« Prev Homily XXXIII on Acts xv. 13, 15. Next »

Homily XXXIII.

Acts XV. 13, 15

“And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Symeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets.”

This (James) was bishop, as they say, and therefore he speaks last, and herein is fulfilled that saying, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” (Deut. xvii. 6; Matt. xviii. 16.) But observe the discretion shown by him also, in making his argument good from the prophets, both new and old.752752    All our mss. and the Cat. ἀπό τε νέων ἀπό τε παλαιῶν βεβαιουμένου τῶν προφητῶν τὸν λόγον, which must be rendered, “Confirming the word of the prophets:” so Ed. Par. Ben. 2, where the other Edd. have παλ. προφ. βεβ. κ. τ. λ., which is in fact what the sense requires: “from the prophets, new (as Symeon) and old.” For he had no acts of his own to declare, as Peter had and Paul. And indeed it is wisely ordered that this (the active) part is assigned to those, as not intended to be locally fixed in Jerusalem, whereas (James) here, who performs the part of teacher, is no way responsible for what has been done, while however he is not divided from them in opinion.753753    This was James, the Lord’s brother (Gal. i. 19), who, according to the uniform tradition of the early church, was the Bishop of Jerusalem. He evidently was the chief pastor, as he presides at this conference, and when Judaizing teachers afterwards went down to Antioch from Jerusalem they are spoken of as coming “from James” (Gal. ii. 12). From this it has been inferred that he was the leader of a Judaistic party, but this view is inconsistent with his address here and also with Paul’s testimony who says that the “pillar” apostles “imparted nothing” to him, that is, did not correct or supplement his teaching. He was no doubt of a conservative tendency respecting the questions in dispute and may not have been always self-consistent, as Peter certainly was not, but there can be no doubt of his substantial agreement with Paul. His doctrine of justification by works as well as by faith in his epistle is not against this view, since he uses both the words “faith” and “works” in a different sense from Paul, meaning by the former “belief” and by the latter the deeds which are the fruit of the Christian life, instead of meritorious obedience to the Mosaic law.—G.B.S. (b) “Men and brethren,” he says, “hearken unto me.” Great is the moderation of the man. His also is a more complete oration, as indeed it puts the completion to the matter under discussion. (a) “Symeon,” he says, “declared:” (namely,) in Luke, in that he prophesied, “Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all nations, a light to 206lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.”754754    Edd. ἐπιχωριάζειν, Cat. ἐγχρονίζειν, substituted for the less usual ἐγχωρίαζειν of A. B. C. Sav.—Below, Συμεὼν, φησὶν, ἐξηγήσατο ἐν τῷ Λουκᾷ προφητεύσας. Cat. “He who in Luke prophesied, Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart.”—It is remarkable that it does not occur to Chrys. that Symeon is Simon Peter, though 2 Pet. i. 1 has Συμέων Πέτρος in the Cod. Alexandr., and many other mss. In the Mod. text Chrys. is made to say: “Some say that this is he who is mentioned by Luke: others, that he is some other person of the same name. (Acts xiii. 1?) But whether it be the one or the other is a point about which there is no need to be particular; but only to receive as necessary the things which the person declared.” (c) “How God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His Name.” (Luke ii. 25.) Then, since that (witness), though755755    ἀπὸ μὲν τοῦ χρόνου δῆλος ἦν, τὸ δὲ ἀξιόπιστον οὐκ εἶχε: the former clause seems to be corrupt. The sense in general is, He was manifestly (a prophet), but had not the same authority as the old prophets. Probably the form of opposition was this: ἐπειδὴ ἐκεῖνος ἀπο μὲν * * δῆλος ἦν, ἀπὸ δὲ τοῦ χρόνου τὸ ἀξιόπιστον οὐκ εἶχε διὰ τὸ μὴ παλαιὸς εἶναι. “Since Symeon, though from * * he was manifestly (a prophet), yet from time had not the like authority because he was not ancient.” from the time indeed he was manifest, yet had not authority by reason of his not being ancient, therefore he produces ancient prophecy also, saying, “And to this agree the words of the Prophets, as it is written: After this I wilt return, and will build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up.” (v. 16.) What? was Jerusalem raised up? Was it not rather thrown down? What756756    Mod. text, “But it is not of these things that he speaks. And what raising up, you will say, does he mean? That after Babylon.” We point it, ποίαν λέγει ἔγερσιν τὴν μετὰ Βαβυλῶνα; “Was it raised up? was it not rather razed to the ground (by the Romans)? True it was rebuilt after the return from Babylon, but what sort of raising up does he call that?” For the answer to these questions, not given here, see the Recapitulation (note 4, p. 207). sort of raising up does he call that which took place after the return from Babylon? “That the residue of men,” he says, “may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles upon whom My Name is called.” (v. 17.) Then, what makes his word authoritative—“Saith the Lord, which doeth all these things:” and, for that this is no new thing, but all was planned from the beginning, “Known unto God are all His works from everlasting.”757757    Most modern texts omit πάντα at the end of v. 17 and then join directly to it γνωστὰ ἀπ᾽ ἀιῶνος only, dropping out the words of the T. R.: ἐστι τῷ θεῷ πάντα τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ. This reading yields the following translation: “the Gentiles upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who maketh these things known from the beginning of the world.” (So Tischendorf, Alford, Meyer, Westcott and Hort, Gloag. R.V.). This reading encounters the difficulty that the words γνωστὰ ἀπ᾽ αἰ& 242·νος are considered as a part of the quotation which, in reality, they are not. It is probable that this fact may have led to their expansion into an independent sentence.—G.B.S. (v. 18.) And then again his authority (καὶ τὸ ἀξίωμα πάλιν) (as Bishop): “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: but that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollution of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” (v. 19–21.) Since758758    All our mss. ἐπειδὴ οὐκ ἦσαν ἀκηκοότες τοῦ νόμου, which contradicts v. 21. We restore ἐπειδὴ οὖν. In B. C. v. 21, with the words ἐπειδὴ οὐκ ἦσαν ἀκ. τοῦ νόμου is repeated after, “We have judged.” then they had heard of the Law, with good reason he enjoins these things from the Law, that he may not seem to make it of no authority. And (yet) observe how he does not let them be told these things from the Law, but from himself, saying, It is not that I heard these things from the Law, but how? “We have judged.” Then the decree is made in common. “Then pleased it the Apostles and elders, together with the whole Church, to choose men of their own company”—do you observe they do not merely enact these matters, and nothing more?—“and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: and they wrote letters by them after this manner.” (v. 22.) And observe, the more to authenticate the decree, they send men of their own, that there may be no room for regarding Paul and his company with suspicion. “The Apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia.” (v. 23.) And mark759759    mss. and Edd. Καὶ ὅρα πῶς φορτικῶς ἐκείνους διαβάλλοντες ἐπιστέλλουσιν. The sense absolutely requires πῶς οὐ φορτ. It would be strange if Chrys. made τὸ φορτικὸν and τὸ διαβάλλειν matter of commendation: moreover in his very next remark he says just the contrary, and below, p. 209. with what forbearance of all harsh vituperation of those (brethren) they indite their epistle. “Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the Law: to whom we gave no such commandment.” (v. 24.) Sufficient was this charge against the temerity of those men, and worthy of the Apostles’ moderation, that they said nothing beyond this. Then to show that they do not act despotically, that all are agreed in this, that with deliberation they write this—“It seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send men of ours whom we have chosen” (v. 25)—then, that it may not look like disparagement of Paul and Barnabas, that those men are sent, observe the encomium passed upon them—“together with our beloved Barnabas 207and Paul, men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas; who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us”—it is not man’s doing, it says—“to lay upon you no greater burden”—again it calls the Law a burden: then apologizing even for these injunctions—“save these necessary things” (v. 26–28): "That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. (v. 29.) For these things the New Testament did not enjoin: we nowhere find that Christ discoursed about these matters; but these things they take from the Law. “From things strangled,” it says, “and from blood.” Here it prohibits murder. (Comp. Gen. ix. 5.) “So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.” (v. 30, 31.) Then those (brethren) also exhorted them: and having established them, for towards Paul they were contentiously disposed, so departed from them in peace. “And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the Apostles.” (v. 32, 33.) No more factions and fightings, but thenceforth Paul taught.760760    Παῦλος δὲ λοιπὸν ἐδίδασκεν. Perhaps this may belong to the Recapitulation, v. 12.—In the mod. text the matter is a good deal transposed, without any necessity, and the Recapitulation is made to begin after the sentence ending, “love of glory.”—This seems to be the proper place for the first of the sentences following the Recapitulation, p. 210, note 3, viz. “No more faction. On this occasion I suppose it was that they received the right hand, as he says himself, ‘They gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship.’ On this (same) occasion he says, ‘They added nothing to me.’ For they confirmed his view: they praised and admired it.”

(Recapitulation.) “Then all the multitude kept silence,” etc. (v. 12.) There was no arrogance in the Church. After Peter Paul speaks, and none silences him: James waits patiently, not starts up761761    ἐπιπηδᾳ N. Cat. (ἐπηπιδᾷ sic A. B. C ) mod. text ἀποπηδᾶ, “recoils” from hearing Paul. (for the next word). Great the orderliness (of the proceedings). No word speaks John here, no word the other Apostles, but held their peace, for James was invested with the chief rule, and think it no hardship. So clean was their soul from love of glory. “And after that they had held their peace, James answered,” etc. (v. 13.) (b) Peter indeed spoke more strongly, but James here more mildly: for thus it behooves one in high authority, to leave what is unpleasant for others to say, while he himself appears in the milder part. (a) But what means it, “How God first (πρὥτον) did visit?” (v. 14.) (It means) from the beginning (ἐξ ἀρχἥς).762762    The scribes did not perceive that ἐξ ἀρχῆς is the answer to the question, Τί ἐστιν, καθὼς πρῶτον κ. τ. λ.therefore transposed this sentence and gave ἐξ ἀρχῆς to the sentence (a) (Cat. omits them.) Mod. text, the question being thus left unanswered, substitutes “Symeon hath declared”—καθὼς πρ. κ. τ. λ. ᾽Εξ ἀρχῆς σφοδρότερον μέν. (c) Moreover he well says, “Symeon expounded” (ἐξηγήσατο) (or, interpreted), implying that he too spake the mind of others. “And to this agree,” etc. Observe how he shows that this is a doctrine of old time. “To take out of the Gentiles,” he says, “a people for His Name.” (v. 15.) Not simply, Chose, but, “for His Name,” that is for His glory. His Name is not shamed by the taking (προλήψει) the Gentiles first, but it is even a greater glory.—Here some even great thing is hinted at: that these are chosen before all.763763    ὅτι πρὸ πάντων οὗτοι. Here also, and in τῇ προλήψει τῶν ἐθνῶν, there seems to be a reference to πρῶτον, as if the meaning were, God “looked upon the Gentiles first to take from them,” before the Jews, etc.—After the text, the questions left unanswered above (see note 2, p. 206) might be advantageously introduced. “How could that restoration (after Babylon) be called an ἔγερσις, especially as the city was eventually razed to the ground by the Romans? True: but the kingdom of David is in fact more gloriously raised up, in the reign of David’s offspring throughout the world. As for the buildings and city, what loss is that? Nay, David himself is more glorious now than he was before, sung as he is in all parts of the world. If then this which the Prophet foretold is come to pass—this is put as St. James’s arguments—namely that the city was raised from its ruins (and the subsequent overthrow, when the end of that restoration was attained, does not invalidate the fulfilment), then must the διά τι of this restoration also come to pass, namely, that the residue shall seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom that Name is called. The city, was raised up for the sake of Christ, to come of them, and to reign over all nations. Consequently, the Prophet shows that the αἴτιον (i.e. the διά τι, or final clause) of the building of the city is—the calling of the Gentiles, τὸ τὰ ἔθνη κληθῆναι.” “After this I will return, and rebuild the tabernacle of David which is fallen down.” (v. 16.) But if one would look into the matter closely, the kingdom of David does in fact now stand, his Offspring reigning everywhere. For what is the good of the buildings and the city, with none obeying there? And what is the harm arising from the destruction of the city, when all are willing to give their very souls? There is that come which is more illustrious than David: in all parts of the world is he now sung. This has come to pass: if so, then must this also come to pass, “And I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:” to what end? “that the residue of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom My Name is called.” (v. 17.) If then it was to this end that the city rose again (namely) because of Him (that was to come) of them, it shows that of the building of the city the cause is, the calling of the Gentiles. Who are “the residue?” those who are then left.764764    οἱ ὑπολειπόμενοι τότε, the Jews whom that (the Babylonian) judgment leaves. “And all the Gentiles, upon whom My Name is called:” but observe, how he keeps the due order, and brings them in second. 208“Saith the Lord, which doeth these things.” Not “saith” (only), but “doeth.” Why then, it was God’s work.—“But the question is other than this (namely), what Peter spoke more plainly, whether they must be circumcised. Then why dost thou harangue about these matters?” For what the objectors asserted, was not that they must not be received upon believing, but that it must be with the Law. And upon this Peter well pleaded: but then, as this very thing above all others troubled the hearers, therefore he sets this to rights again (θεραπεύει). And observe, that which was needful to be enacted as a rule, that it is not necessary to keep the Law, this Peter introduced: but the milder part,765765    mss. and Edd. τὸ δὲ ἡμέτερον. We must read τὸ δὲ ἡμερώτερον, as above: in the preceding clause something is wanted for antithesis, probably καὶ ὅρα, τὸ μὲν φορτικώτερον, ὅπερ κ. τ. λ. the truth which was received of old, this James saith, and dwells upon that concerning which nothing is766766    ὑπὲρ οὗ οὐδὲν γέγραπται. This also requires emendation. The sense demands, “About which there is no dispute.” The γέγραπται may have come in from the text referred to: “to wit, Καθὼς γέγραπται,” etc. written, in order that having soothed their minds by that which is acknowledged, he may opportunely introduce this likewise. “Wherefore,” saith he, “my sentence is, not to trouble them which from among the Gentiles do turn unto God” (v. 19), that is, not to subvert: for, if God called them, and these observances subvert, we fight against God. And767767    The report seems to be defective here; and in fact N. (Sav. marg.) inserts after the text, “showing both God’s care towards them and mercy, and their ready mind and piety in obeying: and he says well,” etc. But this addition is unknown to A. B. C. Cat., and N. frequently adds to or otherwise alters the original text, where the sense or connection is obscure.—Perhaps however these two sentences may be better transposed to follow the part (b), so that the connection would be, “And again, observe he has been speaking concerning the Gentile converts, not openly of the Jewish believers, and yet in fact what he says is no less for them.”—Mod. text with partial transposition, “And he well says, To them, etc. declaring both the purpose of God from the beginning with respect to them, and their obedience and readiness for the calling. What means it? I judge? Instead of, With authority I say that this is so. ‘But that we write to them,’ he says, ‘to abstain from’ etc. For these, though bodily, etc. (as below.) And that none may object, why then do we not enjoin the same thing to the Jews? He adds, ‘For Moses,’ etc.: i.e. Moses discourses to them continually: for this is the meaning of, ‘Being read every Sabbath day.’ See what condescension!” again, “them which from the Gentiles,” he saith, “do turn.” And he says well, with authority, the “my sentence is. But that we write unto them that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication”—(b) and yet they often insisted upon these points in discoursing to them768768    καίτοι γε πολλάκις αὐτοῖς ὐπὲρ (not περὶ as Ben. renders, de his) διελεχθῆσαν mod. text διελέχθη, referred perhaps to Moses or the Law, as in the trajection this sentence follows the last of (a). The clause seems to refer to “pollutions of idols and fornication.” q. d. “Why mention these in the decree? The Apostles, especially Paul, often discoursed to them on behalf of these points of Christian duty, i.e. the abstaining from all approach to idolatry, as in the matter of εἰδωλόθυτα, and from fornication.” The answer is: “He mentions them, for the purpose of seeming to maintain the Law, (though at the same time he does not rest them on the authority of the Law, but on that of the Apostles: still the Jewish believers would be gratified by this apparent acknowledgment of the Law), and (with the same view) to make a greater number of ἐντολαὶ, for which reason also he divides the one legal prohibition of blood into the two, ἀπὸ τῶν πνικτῶν καὶ ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος. The latter, he says, though σωματικαὶ, are necessary to be observed because the non-observance of this law on which the Jews laid so much stress led to great evils—especially made it impossible for Jewish and Gentile believers to eat at the same table. For in every city Moses is preached to Jews and proselytes. Therefore I say it is good that we charge them by letter to abstain from these things.” Then, giving a different turn to the reason, “for Moses of old times,” etc. he adds. “this is for them which from the Gentiles,” etc., as for the Jewish believers, they have Moses to teach them. Thus again seeming to uphold Moses, while in fact he shows, what they might learn from Moses himself, that the Law is come to an end for the Jews also.—but, that he may seem also to honor the Law (he mentions), these also, speaking (however) not as from Moses but from the Apostles, and to make the commandments many, he has divided the one into two (saying), “and from things strangled, and from blood.” (v. 20.) For these, although relating to the body, were necessary to be observed, because (these things) caused great evils, “For Moses hath of old times in every city,” etc. (v. 21.) This above all quieted them. (ἀνέπαυσεν) (a) For this cause I affirm that it is good (so “to write to them.”) Then why do we not write the same injunctions to Jews also? Moses discourses unto them. See what condescension (to their weakness)! Where it did no harm, he set him up as teacher, and indulged them with a gratification which hindered nothing, by permitting Jews to hear him in regard of these matters, even while leading away from him them of the Gentiles. See what wisdom! He seems to honor him, and to set him up as the authority for his own people, and by this very thing he leads away the Gentiles from him!769769    The prohibitions imposed by the council upon the Gentiles were chiefly concessions to Jewish prejudice and opinion. Abstinence from meat which had been offered in idols’ temples and from things strangled and from blood was forbidden in the Mosaic law (Ex. xxxiv. 15; Lev. xvii. 10–14). Failure to abstain from these would expose the Gentile converts needlessly to the suspicions of the Jewish Christians. The prohibition of fornication must rest upon another ground. It is a warning against the custom among Gentiles, which had become so prevalent as to provoke little rebuke or comment. The ground assigned for requiring these abstinences is that Moses is read every Sabbath in the synagogues of the Jews and therefore these very points are kept prominently before the people and therefore unless these indulgences were abandoned, the synagogue preaching would constantly stimulate in the Jews and Judeo-Christians a dislike of the Gentile believers. There is less ground for the view of Chrys. that v. 21. means that the Jewish Christians have no need of instruction on these points because they hear the law read every Sabbath, an explanation, however, which is adopted by such modern scholars as Wordsworth and Neander.—G.B.S. “Being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” Then why do they not learn (what is to be learnt) out of him, for instance * *?770770    A. B. ἀπήγ. τὰ ἔθνη ἐξ αὐτοῦ. Διὰ τί οὖν μὴ παῤ αὐτοῦ μανθ.; C. ἀπήγ. τὰ ἐξ αὐτοῦ πάντα, οἷον τὰ ἔθνη. Διὰ τί κ. τ. λ. Cat. ἀπήγ. τὰ ἐξ αὐτοῦ μανθ. Hence we read, ἀπήγαγε τὰ ἔθνη. Διὰ τί οὖν μὴ τὰ ἐξ αὐτοῦ μανθάνουσιν, οἷον (τὰ ἔθνη?) * * *; Through the perversity of these men. He shows that even these (the Jews) need observe no more (than these necessary things). And 209if we do not write to them, it is not that they are bound to observe anything more, but only that they have one to tell them. And he does not say, Not to offend, nor to turn them back,771771    καταστρέφειν, mss. Perhaps, μεταστρέψαι from Gal. i. 7. which is what Paul said to the Galatians, but, “not to trouble them:” he shows that the point (κατόρθωμα) if carried is nothing but a mere troubling. Thus he made an end of the whole matter;772772    ἐξέλυσε τὸ πᾶν, “untied the whole knot,” or perhaps “took out of the Law all its strength,” as below λύει. and while he seems to preserve the Law by adopting these rules from it, he unbinds it by taking only these. (c)773773    Perhaps the sentence, τοῦτο μάλιστα αὐτοὺς ἀνέπαυσεν, retained above as the end of (b), may belong here, in the sense, “This was conclusive; this made the Judaizers desist, if anything could.” There was a design of Providence in the disputation also, that after the disputation the doctrine might be more firm. “Then pleased it the Apostles to send chosen men of their own company,” etc., no ordinary persons, but the “leading men; having written” (letters) “by them after this manner. To those in Antioch,” it says, “and Syria and Cilicia.” (v. 22, 23) where the disease had its birth. Observe how they say nothing harsher (φορτικώτερον) against those men, but look to one thing only, namely, to undo (the mischief) which has been done. For this would make even the movers of the faction there to confess (that they were wrong). They do not say, The seducers, the pestilent fellows, or suchlike: though where need is, Paul does this, as when he says, “O full of all guile” (ch. xiii. 10): but here, the point being carried, there was no need. And observe, they do not put it, That certain from us ordered you to keep the Law, but, “Troubled you with words, subverting your souls,”—nothing could be more proper (κυριώτερον) than that word: none (of the other speakers) has so spoken of the things done by those men. “The souls,” he says, already strongly established, these persons are ἀνασχευάζοντες as in speaking of a building, “taking them down again:” displacing them (μετατιθέντες) from the foundation).774774    καθάπερ ἐπὶ οἰκοδομῆς τὰ ὑπ᾽ ἐκείνων γεγενημένα μετατιθέντες. Mod. text from E. τιθέντες, “putting, as in respect of a building, the things done by those (Judaizers).” We have transposed τὰ ὑπ᾽ ἐκ γεγ. to its proper place. He interprets ἀνασκ. with reference to Gal. i. 6. μετατίθεσθε. “To whom,” he says, “we gave no such commandment. It seemed good therefore to us being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you together with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men that have hazarded their lives for the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v. 25, 26.) If “beloved,” they will not despise them, if they “have hazarded their lives,” they have themselves a right to be believed. “We have sent,” it saith, “Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by word of mouth.” (v. 27.) For it was necessary that there should be not merely the Epistle there by itself, lest they should say that Paul and Barnabas had suppressed775775    συνήρπασαν Ben. ipsos extorsisse: but the word is used in the Greek of Chrysostom’s time, in the sense “conceal,” for which Schneider s. v. refers to Valesius on Harpocrat. p. 145. Gronov. in which sense we have rendered it above. Or perhaps, “had wrested it” to make it speak in their favor. Τὸ ζητούμενον συναρπάζειν is a logical phrase, used of one who commits a petitio principii. St. Chrys. however can hardly be correctly reported here: for the letter itself would show, if it were believed to be genuine, that Paul and Barnabas neither συνήρπασαν nor ἄλλα ἀντ᾽ ἄλλων εἰπαν. He may rather be supposed to have said in substance as follows: “Had Paul and Barnabas returned alone as the bearers of an oral communication, it might be suspected that they gave their own account of the matter: had they come alone, bearing the Epistle, its genuineness might have been called in question: but by sending the Epistle by the hands of men of their own and of high consideration, they left no room for doubt as to the fact of their decision. On the other hand, to have sent these men alone, would have looked like putting a slight upon Barnabas and Paul: but by sending the messengers with them, they showed ὅτι ἀξιόπιστοι εἰσιν, and by the eulogy expressed in the Epistle itself they stopped the mouths of the gainsayers.” (the real purport), that they said one thing instead of another. The encomium passed upon Paul stopped their mouths. For this is the reason why neither Paul comes alone nor Barnabas (with him), but others also from the Church; that he may not be suspected, seeing it was he that advocated that doctrine: nor yet those from Jerusalem alone. It shows that they have a right to be believed. “For it seemed good,” say they, “to the Holy Ghost and to us” (v. 28): not making themselves equal (to Him776776    The innovator completely mistakes the meaning of this clause: not having the text to guide him, he supposes it to refer to Silas and Judas, and alters thus: “It shows how worthy of credit they are: not making themselves equal, ‘it says: they are not so mad. In fact, this is why it adds that expression, Which have hazarded their lives, etc. And why does it say, “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us,” and yet it had sufficed.” etc.—Below, he has “‘To lay upon you no greater burden.’ This they say, because they have to speak,” etc. But all this belongs to ἔδοξεν ἡμῖν q.d. “You need not fear us, neither is it of condescension that we speak, or to spare you as being weak—quite the contrary—it seems good to the Holy Ghost “and to us.”)—they are not so mad. But why does it put this (so)? Why did they add, “And to us,” and yet it had sufficed to say, “To the Holy Ghost?” The one, “To the Holy Ghost,” that they may not deem it to be of man; the other, “To us,” that they may be taught that they also themselves admit (the Gentiles), although themselves being in circumcision. They have to speak to men who are still weak and afraid of them: this is the reason why this also is added. And it shows that it is not by way of condescension that they speak, neither because they spared them, nor as considering them weak, but the contrary; for great was the reverence of the teachers also.777777    πολλὴ γὰρ καὶ τῶν διδασκάλων αἰδὼς ἦν. It is not clear whether this means, Great was the reverence shown by the teachers also towards them—as in St. Peter’s ὥσπερ κἀκεῖνοι—and therefore they did not treat them as “weak;” or, great was their reverence towards their teachers, so that had they laid upon them a greater burden, they would have borne it. “To lay upon you no 210greater burden”—they778778    mss. and Edd. have this clause, ἄνω κάτω βάρος καλοῦσι after Πνεύματος γάρ ἦν νομοθεσία, and give the καὶ πάλιν to συναγαγόντες. After the clause “For that was a superfluous burden” seems to be the proper place for these sentences from below, see note 3, infra. “It shows that the rest are not necessary but superfluous, seeing these things are necessary. “From which if ye keep yourselves ye shall do well.” It shows that nothing is lacking to them, but this is sufficient.” are ever calling it a burden—and again, “save these necessary things:” for that was a superfluous burden. See here a brief Epistle, with nothing more in it (than was needed), neither arts of persuasion (κατασκευὰς) nor reasonings, but simply a command: for it was the Spirit’s legislating. “So when they were dismissed they came to Antioch, and having gathered the multitude together, they delivered to them the epistle.” (v. 30.) After the epistle, then (Judas and Silas) also themselves exhort them by word (v. 31): for this also was needful, that (Paul and Barnabas) might be quit of all suspicion. “Being prophets also themselves,” it says, exhorted the brethren “with many words.” It shows here the right that Paul and Barnabas have to be believed. For Paul also might have done this, but it behooved to be done by these.779779    Here insert from below: “For it might have been done also without letters—they did this.” “And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace. (v. 33.)

No780780    What follows consists of notes which the redactor did not bring to their proper places. “No more faction—admired it,” see note 1, p. 207. “It shows—the Spirit,” may belong either to the comment on κρίνω ἐγὼ, or to that on “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us.”—“It shows that the rest—sufficient,” see note 1. These parts being removed, the remainder forms the continuation of the sentence, “it behooved to be done by these,” note 2. The concluding words καὶ μετ᾽εἰρήνης are the reporter’s abridgment of the text “καὶ [ἐπεστήριξαν, ποιήσαντες δὲ χρόνον ἀπελυθησαν] μετ᾽ εἰρήνης. more faction. On this occasion, I suppose, it was that they received the right hand, as he says himself, “They gave to me and Barnabas right hands of fellowship.” (Gal. ii. 9.) There he says, “They added nothing to me.”781781    The author here assumes the identity of the two visits of Paul to Jerusalem contained in Acts xv. and Gal i. and ii. This has always been the prevailing view. For a full discussion of this and other views, see Gloat, Com. on the Acts ii. 80–84.—G.B.S. (ib. 6.) For they confirmed his view: they praised and admired it.—It shows that even from human reasonings it is possible to see this, not to say from the Holy Ghost only, that they sinned a sin not easy to be corrected. For such things need not the Spirit.—It shows that the rest are not necessary, but superfluous, seeing these things are necessary. “From which if ye keep yourselves,” it saith, “ye shall do well.” It shows that nothing is lacking to them, but this is sufficient. For it might have been done also without letters, but that there may be a law in writing (they send this Epistle): again, that they may obey the law (the Apostles), also told those men (the same things), and they did this, “and confirmed them, and having tarried a space were let go in peace.”

Let us not then be offended on account of the heretics. For look, here at the very outset of the preaching, how many offences there were: I speak not of those which arose from them that were without; for these were nothing: but of the offences which were within. For instance, first Ananias, then the “murmuring,” then Simon the sorcerer; afterwards they that accused Peter on account of Cornelius, next the famine,782782    The famine is mentioned among the offences within, perhaps because it may have led some to question the Providence of God: see above, p. 159. lastly this very thing, the chief of the evils. For indeed it is impossible when any good thing has taken place, that some evil should not also subsist along with it. Let us not then be disturbed, if certain are offended, but let us thank God even for this, because it makes us more approved. For not tribulations only, but even temptations also render us more illustrious. A man is no such great lover of the truth, only for holding to it when there is none to lead him astray from it: to hold fast to the truth when many are drawing him away, this makes the proved man. What then? Is this why offences come? I am not speaking as if God were the author of them: God forbid! but I mean, that even out of their wickedness He works good to us: it was never His wish that they should arise: “Grant to them,” He saith, “that they may be one” (John xvii. 21): but since offences do come, they are no hurt, to these, but even a benefit: just as the persecutors unwillingly benefit the Martyrs by dragging them to martyrdom, and yet they are not driven to this by God; just so is it here. Let us not look (only at this), that men are offended: this very thing is itself a proof of the excellence of the doctrine—that many stimulate and counterfeit it: for it would not be so, if it were not good. And this I will now show, and make on all hands plain to you. Of perfumes, the fragrant spices are they which people adulterate and counterfeit; as, for instance, the amomum leaf. For because these are rare and of necessary use, therefore there come to be spurious imitations likewise. Nobody would care to counterfeit any common article. The pure life gets many a false pretender to it: no man would care to counterfeit the man of vicious life; no, but the man of monastic life.—What then shall we say to the heathen? There comes a heathen and says, “I wish to become a Christian, but I know not whom to join: there is much fighting and faction among you, much confusion: which doctrine am I to 211choose?” How shall we answer him? “Each of you” (says he) “asserts, ‘I speak the truth.’” (b) No783783    mss. and Edd. transpose the parts marked a and b. The old text, however, by retaining τί οὖν at the end of a, as well as at the beginning of c, enables us to restore the order, so that then the clause μηδὲν ὅλως εἰδὼς ἐν ταῖς Γραφαῖς, no longer disturbs the sense. doubt: this is in our favor. For if we told you to be persuaded by arguments, you might well be perplexed: but if we bid you believe the Scriptures, and these are simple and true, the decision is easy for you. If any agree with the Scriptures, he is the Christian; if any fight against them, he is far from this rule. (a) “But which am I to believe, knowing as I do nothing at all of the Scriptures? The others also allege the same thing for themselves. What then (c)if the other come, and say that the Scripture has this, and you that it has something different, and ye interpret the Scriptures diversely, dragging their sense (each his own way)?” And you then, I ask, have you no understanding, no judgment? “And how should I be able (to decide),” says he, “I who do not even know how to judge of your doctrines? I wish to become a learner, and you are making me forthwith a teacher.” If he say this, what, say you, are we to answer him? How shall we persuade him? Let us ask whether all this be not mere pretence and subterfuge. Let us ask whether he has decided (κατέγνωκε) against the heathen (that they are wrong). The fact784784    Edd. πάντως τι ἐρεῖ. A. B. C. πάντως ὅτι ἐρεῖ. “In any wise he will affirm the ὅτι, therefore let us ask the αἰτίας δἰ ἅς.” he will assuredly affirm, for of course, if he had not so decided, he would not have come to (enquire about) our matters: let us ask the grounds on which he has decided, for to be sure he has not settled the matter out of hand. Clearly he will say, “Because (their gods) are creatures, and are not the uncreated God.” Good. If then he find this in the other parties (αἰρέσεις), but among us the contrary, what argument need we? We all confess that Christ is God. But let us see who fight (against this truth), and who not. Now we, affirming Him to be God speak of Him things worthy of God, that He hath power, that He is not a slave, that He is free, that He doeth of Himself: whereas the other says the reverse. Again I ask: if you would learn (to be) a physician,785785    εἰ ἰατρὸς μέλλοις μανθάνειν. Mod. text adds, “Say, Do you accept out of hand and as it chances, whatever you are told?” The connection is: “Apply your mind to what you hear, whether from us or from them, and see whether of us is consistent. Just as you would if you wished to learn medicine: there also you would find conflicting opinions and you would exercise your judgment upon them, not accept all without examination. Do so here; and in the instance which has been taken, you will see that we, affirming the Son to be God, carry out our affirmation consistently; whereas they (the Arians) say indeed that He is God but in fact deny Him the essential properties of Deity.”—Edd. and all our mss. Υἱ& 232·ν λέγομεν ἡμεῖς ἐπαληθεύομεν κ. τ. λ. We must read either Θεὸν or Υἱ& 232·ν Θεὸν. * * *? And yet among them are many (different) doctrines. For if you accept without more ado just what you are told, this is not acting like a man: but if you have judgment and sense, you shall assuredly know what is good. We affirm the Son to be God, we verify (ἐπαληθεύομεν) what we affirm: but they affirm indeed, but (in fact) confess not.—But786786    Connection: I have mentioned one simple criterion: here is another palpable and visible mark. Heretics take their names from men, the founders of their sects, τοῦ αιρεσιάρχου δηλοῦντος A. B. καλοῦντος C., τὸ ὅνομα Sav. marg. δηλοῦντες, which we adopt. But indeed the reasons you allege are mere pretence, etc. to mention (something) even plainer: those have certain persons from whom they are called, openly showing the name of the heresiarch himself, and each heresy in like manner: with us, no man has given us a name, but the faith itself. However, this (talk of yours) is mere pretence and subterfuge. For answer me: how is it that if you would buy a cloak, though ignorant of the art of weaving, you do not speak such words as these—“I do not know how to buy; they cheat me”—but do all you can to learn, and so whatever else it be that you would buy: but here you speak these words? For at this rate, you will accept nothing at all. For let there be one that has no (religious) doctrine whatever: if he should say what you say about the Christians—“There is such a multitude of men, and they have different doctrines; this a heathen, that a Jew, the other a Christian: no need to accept any doctrine whatever, for they are at variance one with another; but I am a learner, and do not wish to be a judge”787787    The sentence is left unfinished: “it would be no wonder,” “this would be at least consistent,” or the like: then εἴ δὲ εἴξω B. C. ἤξω(sic) A., ἥξω D. Mod. text οὐδὲ ἕξω: all corrupt. The sense seems to require, “If you have thought fit,” or “gone so far as.”—but if you have yielded (so far as) to pronounce against (καταγινώσκειν) one doctrine, this pretext no longer has place for you. For just as you were able to reject the spurious, so here also, having come, you shall be able to prove what is profitable. For he that has not pronounced against any doctrine at all, may easily say this: but he that has pronounced against any, though he have chosen none, by going on in the same way, will be able to see what he ought to do. Then let us not make pretexts and excuses, and all will be easy. For, to show you that all this is mere excuse, answer me this: Do you know what you ought to do, and what to leave undone? Then why do you not what you ought? Do that, and by right reason seek of God, and He will assuredly reveal it to thee. “God,” it saith, “is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him.” 212(ch. x. 34, 35.) It cannot be that he who hears without prejudice should not be persuaded. For just as, if there were a rule, by which everything behooved to be put straight, it would not need much consideration, but it would be easy to detect the person who measures falsely (τὸν παραμετροὕντα λαβἕιν), so is it here. “Then how is it they do not see it at a glance?” Many things are the cause of this: both preconceived opinion, and human causes (αἰτίαι). The others, say you, say the same thing about us. How? For are we separated from the Church? have we our heresiarchs? Are we called after men—as one of them has Marcion,788788    Sav. marg. adds “another, Paul of Samosata.” another Manichæus, a third Arius, for the author and leader (of his sect)? Whereas if we likewise do receive an appellation from any man, we do not take them that have been the authors of some heresy, but men that presided over us, and governed the Church. We have no “masters upon the earth”—God forbid—we have “One Master that is in heaven.” (Matt. xxiii. 9, 10.) “And those also,” says he, “say the same.” But there stands the name set over them, accusing them, and stopping their mouths.—How789789    Διὰ τί πολλοὶ γεγόνασιν ῞Ελληνες, καὶ οὐδεὶς κ. τ. λ. Mod. text omits διὰ τι. The first clause seems to be corrupt, or misplaced: for to say that “there have been many heathen, and none of them has asked these questions” (about Christian doctrines), would contradict all that precedes: and if it means, There were many Greeks, and diverse schools of philosophy among them, and yet none was deterred from the study of philosophy by those differences, this would not be true. But if this be transposed to the following sentence, which relates to the ῞Ελληνες at Antioch, then Chrys. says: “Among philosophers also there were these differences, and yet) etc. How is it that (at Antioch) many Greeks became (Christians) and yet none of them asked these questions? Why did they not say,” etc. is it, there have been many heathen, and none of them asked these questions: and among the philosophers there were these (differences), and yet none of those holding the right party (αἵρεσιν) was hindered (thereby)?—Why did not (those believers) say, when (the others) raised these questions, “Both these and those are Jews: which must we believe?” But they believed as they ought. Then let us also obey the laws of God, and do all things according to His good pleasure,790790    Edd. have a longer peroration from F, partly followed by D. “And live according to His will while we are yet in this life present, that with virtue having accomplished the remaining time of our life, we may be able, etc., and together with them which have pleased Him be found worthy of honor, by the grace and loving-kindness of His only-begotten Son, and the All-holy and Life-giving Spirit, the One true Godhead, now and ever, world without end.” Amen. that having virtuously passed this life present, we may be enabled to attain unto the good things promised to them that love Him, by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together, be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

« Prev Homily XXXIII on Acts xv. 13, 15. Next »


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |