Hebrews 10
Homilies of Chrysostom
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;
"Above when He said, Sacrifice and offering, and burnt-offerings, and [offering] for sin, Thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure [therein], which are offered by [3134] the Law, then said He, Lo! I come to do Thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second. By the which will we are [3135] sanctified, by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all. [3136] And every Priest standeth daily ministering, and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this [man] after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool." [3137]

[1.] In what has gone before he had shown that the sacrifices were unavailing for perfect purification, and were a type, and greatly defective. Since then there was this objection to his argument, If they are types, how is it that, after the truth is come, they have not ceased, nor given place, but are still performed? he here accordingly labors at this very point, showing that they are no longer performed, even as a figure, for God does not accept them. And this again he shows not from the New [Testament], but from the prophets, bringing forward from times of old the strongest testimony, that it [the old system] comes to an end, and ceases, and that they do all in vain, "alway resisting the Holy Ghost." (Acts 7:51.)

And he shows over and above that they cease not now [only], but at the very coming of the Messiah, nay rather, even before His coming: and how it was that Christ did not abolish them at the last, but they were abolished first, and then He came; first they were made to cease, and then He appeared. That they might not say, Even without this sacrifice, and by means of those, we could have been well pleasing unto God, He waited for these sacrifices to be convicted [of weakness], and then He appeared; for (He says) "sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not." Hereby He took all away; and having spoken generally, He says also particularly, "In burnt-offerings and [sacrifice] for sin Thou hadst no pleasure." But "the offering" was everything except the sacrifice. "Then said I, Lo! I come." Of whom was this spoken? of none other than the Christ.

Here he does not blame those who offer, showing that it is not because of their wickednesses that He does not accept them, as He says elsewhere, but because the thing itself has been convicted for the future and shown to have no strength, nor any suitableness to the times. [3138] What then has this to do with the "sacrifices" being offered "oftentimes"? Not only from their being "oftentimes" [offered] (he means) is it manifest that they are weak, and that they effected nothing; but also from God's not accepting them, as being unprofitable and useless. And in another place it is said, "If Thou hadst desired sacrifice I would have given it." (Psalm 51:16.) Therefore by this also he makes it plain that He does not desire it. Therefore sacrifices are not God's will, but the abolition of sacrifices. Wherefore they sacrifice contrary to His will.

What is "To do Thy will"? To give up Myself, He means: This is the will of God. "By which Will we are sanctified." Or he even means something still further, that the sacrifices do not make men clean, but the Will of God. Therefore to offer sacrifice is not the will of God.

[2.] And why dost thou wonder that it is not the will of God now, when it was not His will even from the beginning? For "who," saith He, "hath required this at your hands?" (Isaiah 1:12.)

How then did He Himself enjoin it? In condescension. For as Paul says, "I would [3139] that all men were even as I myself" (1 Corinthians 7:7), in respect of continence, and again says, "I will [3140] that the younger women marry, bear children" (1 Timothy 5:14); and lays down two wills, yet the two are not his own, although he commands; but the one indeed is his own, and therefore he lays it down without reasons; while the other is not his own, though he wishes it, and therefore it is added with a reason. For having previously accused them, because "they had waxed wanton against Christ" (1 Timothy 5:11), he then says, "I will that the younger women marry, bear children." (1 Timothy 5:14.) So in this place also it was not His leading will that the sacrifices should be offered. For, as He says, "I wish not the death of the sinner, as that he should turn unto [Me] and live" (Ezekiel 33:11): and in another place He says that He not only wished, but even desired [3141] this: and yet these are contrary to each other: for intense wishing is desire. How then dost Thou "not wish"? how dost Thou in another place "desire," which is a sign of vehement wishing? So is it in this case also.

"By the which will we are sanctified," he says. How sanctified? "by the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all."

[3.] "And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifice." (To stand therefore is a sign of ministering; accordingly to sit, is a sign of being ministered unto.) "But this [man] after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool." (Ver. 14, 15) "For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us." He had said that those [sacrifices] are not offered; he reasoned from what is written, [and] from what is not written; [3142] moreover also he put forward the prophetic word which says, "sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not." He had said that He had forgiven their sins. Again this also He proves from the testimony of what is written, for "the Holy Ghost" (he says) "is a witness to us: for after that He had said," (ver. 16-18) "This is the covenant, that I will make with them, after those days, saith the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is there is no more offering for sin." So then He forgave their sins, when He gave the Covenant, and He gave the Covenant by sacrifice. If therefore He forgave the sins through the one sacrifice, there is no longer need of a second.

"He sat down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting." Why the delay? "that His enemies be put under His feet. For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." But perhaps some one might say; Wherefore did He not put them under at once? For the sake of the faithful who should afterwards be brought forth and born. Whence then [does it appear] that they shall be put under? By the saying "He sat down." He called to mind again that testimony which saith, "until I put the enemies under His feet." (See above, i. 13.) But His enemies are the Jews. Then since he had said, "Till His enemies be put under His feet," and they [these enemies [3143] ] were vehemently urgent, therefore he introduces all his discourse concerning faith after this. But who are the enemies? All unbelievers: the d?mons. And intimating the greatness of their subjection, he said not "are subjected," but "are put under His feet."

[4.] Let us not therefore be of [the number of] His enemies. For not they alone are enemies, the unbelievers and Jews, but those also who are full of unclean living. "For the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, for neither can it be." (Romans 8:7.) What then (you say)? this is not a ground of blame. Nay rather, it is very much a ground of blame. For the wicked man as long as he is wicked, cannot be subject [to God's law]; he can however change and become good.

Let us then cast out carnal minds. But what are carnal? Whatever makes the body flourish and do well, but injures the soul: as for instance, wealth, luxury, glory (all these things are of the flesh), carnal love. Let us not then love gain, but ever follow after poverty: for this is a great good.

But (you say) it makes one humble and of little account. [True:] for we have need of this, for it benefits us much. "Poverty" (it is said) "humbles a man." (Proverbs 10:4 , LXX.) And again Christ [says], "Blessed are the poor in spirit." (Matthew 5:3.) Dost thou then grieve because thou art upon a path leading to virtue? Dost thou not know that this gives us great confidence?

But, one says, "the wisdom of the poor man is despised." (Ecclesiastes 9:16.) And again another says, "Give me neither riches nor poverty" (Proverbs 30:8), and, "Deliver me from the furnace of poverty." [3144] (See Isaiah 48:10.) And again, if riches and poverty are from the Lord, how can either poverty or riches be an evil? Why then were these things said? They were said under [3145] the Old [Covenant], where there was much account made of wealth, where there was great contempt of poverty, where the one was a curse and the other a blessing. But now it is no longer so.

But wilt thou hear the praises of poverty? Christ sought after it, and saith, "But the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." (Matthew 8:20.) And again He said to His disciples, "Provide [3146] neither gold, nor silver, nor two coats." (Matthew 10:9, 10.) And Paul in writing said, "As having nothing and yet possessing all things." (2 Corinthians 6:10.) And Peter said to him who was lame from his birth, "Silver and gold have I none." (Acts 3:6.) Yea and under the Old [Covenant] itself, where wealth was held in admiration, who were the admired? Was not Elijah, who had nothing save the sheepskin? Was not Elisha? Was not John?

Let no man then be humiliated on account of his poverty: It is not poverty which humiliates, but wealth, which compels us to have need of many, and forces us to be under obligations to many?

And what could be poorer than Jacob (tell me), who said, "If the Lord give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on"? (Genesis 28:20.) Were Elijah and John then wanting in boldness? [3147] Did not the one reprove Ahab, and the other Herod? The latter said, "It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother Philip's wife." (Mark 6:18.) And Elias said to Ahab with boldness, "It is not I that trouble Israel, but thou and thy father's house." (1 Kings 18:18.) Thou seest that this especially produces boldness; poverty [I mean]? For while the rich man is a slave, being subject to loss, and in the power of every one wishing to do him hurt, he who has nothing, fears not confiscation, nor fine. So, if poverty had made men wanting in boldness Christ would not have sent His disciples with poverty to a work requiring great boldness. For the poor man is very strong, and has nothing wherefrom he may be wronged or evil entreated. But the rich man is assailable on every side: just in the same way as one would easily catch a man who was dragging many long ropes after him, whereas one could not readily lay hold on a naked man. So here also it falls out in the case of the rich man: slaves, gold, lands, affairs innumerable, innumerable cares, difficult circumstances, necessities, make him an easy prey to all.

[5.] Let no man then henceforth esteem poverty a cause of disgrace. For if virtue be there, all the wealth of the world is neither clay, nor even a mote in comparison of it. This then let us follow after, if we would enter into the kingdom of heaven. For, He saith, "Sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven." (Matthew 19:21.) And again, "It is hard for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." (Matthew 19:23.) Dost thou see that even if we have it not, we ought to draw it to us? So great a good is Poverty. For it guides us by the hand, as it were, on the path which leads to Heaven, it is an anointing for the combat, an exercise great and admirable, a tranquil haven.

But (you say) I have need of many [things], and am unwilling to receive a favor from any. Nevertheless, even in this respect the rich man is inferior to thee; for thou perhaps askest the favor for thy support, but he shamelessly [asks] for ten thousand things for covetousness' sake. So that it is the rich that are in need of many [persons], yea oftentimes those who are unworthy of them. For instance, they often stand in need of those who are in the rank of soldiers, or of slaves: but the poor man has no need even of the Emperor himself, and if he should need him, he is admired because he has brought himself down to this, when he might have been rich.

Let no man then accuse poverty as being the cause of innumerable evils, nor let him contradict Christ, who declared it to be the perfection of virtue, saying, "If thou wilt be perfect." (Matthew 19:21.) For this He both uttered in His words, and showed by His acts, and taught by His disciples. Let us therefore follow after poverty, it is the greatest good to the sober-minded.

Perhaps some of those who hear me, avoid it as a thing of ill omen. I do not doubt it. [3148] For this disease is great among most men, and such is the tyranny of wealth, that they cannot even as far as words endure the renunciation of it, but avoid it as of ill omen. Far be this from the Christian's soul: for nothing is richer than he who chooses poverty of his own accord, and with a ready mind.

[6.] How? I will tell you, and if you please, I will prove that he who chooses poverty of his own accord is richer even than the king himself. For he indeed needs many [things], and is in anxiety, and fears lest the supplies for the army should fail him; but the other has enough of everything, and fears about nothing, and if he fears, it is not about so great matters. Who then, tell me, is the rich man? he who is daily asking, and earnestly laboring to gather much together, and fears lest at any time he should fall short, or he who gathers nothing together, and is in great abundance and hath need of no one? For it is virtue and the fear of God, and not possessions which give confidence. For these even enslave. For it is said, "Gifts and presents blind the eyes of the wise, and like a muzzle on the mouth turn away reproofs." (Ecclus. xx. 29.)

Consider how the poor man Peter chastised the rich Ananias. Was not the one rich and the other poor? But behold the one speaking with authority and saying, "Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much" (Acts 5:8), and the other saying with submission, "Yea, for so much." And who (you say) will grant to me to be as Peter? It is open to thee to be as Peter if thou wilt; cast away what thou hast. "Disperse, give to the poor" (Psalm 112:9), follow Christ, and thou shalt be such as he. How? he (you say) wrought miracles. Is it this then, tell me, which made Peter an object of admiration, or the boldness which arose from his manner of life? Dost thou not hear Christ saying, "Rejoice not because the devils are subject unto you; If thou wilt be perfect [&c]." (Luke 10:20.) Hear what Peter says: "Silver and gold have I none, but what I have I give thee." (Acts 3:6.) If any man have silver and gold, he hath not those other gifts.

Why is it then, you say, that many have neither the one nor the other? Because they are not voluntarily poor: since they who are voluntarily poor have all good things. For although they do not raise up the dead nor the lame, yet, what is greater than all; they have confidence towards God. They will hear in that day that blessed voice, "Come, ye blessed of My Father," (what can be better than this?) "inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger and ye took Me in: I was naked and ye clothed Me: I was sick and in prison and ye visited Me. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (Matthew 25:34-36.) Let us then flee from covetousness, that we may attain to the kingdom [of Heaven]. Let us feed the poor, that we may feed Christ: that we may become fellow-heirs with Him in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, honor, now and for ever and world without end. Amen.


[3134] "according to."

[3135] "have been."

[3136] e phapax

[3137] "a footstool for His feet."

[3138] prosekonta kairon

[3139] thelo

[3140] boulomai

[3141] St. Chrys. seems to refer to some place where it is said that God desired (e pethumese) the death of the wicked. It does not appear what passage he had in view.

[3142] That is from other arguments than the words of the Old Testament.

[3143] [The English editor supplies this ellipsis with the words "to whom he wrote." The reference seems rather to be to "the enemies," and such was apparently the understanding of Mutianus and of the Benedictine editor.--F.G.]

[3144] The words of the LXX. are "He took me out of the furnace of poverty."

[3145] or "in," e n

[3146] or "get."

[3147] a parresiastoi

[3148] ouk apisto

Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.
By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.
For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,
This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He hath consecrated [3149] for us, through the Veil, that is to say, His flesh, and having an High Priest [3150] over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession [3151] of our hope without wavering."

[1.] "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He hath consecrated for us." Having shown the difference of the High Priest, and of the sacrifices, and of the tabernacle, and of the Covenant, and of the promise, and that the difference is great, since those are temporal, but these eternal, those "near to vanishing away," these permanent, those powerless, these perfect, those figures, these reality, for (he says) "not according to the law of a carnal commandment, but according to the power of an endless life." (c. vii. 16.) And "Thou art a Priest for ever." (c. v. 6.) Behold the continuance of the Priest. And concerning the Covenant, That (he says) is old (for "that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away"-- c. viii. 13), but this is new; and has remission of sins, while that [has] nothing of the kind: for (he says) "the Law made nothing perfect." (c. vii. 19.) And again, "sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not." (c. x. 5.) That is made with hands, while this is "not made with hands" (c. ix. 11): that "has the blood of goats" (c. ix. 12), this of the Lord ; that has the Priest "standing," this "sitting." Since therefore all those are inferior and these greater, therefore he says, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness."

[2.] "Boldness": from whence? As sins (he means) produce shame, so the having all things forgiven us, and being made fellow-heirs, and enjoying so great Love, [produces] boldness.

"For the entrance into the holiest." What does he mean here by "entrance"? Heaven, and the access to spiritual things.

"Which he hath inaugurated," [3152] that is, which He prepared, and which He began; for the beginning of using is thenceforth called the inaugurating; which He prepared (he means) and by which He Himself passed.

"A new and living way." Here He expresses "the full assurance of hope." "New," he says. He is anxious to show that we have all things greater; since now the gates of Heaven have been opened, which was not done even for Abraham. "A new and living way," he says, for the first was a way of death, leading to Hades, but this of life. And yet he did not say, "of life," but called it "living," (the ordinances, that is,) that which abideth. [3153]

"Through the veil" (he says) "of His flesh." For this flesh first cut that way, by this He inaugurated it [the way] by which He walked. And with good reason did he call [the flesh] "a veil." [3154] For when it was lifted up on high, then the things in heaven appeared.

"Let us draw near" (he says) "with a true heart." To what should we "draw near"? To the holy things, the faith, the spiritual service. "With a true heart, in full assurance of faith," since nothing is seen; neither the priest henceforward, nor the sacrifice, nor the altar. And yet neither was that priest visible, but stood within, and they all without, the whole people. But here not only has this taken place, that the priest has entered into the holy of holies, but that we also enter in. Therefore he says, "in full assurance of faith." For it is possible for the doubter to believe in one way, as there are even now many who say, that of some there is a resurrection and of others not. But this is not faith. "In full assurance of faith" (he says); for we ought to believe as concerning things that we see, nay, even much more; for "here" it is possible to be deceived in the things that are seen, but there not: "here" we trust to the senses, but there to the Spirit.

"Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience." He shows that not faith only, but a virtuous life also is required, and the consciousness to ourselves of nothing evil. Since the holy of holies does not receive "with full assurance" those who are not thus disposed. For they are holy, and the holy of holies; but here no profane person enters. They were sprinkled as to the body, we as to the conscience, so that we may even now be sprinkled over with virtue itself. "And having our body washed with pure water." Here he speaks of the Washing, which no longer cleanses the bodies, but the soul.

"For He is faithful that promised." "That promised" what? That we are to depart thither and enter into the kingdom. Be then in nothing over-curious, nor demand reasonings. Our [religion] [3155] needs faith.

[3.] (Ver. 24, 25) "And" (he says) "let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting [3156] one another and so much the more as ye see the day approaching." And again in other places, "The Lord is at hand; be careful for nothing." (Philip. iv. 5, 6.) "For now is our salvation nearer: Henceforth the time is short." (Romans 13:11.)

What is, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together"? (1 Corinthians 7:29.) He knew that much strength arises from being together and assembling together. "For where two or three" (it is said) "are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20); and again, "That they may be One, as we" also are (John 17:11); and, "They had all one heart and [one] soul." (Acts 4:32.) And not this only, but also because love is increased by the gathering [of ourselves] together; and love being increased, of necessity the things of God must follow also. "And earnest prayer" (it is said) was "made by" the people. (Acts 12:5.) "As the manner of some is." Here he not only exhorted, but also blamed [them].

"And let us consider one another," he says, "to provoke unto [3157] love and to good works." He knew that this also arises from "gathering together." For as "iron sharpeneth iron" (Proverbs 17:17), so also association increases love. For if a stone rubbed against a stone sends forth fire, how much more soul mingled with soul! But not unto emulation (he says) but "unto the sharpening of love." What is "unto the sharpening of love"? Unto the loving and being loved more. "And of good works"; that so they might acquire zeal. For if doing has greater force for instruction than speaking, ye also have in your number many teachers, who effect this by their deeds.

What is "let us draw near with a true heart"? That is, without hypocrisy; for "woe be to a fearful heart, and faint hands" (Ecclus. ii. 12): let there be (he means) no falsehood among us; let us not say one thing and think another; for this is falsehood; neither let us be fainthearted, for this is not [a mark] of a "true heart." Faintheartedness comes from not believing. But how shall this be? If we fully assure ourselves through faith.

"Having our hearts sprinkled": why did he not say "having been purified"? [Because] he wished to point out the difference of the sprinklings: the one he says is of God, the other our own. For the washing and sprinkling the conscience is of God; but "the drawing near with" truth and "in full assurance of faith" is our own. Then he also gives strength to their faith from the truth of Him that promised.

What is "and having our bodies washed with pure water"? With water which makes pure; or which has no blood.

Then he adds the perfect thing, love. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together," which some (he says) do, and divide the assemblies. [3158] For "a brother helped by a brother is as a strong city." (Proverbs 18:19 , LXX.)

"But let us consider one another to provoke unto love." What is, "let us consider one another"? For instance if any be virtuous, let us imitate him, let us look on him so as to love and to be loved. For from Love good works proceed. For the assembling is a great good: since it makes love more warm; and out of love all good things arise. For nothing is good which is not done through love.

[4.] This then let us "confirm" [3159] towards each other. "For love is the fulfilling of the law." (Romans 13:10.) We have no need of labors or of sweatings if we love one another. It is a pathway leading of itself towards virtue. For as on the highway, if any man find the beginning, he is guided by it, and has no need of one to take him by the hand; so is it also in regard to Love: only lay hold on the beginning, and at once thou art guided and directed by it. "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor" (Romans 13:10); "thinketh no evil." (1 Corinthians 13:5.) Let each man consider with himself, how he is disposed toward himself. He does not envy himself; he wishes all good things for himself; he prefers himself before all; he is willing to do all things for himself. If then we were so disposed towards others also, all grievous things are brought to an end; there is no enmity; there is no covetousness: for who would choose to overreach himself? No man; but on the contrary we shall possess all things in common, and shall not cease assembling ourselves together. And if we do this, the remembrance of injuries would have no place: for who would choose to remember injuries against himself? Who would choose to be angry with himself? Do we not make allowances for ourselves most of all? If we were thus disposed towards our neighbors also, there will never be any remembrance of injuries.

And how is it possible (you say) that one should so love his neighbor as himself? If others had not done this, you might well think it impossible: but if they have done it, it is plain that from indolence it is not done by ourselves.

And besides, Christ enjoins nothing impossible, seeing that many have even gone beyond His commands. Who has done this? Paul, Peter, all the company of the Saints. Nay, indeed if I say that they loved their neighbors, I say no great matter: they so loved their enemies as no man would love those who were likeminded with himself. For who would choose for the sake of those likeminded, to go away into Hell. when he was about to depart unto a kingdom? No man. But Paul chose this for the sake of his enemies, for those who stoned him, those who scourged him. What pardon then will there be for us, what excuse, if we shall not show towards our friends even the very smallest portion of that love which Paul showed towards his enemies?

And before him too, the blessed Moses was willing to be blotted out of God's book for the sake of his enemies who had stoned him. David also when he saw those who had stood up against him slain, saith, "I, the shepherd, have sinned, but these, what have they done?" (See 2 Samuel 24:17.) And when he had Saul in his hands, he would not slay him, but saved him; and this when he himself would be in danger. But if these things were done under the Old [Covenant] what excuse shall we have who live under the New, and do not attain even to the same measure with them? For if, "unless our righteousness exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, we shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 5:20), how shall we enter in when we have even less than they?

[5.] "Love your enemies," He says. (Matthew 5:44.) Love thou therefore thy enemy: for thou art doing good not to him, but to thyself. How? Thou art becoming like God. He, if he be beloved of thee, hath no great gain, for he is beloved by a fellow-slave; but thou, if thou love thy fellow-slave, hast gained much, for thou art becoming like God. Seest thou that thou art doing a kindness not to him but to thyself? For He appoints the prize not for him, but for thee.

What then if he be evil (you say)? So much the greater is the reward. Even for his wickedness thou oughtest to feel grateful to him: even should he be evil after receiving ten thousand kindnesses. For if he were not exceedingly evil, thy reward would not have been exceedingly increased; so that the reason [thou assignest] for not loving him, the saying that he is evil, is the very reason for loving him. Take away the contestant and thou takest away the opportunity for the crowns. Seest thou not the athletes, how they exercise when they have filled the bags with sand? But there is no need for thee to practice this. Life is full of things that exercise thee, and make thee strong. Seest thou not the trees too, the more they are shaken by the winds, so much the more do they become stronger and firmer? We then. if we be long-suffering, shall also become strong. For it is said, "a man who is long-suffering abounds in wisdom, but he that is of a little soul is strongly foolish." (Proverbs 14:29.) Seest thou how great is his commendation of the one, seest thou how great his censure of the other? "Strongly foolish," i. e. very [foolish]. Let us not then be faint-hearted [3160] one towards another: for this does not rise from enmity, but from having a small soul. As if the soul be strong, it will endure all things easily, and nothing will be able to sink it, but will lead it into tranquil havens. To which may we all attain, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, honor, now and for ever and world without end. Amen.


[3149] "new made" or "inaugurated."

[3150] "a great Priest."

[3151] "confession."

[3152] e nekainise, "consecrated."

[3153] a lla zosan auten ekalese; toutesti, ta prostagmata, ten menousan. This is the reading of all the best mss., the Catena and ancient Translation. The later editions omit toutesti, ta prostagmata and add houto delon. Mr. Field thinks the passage may be corrupt; the parenthetic words seem added to explain that it is the Christian ordinances, which he understands by the "way that abideth."

[3154] [See above, p. 438 and St. Cyril Alex. Quod Unus Christus, 761.]

[3155] ta hemetera

[3156] or, "encouraging."

[3157] eis paroxusmon, "to the sharpening" or "exciting of."

[3158] [The English edition here inserts, "This he forbids them [to do]," from touto autois apagoreuei of the Benedictine text, supported by some mss., but omitted by Mr. Field.--F.G.]

[3159] See 2 Corinthians 2:8

[3160] mikropsuchomen

By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
And having an high priest over the house of God;
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
"For if we sin willfully, after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more [3161] sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation [3162] which shall devour the adversaries."

[1.] Trees which have been planted, and have had the advantage of all other care, and the hands and the labors of the cultivator, and yet yield no return for the labors, are pulled up by the roots, and handed over to the fire. So somewhat of this kind takes place also in the case of our Illumination. [3163] For when Christ has planted us, and we have enjoyed the watering of the Spirit, and then show no fruit; fire, even that of Hell, awaits us, and flame unquenchable.

Paul therefore having exhorted them to love and to bringing forth the fruit of good works, and having urged them from the kindlier [considerations] (What are these? That we have an entrance into the holy of holies, "the new way which He hath inaugurated for us."-- c. x. 20), does the same again from the more gloomy ones, speaking thus. For having said, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting [3164] one another, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (c. x. 25), this being sufficient for consolation, he added, "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth." There is need, he means, of good works, yea, very great need, "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins." Thou wast cleansed; thou wast set free from the charges against thee, thou hast become a son. If then thou return to thy former vomit, there awaits thee on the other hand excommunication and fire and whatever such things there are. For there is no second sacrifice.

[2.] At this place we are again assailed by those who take away repentance, [3165] and by those who delay to come to baptism. The one saying, that it is not safe for them to come to baptism, since there is no second remission: And the other asserting that it is not safe to impart the mysteries [3166] to those who have sinned, if there is no second remission.

What shall we say then to them both? That he does not take away repentance, nor the propitiation through repentance, nor does he thrust away and cast down with despair the fallen. He is not thus an enemy of our salvation; but what? He takes away the second Washing. For he did not say, no more [3167] is there repentance, or no more is there remission, but "no more" is there a "sacrifice," that is, there is no more a second Cross. [3168] For this is what he means by sacrifice. "For by one sacrifice," he says, "He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified" (c. x. 14); not like the Jewish [rites.]. For this reason he has treated so much throughout concerning the Sacrifice, that it is one, even one; not wishing to show this only, that herein it differed from the Jewish [rites], but also to make [men] more steadfast, so that they might no longer expect another sacrifice according to the Jewish law.

"For," saith he, "if we sin willfully." See how he is disposed to pardon. He says, "if we sin willfully," so that there is pardon for those [who sin] not willfully. "After the knowledge of the truth": He either means, of Christ, or of all doctrines. "There remaineth no more sacrifice for sins," but what? "A certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries." By "Adversaries" he means not the unbelievers, but those also who do what is against virtue; or [else he means] that the same fire shall receive them of the household also, which [receives] "the adversaries." Then expressing its devouring nature, he says, as if giving it life, "fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries." For as a wild beast when irritated and very fierce and savage, would not rest till it could lay hold on some one and eat him up; so also that fire, like one goaded by indignation, whatever it can lay hold of does not let go, but devours and tears it to pieces.

[3.] Next he adds also the reason of the threat, that it is on good grounds, that it is just; for this contributes to confidence, when we show that it is just.

For, he says, (ver. 28) "He that hath despised Moses' law dies without mercy, under two or three witnesses." "Without mercy," he says; so that there is no pardon, no pity there although the law is of Moses; for he ordained the most of it.

What is "under two or three"? If two or three bore witness, he means, they immediately suffered punishment.

If then under the Old [Covenant], when the law of Moses is set at nought, there is so great punishment, (ver. 29) "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God and hath counted the blood of the covenant an unholy [a common] thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?"

And how does a man "tread under foot the Son of God"? When partaking of Him in the mysteries (he would say) he has wrought sin, has he not trodden Him under foot? Has he not despised Him? For just as we make no account of those who are trodden under foot, so also, they who sin have made no account of Christ; and so they have sinned. Thou art [3169] become the Body of Christ, and givest thou thyself to the devil, so that he treads thee under foot.

"And accounted the blood a common thing," he says. What is "common"? It is "unclean," or the having nothing beyond other things.

"And done despite unto the Spirit of grace." For he that accepts not a benefit, does despite to the benefactor. He made thee a son: and thou wishest to become a slave. He came to dwell with thee, and thou bringest in wicked imaginations to Him. Christ wished to stay with thee: and thou treadest Him down by surfeiting, by drunkenness.

Let us listen, whoever partake of the mysteries unworthily: let us listen, whoever approach that Table unworthily. "Give not" (He says) "that which is holy unto the dogs, lest in time they trample them under their feet" (Matthew 7:6), that is, lest they despise, lest they repudiate [them]. Yet he did not say this, but what was more fearful than this. For he constrains their souls by what is fearful. For this also is adapted to convert, no less than consolation. And at the same time he shows both the difference, and the chastisement, and sets forth the judgment upon them, as though it were an evident matter. "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy?" Here also he appears to me to hint at the mysteries.

[4.] Next he adds testimony, saying, (ver. 31, 30) "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God." "For" it is written: "Vengeance [belongeth] unto Me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge His people." "Let us fall," it is said, "into the hands of the Lord, and not into the hands of men." (Ecclus. ii. 18. [3170]) But if ye repent not, ye shall "fall into the hands of" God: that is fearful: it is nothing, to "fall into the hands of men." When, he means, we see any man punished here, let us not be terrified at the things present, but shudder at the things to come. "For according to His mercy, so is His wrath." [3171] And, "His indignation will rest upon sinners." (Ecclus. v. 6.)

At the same time too he hints at something else. For "Vengeance [belongeth] unto Me," he says, "I will recompense." This is said in regard to their enemies, who are doing evil, not to those who are suffering evil. Here he is consoling them too, all but saying, God abideth for ever and liveth, so that even if they receive not [their reward] now, they will receive it hereafter. They ought to groan, not we: for we indeed shall fall into their hands, but they into the hands of God. For neither is it the sufferer who suffers the ill, but he that does it; nor is it he who receives a benefit that is benefited, but the benefactor.

[5.] Knowing then these things, let us be patient as to suffering evil, forward as to kindnesses. And this will be, if we think lightly of wealth and honor. He that hath stripped himself of those affections, is of all men most generous, and more wealthy even than he who wears the purple. Seest thou not how many evils come through money? I do not say how many through covetousness, but merely by our attachment to these things. For instance, if a man has lost his money, he leads a life more wretched than any death. Why grievest thou, O man? why weepest thou? Because God has delivered Thee from excessive watching? Because thou dost not sit trembling and fearful? Again, if any one chain thee to a treasure, commanding thee to sit there perpetually, and to keep watch for other people's goods, thou art grieved, thou art disgusted; and dost thou, after thou hast bound thyself with most grievous chains, grieve when thou art delivered from the slavery? Truly sorrows and joys are [matters] of fancy. [3172] For we guard them as if we had another's.

Now my discourse is for the women. A woman often has a garment woven with gold, and this she shakes, wraps up in linen, keeps with care, trembles for it, and has no enjoyment of it. For either she dies, or she becomes a widow. Or, even if none of these things happen, yet from fear lest wearing it out by continual use, she should deprive herself of it, she deprives herself of it in another way, by sparing it. But she passes it on [you say] to another. But neither is this clear: and even if she should pass it on, the other again will also use it in the same way. And if any one will search their houses, he will find that the most costly garments and other choice things, are tended with special honor, as if they were living masters. For she does not use them habitually, but fears and trembles, driving away moths and the other things that are wont to eat them, and laying most of them in perfumes and spices, nor permitting all persons to be counted worthy of the sight of them, but oftentimes carefully putting them in order herself with her husband.

Tell me: did not Paul with reason call covetousness "idolatry"? (Colossians 3:5.) For these show as great honor to their garments, their gold, as they to their idols.

[6.] How long shall we stir up the mire? How long shall we be fixed to the clay and the brickmaking? For as they toiled for the King of the Egyptians, so do we also toil for the devil, and are scourged with far more grievous stripes. For by how much the soul surpasses the body, by so much does anxiety the weals of scourging. We are scourged every day, we are full of fear, in anxiety, in trembling. But if we will groan, if we will look up to God, He sendeth to us, not Moses, nor Aaron, but His own Word, and compunction. When this [word] has come, and taken hold of our souls, He will free from the bitter slavery, He will bring us forth out of Egypt, from unprofitable and vain zeal, from slavery which brings no gain. For they indeed went forth after having at least received golden [ornaments], the wages for building, but we [receive] nothing: and would it were nothing. For indeed we also receive, not golden ornaments, but the evils of Egypt, sins and chastisements and punishments.

Let us then learn to be made use of, let us learn to be spitefully treated; this is the part of a Christian. Let us think lightly of golden raiment, let us think lightly of money, that we may not think lightly of our salvation. Let us think lightly of money and not think lightly of the soul. For this is chastised, this is punished: those things remain here, but the soul departeth yonder. Why, tell me, dost thou cut thyself to pieces, without perceiving it?

[7.] These things I say to the overreaching. And it is well to say also to those who are overreached. Bear their overreachings generously; they are ruining themselves, not you. You indeed they defraud of your money, but they strip themselves of the good will and help of God. And he that is stripped of that, though he clothe himself with the whole wealth of the world, is of all men most poor: and so he who is the poorest of all, if he have this, is the wealthiest of all. For "the Lord" (it is said) "is my shepherd, and I shall lack nothing." (Psalm 23:1.)

Tell me now, if thou hadst had a husband, a great and admirable man, who thoroughly loved thee and cared for thee, and then knewest that he would live always, and not die before thee, and would give thee all things to enjoy in security, as thine own: wouldst thou then have wished to possess anything? Even if thou hadst been stripped of all, wouldst thou not have thought thyself the richer for this?

Why then dost thou grieve? Because thou hast no property? But consider that thou hast had the occasion of sin taken away. But is it because thou hadst [property] and hast been deprived of it? But thou hast acquired the good will of God. And how have I acquired it (you say)? He has said, "Wherefore do ye not rather suffer wrong?" (1 Corinthians 6:7.) He hath said, "Blessed are they who bear all things with thankfulness." [3173] Consider therefore how great good will thou wilt enjoy, if thou showest forth those things by [thy] works. For one thing only is required from us, "in all things to give thanks" to God, and [then] we have all things in abundance. I mean, for instance: hast thou lost ten thousand pounds of gold? Forthwith give thanks unto God, and thou hast acquired ten times ten thousand, by that word and thanksgiving.

[8.] For tell me when dost thou account Job blessed? When he had so many camels, and flocks, and herds, or when he uttered that saying: "The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away"? (Job 1:21.) Therefore also the devil causes us losses, not that he may take away our goods only, for he knows that is nothing, but that through them he may compel us to utter some blasphemy. So in the case of the blessed Job too, he did not strive after this only, to make him poor, but also to make him a blasphemer. At any rate, when he had stripped him of every thing, observe what he says to him through his wife, "Say some word against the Lord, and die." (Job 2:9.) And yet, O accursed one, thou hadst stripped him of everything. But' (he says) this is not what I was striving for; for I have not yet accomplished that for which I did all. I was striving to deprive him of God's help: for this cause I deprived him of his goods too. This is what I wish, that other is nothing. If this be not gained, he not only has not been injured at all, but has even been benefited.' Thou seest that even that wicked demon knows how great is the loss in this matter?

And see him plotting the treachery through the wife. Hear this, ye husbands, as many as have wives that are fond of money, and compel you to blaspheme God. Call Job to mind. But let us see, if it please you, his great moderation, how he silenced her. "Wherefore" (he says) "hast thou spoken as one of the foolish women [speaketh]?" (Job 2:10.) Of a truth "evil communications corrupt good manners" (1 Corinthians 15:33), at all times indeed, but particularly in calamities: then they who give evil advice have strength. For if the soul is even of itself prone to impatience, how much more, when there is also an adviser. Is it not thrust into a pit? A wife is a great good, as also a great evil. For because a wife is a great [good], observe from what point he [Satan] wishes to break through the strong wall. The depriving him of his property' (he says) did not take him; the loss has produced no great effect.' Therefore he says, If indeed he will curse thee to thy face.' (Job 2:5.) You see whither he was aspiring. [3174]

If then we bear [losses] thankfully, we shall recover even these things; and if we should not recover them, our reward will be greater. For when he had wrestled nobly, then God restored to him these things also. When He had shown the devil, that it is not for these things that he serves Him, then He restored them also to him.

[9.] For such is He. When God sees that we are not riveted to things of this life, then He gives them to us. When He sees that we set a higher value on things spiritual, then He also bestows on us things carnal. But not first, lest we should break away from things spiritual: and to spare us He does not give carnal things, to keep us away from them, even against our will.

Not so (you say) but if I receive [them], I am satisfied, and am the more thankful. It is false, O man, for then especially wilt thou be thoughtless.

Why then (you say) does He give [them] to many? Whence is it clear, that He gives [them]? But who else, you say, gives? Their overreaching, their plundering. How then does He allow these things? As He also [allows] murders, thefts, and violence.

What then (you will say) as to those who receive by succession an inheritance from their fathers, being themselves full of evils innumerable? And what of this? How does God suffer them (you say) to enjoy these things? Surely just as He allows thieves, and murderers, and other evil doers. For it is not now the time of judgment, but of the best course of life.

And what I just now said, that I repeat, that they shall suffer greater punishment, who, when they have enjoyed all good things, do not even so become better. For all shall not be punished alike; but they who, even after His benefits, have continued evil, shall suffer a greater punishment, while they who after poverty [have done this] not so. And that this is true, hear what He says to David, "Did I not give thee all thy master's goods?" (2 Samuel 12:8.) Whenever then thou seest a young man that has received a paternal inheritance without labor and continues wicked, be assured that his punishment is increased and the vengeance is made more intense. Let us not then emulate these; but if any man has succeeded to virtue, if any man has obtained spiritual wealth, [him let us emulate]. For (it is said) "Woe to them that trust in their riches" (cf. Psalm 49:6): "Blessed are they that fear the Lord." (Psalm 128:1.) To which of these, tell me, wouldst thou belong? Doubtless to those who are pronounced blessed. Therefore emulate these, not the other, that thou also mayest obtain the good things which are laid up for them. Which may we all obtain, in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom to the Father be glory together with the Holy Ghost, now and for ever, and world without end. Amen.


[3161] ouketi

[3162] lit. "indignation of fire."

[3163] i. e. Baptism.

[3164] "encouraging."

[3165] The Novatians, who refused to admit to Penitence and the Sacraments those who had fallen into deadly sin after Baptism.

[3166] The Holy Eucharist.

[3167] ouketi

[3168] Compare Hom. ix. [5], p. 410.

[3169] or, "Art thou...dost thou give?"

[3170] [Or better, 2 Samuel 24:14.--F.G.]

[3171] [St. Chrys. may have had in mind the latter part of the verse just cited, Ecclus. ii. 18 , "for as His majesty is; so is His mercy," and combined it with the first part of the verse he next cites, Ecclus. v. 6 , "For mercy and wrath come from Him," &c.

[3172] prolepseos [preoccupation.--F.G.].

[3173] It does not appear what passage of Scripture St. Chrys referred to: the altered text has, "He hath said: In everything give thanks. ' He hath said, Blessed are the poor in spirit. '"

[3174] pou epnei

But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;
"But call to remembrance the former days, in which after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; [3175] partly, whilst ye were made a gazing stock both by reproaches and afflictions, [3176] and partly whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion on those who were in bonds, [3177] and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing that ye have for yourselves [3178] in heaven a better and an enduring substance."

[1.] The best Physicians after they have made a deep incision, and have increased the pains by the wound, soothing the afflicted part, and giving rest and refreshment to the disturbed soul, proceed not to make a second incision, but rather soothe that which has been made with gentle remedies, and such as are suited to remove the violence of the pain. This Paul also did after he had shaken their souls, and pierced them with the recollection of Hell, and convinced then, that he must certainly perish, who does despite to the grace of God, and after he had shown from the laws of Moses, that they also shall perish, and the more [fearfully], and confirm it by other testimonies, and had said, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God" (c. x. 31): then, lest the soul desponding through excessive fear, should be swallowed up with grief, he soothes them by commendations and exhortation, and gives them zeal derived from their own conduct. For, he says, "call to remembrance the former days, in which after ye had been enlightened, ye endured a great fight of afflictions." Powerful is the exhortation from deeds [already done]: for he who begins a work ought to go forward and add to it. As if he had said, when ye were brought in [3179] [to the Church], when ye were in the rank of learners, ye displayed so great readiness, so great nobleness; but now it is no longer so. And he who encourages, does thus especially encourage them from their own example.

And he did not simply say, "ye endured a fight" [3180] but a "great" [fight]. Moreover he did not say "temptations" but "fight," which is an expression of commendation and of very great praise.

Then he also enumerates them particularly, amplifying his discourse, and multiplying his praise. How? "Partly" (he says) "whilst ye were made a gazing-stock by reproaches and afflictions"; for reproach is a great thing, and calculated to pervert the soul, and to darken the judgment. For hear what the prophet says: [3181] "While they daily say unto me, Where is thy God?" (Psalm 42:10.) And again, "If the enemy had reproached me, I would have borne it." (Psalm 55:12.) For since the human race is exceedingly vainglorious, therefore it is easily overcome by this.

And he did not simply say "by reproaches," but that even with great intensity, being "made a gazing-stock." [3182] For when a person is reproached alone, it is indeed painful, but far more so when in presence of all. For tell me how great the evil was when men who had left the meanness of Judaism, and gone over, as it were, to the best course of life, and despised the customs of their fathers, were ill treated by their own people, and had no help.

[2.] I cannot say (he says) that ye suffered these things indeed and were grieved, but ye even rejoiced exceedingly. And this he expressed by saying, "Whilst ye became companions of them that were so used," and he brings forward the Apostles themselves. Not only (he means) were ye not ashamed of your own sufferings, but ye even shared with others who were suffering the same things. This too is the language of one who is encouraging them. He said not, Bear my afflictions, share with me,' but respect your own.

"Ye had compassion on them that were in bonds." [3183] Thou seest that he is speaking concerning himself and the rest who were in prison. Thus ye did not account "bonds" to be bonds: but as noble wrestlers so stood ye: for not only ye needed no consolation in your own [distresses], but even became a consolation to others.

And "ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods." O! what "full assurance of faith"! (c. x. 22.) Then he also sets forth the motive, not only consoling them for their struggles, but also that they might not be shaken from the Faith. When ye saw your property plundered (he means) ye endured; for already ye saw Him who is invisible, as visible: which was the effect of genuine faith, and ye showed it forth by your deeds themselves.

Well then, the plundering was perhaps from the force of the plunderers, and no man could prevent it; so that as yet it is not clear, that ye endured the plundering for the faith's sake. (Although this too is clear. For it was in your power if you chose, not to be plundered, by not believing.) But ye did what is far greater than this; the enduring such things even "with joy"; which was altogether apostolical, and worthy of those noble souls, who rejoiced when scourged. For, it says, "they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the Name." [3184] (Acts 5:41.) But he that endures "with joy," shows that he has some reward, and that the affair is no loss but a gain.

Moreover the expression "ye took" [3185] shows their willing endurance, because, he means, ye chose and accepted.

"Knowing" (he says) "that ye have for yourselves in heaven a better and an enduring substance"; instead of saying, firm, not perishing like this.

[3.] In the next place, having praised them, he says, (ver. 35) "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward." What meanest thou? He did not say, ye have cast it away, and recover it': but, which tended more to strengthen them, "ye have it," he says. For to recover again that which has been cast away, requires more labor: but not to lose that which is held fast does not. But to the Galatians he says the very opposite: "My children of whom I travail in birth again, till Christ be formed in you" (Galatians 4:19); and with reason; for they were more supine, whence they needed a sharper word; but these were more faint-hearted, so that they rather needed what was more soothing.

"Cast not away therefore" (he says) "your confidence," so that they were in great confidence towards God. "Which hath" (he says) "great recompense of reward." "And when shall we receive them (some one might say)? Behold! All things on our part have been done." Therefore he anticipated them on their own supposition, saying in effect, If ye know that ye have in heaven a better substance, seek nothing here.

"For ye have need of patience," not of any addition [to your labors], that ye may continue in the same state, that ye may not cast away what has been put into your hands. Ye need nothing else, but so to stand as ye have stood, that when ye come to the end, ye may receive the promise.

(Ver. 36) "For" (he says) "ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise." Ye have need of one thing only, to bear with the delay; not that ye should fight again. Ye are at the very crown (he means); ye have borne all the combats of bonds, of afflictions; your goods have been spoiled. What then? Henceforward ye are standing to be crowned: endure this only, the delay of the crown. O the greatness of the consolation! It is as if one should speak to an athlete who had overthrown all, and had no antagonist, and then was to be crowned, and yet endured not that time, during which the president of the games comes, and places the crown [upon him]; and he impatient, should wish to go out, and escape as though he could not bear the thirst and the heat.

He then also hinting this, what does he say? (Ver. 37) "Yet a little while and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry." For lest they should say, And when will He come? He comforts them from the Scriptures. For thus also when he says in another place, "Now is our salvation nearer" (Romans 13:11), he comforts them because the remaining time is short. And this he says not of himself but from the Scriptures. [3186] But if from that time it was said, "Yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry," it is plain that now He is nearer. Wherefore also waiting is no small reward.

(Ver. 38) "Now the just" (he says) "shall live by faith, but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him." This is a great encouragement when one shows that they have succeeded in the whole matter and are losing it through a little indolence. (Ver. 39) "But we are not of them that draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul."

[4.] (c. xi. 1, 2) "Now faith is the substance [3187] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report." O what an expression has he used, in saying, "an evidence of things not seen." For [we say] there is "evidence," in the case of things that are very plain. [3188] Faith then is the seeing things not plain (he means), and brings what are not seen to the same full assurance with what are seen. So then neither is it possible to disbelieve in things which are seen, nor, on the other hand can there be faith unless a man be more fully assured with respect to things invisible, than he is with respect to things that are most clearly seen. For since the objects of hope seem to be unsubstantial, Faith gives them substantiality, [3189] or rather, does not give it, but is itself their substance. [3190] For instance, the Resurrection has not come, nor does it exist substantially, but hope makes it substantial in our soul. This is [the meaning of] "the substance of things."

If therefore it is an "evidence of things not seen," why forsooth do you wish to see them, so as to fall away from faith, and from being just? [3191] Since "the just shall live by faith," whereas ye, if ye wish to see these things, are no longer faithful. Ye have labored (he says), ye have struggled: I too allow this, nevertheless, wait; for this is Faith: do not seek the whole "here."

[5.] These things were indeed said to the Hebrews, but they are a general exhortation also to many of those who are here assembled. How and in what way? To the faint-hearted; to the mean-spirited. For when they see the wicked prospering, and themselves faring ill, they are troubled, they bear it impatiently: while they long for the chastisement, and the inflicting vengeance on others; while they wait for the rewards of their own sufferings. "For yet a little time, and He that shall come will come."

Let us then say this to the slothful: Doubtless there will be punishment; doubtless He will come, henceforth the events of the [3192] Resurrection are even at the doors.

Whence [does] that [appear] (you say)? I do not say, from the prophets; for neither do I now speak to Christians only; but even if a heathen be here, I am perfectly confident, and bring forward my proofs, and will instruct him. How (you say)?

Christ foretold many things. If those former things did not come to pass, then do not believe them; but if they all came to pass, why doubt concerning those that remain? And indeed, it were very unreasonable, [3193] nothing having come to pass, to believe the one, or when all has come to pass, to disbelieve the others.

But I will make the matter more plain by an example. Christ said, that Jerusalem should be taken, and should be so taken as no city ever was before, and that it should never be raised up: and in fact this prediction came to pass. He said, that there should be "great tribulation" (Matthew 24:21), and it came to pass. He said that a grain of mustard seed is sown, so should the preaching [of the Gospel] be extended: and every day we see this running over the world. He said, that they who left father or mother, or brethren, or sisters, should have both fathers and mothers; And this we see fulfilled by facts. He said, "in the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33), that is, no man shall get the better of you. And this we see by the events has come to pass. He said that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church" (Matthew 16:18), even though persecuted, and that no one shall quench the preaching [of the Gospel]: and the experience of events bears witness to this prediction also: and yet when He said these things, it was very hard to believe Him. Why? Because all these were words, and He had not as yet given proof of the things spoken. So that they have now become far more credible. He said that "when the Gospel should have been preached among all the nations, then the end shall come" (Matthew 24:14); lo! now ye have arrived at the end: for the greater part of the world hath been preached to, therefore the end is now at hand. Let us tremble, beloved.

[6.] But what, tell me? Art thou anxious about the end? It indeed is itself near, but each man's life and death is nearer. [3194] For it is said, "the days of our years are seventy years; but if [one be] in strength, fourscore years." (Psalm 90.10 ; [LXX. lxxxix. 10].) The day of judgment is near. Let us fear. "A brother doth not redeem; shall man redeem?" (Psalm 49:7 ; [LXX. xlviii. 8].) There we shall repent much, "but in death no man shall praise Him." (Psalm 6:5 ; [LXX. 6].) Wherefore he saith, "Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving" (Psalm 95:2 ; [LXX. Psalm 94.), that is, his coming. For here [in this life] indeed, whatever we do has efficacy; but there, no longer. Tell me, if a man placed us for a little while in a flaming furnace, should we not submit to anything in order to escape, even were it necessary to part with our money, nay to undergo slavery? How many have fallen into grievous diseases, and would gladly give up all, to be delivered from them, if the choice were offered them? If in this world then, a disease of short duration so afflicts us, what shall we do yonder, when repentance will be of no avail?

[7.] Of how many evils are we now full, without being conscious of them? We bite one another, we devour one another, in wronging, accusing, calumniating, being vexed by the credit of our neighbors. (Cf. Galatians 5:15.)

And see the difficulty. [3195] When a man wishes to undermine the reputation of a neighbor, he says, Such an one said this of him; O God, forgive me, do not examine me strictly, I must give account of what I have heard.' [3196] Why then dost thou speak of it at all, if thou dost not believe it? Why dost thou speak of it? Why dost thou make it credible by much reporting? Why dost thou pass on the story which is not true? Thou dost not believe it, and thou entreatest God not to call thee to strict account? Do not say it then, but keep silence, and free thyself from all fear.

But I know not from whence this disease has fallen upon men. We have become tattlers, nothing remains [3197] in our mind. Hear the exhortation of a wise man who says, "Hast thou heard a word? Let it die in [3198] thee, be bold; it will not burst thee." (Ecclus. xix. 10.) And again, "A fool heareth a word, and travaileth, as a women in labor of a child." (Ecclus. xix. 11.) We are ready to make accusations, prepared for condemning. Even if no other evil thing had been done by us, this were sufficient to ruin us, and to carry us away to Hell, this involves us in ten thousand evils. And that thou mayest know this certainly, hear what the prophet says, "Thou satest and spakest against thy brother." (Psalm 50.20.)

But it is not I, you say, but the other [who told me]. Nay rather, it is thyself; for if thou hadst not spoken, another would not have heard: or even if he should hear it, yet thou wouldest not have been to blame for the sin. We ought to shade over and conceal the failings of neighbors, but thou paradest them under a cloak of zeal for goodness. Thou becomest, not an accuser, but a gossip, a trifler, a fool. O what cleverness! Without being aware of it, thou bringest disgrace upon thyself as well as on him.

And see what great evils which arise from this. Thou provokest the wrath of God. Dost thou not hear Paul saying about widows, "they not only" (these are his words) "learn to be idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, wandering about from house to house, and speaking things which they ought not." (1 Timothy 5:13.) So that even when thou believest the things which are said against thy brother, thou oughtest not even in that case to speak of them; much less, when thou dost not believe them.

But thou [forsooth] lookest to thine own interest? Thou fearest to be called to account by God? Fear then, lest even for thy tattling thou be called to account. For here, thou canst not say, O God, call me not to account for light talking': for the whole matter is light talking. Why didst thou publish it? Why didst thou increase the evil? This is sufficient to destroy us. On this account Christ said, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." (Matthew 7:1.)

But we pay no regard to this, neither are we brought to our senses by what happened to the Pharisee. He said what was true, "I am not as this Publican" (Luke 18:11), he said it too in no man's hearing; yet was he condemned. If he were condemned when he said what was true, and uttered it in no man's hearing, what fearful [punishment] shall not they suffer, who like gossiping women, carry about everywhere lies which they do not even themselves believe? What shall they not endure?

[8.] Henceforward let us set "a door and a bolt before the mouth." (Ecclus. xxviii. 25.) For innumerable evils have arisen from tattling; families have been ruined, friendships torn asunder, innumerable other miseries have happened. Busy not thyself, O man, about the affairs of thy neighbor.

But thou art talkative and hast a weakness. Talk of thine own [faults] to God: thus the weakness will be no longer a weakness, but an advantage. Talk of thy own [faults] to thy friends, those who are thorough friends and righteous men, and in whom thou hast confidence, that so they may pray for thy sins. If thou speak of the [sins] of others, thou art nowise profited, neither hast thou gained anything, but hast ruined thyself. If thou confessest thy own [sins] to the Lord, thou hast great reward: for one says, "I said, I will confess against myself mine iniquity to the Lord, and Thou forgavest the impiety of my heart." (Psalm 32:5.)

Dost thou wish to judge? Judge thine own [sins]. No one will accuse [3199] thee, if thou condemn thyself: but he will accuse if thou do not condemn; he will accuse thee, unless thou convict thyself; will accuse thee of insensibility. Thou hast seen such an one angry, irritated, doing something else out of place? Think at once, even thou on thy own [faults]: and thus thou wilt not greatly condemn him, and wilt free thyself from the load of thy past transgressions. If we thus regulate our own conduct, if we thus manage our own life, if we condemn ourselves, we shall probably not commit many sins, and we shall do many good things, being fair and moderate; and shall enjoy all the promises to them that love God: to which may all attain, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, honor, now and for ever and world with end. Amen.


[3175] pathematon

[3176] thlipsesi

[3177] tois desmiois. This is held to be the true reading of the sacred text: tois desmois mou was substituted here, but not in the body of the Homily, in some mss. and in the editions of St. Chrys. before the Benedictine.

[3178] he autois without e n is the approved reading of the sacred text, and is found in all the mss. and Edd. of St. Chrys. [It is the reading in the margin of the A.V. and of the R.V. There is but slight authority for the e n. "In heaven" is also omitted by the more important authorities, the critical editors, and by the R.V. --F.G.]

[3179] e negesthe

[3180] a thlesin, a contest, as that of wrestlers.

[3181] The common editions have the entire text, "My tears have been my meat day and night, while," &c.

[3182] theatrizomenoi

[3183] A catena, the Verona editions, and perhaps one ms. have "with my bonds."

[3184] katexiothesan huper tou onomatos atimasthenai. The common editions of St. Chrys. as the common text of the New Testament, add autou, " His Name," in this and in other places.

[3185] prosedexasthe

[3186] It is to be observed that the words "He that cometh will come and will not tarry," are from the prophet Habakkuk 2:3 : where the LXX. has, e a n husterese hupomeinon auton ("Him" not "it.") ho ti erchomenos hexei, kai ou me chronise, &c. The Apostle interprets this by adding the article: ho erchomenos, the well-known designation of the Messiah.

[3187] "substantiality."

[3188] delon. Savile and Morell following some mss. read a delon, "obscure" : but St. Chrys. means that we use the word e lenchos of a proof which makes things most certain and evident [and so Mutianus read.--F.G.].

[3189] hu postasin

[3190] housia

[3191] or, "righteous."

[3192] ta tes a

[3193] a pithanon

[3194] he de hekastou zoe engutera pollo kai he teleute. But Mut. "sed et vit? finis uniuscujuscunque prope est."

[3195] to chalepon

[3196] Or might it be read, a koes logon opheilo ; "am I responsible for what I hear, for common reports?"

[3197] e napomenei

[3198] e napothaneto

[3199] e nkalei

Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.
For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.
Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom
Text Courtesy of Christian Classics Etherial Library.

Bible Hub
Hebrews 9
Top of Page
Top of Page