Matthew 11
Homilies of Chrysostom
And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.
"And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding His twelve disciples, He departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities."

That is, after He had sent them, He proceeded to withdraw Himself, to give them room and opportunity to do what He had enjoined. For while He was present and healing, no one would be willing to approach them.

"Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Jesus, [1507] he sent two of [1508] his disciples, and asked Him, saying, Art thou He that should come, [1509] or do we look for another?" [1510]

But Luke saith, they also told John of the miracles, and then he sent them. [1511] However, this contains no matter of difficulty, but of consideration only; for this, among other things, indicates their jealousy towards Him.

But what follows is completely among the controverted points. Of what nature then is this? Their saying, "Art Thou He that should come, or do we look for another?" That is, he that knew Him before His miracles, he that had learned it of the Spirit, he that heard it of the Father, he who had proclaimed Him before all men; doth he now send to learn of Him, whether it be Himself or no? And if yet thou didst not know that it is surely He, how thinkest thou thyself credible, affirming as thou dost concerning things, whereof thou art ignorant? For he that is to bear witness to others, must be first worthy of credit himself. Didst thou not say, "I am not meet to loose the latchet of His shoe?" [1512] Didst thou not say, "I knew Him not, but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and resting upon Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost?" [1513] Didst thou not see the Spirit in form of a dove? didst thou not hear the voice? Didst thou not utterly forbid Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized of Thee?" [1514] Didst thou not say even to thy disciples, "He must increase, I must decrease?" [1515] Didst thou not teach all the people, that "He should baptize them with the Holy Ghost and with fire?" [1516] and that He "is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world?" [1517] Didst thou not before His signs and miracles proclaim all these things? How then now, when He hath been made manifest to all, and the fame of Him hath gone out everywhere, and dead men have been raised, and devils driven away, and a display made of so great miracles, dost thou after this send to learn of Him?

What then is the fact? Were all these sayings a kind of fraud: a stage play and fables? Nay, who that hath any understanding would say so? I say not, John, who leaped in the womb, who before his own birth proclaimed Him, the citizen of the wilderness, the exhibitor of the conversation of angels; but even though he were one of the common sort, and of them that are utterly outcast, he would not have hesitated, after so many testimonies, both on his own part and on the part of others.

Whence it is evident, that neither did he send as being himself in doubt, nor did he ask in ignorance. Since no one surely could say this, that though he knew it fully, yet on account of his prison he was become rather timid: for neither was he looking to be delivered therefrom, nor if he did look for it, would he have betrayed his duty to God, armed as he was against various kinds of death. For unless he had been prepared for this, he would not have evinced so great courage towards a whole people, practised in shedding blood of prophets; nor would he have rebuked that savage tyrant with so much boldness in the midst of the city and the forum, severely chiding him, as though he were a little child, in hearing of all men. And even if he were grown more timid, how was he not ashamed before his own disciples, in whose presence he had so often borne witness unto Him, but asked his question by them, which he should have done by others? And yet surely he knew full well, that they too were jealous of Christ, and desired to find some handle against Him. And how could he but be abashed before the Jewish people, in whose presence he had proclaimed such high things? Or what advantage accrued to him thereby, towards deliverance from his bonds? For not for Christ's sake had he been cast into prison, nor for having proclaimed His power, but for his own rebuke touching the unlawful marriage. And what child so silly, what person so frantic, but that so he would have put on himself their character? [1518]

2. What then is it which he is bringing about? For that it belongs not to John to have doubt hereupon, no nor to any ordinary person, nor even to one extremely foolish and frenzied; so much is evident from what we have said. And now we have only to add the solution.

For what intent then did he send to ask? John's disciples were starting aside from Jesus, and this surely any one may see, and they had always a jealous feeling towards Him. And it is plain, from what they said to their master: "He that was with thee," it is said, "beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come unto Him." [1519] And again, "There arose a question between John's disciples and the Jews about purifying." [1520] And again they came unto Him, and said, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but Thy disciples fast not?" [1521] For as yet they knew not who Christ was, but imagining Jesus to be a mere man, but John greater than after the manner of man, were vexed at seeing the former held in estimation, but the latter, as he had said, now ceasing. And this hindered them from coming unto Him, their jealousy quite blocking up the access. Now so long as John was with them, he was exhorting them continually and instructing them, and not even so did he persuade them; but when he was now on the point of dying, he uses the more diligence: fearing as he did lest he might leave a foundation for bad doctrine, and they continue broken off from Christ. For as he was diligent even at first to bring to Christ all that pertained to himself; so on his failing to persuade them, now towards his end he does but exert the more zeal.

Now if he had said, "Go ye away unto Him, He is better than I," he would not have persuaded them, minded as they were not easily to be separated from him, but rather he would have been thought to say it out of modesty, and they would have been the more rivetted to him; or if he had held his peace, then again nothing was gained. What then doth he? He waits to hear from them that Christ is working miracles, and not even so doth he admonish them, nor doth he send all, but some two (whom he perhaps knew to be more teachable than the rest); that the inquiry might be made without suspicion, in order that from His acts they might learn the difference between Jesus and himself. And he saith, Go ye, and say, "Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another?" [1522]

But Christ knowing the purpose of John, did not say, I am He; for this would again have offended the hearers, although this was what it naturally followed for Him to say, but He leaves them to learn it from His acts. For it saith, "when these were come to Him, then "He cured many." [1523] And yet what congruity was there, that being asked, "Art thou He," He should say nothing to that, but should presently cure them that were sick; unless it had been His mind to establish this which I have mentioned? Because they of course would account the testimony of His deeds surer, and more above suspicion than that of His words.

Knowing therefore, as being God, the mind with which John had sent them, He straightway cured blind, lame, and many others; not to teach him (for how should He him that was convinced), but these that were doubting: and having healed them, He saith,

"Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see; the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, and the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached unto them." [1524] And he added, "And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me;" [1525] implying that He knows even their unuttered thoughts. For if He had said, "I am He," both this would have offended them, as I have already said; and they would have thought, even if they had not spoken, much as the Jews said to Him, "Thou bearest record of Thyself." [1526] Wherefore He saith not this Himself, but leaves them to learn all from the miracles, freeing what He taught from suspicion, and making it plainer. Wherefore also He covertly added His reproof of them. That is, because they were "offended in Him," He by setting forth their case and leaving it to their own conscience alone, and by calling no witness of this His accusation, but only themselves that knew it all, did thus also draw them the more unto Himself, in saying, Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me." For indeed His secret meaning was of them when He said this.

3. But in order to our making the truth more evident to you by the comparison of the several statements, producing not only our own sayings, but also what is stated by others; we must needs add some account of them.

What then do some affirm? That this which we have stated was not the cause, but that John was in ignorance, yet not in ignorance of all; but that He was the Christ, he knew, but whether He was also to die for mankind, he knew not, therefore he said, "Art Thou He that should come?" that is, He that is to descend into hell. [1527] But this is not tenable; for neither of this was John ignorant. This at least he proclaimed even before all the others, and bare record of this first, "Behold," saith he, "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." [1528] Now he called Him a lamb, as proclaiming the cross, and again in saying, "That taketh away the sin of the world," he declared this same thing. For not otherwise than by the cross did He effect this; as Paul likewise said: "And the handwriting which was contrary to us, even it He took out of the way, nailing it to His cross." [1529] And his saying too, "He shall baptize you with the Spirit," [1530] is that of one who was foretelling the events after the resurrection.

Well: that He was to rise again, he knew, say they, and that He was to give the Holy Ghost; but that He should likewise be crucified, he knew not. How then was He to rise again, who had not suffered, nor been crucified? And how was this man greater than a prophet, who knew not even what the prophets knew? For that he was greater than a prophet, even Christ Himself bare record, [1531] but that the prophets knew of the passion is surely plain to every one. For so Isaiah saith, "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearer is dumb." [1532] And before this testimony also he saith, "There shall be a root of Jesse, and He that shall rise again to rule the Gentiles, in Him shall the Gentiles trust." [1533] Then speaking of His passion, and of the ensuing glory, he added, "And His rest shall be honor." And this prophet foretold not only that He should be crucified, but also with whom. "For," saith he, "He was numbered with the transgressors." [1534] And not this only, but that He should not even plead for Himself; "For this man," he saith, "openeth not His mouth:" and that He should be unjustly condemned; "For in His humiliation," saith he, "His judgment was taken away." [1535] And before this again, David both saith this, and describes the judgment hall. "Why," saith he, "do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers are gathered together against the Lord, and against His anointed." [1536] And elsewhere he mentions also the image of the cross, saying on this wise, "They pierced my hand and my feet," [1537] and those things which the soldiers were emboldened to do, he adds with all exactness, "For they parted my garments," saith he, "among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots." [1538] And elsewhere again he saith, that they also offered Him vinegar; "For they gave me," saith He, "gall for my meat, and for my thirst they made me drink vinegar." [1539]

So then the prophets, so many years before, speak of the hall of judgment, and of the condemnation, and of them that were crucified with Him, and of the division of the garments, and of the lot cast upon them, and of many more things besides (for indeed it is unnecessary to allege all now, lest we make our discourse long): and was this man, greater than them all, ignorant of all these things? Nay, how should this be reasonable?

And why did he not say, "Art thou He that should come to hell," [1540] but simply, "He that should come?" Although this were far more absurd than the others, I mean their saying, "he therefore said these things, that he might preach there also after his departure." To whom it were seasonable to say, "Brethren, be not children in understanding, howbeit in malice be ye children." [1541] For the present life indeed is the season for right conversation, but after death is judgment and punishment. "For in hell," it is said, "who will confess unto thee?" [1542]

How then were "the gates of brass burst, and the bars of iron broken in sunder"? [1543] By His body; for then first was a body shown, immortal, and destroying the tyranny of death. And besides, this indicates the destruction of the might of death, not the loosing of the sins of those who had died before His coming. And if this were not so, but He have delivered all that were before Him from hell, [1544] how saith He, "It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah?" [1545] For this saying supposes that those are also to be punished; more mildly indeed, yet still that they are to be punished. And yet they did also suffer here the most extreme punishment, nevertheless not even this will deliver them. And if it is so with them, much more with such as have suffered nothing.

"What then?" one may say, "were they wronged, who lived before His coming?" By no means, for men might then be saved, even though they had not confessed Christ. For this was not required of them, but not to worship idols, and to know the true God. "For the Lord thy God," it is said, "is one Lord." [1546] Therefore the Maccabees were admired, because for the observance of the law they suffered what they did suffer; and the three children, and many others too amongst the Jews, having shown forth a very virtuous life, and having maintained the standard of this their knowledge, had nothing more required of them. For then it was sufficient for salvation, as I have said already, to know God only; but now it is so no more, but there is need also of the knowledge of Christ. Therefore He said, "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin, but now they have no cloak for their sin." [1547]

So likewise with regard to the rule of practice. Then murder was the destruction of him that committed it, but now even to be angry. And then to commit adultery, and to lie with another man's wife, brought punishment, but now even to look with unchaste eyes. For as the knowledge, so also the rule of life is now made stricter. So that there was no need of a forerunner there.

And besides, if unbelievers are after death to be saved on their believing, no man shall ever perish. For all will then repent and adore. And in proof that this is true, hear Paul saying, "Every tongue shall confess, and every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth." [1548] And, "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." [1549] But there is no advantage in that submission, for it comes not of a rightly disposed choice, but of the necessity of things, as one may say, thenceforth taking place.

Let us not then any more bring in such old wives' doctrines, and Jewish fables. Hear at least what Paul saith touching these things. "For as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law;" [1550] where his discourse is of those who lived in the time before the law; and, "As many as have sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law," [1551] speaking of all after Moses. And, "That the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men," [1552] and, "indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile." [1553] And yet countless were the evils which the Gentiles have suffered in this world, and this is declared alike by the histories of the heathens, and by the Scriptures that are in our hands. For who could recount the tragic calamities of the Babylonians, or those of the Egyptians? But in proof that they who, not having known Christ before His coming in the flesh, yet refrained from idolatry and worshipped God only, and showed forth an excellent life, shall enjoy all the blessings; hear what is said: "But glory, and honor, and peace to every one that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile." Seest thou that for their good deeds there are many rewards, and chastisements again, and penalties for such as have done the contrary?

4. Where now, tell me, are the utter unbelievers in hell? Why, if those before Christ's coming, who had not so much as heard the name of hell, [1554] nor of a resurrection, and were punished here, shall suffer punishment there also; how much more we that have been nurtured in so many lessons of strict virtue? [1555]

And how is it reasonable, asks one, that they that have never heard of hell, [1556] should fall into hell? For they will say, "If thou hadst threatened hell, we should have feared more, and have been sobered." To be sure; (is it not so?) at our rate of living now, who hear daily the sayings about hell, and give no heed at all.

And besides, there is this also to be said; that he who is not restrained by the judgments in sight, much less will he be restrained by those others. For the less reasonable sort, and those of a grosser disposition, are wont to be sobered rather by things which are at hand, and straightway to happen, than by such as will come to pass a long time after. "But over us," one may say, "a greater fear is suspended, and herein were they wronged." By no means. For first, there are not the same measures [1557] set to us as to them, but much greater for us. Now they that have undertaken greater labors, ought to enjoy greater help. And it is no little help, that our fear has been increased. And if we have an advantage over them in knowing things to come, they have an advantage over us in that the severe punishments are presently laid upon them.

But there is something else, which the multitude say with respect to this also. For "where," say they, "is God's justice, when any one for sinning here, is punished both here and there?" Would ye then I should put you in mind of your own sayings, that ye may no longer give us trouble, but furnish the solution from within yourselves. I have heard many of our people, if haply they were told of a murderer cut off in a court of justice, how they had indignation, and talked in this way: "This unholy and accursed wretch, having perpetrated thirty murders, or even many more, hath himself undergone one death only; and where is the justice of it?" So that ye yourselves confess, that one death is not sufficient for punishment; how give ye then an opposite sentence now. Because not others but yourselves are the objects of your judgment: so great a hindrance is self-love to our perceiving what is just. Because of this, when we are judging others, we search out all things with strictness, but when we are sitting in judgment on ourselves, we are blinded. Since if we were to search into these things in our own case too, as we do with regard to other men, we should give an uncorrupt sentence. For we also have sins, deserving not two or three, but ten thousand deaths. And to pass over all the rest, let us recollect ourselves, as many of us as partake unworthily of the mysteries; such men being guilty of the body and blood of Christ. Wherefore, when thou art talking of the murderer, take account of thyself also. For he indeed hath murdered a man, but thou art under the guilt of slaying the Lord; and he, not having partaken of mysteries, but we, while enjoying the benefit of the sacred table.

And what are they that bite and devour their brethren, and pour out such abundance of venom? What is he that robs the poor of their food? For if he who imparts not of his own, is such as I have said, much more he that takes the things of others. [1558] How many robbers do the covetous surpass in wickedness! how many murderers and robbers of tombs, the rapacious! and how many after spoiling men are desirous even of their blood!

"Nay," saith he, "God forbid." Now thou sayest, God forbid. When thou hast an enemy, then say, God forbid, and call to mind what hath been said, and show forth a life full of great strictness; lest the portion of Sodom await us also, lest we suffer the lot of Gomorrha, lest we undergo the ills of the Tyrians and Sidonians; or rather, lest we offend Christ, which were a thing more grievous and more to be feared than all.

For though to many hell [1559] seem to be a fearful thing, yet I for my part will not cease continually to say, that this is more grievous and fearful than any hell; and you I entreat to be of the same mind. For so shall we both be delivered from hell, and enjoy the glory that is bestowed of Christ; unto which may we all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might forever and ever. Amen.


[1507] [R.V. , "Of the Christ," as in nearly all authorities, but Chrysostom reads to Ieso.--R.]

[1508] [R.V. , "by his disciples," but some ancient authorities (Vulgate also) support "two." Taken from Luke 7:19.--R.]

[1509] [R.V. , "He that cometh."]

[1510] Matthew 11:2, 3.

[1511] Luke 7:18.

[1512] John 1:27.

[1513] John 1:33.

[1514] Matthew 3:14.

[1515] John 3:30.

[1516] Matthew 3:11.

[1517] John 1:29. [R.V. , "Or, beareth the sin," etc.]

[1518] [ok n aut dxan peritheke.]

[1519] John 3:26.

[1520] John 3:25. [R.V. , "with a Jew." So one ms. here. In Homily XXIX. on John, Chrysostom distinctly accepts the singular, as do nearly all Greek mss.--R.]

[1521] Matthew 9:14.

[1522] Matthew 11:3.

[1523] Luke 7:21.

[1524] Matthew 4:5.

[1525] Matthew 11:6. [R.V. , "shall find none occasion of stumbling in me."]

[1526] John 8:13. [R.V. , "witness."]

[1527] See Origen, 2 Hom. in Reg. t. ii. p. 495, 6; St. Ambr. in Luc. vii. 19; St. Jerome in loc. [The Greek term used is "Hades," not "Gehenna."--R.]

[1528] John 1:29.

[1529] Colossians 2:14. [Comp. R.V. , in loco.]

[1530] Matthew 3:11.

[1531] Matthew 11:9.

[1532] Isaiah 53:7.

[1533] Isaiah 11:10.

[1534] Isaiah 53:12.

[1535] Isaiah 53:8, from LXX.

[1536] Psalm 2:1, 2.

[1537] Psalm 22:16.

[1538] Psalm 22:18.

[1539] Psalm 69:21.

[1540] [e tn dn.]

[1541] 1 Corinthians 14:20.

[1542] Psalm 6:5 [had].

[1543] Psalm 107:16.

[1544] [genne.]

[1545] Matthew 10:15.

[1546] Deuteronomy 6:4.

[1547] John 15:22. [R.V. , "excuse."]

[1548] Philippians 2:10, 11.

[1549] 1 Corinthians 15:26.

[1550] Romans 2:12.

[1551] Romans 2:12.

[1552] Romans 1:18.

[1553] Romans 2:8, 9.

[1554] [genne.]

[1555] philosopha.

[1556] [genne, and so throughout the paragraph.--R.]

[1557] skmmata.

[1558] The words in italics, both here and below, are omitted in several mss.

[1559] [genna, and similarly throughout the paragraph.--R.]

Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:
The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.
But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,
And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.
The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
"At that time Jesus answered and said, I make acknowledgment unto Thee, [1606] O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth; because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight." [1607]

Seest thou, how many ways He leads them on to the faith? First, [1608] by His praises of John. For by pointing to him as a great and marvellous one, He proved likewise all his sayings credible, whereby he used to draw them on to the knowledge of Him. Secondly, [1609] by saying, "The kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force;" for this is the language of one who is pressing and urging them. Thirdly, [1610] by signifying that the number of the prophets was finished; for this too manifested Himself to be the person that was announced beforehand by them. Fourthly, [1611] by pointing out that whatsoever things should be done by him, were all accomplished; at which time also He made mention of the parable of the children. Fifthly, by His upbraiding them that had not believed, and by His alarming and threatening them greatly. [1612] Sixthly, by His giving thanks for them that believed. For the expression, "I make acknowledgment to Thee," here is, "I thank Thee." "I thank Thee," He saith, "because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent."

What then? doth He rejoice in destruction, and in the others not having received this knowledge? By no means; but this is a most excellent way of His to save men, His not forcing them that utterly reject, and are not willing to receive His sayings; that, since they were not bettered by His call, but fell back, and despised it, His casting them out might cause them to fall into a longing for these things. And so likewise the attentive would grow more earnest.

And while His being revealed to these was fit matter of joy, His concealment from those was no more of joy but of tears. Thus at any rate He acts, where He weeps for the city. Not therefore because of this doth He rejoice, but because what wise men knew not, was known to these. As when Paul saith, "I thank God, that ye were servants of sin, but ye obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine which was delivered unto you." [1613] You see, neither doth Paul therefore rejoice, because they were "servants of sin," but because being such, they had been so highly favored.

Now by the "wise," here, He means the Scribes, and the Pharisees. And these things He saith, to make the disciples more earnest, and to show what had been vouchsafed to the fishermen, when all those others had missed of it. And in calling them "wise," He means not the true and commendable wisdom, but this which they seemed to have through natural shrewdness. Wherefore neither did He say, "thou hast revealed it to fools," but "to babes;" to unsophisticated, that is, to simple-minded men; and He implies that so far from their missing these privileges contrary to their desert, it was just what might be expected. And He instructs us throughout, to be free from pride, and to follow after simplicity. For this cause Paul also expressed it with more exceeding earnestness, writing on this wise: "If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise." [1614] For thus is God's grace manifested.

But wherefore doth He give thanks to the Father, although of course it was Himself who wrought this? As He prays and intercedes with God, showing His great love towards us, in the same way doth He this too: for this also is of much love. And He signifies, that not from Him only had they fallen away, but also from the Father. Thus, what He said, speaking to His disciples, "Cast not the holy things unto dogs," [1615] this He Himself anticipated them in performing.

Moreover He signifies hereby both His own principal [1616] will, and that of the Father; His own, I say, by His giving thanks and rejoicing at what had taken place; His Father's, by intimating that neither had He done this upon entreaty, but of Himself upon His own will; "For so," saith He, "it seemed good in Thy sight:" that is, "so it pleased Thee."

And wherefore was it hidden from them? Hear Paul, saying, that "Seeking to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God." [1617]

Consider now how it was likely the disciples should [1618] be affected, hearing this; that what wise men knew not, these knew, and knew it continuing babes, and knew it by God's revelation. But Luke saith, that "at the very hour," when the seventy came telling Him about the devils, then He "rejoiced" and spake these things, [1619] which, besides increasing their diligence, would also dispose them to be modest. That is, since it was natural for them to pride themselves on their driving away devils, on this among other grounds He refrains them; that it was a revelation, whatever had been done, no diligence on their part. Wherefore also the scribes, and the wise men, thinking to be intelligent for themselves, fell away through their own vanity. Well then, if for this cause it was hidden from them, "do you also," saith He, "fear, and continue babes." For this caused you to have the benefit of the revelation, as indeed on the other hand the contrary made them be deprived of it. For by no means, when He saith, "Thou hast hid," doth He mean that it is all God's doing: but as when Paul saith, "He gave them over to a reprobate mind," [1620] and, "He hath blinded their minds," [1621] it is not meant to bring Him in as the doer of it, but those who gave the occasion: so here also He uses the expression, "Thou hast hid."

For since He had said, "I thank [1622] Thee, because Thou hast hid them, and hast revealed them unto babes;" to hinder thy supposing that as being Himself deprived of this power, and unable to effect it, so He offers thanks, He saith,

"All things are delivered unto me of my Father." [1623] And to them that are rejoicing, because the devils obey them, "Nay, why marvel," saith He, [1624] "that devils yield to you? All things are mine; "All things are delivered unto me."

But when thou hearest, "they are delivered," do not surmise anything human. For He uses this expression, to prevent thine imagining two unoriginate Gods. Since, that He was at the same time both begotten, and Lord of all, He declares in many ways, and in other places also.

2. Then He saith what is even greater than this, lifting up thy mind; "And no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, but the Son." Which seems indeed to the ignorant unconnected with what went before, but hath full accordance therewith. As thus: having said, "All things are delivered unto me of my Father," He adds, "And what marvel," so He speaks, "if I be Lord of all? I who have also another greater privilege, the knowing the Father, and being of the same substance." Yea, for this too He covertly signifies by His being the only one who so knew Him. For this is His meaning, when He saith, "No man knoweth the Father but the Son."

And see at what time He saith this. When they by His works had received the certain proof of His might, not only seeing Him work miracles, but endowed also in His name with so great powers. Then, since He had said, "Thou hast revealed them unto babes," He signifies this also to pertain to Himself; for "neither knoweth any man the Father," saith He, "save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son is willing [1625] to reveal Him; [1626] not "to whomsoever He may be enjoined," "to whomsoever He may be commanded." But if He reveals Him, then Himself too. This however He let pass as acknowledged, but the other He hath set down. And everywhere He affirms this; as when He saith, "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me." [1627]

And thereby he establishes another point also, His being in harmony and of one mind with Him. "Why," saith He, "I am so far from fighting and warring with Him, that no one can even come to Him but by me." For because this most offended them, His seeming to be a rival God, He by all means doth away with this; and interested Himself about this not less earnestly, but even more so, than about His miracles.

But when He saith, "Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son," He means not this, that all men were ignorant of Him, but that with the knowledge wherewith He knows [1628] Him, no man is acquainted with Him; which may be said of the Son too. [1629] For it was not of some God unknown, and revealed to no man, that He was so speaking, as Marcion saith; [1630] but it is the perfection of knowledge that He is here intimating, since neither do we know the Son as He should be known; and this very thing, to add no more, Paul was declaring, when he said, "We know in part, and we prophesy in part." [1631]

3. Next, having brought them by His words to an earnest desire, and having signified His unspeakable power, He after that invites them, saying, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." [1632] Not this or that person, but all that are in anxiety, in sorrows, in sins. Come, not that I may call you to account, but that I may do away your sins; come, not that I want your honor, but that I want your salvation. "For I," saith He, "will give you rest." He said not, "I will save you," only; but what was much more, "I will place you in all security."

"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." [1633] Thus, "be not afraid," saith He, "hearing of a yoke, for it is easy: fear not, because I said, "a burden," for it is light."

And how said He before, "The gate is narrow and the way strait?" [1634] Whilst thou art careless, whilst thou art supine; whereas, if thou duly perform His words, the burden will be light; wherefore also He hath now called it so.

But how are they duly performed? If thou art become lowly, and meek, and gentle. For this virtue is the mother of all strictness of life. Wherefore also, when beginning those divine laws, with this He began. [1635] And here again He doeth the very same, and exceeding great is the reward He appoints. "For not to another only dost thou become serviceable; but thyself also above all thou refreshest," saith He. "For ye shall find rest unto your souls."

Even before the things to come, He gives thee here thy recompense, and bestows the prize already, making the saying acceptable, both hereby, and by setting Himself forward as an example. For, "Of what art thou afraid?" saith He, "lest thou shouldest be a loser by thy low estate? Look to me, and to all that is mine; learn of me, and then shalt thou know distinctly how great thy blessing." Seest thou how in all ways He is leading them to humility? By His own doings: "Learn of me, for I am meek." By what themselves are to gain; for, "Ye shall find," saith He," rest unto your souls." By what He bestows on them; for, "I too will refresh you," saith He. By rendering it light; "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." So likewise doth Paul, saying, "For the present light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." [1636]

And how, some one may say, is the burden light, when He saith, "Except one hate father and mother;" and, "Whosoever taketh not up his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me:" and, "Whosoever forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be my disciple:" [1637] when He commands even to give up our very life? [1638] Let Paul teach thee, saying, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? [1639] " And that, "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." [1640] Let those teach thee, who return from the council of the Jews after plenty of stripes, and "rejoice that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ." [1641] And if thou art still afraid and tremblest at hearing of the yoke and the burden, the fear comes not of the nature of the thing, but of thy remissness; since if thou art prepared, and in earnest, all will be easy to thee and light. Since for this cause Christ also, to signify that we too must needs labor ourselves, did not mention the gracious things only, and then hold His peace, nor the painful things only, but set down both. Thus He both spake of "a yoke," and called it "easy;" both named a burden, and added that it was "light;" that thou shouldest neither flee from them as toilsome, nor despise them as over easy.

But if even after all this, virtue seem to thee an irksome thing, consider that vice is more irksome. And this very thing He was intimating, in that He said not first, "Take my yoke upon you," but before that, "Come, ye that labor and are heavy laden;" implying that sin too hath labor, and a burden that is heavy and hard to bear. For He said not only, "Ye that labor," but also, "that are heavy laden." This the prophet too was speaking of, when in that description of her nature, "As an heavy burden they weighed heavy upon me." [1642] And Zacharias too, describing her, saith she is "A talent of lead." [1643]

And this moreover experience itself proves. For nothing so weighs upon the soul, and presses it down, as consciousness of sin; nothing so much gives it wings, and raises it on high, as the attainment of righteousness and virtue.

And mark it: what is more grievous, I pray thee, than to have no possessions? to turn the cheek, and when smitten not to smite again? to die by a violent death? Yet nevertheless, if we practise self-command, all these things are light and easy, and pleasurable.

But be not disturbed; rather let us take up each of these, and inquire about it accurately; and if ye will, that first which many count most painful. Which then of the two, tell me, is grievous and burdensome, to be in care for one belly, or to be anxious about ten thousand? To be clothed with one outer garment, and seek for nothing more; or having many in one's house, to bemoan one's self every day and night in fear, in trembling, about the preservation of them, grieved, and ready to choke about the loss of them; lest one should be moth-eaten, lest a servant purloin and go off with them?

4. But whatever I may say, my speech will present no such proof as the actual trial. Wherefore I would there were present here with us some one of those who have attained unto that summit of self-restraint, and then you would know assuredly the delight thereof; and that none of those that are enamored of voluntary poverty would accept wealth, though ten thousand were to offer it.

But would these, say you, ever consent to become poor, and to cast away the anxieties which they have? And what of that? This is but a proof of their madness and grievous disease, not of anything very pleasurable in the thing. And this even themselves would testify to us, who are daily lamenting over these their anxieties, and accounting their life to be not worth living. But not so those others; rather they laugh, leap for joy, and the wearers of the diadem do not so glory, as they do in their poverty.

Again, to turn the cheek is, to him that gives heed, a less grievous thing than to smite another; for from this the contest hath beginning, in that termination: and whereas by the former thou hast kindled the other's pile too, by the latter thou hast quenched even thine own flames. But that not to be burnt is a pleasanter thing than to be burnt, is surely plain to every man. And if this hold in regard of bodies, much more in a soul.

And whether is lighter, to contend, or to be crowned? to fight, or to have the prize? and to endure waves, or to run into harbor? Therefore also, to die is better than to live. For the one withdraws us from waves and dangers, while the other adds unto them, and makes a man subject to numberless plots and distresses, which have made life not worth living in thine account.

And if thou disbelievest our sayings, hearken to them that have seen the countenances of the martyrs in the time of their conflicts, how when scourged and flayed, they were exceeding joyful and glad, and when exposed upon hot irons, rejoiced, and were glad of heart, more than such as lie upon a bed of roses. Wherefore Paul also said, when he was at the point of departing hence, and closing his life by a violent death, "I joy, and rejoice with you all; for the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me." [1644] Seest thou with what exceeding strength of language he invites the whole world to partake in his gladness? So great a good did he know his departure hence to be, so desirable, and lovely, and worthy of prayer, that formidable thing, death.

5. But that virtue's yoke is sweet and light, is manifest many other ways also; but to conclude, if you please, let us look also at the burdens of sin. Let us then bring forward the covetous, the retailers and second-hand dealers in shameless bargains. What now could be a heavier burden than such transactions? how many sorrows, how many anxieties, how many disappointments, how many dangers, how many plots and wars, daily spring up from these gains? how many troubles and disturbances? For as one can never see the sea without waves, so neither such a soul without anxiety, and despondency, and fear, and disturbance; yea, the second overtakes the first, and again others come up, and when these are not yet ceased, others come to a head.

Or wouldest thou see the souls of the revilers, and of the passionate? Why, what is worse than this torture? what, than the wounds they have within? what, than the furnace that is continually burning, and the flame that is never quenched?

Or of the sensual, and of such as cleave unto this present life? Why, what more grievous than this bondage? They live the life of Cain, dwelling in continual trembling and fear at every death that happens; the kinsmen of the dead mourn not so much, as these do for their own end.

What again fuller of turmoil, and more frantic, than such as are puffed up with pride? "For learn," saith He, "of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Because long-suffering is the mother of all good things.

Fear thou not therefore, neither start away from the yoke that lightens thee of all these things, but put thyself under it with all forwardness, and then thou shalt know well the pleasure thereof. For it doth not at all bruise thy neck, but is put on thee for good order's sake only, and to persuade thee to walk seemly, and to lead thee unto the royal road, and to deliver thee from the precipices on either side, and to make thee walk with ease in the narrow way.

Since then so great are its benefits, so great its security, so great its gladness, let us with all our soul, with all our diligence, draw this yoke; that we may both here "find rest unto our souls," and attain unto the good things to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and might, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.


[1606] [A.V. , "I thank thee," so R.V. , with margin, "Or, praise." The Oxford translator gives the exact sense of the Greek verb, but below reverts to the rendering "thank," in accordance with the explanation of Chrysostom.--R.]

[1607] [R.V. , "Yea, Father, for (or, that) so it was well-pleasing in thy sight." Comp. the explanation in the Homily.--R.]

[1608] Matthew 11:7-11.

[1609] Matthew 11:12.

[1610] Matthew 6:13.

[1611] Matthew 6:14-19.

[1612] Matthew 11:20-24.

[1613] Romans 6:17. [R.V. , "that form of teaching whereunto ye were delivered." The A.V. renders the passage incorrectly: there being no doubt as to the Greek text. The R.V. also brings out the thought which the Homily indicates.--R.]

[1614] 1 Corinthians 3:18.

[1615] Matthew 7:6.

[1616] proegomenon. In the same sense in which Hooker says, "He willeth positively that which Himself worketh; He willeth by permission that which His creatures do." E. P. v. App. No. 1, p. 714, cf. in Walton's Life, p. 29. "That in God there were two wills, an antecedent and a consequent will; His first will, that all mankind should be saved; His second, that those only should be saved, who lived answerable to that degree of grace which He had offered."

[1617] Romans 10:3.

[1618] ["would;" but the whole clause has been freely paraphrased.--R.]

[1619] Luke 10:21.

[1620] Romans 1:28.

[1621] 2 Corinthians 4:4. ["This passage is irrelevant, since it speaks of "the god of this world."--R.]

[1622] [See above, and note 1, p. 250.--R.]

[1623] Matthew 11:27.

[1624] Luke 10:22.

[1625] boletai. [R.V. , "willeth."]

[1626] Matthew 11:27.

[1627] John 14:6.

[1628] epstatai.

[1629] That is, that none but the Father has full knowledge of Him.

[1630] Tertull. adv. Marc. i. 8. "The Marcionites bring forward a new God, as if we were ashamed of the ancient One....I hear them talk of a new God, in the old world and in the old age, and under that ancient God, unknown and unheard of." [Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. iii. p. 276.] It seems to have been common to all the Oriental sects, to speak of the Supreme God as utterly unknown until the Christian dispensation began.

[1631] 1 Corinthians 13:9.

[1632] Matthew 11:28.

[1633] Matthew 11:29, 30.

[1634] Matthew 7:13.

[1635] Matthew 5:3.

[1636] 2 Corinthians 4:17.

[1637] Luke 14:26, 27, 33; Matthew 10:37, 38.

[1638] Matthew 16:25.

[1639] Romans 8:35.

[1640] Romans 8:18.

[1641] Acts 5:41.

[1642] Psalm 38:4.

[1643] Zechariah 5:7, 8.

[1644] Philippians 2:17, 18. [R.V. , "and in the same manner also," etc.]

Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.
All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom
Text Courtesy of Christian Classics Etherial Library.

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