Acts 5
Homilies of Chrysostom
But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.
And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.
And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)
Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.
Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,
"Then having risen up, the high-priest and they that were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees) were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the Apostles, and put them in the common prison."

"Having risen up," that is, being [300] roused, being excited at the things taking place, the high-priest and they which were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees) were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the Apostles:" they now assault them more vigorously: "and put them in the common prison;" but did not forthwith bring them to trial, because they expected them again to be softened down. "But the Angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life." "And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught." (v. 19-21.) This was done both for the encouragement of the disciples, and for the benefit and instruction of the others. And observe how the proceeding in the present instance is just the same as in what Christ Himself did. Namely, in His miracles though He does not let men see them in the act of being wrought, He furnishes the means whereby they may be apprised of the things wrought: thus, in His Resurrection, He did not let them see how He rose: in the water made wine, the guests do not see it done, for they have been drinking much, and the discernment He leaves to others. Just so in the present case, they do not see them in the act of being brought forth, but the proofs from which they might gather what had been done, they do see. And it was by night that the Angel put them forth. Why was this? Because [301] in this way they were more believed than they would have been in the other: so, people would not even have had occasion to put the question: they would not in some other way have believed. So it was in the old times, in the case of Nebuchadnezzar: he saw them praising God in the furnace, and then indeed he was put in amazement. (Daniel 3:24.) Whereas then these priests ought as their first question to have asked, How came ye out? instead of this, as if nothing had happened, they ask, "Did we not straitly charge you not to speak?" (v. 28.) And observe, by report of others they are apprised of all the circumstances: they see the prison remaining closed with safety, and the guards standing before the doors. [302] A twofold security this; as was the case at the sepulchre, where was both the seal, and the men to watch. See how they fought against God! Say, was this of man's doing, that happened to them? Who led them forth, when the doors were shut? How came they out, with the keepers standing before the door? Verily they must be mad or drunken to talk so. Here are men, whom neither prison, nor bonds, nor closed doors, had been able to keep in; and yet they expect to overpower them: such is their childish folly! Their officers come and confess what has taken place, as if on purpose to debar them from all show of reason. Do you mark how there is miracle upon miracle, differing in kind, some wrought by them, others on them, and these more illustrious than the others? "And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high-priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told, saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within. Now when the high-priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow." (v. 21-25.) It [303] is well ordered that the information was not brought to them at once, but they are first utterly at a loss what to think, that when they have considered it well and seen that there is a Divine Power in the case, then they may learn the whole state of the case. "Then came one, and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. Then went the captain with the other officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the multitude, lest they should have been stoned." (v. 25, 26.) O the folly of the men! "They feared," saith he, "the multitude." Why, how had the multitude helped the Apostles? When they ought to have feared that God Who was continually delivering them like winged creatures out of their power, instead of that, "they feared the multitude!" "And the high-priest," shameless, reckless, senseless, "asked them, saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine and intend to bring this man's blood upon us." (v. 27, 28.) What then (say the Apostles)? Again with mildness they address them; and yet they might have said, "Who are ye, that ye countermand God?" But what do they say? Again in the way of exhortation and advice, and with much mildness, they make answer. "Then Peter and the other Apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men." (v. 29.) High magnanimity! He shows them too that they are fighting against God. [304] For, he says, Whom ye killed, Him hath God raised up. "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, Whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." (v. 30, 31.) And again they refer the whole to the Father, that He should not seem to be alien to the Father. "And hath exalted," saith He, "with his right hand." He affirms not merely the Resurrection, but the Exaltation also. "For to give repentance to Israel." Observe here as before the gain (to them): observe the perfection of doctrine conveyed in the form of apology. "And we are witnesses of these things." (v. 32.) Great boldness of speech! And the ground of their credibility: "And so is also the Holy Ghost, Whom God hath given to them that obey Him." Do you observe that they allege not only the Spirit's testimony? And they said not, "Whom He hath given" to us, but, "to them that obey Him:" therein alike showing their own unassuming temper, and intimating the greatness of the gift, and showing the hearers that it was possible for them also to receive the Spirit. See, how these people were instructed both by deeds and by words, and yet they paid no heed, that their condemnation might be just. For to this end did God suffer the Apostles to be brought to trial, that both their adversaries might be instructed, and all might learn, and that the Apostles might be invigorated to boldness of speech. "And they hearing that, were cut to the heart." (v. 33.) The [305] others (on a former occasion) "when they heard these things were pricked;" here they were cut (as with a saw) (dieprionto) "and desired to slay them." (ch. ii. 37.)

But it is necessary now to look over again what we have read. "But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. Brought [306] them forth." (Recapitulation, v. 19, 20.) He did not bring them away to benefit themselves thereby, but, "Stand," he says, "and speak in the temple to the people." But if the guards had put them out, as those thought, they would have fled, that is, supposing they had been induced to come out: and if those had put them forth, they would not have stood in the temple, but would have absconded. No one is so void of sense, as not at once to see this. "Did we not straitly charge you?" (v. 28.) Well, if they undertook to obey you, ye do well to call them to account: but if even at the very time they told you they would not obey, what account have you to call them to, what defence is there for them to make? "And behold ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us." [307] Mark the inconsistency of the accusations, and the exceeding folly. They want to make it appear now, that the dispositions of the Jews [308] are sanguinary, as if they were doing these things not for the truth's sake, but in the wish to be revenged. And for this reason too the Apostles do not answer them with defiance (thraseos): for they were teachers. And yet where is the man, who, with a whole city to back him, and endowed with so great grace, would not have spoken and uttered something big? But not so did these: for they were not angered; no, they pitied these men, and wept over them, and marked in what way they might free them from their error and wrath. And they no longer say to them, "Judge ye:" (ch. iv. 19) but they simply affirm, saying, "Whom God raised up, Him do we preach: it is by the will of God that these things are done." They said not, Did not we tell you even then, that "we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard?" (ib. 20.) for they are not contentious for glory; but they repeat again the same story,--the Cross, the Resurrection. And they tell not, wherefore He was crucified--that it was for our sakes: but they hint at this indeed, but not openly as yet, wishing to terrify them awhile. And yet what sort of rhetoric is here? None at all, [309] but everywhere it is still the Passion, and the Resurrection and the Ascension, and the end wherefore: "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus," etc. (v. 30, 31.) And yet what improbable assertions are these! Very improbable, no doubt; but for all that, not rulers, not people, had a word to say against them: but those had their mouths stopped, and these received the teaching. "And we," saith he, "are witnesses of these things." (v. 32.) Of what things? Of His having promised forgiveness and repentance: for the Resurrection indeed was acknowledged, now. But that He giveth forgiveness, both we are witnesses, and "so is the Holy Ghost," Who would not have come down, unless sins had been first remitted: so that this is an indisputable proof. "When they heard that, they were cut" (to the heart), "and took counsel to slay them." (v. 33.) Hearest thou of the forgiveness of sins, O wretched man, and that God doth not demand punishment, and dost thou wish to slay them? What wickedness was this! And yet, either they ought to have convicted them of lying, or if they could not do that, to have believed: but if they did not choose to believe, yet they ought not to slay them. For what was there deserving of death? Such was their intoxication, they did not even see what had taken place. Observe, how everywhere the Apostles, when they have made mention of the crime, add the mention of forgiveness; showing, that while what had been done was worthy of death, that which was given was proffered to them as to benefactors! In what other way could any one have persuaded them?

"Then stood up the high-priest," etc. As [310] men in high repute, these (the Apostles) were about to take their place near to the Prophets. The Sadducees were they that were most sore on the subject of the Resurrection. But perchance some one will say: Why, what man, endowed with such gifts as the Apostles were, would not have been great? But consider, [311] I pray you, how, before that they were endowed with the grace, "they were continuing steadfastly with one accord in prayer" (ch. i. 14), and depending on the aid from above. And dost thou, my beloved, hope for the kingdom of heaven, yet endurest naught? And hast thou received the Spirit, yet sufferest not such things, nor encounterest perils? But they, before they had breathing-time from their former dangers, were again led into others. And even this too, that there is no arrogance, no conceit, how great a good it is! To converse with mildness, what a gain it is! For not all that they did was the immediate work of grace, but there are many marks of their own zeal as well. That the gifts of grace shine forth in them, this was from their own diligence. See, for instance, from the very beginning, how careful Peter is; how sober and vigilant: how they that believed cast away their riches, had no private property, continued in prayer, showed that they were of one mind, passed their time in fastings. What grace, I ask (alone), did all this? Therefore it is that He brings the evidence home to them through their own officers. Just as in the case of Christ, it was their officers who said, "Never man spake as this Man speaketh." (John 7:46.) These [312] (proofs) are more apt to be believed than the Resurrection.--Observe also the moderation shown by (the rulers) themselves, and how they give way. "The high-priest asked them, saying," etc. (v. 27): here he reasons with them, forsooth, in a moderate tone; for he was frightened: indeed to hinder was what he desired rather than to kill, since that he cannot do: and with the view to rouse them all, and show them the extreme danger they are in, "And intend," says he (to the Apostles), "to bring this man's blood upon us." Dost thou still take Him to be but man? He wants to make it appear that the injunction was necessary for their own safety. But mark what (Peter) says: "Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." (v. 31.) Here he forbears to mention the Gentiles, not to give them a handle against him. "And they desired," it says, "to slay them." (v. 33.) See again these in perplexity, these in pain: but those in quiet and cheerfulness and delight. It is not merely, They were grieved, but "They were cut" (to the heart). Truly this makes good that proverb, "Evil do, evil fare:" as we may see in this case. Here were these men in bonds, set at the bar of judgment, and the men that sit in judgment upon them were in distress and helpless perplexity. For as he who strikes a blow upon the adamant, gets the shock of the blow himself, so it was with these men. But they saw that not only was their boldness of speech not stopped, but rather their preaching increased the more, and that they discoursed without a thought of fear, and afforded them no handles against them.

Let us imitate these, my beloved: let us be undaunted in all our dangers. There is nothing dreadful to him that fears God; but all that is dreadful is for others. For when a man is delivered from his passions, and regards all present things as a shadow, say, from whom shall he suffer anything dreadful? whom shall he have to fear? whom shall he need plead to? Let us flee to this Rock which cannot be shaken. If any one were to build for us a city, and throw up a wall around it, and remove us to a land uninhabited, where there were none to disturb us, and there supply us with abundance of everything, and not suffer us to have aught to trouble us with anybody, he would not set us in such perfect safety, as Christ hath done now. Be it a city made of brass, if you will, surrounded on all sides with a wall, lofty and impregnable, let there be no enemy near it; let it have land plentiful and rich, let there be added abundance of other things, let the citizens too be mild and gentle, and no evil-doer there, neither robber, nor thief, no informer, no court of justice, but merely agreements (sunallalmata); and let us dwell in this city: not even thus would it be possible to live in security. Wherefore? Because there could not but be differences with servants, with wives, with children, to be a groundwork of much discomfort. But here was nothing of the kind; for here was nothing at all to pain them or cause any discomfort. Nay, what is more wonderful to say, the very things which are thought to cause discomfort, became matter of all joy and gladness. For tell me, what was there for them to be annoyed at? what to take amiss? Shall we cite a particular case for comparison with them? Well, let there be one of consular dignity, let him be possessed of much wealth, let him dwell in the imperial city, let him have no troublesome business with anybody, but only live in delight, and have nothing else but this to do, seated at the very summit of wealth and honor and power: and let us set against him a Peter, in bonds if you will, in evils without number: and we shall find that he is the man that lives the most delightfully. For when there is such excess of joy, as to be delighted when in bonds, think what must be the greatness of that joy! For like as those who are high in office, whatsoever evils may happen, are not sensible of them, but continue in enjoyment: so did these the more rejoice on account of these very evils. For it is impossible, impossible in words to express how great pleasure falls to their lot, who suffer for Christ's sake: for they rejoice in their sufferings, rather than in their good things. Whoso loves Christ, knows what I-say.--But what as regards safety? And who, I ask, if he were ever so rich, could have escaped so many perils, going about among so many different nations, for the sole purpose [313] of bringing about a reformation in their manner of life? For it was just as if by royal mandate that they carried all before them, nay, far more easily, for never mandate could have been so effectual, as their words were. For the royal edict compels by necessity, but these drew men willingly and spontaneously, yea, and with hearts above measure thankful. What royal edict, I ask, would ever have persuaded men to part with all their property and their lives; to despise home, country, kindred, yea, even self-preservation? Yet the voices of fishermen and tent-makers availed for this. So that they were both happy, and more powerful and strong than all others. "Yes," say you, "those of course were, for they wrought miracles." (supra, p. 83, note 4.) But I ask what miracles did those who believed work, the three thousand, and the five thousand; and yet these, we read, passed their time in gladness? And well they might: for that which is the groundwork of all discomforts, the possession of riches, was done away with. For that, that, I say, was ever the cause both of wars and fighting, and grief, and discomfort, and all evils: the thing which makes life full of labor and troubles, it is that. And indeed it would be found that many more rich than poor have reason to be sad. If any think this is not true, their notion is derived not from the nature of the things, but from their own fancy. And if the rich do enjoy some sort of pleasure, this is not to be wondered at: for even those who are covered all over with the itch, have a good deal of pleasure. For that the rich are for all the world like these, and their mind affected in the same sort, is plain from this circumstance. Their cares annoy them, and they choose to be engrossed with them for the sake of the momentary pleasure: while those who are free from these affections, are in health and without discomfort. Whether is more pleasant, I ask, whether of the two more safe? To have to take thought only for a single loaf of bread and suit of clothes, or for an immense family, both slaves and freemen, not having care about himself (only)? For as this man has his fears for himself, so have you for those who depend on your own person. Why, [314] I pray you, does poverty seem a thing to be shunned? Just in the same way as other good things are, in the judgment of many, things to be deprecated. "Yes," say you, "but it is not that those good things are subjects for deprecation, but that they are hard of attainment." Well, so is poverty, not a thing to be deprecated, but hard of attainment: so that if one could bear it, there would be no reason to deprecate it. For how is it that the Apostles did not deprecate it? how is it that many even choose it, and so far from deprecating, even run to it? For that which is really a thing to be deprecated, cannot be an object of choice save to madmen. But if it be the men of philosophic and elevated minds that betake themselves to this, as to a safe and salubrious retreat, no wonder if to the rest it wears a different appearance. For, in truth, the rich man seems to me to be just like a city, unwalled, situated in a plain, inviting assailants from all sides: but poverty, a secure fortress, strong as brass can make it, and the way up to it difficult. "And yet," say you, "the fact is just the reverse: for these are they, who are often dragged into courts of law, these are they who are overborne and ill-treated." No: not the poor, as poor, but those who being poor want to be rich. But I am not speaking of them, but of such as make it their study to live in poverty. For say, how comes it that nobody ever drags the brethren of the hills into courts of law? and yet if to be poor is to be a mark for oppression, those ought most of all to be dragged thither, since they are poorer than all others. How comes it that nobody drags the common mendicants into the law-courts? Because they are come to the extreme of poverty. How is it that none does violence to them, none lays vexatious informations against them? Because they abide in a stronghold too safe for that. How many think it a condition hard to struggle against, poverty, I mean, and begging! What then, I ask, is it a good thing to beg? "It is good, if there be comfort," say you; "if there be one to give: it is a life so free from trouble and reverses, as every one knows." But I do not mean to commend this; God forbid! what I advise is the not aiming at riches.

For say, whom would you rather call blessed? those who find themselves at home with virtue, (epitedeious pros areten) or those who stand aloof? Of course, those who are near. Say then, which of the two is the man to learn anything that is profitable, and to shine in the true wisdom? the former, or the latter? The first, all must see. If you doubt it, satisfy yourself in this way. Fetch hither from the market-place any of the poor wretches there; let him be a cripple, lame, maimed: and then produce some other person, comely of aspect, strong in body, full of life and vigor in every part, overflowing with riches: let him be of illustrious birth, and possessed of great power. Then let us bring both these into the school of philosophy: which of them, I ask, is more likely to receive the things taught? The first precept, at the outset, "Be lowly and moderate" (for this is Christ's command): which will be most able to fulfil it, this one or the other? "Blessed are they that mourn" (Matthew 5:4): which will most receive this saying? "Blessed are the lowly:" which will most listen to this? "Blessed are the pure in heart. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake" (ib. 8, 6, 10). Which will with ease receive these sayings? And, if you will, let us apply to all of them these rules, and see how they will fit. Is not the one inflamed and swollen all over, while the other is ever lowly minded and subdued in his whole bearing? It is quite plain. Yes, and there is a saying to that effect among those that are without: "(I was) a slave, [315] Epictetus by name, a cripple in body, for poverty a very Irus, and a friend of the Immortals." For how, I would ask, can it be otherwise, but that the soul of the rich must teem with evils; folly, vainglory, numberless lusts, anger and passion, covetousness, iniquity, and what not? So that even for philosophy, the former is more congenially (epitedeia) disposed than the latter. By all means seek to ascertain which is the more pleasant: for this I see is the point everywhere discussed, whether such an one has the more enjoyable way of life. And yet even as regards this, we need not be in doubt; for to be near to health, is also to have much enjoyment. But whether of the two, I would ask, is best disposed (epitedeios) to the matter now in hand, that which we will needs carry into accomplishment--our law, I-mean--the poor man or the rich? Whether of them will be apt to swear? The man who has children to be provoked with, the man who has his covenants with innumerable parties, or the man who is concerned to apply for just a loaf of bread or a garment? This man has not even need of oaths, should he wish, but always lives free from cares of business; nay, more, it is often seen that he who is disciplined to swear not at all, will also despise riches; and one shall see in his whole behavior his ways all branching off from this one good habit, and leading to meekness, to contempt of riches, to piety, to subduedness of soul, to compunction of heart. Then let us not be indolent, my beloved, but let us again show great earnestness: they who have succeeded, that they may keep the success achieved, that they be not easily caught by the receding wave, nor the refluent tide carry them back again [they [316] too who are yet behindhand, that they may be raised up again, and strive to make up that which is wanting. And meanwhile let those who have succeeded, help those who have not been able to do the same]: and by reaching out their hands, as they would to men struggling in the deep water, receive them into the haven of no-swearing (anomosias). For it is indeed a haven of safety, to swear not at all: whatever storms burst upon us, to be in no danger of sinking there: be it anger, be it insult, be it passion, be it what it may, the soul is stayed securely; yea, though one have vented some chance word or other that ought not, and had been better not, to be spoken, yet he has laid himself under no necessity, no law. (Supra, Hom. ix. ?5. ad. Pop. Ant. viii. ?3.) See what Herod did for his oath's sake: he cut off the head of the Fore-runner. "But because of his oaths," it says, "and because of them which sat at meat with him" (Mark 6:26), he cut off the head of the Prophet. Think what the tribes had to suffer for their oath in the matter of the tribe of Benjamin (Judges 21:5-10): what Saul had to suffer for his oath (1 Samuel 14:24, etc.). For Saul indeed perjured himself, but Herod did what was even worse than perjury, he committed murder. Joshua again--you know how it fared with him, for his oath in the matter of the Gibeonites. (Joshua, ch. ix.) For it is indeed a snare of Satan, this swearing. Let us burst [317] the cords; let us bring ourselves into a condition in which it will be easy (not to swear); let us break loose from every entanglement, and from this snare of Satan. Let us fear the command of the Lord: let us settle ourselves in the best of habits: that, making progress, and having achieved this and the rest of the commandments, we may obtain those good things which are promised to them that love Him, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, power, and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.


[300] OEcumenius has in part preserved the true reading, t. e. diegertheis, kinetheis, epi tois ginomenois [text omitted] sphodroteron autois epitithetai. A. B. C. Cat. t. e., diegerthe, kinetheis epi tois gen. "Kai eth. autous en t. d." Nun sphodr. autois epitithentai. And again after praous esesthai,--Kai sphodr. epitithentai (Cat. epitithetai): ethento autous, ph., en t. d. Angelos de k. t. l.--E. D. F. Edd. "Nothing more reckless than wickedness, nothing more audacious. Having learned by experience the courage of these men, from the attempts they had made before, they nevertheless attempt, and again come to the attack. What means it, And having risen up, the high-priest and they that were with him?' He was roused, it says, being excited at what had taken place. And laid their hands on the Apostles, and put them in the common prison.' Now they assault them more vigorously: but did not forthwith, etc. And whence is it manifest that they assaulted them more vigorously? From their putting them in the common prison. Again they are involved in danger, and again they experience succor from God. And in what manner, hear from what follows."

[301] Oti houto mallon e ekeinos episteuthesan; houto kai ouk an epi to erotesai elthon, ouk an heteros episteusan. If it be meant that the Apostles were more believed because the miracle itself was not seen, than they would have been if the Angel had brought them out in open day, this may be understood in a sense which St. Chrys. expresses elsewhere, viz. with reference to the nature of faith: "in the latter case there could have been no room for doubt; people would have been forced to acknowledge the claims of the Apostles." Thus Hom. vi. in 1 Cor. Put the case that Christ should come this moment with all the Angels, reveal Himself as God, and all be subject unto Him: would not the heathen believe? But will this be counted unto the heathen for faith? No: this were no faith; for a compulsory power from without--the visible appearance--would have effected this. There is no free choice in the matter: ouk esti to pragma proaireseos." But then the next sentence ought to be, 'Ekeinos gar oud' an epi to er. elthon; ei de ouch houtos, ouk an heteros ep., or to that effect.--Perhaps, however, the meaning is rather: "It was so plain to common sense that a miracle must have been wrought, that had the Angel brought them out in the sight of all men (houto), they could not have been more believed than they had a right to be as the case was (ekeinos). Had the miracle been performed openly (houto), people would have had no occasion even to ask, How is this? And they who, as it was, were not brought to ask such a question, would certainly not have believed under any other circumstances. So in the Old Testament, Nebuchadnezzar, when he sees the Holy Men praising God in the furnace, is brought to ask in amazement, Did we not cast three men, etc.: but these priests are so hardened, that instead of asking as they ought to have done, How came ye out? they only ask, as if nothing had happened, Did we not straitly charge you, etc. And observe, they have no excuse for their wilful apathy: for they have had a full report of the circumstances from the officers: the prison shut, the guards at their posts." If this be the meaning, we must replace ouk an or oud an in the sentence hoti houto mallon k. t. l. But the text is too corrupt to be restored by any simple emendation.--Edd. "Because in this way, etc. especially as they would not have been brought to ask the question, nor yet in another case would they themselves have believed;" allos te kai hoti ouk an, and oute men heteros an kai autoi episteusan.

[302] Here the mss. insert v. 21-23, inconveniently; for it interrupts the connection. Chrys. here deviates from his usual method, not following the narrative point by point, but reflecting first upon the conduct of the priests. Of course it is to be understood, that the whole text, at least to v. 28, had been first read out.

[303] In the mss. this comment is placed before v. 24.

[304] Here A. B. C. N. insert v. 29 omitted above by the two first. The following sentence, omitted here by D. E. F. and inserted after v. 31, is there repeated by A. B. C.

[305] E. Edd. "Observe the excess of their wickedness. When they ought to have been struck with alarm at what they heard, here they are cut (to the heart), and take counsel in their temerity (bouleuontai eike) to slay (them)." The innovator did not perceive the reference to ii. 37 in hoi alloi "tauta akousantes katenugesan."

[306] E. and Edd. "Having brought them forth.' He does not himself bring them away, but lets them go: that in this way also their intrepidity might be known; which also they showed, in that by night they entered into the temple and taught." In the following sentence perhaps the purport of what St. Chrys. said was, that "if, as the priests supposed, the guards had let them out, the guards themselves would have absconded, and the Apostles would not have stood in the temple, but would have escaped." Ei ge peisthentes may have been said of the guards, "if they had been bribed or otherwise induced to let them out;" but all the mss. have ei ge p. exelthon, in the sense, "supposing, which is not likely, that the Apostles had been induced to come forth at the request of the guards." Savile gives this clause to the latter part, beginning as E. and Edd. with mallon de ei exeb. for kai ei exeb. "Supposing they had been induced to come out, or rather if those had put them out:" Ben. refers it to what precedes; "they would have fled, if they had come out at their request: nay, if those had put them out," etc.

[307] The meaning of the council's statement: "Ye intend to bring this man's blood upon us" (28) probably is: You would cause an insurrection against us and thus be avenged for the crucifixion of Jesus (Meyer): others take it to mean: You would carry the idea that we had murdered an innocent man in crucifying Jesus (Hackett). The strong language of Peter in reply (29) which seems to imply: We cannot help consequences; we must obey God in our preaching and healing, favors the former view. The confusion of the text of Chrys. here (see note in loco) makes his view on this point uncertain.--G.B.S.

[308] phonikas loipon boulontai deixai tas proaireseis ton 'Ioudaion. As the latter part of the sentence, hos ou di' aletheian tauta poiounton all' amunasthai boulomenon, seems inapplicable to the Jews, and to be meant for the Apostles, it may be conjectured that the true reading is ton 'Apostolon: "that the Apostles were bent upon having blood." But all the mss. have ton 'Ioudaion, and the sense so far is satisfactory: viz. They want to make it appear now indeed what bloody-minded men the Jews are: now, not when Christ was crucified.

[309] The modern text: "So artlessly did they preach the Gospel of life. But when he says, He hath exalted,' he states for what purpose, namely, to give repentance' he adds, to Israel, and remission of sins.' But, it will be said, these things seemed incredible. How say you? And why not rather credible, seeing that neither rulers," etc.

[310] Here begins a second recapitulation or rather gleaning, partly of matter not touched upon before, partly of further remarks on what has been said.--Os eudokimountes engus ton propheton emellon histasthai: This relates to v. 13-16, as the reason why they were "filled with indignation." The innovator (E. F. D. Edd.) not perceiving this, alters hos eudokimountes to e hos eudokimountas, which he joins to the former sentence, "How else could any one have persuaded them than (by treating them) as persons in high repute?" and adds, "And mark their malignity: they set on them the Sadducees who were most sore on the subject of the Resurrection: but they got nothing by their wickedness. But perchance," etc.

[311] St. Chrysostom frequently contends against the common excuse, "We cannot attain to the holiness of the first Christians, because there are no miracles now." Thus, he urges, Hom. in Matthew 46. that it was not their miracles that made the saints, both of the Old and of the New Testament, great and admirable, but their virtues: without which, no miracles would have availed for themselves or others: that if they wrought miracles, it was after they, by their noble qualities and admirable lives had attracted the Divine grace: for miracles proceed from a holy life, and this is also their goal: only he that lives a holy life receives this grace; and he that receives it, receives it only that he may amend the life of others...Let no man therefore wait for miracles. It afflicts the evil spirit when he is expelled from the body, much more when he sees the soul set free from sin: for in this lies Satan's great power, and to destroy this, Christ died. In expelling this from thyself, thou hast performed a miracle greater than all miracles. This is not my doctrine; it is the doctrine of the Apostle Paul. 1 Corinthians 12:31, the "more excellent way" is not miracles, but Charity, the root of all good. If we practise this we need no miracles; and if we practise not from miracles we shall get no good.

[312] tauta tes anastaseos pistotera. E. omits this, and inserts apengeilan hupostrepsantes haper eidon. "They reported on their return just what they had seen:" so Edd. except Savile, who retains the reading of E. and adds to it as above (from N.)

[313] ethnesi tosoutois homilon huper metastaseos politeias mones.

[314] Edd. "And why," you will ask, "is poverty thought a thing to be fled from!" Why, because other good things are, in the judgment of many, things to be fled from, not because they are to be deprecated, but because hard of attainment.

[315] The Epigram is preserved in the Palatine Anthology, 7. 676. Doulos 'Epiktetos genomen, kai somati peros, kai penian Iros, kai philos athanatois. But our mss. except E., for Iros have hieros, "sacred."

[316] Something is wanting in the old text to complete the sense: the matter in the brackets is supplied from E. D. F. Below, the same have: "to swear not at all: a haven, that one be not drowned by the storm bursting. For though wrath, though (sense of) insult, though passion boil over, yea though anything, be what it may, the soul is in security, so that it will not even utter aught that should not be spoken: for one has laid himself," etc.

[317] Diarrexomen ta schoinia; en eukoli& 139; katastesomen heautous; pases aporias apallagomen kai tes satanikes pagidos. i. e. "The cords of this snare are, the ties of worldly business in the possession or pursuit of wealth: there is a condition, as was said above, in which it is full easy not to swear; let us bring ourselves into that condition: all that makes us say, We cannot help swearing,' (pases aporias), let us have done with it, and break loose from the snare of the devil." The exhortation connects both parts of the "Morale"--the commendation of voluntary poverty, and the invective against swearing. In the modern text (E. F. D. Edd.) this is lost sight of: it reads: diarr. ta sch. kai en euk. katastesomen (al. -somen) pases phulakes; apallagomen tes sat. pag. "Let us burst the cords, and we shall bring ourselves into a facility of all watchfulness: let us break loose," etc.

And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.
But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,
Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.
And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.
But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told,
Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.
Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.
Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people.
Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned.
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,
Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.
Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.
Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.
Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;
"Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded the men to be put forth a little space."

This Gamaliel was Paul's teacher. And one may well wonder, how, being so right-minded in his judgment, and withal learned in the law, he did not yet believe. But it cannot be that he should have continued in unbelief to the end. [318] Indeed it appears plainly from the words he here speaks. He "commanded," it says, "to put the men forth a little space [and said unto them.]" Observe how judiciously he frames his speech, and how he immediately at the very outset puts them in fear. And that he may not be suspected of taking their part, he addresses them as if he and they were of the same opinion, and does not use much vehemence, but as speaking to men intoxicated through passion, he thus expresses himself: "Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men." (v. 35.) Do not, he would say, go to work rashly and in a hurry. "For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody: to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to naught." (v. 36.) By examples he teaches them prudence; and, by way of encouragement, mentions last the man who seduced the greatest number. Now before he gives the examples, he says, "Take heed to yourselves;" but when he has cited them, then he declares his opinion, and says, "Refrain from these men." For, says he, "there rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this council or this work be of men, it will come to naught. But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow them." (al. it) (v. 37-39.) Then [319] what is there, he would say, to hinder you to be overthrown? For, says he (take heed), "lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." He would dissuade them both by the consideration that the thing is impossible, and because it is not for their good. And he does not say by whom these people were destroyed, but that there they "were scattered," and their confederacy fell away to nothing. For if, says he, it be of man, what needs any ado on your part? but if it be of God, for all your ado you will not be able to overcome it. The argument is unanswerable. "And they were persuaded by him." (v. 40.) How were they persuaded? So as not to slay them, but merely to scourge. For, it says, "And when they had called the Apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go." See after what great works they are scourged! And again their teaching became more extended: for they taught at home and in the temple, "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. (v. 41, 42.) And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Hellenists against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration." (ch. vi. 1.) Not absolutely in those immediate days; for it is the custom of Scripture to speak of things next about to happen, as taking place in immediate succession. But by "Hellenists" I suppose he means those who spoke Greek ["against the Hebrews"]: for [320] they did not use the Greek language. Behold another trial! observe how from within and from without there are warrings, from the very first! "Then," it says, "the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables." (v. 2.) Well said: for the needful must give precedence to the more needful. But see, how straightway they both take thought for these (inferior matters), and yet do not neglect the preaching. "Because their widows were overlooked:" for those (the Hebrews) were treated as the persons of greater consequence (aidesimoteroi). "Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost" (v. 3-5.) so were the others also full of faith; [321] not to have the same things happening as in the case of Judas, as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira--"and Philip, and Prochoras, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: whom they set before the Apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith." (v. 5-7.)

But [322] let us look over again what has been spoken. "Ye men of Israel take heed to yourselves."(Recapitulation, v. 35.) See here, I pray you, how mildly Gamaliel reasons, and how he says but a few words to them, and does not recount ancient histories, although he might have done so, but more recent instances, which are most powerful to produce belief. With this view he throws out a hint himself, saying, "For before these days" (v. 36): meaning, not many days before. Now had he at once said, "Let these men go," both himself would have fallen into suspicion, and his speech would not have been so effective: but after the examples, it acquired its own proper force. And he mentions not one instance, but a second also: "for," saith the Scripture, "in the mouth of two witnesses" (Matthew 18:16): and yet he had it in his power to mention even three. "Refrain from these men." (v. 38.) See how mild his manner is, and his speech not long, but concise, and his mention even of those (impostors) how free from passion: "And all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered." And [323] for all this he does not blaspheme Christ. They heard him, all these unbelievers, heard him, these Jews. ["For if this council or this work be of men, it will come to naught."] Well then, since it did not come to nought, it is not of men. ["But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it."] (v. 39.) Once more he checks them by the impossibility and the inexpediency of the thing, saying, "Lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." [324] And he does not say, If Christ be God; but the work (itself) declares (this). He does not pronounce upon it, either that, it is "of men," or that it is "of God;" but he leaves the proof to the future. "They were persuaded [by him]." (v. 40.) Then why, it may be asked, do ye scourge them? Such was the incontrovertible justness of his speech, they could not look it in the face; nevertheless, they sated their own animosity; and again they expected to terrify them in this way. By the fact also of his saying these things not in the presence of the Apostles, he gained a hearing more than he would otherwise have done; and then the suavity of his discourse and the justness of what was said, helped to persuade them. In fact, this man all but preached the Gospel. " [325] Ye were persuaded," one may say, "that ye had not strength to overthrow it. Wherefore did ye not believe?" Such is the witness borne even by enemies. There it is four hundred, there, four thousand: and here the first movers were twelve. Let not the number which added itself affright you. (ch. ii. 41; iv. 4.) He might also have mentioned another instance, that of the Egyptian, but what he has spoken is fully sufficient. And he closes his speech with an alarming topic: "Lest haply," etc. And he does not pronounce upon it, lest he should seem to be pleading their cause; but he reasons by way of syllogism from the issue of the matter. And he does not venture to pronounce that it is not of men, nor yet that it is of God; for had he said that it was of God, they would have gainsaid him: but had he said that it was of men, they would again have taken prompt measures. Therefore he bids them wait for the end, saying, "Refrain." But they once more threaten knowing indeed that they avail nothing, but doing after their manner. Such is the nature of wickedness: it attempts even
impossibilities.--"And after this man rose up Judas," etc. These things Josephus relates in detail. (Ant. xx. 8; ib. v. 2; xviii. 1. B. J. ii. 8. 1.) But what a great thing it was that he ventured to affirm: that it was of God, when in the sequel it received its proof from the events! Great boldness of speech, great freedom from all respect of persons! [326] And he does not say, "But if ye do not overthrow it, it is of God;" but, "If it be of God, it will not be overthrown." "And to him they agreed." (v. 40.) They reverenced the high character of the man. "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ." (v. 41.) What miracles so wonderful as this? Nowhere is the like of this recorded of the old saints: for Jeremiah indeed was scourged for the word of God, and they threatened Elijah, and the rest: but in this case, even by this very thing, and not only by their miracles, these showed forth the power of God. He does not say, that they were not pained, but that though pained they rejoiced. How does this appear? From their boldness afterwards: they were so instant still, even after their beatings, in preaching the word. "But in the temple," it says, "and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." (v. 42.) "And in those days"--when these things were done, when there were scourgings, when there were threatenings, when the disciples were multiplying--also, it says, "there arose a murmuring." (ch. vi. 1.) And this comes of the multitude: for it is impossible to have strict order in a multitude. "There arose a murmuring," etc. to,--"And [327] a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.--There arose murmuring against the Hebrews"--for that description of people seemed to be more honorable--"because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration." [328] (v. 1-7.) So then there was a daily ministration for the widows. And observe how he calls it a "ministration" (diakonia), and not directly alms: extolling by this at once the doers, and those to whom it was done. "Were neglected." This did not arise from malice, but perhaps from the carelessness of the multitude. And therefore he brought it forward openly, for this was no small evil. Observe, how even in the beginning the evils came not only from without, but also from within. For you must not look to this only, that it was set to rights, but observe that it was a great evil that it existed. [329] "Then the twelve," etc. (v. 2.) Do you observe [330] how outward concerns succeed to inward? They do not act at their own discretion, but plead for themselves to the congregation. So ought it to be done now. "It is not reason," says he, "that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables." First he puts to them the unreasonableness of the thing; that it is not possible for both things to be done with the same attention: just as when they were about to ordain Matthias, they first show the necessity of the thing, that one was deficient, and there must needs be twelve. And so here they showed the necessity; and they did it not sooner, but waited till the murmuring arose; nor, on the other hand, did they suffer this to spread far. And, lo! they leave the decision to them: those who pleased all, those who of all were honestly reputed, them they present: [331] not now twelve, but "seven, full of the Spirit and of wisdom: well reported of" for their conversation. (v. 3.) Now when Matthias was to be presented, it was said, "Therefore must one of these men which have companied with us all the time" (ch. i. 21): but not so here: for the case was not alike. And they do not now put it to the lot; they might indeed themselves have made the election, as moved by the Spirit: but nevertheless, they desire the testimony of the people. The fixing the number, and the ordaining them, and for this kind of business, rested with them: but the choice of the men they make over to the people, that they might not seem to act from favor: just as God also leaves it to Moses to choose as elders those whom he knew. (Numbers 11:16.) "And of wisdom." For indeed there needs much wisdom in such ministrations. For think not, because he hath not the word committed unto him, that such an one has no need of wisdom: he does need it, and much too. "But we," saith he, "will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word." (v. 4.) Again they plead for themselves, beginning and ending with this. "Will give ourselves continually," he saith. For so it behooved, not just to do the mere acts, or in any chance way, but to be continually doing them. "And the saying," we are told, "pleased the whole multitude." (v. 5, 6.) This too was worthy of their wisdom. All approved of what was said so sensible was it. "And they chose," it says (again it is the people (autoi) that choose,) "Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: whom they set before the Apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them." They separated them from the multitude, and it is the people (autoi) that draw them, not the Apostles that lead them. Observe how he avoids all that is superfluous: he does not tell in what way it was done, but that they were ordained (echeirotonethesan) with prayer: for this is the meaning of cheirotonia, (i. e. "putting forth the hand,") or ordination: the hand of the man is laid upon (the person,) but the whole work is of God, and it is His hand which toucheth the head of the one ordained, if he be duly ordained. "And the word of God," it says, "increased: and the number of the disciples multiplied." (v. 7.) It is not for nothing that he says this: it shows how great is the virtue of alms and good order. And as he is about in the sequel to enlarge (auxein) upon the affair of Stephen, he puts first the causes which led to it. "And many," he says, "of the priests were obedient to the faith." For [332] since they perceived such to be the mind of their ruler and teacher, they put the matter to the test of facts.--It is also a subject for wonder, how it was that the multitude was not divided in its choice of the men, and how it was that the Apostles were not rejected by them. But what sort of rank these bore, and what sort of office they received, this is what we need to learn. Was it that of Deacons? And yet this is not the case in the Churches. But [333] is it to the Presbyters that the management belongs? And yet at present there was no Bishop, but the Apostles only. Whence I think it clearly and manifestily follows, that neither Deacons nor Presbyters is their designation: but it was for this particular purpose that they were ordained. [334] And this business was not simply handed over to them without further ceremony, but the Apostles prayed over them, that power might be given to them. But observe, I pray you, if there were need of seven men for this, great in proportion must have been the sums of money that flowed in, great in proportion also the number of widows. So then the prayers were not made in an off-hand way, but with much deliberate attention: and this office, [335] as well as preaching, was thus brought to good effect; for what they did, they effected mostly by the means of these (their prayers.) Thus they were enabled to give their attention to things spiritual; thus were these also free to undertake long journeys; thus were these put in trust with the word. But the writer does not say this, nor extol them, but that it was "not reason" that they should leave the work given to them. Thus they had been taught by Moses's example not to undertake the management of everything by themselves. (Numbers 11:14.) "Only," it is said, "that we should remember the poor." (Galatians 2:10.) And [336] how did they bring these forward? They fasted. "Look you out seven men," etc. (v. 3.) It is not simply, spiritual men, but, "full of the Spirit and of wisdom," for it needed very great superiority of mind (philosophias) to bear the complainings of widows. For what profits it, that the dispenser of alms steal not, if nevertheless he waste all, or be harsh and easily provoked? "And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost." (v. 5.) And in this regard Philip also was admirable: for it is of him that the writer says: "And we entered into the house of Philip the Evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him."--(ch. xxi. 8.) Dost thou mark how matters are ordered quite otherwise than after the matter of men? "And the number of disciples was multiplied in Jerusalem." (v. 7.) In Jerusalem the multitude increased. Wonderful, where Christ was slain, there the preaching increased! And not only was it not the case that some were offended then in the manner of Ananias, but the awe became even greater: while these are scourged, those threatening, those tempting the Spirit, those murmuring. But I would have thee remark under what circumstances the multitude increased: after these trials, then it was that the multitude increased, and not before. Mark also how great the mercy of God. Of those chief-priests, of the very men who had indignation and sore displeasure and so cried out and said, "He saved others, Himself He cannot save;" of these same, "Many," it says, "were obedient unto the faith." (Matthew 27:42.)

Him therefore let us also imitate. He received them, and did not cast them out. So let us requite those our enemies, who have wrought us even numberless ills. Whatever good thing we may have, let us impart to them: let us not pass them by, in our acts of beneficence. For if we ought, by suffering ill, to sate their rage, much more, by doing them good: for this is a less thing than the other. For it is not all alike, to do good to an enemy, and to be willing to suffer greater wrongs than he wishes (to inflict): [337] from the one we shall come on to the other. This is the dignity of Christ's disciples. Those crucified Him, when He had come for the very purpose of doing them good; His disciples they scourged; and after all this, He admits them to the same honor with His disciples, making them equally partakers of His gifts. I beseech you, let us be imitators of Christ: in this regard it is possible to imitate Him: this makes a man like unto God: this is more than human. Let us hold fast to Mercy: she is the schoolmistress and teacher of that higher Wisdom. He that has learnt to show mercy to the distressed, will learn also not to resent injuries; he that has learnt this, will be able to do good even to his enemies. Let us learn to feel for the ills our neighbors suffer, and we shall learn to endure the ills they inflict. Let us ask the person himself who ill-treats us, whether he does not condemn himself? would he not be glad to show a nobler spirit (philosophhein)? must he not own that his behavior is nothing but passion, that it is little-minded, pitiful? would he not like to be of those who are wronged and are silent, and not of those who do wrong, and are beside themselves with passion? can he go away not admiring the patient sufferer? Do not imagine that this makes men despicable. Nothing makes men so despicable, as insolent and injurious behavior: nothing makes men so respectable, as endurance under insolence and injury. For the one is a ruffian, the other a philosopher; the one is less than man, the other is equal to angels. For though he be inferior to the wrong-doer, yet, for all that, he has the power, if he had the mind, to be revenged. And besides, the one is pitied by all, the other hated. What then? The former will be much the better of the two: for everybody will treat the one as a madman, the other as a man of sense. He [338] cannot speak of him in evil sort: yea, thou fearest, says one, lest perchance he be not such (as thou wouldest represent). Best that thou speak not evil in thy thought even; next, that thou speak it not to another. Pray not then to God against this man: if thou hear him evil-spoken of, take his part: say, It was passion that spoke such words, not the man; say, It was anger, not my friend: his madness, not his heart. Thus let us account of each offence. Wait not for the fire to be kindled, but check it before it comes to that: do not exasperate the savage beast, rather do not suffer it to become exasperated: for thou wilt no longer be able to check it, if once the flame be kindled. For what has the man called thee? "Thou fool and simpleton." And which then is liable to the name? the called, or the caller? For the one, be he ever so wise, gets the character of being a fool: but the other, even if he be a simpleton, gets credit for being wise, and of philosophic temper. Say, which is the simpleton? he who alleges against another what is untrue, or he who even under such treatment is unmoved? For if it be the mark of true philosophy to be unmoved however moved; to fall into a passion when none moves to anger--what folly is it! I say not yet, how sore a manner of punishment is in store for those who utter such reproaches and revilings against their neighbor. But how? has he called thee "a low fellow and low-born, a sorry creature and of sorry extraction?" Again he has turned the taunt against himself. For the other will appear worthy and respectable, but he a sorry creature indeed: for to cast up such things, that is to say, meanness of birth, as a disgrace, is little-minded indeed: while the other will be thought a great and admirable character, because he thinks nothing of such a taunt, and is no more affected by it than if he were told [339] that he had about him any other ordinary and quite indifferent circumstance. But does he call thee "adulterer," and such like? At this thou mayest even laugh: for, when the conscience is not smitten, there can be no occasion for wrath. * * For when one has considered what bad and disgraceful disclosures he makes, still for all that, there is no need to grieve. He has but laid bare now, what everybody must be apprised of by and bye: meanwhile, as regards himself he has shown all men that he is not to be trusted, for that he knows not how to screen his neighbor's faults: he has disgraced himself more than he has the other; has stopped up against himself every harbor: has made terrible to himself the bar at which he must hereafter be tried. For not the person (whose secrets are betrayed) will be the object of everybody's aversion, but he, who where he ought not to have raised the veil, has stripped off the clothes. But speak thou nothing of the secrets thou knowest: hold thou thy peace if thou wouldest bear off the good fame. For not only wilt thou overthrow what has been spoken, and hide it: but thou wilt also bring about another capital result: thou wilt stop sentence being given against thyself. Does somebody speak evil of thee? Say thou: "Had he known all, he would not have spoken only thus much."--So you admire what has been said, and are delighted with it? Aye, but you must follow it. For when we tell you all [340] these maxims of the heathen moralists, it is not because Scripture does not contain hundreds of such sayings, but because these are of more force to put you to the blush. As in fact Scripture itself is wont to use this appeal to our sense of shame; for, instance, when it says, "Do ye even as the heathen." (Jeremiah 35:3.) And the prophet Jeremiah brought forward into public view the children of Rechab, how they would not consent to violate the command of their father.--Miriam and her company spake evil of Moses, and he immediately begged them off from their punishment; nay, would not so much as let it be known that his cause was avenged. (Num. ch. xii.) But not so we: on the contrary, this is what we most desire; to have all men know that they have not passed unpunished. How long shall we breathe of the earth?--One party cannot make a fight. Pluck the madmen from both sides, you will exasperate them the more: but pluck from right or from left, and you have quenched the passion. The striker, if he has to do with one who will not put up with blows, is the more set on: but if with one who yields, he is the sooner unnerved, and his blow is spent upon himself. For no practised pugilist so unnerves the strength of his antagonist, as does a man who being injuriously treated makes no return. For the other only goes off ashamed, and condemned, first by his own conscience, and secondly by all the lookers on. And there is a proverb too, which says, that "to honor another, is to honor one's self": therefore also to abuse another is to abuse one's self. None, I repeat, will be able to harm us, unless we harm ourselves; nor will any make me poor, unless I make myself such. For come, let us look at it in this way. Suppose that I have a beggarly soul, and let all lavish all their substance upon me, what of that? So long as the soul is not changed, it is all in vain. Suppose I have a noble soul, and let all men take from me my substance: what of that? So long as you do not make the soul beggarly, no harm is done. Suppose my life be impure, and let all men say just the contrary of me: what of that? For though they say it, yet they do not judge thus of me in their heart. Again, suppose my life be pure, and let all say of me just the reverse: and what of that? For in their own conscience they will condemn themselves: since they are not persuaded of what they say. Just as we ought not to admit the praise, so neither the criminations. And why say I these things? None will ever be able to plot against us, nor lay us under any evil charge, if we choose (that they shall not). For how now, I ask you? Let him drag me into a court of justice, let him lay vexatious informations, let him, if you will, have the very soul out of me: and what of that? for a little while, undeservedly to suffer these things, what does it signify? "Well, [341] but this," say you, "is of itself an evil." Well, but of itself this is a good, to suffer undeservedly. What? would you have the suffering to be deserved? Let me mention again a piece of philosophy, from one of the sages. A certain person, says the story, had been put to death. And one of the sage's disciples said to him, "Woe is me, that he should have suffered unjustly!" The other turned upon him, "Why, how now?" said he, "would you have had him justly suffer?" (Socrates ap. Diog. Laert. and Xen. Mem. Socr.) John also, was not he unjustly put to death? Which then do you rather pity: them that justly suffer death, or [him? [342] Do you not count them miserable, while] him you even admire? Then what is a man injured, when from death itself he has got great gain, not merely no hurt? If indeed the man had been immortal, and this made him mortal, no doubt it would be a hurt: but if he be mortal, and in the course of nature must expect death a little later, and his enemy has but expedited his death, and glory with it, what is the harm? Let us but have our soul in good order, and there will be no harm from without. But thou art not in a condition of glory? And what of that? That which is true of wealth, the same holds for glory: if I be magnanimous (megaloprepes), I shall need none; if vainglorious, the more I get, the more I shall want. In this way shall I most become illustrious, and obtain greater glory; namely, if I despise glory. Knowing these things, let us be thankful to Him Who hath freely given us such a life, and let us ensue it unto His glory; for to Him belongs the glory, forever. Amen.


[318] In the Clementine Recogn. i. 65, Gamaliel is spoken of as having been early a Christian in secret. Lucian the Presbyter a.d. 415, writes an account of the discovery in consequence of a vision in which Gamaliel himself appeared to him, of the reliques of St. Stephen, together with those of Nicodemus and Gamaliel. See note on St. Augustin Comm. on St. John, p. 1048. Photius, Cod. 171, p. 199 read in a work of Eustratius how Gamaliel was baptized by St. Peter and St. John. (According to the Jewish tradition, Wolf. Bibl. Hebr. ii. 882. he died President of the Sanhedrim, eighteen years after the fall of Jerusalem.)

[319] The modern text: "As if he had said, Forbear; and if these men came together of themselves, nothing will hinder them also to be overthrown." C. reads hemas, "What to hinder us?" Catena, as above.

[320] oute gar hellenisti dielegonto. So A. B. C. N. but Cat. houtoi, and E. D. F. add Ebraioi ontes. "For these used the Greek language, being Hebrews." There is no need to adopt this reading: the comment seems to belong to the words, against the Hebrews: viz. "they murmured against them, seeing they were overlooked, etc., for neither could these Hebrews converse with them in the Greek language."

[321] ara(Cat. hora) kai ekeinoi plereis pisteos esan (E. D. F. add ohu kai exelexanto). hina me ta auta k. t. l. The meaning seems to be: "If Stephen was a man full of faith, so were the others: (they were careful to choose only such,): in order that," etc.

[322] Omitted in the old text: supplied by E.--Below, E. omits, "for, saith the Scripture, in the mouth of two witnesses:" and amplifies the rest, adding, "even a third, superabundantly: both showing how well he himself speaks, and leading them away from their sanguinary purpose."

[323] Edd. from E. "Saying this, he speaks nothing blasphemous against Christ, but what he most wishes, he effects. If,' says he, it be of men, it will come to naught.' Here he seems to me to put it to them by way of syllogism, and to say: Consequently, since it has not come to naught, it is not of man. Lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.' This he said to check them," etc.--Below, alla to ergon touto deloi, might be rendered, "but he is declaring this work" (viz. "if this work be of men," etc.): the modern text, to gar ergon touto edelou.

[324] Meyer finds in the expression of Gamaliel (38, 39): "if it be of men--ean e ex anthropon" and "if it is of God--ei de ek theou estin" an indication that he leaned to the latter opinion. While this distinction is grammatically valid it can scarcely be justified as intentional. Gamaliel, although tolerant toward Christianity, as the Pharisaic party in general were at this time, was not a Christian in secret, but an orthodox Jew. His advice was politic even from a Jewish point of view. He saw, as the more bitter party did not, that this sort of opposition would only serve to rouse all the energy and perseverance of the Christian disciples and thus indirectly tend to the increase and spread of their doctrines among the people.--G.B.S.

[325] E. F. D. and Edd. (except Savile) add, mallon de mononouchi toiauta dikaiologoumenos tros autous apoteinetai. "Or rather he all but with just remonstrance thus expostulates with them: "Ye were persuaded," etc. Below, 'Ekei tetrakosioi, ekei tetrakischilioi; kai hode k. t. l. But the mention of the four thousand, here referred to the second instance (Judas of Galilee), is in fact derived from the case of the Egyptian, ch. xxi. 38, being the third instance which "he might have cited." Accordingly the modern text substitutes, "There four hundred stood up, and after this a great multitude."

[326] E. and Edd. omit the following sentence, substituting the first two clauses of v. 40 and after "the character of the man," add, "wherefore also they desist from their purpose of killing the Apostles, and having only scourged they dismiss them."

[327] Standing here by itself, this last clause of v, 7 is quite out of its place. It is best explained as marking the conclusion of the text v. 1-7 here again read out. In the old text it is followed by the comment, 'Ekeino gar to genos edokei timioteron einai; as if "this description of people" meant the priests: and then, "And there arose," it says, "a murmuring," v. 1. We have restored the comment to its proper place.--The innovator adds as comment on v. 7: Touto ainittomenou esti kai deiknuntos hoti aph' hon ho kata Christou thanatos eskeuasthe, polloi apo touton pisteuousin. "This is by way of hint, to show that of those very persons, by whose machinations the sentence of death against Christ was procured, of those same many believe. "There arose," it says, "a murmuring," etc. And so Edd.

[328] The murmuring arose from the "Hellenists" who are not mentioned by Chrys. (probably because of a defect of the text). These Hellenists are distinguished from the "Hebrews" and were probably Greek-speaking Jews resident in Jerusalem who had become Christians and who are here distinguished by their language from the great mass of the Jewish Christians who spoke the vernacular.--G.B.S.

[329] The neglect here referred to was doubtless, as Chrys. says, unintentional (vs. Meyer) and arose from the increasing difficulties of administering the affairs of so large a society as the Christian community at Jerusalem had now become, on the plan of a common treasury. The narrative gives the impression that the complaint was not unfounded. It is not unlikely that the natural jealousy between the Greek and Palestinian Jews may have sharpened the sense of neglect. This is the first record of dissension in the Christian Church. We may note thus early the conditions which tended to develop a Jewish and a Gentile party in the church; the germs of dissenting sects of Ebionites and Gnostics which developed into so many dangerous and harmful forms in the apostolic, and especially in the post-apostolic age.--G.B.S.

[330] Thras ta exo diadechomena ta eso; E. omits this and so Edd. The antithesis here seems to be, not, as before, of evils from without and from within the Church; but of the concerns of the body and of the soul.

[331] E. D. F. Morel. Ben. omit this sentence, and go on with, "Now when Matthias," etc. Savile: "And a very good decision this is. And they present seven, not now twelve, full," etc.

[332] 'Epeide gar eidon ton archonta kai didaskalon toiauta apophenamenon, apo ton ergon loipon ten peiran elambanon. Meaning, perhaps, that these priests, acting upon the counsel of Gamaliel, put the question to the test of facts and experience, and learned that it was of God.--In the next sentence, a covert censure seems to be implied: q.d. "Would it be so now? Would there not be parties and factions in the choosing of the men? Would not the Bishop's overture be rejected, were he to propose a plan for ridding himself of the like distracting demands upon his time?"

[333] alla ton presbuteron estin he oikonomia, interrogatively (so in Conc. Quinisext. Can. xvi. , see below), but in the Edd. this is put affirmatively; Ben. Sed presbyterorum erat oeconomia. Atqui nullus adhuc erat episcopus. Erasm. Sed presbyterorum est h?c dispensatio, tametsi nullus adhuc esset episcopus." But to say that the oikonomia, i. e. stewardship and management of Church funds (in Chrysostom's time), was vested in the presbyters, would be contrary to facts. Therefore we take it interrogatively: the answer not expressed, being, "No: it belongs to the Bishops." Perhaps, however, the passage may be restored thus; 'Alla ton presbuteron; 'Alla ton episkopon (or Oude ton presb.) estin he oik. Kaitoi k. t. l. "Well, was it that of presbyters? Nay, this stewardship belongs to Bishops. (Or, No, neither does it belong to presbyters.) And yet," etc.--The following sentence, "Othen oute diakonon oute presbuteron oimai (Cat. om.) to onoma einai delon kai phaneron, as the text stands, might seem to mean, "Whence I think that neither of deacons nor of presbyters is the name clearly and manifestly expressed:" i. e. "there is no express and clear mention in this narrative either of deacons or of presbyters: and I account for this circumstance by the fact, that there were no Bishops." Ben. Unde puto nec diaconorum nec presbyterorum tunc fuisse nomen admissum nec manifestum. But transposing oimai and einai, or indeed even as the words stand, we get the sense expressed in the translation, which is more suitable. So Erasmus: Unde neque diaconorum neque presbyterorum nomen esse opinor quod clarum ac manifestum. St. Chrys. says, "Their appellation and office is neither deacons nor presbyters: they were ordained upon a special emergency."--It seems to have been commonly held in earlier times, that Acts 6.1-6 is the history of the first institution of the Diaconate. Thus the Council of Nicoc?sarea ordains (a.d. 314) that in each city, however large, the number of deacons according to the Canon ought to be seven, and for proof appeals to this history, peisthese de apo tes biblou ton praxeon. In the third century, Cornelius Ep. ad Fab. ap. Eus. H. E. vi. 43 states, that the clergy of Rome consisted of one Bishop, forty-six presbyters, seven deacons, etc. (Accordingly St. Jerome, Ephesians 146 al. 101 ad Evang. remarks: Diaconos paucitas honorabiles facit. Comp. Sozomen. vii. 19.) But the rule which assigned to each Bishop seven deacons, neither more nor less, was not always followed in large cities, as appears even from the Canon above cited: how greatly that number was exceeded in later times, may be seen in the Novell? of Justinian, when it is enacted (iii. c. 1.) that the number of deacons in the metropolitan Church at Constantinople should be a hundred. The Council or Councils commonly called the fifth and sixth General (Conc. Quinisextum, or Trullanum,) held under the same Emperor, a.d. 692, sanctioned this departure from the earlier rule, in the following Canon (xvi). "Whereas the Book of Acts relates that seven deacons were appointed by the Apostles, and the Council of Neoc?sarea in its Canons determines that "The number of deacons in each city," etc. (as above): we, having applied the sense of the Fathers to the Apostolic text, find that the said history relates not to the deacons who minister in the mysteries, but to the service of tables, etc.: the history in the Acts being as follows, "And in those days," etc. (Acts 6.1-6.) The doctor of the Church, John Chrysostom, expounding the same, thus speaks: "It is a subject for wonder.......neither deacons nor presbyters is their designation," (as above.) Hereupon therefore do we also publish, that the aforesaid seven deacons be not taken to mean those which minister in the mysteries, as in the doctrine above rehearsed: but that these are they which were charged with the service of the common need of the people then gathered together; albeit herein these be unto us a pattern of humane and diligent attendance on them that be in necessity.

[334] There is no sufficient ground to doubt that this narrative describes the formation of the diaconate which we find existing later in the apostolic age (Philippians 1.1; 1 Timothy 3:8-12). Although the word diakonos does not here occur, we have the corresponding verb diakonein and abstract noun diakonia (1, 2). The chief grounds of this opinion are: (1) the substantial identity of the duties here described and those of the later diaconate; (2) the almost universal testimony of patristic tradition to their identity: (3) the continuance for centuries of the number seven in the diaconate of churches (like that at Rome) where more than seven would naturally be required, out of deference to the apostolic mode. See Lightfoot, Com. on Philippians, pp. 187-9.--G.B.S.

[335] kai touto, hosper to kerugma, houtos enueto;--touto, the "serving of tables" itself: houtos, by this arrangement. Ta gar pleio tautais enuon; the more time the Apostles had for prayer, the better for the Church: so much depended on their prayers. Therefore the plan was every way beneficial: houto ta pneumatika epelegonto, (Erasm. adnumerabantur, Ben. pr?ferebantur, but the meaning is, "they chose to themselves,") houto kai apodemias estellonto, houtos enecheiristhesan houtoi ton logon: "by this arrangement, the Apostles were free to give their undivided attention to spiritual matters; to leave Jerusalem, if need were, on journeys to distant places: by this arrangement, in short, the Word was their proper charge--not secular matters, such as Bishops are now burdened with, in addition to their proper duties," Comp. note 1, p. 90. He adds: The writer, indeed, does not say all this, nor extol the devotion with which the Apostles gave themselves up to their work, and how beneficial the arrangement proved: but it is said, "It is not reason," etc. Moses had set the example in this regard: and in token of their concern for the poor, observe the charge which they afterwards gave to Paul and Barnabas, to "remember the poor."

[336] Pos de proegon toutous; 'Enesteuon. Edd. from E., "But how they also brought these forward, learn thou. They fasted, they continued in prayer. This ought also to be done now."--As there is no mention of fasting in Acts 6.1-6 perhaps this refers to the history xiii. 2, 3 of the mission of Paul and Barnabas, to which he has just alluded.--Below, kai taute de thaumastos en ha Ph. The clause to which this refers is misplaced in the old text, viz. before the sentence, "In Jerusalem," etc. where E. and Edd. restore the proper clause of v. 7 kai eplethuneto, k. t. l. The connection is: "The Apostles desired seven men full of the Holy Ghost and of wisdom:" and such was Stephen, "a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost:" such doubtless were the others likewise; (supra, p. 88) certainly Philip was eminent in this regard, for [besides the history of his preaching at Samaria, ch. viii. ] he is afterwards conspicuous in the history as Philip the Evangelist.

[337] kai meizona thelesai pathein e boulesthai: so all our mss. Erasm. "Et majora voluisse pati, vel velle." Ben. Et majora velle pati. " But the meaning is, "To be ready to suffer greater wrongs than an enemy chooses to inflict:" alluding to Matthew 5.39-41. Comp. Hom. xviii. in Matt. p. 238. D. to kai paraschein heauton eis to pathein kakos; kai pleon paraschein e ekeinos bouletai ho poiesas. If for boulesthai we read bouletai, the sense is clearer: e boulesthai, "than that he should wish it," is somewhat abrupt.

[338] Ou dunatai eipein auton kakos; kai dedoikas mepos ouk en, phesin, toioutos. Here and in the following sentences we seem to have a string of apothegms from heathen moralists: ta exothen eiremena, as he says below. But in this sentence the text appears to be corrupt, and the mss. lend no real assistance for the reading adopted by Edd. from E. F. D. is only meant for restoration: viz. "Therefore, when any would compel thee to speak evil of some person (kakegoresai tina, Sav. marg. apechthos pros tina echein) say to him, I cannot speak evil of him: for I fear lest perchance he were not (en, Sav. eie) such.'"--A. as usual in cases of difficulty, omits the passage as unintelligible. Whether phesin denotes a citation or an interlocution, and whether en is the first or the third person, must be left doubtful; but the words might be rendered, "Lest perchance I, says he, (i. e. the person attacked), be not such." Below, me entuches kata toutou to Theo is strangely rendered by Erasm. Ne in hoc cum Deo pugnes: "Lest herein thou fight against God."

[339] hoti echoi ti ton allon ton adiaphoron. E. D. F. Edd. diapheron "something about him, better than other men." Below, for ennoesanta gar "for when one has considered," Edd. have ennoesantas de kai, "but when you consider also:" i. e. "but if the case be not so," etc. In fact something is wanting: for the case here supposed is that the charge is true: the person has been guilty of some immorality, which the other publicly exposes.

[340] ta legomena sunagomen, B. C. N. omiting exothen, which Sav. supplies. A. E. D. F. Ben. ta exothen eiremena legomen.--Below, for kathos ta ethne (phesin) poiesate, which is not found in Scripture, E. Edd. have, Ouchi kai hoi ethnikoi to auto poiousin; Matthew 5:47.

[341] Touto men oun auto kakon, phesin. Auto men oun touto kalon to me kat' axian pathein. Morel. from E. kakon for kalon: which supposes it to be put interrogatively: "this thing itself an evil, say you?"--The philosopher, whose apothegm is here referred to, is Socrates: of whom Diog. Laert. in Vit. relates: "His wife having said, Thou art unjustly put to death: su de, ephe, dikaios eboulou; wouldst thou rather it were justly?" But Xenophon, in Apol. relates a similar answer made to Apollodorus, "a simple-minded but affectionate disciple of Socrates. This, said he, O Socrates, is what hurts me most, that I see thee unjustly put to death. And he, stroking the head of his disciple, replied: And wouldest thou, my friend, rather see me justly than unjustly put to death?" Down. ap. Sav.

[342] We supply this from the modern text, which, however, has ton ouch houtos; But ekeinonis better, as this will account for the omission. Our mss. have: tous dikaios apothanontas, e ekeinon kai thaumazeis

And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.
For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.
After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom
Text Courtesy of Christian Classics Etherial Library.

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