4.)
For until then, there was no need for the Gentiles to keep any such. The beginning of the abrogation was the Gentiles’ not keeping these things, and being none the worse for it: nor having any inferiority in respect of faith: anon, of their own will they abandoned the Law. (f) Since therefore he was about to preach, that he might not smite the Jews a double blow, he circumcised Timothy. And yet he was but half (a Jew by birth),3 his father being a Greek: but yet, because that was a great point carried in the cause of the Gentiles, he did not care for this: for the Word must needs be disseminated: therefore also he with his own hands circumcised him.4 “
And so were the churches established in the faith.” Do you mark here also how from going counter (to his own object) a great good results? “And increased in number daily.” (v. 5.) Do you observe, that the circumcising not only did no harm, but was even of the greatest service? “And a vision appeared unto Paul in the night.” (v. 9.) Not now by Angels, as to Philip, as to Cornellius, but how? By a vision it is now shown to him: in more human sort, not now as before (i. e., v. 6, 7) in more divine manner. For where the compliance is more easy, it is done in more human sort; but where great force was needed, there in more divine. For since he was but urged to preach, to this end it is shown him in a dream: but to forbear preaching, he could not readily endure: to this end the Holy Ghost reveals it to him. Thus also it was then with Peter, “Arise, go down.” (ch. 10:20.)
For of course the Holy Spirit did not work what was otherwise easy: but (here) even a dream sufficed him. And to Joseph also, as being readily moved to compliance, the appearance is in a dream, but to the rest in waking vision. (Matt. 1:20; 2:13, 19.) Thus to Cornelius, and to Paul himself. “And lo, a man of Macedonia,” etc. and not simply enjoining, but “beseeching,” and from the very persons in need of (spiritual) cure. (ch. 10:3; 9:3.) “Assuredly gathering,” it says, “that the Lord had called us.” (v. 10), that is, inferring, both from the circumstance that Paul saw it and none other, and from the having been “forbidden by the Spirit,” and from their being on the borders; from all these they gathered. “Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course,” etc. (v. 11.) That is, even the voyage made this manifest: for there was no tardiness. It became the very root of Macedonia.1 It was not always in the way of “sharp contention” that the Holy Spirit wrought: but this so rapid progress (of the Word) was a token that the thing was more than human. And yet it is not said that Barnabas was exasperated, but, “Between them there arose a sharp contention.” (v. 39.) If the one was not exasperated neither was the other.
Knowing this, let us not merely pick out (ἐκλέγωμεν) these things, but let us learn and be taught by them: for they were not written without a purpose. It is a great evil to be ignorant of the Scriptures: from the things we ought to get good from, we get evil. Thus also medicines of healing virtue, often, from the ignorance of those who use them, ruin and destroy: and arms which are meant to protect, are themselves the cause of death, unless one know how to put them on. But the reason is, that we seek everything rather than what is good for ourselves. And in the case of a house, we seek what is good for it, and we would not endure to see it decaying with age, or tottering, or hurt by storms: but for our soul we make no account: nay, even should we see its foundations rotting, or the fabric and the roof, we make no account of it. Again, if we possess brute creatures, we seek what is good for them: we call in both horse-feeders and horse-doctors, and all besides:2 we attend to their housing, and charge those who are entrusted with them, that they may not drive them at random or carelessly, nor take them out by night at unseasonable hours, nor sell away their provender; and there are many laws laid down by us for the good of the brute creatures: but for that of our soul, there is no account taken.
But why speak I of brute creatures which are useful to us? There are many who keep small birds (or “sparrows”) “which are useful for nothing except that they simply amuse, and there are many laws even about them, and nothing is neglected or without order, and we take care for everything rather than for our own selves. Thus we make our selves more worthless than all. And if indeed a person abusively call us “dog,” we are annoyed: but while we are opprobrious to ourselves, not in word, but in deed, and do not even bestow as much care on our soul as on dogs, we think it no great harm. Do you see how all is full of darkness? How many are careful about their dogs, that they may not be filled with more than the proper food, that so they may be keen and fit for hunting, being set on by famine and hunger: but for themselves they have no care to avoid luxury: and the brute creatures indeed they teach to exercise philosophy, while they let themselves sink down into the savageness of the brutes.
The thing is a riddle. “And where are your philosophic brutes?” There are such; or, say, do you not take it to be philosophy, when a dog gnawed with hunger, after having hunted and caught his prey, abstains from the food; and though he sees his meal ready before him, and with hunger urging him on, yet waits for his master? Be ashamed of yourselves: teach your bellies to be as philosophic. You have no excuse. When you have been able to implant such philosophic self-command in an irrational nature, which neither speaks nor hears reason, shall you not much more be able to implant it in yourself? For that it is the effect of man’s care, not of nature is plain: since otherwise all dogs ought to have this habit.
Do you then become as dogs. For it is you that compel me to fetch my examples thence: for indeed they should be drawn from heavenly things; but since if I speak of those, you say, “Those are (too) great,” therefore I speak nothing of heavenly things: again, if I speak of Paul, you say, “He was an Apostle:” therefore neither do I mention Paul: if again I speak of a man, you say, “That person could do it:” therefore I do not mention a man even, but a brute creature; a creature too, that has not this habit by nature, lest you should say that it effected this by nature, and not (which is the fact) from choice: and what is wonderful, choice not self-acquired, but (the result of) your care. The creature does not give a thought to the fatigue, the wear and tear it has undergone in running down the prey, not a thought to this, that by its own proper toil it has made the capture: but casting away all these regards, it observes the command of its master, and shows itself superior to the cravings of appetite.
“True; because it looks to be praised, it looks to get a greater meal.” Say then to yourself, that the dog through hope of future pleasure, despises that which is present: while you do not choose for hope of future good things to despise those which are present; but he indeed knows, that, if he tastes of that food at the wrong time and against his master’s will, he will both be deprived of that, and not get even that which was apportioned to him, but receive blows instead of food: whereas you cannot even perceive this, and that which he has learnt by dint of custom, you do not succeed in acquiring even from reason. Let us imitate the dogs. The same thing hawks also and eagles are said to do: what the dogs do with regard to hares1 and deer, the same do those with regard to birds; and these too act from a philosophy learnt from men.
These facts are enough to condemn us, these enough to convict us. To mention another thing:—they that are skilled in breaking horses, shall take them, wild, fierce, kicking, biting, and in a short time so discipline them, that though the teacher be not there, it is a luxury to ride them, their paces are so thoroughly well-ordered: but the paces of the soul may be all disordered, and none cares for it: it bounds, and kicks, and its rider2 is dragged along the ground like a child, and makes a most disgraceful figure, and yet no one puts curbs on her, and leg-ties, and bits, nor mounts upon her the skilful rider—Christ, I mean. And therefore it is that all is turned upside down.
For when you both teach dogs to master the craving of the belly, and tame the fury in a lion, and the unruliness of horses, and teach the birds to speak plainly, how inconsistent must it not be—to implant achievements of reason in natures that are without reason, and to import the passions of creatures without reason into natures endowed with reason? There is no excuse for us, none. All who have succeeded (in mastering their passions) will accuse us, both believers and unbelievers: for even unbelievers have so succeeded; yea, and wild beasts, and dogs, not men only: and we shall accuse our own selves, since we succeed, when we will, but when we are slothful, we are dragged away.
For indeed many even of those who live a very wicked life, have oftentimes changed themselves when they wished. But the cause is, as I said, that we go about seeking for what is good for other things, not what is good for ourselves. If you build a splendid house, you know what is good for the house, not what is good for yourself: if you take a beautiful garment, you know what is good for the body, not for yourself: and if you get a good horse, it is so likewise. None makes it his mark how his soul shall be beautiful; and yet, when that is beautiful, there is no need of any of those things: as, if that be not beautiful, there is no good of them.
For like as in the case of a bride, though there be chambers hung with tapestry wrought with gold, though there be choirs of the fairest and most beautiful women, though there be roses and garlands, though there be a comely bridegroom, and the maidservants and female friends, and everybody about them be handsome, yet, if the bride herself be full of deformity, there is no good of all those; as on the other hand if she were beautiful, neither would there be any loss arising from (the want of) those, nay just the contrary; for in the case of an ugly bride, those would make her look all the uglier, while in the other case, the beautiful would look all the more beautiful: just so, the soul, when she is beautiful, not only needs none of those adjuncts, but they even cast a shade over her beauty. For we shall see the philosopher shine, not so much when in wealth, as in poverty. For in the former case many will impute it to his riches, that he is not superior to riches:3 but when he lives with poverty for his mate, and shines through all, and will not let himself be compelled to do anything base, then none claims shares with him in the crown of philosophy.
Let us then make our soul beauteous, if at least we would fain be rich. What profit is it, when your mules indeed are white and plump and in good condition, but you who are drawn by them are lean and scurvy and ill-favored? What is the gain, when your carpets indeed are soft and beautiful, full of rich embroidery and art, and your soul goes clad in rags, or even naked and foul? What the gain, when the horse indeed has his paces beautifully ordered, more like dancing than stepping, while the rider, together with his choral4 train and adorned with more than bridal ornaments, is more crooked than the lame, and has no more command over hands and feet than drunkards and madmen? Tell me now, if some one were to give you a beautiful horse, and to distort your body, what would be the profit?
Now you have your soul distorted, and care you not for it? Let us at length, I beseech you, have a care for our own selves. Do not let us make our own selves more worthless than all beside. If anyone insult us with words, we are annoyed and vexed: but insulting ourselves as we do by our deeds, we do not give a thought to it. Let us, though late, come at last to our senses, that we may be enabled by having much care for our soul, and laying hold upon virtue, to obtain eternal good things, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, might, honor, now and evermore, world without end. Amen.
1 Ὅρα πανταχοῦ τῆς εἰς τὰ ἔθνη διορθώσεως (the putting things right, the introduction of the right and proper course: mod. text μεταβάσεως) ἀναγκαίαν τὴν ἀρχὴν εἰσαγομένην. Mod. text ἀπʼ αὐτῶν εἰσαγ. which Ben. renders, vide ubique transitum ad Gentes necessario a Judæis inductum. But the meaning is: “Throughout, it is so ordered by the Providence of God, that the Apostles do not seem to act spontaneously in this matter, but to be led by the force of circumstances.” The persons (Peter, Paul, James) are not specified, the sense being: First, upon fault being found, there is apologizing and self-justifying: then, upon the Jews’ open aversion, the preaching comes to the Gentiles: now, upon a new emergency, a law is enacted.—In the next sentence, B. C. διαφόρως: A. and mod. text ἀδιαφόρως, which we retain.
1 Mod. text ἴσως οὐδαμῶς ὕποπτος ἦν, “perhaps he would not have been any way suspected.”
2 With Luke’s narrative of the Apostolic council at Jerusalem should be compared Paul’s (Gal. 2) which gives additional particulars. The conference marked an epoch in the history of the church. Here came into decisive conflict two opposing tendencies—the Pharisaic tendency which insisted that the Gentiles must enter the Kingdom through the door of the law, and the catholic spirit which. following the principles of Stephen’s apology and appreciating the revelations made to Peter, insisted that adherence to the Mosaic law was not only unnecessary, but was positively inconsistent with the freedom and completeness of Christ’s salvation. The decree of the council was, no doubt, of great service in checking the Judaizing tendencies of the early church. It was in the line of this decree that the work of Paul was done, as the champion of catholic Christianity. The chief points to be noted in v. 1–12 are: (1) The representatives of the narrower Jewish view came to Antioch on purpose to antagonize the work of Paul and Barnabas among the Gentiles (v. 1). (2) They took the extreme position that salvation depended on circumcision and caused great anxiety and debate among the Gentile Christians regarding their relations to the Mosaic law (v. 2). (3) The Apostles and messengers who were sent to appeal the question to the leaders of the mother church at Jerusalem answered their objections by the fact of the Gentiles’ conversion (v. 3–5). (4) Peter’s position was now clear and pronounced. This is implied even in his subsequent conduct at Antioch whence he withdrew from the Gentiles (Gal. 2:11 sq.) which Paul represents as an inconsistency. (5) Peter’s view is first given both on account of his prominence among the Apostles and because he had been the first to bear the gospel to the Gentiles.—G. B. S.
3 In the Mss. and Edd. the part marked (b) is transposed to the beginning (c) of the remarks introductory to the morale, so that the Recapitulation (announced by mod. text at the end of the first sentence of (a) is split into two halves and the latter given first. In the old text the two parts (b) (c) make the entire Recapitulation, so that it is by no means ἀκριβέστερον.
4 Mod. text “Therefore they depart (thither) and stay no short time there (ch. 14:28). ‘But there arose certain of the Pharisees (v. 5) yet laboring under the disease,” etc.
5 τῶν εἰς τοὺς Ἰουδαίους συμβεβηκότων: i. e. of the dispute about circumcision, see below p. 203, note 7. The first sentence of (c) “Great effrontery (this) of the Pharisees,” etc., would come in suitably here, but it is required for introduction of the sentence which follows it, “But see the Apostles,” etc.
6 Here mod. text has the formula, Ἀλλʼ ἴδωμεν ἄνωθεν τὰ εἰρημένα.
7 Καὶ τοῦτο δὲ οὐ μικρὸν, Ἰουδαίων πιστεύοντων καὶ τούτων οὐκ ἀποστραφέντων, ἀπὸ τοῦ τόπου, ἀπὸ τοῦ καιροῦ. Mod. text substitutes the sense of the latter words: δύο τούτοις ὃ λέγει πιστοῦται, τῷ καιρῷ καὶ τῷ τόπῳ: but for the former, οὐ μικρὸν δὲ τὸ καὶ Ἰουδαίων πιστευόντων τοῦτο ἀποστραφῆναι, quod etiam Judæis credentibus hoc avertatur. Ben. We reject τούτων, which disturbs the sense. He says: “Long ago—therefore why raise this question now, which was settled in those early days, when Jews received the faith, not rejected it with aversion? which aversion of theirs is now the occasion of the preachers’ turning to the Gentiles. Yet even then the will of God was plainly declared. Thus the Apostle argues strongly both from the place—here in the midst of the Jews—and from the time.”
8 ὥσπερ ἐπʼ αὐτῶν: referring to 1:24. as below on καρδιογνώστης. He means, “It was a purpose of the Lord, and a high distinction: therefore he does not say, He would, or was willing that the Gentiles should hear, but He elected me for this work, as He elected us to the Apostleship.”
1 Ἄρα καρδίας δεῖ πανταχοῦ ζητεῖν. i. e. “He implies that God, as knowing the hearts of all men saw the fitness of these Gentiles, therefore chose them, and made no distinction between us and them in point of fitness. Consequently, the heart, not circumcision, is what we must everywhere look to. Nay, he adds, this same expression, καρδιογνώστης was used by the Apostles on the occasion above referred to: so that Peter, by using it here also, declares the Gentiles to be upon a par with the Apostles themselves: no difference between us the Apostles, and them.”
2 Mss. Ἐξεκάθαρε πρότερον τὸν λόγον, καὶ τότε κ. τ. λ. Either τὸν λόγον has come in from another place (perhaps after εἰς φοβερὸν κατέληξε below), or some words are lost, e. g. πίστει τῇ εἰς τὸν λὸγον.
3 The φοβερὸν is in the καθʼ ὃν τρόπον κἀκεῖνοι. “Our danger, through the Law, is greater than theirs. Not only are they put upon a par with us. but we may be thankful to be put upon a par with them.” To bring out this point, he reviews the tenor and drift of St. Peter’s speech.
4 Εἰκότως καὶ αὐτοὶ λοιπὸν ἐπιμαρτυροῦσι: that αὐτοὶ means the Prophets (cited by St. James), seems to be shown by τοῖς ἤδη γενομένοις, “what they long ago foretold, which is even now come to pass.”
5 τὸ γὰρ κατὰμικρὸν τοῦτο ισχυρὀτερον γενόμενον τῶν ἐθνῶν· τοῦτο γὰρ πειράζοντος ἦν κ. τ. λ. Mod. text τοῦτο γὰρ κατὰ μικρὸν ἐπαγόμενον ἐγίνετο ἰσχυρότερον· ἐκεῖνο δὲ πειρ. ἦν.—The meaning is: “He does not come at once to the point, but advances to it gradually: first, ‘Put no difference’—though, as he afterwards shows, if there be a difference it is in their favor: we are not to think it much that they are to be saved as we, but that we may trust to be saved ‘even as they.’ ”
6 Above, it was “disbelieving God, as not able to save by faith.” Here, “You are tempting God by your unbelief: whereas the question is not so much whether He can save without the Law, as εἰ δύναται καὶ μετὰ νόμον (B. τοῦ νόμου) σῶσαι.”
7 οὐκ ἀπέρχονται διαβάλλοντες τοὺς ἐν Ἀντ. This also shows the ἐπιείκεια of Paul and Barnabas, that when they come to Jerusalem, we do not find them complaining of the Jews who had come to Antioch, but they confine themselves to the recital of “all that God had done with them,” v. 4: as he had said above, οὐδὲν λέγουσι περὶ τῶν εἰς τοὺς Ἰουδαίους συμβεβηκότων. The next clause, Ἀλλʼ ἐκεῖθεν πάλιν λαμβάνουσιν ἀφορμὴν may be referred to the Apostles, “they again take advantage of this opportunity, viz. of the Judaizing opposition, to establish the freedom of the Gentiles.” We have referred it to the Pharisaic brethren, v. 5, for the sake of connection with the following οὕτως ἐμελέτων τὸ φιλαρχεῖν.—In the next clause, καὶ (mod. text οἳ καὶ) οὐκ εἰδότων τῶν ἀποστόλων ἐμέμφθησαν, Sav. marg. has ʼπἐμφθησαν, “these Judaizers were not sent with knowledge of the Apostles.”
8 Ἐπιείκεια, gentleness, in the sense of moderation and forbearance, keeping one’s temper: here distinguished from the temper of the ψυχρὸς, which is unruffled only because he does not feel, and that of the flatterer, who puts up with everything for the sake of pleasing.
1 He means, that to βασιλεῖς, when there is an enemy in the field against them, the engrossing theme of discourse, even at table, is how to overcome their enemies. Such was probably the state of things when this Homily was preached: for the note of time in Hom. xliv. implies that it was delivered either at the close of 400 or the beginning of 401 A. D.: now the former of these years was signalized by the revolt and defeat of Gainas. Hence the following passage might be rendered, “they are holding assemblies each day, appointing generals and demanding taxes,” etc. The war ended Dec. 400, in the defeat of Gainas.
1 All our Mss. and the Cat. ἀπὸ τε νέων ἀπό τε παλαιῶν βεβαιουμένου τῶν προφητῶν τὸν λόγον, which must be rendered, “Confirming the word of the prophets:” so Ed. Par. Ben. 2, where the other Edd. have παλ. προφ. βεβ. κ. τ. λ., which is in fact what the sense requires: “from the prophets, new (as Symeon) and old.”
2 This was James, the Lord’s brother (Gal. 1:19), who, according to the uniform tradition of the early church, was the Bishop of Jerusalem. He evidently was the chief pastor, as he presides at this conference, and when Judaizing teachers afterwards went down to Antioch from Jerusalem they are spoken of as coming “from James” (Gal. 2:12). From this it has been inferred that he was the leader of a Judaistic party, but this view is inconsistent with his address here and also with Paul’s testimony who says that the “pillar” apostles “imparted nothing” to him, that is, did not correct or supplement his teaching. He was no doubt of a conservative tendency respecting the questions in dispute and may not have been always self-consistent, as Peter certainly was not, but there can be no doubt of his substantial agreement with Paul. His doctrine of justification by works as well as by faith in his epistle is not against this view, since he uses both the words “faith” and “works” in a different sense from Paul, meaning by the former “belief” and by the latter the deeds which are the fruit of the Christian life, instead of meritorious obedience to the Mosaic law.—G. B. S.
1 Edd. ἐπιχωριάζειν, Cat. ἐγχρονίζειν, substituted for the less usual ἐγχωρίαζειν of A. B. C. Sav.—Below, Συμεὼν, φησὶν, ἐξηγήσατο ἐν τῷ Λουκᾷ προφητεύσας. Cat. “He who in Luke prophesied, Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart.”—It is remarkable that it does not occur to Chrys, that Symeon is Simon Peter, though 2 Pet. 1:1 has Συμέων Πέτρος in the Cod. Alexandr., and many other Mss. In the Mod. text Chrys. is made to say: “Some say that this is he who is mentioned by Luke: others, that he is some other person of the same name. (Acts 13:1?) But whether it be the one or the other is a point about which there is no need to be particular; but only to receive as necessary the things which the person declared.”
2 ἀπὸ μὲν τοῦ χρόνου δῆλος ἦν, τὸ δὲ ἀξιόπιστον οὐκ εἶχε: the former clause seems to be corrupt. The sense in general is, He was manifestly (a prophet), but had not the same authority as the old prophets. Probably the form of opposition was this: ἐπειδὴ ἐκεῖνος ἀπο μὲν δῆλος ἦν, ἀπὸ δὲ τοῦ χρόνου τὸ ἀξιόπιστον οὐκ εἶχε διὰ τὸ μὴ παλαιὸς εἶναι. “Since Symeon, though from he was manifestly (a prophet), yet from time had not the like authority because he was not ancient.”
3 Mod. text, “But it is not of these things that he speaks. And what raising up, you will say, does he mean? That after Babylon.” We point it, ποίαν λέγει ἔγερσιν τὴν μετὰ Βαβυλῶνα; “Was it raised up? was it not rather razed to the ground (by the Romans)? True it was rebuilt after the return from Babylon, but what sort of raising up does he call that?” For the answer to these questions, not given here, see the Recapitulation (note 4, p. 207).
4 Most modern texts omit πάντα at the end of v. 17 and then join directly to it γνωστὰ ἀπʼ ἀιῶνος only, dropping out the words of the T. R.: ἐστι τῷ θεῷ: πάντα τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ. This reading yields the following translation: “the Gentiles upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who maketh these things known from the beginning of the world.” (So Tischendorf, Alford, Meyer, Westcott and Hort, Gloag R. V.). This reading encounters the difficulty that the words γνωστὰ ἀπʼ αἰῶνος are considered as a part of the quotation which, in reality, they are not. It is probable that this fact may have led to their expansion into an independent sentence.—G. B. S.
5 All our Mss. ἐπειδὴ οὐκ ἦσαν ἀκηκοότες τοῦ νόμου, which contradicts v. 21. We restore ἐπειδὴ οὖν. In B. C. v. 21, with the words ἐπειδὴ οὐκ ἦσαν ἀκ. τοῦ νόμου is repeated after, “We have judged.”
6 Mss. and Edd. Καὶ ὅρα πῶς φορτικῶς ἐκείνους διαβάλλοντες ἐπιστέλλουσιν. The sense absolutely requires πῶς οὐ φορτ. It would be strange if Chrys. made τὸ φορτικὸν and τὸ διαβάλλειν matter of commendation: moreover in his very next remark he says just the contrary, and below, p. 209.
1 Παῦλος δὲ λοιπὸν ἐδίδασκεν. Perhaps this may belong to the Recapitulation, v. 12.—In the mod. text the matter is a good deal transposed, without any necessity, and the Recapitulation is made to begin after the sentence ending, “love of glory.”—This seems to be the proper place for the first of the sentences following the Recapitulation, p. 210, note 3, viz. “No more faction. On this occasion I suppose it was that they received the right hand, as he says himself, ‘They gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship.’ On this (same) occasion he says, ‘They added nothing to me.’ For they confirmed his view: they praised and admired it.”
2 ἐπιπηδᾳ N. Cat. (ἐπηπιδᾷ sic A. B. C.) mod. text ἀποπηδᾶ, “recoils” from hearing Paul.
3 The scribes did not perceive that ἐξ ἀρχῆς is the answer to the question, Τί ἐστιν, καθὼς πρῶτον κ. τ. λ. therefore transposed this sentence and gave ἐξ ἀρχῆς to the sentence (a) (Cat. omits them.) Mod. text, the question being thus left unanswered, substitutes “Symeon hath declared”—καθὼς πρ. κ. τ. λ. Ἐξ ἀρχῆς σφοδρότερον μέν.
4 ὅτι πρὸ πάντων οὗτοι. Here also, and in τῇ προλήψει τῶν ἐθνῶν, there seems to be a reference to πρῶτον, as if the meaning were, God “looked upon the Gentiles first to take from them,” before the Jews, etc.—After the text, the questions left unanswered above (see note 2, p. 206) might be advantageously introduced. “How could that restoration (after Babylon) be called an ἔγερσις, especially as the city was eventually razed to the ground by the Romans? True: but the kingdom of David is in fact more gloriously raised up, in the reign of David’s offspring throughout the world. As for the buildings and city, what loss is that? Nay, David himself is more glorious now than he was before, sung as he is in all parts of the world. If then this which the Prophet foretold is come to pass—this is put as St. James’s arguments—namely that the city was raised from its ruins (and the subsequent overthrow, when the end of that restoration was attained, does not invalidate the fulfilment), then must the διά τι of this restoration also come to pass, namely, that the residue shall seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom that Name is called. The city, was raised up for the sake of Christ, to come of them, and to reign over all nations. Consequently, the Prophet shows that the αἴτιον (i. e. the διά τι, or final clause) of the building of the city is—the calling of the Gentiles, τὸ τὰ ἔθνη κληθῆναι.”
5 οἱ ὑπολειπόμενοι τότε, the Jews whom that (the Babylonian) judgment leaves.
1 Mss. and Edd. τὸ δὲ ἡμέτερον. We must read τὸ δὲ ἡμερώτερον, as above: in the preceding clause something is wanted for antithesis, probably καὶ ὅρα, τὸ μὲν φορτικώτερον, ὅπερ κ. τ. λ.
2 ὑπὲρ οὗ οὐδὲν γέγραπται. This also requires emendation. The sense demands, “About which there is no dispute.” The γέγραπται may have come in from the text referred to: “to wit, Καθὼς γέγραπται,” etc.
3 The report seems to be defective here; and in fact N. (Sav. marg.) inserts after the text, “showing both God’s care towards them and mercy, and their ready mind and piety in obeying: and he says well,” etc. But this addition is unknown to A. B. C. Cat., and N. frequently adds to or otherwise alters the original text, where the sense or connection is obscure.—Perhaps however these two sentences may be better transposed to follow the part (b), so that the connection would be, “And again, observe he has been speaking concerning the Gentile converts, not openly of the Jewish believers, and yet in fact what he says is no less for them.”—Mod. text with partial transposition, “And he well says, To them, etc. declaring both the purpose of God from the beginning with respect to them, and their obedience and readiness for the calling. What means it? I judge? Instead of, With authority I say that this is so. ‘But that we write to them,’ he says, ‘to abstain from’ etc. For these, though bodily, etc. (as below.) And that none may object, why then do we not enjoin the same thing to the Jews? He adds, ‘For Moses,’ etc.: i. e. Moses discourses to them continually: for this is the meaning of, ‘Being read every Sabbath day.’ See what condescension!”
4 καίτοι γε πολλάκις αὐτοῖς ὐπὲρ (not περὶ as Ben. renders, de his) διελεχθῆσαν mod. text διελέχθη, referred perhaps to Moses or the Law, as in the trajection this sentence follows the last of (a). The clause seems to refer to “pollutions of idols and fornication.” q. d. “Why mention these in the decree? The Apostles, especially Paul, often discoursed to them on behalf of these points of Christian duty, i. e. the abstaining from all approach to idolatry, as in the matter of εἰδωλόθυτα, and from fornication.” The answer is: “He mentions them, for the purpose of seeming to maintain the Law, (though at the same time he does not rest them on the authority of the Law, but on that of the Apostles: still the Jewish believers would be gratified by this apparent acknowledgment of the Law), and (with the same view) to make a greater number of ἐντολαὶ, for which reason also he divides the one legal prohibition of blood into the two, ἀπὸ τῶν πνικτῶν καὶ ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος. The latter, he says, though σωματικαὶ, are necessary to be observed because the non-observance of this law on which the Jews laid so much stress led to great evils—especially made it impossible for Jewish and Gentile believers to eat at the same table. For in every city Moses is preached to Jews and proselytes. Therefore I say it is good that we charge them by letter to abstain from these things,” Then, giving a different turn to the reason, “for Moses of old times,” etc. he adds. “this is for them which from the Gentiles,” etc., as for the Jewish believers, they have Moses to teach them. Thus again seeming to uphold Moses, while in fact he shows, what they might learn from Moses himself, that the Law is come to an end for the Jews also.
5 The prohibitions imposed by the council upon the Gentiles were chiefly concessions to Jewish prejudice and opinion. Abstinence from meat which had been offered in idols’ temples and from things strangled and from blood was forbidden in the Mosaic law (Ex. 34:15; Lev. 17:10–14). Failure to abstain from these would expose the Gentile converts needlessly to the suspicions of the Jewish Christians. The prohibition of fornication must rest upon another ground. It is a warning against the custom among Gentiles, which had become so prevalent as to provoke little rebuke or comment. The ground assigned for requiring these abstinences is that Moses is read every Sabbath in the synagogues of the Jews and therefore these very points are kept prominently before the people and therefore unless these indulgences were abandoned, the synagogue preaching would constantly stimulate in the Jews and Judeo-Christians a dislike of the Gentile believers. There is less ground for the view of Chrys. that v. 21. means that the Jewish Christians have no need of instruction on these points because they hear the law read every Sabbath, an explanation, however, which is adopted by such modern scholars as Wordsworth and Neander.—G. B. S.
6 A. B. ἀπήγ. τὰ ἔθνη ἐξ αὐτοῦ. Διὰ τί οὖν μὴ παῤ αὐτοῦ μανθ.; C. ἀπήγ. τὰ ἐξ αὐτοῦ πάντα, οἷον τὰ ἔθνη. Διὰ τί κ. τ. λ. Cat. ἀπήγ. τὰ ἐξ αὐτοῦ μανθ. Hence we read, ἀπήγαγε τὰ ἔθνη. Διὰ τί οὖν μὴ τὰ ἐξ αὐτοῦ μανθάνουσιν, οἷον (τὰ ἔθνη?);
1 καταστρέφειν, Mss. Perhaps, μεταστρέψαι from Gal. 1:7.
2 ἐξέλυσε τὸ πᾶν, “untied the whole knot,” or perhaps “took out of the Law all its strength,” as below λύει.
3 Perhaps the sentence, τοῦτο μάλιστα αὐτοὺς ἀνέπαυσεν, retained above as the end of (b), may belong here, in the sense, “This was conclusive; this made the Judaizers desist, if anything could.”
4 καθάπερ ἐπὶ οἰκοδομῆς τὰ ὑπʼ ἐκείνων γεγενημένα μετατιθέντες. Mod. text from E. τιθέντες, “putting, as in respect of a building, the things done by those (Judaizers).” We have transposed τὰ ὑπʼ ἐκ γεγ. to its proper place. He interprets ἀνασκ. with reference to Gal. 1:6. μετατίθεσθε.
5 συνήρπασαν Ben. ipsos extorsisse: but the word is used in the Greek of Chrysostom’s time, in the sense “conceal,” for which Schneider s. v. refers to Valesius on Harpocrat. p. 145. Gronov. in which sense we have rendered it above. Or perhaps, “had wrested it” to make it speak in their favor. Τὸ ζητούμενον συναρπάζειν is a logical phrase, used of one who commits a petitio principii. St. Chrys. however can hardly be correctly reported here: for the letter itself would show, if it were believed to be genuine. that Paul and Barnabas neither συνήρπασαν nor ἄλλα ἀντʼ ἄλλων εἶπαν. He may rather be supposed to have said in substance as follows: “Had Paul and Barnabas returned alone as the bearers of an oral communication, it might be suspected that they gave their own account of the matter: had they come alone, bearing the Epistle, its genuineness might have been called in question: but by sending the Epistle by the hands of men of their own and of high consideration, they left no room for doubt as to the fact of their decision. On the other hand, to have sent these men alone, would have looked like putting a slight upon Barnabas and Paul: but by sending the messengers with them, they showed ὅτι ἀξιόπιστοι εἰσιν, and by the eulogy expressed in the Epistle itself they stopped the mouths of the gainsayers.”
6 The innovator completely mistakes the meaning of this clause: not having the text to guide him, he supposes it to refer to Silas and Judas, and alters thus: “It shows how worthy of credit they are: not making themselves equal, ‘it says: they are not so mad. In fact, this is why it adds that expression, Which have hazarded their lives, etc. And why does it say, “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us,” and yet it had sufficed,” etc.—Below, he has “ ‘To lay upon you no greater burden.’ This they say, because they have to speak,” etc. But all this belongs to ἔδοξεν ἡμῖν q. d. “You need not fear us, neither is it of condescension that we speak, or to spare you as being weak—quite the contrary—it seems good to the Holy Ghost “and to us.”
7 πολλὴ γὰρ καὶ τῶν διδασκάλων αἰδὼς ἦν. It is not clear whether this means, Great was the reverence shown by the teachers also towards them—as in St. Peter’s ὥσπερ κἀκεῖνοι—and therefore they did not treat them as “weak;” or, great was their reverence towards their teachers, so that bad they laid upon them a greater burden, they would have borne it.
1 Mss. and Edd. have this clause, ἄνω κάτω βάρος καλοῦσι after Πνεύματος γάρ ἦν νομοθεσία, and give the καὶ πάλιν to συναγαγόντες. After the clause “For that was a superfluous burden” seems to be the proper place for these sentences from below, see note 3, infra. “It shows that the rest are not necessary but superfluous, seeing these things are necessary. “From which if ye keep yourselves ye shall do well.” It shows that nothing is lacking to them, but this is sufficient.”
2 Here insert from below: “For it might have been done also without letters—they did this.”
3 What follows consists of notes which the redactor did not bring to their proper places. “No more faction—admired it,” see note 1 p. 207. “It shows—the Spirit,” may belong either to the comment on κρίνω ἐγὼ, or to that on “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us.”—“It shows that the rest—sufficient,” see note 1. These parts being removed, the remainder forms the continuation of the sentence, “it behooved to be done by these,” note 2. The concluding words καὶ μετʼεἰρήνης are the reporter’s abridgment of the text “καὶ [ἐπεστήριξαν, ποιήσαντες δὲ χρόνον ἀπελυθησαν] μετʼ εἰρήνης.
4 The author here assumes the identity of the two visits of Paul to Jerusalem contained in Acts 15 and Gal. 1 and 2 This has always been the prevailing view. For a full discussion of this and other views, see Gloag, Com. on the Acts ii. 80–84.—G. B. S.
5 The famine is mentioned among the offences within, perhaps because it may have led some to question the Providence of God: see above, p. 159.
1 Mss. and Edd. transpose the parts marked a and b. The old text, however, by retaining τί οὖν at the end of a, as well as at the beginning of c, enables us to restore the order, so that then the clause μηδὲν ὅλως εἰδὼς ἐν ταῖς Γραφαῖς, no longer disturbs the sense.
2 Edd. πάντως τι ἐρεῖ. A. B. C. πάντως ὅτι ἐρεῖ. “In any wise he will affirm the ὅτι, therefore let us ask the αἰτίας δἰ ἅς.”
3 εἰ ἰατρὸς μέλλοις μανθάνειν. Mod. text adds, “Say, Do you accept out of hand and as it chances, whatever you are told?” The connection is: “Apply your mind to what you hear, whether from us or from them, and see whether of us is consistent. Just as you would if you wished to learn medicine: there also you would find conflicting opinions and you would exercise your judgment upon them, not accept all without examination. Do so here; and in the instance which has been taken, you will see that we, affirming the Son to be God, carry out our affirmation consistently; whereas they (the Arians) say indeed that He is God, but in fact deny Him the essential properties of Deity.”—Edd. and all our Mss. Υἱὸν λέγομεν ἡμεῖς ἐπαληθεύομεν κ. τ. λ. We must read either Θεὸν or Υἱὸν Θεὸν.
4 Connection: I have mentioned one simple criterion: here is another palpable and visible mark. Heretics take their names from men, the founders of their sects, τοῦ αιρεσιάρχου δηλοῦντος A. B. καλοῦντος C., τὸ ὄνομα Sav. marg. δηλοῦντες, which we adopt. But indeed the reasons you allege are mere pretence, etc.
5 The sentence is left unfinished: “it would be no wonder,” “this would be at least consistent,” or the like: then εἰ δὲ εἴξω B. C. ἤξω (sic) A., ἥξω D. Mod. text οὐδὲ ἕξω. all corrupt. The sense seems to require, “If you have thought fit,” or “gone so far as.”
1 Sav. marg. adds, “another, Paul of Samosata.”
2 Διὰ τί πολλοὶ γεγόνασιν Ἕλληνες, καὶ οὐδεὶς κ. τ. λ. Mod. text omits διὰ τι. The first clause seems to be corrupt, or misplaced: for to say that “there have been many heathen, and none of them has asked these questions” (about Christian doctrines), would contradict all that precedes: and if it means, There were many Greeks, and diverse schools of philosophy among them, and yet none was deterred from the study of philosophy by those differences, this would not be true. But if this be transposed to the following sentence, which relates to the Ἕλληνες at Antioch, then Chrys. says: “Among philosophers also there were these differences, and yet) etc. How is it that (at Antioch) many Greeks became (Christians) and yet none of them asked these questions? Why did they not say,” etc.
3 Edd. have a longer peroration from F, partly followed by D. “And live according to His will while we are yet in this life present, that with virtue having accomplished the remaining time of our life, we may be able, etc., and together with them which have pleased Him be found worthy of honor, by the grace and loving-kindness of His only-begotten Son, and the All-holy and Life-giving Spirit, the One true Godhead, now and ever, world without end.” Amen.
3 This refers to ἠξίου in the sense “he begged,” as he says below, in the beginning of the Recapitulation, καίτοι οὐκ ἔδει ἀξιοῦν αὐτὸν ἔχοντα κατηγορεῖν μετὰ ταῦτα.
4 Mss. and Edd. after τῶν ἀποστόλων add τῶν λοιπῶν, which we omit as evidently out of place: for “the Apostles” here are Paul and Barnabas. Possibly it should be διὰ τῶν λοιπῶν, “by the rest of the particulars related on former occasions,” but if so, this must be placed after τῶν ἀπ. τὸ ἦθος.
5 The notes of this Homily have fallen into extreme confusion, and we have but partially succeeded in restoring the true order.
1 Mod. text omits this question: C. for ἀφεὶς has ἀφεθεὶς, “he that was left, or, dismissed.” Part of the answer has dropped out, “Paul did well: for” etc. The interlocutor rejoins: “Then if Paul did well, Barnabas did ill?” Here Edd. and all our Mss. οὐκοῦν, φησὶ, κακὸς ὁ Βαρνάβας; to which mod. text adds, “By no means: but it is even exceedingly absurd to imagine this. And how is it not absurd to say, that for so small a matter this man became evil?” We restore οὐκοῦν κακῶς ὁ Βαρνάβας;
2 μάλιστα μὲν οὖν καὶ ἐντεῦθεν (as by other instances of human infirmity, so by this also) δείκνυται τὰ ἀνθρώπινα, i. e. we are shown what in the preaching of the Gospel proceeded from man: that man, as man, did his part, which part is betokened by the ordinary characters of human nature. If even in Christ it behooved that He should not do all as God, but that His Human Nature should also be seen working, much more was it necessary that the Apostles, being but men, should work as men, not do all by the immediate power of the Spirit.
3 This refers to ἠξίου in the sense “he begged,” as he says below, in the beginning of the Recapitulation, καίτοι οὐκ ἔδει ἀξιοῦν αὐτὸν ἔχοντα κατηγορεῖν μετὰ ταῦτα.
4 If this sentence be in its place, something is wanting for connection: e. g. (It was a great οἰκονομία) for the more extended preaching of the word: since on Barnabas’s plan these “at Cyprus” were to have a second visitation, but those “in Asia” not even once. But it may be suspected that this part is altogether misplaced: and that the οὗτοι are the brethren “in the cities where we have preached,” and ἐκεῖνοι the people of Macedonia,” etc. See end of Recap. where Chrys. says, had it not been for this parting, the word would not have been carried into Macedonia.
5 Chrys. has treated the dissension of Paul and Barnabas with discrimination, without, however, placing quite the emphasis upon ἠξίου—“he thought good not to”—“he determined not to”—and upon το͂ν ἀποστάντα—“who had fallen away from—apostatized from,”—which those terms seem to require. The conduct of Mark in returning to Jerusalem from Pamphylia (Acts 13:13) was clearly regarded as reprehensible by Paul, apparently as an example of fickleness in the service of Christ. It is not strange that Barnabas, Mark’s cousin (Col. 4:10) should have been more lenient in his judgment of his conduct. It is certain that this difference of opinion regarding Mark did not lead to any estrangement of Paul and Mark, for in his imprisonment the apostle speaks of Mark as a trusted fellow-worker (Col. 4:10; 2 Tim. 4:11).—G. B. S.
6 The method of the derangement here is, that there being five portions, these were taken alternately, in the order 1, 3, 5, and then 2, 4.
7 So Edd. and all our Mss. ἀπέστη ἀπʼ αὐτῶν ὁ Βαρνάβας: which may mean, “And so the same may now be said of Barnabas, viz. that he departed (from Paul),” etc. The same word ἀπέστη is applied to Barnabas below, p. 216.
8 συγκατέβησαν ἀλλήλοις οὕτω μεῖζον ἀγαθὸν εἶναι τὸ χωρισθῆναι. The meaning is as below. that they parted κατὰ σύνεσιν. Mod. text “συγκατ. ἀλλ. ἰδεῖν. The point required is to see that,” etc. Then, Οὕτω μ. ἀ. γέγονε τὸ χωρ. “Thus their being parted became a greater good,” etc.—Καὶ πρόφασιν ἐκ τούτου τὸ πρᾶγμα ἔλαβε, i. e. “They saw that it was best to part, viz.: that so the word would be more extensively preached, and this difference gave a pretext for so doing.” He means that the contention was οἰκονομία (see the Recap.), the object being, partly this which is here mentioned, partly a lesson to Mark.
1 Edd. and Mss. οὐ προσήκατο, against the sense of the passage, whence Œcum. omits the negative, not much improving it. The Catena has preserved the true reading, οὐ προήκατο. See instances of confusion the other way in Mr. Field’s Index to Hom. in Matt. s. v. προσίημι.
2 ὥστε δεῖξαι τὸν τιμήσαντα αὐτὸν καλῶς βεβουλευμένον. The sense requires τὸν τιμ. αὐτὸν καὶ τὸν μὴ τιμήσαντα καλῶς βεβ. or the like: “that both Barnabas and Paul had taken the course which was for his (Mark’s) own good.”
3 ὅτι καὶ ἐπήγετο αὐτόν. The meaning seems to be, (but the confusion into which the text has fallen, leaves it very uncertain), “The wonder is that he took Timothy, being as he was the son of a heathen father, and uncircumcised.”
1 ὅτι ἐκεῖνο ἐκώλυσεν. Mod. text καὶ μὴ τὸ ΙΙν. τὸ A. έκέλευσεν; But see the Recap. where the question is explained, viz., How is it that when they were to be kept from preaching, the Holy Ghost spoke to them, but here a vision, and that in a dream, is all?
2 In the Mss. this sentence is placed before “And now he crosses over,” etc. v. 10.—“In this manner:” i. e. in a night-vision or dream: the allusion is to 23:11, “the Lord stood by him,” confused with 27:23, “the Angel of the Lord.”
3 i. e. just displeasure on the one side; lenity, compassion, intercession, etc. on the other. Thus God is wroth with Miriam, Moses pleads for her, and so in the other cases.
4 Mod. text omits this clause relating to St. Paul, as in the old text it is incomplete, the remainder of the sentence (“would not have been wroth,” etc.) having been transposed to the end of what relates to Barnabas, after “relating to the decree.”—Below, ἀλλὰ λαμβάνουσιν ἑαυτοὺς, may perhaps be ἑαυτοῖς, sc. τοὺς δεομένους below, i. e. choose their spheres of action where each was most needed. But the context rather seems to require this sense: “There is no animosity between them, but they take their parts in this dispute for the good of those who, as Mark, need the instruction which was to be derived from the gentleness of Barnabas, and the severity of Paul’s character. Paul indeed is stern, but his object is to do good: as 2 Thess. 3:13, where (comp. the context) rebuking, and enjoining severity to be shown to the disorderly, he says, “And be not weary in well-doing.” We have changed the order of the two sentences, “And he rebukes,” etc. and, “As he does elsewhere,” etc.—Τοῦτο καὶ ἐν τῇ συνηθείᾳ ποιοῦμεν. i. e. this putting on a show of anger, to do good to one whom we would correct: or perhaps, of altercation, as when, for instance, father and mother take opposite parts, the one for punishing, the other for sparing an erring child—συναγανακτῆσαι τῳ ΙΙαυλῷ. Ben. indignati esse in Paulum. But whether it means this, or “to have had indignation together with Paul,” there is nothing to show: nor is it clear what is the reference of the following sentences; unless it be, But he would not allow these persons who were indignant along with, or at, him, to retain this feeling: he takes them apart, makes them see the thing in its right light, and so departs in peace, “being commended by the brethren to the grace of God,” with the prayers of concord and charity. Great is the power of such prayer. (See the former comment on this verse, p. 214.)—Κἂυ ὑπὲρ μεγάλου ἀξιοῖς, κἂν ἀνάξιος ᾖς. Perhaps it should be ᾖ, “Whether it be on behalf of a great man (as Paul), or whether the person be unworthy,” etc.
1 So in Gen. Serm. ix. text iv. 695. D. Chrys. infers from this passage with 2 Tim. 1:5, that the father ἔμεινεν ἐν τῇ ἀσεβείᾳ καὶ οὐ μετεβάλλετο. Hom. i. in 2 Tim. p. 660. E. “Because of his father who was a Gentile, and because of the Jews he took and circumcised him. Do you mark how the Law began to be dissolved, in the taking place of these mixed marriages?” (so here ὅρα ἤδη τὸν νόμον λυόμενον.) In the Mss. all this is extremely confused by transpositions (the method; 1, 4: 2, 5: 3, 6) and misplacing of the portions of sacred text (where these are given). Thus here, “And therefore because of the Jews which were in those parts he circumcised him. Οὐκ ἦν ἐμπερίτομος.”—Mod. text “thy mother Eunice. And he took and circumcised him. And wherefore, he himself goes on to say: Because of the Jews, etc. For this reason then he is circumcised. Or also because of his father: for he continued to be a Greek. So then he was not circumcised. Observe the Law already broken. But some think he was born,” etc. He is commenting on the fact, that Timothy was uncircumcised: viz., because his father was a heathen. Here then was a devout man, who from a child had known the Holy Scriptures, and yet continued uncircumcised. So that in these mixed marriages we see the Law already broken, independently of the Gospel. It may be indeed that he was born after the conversion of his mother to the faith, and therefore she was not anxious to circumcise him. But this (he adds) is not likely.
2 For Timothy from a child had been brought up religiously as a Jew, yet now it was an offence that he should continue uncircumcised.
3 Therefore he might have been exempt by the Apostles’ decree. St. Paul, however, having carried his point in securing the immunity of the Gentile converts, did not care to insist upon this in behalf of Timothy.
4 Our author correctly apprehends the ground on which Paul circumcised Timothy—an act which has often been thought to be inconsistent with his steadfast resistance to the imposition of the Jewish law. It is noticeable that he did not allow Titus to be circumcised (Gal. 2:3) when the Jewish-Christian faction desired it. The two cases are materially different in the following particulars: (1) Titus was a Gentile; Timothy was born of a Jewish mother. (2) The circumcision of Titus was demanded by the Judaizers; that of Timothy was performed for prudential reasons as a concession to unbelieving Jews in order that Paul might the better win them to Christ. (3) The question of circumcising Titus was a doctrinal question which was not the case in the instance before us. Meyer well says: “Paul acted according to the principle of wise and conciliatory accommodation, not out of concession to the Judaistic dogma of the necessity of circumcision for obtaining the Messianic salvation.”—G. B. S.
1 A. B. C. Cat. εἰς αὐτὴν τὴν ῥίζαν τῆς Μακεδονίας ἐγένετο (Cat. ἐγένοντο). Οὐκ ἀεὶ (Cat., οὐκ ἂν εἰ) κατὰ παροξυσμὸν ἐνήργησε τὸ Πν. τὸ Ἅ. The former sentence may possibly mean, that Philippi became the root of the Churches in Macedonia. But it is more probable that the text is mutilated here, and that Chrys. speaks of the parting of Paul and Barnabas, as having become the very root or cause of the extension of the Gospel (into Macedonia and Greece). In the next sentence, the reading of Cat. may perhaps deserve the preference. “Not, if (they had parted) in a state of exasperation, would the Holy Ghost have (thus) wrought.”—Mod. text “And besides, even the voyage showed this: for there was no long time ere they arrive at the very root of Macedonia (ὅθεν εἰς … παραγίνονται). So that the sharp contention is providentially ordered to be for the best. For (otherwise) the Holy Ghost would not have wrought, Macedonia would not have received the Word. But this so rapid progress,” etc.
2 καὶ πάντα καλοῦμεν. Mod. text substitutes the proverbial expression, καὶ πάντα κάλων κινοῦμεν, “we put every rope in motion,” which is hardly suitable here, and not at all necessary. “We call to our aid horse-feeders, and doctors, and every one else who can help us.”
1 Our Mss. have ἀλόγων: Savile (from N.?) λαγῶν, which we adopt.
2 καὶ σύρεται χάμαι καθάπερ παιδίον, καὶ ἀσχημονεί μυρία: this cannot be meant for the horse, but for the rider. Perhaps καὶ οὐδεὶς, κἂν σύρεται κ τ. λ.
3 καὶ τὸ but Sav. Marg. καὶ τῷ μὴ κρείττονα χρημάτων εἶναι: some slight emendation is necessary, but it is not clear whether it should be, καὶ μὴ τῷ.… “and not to his being above wealth:” i. e. good in spite of his riches: or καὶ τὸ μὴ … with some verb supplied, i. e. “and make it a reproach to him that (though a good man) he is not above riches,” seeing he does not abandon his wealth.—Mod. text καὶ τῷ μὴ ἐνδεᾶ χρημάτων εἶναι·
4 μᾶλλον μετὰ τῆς πορείας καὶ κόσμῳ κεκοσμημένος νυμφικῷ· ὁ δὲ ἐπικαθ. κ. τ. λ. The passage is corrupt: perhaps, as in the Translation, it should be μᾶλλον ἢ νυμφικῷ, but this as a description of the horse is evidently out of place. For πορ., we read χορείας as in mod. text (which has καὶ μετὰ τῆς χορείας κόσμῳ κεκ. ᾖ νυμφικῷ.) Then transposing this, we read ὁ δὲ ἐπικαθ., μετὰ τῆς χορ., καὶ.—Below, B. C. ἂν σκολιάζῃ: A. and mod. text ἀσκωλιάζῃ—alluding to the game of leaping on greased bladders or skins, unctos salire per utres; which does not suit τῶν χωλῶν.
John Chrysostom, “Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the Acts of the Apostles,” in Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistle to the Romans, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. J. Walker et al., vol. 11, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1889), 201–219.