But I Shall Also Offer, to the Best of My Ability...
But I shall also offer, to the best of my ability, some expositions of the other words referred to; that is to say, I shall show that Jesus neither said nor did aught that was contrary to Moses. And first, as to the word, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," [1913] -- that is the expression of justice. And as to His injunction, that a man, when struck on the one cheek, should offer the other also, that is the expression of goodness. Well, then, are justice and goodness opposed to each other? Far from it! There has only been an advance from simple justice to positive goodness. And again, we have the saying, "The workman is worthy of his hire." [1914] But if a person seeks to practise any fraud therein, it is surely most just [1915] that what he has got possession of by fraud should be required of him, most especially when the hire is large. Now this I say, that when the Egyptians afflicted the children of Israel by the taskmasters who were set over them in the process of making bricks, Moses required and exacted the whole at once, with penalties, within one moment of time. But is this, then, to be called iniquity? Far from it! Surely it is the abstinence [1916] of goodness, indeed, when one makes but a moderate use of what is really necessary, and gives up all that goes beyond that. Let us look, again, at the fact that in the Old Testament we find the words, "I make the rich man and the poor man," [1917] whereas Jesus calls the poor blessed. [1918] Well, in that saying Jesus did not refer to those who are poor simply in worldly substance, but to those who are poor in spirit, that is to say, who are not inflamed [1919] with pride, but have the gentle and lowly dispositions of humility, not thinking of themselves more than they ought to think. [1920] This question, however, is one which our adversary has not propounded correctly. For here I perceive that Jesus also looks on willingly at the gifts of the rich men, when they are put into the treasury. [1921] All too little, at the same time, is it [1922] if gifts are cast into [1923] the treasury by the rich alone; and so there are the two mites of the poor widow which are also received with gladness; and in that offering verily something is exhibited that goes beyond what Moses prescribed on the subject of the receipt of moneys. For he received gifts from those who had; but Jesus receives them even from those who have not. But this man says, further, that it is written, that "except a man shall forsake all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." [1924] Well, I observe again, that the centurion, a man exceedingly wealthy and well dowered with worldly influence, possessed a faith surpassing that of all Israel; [1925] so that, even if there was any one who had forsaken all, that man was surpassed in faith by this centurion. But some one may now reason with us thus: It is not a good thing, consequently, to give up riches. Well, I reply that it is a good thing for those who are capable of it; but, at the same time, to employ [1926] riches for the work of righteousness and mercy, is a thing as acceptable as though one were to give up the whole at once. Again, as to the assertion that the Sabbath has been abolished, we deny that He has abolished it plainly; [1927] for He was Himself also Lord of the Sabbath. [1928] And this, the law's relation to the Sabbath, was like the servant who has charge of the bridegroom's chamber, and who prepares the same with all carefulness, and does not suffer it to be disturbed or touched by any stranger, but keeps it intact against the time of the bridegroom's arrival; so that when he is come, the same may be used as it pleases himself, or as it is granted to those to use it whom he has bidden enter along with him. And the Lord Jesus Christ Himself gave His testimony to what we affirm, when He said with His heavenly voice, "Can ye make the children of the bride-chamber fast so long as the bridegroom is with them?" [1929] And again, He did not actually reject circumcision; but we should rather say that He received in Himself and in our stead the cause of circumcision, [1930] relieving us by what He Himself endured, and not permitting us to have to suffer any pain to no purpose. [1931] For what, indeed, can it profit a man to circumcise himself, if nevertheless he cherishes the worst of thoughts against his neighbour? He desired, accordingly, rather to open up to us the ways of the fullest life by a brief path, [1932] lest perchance, after we had traversed lengthened courses of our own, we should find our day prematurely closing upon us in night, and lest, while outwardly indeed we might appear splendid to men's view, we should inwardly be comparable only to ravening wolves, [1933] or be likened to whited sepulchres. [1934] For far above any person of that type of character is to be placed the man who, although clad only in squalid and threadbare attire, keeps no evil hidden in his heart against his neighbour. For it is only the circumcision of the heart that brings salvation; and that merely carnal circumcision can be of no advantage to men, unless they happen also to be fortified with the spiritual circumcision. Listen also to what Scripture has to say on this subject: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." [1935] What need, therefore, is there for me to labour and suffer, seeing that I have been made acquainted with the compendious way of life, [1936] and know that it shall be mine if only I can be pure in heart? And that is quite in accordance with the truth which we have learned now, to wit, that if one prevails in the keeping of the two commandments, he fulfils the whole law and the prophets. [1937] Moreover Paul, the chief of the apostles, after all these sayings, gives us yet clearer instruction on the subject, when he says, "Or seek ye a proof of that Christ who speaketh in me?" [1938] What have I then to do with circumcision, seeing that I may be justified in uncircumcision? For it is written: "Is any man circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Or is any in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. For neither of these is anything, but only the keeping of the commandments of God." [1939] Consequently, as circumcision is incompetent to save any, it is not greatly to be required, especially when we see that if a man has been called in uncircumcision, and wishes then to be circumcised, he is made forthwith a transgressor [1940] of the law. For if I am circumcised, I also fulfil the commandments of the law with the view of being in a position to be saved; but if I am uncircumcised, and remain in uncircumcision, much more in keeping the commandments shall I have life. For I have received the circumcision of the heart, in the spirit, and not that of the letter in the mere ink, [1941] in which former there is praise, not of men, but of God. [1942] Wherefore let no charge of this kind be brought against me. For just as the man of wealth, who possesses great treasures of gold and silver, so that he gets everything which is necessary for the uses of his house made of these precious metals, has no need to display any vessel of earthenware in anything belonging to his family and yet it does follow from this circumstance that the productions of the potter, or the art of making vessels of pottery, [1943] are to be held in abhorrence by him; so also I, who have been made rich by the grace of God, and who have obtained the circumcision of the heart, cannot by any means [1944] stand in need of that most profitless fleshly circumcision, and yet, for all that, it does not follow that I should call it evil. Far be it from me to do so! If, however, any one desires to receive still more exact instruction on these matters, he will find them discussed with the greatest fulness in the apostle's first epistle. [1945]


[1913] Matthew 5:32.

[1914] Matthew 10:10.

[1915] The Codex Casinensis gives, "exige ab eo illa quæ fraudem interceperat;" the other codex gives, "et exigi ab eo illa quæ fraude interceperat." The correct reading probably would be, "exigi ab eo illa quæ per fraudem interceperat."

[1916] We adopt the conjecture of Valesius, viz., abstinentia. The Codex Bobiensis gives absentia.

[1917] Proverbs 22:2.

[1918] Matthew 5:3.

[1919] Reading inflammantur. It may perhaps be inflantur = puffed up.

[1920] Romans 12:3.

[1921] Mark 12:41.

[1922] Reading et parum hoc est, with Codex Bobiensis, instead of the et pauperum hoc est of Codex Casinensis. We may also render it as ="but it is far from being the case that gifts are cast," etc.

[1923] The Codex Bobiensis reads inferuntur; the other codex gives offeruntur, offered.

[1924] Luke 14:33.

[1925] Matthew 8:10.

[1926] The text gives sed abuti, and the Codex Bobiensis has sed et abuti. But the reading ought probably to be sed et uti, or sed etiam uti. Routh, however, notices that abutor is found with the sense of utor.

[1927] Plane.

[1928] Matthew 12:8.

[1929] Mark 2:19. [I have slightly accommodated the translation to this text.]

[1930] In semetipsum causam circumcisionis excepit.

[1931] [From Job (ii. 10) to St. Paul (Hebrews 4:15 and vi. to 8) Scripture abounds in this teaching. Comp. Lamentations 3:33.]

[1932] The Codex Bobiensis gives, "viæ compendiosum nobis tramitem demonstrare." We adopt the reading, "viæ spatia compendioso nobis tramite demonstrare."

[1933] Matthew 7:15.

[1934] Matthew 23:27.

[1935] Matthew 5:8.

[1936] Compendia viæ.

[1937] Matthew 7:12.

[1938] 2 Corinthians 13:3.

[1939] 1 Corinthians 7:18, 19.

[1940] Reading "prævaricator" instead of "prædicator." The sense would seem strictly to require, a debtor to the law.

[1941] Atramentum.

[1942] Romans 2:29.

[1943] The Codex Bobiensis gives, "figuli opus aufers aut fictilium." The Codex Casinensis has, "figuli opus et ars aut fictilium." We adopt "figuli opus aut ars fictilium."

[1944] Adopting "nequaquam" for "nec quemquam."

[1945] By this he means the Epistle to the Romans, to which the first place among the epistles of Paul was assigned from the most ancient times. In Epiphanius, under heresy 42, it is alleged as an offence against Marcion, that he put the Epistle to the Romans in the fourth place among Paul's epistles. See a note in Migne. [Again, this expression is a note of genuine antiquity.]

41 on receiving this epistle
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