1. Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
2. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
3. And the Scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4. They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6. This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8. And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11. She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
ALCUIN. Our Lord at the time of His passion used to spend the day in Jerusalem, preaching in the temple, and performing miracles, and return in the evening to Bethany, where He lodged with the sisters of Lazarus. Thus on the last day of the feast, having, according to His wont, preached the whole day in the temple, in the evening He went to the mount of Olives.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxiii. 3) And where ought Christ to teach, except on the mount of Olives; on the mount of ointment, on the mount of chrism. For the name Christ is from chrism, chrism being the Greek word for unction. He has anointed us, for wrestling with the devil.
ALCUIN. The anointing with oil is a relief to the limbs, when wearied and in pain. The mount of Olives also denotes the height of our Lord’s pity, olive in the Greek signifying pity. The qualities of oil are such as to fit in to this mystical meaning. For it floats above all other liquids: and the Psalmist says, Thy mercy is over all Thy works. And early in the morning, He came again into the temple: (Ps. 144) i. e. to denote the giving and unfolding of His mercy, i. e. the now dawning light of the New Testament in the faithful, that is, in His temple. His returning early in the morning, signifies the new rise of grace.
BEDE. And next it is signified, that after He began to dwell by grace in His temple, i. e. in the Church, men from all nations would believe in Him: And all the people came to Him, and He sat down and taught them.
ALCUIN. The sitting down, represents the humility of His incarnation. And the people came to Him, when He sat down, i. e. after taking up human nature, and thereby becoming visible, many began to hear and believe on Him, only knowing Him as their friend and neighbour. But while these kind and simple persons are full of admiration at our Lord’s discourse, the Scribes and Pharisees put questions to Him, not for the sake of instruction, but only to entangle the truth in their nets: And the Scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto Him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxiii. s. 4) They had remarked upon Him already, as being over lenient. Of Him indeed it had been prophesied, Ride on because of the word of truth, of meekness, and of righteousness. (Ps. 44) So as a teacher He exhibited truth, as a deliverer meekness, as a judge righteousness. When He spoke, His truth was acknowledged; when against His enemies He used no violence, His meekness was praised. So they raised the scandal on the score of justice. For they said among themselves, If He decide to let her go, He will not do justice; for the law cannot command what is unjust: Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but to maintain His meekness, which has made Him already so acceptable to the people, He must decide to let her go. Wherefore they demand His opinion: And what sayest Thou? hoping to find an occasion to accuse Him, as a transgressor of the law: And this they said tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him. But our Lord in His answer both maintained His justice, and departed not from meekness. Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground.
AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evang. lib. ii. c. 10) As if to signify that such persons were to be written in earth, not in heaven, where He told His disciples they should rejoice they were written. Or His bowing His head (to write on the ground), is an expression of humility; the writing on the ground signifying that His law was written on the earth which bore fruit, not on the barren stone, as before.
ALCUIN. The ground denotes the human heart, which yieldeth the fruit either of good or of bad actions: the finger jointed and flexible, discretion. He instructs us then, when we see any faults in our neighbours, not immediately and rashly to condemn them, but after searching our own hearts to begin with, to examine them attentively with the finger of discretion.
BEDE. His writing with His finger on the ground perhaps shewed, that it was He who had written the law on stone.
So when they continued asking Him, He lifted Himself up.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxiii. 5) He did not say, Stone her not, lest He should seem to speak contrary to the law. But God forbid that He should say, Stone her; for He came not to destroy that which He found, but to seek that which was lost. What then did He answer? He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. This is the voice of justice. Let the sinner be punished, but not by sinners; the law carried into effect, but not by transgressors of the law.
GREGORY. For he who judges not himself first, cannot know how to judge correctly in the case of another. For though He know what the offence is, from being told, yet He cannot judge of another’s deserts, who supposing himself innocent, will not apply the rule of justice to himself.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxiii. 5) Having with the weapon of justice smitten them, He deigned not even to look on the fallen, but averted His eyes: And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
ALCUIN. This is like our Lord; while His eyes are fixed, and He seems attending to something else, He gives the bystanders an opportunity of retiring: a tacit admonition to us to consider always both before we condemn a brother for a sin, and after we have punished him, whether we are not guilty ourselves of the same fault, or others as bad.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxiii. s. 5) Thus smitten then with the voice of justice, as with a weapon, they examine themselves, find themselves guilty, and one by one retire: And they which heard it, went out one by one, beginning at the eldesta.
GLOSS. The more guilty of them, perhaps, or those who were more conscious of their faults.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxiii. 5, 6) There were left however two, the pitiable1 and the pitiful, And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst: the woman, you may suppose, in great alarm, expecting punishment from one in whom no sin could be found. But He who had repelled her adversaries with the word of justice, lifted on her the eyes of mercy, and asked; When Jesus had lifted Himself up, and saw none but the woman, He said unto her, Woman, where are these thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. We heard above the voice of justice; let us hear now that of mercy: Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee; I, who thou fearedst would condemn thee, because thou foundest no fault in me. What then, Lord? Dost Thou favour sin? No, surely. Listen to what follows, Go, and sin no more. So then our Lord condemned sin, but not the sinner. For did He favour sin, He would have said, Go, and live as thou wilt: depend on my deliverance: howsoever great thy sins be, it matters not: I will deliver thee from hell, and its tormentors. But He did not say this. Let those attend, who love the Lord’s mercy, and fear His truth. Truly, Gracious and righteous is the Lord. (Ps. 35:7)
12. Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
ALCUIN. Having absolved the woman from her sin, lest some should doubt, seeing that He was really man, His power to forgive sins, He deigns to give further disclosure of His divine nature; Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the Light of the world.
BEDE. Where it is to be observed, He does not say, I am the light of Angels, or of heaven, but the Light of the world, i. e. of mankind who live in darkness, as we read, To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death. (Luke 1:79)
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lii. 2) As they had brought Galilee as an objection against Him, and doubted His being one of the Prophets, as if that was all He claimed to be, He wished to shew that He was not one of the Prophets, but the Lord of the whole earth: Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the Light of the world: not of Galilee, or of Palestine, or of Judæa.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxiv. 2) The Manichæans suppose the sun of the natural world to be our Lord Christ; but the Catholic Church reprobates such a notion; for our Lord Christ was not made the sun, but the sun was made by Him: inasmuch as all things were made by Him. (c. 1:3) And for our sake did He come to be under the sun, being the light which made the sun: He hid Himself under the cloud of the flesh, not to obscure, but to temper His light. Speaking then through the cloud of the flesh, the Light unfailing, the Light of wisdom says to men, I am the Light of the world.
THEOPHYLACT. You may bring these words against Nestorius: for our Lord does not say, In Me is the light of the world, but, I am the Light of the world: He who appeared man, was both the Son of God, and the Light of the world; not, as Nestorius fondly holds, the Son of God dwelling in a mere man.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxiv. s. 5) He withdraws you however from the eyes of the flesh, to those of the heart, in that He adds, He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. He thinks it not enough to say, shall have light, but adds, of life. These words of our Lord agree with those of the Psalm, In Thy light shall we see light; for with Thee is the well of life. (Ps. 35) For bodily uses, light is one thing, and a well another; and a well ministers to the mouth, light to the eyes. With God the light and the well are the same. He who shines upon thee, that thou mayest see Him, the Same flows unto thee, that thou mayest drink Him. What He promises is put in the future tense; what we ought to do in the present. He that followeth Me, He says, shall have; i. e. by faith now, in sight hereafter. The visible sun accompanieth thee, only if thou goest westward, whither it goeth also; and even if thou follow it, it will forsake thee, at its setting. Thy God is every where wholly; He will not fall from thee, if thou fall not from Him. Darkness is to be feared, not that of the eyes, but that of the mind; and if of the eyes, of the inner not the outer eyes; not those by which white and black, but those by which just and unjust, are discerned.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lii. 2) Walketh not in darkness, i. e. spiritually abideth not in error. Here He tacitly praises Nicodemus and the officers, and censures those who had plotted against Him; as being in darkness and error, and unable to come to the light.
13. The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.
14. Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.
15. Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.
16. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
17. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
18. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lii. 2) Our Lord having said, I am the Light of the world; and, he that followeth Me, walketh not in darkness, the Jews wish to overthrow what He has said: The Pharisees therefore said unto Him, Thou bearest record of Thyself, Thy record is not true.
ALCUIN. As if our Lord Himself were the only (one that bore) witness to Himself; whereas the truth was that He had, before His incarnation, sent many witnesses to prophesy of His Sacraments.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lii. 2) Our Lord however overthrew their argument: Jesus answered and said, Though I bear record of Myself, yet My record is true. This is an accommodation to those who thought Him no more than a mere man. He adds the reason, For I know whence I come, and whither I go; i. e. I am God, from God, and the Son of God: though this He does not say expressly, from His habit of mingling lofty and lowly words together. Now God is surely a competent witness to Himself.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxv. 6) The witness of light is true, whether the light shew itself, or other things. The Prophet spake the truth, but whence had he it, but by drawing from the fount of truth? Jesus then is a competent witness to Himself. (s. 5). For I know whence I come, and whither I go: this has reference to the Father; for the Son gave glory to the Father who sent Him. How greatly then should man glorify the Creator, who made Him. He did not separate from His Father, however, when He came, or desert us when He returned: unlike that sun which in going to the west, leaves the east. And as that sun throws its light on the faces both of him who sees, and him who sees not; only the one sees with the light, the other sees not: so the Wisdom of God, the Word, is every where present, even to the minds of unbelievers; but they have not the eyes of the understanding, wherewith to see. To distinguish then between believers and enemies among the Jews, as between light and darkness, He adds, But ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go. (Tract. xxxvi. 3). These Jews saw the man, and did not believe in the God, and therefore our Lord says, Ye judge after the flesh, i. e. in saying, Thou bearest record of Thyself, Thy record is not true.
THEOPHYLACT. As if to say: Ye judge untruly, according to the flesh, thinking, because I am in the flesh, that I am flesh only, and not God.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxvi. 3. in Joan.) Understanding Me not as God, and seeing Me as man, ye think Me arrogant in bearing witness of Myself. For any man who bears high testimony to himself, is thought proud and arrogant. But men are frail, and may either speak the truth, or lie: the Light cannot lie.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. l. 2) As to live according to the flesh is to live amiss; so to judge according to the flesh, is to judge unjustly. They might say, however, If we judge wrongly, why dost Thou not convict us, why dost Thou not condemn us? So He adds, I judge no man.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxvi. s. 4) Which may be understood in two ways; I judge no man, i. e. not now: as He says elsewhere, God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved: not that He abandons, but only defers, His justice. Or having said, Ye judge according to the flesh, He says immediately, I judge no man, to let you know that Christ does not judge according to the flesh, as men judged Him. For that Christ is a judge appears from the next words, And yet if I judge, My judgment is true.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lii. 2) As if to say: In saying, I judge no man, I meant that I did not anticipate judgment. If I judged justly, I should condemn you, but now is not the time for judging. He alludes however to the future judgment, in what follows; For I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent Me; which means that He will not condemn them alone, but He and the Father together. This is intended too to quiet suspicion, as men did not think the Son worthy to be believed, unless He had the testimony of the Father also.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxvi. 7) But if the Father is with Thee, how did He send Thee? O Lord, Thy mission is Thy incarnation. Christ was here according to the flesh without withdrawing from the Father, because the Father and the Son are every where. Blush, thou Sabellian; our Lord doth not say, I am the Father, and I the self-same person am the Son; but, I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. Make a distinction then of persons, and distinction of intelligences: acknowledge that the Father is the Father, the Son the Son: but beware of saying, that the Father is greater, the Son less. Theirs is one substance, one coeternity, perfect equality. Therefore, He says, My judgment is true, because I am the Son of God. But that thou mayest understand how that the Father is with Me, it is not for the Son ever to leave the Father. I have taken up the form of a servant; but I have not lost the form of God. He had spoken of judgment: now He speaks of witness: It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
AUGUSTINE. Is this made a bad use of by the Manichæans, that our Lord does not say, in the law of God, but, in your law? Who does not recognise here a manner of speaking customary in Scripture? In your law, i. e. the law given to you. The Apostle speaks of his Gospel in the same way, though he testifies to having received it not from men, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxvi. 10) There is much difficulty, and a great mystery seems to be contained, in God’s words, In the mouth of two or three witnesses, let every word be established. (Deut. 10) It is possible that two may speak false. The chaste Susannah was arraigned by two false witnesses: the whole people spake against Christ falsely. How then must we understand the word, By the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established: except as an intimation of the mystery of the Trinity, in which is perpetual stability of truth? Receive then our testimony, lest ye feel our judgment. I delay My judgment: I delay not My testimony: I am one that beareth witnes of Myself, and the Father that sent Me beareth witness of Me.
BEDE. In many places the Father bears witness of the Son; as, This day have I begotten Thee; (Ps. 2) also, This is My beloved Son. (Matt. 3:17)
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lii. 3) It is written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. If this is to be taken literally, in what respect does our Lord differ from men? The rule has been laid down for men, on the ground that one man alone is not to be relied on: but how can this be applicable to God? These words are quoted then with another meaning. When two men bear witness, both to an indifferent matter, their witness is true: this constitutes the testimony of two men. But if one of them bear witness to himself, then they are no longer two witnesses. Thus our Lord means to shew that He is consubstantial with the Father, and does not need another witness, i. e. besides the Father’s. I and the Father that sent Me. Again, on human principles, when a man bears witness, his honesty is supposed; he is not borne witness to; and a man is admitted as a fair and competent witness in an indifferent matter, but not in one relating to himself, unless he is supported by other testimony. But here it is quite otherwise. Our Lord, though giving testimony in His own case, and though saying that He is borne witness to by another, pronounces Himself worthy of belief; thus shewing His all-sufficiency. He says He deserves to be believed.
ALCUIN. Or it is as if He said, If your law admits the testimony of two men who may be deceived, and testify to more than is true; on what grounds can you reject Mine and My Father’s testimony, the highest and most sure of all?
19. Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.
20. These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxvii. 1) Those who had heard our Lord say, Ye judge after the flesh, shewed that they did so; for they understood what He said of His Father in a carnal sense: Then said they unto Him, Where is Thy Father? meaning, We have heard Thee say, I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent Me. We see Thee alone; prove to us then that Thy Father is with Thee.
THEOPHYLACT. Some remark that this is said in contumely and contempt; to insinuate either that He is born of fornication, and knows not who His Father is; or as a slur on the low situation of His father, i. e. Joseph; as if to say, Thy father is an obscure, ignoble person; why dost Thou so often mention him? So because they asked the question, to tempt Him, not to get at the truth, Jesus answered, Ye neither know Me, nor My Father.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxvii. 2.) As if He said, Ye ask where is Thy Father? As if ye knew Me already, and I were nothing else but what ye see. But ye know Me not, and therefore I tell you nothing of My Father. Ye think Me indeed a mere man, and therefore among men look for My Father. But, forasmuch as I am different altogether, according to My seen and unseen natures, and speak of My Father in the hidden sense according to My hidden nature; it is plain that ye must first know Me, and then ye will know My Father; If ye had known Me, ye would have known My Father also.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lii. 3) He tells them, it is of no avail for them to say they know the Father, if they do not know the Son.
ORIGEN. (tom. xix. l. in Joan. in princ.) Ye neither know Me, nor My Father: this seems inconsistent with what was said above, Ye both know Me, and know whence I am. But the latter is spoken in reply to some from Jerusalem, who asked, Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ? Ye neither know Me is addressed to the Pharisees. To the former persons from Jerusalem however He said, He that sent Me, is true, Whom ye know not. You will ask then, How is that true, If ye know Me, ye would know My Father also? when they of Jerusalem, to whom He said, Ye know Me, did not know the Father. To this we must reply, that our Saviour sometimes speaks of Himself as man, and some-times as God. Ye both know Me, He says as man: ye neither know Me, as God.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxvii. 7) What does this mean: If ye knew Me, ye would know My Father also, but, I and My Father are one? It is a common expression, when you see one man very like another, If you have seen him, you have seen the other. You say this, because they are so like. And thus our Lord says, If ye had known Me, ye had known My Father also; not that the Father is the Son, but that the Son is like the Father.
THEOPHYLACT. Let the Arian blush: for if, as he says, the Son be a creature, how does it follow that he who knows the creature, knows God? For not even by knowing the substance of Angels, does one know the Divine Substance? Forasmuch therefore as he who knows the Son, knows the Father, it is certain that the Son is consubstantial with the Father.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxviii. s. 3) This word perhapsc is used only by way of rebuke, though it seems to express doubt. As used by men indeed it is the expression of doubt, but He who knew all things could only mean by that doubt to rebuke unbelief. Nay, even we sometimes say perhaps, when they are certain of a thing, e. g. when you are angry with your slave, and say, Do not you heed me? Consider, perhaps I am your master. So our Lord’s doubt is a reproof to the unbelievers, when He says, Ye should have known perhaps My Father also.
ORIGEN. (tom. xix. l. in Joan. in princ.) It is proper to observe, that the followers of other sects think this text proves clearly, that the God, whom the Jews worshipped, was not the Father of Christ. For if, say they, our Saviour said this to the Pharisees, who worshipped God as the Governor of the world, it is evident that the Father of Jesus, whom the Pharisees knew not, was a different person from the Creator. But they do not observe that this is a usual manner of speaking in Scripture. Though a man may know the existence of God, and have learned from the Father that He only must be worshipped, yet if his life is not good, he is said not to have the knowledge of God. Thus the sons of Eli, on account of their wickedness, are said not to have known God. And thus again the Pharisees did not know the Father; because they did not live according to their Creator’s command. And there is another thing meant too by knowing God, different from merely believing in Him. It is said, Be still then, and know that I am God. (Ps. 45:10) And this, it is certain, was written for a people that believed in the Creator. But to know by believing, and believe simply, are different things. To the Pharisees, to whom He says, Ye neither know Me, nor My Father, He could with right have said, Ye do not even believe in My Father; for he who denies the Son, has not the Father, either by faith or knowledge. But Scripture gives us another sense of knowing a thing, viz. being joined to that thing. Adam knew his wife, when he was joined to her. And if he who is joined to a woman knows that woman, he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit, and knows the Lord. And in this sense the Pharisees neither knew the Father, nor the Son. But may not a man know God, and yet not know the Father? Yes; these are two different conceptions. And therefore among an infinite number of prayers offered up in the Law, we do not find any one addressed to God the Father. They only pray to Him as God and Lord; in order not to anticipate the grace shed by Jesus over the whole world, calling all men to the Sonship, according to the Psalm, I will declare Thy name unto my brethren.
These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as He taught in the temple.
ALCUIN. Treasury (Gazophylacium): Gaza is the Persian for wealth: phylattein is to keep. It was a place in the temple, where the money was kept.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. iii. 1) He spake in the temple magisterially, and now He was speaking to those who railed at and accused Him, for making Himself equal to the Father.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxvii. 8) Great however is His confidence and fearlessness: it not being possible that He should undergo any suffering, but that which He voluntarily undertook. Wherefore it follows, And no man laid hands on Him, for His hour was not yet come. Some, when they hear this, think Christ to have been under the control of fate. But if fate comes from the verb fari, to speak, as some derive it, how can the Word of God be under the control of fate? Where are the fates? In the heavens, you say, in the courses and revolutions of the stars. How then can fate have power over Him, by Whom the heavens and stars were made; when even thy will, if thou exert it aright, transcends the stars? Dost thou think that because the flesh of Christ was placed beneath the heavens, that therefore His power was subjected to the heavens? His hour then had not yet come; i. e. the hour, not on which he should be obliged to die, but on which He should deign to be put to death.
ORIGEN. (tom. xix. in Joan.) Whenever it is added, Jesus spoke these words in such a place, you will, if you attend, discover a meaning in the addition. The treasury (γαζοφυλακίῳ) was a place for keeping the money, which was given for the honour of God, and the support of the poor. The coins are the divine words, stamped with the likeness of the great King. In this sense then let every one contribute to the edification of the Church, carrying into that spiritual treasury all that he can collect, to the honour of God, and the common good. But while all were thus contributing to the treasury of the temple, it was especially the office of Jews to contribute his gifts, which were the words of eternal life. While Jesus therefore was speaking in the treasury, no one laid hands on Him; His discourse being stronger than those who wished to take Him; for there is no weakness in that which the Word of God utters.
BEDE. Or thus; Christ speaks in the treasury; i. e. He had spoken in parables to the Jews; but now that He unfolded heavenly things to His disciples, His treasury began to be opened, which was the meaning of the treasury being joined to the temple; all that the Law and the Prophets had foretold in figure, appertained to our Lord.
21. Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.
22. Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come.
23. And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world, I am not of this world.
24. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxviii. 2) In accordance with what was just, He said that no man laid hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come; He now speaks to the Jews of His passion, as a free, and not a compulsory sacrifice on His part: Then said Jesus again unto them, I go My way. Death to our Lord was a return to the place whence He had come.
BEDE. The connexion of these words is such, that they might have been spoken at one place and one time, or at another place and another time: as either nothing at all, or some things, or many may have intervened.
ORIGEN. (tom. xix. in Joan. s. 3.) But some one will object: If this was spoken to men who persisted in unbelief, how is it He says, Ye shall seek Me? For to seek Jesus is to seek truth and wisdom. You will answer that it was said of His persecutors, that they sought to take Him. There are different ways of seeking Jesus. All do not seek Him for their health and profit: and only they who seek Him aright, find peace. And they are said to seek Him aright, who seek the Word which was in the beginning with God, in order that He may lead them to the Father.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxviii. 2) Ye shall seek Me, then, He says, not from compassionate regret, but from hatred: for after He had departed from the eyes of men, He was sought for both by those who hated, and those who loved Him: the one wanting to persecute, the other to have His presence. And that ye may not think that ye shall seek Me in a good sense, I tell you, Ye shall die in your sin. (ἁμαρτίᾳ plural in our Transl.) This is to seek Christ amiss, to die in one’s sin: this is to hate Him, from Whom alone cometh salvation. He pronounces sentence on them prophetically, that they shall die in their sins.
BEDE. Note: sin is in the singular number, your in the plural; to express one and the same wickedness in all.
ORIGEN. (tom. xix. in Joan. s. 3.) But I ask, as it is said below that many believed on Him, whether He speaks to all present, when He says, Ye shall die in your sins? No: He speaks to those only, whom He knew would not believe, and would therefore die in their sins, not being able to follow Him. Whither I go, He says, ye cannot come; i. e. there where truth and wisdom are, for with them Jesus dwells. They cannot, He says, because they will not: for had they wished, He could not reasonably have said, Ye shall die in your sin.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxviii. s. 2) This He tells His disciples in another place; without saying to them, however, Ye shall die in your sin, He only says, Whither I go, ye cannot follow Me now; not preventing, but only delaying their coming.
ORIGEN. (tom. xix. 3.) The Word, while still present, yet threatens to depart. So long as we preserve the seeds of truth implanted in our minds, the Word of God does not depart from us. But if we fall into wickedness, then He says to us, I go away; and when we seek Him, we shall not find Him, but shall die in our sin, die caught in our sin. But we should not pass over without notice the expression itself: Ye shall die in your sins. If ye shall die be understood in the ordinary sense, it is manifest that sinners die in their sins, the righteous in their righteousness. But if we understand it of death in the sense of sin; then the meaning is, that not their bodies, but their souls were sick unto death. The Physician seeing them thus grievously sick, says, Ye shall die in your sins. And this is evidently the meaning of the words, Whither I go ye cannot come. For when a man dies in his sin, he cannot go where Jesus goes: no dead man can follow Jesus: The dead praise not Thee, O Lord. (Ps. 113)
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxviii) They take these words, as they generally do, in a carnal sense, and ask, Will He kill Himself, because He saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come? A foolish question. For why? Could they not go where He went, if He killed Himself? Were they never to die themselves? Whither I go, then, He says; meaning not His departure at death, but where He went after death.
THEOPHYLACT. He shews here that He will rise again in glory, and sit at the right hand of God.
ORIGEN. (tom. xix. in Joan. s. 4.) May they not however have a higher meaning in saying this? For they had opportunities of knowing many things from their apocryphal books or from tradition. As then there was a prophetical tradition, that Christ was to be born at Bethlehem, so there may have been a tradition also respecting His death, viz. that He would depart from this life in the way which He declares, No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. (c. 10:18) So then the question, Will He kill Himself, is not to be taken in its obvious sense, but as referring to some Jewish tradition about Christ. For His saying, I go My way, shews that He had power over His own death, and departure from the body; so that these were voluntary on His part. But I think that they bring forward this tradition which had come down to them, on the death of Christ, contemptuously, and not with any view to give Him glory. Will He kill Himself? say they: whereas, they ought to have used a loftier way of speaking, and have said, Will His soul wait His pleasure, to depart from His body? Our Lord answers, Ye are from beneath, i. e. ye love earth; your hearts are not raised upwards. He speaks to them as earthly men, for their thoughts were earthly.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liii. 1) As if to say, No wonder that ye think as ye do, seeing ye are carnal, and understand nothing spiritually. I am from above.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxviii. 4) From whom above? From the Father Himself, Who is above all. Ye are of this world, I am not of this world. How could He be of the world, by Whom the world was made?
BEDE. And Who was before the world, whereas they were of the world, having been created after the world had begun to exist.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liii. 1) Or He says, I am not of this world, with reference to worldly and vain thoughts.
THEOPHYLACT. I affect nothing worldly, nothing earthly: I could never come to such madness as to kill Myself. Apollinarius, however, falsely infers from these words, that our Lord’s body was not of this world, but came down from heaven. did the Apostles then, to whom our Lord says below, Ye are not of this world, (c. 15:19) derive all of them their bodies from heaven? In saying then, I am not of this world, He must be understood to mean, I am not of the number of you, who mind earthly things.
ORIGEN. (tom. xix. in Joan. s. 5.) Beneath, and, of this world, are different things. Beneath, refers to a particular place; this material world embraces different tractsd, which all are beneath, as compared with things immaterial and invisible, but, as compared with one another, some beneath, some above. Where the treasure of each is, there is his heart also. If a man then lay up treasure upon earth, he is beneath: if any man lay up treasure in heaven, he is above; yea, ascends above all hearers, attains to a most blissful end. And again, the love of this world makes a man of this world: whereas he who loveth not the world, neither the things that are in the world, is not of the world. Yet is there beyond this world of sense, another world, in which are things invisible, the beauty of which shall the pure in heart behold, yea, the First-born of every creature may be called the world, insomuch as He is absolute wisdom, and in wisdom all things were made. In Him therefore was the whole world, differing from the material world, in so far as the1 scheme divested of the matter, differs from the subject matter itself. The soul of Christ then says, I am not of this world; i. e. because it has not its conversation in this world.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxviii. 6) Our Lord expresses His meaning in the words, Ye are of this world, i. e. ye are sinners. All of us are born in sin; all have added by our actions to the sin in which we were born. The misery of the Jews then was, not that they had sin, but that they would die in their sin: I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sin. Amongst the multitude, however, who heard our Lord, there were some who were about to believe; whereas this most severe sentence had gone forth against all: Ye shall die in your sin; to the destruction of all hope even in those who should hereafter believe. So His next words recall the latter to hope: For if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sin: therefore if ye believe that I am He, ye shall not die in your sin.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liii. 1) For if He came in order to take away sin, and a man cannot put that off, except by washing, and cannot be baptized except he believe; it follows, that he who believes not must pass out of this life, with the old man, i. e. sin, within him: not only because he believes not, but because he departs hence, with his former sins upon him.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxviii. 8) His saying, If ye believe not that I am, without adding any thing, proves a great deal. For thus it was that God spoke to Moses, I am that I am. But how do I understand, I am that I am, (Exod. 3) and, If ye believe not that I am? In this way. All excellence, of whatever kind, if it be mutable, cannot be said really to be, for there is no real to be, where there is a not to be. Analyze the idea of mutability, and you will find, was, and will be; contemplate God, and you will find, is, without possibility of a past. In order to be, thou must leave him behind thee. So then, If ye believe not that I am, means in fact, If ye believe not that I am God; this being the condition, on which we shall not die in our sins. God be thanked that He says, If ye believe not, not, If ye understand not; for who could understand this?
ORIGEN. (tom. xix. in Joan.) It is manifest, that he, who dies in his sins, though he say that he believes in Christ, does not really believe. For he who believes in His justice does not do injustice; he who believes in His wisdom, does not act or speak foolishly; in like manner with respect to the other attributes of Christ, you will find that he who does not believe in Christ, dies in his sins: inasmuch as he comes to be the very contrary of what is seen in Christ.
25. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.
26. I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.
27. They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxviii. s. 11) Our Lord having said, If ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins; they enquire of Him, as if wishing to know in whom they are to believe, that they might not die in their sin: Then said they unto Him, Who art Thou? For when Thou saidst, If ye believe not that I am, Thou didst not add, who Thou art. But our Lord knew that these were some who would believe, and therefore after being asked, Who art Thou? that such might know what they should believe Him to be, Jesus saith unto them, The beginning, who also speak to you; not as if to say, I am the beginning, but, Believe Me to be the beginning; as is evident from the Greek, where beginning is feminine. Believe Me then to be the beginning, but ye die in your sins: for the beginning cannot be changed; it remains fixed in itself, and is the source of change to all things. (Tract. xxxix. 1, 2). But it is absurd to call the Son the beginning, and not the Father also. And yet there are not two beginnings, even as these are not two Gods. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and the Son; not being either the Father, or the Son. Yet Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God, one Light, one beginning. (Tract. xxxviii. 11). He adds, Who also speak to you, i. e. Who humbled Myself for your sakes, and condescended to those words. Therefore believe Me to be the beginning; because that ye may believe this, not only am I the beginning, but I also speak with you, that ye may believe that I am. For if the Beginning had remained with the Father in its original nature, and not taken upon it the form of a servant, how could men have believed in it? Would their weakly minds have taken in the spiritual Word, without the medium of sensible sound?
BEDE. In some copies we find, Who also speak to you; but it is more consistent to read for (quia), not, who (qui): in which case the meaning is: Believe Me to be the beginning, for for your sakes have I condescended to these words.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liii. 1) See here the madness of the Jews; asking after so long time, and after all His miracles and teaching, Who art Thou? What is Christ’s answer? From the beginning I speak with you; as if to say, Ye do not deserve to hear any thing from Me, much less this thing, Who I am. For ye speak always, to tempt Me. But I could, if I would, confound and punish you: I have many things to say, and to judge of you.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxix) Above He said, I judge no man; but, I judge not, is one thing, I have to judge, another. I judge not, He says, with reference to the present time. But the other, I have many things to say, and to judge of you, refers to a future judgment. And I shall be true in My judgment, because I am truth, the Son of the true One. He that sent Me is true. My Father is true, not by partaking of, but begetting truth. Shall we say that truth is greater than one who is true? If we say this, we shall begin to call the Son greater than the Father.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liii. 1) He says this, that they may not think that He allows them to talk against Him with impunity, from inability to punish them; or that He is not alive to their contemptuous designs.
THEOPHYLACT. Or having said, I have many things to say, and to judge of you, thus reserving His judgment for a future time, He adds, But He that sent Me is true: as if to say, Though ye are unbelievers, My Father is true, Who hath appointed a day of retribution for you.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liii. 1) Or thus: As My Father hath sent Me not to judge the world, but to save the world, and My Father is true, I accordingly judge no man now; but speak thus for your salvation, not your condemnation: And I speak to the world those things that I have heard of Him.
ALCUIN. And to hear from the Father is the same as to be from the Father; He has the hearing from the same sense that He has the being.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxxix. s. 6) The coequal Son gives glory to the Father: as if to say, I give glory to Him whose Son I am: how proudly thou detractest from Him, whose servant Thou art.
ALCUIN. They did not understand however what He meant by saying, He is true that sent Me: they understand not that He spake to them of the Father. For they had not the eyes of their mind yet opened, to understand the equality of the Father with the Son.
28. Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
29. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
30. As he spake these words, many believed on him.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xl. 2) When our Lord said, He is true that sent Me, the Jews did not understand that He spake to them of the Father. But He saw some there, who, He knew, would believe on Him after His passion. Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then ye shall know that I am. (Exod. 3:14) Recollect the words, I am that I am, and ye will know why I say, I am. I pass over your knowledge, in order that I may fulfil My passion. In your appointed time ye will know who I am; when ye have lifted up the Son of man. He means the lifting up of the cross; for He was lifted up on the cross, when He hung thereon. This was to be accomplished by the hands of those who should afterwards believe, whom He is now speaking to; with what intent, but that no one, however great his wickedness and consciousness of guilt might despair, seeing even the murderers of our Lord forgiven.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liii. 1, 2) Or the connection is this: When His miracles and teaching had failed to convert men, He spoke of the cross; When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then ye shall know that I am He: as if to say, Ye think that ye have killed Me; but I say that ye shall then, by the evidence of miracles, of My resurrection, and your captivity, know most especially, that I am Christ the Son of God, and that I do not act in opposition to God; But that as My Father hath taught Me, I speak these things. Here He shews the likeness of His substance to the Father’s; and that He says nothing beyond the Paternal intelligence. If I were contrary to God, I should not have moved His anger so much against those who did not hear Me.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xl. s. 3. et seq.) Or thus: Having said, Then shall ye know that I am, and in this, I am, implied the whole Trinity: lest the Sabellian error should creep in, He immediately adds, And I do nothing of Myself; as if to say, I am not of Myself; the Son is God from the Father. Let not what follows, as the Father hath taught Me, I speak these things, suggest a carnal thought to any of you. Do not place as it were two men before your eyes, a Father speaking to his son, as you do when you speak to your sons. For what words could be spoken to the only Word? If the Father speaks in your hearts without sound, how does He speak to the Son? The Father speaks to the Son incorporeally, because He begat the Son incorporeally: nor did He teach Him, as having begotten Him untaught; rather the teaching Him, was the begetting Him knowing. For if the nature of truth be simple, to be, in the Son, is the same as to know. As then the Father gave the Son existence by begetting, so He gave Him knowledge also.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liii. 2) He gives now a humbler turn to the discourse: And He that sent Me. That this might not be thought however to imply inferiority, He says, Is with Me. The former is His dispensation, the latter His divinity.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr xl. 6) And though both are together, yet one is sent, the other sends. For the mission is the incarnation; and the incarnation is of the Son only, not of the Father. He says then, He that sent Me, meaning, By whose Fatherly authority I am made incarnate. The Father however, though He sent the Son, did not withdraw from Him, as He proceeds to say: The Father hath not left Me alone. For it could not be that where He sent the Son, there the Father was not; He who says, I fill heaven and earth. (Jer. 33) And He adds the reason why He did not leave Him: For I do always those things that please Him; always, i. e. not from any particular beginning, but without beginning and without end. For the generation from the Father hath no beginning in time.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liii. 2) Or, He means it as an answer to those who were constantly saying that He was not from God, and that because He did not keep the sabbath; I do always, He says, do those things that please Him; shewing that the breaking the sabbath even was pleasing to Him. He takes care in every way to shew that He does nothing contrary to the Father. And as this was speaking more after a human fashion, the Evangelist adds, As He spake these words, many believed on Him; as if to say, Do not be disturbed at hearing so humble a speech from Christ; for those who had heard the greatest doctrines from Him, and were not persuaded, were persuaded by these words of humility. These then believed on Him, yet not as they ought; but only out of joy, and approbation of His humble way of speaking. And this the Evangelist shews in his subsequent narration, which relates their unjust proceedings towards Him.
31. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
33. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
34. Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
35. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
36. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Aug. [Chrys. Nic.] Hom. liv. 1) Our Lord wished to try the faith of those who believed, that it might not be only a superficial belief: Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed. His saying, if ye continue, made it manifest what was in their hearts. He knew that some believed, and would not continue. And He makes them a magnificent promise, viz. that they shall become His disciples indeed; which words are a tacit rebuke to some who had believed and afterwards withdrawn.
AUGUSTINE. (de Verb. Dom. s. xlvii) We have all one Master, and are fellow disciples under Him. Nor because we speak with authority, are we therefore masters; but He is the Master of all, Who dwells in the hearts of all. It is a small thing for the disciple to come to Him in the first instance: he must continue in Him: if we continue not in Him, we shall fall. A little sentence this, but a great work; if ye continue. For what is it to continue in God’s word, but to yield to no temptations? Without labour, the reward would be gratis; if with, then a great reward indeed.
And ye shall know the truth.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xli. 1) As if to say: Whereas ye have now belief, by continuing, ye shall have sight. (xl. 9.). For it was not their knowledge which made them believe, but rather their belief which gave them knowledge. Faith is to believe that which you see not: truth to see that which you believe? By continuing then to believe a thing, you come at last to see the thing; i. e. to the contemplation of the very truth as it is; not conveyed in words, but revealed by light. The truth is unchangeable; it is the bread of the soul, refreshing others, without diminution to itself; changing him who eats into itself, itself not changed. This truth is the Word of God, which put on flesh for our sakes, and lay hid; not meaning to bury itself, but only to defer its manifestation, till its suffering in the body, for the ransoming of the body of sin, had taken place.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liv. 1) Or, ye shall know the truth, i. e. Me: for I am the truth. The Jewish was a typical dispensation; the reality ye can only know from Me.
AUGUSTINE. (de Verb. Dom. Serm. xlviii. ἐλευθερώσες) Some one might say perhaps, And what does it profit me to know the truth? So our Lord adds, And the truth shall free you; as if to say, If the truth doth not delight you, liberty will. To be freed is to be made free, as to be healed is to be made whole. This is plainer in the Greek; in the Latin we use the word free chiefly in the sense of escape of danger, relief from care, and the like.
THEOPHYLACT. As He said to the unbelievers alone, Ye shall die in your sin, so now to them who continue in the faith He proclaims absolution.
AUGUSTINE. (iv. de Trin. c. 18) From what shall the truth free us, but from death, corruption, mutability, itself being immortal, uncorrupt, immutable? Absolute immutability is in itself eternity.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liv. 1) Men who really believed could have borne to be rebuked. But these men began immediately to shew anger. Indeed if they had been disturbed at His former saying, they had much more reason to be so now. For they might argue; If He says we shall know the truth, He must mean that we do not know it now: so then the law is a lie, our knowledge a delusion. But their thoughts took no such direction: their grief is wholly worldly; they know of no other servitude, but that of this world: They answered Him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man. How sayest Thou then, we shall be made free? As if to say, They of Abraham’s stock are free, and ought not to be called slaves: we have never been in bondage to any one.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xli. 2) Or it was not those who believed, but the unbelieving multitude that made this answer. But how could they say with truth, taking only secular bondage into account, that we have never been in bondage to any man? Was not Joseph sold? were not the holy prophets carried into captivity? Ungrateful people! Why does God remind you so continually of His having taken you out of the house of bondage if you never were in bondage? Why do you who are now talking, pay tribute to the Romans, if you never were in bondage?
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liv. 1) Christ then, who speaks for their good, not to gratify their vainglory, explains His meaning to have been that they were the servants not of men, but of sin, the hardest kind of servitude, from which God only can rescue: Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xli. 3) This asseveration is important: it is, if one may say so, His oath. Amen means true, but is not translated. Neither the Greek nor the Latin Translator have dared to translate it. It is a Hebrew word; and men have abstained from translating it, in order to throw a reverential veil over so mysterious a word: not that they wished to lock it up, but only to prevent it from becoming despised by being exposed. How important the word is, you may see from its being repeated. Verily I say unto you, says Verity itself; which could not be, even though it said not verily. Our Lord however has recourse to this mode of enforcing His words, in order to rouse men from their state of sleep and indifference. Whosoever, He saith, committeth sin, whether Jew or Greek, rich or poor, king or beggar, is the servant of sin.
GREGORY. (iv. Mor. c. 42. in Nov. Ex. 21) Because whoever yields to wrong desires, puts his hitherto free soul under the yoke of the evil one, and takes him for his master. But we oppose this master, when we straggle against the wickedness which has laid hold upon us, when we strongly resist habit, when we pierce sin with repentance, and wash away the spots of filth with tears.
GREGORY. (xxv. Moral. c. 20. not in Nov. Ex. 14) And the more freely men follow their perverse desires, the more closely are they in bondage to them.
AUGUSTINE. O miserable bondage! The slave of a human master when wearied with the hardness of his tasks, sometimes takes refuge in flight. But whither does the slave of sin flee? He takes it along with him, wherever he goes; for his sin is within him. The pleasure passes away, but the sin does not pass away: its delight goes, its sting remains behind. He alone can free from sin, who came without sin, and was made a sacrifice for sin. And thus it follows: The servant abideth not in the house for ever. The Church is the house: the servant is the sinner; and many sinners enter into the Church. So He does not say, The servant is, not in the house; but, The servant abideth not in the house for ever. If a time then is to come, when there shall be no servant in the house; who will there be there? Who will boast that he is pure from sin? Christ’s are fearful words. But He adds, The Son abideth for ever. So then Christ will live alone in His house. Or does not the word Son, imply both the body and the head? Christ purposely alarms us first, and then gives us hope. He alarms us, that we may not love sin; He gives us hope, that we may not despair of the absolution of our sin. Our hope then is this, that we shall be freed by Him who is free. He hath paid the price for us, not in money, but in His own blood: If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
AUGUSTINE. (de Verb. Dom. Ser. xlvii) Not from the barbarians, but from the devil; not from the captivity of the body, but from the wickedness of the soul.
AUGUSTINE. (super Joan. Tr. xl. 10. et seq.) The first stage of freedom is, the abstaining from sin. But that is only incipient, it is not perfect freedom: for the flesh still lusteth against the spirit, so that ye do not do the things that ye would. Full and perfect freedom will only be, when the contest is over, and the last enemy, death, is destroyed.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liv. 1, 2) Or thus: Having said that whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin, He anticipates the answer that their sacrifices saved them, by saying, The servant abideth not in the house for ever, but the Son abideth ever. The house, He says, meaning the Father’s house on high; in which, to draw a comparison from the world, He Himself had all the power, just as a man has all the power in his own house. Abideth not, means, has not the power of giving; which the Son, who is the master of the house, has. The priests of the old law had not the power of remitting sins by the sacraments of the law; for all were sinners. Even the priests, who, as the Apostle says, were obliged to offer up sacrifices for themselves. But the Son has this power; and therefore our Lord concludes: If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed; implying that that earthly freedom, of which men boasted so much, was not true freedom.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xli. 8) Do not then abuse your freedom, for the purpose of sinning freely; but use it in order not to sin at all. Your will will be free, if it be merciful: you will be free, if you become the servant of righteousness.
37. I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
38. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
39. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
40. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
41. Ye do the deeds of your father.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xlii. 1) The Jews had asserted they were free, because they were Abraham’s seed. Our Lord replies, I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; as if to say, I know that ye are the sons of Abraham, but according to the flesh, not spiritually and by faith. So He adds, But ye seek to kill Me.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liv. 2) He says this, that they might not attempt to answer, that they had no sin. He reminds them of a present sin; a sin which they had been meditating for some time past, and which was actually at this moment in their thoughts: putting out of the question their general course of life. He thus removes them by degrees out of their relationship to Abraham, teaching them not to pride themselves so much upon it: for that, as bondage and freedom were the consequences of works, so was relationship. And that they might not say, We do so justly, He adds the reason why they did so; Because My word hath no place in you.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xlii. 1) That is, hath not place in your heartc, because your heart does not take it in. The word of God to the believing, is like the hook to the fish; it takes when it is taken: and that not to the injury of those who are caught by it. They are caught for their salvation, not for their destruction.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liv. 2) He does not say, Ye do not take in My word, but My word has not room in you; shewing the depth of His doctrines. But they might say; What if thou speakest of thyself? So He adds, I speak that which I have seen of My Father; for I have not only the Father’s substance, but His truth.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xlii. 11) Our Lord by His Father wishes us to understand God: as if to say, I have seen the truth, I speak the truth, because I am the truth. If our Lord then speaks the truth which He saw with the Father, it is Himself that He saw, Himself that He speaks; He being Himself the truth of the Father.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. in Joan. s. 7.) This is proof that our Saviour was witness to what was done with the Father: whereas men, to whom the revelation is made, were not witnesses.
THEOPHYLACT. But when you hear, I speak that which I have seen, do not think it means bodily vision, but innate knowledge, sure, and approved. For as the eyes when they see an object, see it wholly and correctly; so I speak with certainty what I know from My Father.
And ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 13.) As yet He has not named their father; He mentioned Abraham indeed a little above, but now He is going to mention another father, viz. the devil: whose sons they were, in so far as they were wicked, not as being men. Our Lord is reproaching them for their evil deeds.
CHRYSOSTOM. Another reading has, And1 do ye do that which ye have seen with your father; as if to say, As I both in word and deed declare unto you the Father, so do ye by your works shew forth Abraham.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 7.) Also another reading has; And do ye do what ye have heard from the Father. All that was written in the Law and the Prophets they had heard from the Father. He who takes this reading, may use it to prove against them who hold otherwise, that the God who gave the Law and the Prophets, was none other than Christ’s Father.d And we use it too as an answer to those who maintain two original natures in men, and explain the words, My word hath no place in you, (c. 8) to mean that these were by nature incapable of receiving the word. How could those be of an incapable nature, who had heard from the Fathere? And how again could they be of a blessed nature, who sought to kill our Saviour, and would not receive His words. They answered and said unto Him, Abraham is our father. This answer of the Jews is a great falling off from our Lord’s meaning. He had referred to God, but they take Father in the sense of the father of their nature, Abraham.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xlii. s. 3) As if to say, What art thou going to say against Abraham? They seem to be inviting Him to say something in disparagement of Abraham; and so to give them an opportunity of executing their purpose.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 9.) Our Saviour denies that Abraham is their father: Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xlii. 4) And yet He says above, I know that ye are Abraham’s seed. So He does not deny their origin, but condemns their deeds. Their flesh was from him; their life was not.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 2. et sq.) Or we may explain the difficulty thus. Above it is in the Greek, I know that ye are Abraham’s seed. So let us examine whether there is not a difference between a bodily seed and a child. It is evident that a seed contains in itself all the proportions of him whose seed it is, as yet however dormant, and waiting to be developed; when the seed first has changed and moulded the material it meets with in the woman, derived nourishment from thence and gone through a process in the womb, it becomes a child, the likeness of its begetter. So then a child is formed from the seed: but the seed is not necessarily a child. Now with reference to those who are from their works judged to be the seed of Abraham, may we not conceive that they are so from certain seminal proportions implanted in their souls? All men are not the seed of Abraham, for all have not these proportions implanted in their souls. But he who is the seed of Abraham, has yet to become his child by likeness. And it is possible for him by negligence and indolence even to cease to be the seed. But those to whom these words were addressed, were not yet cut off from hope: and therefore Jesus acknowledged that they were as yet the seed of Abraham, and had still the power of becoming children of Abraham. So He says, If ye are the children of Abraham, do the works of Abraham. If as the seed of Abraham, they had attained to their proper sign and growth, they would have taken in our Lord’s words. But not having grown to be children, they cared not; but wish to kill the Word, and as it were break it in pieces, since it was too great for them to take in. If any of you then be the seed of Abraham, and as yet do not take in the word of God, let him not seek to kill the word; but rather change himself into being a son of Abraham, and then he will be able to take in the Son of God. Some select one of the works of Abraham, viz. that in Genesis, And Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. (Gen. 15:6) But even granting to them that faith is a work, if this were so, why was it not, Do the work of Abraham: using the singular number, instead of the plural? The expression as it stands is, I think, equivalent to saying, Do all the works of Abraham: i. e. in the spiritual sense, interpreting Abraham’s history allegorically. For it is not incumbent on one, who would be a son of Abraham, to many his maidservants, or after his wife’s death, to marry another in his old age.
But now ye seek to kill Me, a man that hath told you the truth.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liv. 2) This truth, that is, that He was equal to the Father: for it was this that moved the Jews to kill Him. To shew, however, that this doctrine is not opposed to the Father, He adds, Which I have heard from God.
ALCUIN. Because He Himself, Who is the truth, was begotten of God the Father, to hear, being in fact the same with to be from the Father.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 11.) To kill Me, He says, a man. I say nothing now of the Son of God, nothing of the Word, because the Word cannot die; I speak only of that which ye see. It is in your power to kill that which you see, and offend Him Whom ye see not.
This did not Abraham.
ALCUIN. As if to say, By this you prove that you are not the sons of Abraham; that you do works contrary to those of Abraham.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 12.) It might seem to some, that it were superfluous to say that Abraham did not this; for it were impossible that it should be; Christ was not born at that time. But we may remind them, that in Abraham’s time there was a man born who spoke the truth, which he heard from God, and that this man’s life was not sought for by Abraham. Know too that the Saints were never without the spiritual advent of Christ. I understand then from this passage, that every one who, after regeneration, and other divine graces bestowed upon him, commits sin, does by this return to evil incur the guilt of crucifying the Son of God, which Abraham did not do.
Ye do the works of your father.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xlii. 6) He does not say as yet who is their father.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liv. 2) Our Lord says this with a view to put down their vain boasting of their descent; and persuade them to vest their hopes of salvation no longer on the natural relationship, but on the adoption. For this it was which prevented them from coming to Christ; viz. their thinking that their relationship to Abraham was sufficient for their salvation.
41. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
42. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
43. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xlii. 7.) The Jews had begun to understand that our Lord was not speaking of sonship according to the flesh, but of manner of life. Scripture often speaks of spiritual fornication, with many gods, and of the soul being prostituted, as it were, by paying worship to false gods. This explains what follows: Then said they to Him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
THEOPHYLACT. As if their motive against Him was a desire to avenge God’s honour.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 14.) Or their sonship to Abraham having been disproved, they reply by bitterly insinuating, that our Saviour was the offspring of adultery. But perhaps the tone of the answer is disputatious, more than any thing else. For whereas they have said shortly before, We have Abraham for our father, and had been told in reply, If ye are Abraham’s children, do the works of Abraham; they declare in return that they have a greater Father than Abraham, i. e. God; and that they were not derived from fornication. For the devil, who has no power of creating any thing from himself, (qui nihil facit ex se) begets not from a spouse, but a harlot, i. e. matter, those who give themselves up to carnal things, that is, cleave to matter.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liv. 3) But what say ye? Have ye God for your Father, and do ye blame Christ for speaking thus? Yet true it was, that many of them were born of fornication, for people then used to form unlawful connexions. But this is not the thing our Lord has in view. He is bent on proving that they are not from God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love Me: for I proceeded forth and came from God.
HILARY. (vi. de Trin. c. 30) It was not that the Son of God condemned the assumption of so religious a name; that is, condemned them for professing to be the sons of God, and calling God their Father; but that He blamed the rash presumption of the Jews in claiming God for their Father, when they did not love the Son. For I proceeded forth, and came from God. To proceed forth, is not the same with to come. When our Lord says that those who called God their Father, ought to love Him, because He came forth from God, He means that His being born of God was the reason why He should be loved: the proceeding forth, having reference to His incorporeal birth. Their claim to be the sons of God, was to be made good by their loving Christ, Who was begotten from God. For a true worshipper of God the Father must love the Son, as being from Godf. And he only can love the Father, who believes that the Son is from Him.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xlii. 8) This then is the eternal procession, the proceeding forth of the Word from God: from Him It proceeded as the Word of the Father, and came to us: The Word was made flesh. (c. 1:14) His advent is His humanity: His staying, His divinity. Ye call God your Father; acknowledge Me at least to be a brother.
HILARY. (lib. v. ibid.) In what follows, He teaches that His origin is not in Himself; Neither came I of Myself, but He sent Me.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 15.) This was said, I think, in allusion to some who came without being sent by the Father, of whom it is said in Jeremiah, I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. (Jer. 23:21) Some, however, use this passage1 to prove the existence of two naturesg. To these we may reply, Paul hated Jesus when he persecuted the Church of God, at the time, viz. that our Lord said, Why persecutest thou Me? Now if it is true, as is here said, If God were your Father, ye would love Me; (Acts 9:4) the converse is true, If ye do not love Me, God is not your Father. And Paul for some time did not love Jesus. There was a time when God was not Paul’s father. Paul therefore was not by nature the son of God, but afterwards was made so. And when does God become any one’s Father, except when he keeps His commandments?
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liv. 3) And because they were ever enquiring, What is this which He saith, Whither I go ye cannot come? He adds here, Why do ye not understand My speech? even because ye cannot hear My word.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xlii. 9) And they could not hear, because they would not believe, and amend their lives.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 18. [Nic.]) First then, that virtue must be sought after, which hears the divine word; that by degrees we may be strong enough to embrace the whole teaching of Jesus. For so long as a man has not had his hearing restored by the Word, which says to the deaf ear, Be opened: (Mark 7:34) so long he cannot hear.
44. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
45. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
46. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?
47. He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liv. 3) Our Lord, having already cut off the Jews from relationship to Abraham, overthrows now this far greater claim, to call God their Father, Ye are of your father the devil.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xlii. 10) Here we must guard against the heresy of the Manichæans, who hold a certain original nature of evil, and a nation of darkness with princes at their head, whence the devil derives his existence. And thence they say our flesh is produced; and in this way interpret our Lord’s speech, Ye are of your father the devil: viz. to mean that they were by nature evil, drawing their origin from the opposite seed of darkness.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx.) And this seems to be the same mistake, as if one said, that an eye which saw right was different in kind from an eye which saw wrong. For just as in these there is no difference of kind, only one of them for some reason sees wrong; so, in the other case, whether a man receives a doctrine, or whether he does not, he is of the same nature.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xlii. 11) The Jews then were children of the devil by imitation, not by birth: And the lusts of your father ye will do, our Lord says. Ye are his children then, because ye have such lusts, not because ye are born of him: for ye seek to kill Me, a man that hath told you the truth: and he envied man, and killed him: he was a murderer from the beginning; i. e. of the first man on whom a murder could be committed: man could not be slain, before man was created. The devil did not go, girt with a sword, against man: he sowed an evil word, and slew him. Do not suppose therefore that you are not guilty of murder, when you suggest evil thoughts to your brother. The very reason why ye rage against the flesh, is that ye cannot assault the soul.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 21.) Consider too; it was not one man only that he killed, but the whole human race, inasmuch as in Adam all die; so that he is truly called a murderer from the beginning.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liv. 3) He does not say, his works, but his lusts ye will do, meaning that both the devil and the Jews were bent on murder, to satisfy their envy. And stood not in the truth. He shews whence sprang their continual objection to Him, that He was not from God.
AUGUSTINE. (xi. de Civ. Dei, c. 13) But it will be objected perhaps, that if from the beginning of his existence, the devil stood not in the truth, he was never in a state of blessedness with the holy angels, refusing, as he did, to be subject to his Creator, and therefore false and deceitful; unwilling at the cost of pious subjection to hold that which by nature he was; and attempting in his pride and loftiness to simulate that which he was not. This opinion is not the same with that of the Manichæans, that the devil has his own peculiar nature, derived as it were from the opposite principle of evil. This foolish sect does not see that our Lord says not, Was alien from the truth, but Stood not in the truth, meaning, fell from the truth. And thus they interpret John, The devil sinneth from the beginning, (1 John 3:8) not seeing that if sin is natural, it is no sin. But what do the testimonies of the prophets reply? Isaiah, setting forth the devil under the figure of the prince of Babylon, says, How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! (Ezek. 28:13) Ezekiel says, Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God. Which passages, as they cannot be interpreted in any other way, shew that we must take the word, He stood not in the truth, to mean, that he was in truth, but did not remain in it; and the other, that the devil sinneth from the beginning, to mean, that he was a sinner not from the beginning of his creation, but from the beginning of sin. For sin began in him, and he was the beginning of sin.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 22.) There is only one way of standing in the truth; many and various of not standing in it. Some try to stand in the truth, but their feet tremble and shake so, they cannot. Others are not come to that pass, but are in danger of it, as we read in the Psalms, My feet were almost gone: (Ps. 72) others fall from it. Because the truth is not in him, is the reason why the devil did not stand in the truth. He imagined vain things, and deceived himself; wherein He was so far worse than others, in that, while others are deceived by him, he was the author of his own deception. But farther; does the truth is not in him, mean that he holds no true doctrine, and that every thing he thinks is false; or that he is not a member of Christ, who says, I am the truth? (c. 14:6) Now it is impossible that any rational being should think falsely on every subject and never be even ever so slightly right in opinion. The devil therefore may hold a true doctrine, by the mere law of his rational nature: and therefore his nature is not contrary to truth, i. e. does not consist of simple error and ignorance; otherwise he could never have known the truth.
AUGUSTINE. (xi. de Civ. Dei, c. xiv) Or when our Lord says, The truth is not in him, He intends it as an index: as if we had asked Him, how it appeared that the devil stood not in the truth; and He said, Because the truth is not in him. For it would be in him, if he stood in it.
When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xlii. s. 12, 13) Some have thought from these words that the devil had a father, and asked who was the father of the devil. This is the error of the Manichæans. But our Lord calls the devil the father of a lie for this reason: Every one who lies is not the father of his own lie; for you may tell a lie, which you have received from another; in which case you have lied, but are not the father of the lie. But the lie wherewith, as with a serpent’s bite, the devil slew man. had no source but himself: and therefore he is the father a lie, as God is the Father of the truth.
THEOPHYLACT. For he accused God to man, saying to Eve, But of envy He hath forbidden you the tree: and to God he accused man, as in Job, Doth Job serve God for nought? (Job 1:9)
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 23.) Note however; this word, liar, is applied to man, as well as to the devil, who begat a lie, as we read in the Psalm, All men are liars. (Ps. 111) If a man is not a liar, he is not an ordinary man, but one of those, to whom it is said, I have said, Ye are Gods. (Ps. 81) When a man speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; but the Holy Spirit speaketh the word of truth and wisdom; as he said below, He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you. (c. 16:15)
AUGUSTINE. (de Quæst. Nov. et Vet. Test. 2, 90) Or thus: The devil is not a singular, but a common name. In whomsoever the works of the devil are found, he is to be called the devil. It is the name of a work, not of a nature. Here then our Lord means by the father of the Jews, Cain; whom they wished to imitate, by killing the Saviour: for he it was who set the first example of murdering a brother. That he spoke a lie of his own, means that no one sins but by his own will. And inasmuch as Cain imitated the devil, and followed his works, the devil is said to be his father.
ALCUIN. Our Lord being the truth, and the Son of the true God, spoke the truth; but the Jews, being the sons of the devil, were averse to the truth; and this is why our Lord says, Because I tell you the truth, ye believe not.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 24.) But how is this said to the Jews who believed on Him? Consider: a man may believe in one sense, not believe in another; e. g. that our Lord was crucified by Pontius Pilate, but not that He was born of the Virgin Mary. In this same way, those whom He is speaking to, believed in Him as a worker of miracles, which they saw Him to be; but did not believe in His doctrines, which were too deep for them.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liv. s. 3) Ye wish to kill Me then, because ye are enemies of the truth, not that ye have any fault to find in Me: for, which of you convinceth Me of sin?
THEOPHYLACT. As if to say: If ye are the sons of God, ye ought to hold sinners in hatred. If ye hate Me, when ye cannot convince Me of sin, it is evident that ye hate Me because of the truth: i. e. because I said I was the Son of God.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. in Joan. s. 25.) A bold speech this; which none could have had the confidence to utter, but he Who did no sin; even our Lord.
GREGORY. (Hom. xviii. in Evang.) Observe here the condescension of God. He who by virtue of His Divinity could justify sinners, deigns to shew from reason, that He is not a sinner. It follows: He that is of God heareth God’s words; ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xlii. 16) Apply this not to their nature, but to their faults. They both are from God, and are not from God at the same time; their nature is from God, their fault is not from God. This was spoken too to those, who were not only faulty, by reason of sin, in the way in which all are: but who it was foreknown would never possess such faith as would free them from the bonds of sin.
GREGORY. (ut sup.) Let him then, who would understand God’s words, ask himself whether he hears them with the ears of his heart. For there are some who do not deign to hear God’s commands even with their bodily ears; and there are others who do this, but do not embrace them with their heart’s desire; and there are others again who receive God’s words readily, yea and are touched, even to tears: but who afterwards go back to their sins again; and therefore cannot be said to hear the word of God, because they neglect to practise it.
48. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?
49. Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.
50. And I seek not mine own glory; there is one that seeketh and judgeth.
51. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lv. 1) Whenever our Lord said any thing of lofty meaning, the Jews in their insensibility set it down madness: Then answered the Jews and said unto Him, Say we not well that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 28.) But how, we may ask, when the Samaritans denied a future life, and the immortality of the soul, could they dare to call our Saviour, Who had preached so much on the resurrection and the judgment, a Samaritan? Perhaps they only mean a general rebuke to Him for teaching, what they did not approve of.
ALCUIN. The Samaritans were hated by the Jews; they lived in the land that formerly belonged to the ten tribes, who had been carried away.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 28.) It is not unlikely too, some may have thought that He held the Samaritan opinion of there being no future state really, and only put forth the doctrine of a resurrection and eternal life, in order gain to the favour of the Jews. They said that He had a devil, because His discourses were above human capacity, those, viz. in which He asserted that God was His Father, and that He had come down from heaven, and others of a like kind: or perhaps from a suspicion, which many had, that He cast out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.
THEOPHYLACT. Or they called Him a Samaritan, because He transgressed the Hebrew ordinances, as that of the sabbath: the Samaritans not being correct observers of the law. And they suspected Him of having a devil, because He could disclose what was in their thoughts. When it was that they called Him a Samaritan, the Evangelist no where says: a proof that the Evangelists left out many things.
GREGORY. (Hom. xviii. in Evang.) See; when God suffers a wrong, He does not reply reproachfully: Jesus answered, I have not a devil. An intimation this to us, that when reproached by our neighbours falsely, we should not retort upon them by bringing forward their evil deeds, however true such charges might be; lest the vehicle of a just rebuke turn into a weapon of rage.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lv. 1) And observe, when He had to teach them, and pull down their pride, He used roughness; but now that He has to suffer rebuke, He treats them with the utmost mildness: a lesson to us to be severe in what concerns God, but careless of ourselves.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xliv. 1. 2) And to imitate His patience first, if we would attain to His power. But though being reviled, He reviled not again, it was incumbent on Him to deny the charge. Two charges had been made against Him: Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil. In reply He does not say, I am not a Samaritan: for Samaritan means keeper; and He knew He was a keeper: He could not redeem us, without at the same time preserving us. Lastly, He is the Samaritan, who went up to the wounded, and had compassion on him.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. s. 28.) Our Lord, even more than Paul, wished to become all things to all men, that He might gain some: and therefore He did not deny being a Samaritan. (s. 29.). I have not a devil, is what Jesus alone can say; as He alone can say, The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me. (c. 14:30). None of us are quite free from having a devil. For even lesser faults come from him.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xliii. 3) Then after being so reviled, all that He says to vindicate His glory, is, But I honour My Father: as if to say, That you may not think Me arrogant, I tell you, I have One, Whom I honour.
THEOPHYLACT. He honoured the Father, by revenging Him, and not suffering murderers or liars to call themselves the true sons of God.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 29.) Christ alone honoured the Father perfectly. No one, who honours any thing which is not honoured by God, honours God.
GREGORY. (Hom. xliii. 3) As all who have zeal toward God are liable to meet with dishonour from wicked men, our Lord has Himself set us an example of patience under this trial; And ye do dishonour Me.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xliii. 3) As if to say, I do my duty: ye do not do yours.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 29.) And this was not addressed to them only, but to all who by unrighteous deeds inflict injury upon Christ, who is righteousness; or by scoffing at wisdom wrong Him who is wisdom: and the like.
GREGORY. (ut sup.) How we are to take injuries, He shews us by His own example, when He adds, I seek not Mine own glory, there is one that seeketh and judgeth.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lv. 1) As if to say, I have told you thish on account of the honour which I have for My Father; and for this ye dishonour Me. But I concern not myself for your reviling: ye are accountable to Him, for whose sake I undergo it.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. s. 30.) God seeks Christ’s glory, in every one of those who receive Him: which glory He finds in those who cultivate the seeds of virtue implanted in them. And those in whom He finds not His Son’s glory, He punishes: There is one that seeketh and judgeth.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xliii. 4) Meaning of course the Father. But how is it then that He says in another place, The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. (c. 5:22) Judgment is sometimes put for condemnation, whereas here it only stands for trial: as if to say, There is one, even My Father, who distinguishes My glory from yours; ye glory after this world, I not after this world. The Father distinguishes the glory of the Son, from that of all men: for that He has been made man, does not bring us to a comparison with Him. We men have sin: He was without sin, even when He was in the form of a servant; for, as the Word which was in the beginning, who can speak worthily of Him?
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 31.[Nic.]) Or thus; If that is true which our Saviour says below, All men are thine, (c. 17:10) it is manifest that the judgment itself of the Son, is the Father’s.
GREGORY. (Hom. xviii. in Evang.) As the perversity of the wicked increases, preaching so far from giving way, ought even to become more active. Thus our Lord, after He had been accused of having a devil, imparts the treasures of preaching in a still larger degree: Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xliii. 10, 11) See is put for experience. But since, about to die Himself, He spoke with those about to die, what means this, If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death? What, but that He saw another death from which He came to free us, death eternal, the death of the damned, which is shared with the devil and his angels! That is the true death: the other is a passage only.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. s. 31.) We must understand Him, as it were, to say, If a man keep My light, he shall not see darkness for ever; for ever being taken as common to both clauses, as if the sentence were, If a man keep My saying for ever, He shall not see death for ever: meaning that a man does not see death, so long as he keeps Christ’s word. But when a man, by becoming sluggish in the observance of His words, and negligent in the keeping of his own heart, ceases to keep them, he then sees death; he brings it upon himself. Thus taught then by our Saviour, to the prophet who asks, What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? (Ps. 88) we are able to answer, He who keepeth Christ’s word.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lv. 1) He says, keep, i. e. not by faith, but by purity of life. And at the same time too He means it as a tacit intimation that they can do nothing to Him. For if whoever keepeth His word, shall never die, much less is it possible that He Himself should die.
52. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.
53. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead; whom makest thou thyself?
54. Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing; it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:
55. Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.
56. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
GREGORY. (ut sup.) As it is necessary that the good should grow better by contumely, so are the reprobate made worse by kindness. On hearing our Lord’s words, the Jews again blaspheme: Then said the Jews unto Him, Now we know Thou hast a devil.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 32, 33.) Those who believe the Holy Scriptures, understand that what men do contrary to right reason, is not done without the operation of devils. Thus the Jews thought that Jesus had spoken by the influence of the devil, when He said, If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death. And this idea they laboured under, because they did not know the power of God. For here He was speaking of that death of enmity to reason (ἐχθρὸν τῷ λόγῳ), by which sinners perish:whereas they understand Him of that death which is common to all; and therefore blame Him for so speaking, when it was certain that Abraham and the Prophets were dead: Abraham is dead, and the Prophets; and Thou sayest, If a man keep My saying, he shall never taste of death. Shall never taste of death, they say, instead of, shall not see death; though between tasting and seeing death there is a difference. Like careless hearers, they mistake what our Lord said. For as our Lord, in that He is the true bread, is good to taste; in that He is wisdom, is beautiful to behold; in like manner His adversary death is both to be tasted and seen. When then a man stands by Christ’s help in the spiritual place pointed out to him, (ἐν τῷ δεικνυ μένω νοητῷ τόπῳ) he shall not taste of death if he preserves that state: according to Matthew, There he those standing HERE. which shall not taste of death. (Matt. 16:28) But when a man hears Christ’s words and keeps them, he shall not see death.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lv. 1) Again, they have recourse to the vainglorious argument of their descent: Art Thou greater than our father Abraham, winch is dead? They might have said, Art Thou greater than God, whose words they are dead who heard? But they do not say this, because they thought Him inferior even to Abraham.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 33.) For they do not see that not Abraham only, but every one born of woman, is less than He who was born of a Virgin. Now were the Jews right in saying that Abraham was dead? for he heard the word of Christ, and kept it, as did also the Prophets, who, they say, were dead. For they kept the word of the Son of God, when the word of the Lord came to Hosea, Isaiah, or Jeremiah; if any one else kept the word, surely those Prophets did. They utter a lie then when they say, We know that Thou hast a devil; and when they say, Abraham is dead, and the Prophets.
GREGORY. (ut sup.) For being given over to eternal death, which death they saw not, and thinking only, as they did, of the death of the body, their minds were darkened, even while the Truth Himself was speaking. They add: Whom makest Thou Thyself?
THEOPHYLACT. As if to say, Thou a person of no account, a carpenter’s son of Galilee, to take glory to Thyself!
BEDE. Whom makest Thou Thyself? i. e. Of what merit, of what dignity wouldest Thou be accounted? Nevertheless, Abraham only died in the body; his soul lived. And the death of the soul which is to live for ever, is greater than the death of the body that must die some time.
ORIGEN. (tom. xx. 33.) This was the speech of persons spiritually blind. For Jesus did not make Himself what He was, but received it from the Father: Jesus answered and said, If I honour Myself, My honour is nothing.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liv. 1, 2. c. 5) This is to answer their suspicions; as above, If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true.
BEDE. He shews in these words that the glory of this present life is nothing.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xliii. 14) This is to answer those who said, Whom makest Thou Thyself? He refers His glory to the Father, from Whom is: It is My Father that honoureth Me. The Arians take occasion from those words to calumniate our faith, and say, Lo, the Father is greater, for He glorifieth the Son. Heretics, have ye not read that the Son also glorifieth the Father?
ALCUIN. The Father glorified the Son, at His baptism, on the mount, at the time of His passion, when a voice came to Him, in the midst of the crowd, when He raised Him up again after His passion, and placed Him at the right hand of His Majesty.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lv. 2) He adds, Of whom ye say that He is your God; meaning to tell them that they were not only ignorant of the Father, but even of God.
THEOPHYLACT. For had they known the Father really, they would have reverenced the Son. But they even despise God, who in the Law forbad murder, by their clamours against Christ. Wherefore He says, Ye have not known Him.
ALCUIN. As if to say, Ye call Him your God, after a carnal manner, serving Him for temporal rewards. Ye have not known Him, as He should be known; ye are not able to serve Him spiritually.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xliii. 15) Some heretics say that the God proclaimed in the Old Testament is not the Father of Christ, but a kind of prince of bad angels. These He contradicts when He calls Him His Father, whom the Jews called their God, and knew not. For had they known Him, they would have received His Son. Of Himself however He adds, But I know Him. And here too, to men judging after the flesh, He might appear arrogant. But let not arrogance be so guarded against, as that truth be deserted. Therefore our Lord says, And if I should say I know Him not, I should be a liar like unto you.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lv. 2) As if to say, As ye, saying that ye know Him, lie; so were I a liar, did I say I knew Him not. It follows, however, (which is the greatest proof of all that He was sent from God,) But I know Him.
THEOPHYLACT. Having that knowledge by nature; for as I am, so is the Father also; I know Myself, and therefore I know Him. And He gives the proof that He knows Him: And I keep His saying, i. e. His commandments. Some understand, I keep His saying, to mean, I keep the nature of His substance unchanged; for the substance of the Father and the Son is the same, as their nature is the same; and therefore I know the Father. And here has the force of because: I know Him because I keep His saying.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xliii. 15) He spoke the saying of the Father too, as being the Son; and He was Himself that Word of the Father, which He spoke to men.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lv. 2) In answer then to their question, Art Thou greater than our father Abraham, He shews them that He is greater than Abraham; Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: he saw it, and was glad; he must have rejoiced, because My day would benefit him, which is to acknowledge Me greater than himself.
THEOPHYLACT. As if to say, He regarded My day, as a day to be desired, and full of joy; not as if I was an unimportant or common person.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xliii. 16) He did not fear, but rejoiced to see: he rejoiced in hope, believing, and so by faith saw. It admits of doubt whether He is speaking here of the temporal day of the Lord, that, viz. of His coming in the flesh, or of that day which knows neither rising or setting. I doubt not however that our father Abraham knew the whole: as he says to his servant whom he sent, Put thy hand under my thigh, and swear to me by the God of heaven. (Gen. 24:2) What did that oath signify, but that the God of heaven was to come in the flesh, out of the stock of Abraham.
GREGORY. (Hom. xv. in Evang.) Abraham saw the day of the Lord even then, when he entertained the three Angels, a figure of the Trinity.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. liv. 2) They are aliens from Abraham if they grieve over what he rejoiced in. By this day perhaps He means the day of the cross, which Abraham prefigured by the offering up of Isaac and the ram: intimating hereby that He did not come to His passion unwillingly.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xliii. 16) If they rejoiced to whom the Word appeared in the flesh, what was his joy, who beheld in spiritual vision the light ineffable, the abiding Word, the bright illumination of pious souls, the indefectible wisdom, still abiding with God the Father, and sometime to come in the flesh, but not to leave the Father’s bosom.
57. Then said the Jews unto him. Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
58. Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
59. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
GREGORY. (Hom. xviii. in Evang.) The carnal minds of the Jews are intent on the flesh only; they think only of His age in the flesh: Then said the Jews unto Him, Thou art not fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham? that is to say, Many ages have passed since Abraham died; and how then could he see thy day? For they took His words in a carnal sense.
THEOPHYLACT. Christ was then thirty-three years old. Why then do they not say, Thou art not yet forty years old, instead of fifty? A needless question this: they simply spoke as chance led them at the time. Some however say that they mentioned the fiftieth year on account of its sacred character, as being the year of jubilee, in which they redeemed their captives, and gave up the possessions they had bought.
GREGORY. (ut sup.) Our Saviour mildly draws them away from their carnal view, to the contemplation of His Divinity; Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Before is a particle of past time, am, of present. Divinity has no past or future, but always the present; and therefore He does not say, Before Abraham was, I was: but, Before Abraham was, I am: (Exod. 3:14) as it is in Exodus, I am that I am. Before and after might be said of Abraham with reference to different periods of his life; to be, in the present, is said of the truth only.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xliii. 18) Abraham being a creature, He did not say before Abraham was, but, before Abraham was made. Nor does He say, I am made; because that, in the beginning WAS. the Word.
GREGORY. (ut sup.) Their unbelieving minds, however, were unable to support these indications of eternity; and not understanding Him, sought to destroy Him: Then they took up stones to cast at Him.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xliii. 18) Such hardness of heart, whither was it to run, but to its truest likeness, even the stones? But now that He had done all that He could do as a teacher, and they in return wished to stone Him, since they could not bear correction, He leaves them: Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple. He did not hide Himself in a corner of the temple, as if He was afraid, or take refuge in a house, or run behind a wall, or a pillar; but by His heavenly power, making Himself invisible to His enemies, went through the midst of them: Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple.
GREGORY. Who, had He chosen to exert the power of His Divinity, could, without a word, by His mere nod, have seized them, with the very stones in their hands, and delivered them to immediate death. But He who came to suffer, was slow to execute judgment.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xliii. 18) For His part was more to exhibit patience than exercise power.
ALCUIN. He fled, because His hour was not yet come; and because He had not chosen this kind of death.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xliii. 18) So then, as a man, He flies from the stones; but woe to them, from whose stony hearts God flies.
BEDE. Mystically, a man throws a stone at Jesus, as often as he harbours an evil thought; and if he follows it up, so far as lies in him, he kills Jesus.
GREGORY. (ut sup.) What does our Lord mean by hiding Himself, but that the truth is hidden to them, who despise His words. The truth flies the company of an unhumbled soul. His example shews us, that we should in all humility rather retreat from the wrath of the proud, when it rises, than resist it, even though we might be able,