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Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospels Golden Chain Commentary
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on Mark 4". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ gcc/ mark-4.html.
Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on Mark 4". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://studylight.org/
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Ver 1. Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil.2. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungred.
Pseudo-Chrys.: The Lord being baptized by John with water, is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be baptized by the fire of temptation. ’Then,’ i.e. when the voice of the Father had been given from heaven.
Chrys., Hom. 13: Whoever thou art then that after thy baptism sufferest grievous trials, be not troubled thereat; for this thou receivedst arms, to fight, not to sit idle. God does not hold all trial from us; first, that we may feel that we are become stronger; secondly, that we may not be puffed up by the greatness of the gifts we have received; thirdly, that the Devil may have experience that we have entirely renounced him; fourthly, that by it we may be made stronger; fifthly, that we may receive a sign of the treasure entrusted to us; for the Devil would not come upon us to tempt us, did he not see us advanced to greater honours.
Hilary: The Devil’s snares are chiefly spread for the sanctified, because a victory over the saints is more desired than over others.
Greg., Hom. in Ev., 16, 1: Some doubt what Spirit it was that led Jesus into the desert, for that it is said after, "The Devil took him into the holy city." But true and without question agreeable to the context is the received opinion, that it was the Holy Spirit; that His own Spirit should lead Him thither where the evil spirit should find Him and try Him.
Aug., de Trin., 4, 13: Why did He offer Himself to temptation? That He might be our mediator in vanquishing temptation not by aid only, but by example.
Pseudo-Chrys.: He was led by the Holy Spirit, not as an inferior at the bidding of a greater. For we say, "led," not only of him who is constrained by a stronger than he, but also of him who is induced by reasonable persuasion; as Andrew "found his brother Simon, and brought him to Jesus."
Jerome: "Led," not against His will, or as a prisoner, but as by a desire for the conflict.
Pseudo-Chrys.: The Devil comes against men to tempt them, but since He could not come against Christ, therefore Christ came against the Devil.
Greg.: We should know that there are three modes of temptation; suggestion, delight, and consent; and we when we are tempted commonly fall into delight or consent, because being born of the sin of the flesh, we bear with us whence we afford strength for the contest; but God who incarnate in the Virgin’s womb came into the world without sin, carried within Him nothing of a contrary nature. He could then be tempted by suggestion; but the delight of sin never gnawed His soul, and therefore all that temptation of the Devil was without not within Him.
Chrys.: The Devil is wont to be most urgent with temptation, when he sees us solitary; thus it was in the beginning he tempted the woman when he found her without the man, and now too the occasion is offered to the Devil, by the Saviour’s being led into the desert.
Gloss. ap. Anselm: This desert is that between Jerusalem and Jericho, where the robbers used to resort. It is called Hammaim, i.e. ’of blood,’ from the bloodshed which these robbers caused there; hence the man was said (in the parable) to have fallen among robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, being a figure of Adam, who was overcome by daemons. It was therefore fit that the place where Christ overcame the Devil, should be the same in which the Devil in the parable overcomes man.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Not Christ only is led into the desert by the Spirit, but also all the sons of God who have the Holy Spirit. For they are not content to sit idle, but the Holy Spirit stirs them to take up some great work, i.e. to go out into the desert where they shall meet with the Devil; for there is no righteousness wherewith the Devil is pleased.
For all good is without the flesh and the world, because it is not according to the will of the flesh and the world. To such a desert then all the sons of God go out that they may be tempted.
For example, if you are unmarried, the Holy Spirit has by that led you into the desert, that is, beyond the limits of the flesh and the world, that you may be tempted by lust. But he who is married is unmoved by such temptation. Let us learn that the sons of God are not tempted but when they have gone forth into the desert, but the children of the Devil whose life is in the flesh and the world are then overcome and obey; the good man, having a wife is content; the bad, though he have a wife is not therewith content, and so in all other things.
The children of the Devil go not out to the Devil that they may be tempted. For what need that he should seek the strife who desires not victory? But the sons of God having more confidence and desirous of victory, go forth against him beyond the boundaries of the flesh. For this cause then Christ also went out to the Devil, that He might be tempted of him.
Chrys.: But that you may learn how great a good is fasting, and what a mighty shield against the Devil, and that after baptism you ought to give attention to fasting and not to lusts, therefore Christ fasted, not Himself needing it, but teaching us by His example.
Pseudo-Chrys.: And to fix the measure of our quadragesimal fast, be fasted forty days and forty nights.
Chrys.: But He exceeded not the measure of Moses and Elias, lest it should bring into doubt the reality of His assumption of the flesh.
Greg., Hom. in Ev., 16, 5: The Creator of all things took no food whatever during forty days. We also, at the season of Lent as much as in us lies afflict our flesh by abstinence. The number forty is preserved, because the virtue of the decalogue is fulfilled in the books of the holy Gospel; and ten taken four times amounts to forty.
Or, because in this mortal body we consist of four elements by the delights of which we go against the Lord’s precepts received by the decalogue. And as we transgress the decalogue through the lusts of this flesh, it is fitting that we afflict the flesh forty-fold.
Or, as by the Law we offer the tenth of our goods, so we strive to offer the tenth of our time. And from the first Sunday of Lent to the rejoicing of the paschal festival is a space of six weeks, or forty-two days, subtracting from which the six Sundays which are not kept there remain thirty-six. Now as the year consists of three hundred and sixty-five, by the affliction of these thirty-six we give the tenth of our year to God.
Aug., Lib. 83. Quest. q. 81: Otherwise; The sum of all wisdom is to be acquainted with the Creator and the creature. The Creator is the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; the creature is partly invisible, - as the soul to which we assign a threefold nature, (as in the command to love God with the whole heart, mind, and soul,) - partly visible as the body, which we divide into four elements; the hot, the cold, the liquid, the solid. The number ten then, which stands for the whole law of life, taken four times, that is, multiplied by that number which we assign for the body, because by the body the law is obeyed or disobeyed, makes the number forty. All the aliquot parts in this number, viz. 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 20, taken together make up the number 50. Hence the time of our sorrow and affliction is fixed at forty days; the state of blessed joy which shall be hereafter is figured in the quinquagesimal festival, i.e. the fifty days from Easter to Pentecost.
Aug., Serm. 210, 2: Not however because Christ fasted immediately after having received baptism, are we to suppose that He established a rule to be observed, that we should fast immediately after His baptism. But when the conflict with the tempter is sore, then we ought to fast, that the body may fulfil its warfare by chastisement, and the soul obtain victory by humiliation.
Pseudo-Chrys.: The Lord knew the thoughts of the Devil, that he sought to tempt Him; he had heard that Christ had been born into this world with the preaching of Angels, the witness of shepherds, the inquiry of the Magi, and the testimony of John. Thus the Lord proceeded against him, not as God, but as man, or rather both as God and man. For in forty days of fasting not to have been "an hungred" was not as man; to be ever "an hungred" was not as God. He was "an hungred" then that the God might not be certainly manifested, and so the hopes of the Devil in tempting Him be extinguished, and His own victory hindered.
Hilary: He was "an hungred," not during the forty days, but after them. Therefore when the Lord hungred, it was not that the effects of abstinence then first came upon Him, but that His humanity was left to its own strength. For the Devil was to be overcome, not by the God, but by the flesh. By this was figured, that after those forty days which He was to tarry on earth after His passion were accomplished, He should hunger for the salvation of man, at which time He carried back again to God His Father the expected gift, the humanity which He had taken on Him.
Ver 3. And when the Tempter came to Him, he said, "If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread."4. But He answered and said, "It is written, ’Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ "
Pseudo-Chrys.: The Devil who had begun to despair when he saw that Christ fasted forty days, now again began to hope when he saw that "he was an hungred;" and "then the tempter came to him." If then you shall have fasted and after been tempted, say not, I have lost the fruit of my fast; for though it have not availed to hinder temptation, it will avail to hinder you from being overcome by temptation.
Greg.: If we observe the successive steps of the temptation, we shall be able to estimate by how much we are freed from temptation. The old enemy tempted the first man through his belly, when he persuaded him to eat of the forbidden fruit; through ambition when he said, "Ye shall be as gods;" through covetousness when he said, "Knowing good and evil;" for there is a covetousness not only of money, but of greatness, when a high estate above our measure is sought.
By the same method in which he had overcome the first Adam, in that same was he overcome when he tempted the second Adam. He tempted through the belly when he said, "Command that these stones become loaves;" through ambition when he said, "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence;" through covetousness of lofty condition in the words, "All these things will I give thee."
Ambrose, Ambros. in Luc., c. 4. 3: He begins with that which had once been the means of his victory, the palate; "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves." What means such a beginning as this, but that he knew that the Son of God was to come, yet believed not that He was come on account of His fleshly infirmity. His speech is in part that of an enquirer, in part that of a tempter; he professes to believe Him God, he strives to deceive Him as man.
Hilary: And therefore in the temptation he makes a proposal of such a double kind by which His divinity would be made known by the miracle of the transformation, the weakness of the man deceived by the delight of food.
Jerome: But thou art caught, O Enemy, in a dilemma. If these stones can be made bread at His word, your temptation is vain against one so mighty. If He cannot make them bread, your suspicions that this is the Son of God must be vain.
Pseudo-Chrys.: But as the Devil blinds all men, so is he now invisibly made blind by Christ. He found Him "an hungred" at the end of forty days, and knew not that He had continued through those forty without being hungry. When he suspected Him not to be the Son of God, he considered not that the mighty Champion can descend to things that be weak, but the weak cannot ascend to things that are high.
We may more readily infer from His not being "an hungred" for so many days that He is God, than from His being "an hungred" after that time that He is man. But it may be said, Moses and Elias fasted forty days, and were men. But they hungred and endured, He for the space of forty days hungred not, but afterwards. To be hungry and yet refuse food is within the endurance of man; not be hungry belongs to the Divine nature only.
Jerome: Christ’s purpose was to vanquish by humility;
Leo, Serm. 39, 3: hence he opposed the adversary rather by testimonies out of the Law, than by miraculous powers; thus at the same time giving more honour to man, and more disgrace to the adversary, when the enemy of the human race thus seemed to be overcome by man rather than by God.
Greg.: So the Lord when tempted by the Devil answered only with precepts of Holy Writ, and He who could have drowned His tempter in the abyss, displayed not the might of His power; giving us an example, that when we suffer any thing at the hands of evil men, we should be stirred up to learning rather than to revenge.
Pseudo-Chrys.: He said not, ’I live not,’ but, "Man doth not live by bread alone," that the Devil might still ask, "If thou be the Son of God." If He be God, it is as though He shunned to display what He had power to do; if man, it is a crafty will that His want of power should not be detected.
Rabanus: This verse is quoted from Deuteronomy. [margin note: c. 8. 3] Whoso then feeds not on the Word of God, he lives not; as the body of man cannot live without earthly food, so cannot his soul without God’s word. This word is said to proceed out of the mouth of God, where he reveals His will by Scripture testimonies.
Ver 5. Then the Devil taketh Him up into the holy city, and setteth Him on a pinnacle of the temple,6. And saith unto Him, "If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down; for it is written, ’He shall give His Angels charge concerning Thee:’ and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone."7. Jesus said unto Him, "It is written again, ’Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’ "
Pseudo-Chrys.: From this first answer of Christ, the Devil could learn nothing certain whether He were God or man; he therefore betook him to another temptation, saying within himself; This man who is not sensible of the appetite of hunger, if not the Son of God, is yet a holy man; and such do attain strength not to be overcome by hunger; but when they have subdued every necessity of the flesh, they often fall by desire of empty glory. Therefore he began to tempt Him by this empty glory.
Jerome: "Took him," not because the Lord was weak, but the enemy proud; he imputed to a necessity what the Saviour did willingly.
Rabanus: Jerusalem was called the Holy City, for in it was the Temple of God, the Holy of holies, and the worship of the one God according to the law of Moses.
Remig.: This shews that the Devil lies in wait for Christ’s faithful people even in the sacred places.
Gregory: Behold when it is said that this God was taken by the Devil into the holy city, pious ears tremble to hear, and yet the Devil is head and chief among the wicked; what wonder that He suffered Himself to be led up a mountain by the wicked one himself, who suffered Himself to be crucified by his members.
Gloss. ord.: The Devil places us on high places by exalting with pride, that he may dash us to the ground again.
Remig.: The "pinnacle" is the seat of the doctors; for the temple had not a pointed roof like our houses, but was flat on the top after the manner of the country of Palestine, and in the temple were three stories. It should be known that "the pinnacle" was on the floor, and in each story was one pinnacle. Whether then he placed Him on the pinnacle in the first story, or that in the second, or the third, he placed Him whence a fall was possible.
Gloss. ord.: Observe here that all these things were done with bodily sense, and by careful comparison of the context it seems probable that the Devil appeared in human form.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Perhaps you may say, How could he in the sight of all place Him bodily upon the temple? Perhaps the Devil so took Him as though He were visible to all, while He, without the Devil being aware of it, made Himself invisible.
Gloss, ap. Anselm: He set Him on a pinnacle of the temple when he would tempt Him through ambition, because in this seat of the doctors he had before taken many through the same temptation, and therefore thought that when set in the same seat, He might in like manner be puffed up with vain pride.
Jerome: In the several temptations the single aim of the Devil is to find if He be the Son of God, but he is so answered as at last to depart in doubt; He says, "Cast thyself," because the voice of the Devil, which is always called men downwards, has power to persuade them, but may not compel them to fall.
Pseudo-Chrys.: How does he expect to discover by this proposition whether He be the Son of God or not? For to fly through the air is not proper to the Divine nature, for it is not useful to any. If then any were to attempt to fly when challenged to it, he would be acting from ostentation, and would belong rather to the Devil than to God. If it is enough to a wise man to be what he is, and he has no wish to seem what he is not, how much more should the Son of God hold it not necessary to shew what He is; He of whom none can know so much as He is in Himself?
Ambrose: But as Satan transfigures himself into an Angel of light, and spreads a snare for the faithful, even from the divine Scriptures, so now he uses its texts, not to instruct but to deceive.
Jerome: This verse we read in the ninetieth Psalm, [Psalms 91:11] but that is a prophecy not of Christ, but of some holy man, so the Devil interprets Scripture amiss.
Pseudo-Chrys.: For the Son of God in truth is not borne of Angels, but Himself bears them, or if He be borne in their arms, it is not from weakness, lest He dash His foot against a stone, but for the honour. O thou Devil, thou hast read that the Son of God is borne in Angels’ arms, hast thou not also read that He shall tread upon the asp and basilisk? But the one text he brings forward as proud, the other he omits as crafty.
Chrys.: Observe that Scripture is brought forward by the Lord only with an apt meaning, but by the Devil irreverently; for that where it is written, "He shall give his Angels charge over thee," is not an exhortation to cast Himself headlong.
Gloss. ap. Anselm: We must explain thus; Scripture says of any good man, that He has given it in charge to His Angels, that is to His ministering spirits, to bear him in their hands, i.e. by their aid to guard him that he dash not his foot against a stone, i.e. keep his heart that it stumble not at the old law written in tables of stone. Or by the stone may be understood every occasion of sin and error.
Rabanus: It should be noted, that though our Saviour suffered Himself to be placed by the Devil on a pinnacle of the temple, yet refused to come down also at his command, giving us an example, that whosoever bids us ascend the strait way of truth we should obey. But if he would again cast us down from the height of truth and virtue to the depth of error we should not hearken to him.
Jerome: The false Scripture darts of the Devil He brands with the true shield of Scripture.
Hilary: Thus beating down the efforts of the Devil, He professes Himself both God and Lord.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Yet He says not, Thou shalt not tempt me thy Lord God; but, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God;" which every man of God when tempted by the Devil might say; for whoso tempts a man of God, tempts God.
Rabanus: Otherwise, it was a suggestion to Him, as man, that He should seek by requiring some miracle to know the greatness of God’s power.
Aug., contr. Faust., 22, 36: It is a part of sound doctrine, that when man has any other means, he should not tempt the Lord his God.
Theod. non occ.: And it is to tempt God, in any thing to expose one’s self to danger without cause.
Jerome: It should be noted, that the required texts are taken from the book of Deuteronomy only, that He might shew the sacraments of the second Law.
Ver 8. Again, the Devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;9. And saith unto Him, "All these things will I give Thee, if Thee wilt fall down and worship me."10. Then saith Jesus unto him, "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, ’Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.’ "11. Then the Devil leaveth Him, and, behold Angels came and ministered unto Him.
Pseudo-Chrys.: The Devil, left in uncertainty by this second reply, passes to a third temptation. Christ had broken the nets of appetite, had passed over those of ambition, he now spreads for Him those of covetousness; "He taketh him up into a very high mountain," such as in going round about the earth he had noticed rising above the rest. The higher the mountain, the wider the view from it.
He shews Him not so as that they truly saw the very kingdoms, cities, nations, their silver and their gold; but the quarters of the earth where each kingdom and city lay. As suppose from some high ground I were to point out to you, see there lies Rome, there Alexandria; you are not supposed to see the towns themselves, but the quarter in which they lie. Thus the Devil might point out the several quarters with his finger, and recount in words the greatness of each kingdom and its condition; for that is said to be shewn which is in any way presented to the understanding.
Origen, in Luc., Hom. 30: We are not to suppose that when he shewed him the kingdoms of the world, he presented before Him the kingdom of Persia, for instance, or India; but he shewed his own kingdom, how he reigns in the world, that is, how some are governed by fornication, some by avarice.
Remig.: By "their glory," is meant, their gold and silver, precious stones and temporal goods.
Rabanus: The Devil shews all this to the Lord, not as though he had power to extend his vision or shew Him any thing unknown. But setting forth in speech as excellent and pleasant, that vain worldly pomp wherein himself delighted, he thought by suggestion of it, to create in Christ a love of it.
Gloss. ord.: He saw not, as we see, with the eye of lust, but as a physician looks on disease without receiving any hurt.
Jerome: An arrogant and vain vaunt; for he hath not the power to bestow all kingdoms, since many of the saints have, we know, been make kings of God.
Pseudo-Chrys.: But such things as are gotten by iniquity in this world, as riches, for instance, gained by fraud or perjury, these the Devil bestows. The Devil therefore cannot give riches to whom he will, but to those only who are willing to receive them of him.
Remig.: Wonderful infatuation in the Devil! To promise earthly kingdoms to Him who gives heavenly kingdoms to His faithful people, and the glory of earth to Him who is Lord of the glory of heaven!
Ambrose, in Luc., c. iv, 11: Ambition has its dangers at home; that it may govern, it is first others’ slave; it bows in flattery that it may rule in honour; and while it would be exalted, it is made to stoop.
Gloss. non occ.: See the Devil’s pride as of old. In the beginning he sought to make himself equal with God, now he seeks to usurp the honours due to God, saying, "If thou wilt fall down and worship me." Who then worships the Devil must first fall down.
Pseudo-Chrys.: With these words He puts an end to the temptations of the Devil, that they should proceed not further.
Jerome: The Devil and Peter are not, as many suppose, condemned to the same sentence. To Peter it is said, "Get thee behind me, Satan;" i.e. follow thou behind Me who art contrary to My will. But here it is, "Go, Satan," and is not added, ’behind Me,’ that we may understand "into the fire prepared for thee and thy angels."
Remig.: Other copies read, "Get thee behind me;" i.e. remember thee in what glory thou wast created, and into what misery thou hast fallen.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Observe how Christ when Himself suffered wrong at the hands of the Devil, being tempted of him, saying, "If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down," yet was not moved to chide the Devil. But now when the Devil usurps the honour of God, he is wroth, and drives him away, saying, "Go thy way, Satan;" that we may learn by His example to bear injuries to ourselves with magnanimity, but wrongs to God, to endure not so much as to hear; for to be patient under our own wrongs is praiseworthy, to dissemble when God is wronged is impiety.
Jerome: When the Devil says to the Saviour, "If thou wilt fall down and worship me," he is answered by the contrary declaration, that it more becomes him to worship Jesus as his Lord and God.
Aug., cont. Serm. Arian, 29: The one Lord our God is the Holy Trinity, to which alone we justly owe the service of piety.
Aug., City of God, book 10, ch. 1: By service is to be understood the honour due to God; as our version renders the Greek words, ’latria,’ wherever it occurs in Scripture, by ’service’ (servitus), but that service which is due to men (as where the Apostle bids slaves be subject to their master) is in Greek called ’dulia;’ while ’latria,’ always, or so often that we say always, is used of that worship which belongs to God.
Pseudo-Chrys.: The Devil, we may fairly suppose, did not depart in obedience to the command, but the Divine nature of Christ, and the Holy Spirit which was in Him drove him thence, and "then the Devil left him." Which also serves for our consolation, to see that the Devil does not tempt the men of God so long as he wills, but so long as Christ suffers. And though He may suffer him to tempt for a short time, yet in the end He drives him away because of the weakness of our nature.
Aug., City of God, book 9, ch. 21: After the temptation the Holy Angels, to be dreaded of all unclean spirits, ministered to the Lord, by which it was made yet more manifest to the daemons how great was His power.
Pseudo-Chrys.: He says not ’Angels descended from heaven,’ that it may be known that they were ever on the earth to minister to Him, but had now by the Lord’s command departed from Him, to give opportunity for the Devil to approach, who perhaps when he saw Him surrounded by Angels would not have come near Him.
But in what matters they ministered to Him, we cannot know, whether in the healing diseases, or purifying souls, or casting out daemons; for all these things He does by the ministration of Angels, so that what they do, Himself appears to do. However it is manifest, that they did not now minister to Him because His weakness needed it, but for the honour of His power; for it is not said that they ’succoured Him,’ but that they "ministered to Him."
Gregory, non occ. vid. in Ezek. i. 8. n. 24. in 1 Reg. i. I. n. 1. 2: In these things is shewn the twofold nature in one person; it is the man whom the Devil tempts; the same is God to whom Angels minister.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Now let us shortly review what is signified by Christ’s temptations. The fasting is abstinence from things evil, hunger is the desire of evil, bread is the gratification of the desire. He who indulges himself in any evil thing, turns stones into bread. Let him answer to the Devil’s persuasions that man does not live by the indulgence of desire alone, but by keeping the commands of God. When any is puffed up as though he were holy he is led to the temple, and when he esteems himself to have reached the summit of holiness he is set on a pinnacle of the temple. And this temptation follows the first, because victory over temptation begets conceit.
But observe that Christ had voluntarily undertaken the fasting; but was led to the temple by the Devil; therefore do you voluntarily use praiseworthy abstinence, but suffer yourself not to be exalted to the summit of sanctity; fly high-mindedness, and you will not suffer a fall.
The ascent of the mountain is the going forward to great riches, and the glory of this world which springs from pride of heart. When you desire to become rich, that is, to ascend the mountain, you begin to think of the ways of gaining wealth and honours, then the prince of this world is shewing you the glory of his kingdom. In the third place He provides you reasons, that if you seek to obtain all these things, you should serve him, and neglect the righteousness of God.
Hilary: When we have overcome the Devil and bruised his head, we see that Angels’ ministry and the offices of heavenly virtues will not be wanting in us.
Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 16: Luke has not given the temptations in the same order as Matthew; so that we do not know whether the pinnacle of the temple, or the ascent of the mountain, was first in the action; but it is of no importance, so long as it is only clear that all of them were truly done.
Gloss. ap. Anselm: Though Luke’s order seems the more historical; Matthew relates the temptations as they were done to Adam.
Ver 12. Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee;13. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:14. That is might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaeas the prophet, saying,15. "The land of Zabulon, and the land of Naphthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;16. The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
Rabanus: Matthew having related the forty days’ fast, the temptation of Christ, and the ministry of Angels, proceeds, "Jesus having heard that John was cast into prison."
Pseudo-Chrys.: By God without doubt, for none can effect any thing against a holy man, unless God deliver him up. "He withdrew into Galilee," that is, out of Judaea; both that He might reserve His passion to the fit time, and that He might set us an example of flying from danger.
Chrys.: It is not blameworthy not to throw one’s self into peril, but when one has fallen into it, not to endure manfully. He departed from Judaea both to soften Jewish animosity, and to fulfil a prophecy, seeking moreover to fish for those masters of the world who dwelt in Galilee.
Note also how when He would depart to the Gentiles, He received good cause from the Jews; His forerunner was thrown into prison, which compelled Jesus to pass into Galilee of the Gentiles.
Gloss. ap. Anselm: He came as Luke writes to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and there entering into the synagogue, He read and spoke many things, for which they sought to throw Him down from the rock, and thence He went to Capernaum; for which Matthew has only, "And leaving the town of Nazareth, He came and dwelt at Capernaum."
Gloss. ord.: Nazareth is a village in Galilee near Mount Tabor; Capernaum a town in Galilee of the Gentiles near the Lake of Gennesaret; and this is the meaning of the word, "on the sea coast."
He adds further "in the borders of Zabulon and Naphtali," where was the first captivity of the Jews by the Assyrians. Thus where the Law was first forgotten, there the Gospel was first preached; and from a place as it were between the two it was spread both to Jews and Gentiles.
Remig.: He left one, viz. Nazareth, that He might enlighten more by His preaching and miracles. Thus leaving an example to all preachers that they should preach at a time and in places where they may do good, to as many as possible. In the prophecy, the words are these - "At that first time the land of Zabulon and the land of Naphtali was lightened, and at the last time was increased the way of the sea beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles." [Isaiah 9:1]
Jerome, Hieron. in Esai. c. 9. 1: They are said at the first time to be lightened from the burden of sin, because in the country of these two tribes, the Saviour first preached the Gospel; "at the last time" their faith "was increased," most of the Jews remaining in error.
By the sea here is meant the Lake of Gennesaret, a lake formed by the waters of the Jordan, on its shores are the towns of Capernaum, Tiberias, Bethsaida, and Corozaim, in which district principally Christ preached.
Or, according to the interpretation of those Hebrews who believe in Christ, the two tribes Zabulon and Naphtali were taken captive by the Assyrians, and Galilee was left desert; and the prophet therefore says that it was lightened, because it had before suffered the sins of the people; but afterwards the remaining tribes who dwelt beyond Jordan and in Samaria were led into captivity; and Scripture here means that the region which had been the first to suffer captivity, now was the first to see the light of Christ’s preaching.
The Nazarenes again interpret that this was the first part of the country that, on the coming of Christ, was freed from the errors of the Pharisees, and after by the Gospel of the Apostle Paul, the preaching was increased or multiplied throughout all the countries of the Gentiles.
Gloss. ap. Anselm: But Matthew here so quotes the passage as to make them all nominative cases referring to one verb. The land of Zabulon, and the land of Naphtali, which is the way of the sea, and which is beyond Jordan, viz. the people of Galilee of the Gentiles, the people which walked in darkness.
Gloss. ord.: Note that there are two Galilees; one of the Jews, the other of the Gentiles. This division of Galilee had existed from Solomon’s time, who gave twenty cities in Galilee to Hyram, King of Tyre; this part was afterwards called Galilee of the Gentiles; the remained, of the Jews.
Jerome, Hieron.: Or we must read, "beyond Jordan, of Galilee of the Gentiles;" so, I mean, that the people who either sat, or walked in darkness, have seen light, and that not a faint light, as the light of the Prophets, but a great light, as of Him who in the Gospel speaks thus, "I am the light of the world."
Between death and the shadow of death I suppose this difference; death is said of such as have gone down to the grave with the works of death; the shadow of such as live in sin, and have not yet departed from this world; these may, if they will, yet turn to repentance.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Otherwise, the Gentiles who worshipped idols, and daemons, were they who sat in the region of the shadow of death; the Jews, who did the works of the Law, were in darkness, because the righteousness of God was not yet manifested to them.
Chrys.: But that you may learn that he speaks not of natural day and night, he calls the light, "a great light," which is in other places called "the true light;" and he adds, "the shadow of death," to explain what he means by darkness. The words "arose," and "shined," shew, that they found it not of their own seeking, but God Himself appeared to them, they did not first run to the light; for men were in the greatest miseries before Christ’s coming; they did not walk but safe in darkness; which was a sign that they hoped for deliverance; for as not knowing what way they should go, shut in by darkness they sat down, having now no power to stand. By darkness he means here, error and ungodliness.
Rabanus, ap. Anselm: In allegory, John and the rest of the Prophets were the voice going before the Word. When prophecy ceased and was fettered, then came the Word, fulfilling what the Prophet had spoken of it, "He departed into Galilee," i.e. from figure to verity.
Or, into the Church, which is a passing from vice to virtue. Nazareth is interpreted ’a flower,’ Capernaum, ’the beautiful village;’ He left therefore the flower of figure, (in which was mystically intended the fruit of the Gospel,) and came into the Church, which was beautiful with Christ’s virtues. It is "by the sea-coast," because placed near the waves of this world, it is daily beaten by the storms of persecution.
It is situated between Zabulon and Naphtali, i.e. common to Jews and Gentiles. Zabulon is interpreted, ’the abode of strength;’ because the Apostles, who were chosen from Judaea, were strong. Nephtali, ’extension,’ because the Church of the Gentiles was extended through the world.
Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 17: John relates in his Gospel the calling of Peter, Andrew, and Nathanael, and the miracle of Cana, before Jesus’ departure into Galilee; all these things the other Evangelists have omitted, carrying on the thread of their narrative with Jesus’ return into Galilee. We must understand then that some days intervened, during which the things took place concerning the calling of the disciples which John relates.
Remig.: But this should be considered with more care, viz. that John says that the Lord went into Galilee, before John the Baptist was thrown into prison. According to John’s Gospel after the water turned into wine, and his going down to Capernaum, and after his going up to Jerusalem, he returned to Judaea and baptized, and John was not yet cast into prison. But here it is after John’s imprisonment that He retires into Galilee, and with this Mark agrees. But we need not suppose any contradiction here. John speaks of the Lord’s first coming into Galilee, which was before the imprisonment of John. He speaks in another place of His second coming into Galilee [John 4:3], and the other Evangelists mention only this second coming into Galilee which was after John’s imprisonment.
Euseb., H. E. iii. 24: It is related that John preached the Gospel almost up to the close of his life without setting forth any thing in writing, and at length came to write for this reason.
The three first written Gospels having come to his knowledge, he confirmed the truth of their history by his own testimony; but there was yet some things wanting, especially an account of what the Lord had done at the first beginning of His preaching. And it is true that the other three Gospels seem to contain only those things which were done in that year in which John the Baptist was put into prison, or executed. For Matthew, after the temptation, proceeds immediately, "Hearing that John was delivered up;" and Mark in like manner. Luke again, even before relating one of Christ’s actions, tells that "Herod had shut up John in prison." The Apostle John then was requested to put into writing what the preceding Evangelists had left out before the imprisonment of John; hence he says in his Gospel, "this beginning of miracles did Jesus."
Ver 17. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, "Repent: for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand."
Pseudo-Chrys.: Christ’s Gospel should be preached by him who can control his appetites, who contemns the goods of this life, and desires not empty honours. "From this time began Jesus to preach," that is, after having been tempted, He had overcome hunger in the desert, despised covetousness on the mountain, rejected ambitious desires in the temple.
Or from the time that John was delivered up; for had He begun to preach while John was yet preaching, He would have made John be lightly accounted of, and John’s preaching would have been though superfluous by the side of Christ’s teaching; as when the sun rises at the same time with the morning star, the star’s brightness is hid.
Chrys.: For another cause also He did not preach till John was in prison, that the multitude might not be split into two parties; or as John did no miracle, all men would have been drawn to Christ by His miracles.
Rabanus: In this He further teaches that none should despise the words of a person inferior to Him; as also the Apostle, "If any thing be revealed to him that sits, let the first hold his peace." [1 Corinthians 14:30]
Pseudo-Chrys.: He did wisely in making now the beginning of His preaching, that He should not trample upon John’s teaching, but that He might the rather confirm it and demonstrate him to have been a true witness.
Jerome: Shewing also thereby that He was Son of that same God whose prophet John was; and therefore He says, "Repent ye."
Pseudo-Chrys.: He does not straightway preach righteousness which all knew, but repentance, which all needed. Who then dared to say, ’I desire to be good, but am not able?"
For repentance corrects the will; and if ye will not repent through fear of evil, at least ye may for the pleasure of good things; hence He says, "the kingdom of heaven is at hand;" that is, the blessings of the heavenly kingdom. As if He has said, Prepare yourselves by repentance, for the time of eternal reward is at hand.
Remig.: And note, He does not say the kingdom of the Canaanite, or the Jebusite, is at hand; the "the kingdom of heaven." The law promised worldly goods, but the Lord heavenly kingdoms.
Chrys.: Also observe how that in this His first address He says nothing of Himself openly; and that very suitably to the case, for they had yet no right opinion concerning Him. In this commencement moreover He speaks nothing severe, nothing burdensome, as John had concerning the axe laid to the root of the condemned tree, and the lie; but he puts first things merciful, preaching the glad tidings of the kingdom of heaven.
Jerome: Mystically interpreted, Christ begins to preach as soon as John was delivered to prison, because when the Law ceased, the Gospel commenced.
Ver 18. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.19. And He saith unto them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."20. And they straightway left their nets, and followed Him.21. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them.22. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed Him.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Before He spoke or did any thing, Christ called Apostles, that neither word nor deed of His should be hid from their knowledge, so that they may afterwards say with confidence, "What we have seen and heard, that we cannot but speak." [Acts 4:20]
Rabanus: The sea of Galilee, the lake of Gennesaret, the sea of Tiberias, and the salt lake, are one and the same.
Gloss. ord.: He rightly goes on fishing places, when about to fish for fishermen.
Remig.: "Saw," that is, not so much with the bodily eye, as spiritually viewing their hearts.
Chrys.: He calls them while actually working at their employment, to shew that to follow Him ought to be preferred to all occupations. They were just then "casting a net into the sea," which agreed with their future office.
Aug., Serm. 197, 2: He chose not kings, senators, philosophers, or orators, but he chose common, poor, and untaught fishermen.
Aug., Tract. in Joann. 8, 7: Had one learned been chosen, he might have attributed the choice to the merit of his learning. But our Lord Jesus Christ, willing to bow the necks of the proud, sought not to gain fishermen by orators, but gained an Emperor by a fisherman. Great was Cyprian the pleader, but Peter the fisherman was before him.
Pseudo-Chrys.: The operations of their secular craft were a prophecy of their future dignity. As he who casts his net into the water knows not what fishes he shall take, so the teacher casts the net of the divine word upon the people, not knowing who among them will come to God. Those whom God shall stir abide in his doctrine.
Remig.: Of these fishermen the Lord speaks by Jeremiah. "I will send my fishers among you, and they shall catch you." [Jeremiah 16:16]
Gloss. interlin.: "Follow me," not so much with your feet as in your hearts and your life.
Pseudo-Chrys.: "Fishers of men," that is, teachers, that with the net of God’s word you may catch men out of this world of storm and danger, in which men do not walk but are rather borne along, the Devil by pleasure drawing them into sin where men devour one another as the stronger fishes do the weaker, withdrawn from hence they may live upon the land, being made members of Christ’s body.
Greg., Hom. in Evan., v. 1: Peter and Andrew had seen Christ work no miracle, had heard from him no word of the promise of the eternal reward, yet at this single bidding of the Lord they forgot all that they had seemed to possess, and "straightway left their nets, and followed Him." In which deed we ought rather to consider their wills than the amount of their property. He leaves much who keeps nothing for himself, he parts with much, who with his possessions renounces his lusts.
Those who followed Christ gave up enough to be coveted by those who did not follow. Our outward goods, however small, are enough for the Lord; He does not weight the sacrifice by how much is offered, but out of how much it is offered. The kingdom of God is not to be valued at a certain price, but whatever a man has, much or little, is equally available.
Pseudo-Chrys.: These disciples did not follow Christ from desire of the honour of a doctor, but because they coveted the labour itself; they knew how precious is the soul of man, how pleasant to God is his salvation, and how great its reward.
Chrys.: To so great a promise they trusted, and believed that they should catch others by those same words by which themselves had been caught.
Pseudo-Chrys.: These were their desires, for which they "left all and followed;" teaching us thereby that none can possess earthly things and perfectly attain to heavenly things.
Gloss. ap. Anselm: These last disciples were an example to such as leave their property for the love of Christ; now follows an example of others who postponed earthly affection to God. Observe how He calls them two and two, and He afterwards sent them two and two to preach.
Greg., Hom. in Ex., 17, 1: Hereby we are also silently admonished, that he who wants affection towards others, ought not to take on him the office of preaching. The precepts of charity are two, and between less than two there can be no love.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Rightly did He thus build the foundations of the brotherhood of the Church on love, that from such roots a copious sap of love might flow to the branches; and that too on natural or human love, that nature as well as grace might bind their love more firmly. They were moreover "brothers;" and so did God in the Old Testament lay the foundations of His building on Moses and Aaron, brothers.
But as the grace of the New Testament is more abundant than that of the Old, therefore the first people were built upon one pair of brethren, but the new people upon two.
They were "washing their nets," a proof of the extremest indigence; they repaired the old because they had not whence they should buy new. And what shews their great filial piety, in this their great poverty they deserted not their father, but carried him with them in their vessel, not that he might aid in their labour, but have the enjoyment of his sons’ presence.
Chrys.: It is no small sign of goodness, to bear poverty easily, to live by honest labour, to be bound together by virtue of affection, to keep their poor father with them, and to toil in his service.
Pseudo-Chrys.: We may not dare to consider the former disciples as more quick to preach, because they were "casting their nets;" and these latter as less active, because they were yet making ready only; for it is Christ alone that may know their differences.
But, perhaps we may say that the first were "casting their nets," because Peter preached the Gospel, but committed it not to paper - the others were making ready their nets, because John composed a Gospel.
He "called them" together, for by their abode they were fellow-townsmen, in affection attached, in profession agreed, and united by brotherly tenderness. He called them then at once, that united by so many common blessings they might not be separated by a separate call.
Chrys.: He made no promise to them when He called them, as He had to the former, for the obedience of the first had made the way plain for them. Besides, they had heard many things concerning Him, as being friends and townsmen of the others.
Pseudo-Chrys.: There are three things which we must leave who would come to Christ; carnal actions, which are signified in the fishing nets; worldly substance, in the ship; parents, which are signified in their father. They left their own vessel, that they might become governors of the vessel of the Church; they left their nets, as having no longer to draw out fishes on to the earthly shore, but men to the heavenly; they left their father, that they might become the spiritual fathers of all.
Hilary: By this that they left their occupation and their father’s house we are taught, that when we would follow Christ we should not be holden of the cares of secular life, or of the society of the paternal mansion.
Remig.: Mystically, by the sea is figured this world, because of its bitterness and its tossing waves. Galilee is interpreted, ’rolling,’ or ’a wheel,’ and shews the changeableness of the world. Jesus "walked by the sea" when He came to us by incarnation, for He took on Him of the Virgin not the flesh of sin, but the likeness of the flesh of sin.
By the two brothers, two people are signified born of one God their Father; He "saw" them when He looked on them in His mercy. In Peter, (which is interpreted ’owning,’) who is called Simon, (i.e. obedient,) is signified the Jewish nation, who acknowledged God in the Law, and obeyed His commandments; Andrew, which is interpreted ’manly’ or ’graceful,’ signifies the Gentiles, who after they had come to the knowledge of God, manfully abode in the faith. He called us His people when He sent the preachers into the world, saying, "Follow me;" that is, leave the deceiver, follow your Creator. Of both people there were made fishers of men, that is, preachers. Leaving their ships, that is, carnal desires, and their nets, that is, love of the world, they followed Christ. By James is understood the Jewish nation, which through their knowledge of God overthrew the Devil; by John the Gentile world, which was saved of grace alone. Zebedee whom they leave, (the name is interpreted flying or falling,) signifies the world which passes away, and the Devil who fell from Heaven. By Peter and Andrew casting their net into the sea, are meant those who in their early youth are called by the Lord, while from the vessel of their body they cast the nets of carnal concupiscence into the sea of this world. By James and John mending their nets are signified those who after sin before adversity come to Christ recovering what they had lost.
Rabanus: The two vessels signify the two Churches; the one was called out of the circumcision, the other out of the uncircumcision. Any one who believes becomes Simon, i.e. obedient to God; Peter by acknowledging his sin, Andrew by enduring labours manfully, James by overcoming vices,
Gloss. ap. Anselm: and John that he may ascribe the whole to God’s grace. The calling of four only is mentioned, as those preachers by whom God will call the four quarters of the world.
Hilary: Or, the number that was to be of the Evangelists is figured.
Remig.: Also, the four principal virtues are here designed; Prudence, in Peter, from his confession of God; Justice, we may refer to Andrew for his manful deeds; Fortitude, to James, for his overthrow of the Devil; Temperance, to John, for the working in him of divine grace.
Aug., de Cons. Evan., ii, 17: It might move enquiry, why John relates that near Jordan, not in Galilee, Andrew followed the Lord with another whose name he does not mention; and again, that Peter received that name from the Lord. Whereas the other three Evangelists write that they were called from their fishing, sufficiently agreeing with one another, especially Matthew and Mark; Luke not naming Andrew, who is however understood to have been in the same vessel with him.
There is a further seeming discrepancy, that in Luke it is to Peter only that it is said, "Henceforth thou shalt catch men;" Matthew and Mark write that is was said to both. As to the different account in John, it should be carefully considered, and it will be found that it is a different time, place, and calling that is there spoken of. For Peter and Andrew had not so seen Jesus at the Jordan that they adhered inseparably ever after, but so as only to have known who He was, and wondering at Him to have gone their way. Perhaps he is returning back to something he had omitted, for he proceeds without marking any difference of time, "As he walked by the sea of Galilee."
It may be further asked, how Matthew and Mark relate that He called them separately two and two, when Luke relates that James and John being partners of Peter were called as it were to aid him, and bringing their barks to land followed Christ. We may then understand that the narrative of Luke relates to a prior time, after which they returned to their fishing as usual. For it had not been said to Peter that he should no more catch fish, as he did do so again after the resurrection, but that he "should catch men." Again, at a time after this happened that call of which Matthew and Mark speak; for they draw their ships to land to follow Him, not as careful to return again, but only anxious to follow Him when He bids them.
Ver 23. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.24. And His fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and He healed them.25. And there followed Him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Kings, when about to go to war with their enemies, first gather an army, and so go out to battle; thus the Lord when about to war against the Devil, first collected Apostles, and then began to preach the Gospel.
Remig.: An example of life for doctors; that they should not be inactive, they are instructed in these words, "And Jesus went about."
Pseudo-Chrys.: Because they being weak could not come to their physician, He as a zealous Physician went about to visit those who had any grievous sickness. The Lord went round the several regions, and after His example the pastors of each region ought to go round to study the several dispositions of their people, that for the remedy of each disease some medicine may be found in the Church.
Remig.: That they should not be acceptors of persons the preachers are instructed in what follows, "the whole of Galilee." That they should not go about empty, by the word, "teaching." That they should seek to benefit not few but many, in what follows, "in their synagogues."
Chrys.: [ed. note: A passage is here inserted in Nicolai’s edition which is not in the original. It is of no doctrinal importance.] By which too He shewed the Jews that He came not as an enemy of God, or a seducer of souls, but as consenting with his Father.
Remig.: That they should not preach error nor fable, but sound doctrine, is inculcated in the words, "preaching the Gospel of the kingdom." ’Teaching’ and ’preaching’ differ; teaching refers to things present, preaching to things to come; He taught present commandments and preached future promises.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, He taught natural righteousness, those things which natural reason teaches, as chastity, humility, and the like, which all men of themselves see to be goods. Such things are necessary to be taught not so much for the sake of making them known as for stirring the heart.
For beneath the prevalence of carnal delights the knowledge of natural righteousness sleeps forgotten. When then a teacher begins to denounce carnal sins, his teaching does not bring up a new knowledge, but recalls to memory one that had been forgotten. But He preached the Gospel, in telling of good things which the ancients had manifestly not heard of, as the happiness of heaven, the resurrection of the dead, and the like.
Or, He taught by interpreting the prophecies concerning Himself; He preached by declaring the benefits that were to come from Himself.
Remig.: That the teacher should study to commend his teaching by his own virtuous conduct is conveyed in those words, "healing every sort of disease and malady among the people;" maladies of the body, diseases of the soul.
Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, by disease we may understand any passion of the mind, as avarice, lust, and such like, by malady unbelief, that is, weakness of faith.
Or, the diseases are the more grievous pains of the body, the maladies the slighter. As He cured the bodily pains by virtue of His divine power, so He cured the spiritual by the word of His mercy.
He first teaches, and then performs the cures, for two reasons. First, that what is needed most may come first; for it is the word of holy instruction, and not miracles, that edify the soul. Secondly, because teaching is commended by miracles, not the converse.
Chrys.: We must consider that when some great change is being wrought, as the introduction of a new polity, God is wont to work miracles, giving pledges of His power to those who are to receive His laws.
Thus when He would make man, He first created a world, and then at length gave man in paradise a law. When He would dispense a law to the holy Noah, he shewed truly great wonders; and again when He was about to ordain the Law for the Jews, He first shewed great prodigies, and then at length gave them the commandments. So now when about to introduce a sublime discipline of life, He first provided a sanction to His instructions by mighty signs, because the eternal kingdom He preached was not seen, by the things which did appear, He made sure that which as yet did not appear.
Gloss. ap. Anselm: Because preachers should have good testimony from those who are without, lest if their life is open to censure, their preaching be contemned, he adds, "And the fame of him went abroad through all Syria."
Rabanus: Syria here is all the region from Euphrates to the Great sea, from Cappodocia to Egypt, in which is the country of Palestine, inhabited by Jews.
Chrys.: Observe the reserve of the Evangelist; he does not give an account of any one of the various cases of healing, but passes in one brief phrase an abundance of miracles, "they brought to him all their sick."
Remig.: By these he would have us understand various but slighter diseases; but when he says, "seized with divers sicknesses and torments," he would have those understood, of whom it is subjoined, "and who had daemons."
Gloss: ’Sickness’ means a lasting ailment; ’torment’ is an acute pain, as pleurisy, and such like; they "who had daemons" are they who were tormented by the daemons.
Remig.: ’Lunatics’ are so called from the moon; for as it waxes in its monthly seasons they are tormented.
Jerome: Not really smitten by the moon, but who were believed to be so through the subtlety of the daemons, who by observing the seasons of the moon, sought to bring an evil report against the creature, that is might redound to the blasphemy of the Creator.
Aug., City of God, book 21, ch. 6: Daemons are enticed to take up their abode in many creatures, (created not by themselves but God,) by delights adapted to their various natures; not that they are animals, drawn by meats; but spirits attracted by signs which agree with each one’s taste.
Rabanus: Paralytics are those whose bodies have their nerves slackened or resolved from a Greek word, signifying this.
Pseudo-Chrys.: In some places it is, "He cured many;" but here, "He cured them," meaning, ’all;’ as a new physician first entering a town cures all who come to him to beget a good opinion concerning himself.
Chrys.: He requires no direct profession of faith from them, both because He had not yet given them any proofs of His miraculous power, and because in bringing their sick from far they had shewn no small faith.
Rabanus: The crowds that followed Him consisted of four sorts of men. Some followed for the heavenly teaching as disciples, some for the curing of their diseases, some from the reports concerning Him alone, and curiosity to find whether they were true; others from envy, wishing to catch Him in some matter that they might accuse Him.
Mystically, Syria is interpreted ’lofty,’ Galilee, ’turning:’ or ’a wheel;’ that is, the Devil and the world; the Devil is both proud and always turned round to the bottom; the world in which the fame of Christ went abroad through preaching: the daemoniacs are the idolaters; the lunatics, the unstable; the paralytics, the slow and careless.
Gloss. ap. Anselm: The crowds that follow the Lord, are they of the Church, which is spiritually designated by Galilee, passing to virtuousness; Decapolis is he who keeps the Ten Commandments; Jerusalem and Judaea, he who is enlightened by the vision of peace and confession; and beyond Jordan, he who having passed the waters of Baptism enters the land of promise.
Remig.: Or, they follow the Lord "from Galilee," that is, from the unstable world; from Decapolis, (the country of ten towns,) signifying those who break the Ten Commandments; "and from Jerusalem," because before it was preserved unhurt in peace; "and from Jordan," that is, from the confession of the Devil; "and from beyond Jordan," they who were first planted in paganism, but passing the water of Baptism came to Christ.