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And after such statements, showing his ignorance even of the number of the apostles, he proceeds thus: “Jesus having gathered around him ten or eleven persons of notorious character, the very wickedest of tax-gatherers and sailors, fled in company with them from place to place, and obtained his living in a shameful and importunate manner.” Let us to the best of our power see what truth there is in such a statement. It is manifest to us all who possess the Gospel narratives, which Celsus does not appear even to have read, that Jesus selected twelve apostles, and that of these Matthew alone was a tax-gatherer; that when he calls them indiscriminately sailors, he probably means James and John, because they left their ship and their father Zebedee, and followed Jesus; for Peter and his brother Andrew, who employed a net to gain their necessary subsistence, must be classed not as sailors, but as the Scripture describes them, as fishermen. The Lebes31853185 Λέβης. also, who was a follower 424of Jesus, may have been a tax-gatherer; but he was not of the number of the apostles, except according to a statement in one of the copies of Mark’s Gospel.31863186 Cf. Mark iii. 18 with Matt. x. 3. And we have not ascertained the employments of the remaining disciples, by which they earned their livelihood before becoming disciples of Jesus. I assert, therefore, in answer to such statements as the above, that it is clear to all who are able to institute an intelligent and candid examination into the history of the apostles of Jesus, that it was by help of a divine power that these men taught Christianity, and succeeded in leading others to embrace the word of God. For it was not any power of speaking, or any orderly arrangement of their message, according to the arts of Grecian dialectics or rhetoric, which was in them the effective cause of converting their hearers. Nay, I am of opinion that if Jesus had selected some individuals who were wise according to the apprehension of the multitude, and who were fitted both to think and speak so as to please them, and had used such as the ministers of His doctrine, He would most justly have been suspected of employing artifices, like those philosophers who are the leaders of certain sects, and consequently the promise respecting the divinity of His doctrine would not have manifested itself; for had the doctrine and the preaching consisted in the persuasive utterance and arrangement of words, then faith also, like that of the philosophers of the world in their opinions, would have been through the wisdom of men, and not through the power of God. Now, who is there on seeing fishermen and tax-gatherers, who had not acquired even the merest elements of learning (as the Gospel relates of them, and in respect to which Celsus believes that they speak the truth, inasmuch as it is their own ignorance which they record), discoursing boldly not only among the Jews of faith in Jesus, but also preaching Him with success among other nations, would not inquire whence they derived this power of persuasion, as theirs was certainly not the common method followed by the multitude? And who would not say that the promise, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men,”31873187 Matt. iv. 19. had been accomplished by Jesus in the history of His apostles by a sort of divine power? And to this also, Paul, referring in terms of commendation, as we have stated a little above, says: “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”31883188 Cf. 1 Cor. ii. 4, 5. For, according to the predictions in the prophets, foretelling the preaching of the Gospel, “the Lord gave the word in great power to them who preached it, even the King of the powers of the Beloved,”31893189 Cf. Ps. lxviii. 11 (Septuag.). in order that the prophecy might be fulfilled which said, “His words shall run very swiftly.”31903190 Ps. cxlvii. 15. And we see that “the voice of the apostles of Jesus has gone forth into all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”31913191 Ps. xix. 4. On this account are they who hear the word powerfully proclaimed filled with power, which they manifest both by their dispositions and their lives, and by struggling even to death on behalf of the truth; while some are altogether empty, although they profess to believe in God through Jesus, inasmuch as, not possessing any divine power, they have the appearance only of being converted to the word of God. And although I have previously mentioned a Gospel declaration uttered by the Saviour, I shall nevertheless quote it again, as appropriate to the present occasion, as it confirms both the divine manifestation of our Saviour’s foreknowledge regarding the preaching of His Gospel, and the power of His word, which without the aid of teachers gains the mastery over those who yield their assent to persuasion accompanied with divine power; and the words of Jesus referred to are, “The harvest is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest.”31923192 Matt. ix. 37, 38.
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