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Homily XX.

Acts IX. 10, 12

“And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.”

What may be the reason that He neither drew any one of high authority and importance, nor caused such to be forthcoming for the purpose of instructing Paul?473473    Œcumen. adds from some other source, “but Ananias who was one of the Seventy:” and afterwards, “And this Ananias was a deacon, as Paul himself testifies in the Canons:” the latter from Ammonius the Presbyter, in the Catena.—Below, Καὶ ὅτι (Cat., ῞Οτι γὰρ) οὐ τῶν σφόδρα ἐπισήμων ἦν, δῆλον, C. comp. p. 279. But Edd. “But that Ananias also was one of the very distinguished persons, is plain both from what (the Lord) reveals and says to him, and from what he himself says in answer: Lord, I have heard,” etc. It was, because it was not meet that he should be induced by men, but only by Christ Himself: as in fact this man taught him nothing, but merely baptized him; for, as soon as baptized (φωτισθείς), he was to draw upon himself the grace of the Spirit, by his zeal and exceeding earnestness. And that Ananias was no very distinguished person, is plain. For, “the Lord,” it says, “spake unto him in a vision, and Ananias answered and said, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to Thy saints at Jerusalem.” (v. 13.) For if he spoke in objection to Him, much more would he have done so, had He sent an Angel. And this is why, in the former instance, neither is Philip told what the matter is; but he sees the Angel, and then the Spirit bids him go near to the chariot. But observe here how the Lord relieves him of his fear: “He is blind,” saith He, “and prayeth, and art thou afraid?” In the same way Moses also is afraid: so that the words betokened that he was afraid, and shrunk from the task, not that he did not believe. He said,” have heard from many concerning this man.” What sayest thou? God speaketh, and thou hesitatest? They did not yet well know the power of Christ. “And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on Thy name.” (v. 14.) How was that known? It is likely that they, being in fear, made minute enquiries. He does not say this, as thinking that Christ does not know the fact, but, “such being the case, how,” says he, “can these things be?” As in fact those (in the Gospel) say, “Who can be saved?”—(Mark x. 26.) This is done, in order that Paul may believe him that shall come to him: “he hath seen in a vision:” it hath showed him beforehand: “he prayeth,” saith (the Lord): fear not. And observe, He speaks not to him of the success achieved: teaching us not to speak of our achievements. And,474474    Καὶ φοβούμενον ἰδὼν, οὐδὲ οὕτως εἶπεν. Οὐκ ἀπιστηθήσῃ. The mod, t. prefixes Μᾶλλον δ, and adds, ἀλλά τι; ᾽Αναστὰς πορεύθητι. “Nay, even seeing him afraid, even then He said not, Thou shalt not be disbelieved: (Erasm. negligently, Be not unbelieving:) but what? Arise,” etc. So Morel. Sav. but Ben. puts a full stop at ἰδών: as if the meaning were, “because He would teach us,” etc.: or rather, “because He also saw him to be afraid. Nor did He speak thus. Thou shalt not,” etc. But the full stop should be placed at εἶπεν: “nay, though he saw him afraid, He did not tell him what had happened to Paul—the victory He had won over this adversary. But only, Fear not to be disbelieved for he hath seen,” etc. though He saw him afraid, for all this He said it not. “Thou shalt not be disbelieved:” “he hath seen,” saith He, “in a vision a man (named) Ananias:” for this is why it was “in a vision,” namely, because he was blind. And not even the exceeding wonderfulness of the thing took possession of the disciple’s mind, so greatly was he afraid. But observe: Paul being blind, in this way He restored to sight. “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (v. 15, 16.) “Not only,” saith He, “shall he be a believer, but even a teacher, and great boldness shall he show: ‘before Gentiles and kings’—such shall be the spread of the doctrine!—that just as He astonished (him) by the former, so He may (startle him even more) by the latter.475475    ἵνα ὥσπερ ἐξέπληττεν τούτῳ, οὕτω κἀκείνῳ. (Sav. marg. τοῦτο, κἀκεῖνο.) “That as He (Christ) astonished (Ananias) by the one, so He may by the other.” τούτῳ, by the announcement of Saul as a believer; ἐκείνῳ, by that of his becoming a preacher, and before Gentiles and kings. (Chrys. is negligent in his use of the pronouns οὗτος and ἐκεῖνος.) Or it may be, “that as he (Saul) astonished (men) by his conversion, so by his wonderful boldness as a preacher.”—E. Edd. omit this, and substitute, “as to prevail over all nations and kings.” “And Ananias went, and entered into the house, and laid his hands upon him, and said, Brother 130Saul”—he straightway addresses him as a friend by that name—“Jesus, Who appeared unto thee in the way in which thou camest”—and yet Christ had not told him this, but he learnt it from the Spirit—“hath sent me unto thee, that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” (v. 17.) As he said this, he laid his hands upon him. “And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales.” (v. 18.) Some say this was a sign of his blindness. Why did he not blind his eyes (entirely)? This was more wonderful, that, with his eyes open, he did not see: (v. 8) which was just his case in respect of the Law, until476476    “But when was the name of Jesus put upon Paul, that he should recover his sight? Here is either something wrong in the text, or we must say that Ananias put the name of Jesus on Paul, when, having laid his hands on him, he told him that it was Jesus from whom he should receive his sight.” Ben.,—who surely must have overlooked the clause ὅπερ ἔπαθεν ἐπὶ τοῦ νόμου, to which these words belong.—Above, Τινές φασι τῆς πηρώσεως εἶναι τοῦτο σημεῖον, the meaning is, that this falling off the scales, etc., is an emblem of his mental blindness, and of his recovery therefrom. The innovator, not understanding this, alters it to, ταύτας τινές φασι τῆς π. αὐτοῦ εἶναι αἰτίας. “Some say that these were the cause of his blindness:” which is accepted by Edd.—And below, “lest any should imagine,” etc., where τις, E. bracketted by Sav., adopted by the other Edd. is due to the same hand. the Name of Jesus was put on him. “And he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. And having taken food, he recovered strength.” (v. 19.) He was faint, therefore, both from his journey and from his fear; both from hunger, and from dejection of mind. Wishing therefore to deepen his dejection, He made the man blind until the coming of Ananias: and, that he might not imagine the blindness to be (only) fancy, this is the reason of the scales. He needed no other teaching: that which had befallen was made teaching (to him). “And he was with the disciples which were at Damascus certain days. And straightway in the synagogues he preached Jesus,477477    For Ιησοῦν (the reading accredited by the leading authorities in v. 20) here and in the second exposition, E. alone has Χριστὸν (with text recept.) adopted by Edd. that He is the Son of God.” (v. 20.) See, straightway he was a teacher in the synagogues. He was not ashamed of the change, was not afraid while the very things in which he was glorious afore-time, the same he destroyed. Even478478    Καὶ εὐθέως ἐκ τροοιμίων, θανατῶν ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἦν viz. ch. vii. 58. C. has θανάτων, for which A. conjecturally substitutes θαύμαστος. from his first appearance on the stage here was a man, death-dealing, ready for deeds of blood: seest thou what a manifest sign (was here)? And with this very thing, he put all in fear: for, said they, Hither also is he come for this very thing. “But all that heard him were amazed, and said: Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.” (v. 21, 22.) As one learned in the Law, he stopped their mouths, and suffered them not to speak. They thought they were rid of disputation in such matters, in getting rid of Stephen, and they found another, more vehement than Stephen.479479    The narratives given by Paul himself of his conversion in Acts xxii. and Acts xxvi. as well as allusion to the subjects in his epistles, present some harmonistic difficulties, which have, however, been greatly exaggerated by a criticism which is unfavorable to the historical character of the Acts. The constant factors in all the accounts are: the light from heaven, the voice of Jesus and Saul’s answer, and the solemn charge commissioning Saul to bear the name of Christ to the Gentiles. In Acts xxvi. the interview with Ananias is omitted; in chap. xxii. it is narrated, but the occasion of Ananias’ going to Saul is not given; in chap. ix. the Lord is represented as speaking to him and bidding him go, and it is affirmed that at the same time Saul has a vision of his coming. In xxii. the address of Ananias is considerably more extended than in ix. Some minor points of difference have been noted, as: in ix. 7 it is said that Saul’s companions heard the voice but saw no one, while in xxii. 9, it is said that they saw the light but heard not the voice of Him who spoke. The discrepancy is resolved by many by translating ἤκουσαν(xxii. 9) “understood”—an admissable sense (so, Lechler, Hackett, Lange). It is certainly an unwarranted criticism which rejects the common matter of the various narratives upon the ground of such incidental variations in the traditions in which a great and mysterious experience has been preserved.—G.B.S.

(Recapitulation.) But let us look at what relates to Ananias.480480    Σκεῦος δὲ καλεῖται δικαίως· δεικνύντος τοῦ λόγου ὅτι οὐκ ἔστι φυσικὴ ἡ κακία· σκεῦος, φησὶν, ἐκλογῆς· τὸ δόκιμον γὰρ ἐκλεγόμεθα. A. B. C. N. i.e. “Justly is he called a σκεῦος, for he is well-fitted for the work of Christ by his energy and earnestness. These need but to be turned to the right objects. It is contrary to right reason to say, that evil is a physical quality or essence, and therefore unchangeable. (See this argued Hom. lix. in Matt. p. 596.) A fit implement, therefore, and of no common kind: a σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς, of all others to be chosen, because of its approved suitableness for the purpose.” Thus St. Chrysostom constantly interprets this expression. Hom. xviii. in Rom. §6 t. ix. 638. “When the stars were created, the Angels admired: but this man Christ Himself admired, saying, A chosen vessel is this man to Me!” Comm. in c. 1. Gal. §9, t. x. 674 “Called me by His grace. Yet God saith, that He called Him, because of his virtue, (διὰ τὴν ἀρετήν,) saying, A chosen vessel, etc.: i.e. fit to do service, and do a great work…But Paul himself everywhere ascribes it all to grace.” Hom. iii. in 1 Tim. §1, t. xi. 562. “God, foreknowing what he would be before he began to preach, saith, A chosen vessel etc. For as they who in war bear the royal standard, the labarum as we call it, have need of much skill and bravery not to deliver it into the enemy’s hands, so they that bear the name of Christ,” etc. And de Compunct. ad Demetr. lib. i. §9, t. i. 138. “Since grace will have our part, (τὰ παρ᾽ ἡμῶν ζητεῖ,) therefore some it follows and abides with, from some it departs, and to the rest it never even reaches. And to show that God first examined well the bent of the will (προαίρεσις,) and thereupon gave the grace before this blessed man had done aught wonderful, hear what the Lord saith of him: A chosen vessel,” etc.—The modern text: “And having said Σκεῦος, so as to show that the evil in him (ἡ κακία αὐτοῦ) is not physical, He adds, ἐκλογῆς, to declare that he is also approved; for,” etc.—Œcumen. δείκνυσιν ὅτι οὐκ ἐστὶ φυσικὴ ἡ κακία αὐτῷ, “The Lord shows that vice is not natural to him.” The Lord said not to him, Converse with him, and catechize him. For if, when He said, “He prayeth, and hath seen a man laying his hands upon him,” (v. 11, 12.) He did not persuade him, much less had He said this. So that he shall not disbelieve thee, “he hath seen in a vision.” Observe how in the former instance neither is Philip told all immediately. Fear not, He saith: “for this man is a chosen vessel for Me. (v. 15.) He more than sufficiently released him of his fear, if the case be so that this man shall be so zealous in our cause, as even to 131suffer many things. And justly he is called “a vessel” (or, instrument)—for reason shows that evil is not a physical quality: “a vessel of election” (or, chosen instrument), He saith; for we choose that which is approved. And let not any imagine, that (Ananias) speaks in unbelief of what was told him, as imagining that Christ was deceived: far from it! but affrighted and trembling, he did not even attend to what was said, at hearing the name of Paul. Moreover, the Lord does not tell that He has blinded him: at the mention of his name fear had prepossessed his soul: “see,” he says, “to whom Thou art betraying me: ‘and hither for this very purpose is he come, to bind all that call upon Thy Name.’ I fear, lest he take me to Jerusalem: why dost Thou cast me into the mouth of the lion?” He is terrified, even while he speaks these words; that from every quarter we may learn the energetic character (ἀρετήν) of the man. For that these things should be spoken by Jews, were nothing wonderful: but that these (the believers) are so terrified, it is a most mighty proof of the power of God. Both the fear is shown, and the obedience greater after the fear. For there was indeed need of strength. Since He says, “a vessel of election,” that thou mayest not imagine that God is to do all, He adds, “to bear My Name before Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel. Ananias has heard what he most desired—that against the Jews also he will take his stand: this above all gave him courage. “For I,” saith He, “will show him how great things he must suffer for My Name’s sake.” At the same time also this is said by way of putting Ananias to the blush: If he, that was so frantic, shall suffer all things, and thou not willing even to baptize him! “It is well,” saith he: “let him continue blind” (this481481    διὰ τοῦτο ταῦτα λέγει: i.e. Ananias’ objection, (v. 13) in fact comes to this: this was the feeling which prompted his words. The innovator substitutes, διὰ τοῦτο νῦν ἥμερος, ὅτι…“therefore is he now gentle, because he is blind:” E. Edd.—The meaning is; “In saying, ‘I will show him how much he shall suffer,’ etc. the Lord rebukes Ananias’ reluctance to baptize him, and restore his sight: his answer, ‘Lord, I have heard,’ etc. was in fact as good as saying, Let him remain blind, it is better so.” The parenthetic, πρὸς τὸ, ῞Ινα ἀναβλέψῃ, ταῦτα εἴρηται, looks like a marginal note of one who did not perceive the connection.—E. makes it, “To that saying, ‘That he may receive his sight,’ let this be added.” is why he says these words): “he is blind: why dost Thou at all bid me open his eyes, that he may bind (men) again?” Fear not the future: for that opening of his eyes he will use not against you, but for you (with reference to that saying, “That he may receive his sight” (v. 12), these words are spoken): for not only will he do you no harm, but he “will suffer many things.” And what is wonderful indeed is,482482    Καὶ τὸ δὴ θαυμαστὸν ὅτι πρότερον πείσεται, καὶ τότε. So all our mss. (Cat. τὸ πρ.) We conjecture the true reading to be, ὅτι πρότερον εἴσεται: “he shall first know,” viz. “how many things he must suffer,” etc. v. 16. that he shall first know “how great things he shall suffer,” and then shall take the field against the perils.—“Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus”—he saith not, “Who made thee blind,” but, “Who appeared with thee in the way, hath sent me unto thee that thou mayest receive thy sight” (v. 17): observe this man also, how he utters nothing boastful, but just as Peter said in the case of the lame man, “Why look ye on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made him to walk,” (ch. iii. 12) so here also he saith, “Jesus, Who appeared unto thee.” (b) Or,483483    In the mss. and Edd. the portions here marked b, a, c, occur in the order a, b, c. The clause ἢ ὥστε πιστεῦσαι ἐκεῖνον being thus thrown out of its connection, perplexed the scribes: Cat. omits , “until he obtained the mighty gifts, so that he (ἐκεῖνον, Ananias?) believed.” A. E. F. D. reject the clause altogether. N. ὥστε καὶ π. ἐ. (he saith it) that the other may believe: and he saith not, He that was crucified, the Son of God, He that doeth wonders: but what? “He that appeared unto thee:” (speaking) from what the other knew: as Christ also added no more, neither said, I am Jesus, the Crucified, the Risen: but what? “Whom thou persecutest.” Ananias said not, “The persecuted,” that he may not seem as it were to rave over him (ἐπενθουσί& 139·ν), to deride him, “Who appeared unto thee in the way:” and yet He did not (visibly) appear, but was seen by the things done. And immediately he added, wishing to draw a veil over the accusation: “That thou mayest receive thy sight.” I came not to reprove the past, but to bestow the gift: “that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” (a) With hands laid on, he spake these words. “And immediately there fell from his eyes,” etc. (v. 18): a double blindness is removed.—And why saith it, “Having taken food, he was strengthened?” (v. 19.) Because they that are in such case become relaxed: he had no heart to partake of food before, until he obtained the mighty gifts. (c) It seems to me, that both Paul and Cornelius, at the very instant when the words were spoken, received the Spirit. And yet (in this case) the giver was no great one. So true is it, that there was naught of man’s in the things done, nor aught was done by man, but God was present, the Doer of these things. And at the same time (the Lord) both teaches him to think modestly of himself, in that He does not bring him to the Apostles who were so admired, and shows that there is nothing of man here. He was not filled, however, with the Spirit which works signs: that in this way also his faith might be shown; for he 132wrought no miracles. “And straightway,” it says, “in the synagogues he preached Jesus”—(v. 20) not that He is risen—not this: no, nor that He liveth: but what? immediately he strictly expounded the doctrine—“that this is the Son of God. And all that heard him were amazed,” etc. (v. 21.) They were reduced to utter incredulity. And yet they ought not to have wondered only, but to worship and reverence. “Is not this he,” etc. He had not merely been a persecutor, but “destroyed them which called on this Name”—they did not say, “on Jesus;” for hatred, they could not bear even to hear His name—and what is more marvellous still, “and came hither for this purpose,” etc. “We cannot say, that he associated with the Apostles before.” See by how many (witnesses) he is confessed to have been of the number of the enemies! But Paul not only was not confounded by these things, nor hid his face for shame, but “increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews” (v. 22), i.e. put them to silence, left them nothing to say for themselves, “proving, that this is very Christ.” “Teaching,” it says: for this man was a teacher.

“And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him.”484484    It is noticeable that in chap. xxii. 17, Paul is reported as connecting his going to Jerusalem directly with the narrative of his conversion, while in Gal. i. 16, 17 he states that it was not until three years after his conversion that he went up to Jerusalem. The various notices can only be matched together on the view that the coming to Jerusalem mentioned in ix. 26 was the same as that of Gal. i. 18, and that this occurred about three years after his conversion. The ἡμέραι ἱκαναί of v. 23 must therefore include the time spent in Arabia (Gal. i. 17)., after which Paul must have returned to Damascus, before going up to Jerusalem. In this way the narratives can be harmonized without admitting a contradiction (as Baur, Zeller, De Wette); it is probable, however, that Luke did not know of the visit to Arabia, but connected Paul’s going to Jerusalem closely with his conversion.—G.B.S. (v. 23.) The Jews again resort to that valid argument (ἰσχυρὸν συλλογισμόν) of theirs, not now seeking false-accusers and false-witnesses; they cannot wait for these now: but what do they? They set about it by themselves. For as they see the affair on the increase, they do not even use the form of a trial. “But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him.” (v. 24.) For this was more intolerable to them than the miracles which had taken place—than the five thousand, the three thousand, than everything, in short. And observe him, how he is delivered, not by (miraculous) grace, but by man’s wisdom—not as the apostles were—(ἐκεἴνοι, ch. v. 19) that thou mayest learn the energetic (ἀρετὴν) character of the man, how he shines even without miracles. “Then the disciples took him by night,” that the affair might not be suspected, “and let him down by the wall in a basket.”485485    The best textual authorities (A. B. C. א,) and critics (Tisch. W. and H., Lechler, Meyer, Gloag) here read: “his (Saul’s) disciples,” So R.V.…The reference is to the band of converts whom he had been successful in winning at Damascus. In Paul’s own narrative of his escape from Damascus (2 Cor. xi. 33) he states more specifically that he was let down “through a window, through the wall.” This may have been either through the window of a house overhanging the wall, or through a window in the face of some portion of the wall (Cf. Josh. ii. 15; 1 Sam. xix. 12).—G.B.S. (v. 25.) What then? having escaped such a danger, does he flee? By no means, but goes where he kindled them to greater rage.

(Recapitulation, v. 20, 21.) “And straightway in the synagogues he preached Jesus”—for he was accurate in the faith—“that this is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed,” etc., for indeed it was incredible. “But Saul increased,” etc. Therefore “after many days” this happens: viz. the Jews “took counsel to kill him. And their laying await was known of Saul.” (v. 22–24.) What does this mean? It is likely that for awhile he did not choose to depart thence, though many, perhaps, besought him; but when he learnt it, then he permitted his disciples: for he had disciples immediately.

“Then the disciples,” etc. (v. 25.) Of this occurrence he says: “The ethnarch of Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to apprehend me.” (2 Cor. xi. 32.) But observe the Writer here,486486    τοῦτον: Edd. τὸν εὐαγγελιστὴν: and below from E. alone, “ἀλλὰ μόνον ὅτι ἐπήγειραν τὸν βασιλέα, not speaking ambitiously, and making Paul illustrious, but only (saying) that they stirred up the king.” But he does not say it, and his not saying it is the very thing which Chrys. commends: ἀλλ᾽ ὅρα τοῦτον οὐ φιλοτίμως λέγοντα, οὐδὲ λαμπρὸν δεικνύντα τὸν Π., “᾽Επήγειραν γάρ,” φησιν, “τὸν βασιλέα.” The φησὶν here is put hypothetically, “as if he had said,” or “when he might have said.” The sentence, however, requires something to complete it, such as we have added in the translation. that he does not tell the story ambitiously, and so as to show what an important person Paul was, saying, “For they stirred up the king,” and so forth: but only, “Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall—in a basket:” for they sent him out alone, and none with him. And it was well they did this: the consequence being, that he showed himself to the Apostles in Jerusalem. Now they sent him out, as bound to provide for his safety by flight: but he did just the contrary—he leaped into the midst of those who were mad against him. This it is to be on fire, this to be fervent indeed! From that day forth he knew all the commands which the Apostles had heard: “Except a man take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matt. x. 38.) The very fact that he had been slower to come than the rest made him more zealous: for “to whom much is forgiven” (Luke vii. 47) the same will love more, so that the later he came, the more he 133loved: * * *487487    ᾽Αλλ᾽ ἔνεδρα (N. ἕνεδρα) ἐποίει τὸν πρῶτον χρόνον, καὶ μυρία ἠδικηκὼς, οὐδὲν ἡγεῖτο ἱκανὸν, κ. τ. λ. So all our mss. except E. If ἔνεδρα be not corrupt, it seems to be used in a sense unknown to the Lexicons.—Edd. from E. “Therefore it is that he so pillories (στηλιτεύων) his former life, and brands (στίζων) himself repeatedly, and thinks nothing enough,” etc. and having done ten thousand wrongs, he thought he could never do enough to cast the former deeds into the shade. “Proving” (v. 22), it says: i.e. with mildness teaching. And observe, they did not say to him, Thou art he that destroyed: why art thou changed? for they were ashamed: but they said it to themselves. For he would have said to them, This very thing ought to teach you, as in fact he does thus plead in his speech before Agrippa. Let us imitate this, man: let us bear our souls in our hands ready to confront all dangers.—(That he fled from Damascus) this was no cowardice:488488    Hom.xxv. in 2 Cor. p. 615. Hom. v. de Laud. S. Pauli, t. ii. 501. he preserved himself for the preaching. Had he been a coward, he would not have gone to Jerusalem, would not immediately have commenced teaching: he would have abated somewhat of his vehemence: for he had been taught by the fate of Stephen. He was no coward, but he was also prudent (οἰκονομικός) (in husbanding himself). Wherefore he thought it no great thing to die for the Gospel’s sake, unless he should do this to great advantage: willing not even to see Christ, Whom most of all he longed to see, while the work of his stewardship among men was not yet complete. (Phil. i. 23, 24). Such ought to be the soul of a Christian. From489489    Hom.xxvi. in 2 Cor. p. 617, B. his first appearance from the very outset, the character of Paul declared itself: nay even before this, even in the things which he did “not according to knowledge” (Rom. x. 2), it was not by man’s reasoning that he was moved to act as he did.490490    Μᾶλλον δὲ καὶ πρὸ τούτου, καὶ ἐν οἷς οὐ κατὰ γνῶσιν ἐποίει, οὐκ (B. οὐδὲ, A. om. ἀνθρωπίνῳ κινούμενος λογισμῷ διεπράττετο. i.e. “Even as a persecutor, he was not swayed by common worldly considerations.” The mod. t. (Edd.) perverts the Author’s meaning:“—nay even before this. For in the things, etc. he was moved by man’s reasoning to act as he did.” For if, so long afterwards, he was content not to depart, much more at the beginning of his trading voyage, when he had but just left the harbor! Many things Christ leaves to be done by (ordinary) human wisdom, that we may learn that (his disciples) were men, that it was not all everywhere to be done by grace: for otherwise they would have been mere motionless logs: but in many things they managed matters themselves.—This is not less than martyrdom,—to shrink from no suffering for the sake of the salvation of the many. Nothing so delights God. Again will I repeat what I have often said: and I repeat it, because I do exceedingly desire it: as Christ also did the same, when discoursing concerning forgiveness: “When ye pray, forgive if ye have aught against any man:” (Mark xi. 25.) and again to Peter He said, “I say not unto thee, Forgive until seven times, but until seventy-times seven.” (Matt. xviii. 22.) And Himself in fact forgives the transgressions against Him. So do we also, because we know that this is the very goal of Christianity, continually discourse thereof. Nothing is more frigid than a Christian, who cares not for the salvation of others. Thou canst not here plead poverty: for she that cast down the two mites, shall be thine accuser. (Luke xxi. 1.) And Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none.” (Acts iii. 6.) And Paul was so poor, that he was often hungered, and wanted necessary food. Thou canst not plead lowness of birth: for they too were ignoble men, and of ignoble parents. Thou canst not allege want of education: for they too were “unlearned men.” (Acts iv. 13.) Even if thou be a slave therefore and a runaway slave, thou canst perform thy part: for such was Onesimus: yet see to what Paul calls him, and to how great honor he advances him: “that he may communicate with me,” he says, “in my bonds.” (Philem. v. 13.) Thou canst not plead infirmity: for such was Timothy, having often infirmities; for, says the apostle, “Use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, and thine often infirmities.” (1 Tim. v. 23.) Every one can profit his neighbor, if he will fulfil his part. See ye not the unfruitful trees, how strong they are, how fair, how large also, and smooth, and of great height? But if we had a garden; we should much rather have pomegranates, or fruitful olive trees: for the others are for delight to the eye, not for profit, which in them is but small. Such are those men who only consider their own interest: nay, not such even since these persons are fit only for burning: whereas those trees are useful both for building and for the safety of those within. Such too were those Virgins, chaste indeed, and decent, and modest, but profitable to none (Matt. xxv. 1) wherefore they are burned. Such are they who have not nourished Christ. For observe that none of those are charged with particular sins of their own, with fornication, for instance, or with perjury; in short, with no sin but the having been of no use to another. Such was he who buried his talent, showing indeed a blameless life, but not being useful to another. (ib. 25.) How can such an one be a Christian? Say, if the leaven being mixed up with the flour did not change the whole into its own nature, would 134such a thing be leaven? Again, if a perfume shed no sweet odor on those who approach it, could we call it a perfume? Say not, “It is impossible for me to induce others (to become Christians)”—for if thou art a Christian, it is impossible but that it should be so. For as the natural properties of things cannot be gainsaid, so it is here: the thing is part of the very nature of the Christian. Do not insult God. To say, that the sun cannot shine, would be to insult Him: to say that a Christian cannot do good, is to insult God, and call Him a liar. For it is easier for the sun not to give heat, nor to shine, than for the Christian not to send forth light: it is easier for the light to be darkness, than for this to be so. Tell me not that it is impossible: the contrary is the impossible. Do not insult God. If we once get our own affairs in a right state, the other will certainly follow as a natural and necessary consequence. It is not possible for the light of a Christian to be hid; not possible for a lamp so conspicuous as that to be concealed. Let us not be careless. For, as the profit from virtue reaches both to ourselves, and to those who are benefited by it: so from vice there is a two-fold loss, reaching both to ourselves, and to those who are injured by it. Let there be (if you will) some private man, who has suffered numberless ills from some one, and let no one take his part, yet let that man still return good offices; what teaching so mighty as this? What words, or what exhortations could equal it? What wrath were it not enough to extinguish and soften? Knowing therefore these things, let us hold fast to virtue, as knowing that it is not possible to be saved otherwise, than by passing through this present life in doing these good works, that we may also obtain the good things which are to come, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father together with the Holy Spirit be glory, might, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.

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