Thursday, June 1st, 2023
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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 Matthew 10". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ gcc/ matthew-10.html.
Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on Matthew 10". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://studylight.org/
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Ver 1. And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.2. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;3. Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the Publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;4. Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
Gloss. ord.: From the healing of Peter’s wife’s mother to this place there has been a continued succession of miracles; and they were done before the Sermon upon the Mount, as we know for certain from Matthew’s call, which is placed among them; for he was one of the twelve chosen to the Apostleship upon the mount. He here returns to the order of events, taking it up again at the healing of the centurion’s servant; saying, "And calling to him his twelve disciples."
Remig.: The Evangelist had related above that the Lord exhorted His disciples to pray the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into His vineyard; and He now seems to be fulfilling what He had exhorted them to. For the number twelve is a perfect number, being made up of the number six, which has perfection because it is formed of its own parts, one, two, three, multiplied into one another; and the number six when doubled amounts to twelve.
Gloss., see Greg. Hom. in Ev., xvii, 1: And this doubling seems to have some reference to the two precepts of charity, or to the two Testaments.
Bede: For the number twelve, which is made up of three into four, denotes that through the four quarters of the world they were to preach the faith of the holy Trinity.
Rabanus, and cf. Tertullian, cont. Marc. iv, 13: This number is typified by many things in the Old Testament; by the twelve sons of Jacob, by the twelve princes of the children of Israel, by the twelve running springs in Helim, by the twelve stones in Aaron’s breastplate, by the twelve loaves of the shew-bread, by the twelve spies sent by Moses, by the twelve stones of which the altar was made, by the twelve stones taken out of Jordan, by the twelve oxen which bare the brazen sea. Also in the New Testament, by the twelve stars in the bride’s crown, by the twelve foundations of Jerusalem which John saw, and her twelve gates.
Chrys.: He makes them confident not only by calling their ministry a sending forth to the harvest, but by giving them strength for the ministry; whence it follows, "He gave them power over all unclean spirits to cast them out, and to heal every sickness and every disease."
Remig.: Wherein is openly shewed that the multitude were troubled not with one single kind of affliction, but with many, and this was His pity for the multitude, to give His disciples power to heal and cleanse them.
Jerome: A kind and merciful Lord and Master does not envy His servants and disciples a share in His powers. As Himself had cured every sickness and disease, He imparted the same power to His Apostles. But there is a wide difference between having and imparting, between giving and receiving. Whatever He does He does with the power of a master, whatever they do it is with confession of their own weakness, as they speak, "In the name of Jesus rise and walk." [Acts 3:6]
A catalogue of the names of the Apostles is given, that all false Apostles might be excluded. "The names of the twelve Apostles are these; First, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother." To arrange them in order according to their merit is His alone who searches the secrets of all hearts. But Simon is placed first, having the surname of Peter given to distinguish him from the other Simon surnamed Chananaeus, from the village of Chana in Galilee where the Lord turned the water into wine.
Rabanus, e Beda: The Greek or Latin ’Petrus’ is the same as the Syriac Cephas, in both tongues the word is derived from a rock; undoubtedly that of which Paul speaks, "And that rock was Christ." [1 Corinthians 10:4]
Remig., ap. Rabanus: There have been some who in this name Peter, which is Greek and Latin, have sought a Hebrew interpretation, and would have it to signify, ’Taking off the shoe,’, ’or unloosing,’ or ’acknowledging.’ But those that say this are contradicted by the facts. First, that the Hebrew has no letter P, but uses PH instead. Thus Pilate they call, Philate. Secondly, that one of the Evangelists has used the word as an interpretation of Cephas; The Lord said, "Thou shalt be called Cephas," [John 1:42] on which the Evangelist adds, "which being interpreted is Petrus."
Simon in interpreted ’obedient,’ for he obeyed the words of Andrew, and with him came to Christ, or because he obeyed the divine commands, and at one word of bidding followed the Lord. Or as some will have it, it is to be interpreted, ’Laying aside grief,’ and, ’hearing painful things;’ for that on the Lord’s resurrection he laid aside the grief he had for His death; and he heard sorrowful things when the Lord said to him, "Another shall gird thee, and shall carry thee whither thou wouldest not." [John 21:18]"And Andrew his brother."
Chrys.: This is no small honour (done to Peter), He places Peter from his merit, Andrew from the nobility he had in being the brother of Peter. Mark names Andrew next after the two heads, namely, Peter and John; but this one not so; for Mark has arranged them in order of dignity.
Remig.: Andrew is interpreted ’manly;’ for as in Latin ’virilis’ is derived from, ’vir,’ so in Greek, Andrew is derived from Rightly is he called manly, who left all and followed Christ, and manfully persevered in His commands.
Jerome: The Evangelist couples the names throughout in pairs. So he puts together Peter and Andrew, brothers not so much according to the flesh as in spirit; James and John who left their father after the flesh to follow their true Father; "James the son of Zebedee and John his brother." He calls him the son of Zebedee, to distinguish him from the other James the son of Alphaeus.
Chrys.: Observe that he does not place them according to their dignity; for to me John would seem to be greater not than others only, but even than his brother.
Remig.: James is interpreted ’The supplanter,’ or ’that supplanteth;’ for he not only supplanted the vices of the flesh, but even contemned the same flesh when Herod put him to death. John in interpreted ’The grace of God,’ because he deserved before all to be loved by the Lord; whence also in the favour of His especial love, he leaned at supper in the Lord’s bosom.
"Philip and Bartholomew." Philip is interpreted, ’The mouth of a lamp,’ or ’of lamps,’ because when he had been enlightened by the Lord, he straightway sought to communicate that light to his brother by the means of his mouth. Bartholomew is a Syriac, not a Hebrew, name, and is interpreted ’The son of him that raiseth water,’ [ed. note: or some say, the son of Tolmai, or Ptolemy] that is, of Christ, who raises the hearts of His preachers from earthly to heavenly things, and hangs them there, that the more they penetrate heavenly things, the more they should steep and inebriate the hearts of their hearers with the drops of holy preaching.
"Thomas, and Matthew the Publican."
Jerome: The other Evangelists in this pair of names put Matthew before Thomas; and do not add, "the Publican," that they should not seem to throw scorn upon the Evangelist by bringing to mind his former life. But writing of himself he both puts Thomas first in the pair, and styles himself "the Publican;" because, "where sin hath abounded, there grace shall much more abound." [Romans 5:20]
Remig.: Thomas is interpreted ’an abyss,’ or ’a twin,’ which in Greek is Didymus. Rightly is Didymus interpreted an abyss, for the longer he doubted the more deeply did he believe the effect of the Lord’s passion, and the mystery of His Divinity, which forced him to cry, "My Lord and my God." [John 20:28] Matthew is interpreted, ’given,’ because by the Lord’s bounty he was made an Evangelist of a Publican.
"James the son of Alphaeaus, and Thaddaeus."
Rabanus, e Beda: This James is he who in the Gospels, and also in the Epistle to the Galatians, is called the Lord’s brother. For Mary the wife of Alphaeus was the sister of Mary the mother of the Lord; John the Evangelist calls her "Mary the wife of Cleophas," probably because Cleophas and Alphaeus were the same person. Or Mary herself on the death of Alphaeus after the birth of James married Cleophas.
Remig.: It is well said, "the son of Alphaeus," that is, ’of the just,’ or ’the learned;’ for he not only overthrew the vices of the flesh, but also despised all care of the same. And of what he was worthy the Apostles are witness, who ordained him Bishop of the Church of Jerusalem. [ed. note: Where St. James the son of Alphaeus is the same as the Bishop of Jerusalem is doubtful. Eusebius is cited on both sides the question; S. Epiphanius, S. Gregory Nyssen, Theodoret, and the Author of the Constitutions take the negative; so does S. Chrysostom, but qualifies his evidence elsewhere; S. Jerome varies. Other Fathers are in favour of their identity.] [margin note: Hegesippos. ap. Euseb. ii. 23]
And ecclesiastical history among other things tells of him, that he never ate flesh, drunk neither wine nor strong drink, abstained from the bath and linen garments, and night and day prayed on his bended knees. And so great was his merit, that he was called by all men, ’The just.’
Thaddaeus is the same whom Luke calls Jude of James, (that is, the brother of James,) whose Epistle is read in the Church, in which he calls himself the brother of James.
Aug., De Cons. Evan., ii, 30: Some copies have Lebbaeus; but whoever prevented the same man from having two, or even three different names?
Remig.: Jude is interpreted ’having confessed,’ because he confessed the Son of God.
Rabanus: Thaddeus or Lebbaeus is interpreted ’a little heart,’ that is, a heart-worshipper.
"Simon Chananaeus, and Judas Scarioth, who also betrayed him."
Jerome: Simon Chananaeus is the same who in the other Evangelist is called Zelotes. Chana signifies ’Zeal.’ Judas is named Scarioth, either from the town in which he was born, or from the tribe of Issachar, a prophetic omen of his sin; for Issachar means ’a booty,’ thus signifying the reward of the betrayer.
Remig.: Scarioth is interpreted ’The memory of the Lord,’ because he followed the Lord; or ’The memorial of death,’ because he plotted in his heart how he might betray the Lord to death; or ’strangling,’ because he went and hanged himself. It should be known that there are two disciples of this name, who are types of all Christians; Jude the brother of James, of such as persevere in the confession of the faith; Jude Scarioth of such as leave the faith; and turn back again.
Gloss., non occ.: They are named two and two to express their union as yoke-fellows.
Aug., City of God, book xviii, ch. 49: These therefore He chose for His disciples, whom also He named Apostles, humbly born without honour, without learning, that whatever they should do that was great, it was He that should be in them and should do it. He had among them one that was evil, whom He should use in the accomplishment of His Passion, and who should be an example to His Church of suffering evil men.
Ambrose, Ambrosiaster, in Luc. 6: He was not chosen among the Apostles unwittingly; for that truth is great, which cannot be harmed even by having an adversary in one of its own ministers.
Rabanus: Also He willed to be betrayed by a disciple, that you when betrayed by your intimate might bear patiently that your judgment has erred, that your favours have been thrown away.
Ver 5. These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:6. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.7. And as ye go, preach, saying, ’The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’8. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give."
Gloss., non occ.: Because the manifestation of the Spirit, as the Apostle speaks, is given for the profit of the Church, after bestowing His power on the Apostles, He sends them that they may exercise this power for the good of others; "These twelve Jesus sent forth."
Chrys.: Observe the propriety of the time in which they are sent. After they had seen the dead raised, the sea rebuked, and other like wonders, and had both in word and deed sufficient proof of His excellent power, then He sends them.
Gloss., non occ.: When He sends them, He teaches them whither they should go, what they should preach, and what they should do. And first, whither they should go; "Giving them commandment, and saying, Go ye not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go ye rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
Jerome: This passage does not contradict the command which He gave afterwards, "Go and teach all nations;" for this was before His resurrection, that was after. And it behoved the coming of Christ to be preached to the Jews first, that they might not have any just plea, or say that they were rejected of the Lord, who sent the Apostles to the Gentiles and Samaritans.
Chrys.: Also they were sent to the Jews first, in order that being trained in Judaea, as in a palaestra, they might enter on the arena of the world to contend; thus He taught them like weak nestlings to fly.
Greg., Hom. in Ev., iv. 1: Or He would be first preached to Judaea and afterwards to the Gentiles, in order that the preaching of the Redeemer should seem to seek out foreign lands only because it had been rejected in His own. There were also at that time some among the Jews who should be called, and among the Gentiles some who were not to be called, as being unworthy of being renewed to life, and yet not deserving of the aggravated punishment which would ensue upon their rejection of the Apostles’ preaching.
Hilary: The promulgation of the Law deserved also the first preaching of the Gospel; and Israel was to have less excuse for its crime, as it had experienced more care in being warned.
Chrys.: Also that they should not suppose that they were hated of Christ because they had reviled Him, and branded Him as daemoniac, He sought first their cure, and withholding His disciples from all other nations, He sent this people physicians and teachers; and not only forbid them to preach to any others before the Jews, but would not that they should so much as approach the way that led to the Gentiles; "Go not into the way of the Gentiles." And because the Samaritans, though more readily disposed to be converted to the faith, were yet at enmity with the Jews, He would not suffer the Samaritans to be preached to before the Jews.
Gloss., ap. Anselm: The Samaritans were Gentiles who had been settled in the land of Israel by the king of Assyria after the captivity which he made. They had been driven by many terrors to turn to Judaism, and had received circumcision and the five books of Moses, but renouncing everything else; hence there was no communication between the Jews and the Samaritans.
Chrys.: From these then He diverts his disciples, and sends them to the children of Israel, whom He calls "perishing" sheep, not straying; in every way contriving an apology for them, and drawing them to Himself.
Hilary: Though they are here called sheep, yet they raged against Christ with the tongues and throats of wolves and vipers.
Jerome: Figuratively, herein we who bear the name of Christ are commanded not to walk in the way of the Gentiles, or the error of the heretics, but as we are separate in religion, that we be also separate in our life.
Gloss., non occ.: Having told them to whom they should go, He now introduces what they should preach; "Go and preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Rabanus: The kingdom of heaven is here said to draw nigh by the faith in the unseen Creator which is bestowed upon us, not by any movement of the visible elements. The saints are rightly denoted by the heavens, because they contain God by faith, and love Him with affection.
Chrys.: Behold the greatness of their ministry, behold the dignity of the Apostles. They are not to preach of any thing that can be an object of sense, as Moses and the Prophets did; but things new and unlooked for; those preached earthly goods, but these the kingdom of heaven and all the goods that are there.
Greg.: Miracles also were granted to the holy preachers, that the power they should shew might be a pledge of the truth of their words, and they who preached new things should also do new things; wherefore it follows, "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out daemons."
Jerome: Lest peasants untaught and illiterate, without the graces of speech, should obtain credit with none when they announced the kingdom of heaven, He gives them power to do the things above mentioned, that the greatness of the miracles might approve the greatness of their promises.
Hilary: The exercise of the Lord’s power is wholly entrusted to the Apostles, that they who were formed in the image of Adam, and the likeness of God, should now obtain the perfect image of Christ; and whatever evil Satan had introduced into the body of Adam, this they should now repair by communion with the Lord’s power.
Greg., Hom. in Ev., xxix, 4: These signs were necessary in the beginning of the Church; the faith of the believers must be fed with miracles, that it might grow.
Chrys.: But afterwards they ceased when a reverence for the faith was universally established. Or, if they were continued at all, they were few and seldom; for it is usual with God to do such things when evil is increased, then He shews forth His power.
Greg.: The Holy Church daily doth spiritually, what it then did materially by the Apostles; yea, things far greater, inasmuch as she raises and cures souls and not bodies.
Remig.: "The sick" are the slothful who have not strength to live well; "the lepers" are the unclean in sin and carnal delights; the daemoniacs are they that are given up under the power of the Devil.
Jerome: And because spiritual gifts are more lightly esteemed, when money is made the means of obtaining them, He adds a condemnation of avarice; "Freely ye have received, freely give;" I your Master and Lord have imparted these to you without price, do you therefore give them to others in like manner, that the free grace of the Gospel be not corrupted.
Gloss., non occ.: This He says, that Judas who had the bag might not use the above power for getting money; a plain condemnation of the abomination of the simoniacal heresy.
Greg., Hom. in Ev., iv, 4: For He knew before that there would be some that would turn the gift of the Spirit which they had received into merchandize, and pervert the power of miracles into an instrument of their covetousness.
Chrys.: Observe how He is as careful that they should be upright in moral virtue, as that they should have the miraculous powers, shewing that miracles without these are nought. "Freely ye have received," seems a check upon their pride; "freely give," a command to keep themselves pure from filthy lucre. Or, that what they should do might not be thought to be their own benevolence, He says, "Freely ye have received;" as much as to say; Ye bestow nothing of your own on these ye relieve; for ye have not received these things for money, nor for wages of labour; as ye have received them, so give to others; for indeed it is not possible to receive a price equal to their value.
Ver 9. "Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,10. Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat."
Chrys.: The Lord having forbidden to make merchandize of spiritual things, proceeds to pull up the root of all evil, saying, "Possess neither gold, nor silver."
Jerome: For if they preach without receiving reward for it, the possession of gold and silver and wealth was unnecessary. For had they had such, they would have been thought to be preaching, not for the sake of men’s salvation, but their own gain.
Chrys.: This precept then first frees the Apostles from all suspicions; secondly, from all care, so that they may give up their whole time to preaching the word; thirdly, teaches there their excellence. This is what He said to them afterwards, "Was any thing lacking to you, when I sent you without bag or scrip?"
Jerome: As He had cut off riches, which are meant by gold and silver, He now almost cuts off necessaries of life; that the Apostles, teachers of the true religion, who taught men that all things are directed by God’s providence, might shew themselves to be without thought for the morrow.
Gloss., non occ.: Whence He adds, "Neither money in your purses." For there are two kinds of things necessary; one is the means of buying necessaries, which is signified by the money in their purses; the other the necessaries themselves, which are signified by the scrip.
Jerome: In forbidding the scrip, "neither scrip for your journey," He aimed at those philosophers commonly called Bactroperatae, who being despisers of this world, and esteeming all things as nothing, yet carry a bag about with them.
"Nor two coats." By the two coats He seems to mean a change of raiment; not to bid us be content with a single tunic in the snow and frosts of Scythia, but that they should not carry about a change with them, wearing one, and carrying about the other as provision for the future.
"Nor shoes." It is a precept of Plato, that the two extremities of the body should be left unprotected, and that we should not accustom ourselves to tender care of the head and feet; for if these parts be hardy, it will follow that the rest of the body will be vigorous and healthy. "Nor staff;" for having the protection of the Lord, why need we seek the aid of a staff?
Remig.: The Lord shews by these words that the holy preachers were reinstated in the dignity of the first man, who as long as he possessed the heavenly treasures, did not desire other; but having lost those by sinning, he straightway began to desire the other.
Chrys.: A happy exchange! In place of gold and silver, and the like, they received power to heal the sick, to raise the dead. For He had not commanded them from the beginning, "Possess neither gold nor silver;" but only then when He said at the same time, "Cleanse the lepers, cast out daemons." Whence it is clear that He made them Angels more than men, freeing them from all anxiety of this life, that they might have but one care, that of teaching; and even of that He in a manner takes away the burden, saying, "Be not careful what ye shall speak." Thus what seemed hard and burdensome, He shews them to be light and easy. For nothing is so pleasant as to be delivered from all care and anxiety, more especially when it is possible, being delivered from this, to lack nothing, God being present, and being to us instead of all things.
Jerome: As He had sent the Apostles forth unprovided and unencumbered on their mission, and the condition of the teachers seemed a hard one, He tempered the severity of the rules by this maxim, "The labourer is worthy of his hire," i.e. Receive what you need for your food and clothing. Whence the Apostle says, "Having food and raiment, let us therewith be content." [1 Timothy 6:8] And again, "Let him that is catechized communicate unto him that catechizeth in all good things;" that they whose disciples reap spiritual things, should make them partakers of their carnal things, not for the gratification of covetousness, but for the supply of wants.
Chrys.: It behoved the Apostles to be supported by their disciples, that neither they should be haughty towards those whom they taught, as though they gave all, and received nothing; and that the others, on their part, should not fall away, as overlooked by them. Also that the Apostles might not cry, He bids us lead the life of beggars, and should be ashamed thereat, He shews that this is their due, calling them "labourers," and that which is given their "hire." For they were not to suppose that because what they gave was only words, therefore they were to esteem it but a small benefit that they conferred; therefore He says, "The labourer is worthy of his meat." This He said not to signify that the labours of the Apostles were only worth so much, but laying down a rule for the Apostles, and persuading those that gave, that what they gave was only what was due.
Aug., Serm., 46: The Gospel therefore is not for sale, that it should be preached for reward. For if they so sell it, they sell a great thing for a small price. Let preachers then receive their necessary support from the people, and from God the reward of their employment. For the people do not give pay to those that minister to them in the love of the Gospel, but as it were a stipend that may support them to enable them to work.
Aug., De Cons. Evan., ii, 30: Otherwise; When the Lord said to the Apostles, "Possess not gold," He added immediately, "The labourer is worthy of his hire," to shew why He would not have them possess and carry about these things; not that these things were not needed for the support of this life, but that He sent them in such a way as to shew that these things were due to them from those to whom they preached the Gospel, as pay to soldiers. It is clear that this precept of the Lord does not at all imply that they ought not according to the Gospel to live by any other means, than by the contributions of those to whom they preached; otherwise Paul transgressed this precept when he lived by the labour of his own hands. But He gave the Apostles authority that these things were due to them from the house in which they abode. But when the Lord has issued a command, if it be not performed, it is the sin of disobedience; when He bestows a privilege, it is in any one’s power not to use it, and as it were to refrain from claiming his right.
The Lord then having sanctioned this maxim, that they who preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel, He spoke these things to the Apostles, that being confident they should not possess nor carry about with them the necessaries of life, neither things great nor things small. Therefore He adds, "Nor a staff," to shew that from His people all things are due to His ministers, and they require no superfluities. This authority He signifies by the staff, saying in Mark, "Take nothing but a staff only." [Mark 6:18] And when He forbids them (in Matthew) to take with them shoes, He forbids that carefulness and thought which would be anxious to carry them lest they should be wanting.
Thus also we must understand concerning the two coats, that none should think it necessary to carry another besides that which he wore, supposing that he should have need of it; for it would be in his power to obtain one by this authority which the Lord gave. Further that we read in Mark that they should be shod with sandals, seems to imply that this kind of shoe has a mystic meaning in it, that the foot should neither be covered above, nor yet bare beneath, that is, that the Gospel should not be hid, nor yet rest itself on earthly advantage.
Also when He forbids them to carry two coats, He warned them not to walk deceitfully, but in simplicity. So we cannot doubt that all these things were said by the Lord, partly in a direct, partly in a figurative sense; and that of the two Evangelists one inserted some things, the other things, in his narrative. If any one should think that the Lord could not in one speech speak some things in a direct, and some things in a mystic sense, let him look at any other of His sayings, and he will see how hasty and unlearned his opinion is. When the Lord commands that the left hand should not know what the right hand doeth, does he think that almsgiving, and the rest of His precepts in that place are to be taken figuratively?
Jerome: Thus far we have expounded by the letter; but metaphorically, as we often find gold put for the sense, silver for the words, brass for the voice - all these we may say we are not to receive from others, but to have them given by the Lord. We are not to take up the teaching of heretics, of philosophers, and of corrupt doctrine.
Hilary: The "girdle" is the making ready for the ministry, the girding up that we may be active in duty; we may suppose that the forbidding money in the girdle is to warn us from suffering any thing in the ministry to be bought and sold. We are not to have "a scrip by the way, that is, we are to leave all care of our worldly substance; for all treasure on earth in hurtful to the heart, which will be there where the treasure is.
"Not two coats," for it is enough to have once put on Christ, nor after true knowledge of Him ought we to be clothed with any other garment of heresy or law.
"Not shoes," because standing on holy ground as was said to Moses not covered with the thorns and prickles of sin, we are admonished to have no other preparation of our walk than that we have received from Christ.
Jerome: Or; The Lord herein teaches us that our feet are not to be bound with the chains of death, but to be bare as we tread on the holy ground. We are not to carry a staff which may be turned into a serpent, nor to trust in any arm of flesh; for all such is a reed on which if a man lean ever so lightly, it will break and go into his hand and pierce him.
Hilary: "Neither a staff;" that is, We are not to seek rights of extraneous power, having a rod from the root of Jesse.
Ver 11. "And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.12. And when ye come into an house, salute it.13. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.14. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.15. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, then for that city."
Chrys.: The Lord had said above, "The workman is worthy of his meat;" that they should not hence suppose that He would open all doors to them, He here commands them to use much circumspection in the choice of a host, saying, "Into what city or town ye enter, enquire who in it is worthy."
Jerome: The Apostles, on entering a strange town, could not know of each inhabitant what sort of man he was; they were to choose their host therefore by the report of the people, and opinion of the neighbours, that the worthiness of the preacher might not be disgraced by the ill character of his entertainer.
Chrys.: How then did Christ Himself abide with the publican? Because he was made worthy by his conversion; for this command that he should be worthy, had respect not to their rank, but to their furnishing food. For if he be worthy he will provide them with food, especially when they need no more than bare necessaries. Observe how though He stripped them of all property, He supplied all their wants, suffering them to abide in the houses of those whom they taught. For so they were both themselves set free from care, and convinced men that it was for their salvation only that they had come, seeing they carried nothing about with them, and desired nothing beyond necessaries. And they did not lodge at all places indiscriminately, for He would not have them known only by their miracles, but much more by their virtues. But nothing is a greater mark of virtue, than to discard superfluities.
Jerome: One host is chosen who does not so much confer a favour upon him who is to abide with him, as receive one. For it is said, "Who in it is worthy," that he may know that he rather receives than does a favour.
Chrys.: Also observe that He has not yet endowed them with all gifts; for He has not given them power to discern who is worthy, but bids them seek out; and not only to find out who is worthy, but also not to pass from house to house, saying, "And there remain until ye depart out of that city;" so they would neither make their entertainer sorrowful, nor themselves incur suspicion of lightness or gluttony.
Ambrose, Ambros., in Luc., 9. 5: The Apostles are not to choose carelessly the house into which they enter, that they may have no cause for changing their lodging; the same caution is not enforced upon the entertainer, lest in choosing his guests, his hospitality should be diminished. "When ye enter a house, salute it, saying, Peace be to this house."
Gloss., interlin.: As much as to say, Pray ye for peace upon the master of the house, that all resistance to the truth may be pacified.
Jerome: Here is a latent allusion to the form of salutation in Hebrew and Syriac; they say Salemalach, or Salamalach, for the Greek, or Latin, Ave; that is, ’Peace be with you.’ The command then is, that on entering any house they should pray for peace for their host; and, as far as they may be able, to still all discords, so that if any quarrel should arise, they, who had prayed for peace should have it - others should have the discord; as it follows, "And if that house be worthy, your peace shall rest upon it; but if it be not worthy, your peace shall return to you again."
Remig., ap. Raban.: Thus either the hearer, being predestined to eternal life, will follow the heavenly word when he hears it; or if there be none who will hear it, the preacher himself shall not be without fruit; for his peace returns to him when he receives of the Lord recompense for all his labour.
Chrys.: The Lord instructs them, that though they were teachers, yet they should not look to be first saluted by others; but that they should honour others by first saluting them. And then He shews them that they should give not a salutation only, but a benediction, when He says, "If that house be worthy, your peace shall rest upon it."
Remig.: The Lord therefore taught his disciples to offer peace on their entering into a house, that by means of their salutation their choice might be directed to a worthy house and host. As though He had said, Offer peace to all, they will shew themselves either worthy by accepting, or unworthy by not accepting it; for though you have chosen a hose that is worthy by the character he bears among his neighbours, yet ought you to salute him, that the preacher may seem rather to enter by invitation, than to intrude himself. This salutation of peace in few words may indeed by referred to the trial of the worthiness of the house or master.
Hilary: The Apostles salute the house with the prayer of peace; yet so as that peace seems rather spoken than given. For their own peace which was the bowels of their pity ought not to rest upon the house if it were not worthy; then the sacrament of heavenly peace could be kept within the Apostles own bosom. Upon such as rejected the precepts of the heavenly kingdom an eternal curse is left by the departure of the Apostles, and the dust shaken from their feet; "And whosoever shall not receive you, not hear your words, "when ye go out of that house, or that town, cast the dust off your feet." For he that lives in any place seems to have a kind of fellowship with that place. By the casting the dust off the feet, therefore all that belonged to that house is left behind, and nothing of healing or soundness is borrowed from the footsteps of the Apostles having trod their soil.
Jerome: Also they shake off the dust as a testimony of the Apostles’ toil, that in preaching the Gospel they had come even so far, or as a token that from those that rejected the Gospel they would accept nothing, not even the necessaries of life.
Rabanus: Otherwise; The feet of the disciples signify the labour and progress of preaching. The dust which covers them is the lightness of earthly thoughts, from which even the greatest doctors cannot be free; their anxiety for their hearers involves them in cares for their prosperity, and in passing through the ways of this world, they gather the dust of the earth they tread upon. They then who have despised the teaching of these doctors, turn upon themselves all the toils and dangers and anxieties of the Apostles as a witness to their damnation. And lest it should seem a slight thing not to receive the Apostles, He adds, "verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city."
Jerome: Because to the men of Sodom and Gomorrah no man had ever preached; but this city had been preached to and had rejected the Gospel.
Remig., ap. Raban.: Or because the men of Sodom and Gomorrah were hospitable among their sensuality, but they had never entertained such strangers as the Apostles.
Jerome: But if it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for that city, hence we may learn that there is difference of degree in the punishment of sinners.
Remig.: Sodom and Gomorrah are especially mentioned, to shew that those sins which are against nature are particularly hateful to God, for which the world was drowned with the waters of the deluge, four towns were overthrown, and the world is daily afflicted with manifold evils.
Hilary: Figuratively, The Lord teaches us not to enter the houses or to mix in the acquaintance of those who persecute Christ, or who are ignorant of Him; and in each town to enquire who among them is worthy, i.e.where there is a Church wherein Christ dwells; and not to pass to another, because this house is worthy, this host is our right host. But there would be many of the Jews who would be so well disposed to the Law, that though they believed in Christ because they admired His works, yet they would abide in the works of the Law; and others again who, desiring to make trial of that liberty which is in Christ, would feign themselves ready to forsake the Law for the Gospel; many also would be drawn aside into heresy by perverse understanding. And since all these would falsely maintain that with them only was Catholic verity, therefore we must with great caution seek out the house, i.e. the Church.
Ver 16. "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.17. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;18. And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles."
Chrys., Hom. 33: Having removed all care and anxiety from the Apostles, and armed them with the miraculous powers, He proceeds to foretell the evils which should befal them. First, that they might know his knowledge of the future; secondly, that they should not think that these things befel them because of the want of power in their Master; thirdly, that they might not be amazed if these things had come upon them unexpectedly; fourthly, that after hearing these things, they might not be dismayed in the season of His cross; and lastly, that they might learn a new method of warfare.
He sends them unprovided, bidding them look to those who should receive them for support; but rests not in that, but shews his power still further, "Lo, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves." Where observe that He does not say merely ’to wolves,’ but "in the midst of wolves," to shew His excellent might therein, that the sheep would overcome the wolves though they were in the midst of them; and though they received many bites from them, yet were they not destroyed, but rather convert them. And it is a much greater and a more wonderful power that can change their hearts than that can kill them. Among wolves He teaches them to shew the meekness of sheep.
Greg., Hom. in Ev., xvii. 4: For he who undertakes the office of preacher ought not to do evil, but to suffer it, and by his meekness to mollify the wrath of the angry, and by his wounds to heal the wounds of sinners in their affliction. And even should the zeal of right-doing ever require that He should be severe to those that are placed under Him, His very severity will be of love and not of cruelty, outwardly maintaining the rights of discipline, and inwardly loving those whom He corrects. Too many, when they are entrusted with the reins of government, burn to make the subjects feel them, display the terrors of authority, and forgetting that they are fathers, rather desire to be thought lords, changing a station of lowliness into that of lofty dominion, if they ever seem outwardly to fawn on any one, they inwardly hate him; of such He spoke above; "They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." [Matthew 7:15] For prevention whereof we ought to consider that we are sent as sheep among wolves, whose innocence we ought to preserve, not having the tooth of malice.
Jerome: He calls the Scribes and Pharisees who are the clergy of the Jews, "wolves."
Hilary: The wolves indeed are all such as should pursue the Apostles with mad fury.
Chrys.: Their consolation under their hardships was the excellent power of Him who sent them; wherefore He puts that before all, "Lo, I send you." Be not dismayed, though you be sent into the midst of wolves; for I am able to bring it to pass that you suffer no hurt, and that ye should not only prevail over the wolves, but be made more terrible than lions. But it is good that it should be thus; hereby your virtue is made brighter, and My power is more manifested. Also that somewhat should proceed from themselves, that they should not think themselves to be crowned without reason. He add, "Be ye therefore wise as serpents, simple as doves."
Jerome: "Wise," that they might escape snares; "simple," that they might not do evil to others. The craft of the serpent is set before them as an example, for he hides his head with all the rest of his body, that he may protect the part in which life is. So ought we to expose our whole body, that we may guard our head which is Christ; that is, that we study to keep the faith whole and uncorrupt.
Raban.: The serpent moreover seeks out narrow chinks through which it crawls to draw off its old skin; so the preacher passing through the narrow way lays aside the old man.
Remig.: Beautifully the Lord bids the preacher have the wisdom of the serpent; because the first man was beguiled by a serpent; as though He had said, The foe is subtle to deceive, be ye therefore wise to rescue; he commended the tree, do ye also commend the tree of the Cross.
Hilary: He first attempted the softer sex, allured her by hope, and promised a share of immortality. Do you in like manner seize every opportunity, look well into each man’s nature and inclination, use wisdom of speech, reveal hope of good things to come; that what he promised falsely we may preach truly according to God’s promise, that they that believe shall be like to the Angels.
Chrys.: But as we ought to have the wisdom of the serpent, that we should not be hurt in any deadly part, so also we should have the simplicity of the dove, not to retaliate when we are hurt, nor to avenge ourselves on those who have designed aught against us.
Remig.: The Lord unites these two thing; because simplicity without wisdom might be easily deceived, and wisdom is dangerous unless it be tempered with simplicity that does no man hurt.
Jerome: The harmlessness of doves is shewn by the assumption of that form by the Holy Spirit; as the Apostle speaks, "In malice be ye children."
Chrys.: What is harder than these commands? It is not enough that we suffer ill, but we must not be angry thereat, as is the dove’s nature, for anger is extinguished not by anger, but by meekness.
Raban.: That by the wolves above He intended men, He shews when He adds, "Take heed of men."
Gloss, ap. Anselm: Ye have indeed need to be wise as serpents, for, as they are wont to do, "they will deliver you to councils," forbidding you to preach in My name; then if ye be not corrected, "they will scourge you," and at length "ye shall be brought before kings and governors."
Hilary: Who will endeavour to extort from you either to be silent or to temporize.
Chrys.: How wonderful that men who had never been beyond the lake in which they fished, did not straighway depart from Him on hearing these things. It was not only of their goodness, but of the wisdom of their Teacher. For to each evil He attaches somewhat of alleviation; as here He adds, "for my sake;" for it is no light consolation to suffer for Christ’s sake, for they did not suffer as evil or wrong doers. Again He adds, "for a testimony against them."
Greg., Hom. in Ev., xxxv, 2: Either that they had presented to the death, or that they had seen and were not changed. For the death of the saints is to the good an aid, to the bad a testimony; that thus the wicked may perish without excuse in that from which the elect take example and live.
Chrys.: This was matter of consolation to them, not that they sought the punishment of others, but that they were confident that in all things they had One present with them, and all-knowing.
Hilary: And by this their testimony not only was all excuse of ignorance of His divinity taken away from their persecutors, but also to the Gentiles was opened the way of believing on Christ, who was thus devotedly preached by the voices of the confessors among the flames of persecution; and this is that He adds, "and the Gentiles."
Ver 19. "But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.20. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you."
Chrys.: To the foregoing topics of consolation, He adds another not a little one; that they should not say, How shall we be able to persuade such men as these, when they shall persecute us? He bids them be of good courage respecting their answer, saying, "When they shall deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak."
Remig.: "How or what," one refers to the substance, the other to the expression in words. And because both of these would be supplied by Him, there was no need for the holy preachers to be anxious about either.
Jerome: When then we are brought before judges for Christ’s sake, we ought to offer only our will for Christ. But Christ who dwelleth in us speaks for Himself, and the grace of the Holy Spirit will minister in our answer.
Hilary: For our faith, observing all the precepts of the Divine will, will be instructed with an answer according to knowledge, after the example of Abraham, to whom when he had given up Isaac, there was not wanting a ram for a victim. "For it is not ye who speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you."
Remig., ap. Raban.: Meaning, Ye indeed go out to the battle, but it is I who fight; you utter the words, but it is I who speak. Hence Paul speaks, "Seek ye a proof of Christ who speaketh in me?" [2 Corinthians 13:3]
Chrys.: Thus He raises them to the dignity of the Prophets, who have spoken by the Spirit of God. He who says here, "Take no thought what ye shall speak," [1 Peter 3:15] has said in another place, "Be ye always ready to give an answer to him that demandeth a reason of the hope that is in you." When it is a dispute among friends, we are commanded to "be ready;" but before the awful judgment, and the raging people, aid is ministered by Christ, that they may speak boldly and not be dismayed.
Ver 21. "And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.22. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."
Gloss, ap. Anselm: Having placed the comfort first, He adds the more alarming perils; "Brother shall deliver up brother to death, and the father the son; children shall rise against parents, to put them to death."
Greg., Hom. in Ev., xxxv, 3: Wrongs which we suffer from strangers, pain us less than those we suffer from men on whose affections we had counted; for besides the bodily affliction, there is then the pain of lost affection.
Jerome: This we see often happen in persecutions, nor is there any true affection between those whose faith is different.
Chrys.: What follows is yet more dreadful, "Ye shall be hated of all men;" they sought to exterminate them as common enemies of all the world. To this again is added the consolation, "For my name’s sake;" and yet further to cheer them, "Whosoever shall endure to the end, he shall be saved." For many are hot and zealous in the beginning, but afterwards grow cool, for these, He says, I look at the end. For where is the profit of seeds that only sprout at first? wherefore He requires a sufficient endurance from them.
Jerome: For virtue is not to begin but to complete.
Remig.: And the reward is not for those that begin, but for those that bring to an end.
Chrys.: But that no man should say, that Christ wrought all things in His Apostles, and therefore it is nothing wonderful that they were made such as they were, since they did not bear the burden of these things, therefore He says, that perseverance was their work. For though they were rescued from their first perils, they are preserved for still harder trials, which again shall be followed by others, and they shall be in danger of snares as long as they live. This He covertly intimates when he says, "Whosoever shall endure to the end, he shall be saved."
Remig.: That is, He who shall not let go the commands of the faith, nor fall away in persecution, shall be saved; he shall receive the reward of the heavenly kingdom for his earthly persecutions. And note that ’the end’ does not always mean destruction, but sometimes perfection, as in that, "Christ is the end of the Law." [Romans 10:4] So the sense here may be, "Whosoever shall endure to the end," that is, in Christ.
Aug., City of God, book 21, ch. 25: To endure in Christ, is to abide in His faith which worketh by love.
Ver 23. "But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come."
Chrys.: Having foretold the fearful things which should come upon them after His Cross, resurrection, and ascension, He leads them to gentler prospects; He does not bid them presumptuously to offer themselves for persecution, but to fly from it; "When they persecute you in this city, flee ye to another." For because this was the first beginning of their conversion, He adapts His words to their state.
Jerome: This must be referred to the time when the Apostles were sent to preach, when it was said to them, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles;" they should not fear, but may shun persecution. This we see the believers did in the beginning, when on a persecution arising in Jerusalem they were scattered throughout all Judaea, and thus the season of tribulation was made the seedtime of the Gospel.
Aug., cont. Faust., xxii, 36: Not that the Saviour was unable to protect His disciples, does He here bid them fly, and Himself give them an example of it, but He instructed man’s weakness, that he should not presume to tempt God, when he has anything that he can do for himself, but should shun all evils.
Aug., City of God, book 1, ch. 22: He might have suffered them to lay violent hands upon themselves, that they might not fall into the hands of their persecutors. Therefore if He neither commanded nor allowed this mode of departure from this world to His own, for whom He Himself had promised that He would prepare an eternal mansion; whatever instances may be brought by the Gentiles who know not God, it is clear that this is not lawful for those who believe one true God.
Chrys.: But that they should not say, What then if we fly from persecution, and again they cast us out thence whither we have fled? To remove this fear, He says, "Verily, I say unto you, ye shall not have completed, &c." that is, ye shall not have made the circuit of Palestine and return to Me, before I shall take you to Me.
Raban.: Or; He foretels that they shall not have brought all the cities of Israel to the faith by their preaching, before the Lord’s resurrection be accomplished, and a commission given them to preach the Gospel throughout the world.
Hilary: Otherwise; He exhorts to fly from place to place; for His preaching driven from Judaea, first passing into Greece; then, wearied with divers sufferings of the Apostles up and down the cities of Greece, it takes an abiding refuge in the rest of the Gentile world. But to shew that the Gentiles would believe the preaching of the Apostles, but that the remnant of Israel should only believe at His second coming, He adds, "Ye shall not have completed the cities of Israel;" i.e. After the fulness of the Gentiles is brought in, that which remains of Israel to fill up the number of the Saints shall be called into the Church in Christ’s future coming to glory.
Aug., Ep. 228: Let the servants of Christ then do as He commanded, or permitted them; as He fled into Egypt, let them fly from city to city, whenever any one of them is marked out for persecution; that the Church be not deserted, it will be filled by those who are not so sought after; and let these give sustenance to their fellow-servants whom they know cannot live by any other means. But when the threatening danger is common to all, Bishops, clergy, and laity, let not those who have need of aid be deserted by those whose aid they require.
Either therefore let them all pass to some stronghold, or let those who are obliged to remain, not be deserted by those whose province it is to supply their ecclesiastical needs; that they may either all live, or all suffer whatever their Master will have them to suffer.
Remig.: Be it known moreover, that as this precept respecting endurance under persecution specially belongs to the Apostles and their successors, men of fortitude, so the permission to fly is sufficiently proper for the weak in the faith, to whom the tender Master condescends, lest if they should offer themselves for martyrdom, under the pain they should deny the faith; and the sin of flight is lighter than that of denial. But though by their flight they shewed that they had not the constancy of perfect faith, yet their desert was great, seeing they were ready to leave all for Christ. So that if He had not given them permission to fly, some would have said that they were aliens from the glory of the heavenly kingdom.
Jerome: Spiritually, we may say; When they shall persecute you in one book or one passage of Scripture, let us flee to other volumes, for however contentious the adversary may be, protection will come from the Saviour before the victory is yielded to the enemy.
Ver 24. "The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.25. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?"
Chrys.: Because it should come to pass that His disciples among their other persecutions should suffer loss of character, which to many is the most grievous of all calamities, He consoles them from His own example, and those things that were spoken of Him; a comfort to which no other can be compared.
Hilary: For the Lord, the Light eternal, the Captain of the faithful, the Parent of immortality, set before His disciples this solace of the sufferings that should come upon them, that we should embrace it as our glory when we are made like to our Lord in suffering; whence He says, "The disciple is not above his master, nor the slave above his lord."
Chrys.: Understand, so long as he is a disciple or servant, he is not above his master or lord by the nature of honour. And do not here object to me such cases as rarely happen, but receive this according to the common course of things.
Remig.: He calls Himself master and lord; by disciple and servant He denotes His Apostles.
Gloss. ord.: As much as to say, Be not indignant that ye suffer things, which I also suffer, because I am your lord, who do what I will, and your master, who teach you what I know to be profitable for you.
Remig.: And because this sentence seemed not to agree with the foregoing words, He shews what they mean by adding, "If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more they of his household?"
Chrys.: He said not here, ’slaves,’ but "those of his household," to shew how dear they were to Him; as elsewhere He said, "I will not call you slaves, but my friends." [John 15:15]
Remig.: As much as to say, Ye therefore will not seek worldly honours and human glory, while you see me pursuing the redemption of mankind through mocking and contumely.
Chrys.: And He says not only, If they have reviled the master of the house, but expresses the very words of railing, for they had called Him Beelzebub.
Jerome: Beelzebub is the idol of Accaron who is called in the book of Kings, the God of flies; [2 Kings 1:3] ’Bel,’ signifying, "idol;" ’zebub,’ a "fly". The Prince of the daemons He calls by the name of the foulest of idols, which is so called because of the uncleanness of the fly, which destroys the sweetness of ointment.
Ver 26. "Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.27. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.28. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
Remig.: To the foregoing consolation He adds another no less, saying, "Fear ye not them," namely, the persecutors. And why they were not to fear, He adds, "For there is nothing hid which shall not be revealed, nothing secret which shall not be known."
Jerome: How is it then that in the present world, the sins of so many are unknown? It is of the time to come that this is said; the time when God shall judge the hidden things of men, shall enlighten the hidden places of darkness, and shall make manifest the secrets of hearts. The sense is, Fear not the cruelty of the persecutor, or the rage of the blasphemer, for there shall come a day of judgment in which your virtue and their wickedness will be made known.
Hilary: Therefore neither threatening, nor evil speaking, nor power of their enemies should move them, seeing the judgment-day will disclose how empty, how nought all these were.
Chrys.: Otherwise; It might seem that what is here said should be applied generally; but it is by no means intended as a general maxim, but is spoken solely with reference to what had gone before with this meaning; If you are grieved when men revile you, think that in a little time you will be delivered from this evil. They call you indeed impostors, sorcerers, seducers, but have a little patience, and all men shall call you the saviours of the world, when in the course of things you shall be found to have been their benefactors, for men will not judge by their words but by the truth of things.
Remig.: Some indeed think that these words convey a promise from our Lord to His disciples, that through them all hidden mysteries should be revealed, which lay beneath the veil of the letter of the Law; whence the Apostle speaks, "When they have turned to Christ, then the veil shall be taken away." [2 Corinthians 3:16] So the sense would be, Ought you to fear your persecutors, when you are thought worthy that by you the hidden mysteries of the Law and the Prophets should be made manifest?
Chrys.: Then having delivered them from all fear, and set them above all calumny, He follows this up appropriately with commanding that their preaching should be free and unreserved; "What I say to you in darkness, that speak ye in the light; what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops."
Jerome: We do not read that the Lord was wont to discourse to them by night, or to deliver his doctrine in the dark; but He said this because all His discourse is dark to the carnal, and His word night to the unbelieving. What had been spoken by Him they were to deliver again with the confidence of faith and confession.
Remig.: The meaning therefore is, "What I say to you in darkness," that is, among the unbelieving Jews, "that speak ye in the light," that is, preach it to the believing; "what ye hear in the ear," that is, what I say unto you secretly, "that preach ye upon the housetops," that is, openly before all men. It is a common phrase, To speak in one’s ear, that is, to speak to him privately.
Rabanus: And what He says, "Preach ye upon the housetops," is spoken after the manner of the province of Palestine, where they use to sit upon the roofs of the houses, which are not pointed but flat. That then may be said to be preached upon the housetops which is spoken in the hearing of all men.
Gloss. ord.: Otherwise; What I say unto you while you are yet held under carnal fear, that speak ye in the confidence of truth, after ye shall be enlightened by the Holy Spirit; what you have only heard, that preach by doing the same, being raised above you bodies, which are the dwellings of your souls.
Jerome: Otherwise; What you hear in mystery, that teach in plainness of speech; what I have taught you in a corner of Judaea, that proclaim boldly in all quarters of the world.
Chrys.: As He said, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do he shall do also, and greater things than these shall he do;" [John 14:12] so here He shews that He works all things through them more than through Himself; as though He had said, I have made a beginning, but what is beyond, that I will to complete through your means. So that this is not a command but a prediction, shewing them that they shall overcome all things.
Hilary: Therefore they ought to inculcate constantly the knowledge of God, and the profound secret of evangelic doctrine, to be revealed by the light of preaching; having no fear of those who have power only over the body, but cannot reach the soul; "Fear not those that kill the body, but cannot kill the soul."
Chrys.: Observe how He sets them above all others, encouraging them to set at nought cares, reproaches, perils, yea even the most terrible of all things, death itself, in comparison of the fear of God."But rather fear him, who can destroy both soul and body in hell."
Jerome: This word is not found in the Old Scriptures, but it is first used by the Saviour. Let us enquire then into its origin. We read in more than one place that the idol Baal was near Jerusalem, at the foot of Mount Moriah, by which the brook Siloe flows. This valley and a small level plain was watered and woody, a delightful spot, and a grove in it was consecrated to the idol. To so great folly and madness had the people of Israel come, that, forsaking the neighbourhood of the Temple, they offered their sacrifices there, and concealing an austere ritual under a voluptuous life, they burned their sons in honour of a daemon.
This place was called, Gehennom, that is, The valley of the children of Hinnom. These things are fully described in Kings and Chronicles, and the Prophet Jeremiah. [2 Kings 23:10, 2 Chronicles 26:3, Jeremiah 7:32; Jeremiah 32:35] God threatens that He will fill the place with the carcasses of the dead, that it be no more called Tophet and Baal, but Polyandrion, i.e. The tomb of the dead. Hence the torments and eternal pains with which sinners shall be punished are signified by this word.
Aug., City of God, book xiii, ch. 2: This cannot be before the soul is so joined to the body, that nothing may sever them. Yet it is rightly called the death of the soul, because it does not live of God; and the death of the body, because though man does not cease to feel, yet because this his feeling has neither pleasure nor health, but is a pain and a punishment, it is better named death than life.
Chrys.: Note also, that He does not hold out to them deliverance from death, but encourages them to despise it; which is a much greater thing than to be rescued from death; also this discourse aids in fixing in their minds the doctrine of immortality.
Ver 29. "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.30. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.31. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."
Chrys.: Having set aside fear of death, that the Apostles should not think that if they were put to death they were deserted by God, He passes to discourse of God’s providence, saying, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing, and one of them does not fall to the ground without your Father?"
Jerome: If these little creations fall not without God’s superintendence and providence, and if things made to perish, perish not without God’s will, you who are immortal ought not to fear that you live without His providence.
Hilary: Figuratively; That which is sold is our soul and body, and that to which it is sold, is sin. They then who sell two sparrows for a farthing, are they who sell themselves for the smallest sin, born for flight, and for reaching heaven with spiritual wings. [margin note: see Psalms 124:7] Caught by the bait of present pleasures, and sold to the enjoyment of the world, they barter away their whole selves in such a market. It is of the will of God that one of them rather soar aloft; but the law proceeding according to God’s appointment decrees that one of them should fall. In like manner as, if they soared aloft they would become one spiritual body; so, when sold under sin, the soul gathers earthly matter from the pollution of vice, and there is made of them one body which is committed to earth.
Jerome: That He says, "The hairs of your head are all numbered," shews the boundless providence of God towards man, and a care unspeakable that nothing of ours is hid from God.
Hilary: For when any thing is numbered it is carefully watched over.
Chrys.: Not that God reckons our hairs, but to shew His diligent knowledge, and great carefulness over us.
Jerome: Those who deny the resurrection of the flesh ridicule the sense of the Church on this place, as if we affirmed that every hair that has ever been cut off by the razor rises again, when the Saviour says, "Every hair of your head" - not is saved, but - "is numbered." Where there is number, knowledge of that number is implied, but not preservation of the same hairs.
Aug., City of God, book xxii, ch. 19: Though we may fairly enquire concerning our hair, whether all that has ever been shorn from us will return; for who would not dread such disfigurement. When it is once understood that nothing of our body shall be lost, so as that the form and perfectness of all the parts should be preserved, we at the same time understand that all that would have disfigured our body is to be united or taken up by the whole mass, not affixed to particular parts so as to destroy the frame of the limbs; just as a vessel made of clay, and again reduced to clay, is once more reformed into a vessel, it needs not that that portion of clay which had formed the handle should again form it, or that which had composed the bottom, should again go to the bottom, so long as the whole was remoulded into the whole, the whole clay into the whole vessel, no part being lost.
Wherefore if the hair so often shorn away would be a deformity if restored to the place it had been taken from, it will not be restored to that place, but all the materials of the old body will be revived in the new, whatever place they may occupy so as to preserve the mutual fitness of parts. Though what is said in Luke, "Not a hair of your head shall fall to the ground," [Luke 21:18] may be taken of the number, not the length of the hairs, as here also it is said, "The hairs of your head are all numbered."
Hilary: For it is an unworthy task to number things that are to perish. Therefore that we should know that nothing of us should perish, we are told that our very hairs are numbered. No accident then that can befal our bodies is to be feared.
Thus He adds, "Fear not, ye are better than many sparrows."
Jerome: This expresses still more clearly the sense as it was above explained, that they should not fear those who can kill the body, for if the least animal falls not without God’s knowledge, how much less a man who is dignified with the Apostolic rank?
Hilary: Or this, "ye are better than many sparrows," teaches that the elect faithful are better than the multitude of the unbelieving, for the one fall to earth, the other fly to heaven.
Remig.: Figuratively; Christ is the head, the Apostles the hairs, who are well said to be numbered, because the names of the saints are written in heaven.
Ver 32. "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.33. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."
Chrys.: The Lord having banished that fear which haunted the minds of His disciples, adds further comfort in what follows, not only casting out fear, but by hope of greater rewards encouraging them to a free proclamation of the truth, saying, "Every man who shall confess me before men, I also will confess him before my Father which is in heaven." And it is not properly "shall confess me," but as it is in the Greek, "shall confess in me," shewing that it is not by your own strength but by grace from above, that you confess Him whom you do confess.
Hilary: This He says in conclusion, because it behoves them after being confirmed by such teaching, to have a confident freedom in confessing God.
Remig.: Here is to be understood that confession of which the Apostle speaks, "With the heart men believe unto justification, with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." [Romans 10:10] That none therefore might suppose that he could be saved without confession of the mouth, He says not only, "He that shall confess me," but adds, "before me;" and again, "He that shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."
Hilary: This teaches us, that in what measure we have borne witness to Him upon earth, in the same shall we have Him to bear witness to us in heaven before the face of God the Father.
Chrys.: Here observe that the punishment is manifold more than the evil done, and the reward more than the good done. As much as to say, your deed was more abundant in confessing or denying Me here; so shall My deed to you be more abundant in confessing or denying you there. Wherefore if you have done any good thing, and have not received retribution, be not troubled, for a manifold reward awaits you in the time to come. And if you have done any evil, and have not paid the punishment thereof, do not think that you have escaped, for punishment will overtake you, unless you are changed and become better.
Raban.: It should be known that not even Pagans can deny the existence of God, but the infidels may deny that the Son as well as the Father is God. The Son confesses men before the Father, because by the Son we have access to the Father, and because the Son saith, "Come, ye blessed of my Father." [Matthew 25:34]
Remig.: And thus He will deny the man that hath denied Him, in that he shall not have access to the Father through Him, and shall be banished from seeing either the Son of the Father in their divine nature.
Chrys.: He not only requires faith which is of the mind, but confession which is by the mouth, that He may exalt us higher, and raise us to a more open utterance, and a larger measure of love. For this is spoken not to the Apostles only, but to all; He gives strength not to them only, but to their disciples. And he that observes this precept will not only teach with free utterance, but will easily convince all; for the observance of this command drew many to the Apostles.
Raban.: Or, He confesses Jesus who by that faith that worketh by love, obediently fulfils His commands; he denies Him who is disobedient.
Ver 34. "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.35. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.36. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household."
Jerome: He had before said, "What I say to you in darkness, that speak ye in the light;" He now tells them what will follow upon that preaching, saying, "Think not that I am come to send peace upon earth; I am not come to send peace, but a sword."
Gloss. interlin.: Or connect it with what has gone before, As the fear of death ought not to draw you away, so neither ought carnal affection.
Chrys., Hom. xxxv: How then did He enjoin them, that when they should enter any house they should say, "Peace be to this house," as also the Angels sung, "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace to men." [Luke 2:14] That is the most perfect peace when that which is diseased is lopped off, when that which introduces strife is taken away, for so only is it possible that heaven should be joined to earth. For so does the physician save the rest of the body, namely by cutting off that which cannot be healed. So it came to pass at the tower of Babel; a happy discord broke up their bad union. So also Paul divided those who were conspired together against him. For concord is not in all cases good; for there is honour among thieves. And this combat is not of His setting before them, but of the plots of the world.
Jerome: For in the matter of belief in Christ, the whole world was divided against itself; each house had its believers and its unbelievers; and therefore was this holy war sent, that an unholy peace might be broken through.
Chrys.: This He said as it were comforting His disciples, as much as to say, Be not troubled as though these things fell upon you unexpectedly; for this cause I came that I might send war upon the earth - nay He says not ’war,’ but what is yet harder, "a sword." For He sought by sharpness of speech so to rouse their attention, that they should not fall off in time of trial and difficulty; or say that He had told them smooth things, and had hid the difficulties. For it is better to meet with softness in deeds than in words; and therefore He stayed not in words, but shewing them the nature of their warfare, He taught them that it was more perilous than a civil war; saying, "I am come to set a man against his father, and daughter against her mother, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." So this warfare will be between not acquaintances merely, but the nearest and dearest kindred; and this shews Christ’s very great power; that His disciples after having heard this, yet undertook the mission, and brought over others.
Yet was it not Christ who made this division, but the evil nature of the parties; when He says that it is He that does it, He speaks according to the manner of Scripture. As it is written, "God hath given them eyes that they should not see." [Isaiah 6:10] Here is also a great proof that the Old Testament is like the New. For among the Jews a man was to put his neighbour to death if he found him making a calf, or sacrificing to Baalphegor; so here to shew that it was the same God who ordained both that and these precepts, He reminds them of the prophecy, "A man’s foes are they of his household." For this same thing happened among the Jews; there were Prophets, and false Prophets; there the multitude was divided, and houses were set against themselves; there some believed one part, and some another.
Jerome: These are almost the words of the Prophet Micah. [Micah 7:6] We should always take note when a passage is cited out of the Old Testament, whether the sense only, or the very words are given.
Hilary: Mystically, a sword is the sharpest of all weapons, and thence it is the emblem of the right of authority, the impartiality of justice, the correction of offenders. The word of God, we may remember, is likened to a sword; [margin note: Ephesians 6:17, Hebrews 4:12] so here the sword that is sent upon the earth is His preaching poured into the heart of man. The five inhabiting one house, whom He divides three against two, and two against three, we may explain thus; The three are the three parts of man, the body, the soul, and the will; for as the soul is bestowed in the body, so the will has power of using both in any way it chooses; and thence when a law is given it is given to the will. But this is only found in those who were first formed by God. By the sin and unbelief of the first parent, all the generations of men since have had sin for the father of their body, and unbelief for the mother of their soul. And as each man has his will within him, there are thus five in one house.
When then we are renewed in the laver of baptism, by virtue of the word we are set apart from our original guilt, and severed, as it were, by the sword of God, from the lusts of this our father and mother, and thus there is great discord made in one house; the new man finding his foes within, he seeks with joy to live in newness of spirit; they which are derived from the old stock, lust to remain in their old pleasures.
Aug., Quaest in Matt., q.3: Otherwise, "I am come to set a man against his father;" for he renounces the Devil who was his son; "the daughter against her mother," that is, the people of God against the city of the world, that is, the wicked society of mankind, which is spoken of in Scripture under the names of Babylon, Egypt, Sodom, and other names.
"The daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law," that is, the Church against the Synagogue, which according to the flesh, brought forth Christ the spouse of the Church. They are severed by the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. "And a man’s foes are they of his household," those, that is, with whom he before lived as intimates.
Raban.: For no other mutual rights can be preserved between those who are at war in their creeds.
Gloss. interlin.: Otherwise; He mean, I am not come among men to strengthen their carnal affections, but to cut them off with the sword of the Spirit; whence it is rightly added, "And a man’s foes are they of his household."
Greg., Mor., iii, 8: For the subtle enemy when he sees himself driven out of the hearts of the good, seeks out those who most love them, and speaking by the mouth of those who are dearest, endeavours while the heart is penetrated by love, that the sword of conviction may pierce to the inmost bulwarks of virtue.
Ver 37. "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.38. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.39. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."
Jerome: Because of what He had said, "I am not come to send peace but a sword, &c." that none might suppose that family affection was banished from His religion, He now adds, "He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me." So in the Song of Songs we read, "Order love in me." [2:4] For this order is needed in every affection; after God love thy father, thy mother, and thy children; but if a necessity should occur that the love of parents and children comes into competition with the love of God, and where both cannot be preserved, remember that hatred of our kindred becomes then love to God. He forbids not to love parent or child, but adds emphatically, "more than me."
Hilary: For they who have esteemed domestic affection of relations higher than God, are unworthy to inherit good things to come.
Chrys.: Yet when Paul bids us obey our parents in all things, we are not to marvel; for we are only to obey in such things are not hurtful to our piety to God. It is holy to render them every other honour, but when they demand more than is due, we ought not to yield. This is likewise agreeable to the Old Testament; in it the Lord commands that all who worshipped idols, should not only be held in abhorrence, but should be stoned. And in Deuteronomy it is said, "He who saith to his father and his mother, I know you not; and to his brethren, Ye are strangers; he hath kept thy saying." [Deuteronomy 33:9]
Gloss., non occ.: It seems to happen in many cases that the parents love the children more than the children love the parents; therefore having taught that His love is to be preferred to the love of parents, as in an ascending scale, He next teaches that it is to be preferred to the love of children, saying, "And whoso loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."
Raban.: He is unworthy of the divine communion who prefers the carnal affection of kindred to the spiritual love of God.
Chrys.: Then that those to whom the love of God is preferred should not be offended thereat, He leads them to a higher doctrine. Nothing is nearer to a man than his soul, and yet He enjoins that this should not only be hated, but that a man should be ready to deliver it up to death, and blood; not to death only, but to a violent and most disgraceful death, namely, the death of the cross; therefore it follows, "And whoso taketh not up his cross and followeth me, is not worthy of me." He had as yet said nothing to them respecting his own sufferings, but instructs them in the meanwhile in these things, that they may the more readily receive His words concerning His passion.
Hilary: Or; "They that are Christ’s have crucified the body with its vices and lusts." [Galatians 5:24] And he is unworthy of Christ who does not take up His cross, in which we suffer with Him, die with Him, are buried and rise again with Him, and follow his Lord, purposing to live in newness of spirit in this sacrament of the faith.
Greg., Hom. in Ev., xxxii, 3: The cross is so called from, torment [margin note: cruciatus]; and there are two ways in which we bear the Lord’s cross; either when we afflict the flesh by abstinence; or when in compassion for our neighbour we make his afflictions our own. But it should be known that there are some who make a shew of abstinence not for God, but for ostentation; and some there are who shew compassion to their neighbour, not spiritually but carnally, not that they may encourage him in virtue; but rather countenancing him in faults. These indeed seem to bear their cross, but do not follow the Lord; therefore He adds, "And followeth me."
Chrys.: Because these commands seemed burdensome, He proceeds to shew their great use and benefit, saying, "He that findeth his life shall lose it." As much as to say, Not only do these things that I have inculcated do no harm, but they are of great advantage to a man; and the contrary thereof shall do him great hurt - and this is His manner everywhere. He uses those things which men’s affections are set upon as a means of bringing them to their duty.
Thus: Why are you loath to contemn your life? Because you love it? For that very reason contemn it, and you will do it the highest service.
Remig.: The life in this place is not to be understood as the substance, (the soul,) but as this present state of being; and the sense is, He who findeth his life, i.e. this present life, he who so loves this light, its joys and pleasures, as to desire that he may always find them; he shall lose that which he wishes always to keep, and prepare his soul for eternal damnation.
Raban.: Otherwise; He who seeks an immortal life, does not hesitate to lose his life, that is, to offer it to death. But either sense suits equally well with that which follows, "And whoso shall lose his life for my sake shall find it."
Remig.: That is, he who in confession of My name in time of persecution despises this temporal world, its joys, and pleasures, shall find eternal salvation for his soul.
Hilary: Thus the gain of life brings death, the loss of life brings salvation; for by the sacrifice of this short life we gain the reward of immortality.
Ver 40. "He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.41. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.42. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward."
Jerome: The Lord when He sends forth His disciples to preach, teaches them that dangers are not to be feared, that natural affection is to be postponed to religion - gold He had above taken from them, brass He had shaken out of their purses - hard then surely the condition of the preachers! Whence their living? Whence their food and necessaries? Therefore He tempers the rigour of His precepts by the following promises, that in entertaining the Apostles each believer may consider that he entertains the Lord.
Chrys.: Enough had been said above to persuade those who should have to entertain the Apostles. For who would not with all willingness take in to his house men who were so courageous, that they despised all dangers that others might be saved?
Above He had threatened punishment to those who should not receive them, He now promises reward to such as should receive them. And first He holds out to those who should entertain them the honour, that in so doing they were entertaining Christ, and even the Father; "He who receiveth me, receiveth him that sent me." What honour to be compared to this of receiving the Father and the Son?
Hilary: These words shew that He has a Mediator’s office, and since He came from God, when He is received by us, through Him God is transfused into us; and by this disposition of grace to have received the Apostles is no other than to have received God; for Christ dwells in them, and God in Christ.
Chrys.: A further reward also He promises, saying, "He who receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet’s reward." He said not merely, "Whoso receiveth a prophet," or "a righteous man," but "in the name of a prophet," and "in the name of a righteous man;" that is, not for any greatness in this life, or other temporal account, but because he is a prophet, or a righteous man.
Jerome: Otherwise; To this His exhortation to the disciple to entertain his teacher, there might a secret objection arise among the faithful; then shall we have to support the false prophets, or Judas, the traitor. To this end it is that the Lord instructs them in these words, that it is not the person but the office that they should look to: and that the entertainer loses not his reward, though he whom he entertains be unworthy.
Chrys.: "A prophet’s reward, and a righteous man’s reward," are such rewards as it is fitting he should have who entertains a prophet, or a righteous man; or, such a reward as a prophet or righteous man should have.
Greg., Hom. in Ev., xx, 12: He says not, a reward from a prophet, or righteous man, but the reward of a prophet or righteous man. For the prophet is perhaps a righteous man, and the less he possesses in this world, the greater confidence has he in speaking in behalf of righteousness. He who hath of this world’s goods, in supporting such a man, makes himself a free partaker in his righteousness, and shall receive the reward of righteousness together with him whom he has aided by supporting him.
He is full of the spirit of prophecy, but he lacks bodily sustenance, and if the body be not supported, it is certain that the voice will fail. Whoso then gives a prophet food, gives him strength for speaking, therefore together with the prophet he shall receive the prophet’s reward, when he shews before the face of God what bounty be shewed him.
Jerome: Mystically; He who receives a prophet as a prophet, and understands him speaking of things to come, he shall receive reward of that prophet. The Jews therefore, who understand the prophets carnally, do not receive the prophet’s reward.
Remig.: Some understand by the prophet here, the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom Moses says, "A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you;" [Deuteronomy 18:18] and the same also by the righteous man, because he is beyond comparison righteous. He then who shall receive a prophet or righteous man in the name of the prophet or righteous man, i.e. of Christ, shall receive reward from Him for love of whom he received Him.
Jerome: That none should say, I am poor and therefore cannot be hospitable, He takes away even this plea by the instance of a cup of cold water, given with good will. He says "cold water," because in "hot," poverty and lack of fuel might be pleaded. And whosoever shall give to drink to one of the least of these a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.
Remig.: "The least of these," that is, not a prophet, or a righteous man, but one of these least.
Gloss, non occ.: Note, that God looks more to the pious mind of the giver, than to the abundance of the thing given.
Gloss. ord.: Or, "the least," are they who have nothing at all in this world, and shall be judges with Christ.
Hilary: Or; Seeing beforehand that there would be many who would only glory in the name of Apostleship, but in their whole life and walk would be unworthy of it, He does not therefore deprive of its reward that service which might be rendered to them in belief of their religious life. For though they were the very least, that is, the greatest of sinners, yet even small offices of mercy shewn them, such as are denoted by the cup of cold water, should not be shewn in vain. For the honour is not done to a man that is a sinner, but to his title of disciple.