Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Constitutions of the Holy Apostles: Sec. I.—On the Two Ways,—The Way of Life and the Way of Death
Sec. I.—On the Two Ways, 3343 —The Way of Life and the Way of Death.
That There are Two Ways,—The One Natural, of Life, and the Other Introduced Afterwards, of Death; And that the Former is from God, and the Latter of Error, from the Snares of the Adversary.
I. The lawgiver Moses said to the Israelites, “Behold, I have set before your face the way of life and the way of death;” 3344 and added, “Choose life, that thou mayest live.” 3345 Elijah the prophet also said to the people: “How long will you halt with both your legs? If the Lord be God, follow Him.” 3346 The Lord Jesus also said justly: “No one can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.” 3347 We also, following our teacher Christ, “who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe,” 3348 are obliged to say that there are two ways—the one of life, the other of death; 3349 which have no comparison one with another, for they are very different, 3350 or rather entirely separate; and the way of life is that of nature, but that of death was afterwards introduced,—it not being according to the mind of God, but from the snares of the adversary. 3351
Moral Exhortations of the Lords Constitutions Agreeing with the Ancient Prohibitions of the Divine Laws. The Prohibition of Anger, Spite, Corruption, Adultery, and Every Forbidden Action.
II. The first way, therefore, is that of life; and is this, 3352 which the law also does appoint: “To love the Lord God with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, who is the one and only God, besides whom there is no other;” 3353 “and thy neighbour as thyself.” 3354 And whatsoever thou wouldest not should be done to thee, that do not thou to another.” 3355 “Bless them that curse you; pray for them that despitefully use you.” 3356 “Love your enemies; for what thanks is it if ye love those that love you? for even the Gentiles do the same.” 3357 “But do ye love those that hate you, and ye shall have no enemy.” For says He, “Thou shalt not hate any man; no, not an Egyptian, nor an Edomite;” 3358 for they are all the workmanship of God. Avoid not the persons, but the sentiments, of the wicked. “Abstain from fleshly and worldly lusts.” 3359 “If any one gives thee a stroke on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” 3360 Not that revenge is evil, but that patience is more honourable. For David says, “If I have made returns to them that repaid me evil.” 3361 “If any one compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” 3362 And, “He that will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.” 3363 “And from him that taketh thy goods, require them not again.” 3364 “Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee do not shut thy hand.” 3365 For “the righteous man is pitiful, and lendeth.” 3366 For your Father would have you give to all, who Himself “maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth His rain on the just and on the unjust.” 3367 It is therefore reasonable to give to all out of thine own labours; for says He, “Honour the Lord out of thy righteous p. 466 labours,” 3368 but so that the saints be preferred. 3369 “Thou shalt not kill;” 3370 that is, thou shalt not destroy a man like thyself: for thou dissolvest what was well made. Not as if all killing were wicked, but only that of the innocent: but the killing which is just is reserved to the magistrates alone. “Thou shalt not commit adultery:” for thou dividest one flesh into two. “They two shall be one flesh:” 3371 for the husband and wife are one in nature, in consent, in union, in disposition, and the conduct of life; but they are separated in sex and number. “Thou shall not corrupt boys:” 3372 for this wickedness is contrary to nature, and arose from Sodom, which was therefore entirely consumed with fire sent from God. 3373 “Let such a one be accursed: and all the people shall say, So be it.” 3374 “Thou shall not commit fornication:” for says He, “There shall not be a fornicator among the children of Israel.” 3375 “Thou shalt not steal:” for Achan, when he had stolen in Israel at Jericho, was stoned to death; 3376 and Gehazi, who stole, and told a lie, inherited the leprosy of Naaman; 3377 and Judas, who stole the poors money, betrayed the Lord of glory to the Jews, 3378 and repented, and hanged himself, and burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out; 3379 and Ananias, and Sapphira his wife, who stole their own goods, and “tempted the Spirit of the Lord,” were immediately, at the sentence of Peter our fellow-apostle, struck dead. 3380
The Prohibition of Conjuring, Murder of Infants, Perjury, and False Witness.
III. Thou shalt not use magic. 3381 Thou shalt not use witchcraft; for He says, “Ye shall not suffer a witch to live.” 3382 Thou shall not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten; for “everything that is shaped, and has received a soul from God, if it be slain, shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed.” 3383 “Thou shalt not covet the things that belong to thy neighbour, as his wife, or his servant, or his ox, or his field.” “Thou shalt not forswear thyself; for it is said, “Thou shalt not swear at all.” 3384 But if that cannot be avoided, thou shalt swear truly; for “every one that swears by Him shall be commended.” 3385 “Thou shalt not bear false witness;” for “he that falsely accuses the needy provokes to anger Him that made him.” 3386
The Prohibition of Evil-Speaking and Passion, of Deceitful Conduct, or Idle Words, Lies, Covetousness, and Hypocrisy.
IV. Thou shall not speak evil; 3387 for says He, “Love not to speak evil, lest thou beest taken away.” Nor shalt thou be mindful of injuries; for “the ways of those that remember injuries are unto death.” 3388 Thou shall not be double-minded nor double-tongued; for “a mans own lips are a strong snare to him,” 3389 and “a talkative person shall not be prospered upon earth.” 3390 Thy words shall not be vain; for “ye shall give an account of every idle word.” 3391 Thou shalt not tell lies: for says He, “Thou shalt destroy all those that speak lies.” 3392 Thou shalt not be covetous nor rapacious: for says He, “Woe to him that is covetous towards his neighbour with an evil covetousness.” 3393
The Prohibition of Malignity, Acceptation of Persons, Wrath, Malice, and Envy.
V. Thou shalt not be an hypocrite, lest thy “portion be with them.” 3394 Thou shalt not be ill-natured nor proud: for “God resisteth the proud.” 3395 “Thou shalt not accept persons in judgment; for the judgment is the Lords.” “Thou shalt not hate any man; thou shalt surely reprove thy brother, and not become guilty on his account;” 3396 and, “Reprove a wise man, and he will love thee.” 3397 Eschew all evil, and all that is like it: for says He, “Abstain from injustice, and trembling shall not come nigh thee.” 3398 Be not soon angry, nor spiteful, nor passionate, nor furious, nor daring, lest thou undergo the fate of Cain, and of Saul, and of Joab: for the first of these slew his brother Abel, because Abel was found to be preferred before him with God, and because Abels sacrifice was preferred; 3399 the second persecuted holy David, who had slain Goliah the Philistine, being envious of the praises of the women who danced; 3400 the third slew two generals p. 467 of armies—Abner of Israel, and Amasa of Judah. 3401
Concerning Augury and Enchantments.
VI. Be not a diviner, for that leads to idolatry; 3402 for says Samuel, “Divination is sin;” 3403 and, “There shall be no divination in Jacob, nor soothsaying in Israel.” 3404 Thou shalt not use enchantments or purgations for thy child. Thou shall not be a soothsayer nor a diviner by great or little birds. Nor shalt thou learn wicked arts; for all these things has the law forbidden. 3405 Be not one that wishes for evil, for thou wilt be led into intolerable sins. Thou shalt not speak obscenely, nor use wanton glances, nor be a drunkard; for from such causes arise whoredoms and adulteries. Be not a lover of money, lest thou “serve mammon instead of God.” 3406 Be not vainglorious, nor haughty, nor high-minded. For from all these things arrogance does spring. Remember him who said: “Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: I have not exercised myself in great matters, nor in things too high for me; but I was humble.” 3407
The Prohibition of Murmuring, Insolence, Pride, and Arrogance.
VII. Be not a murmurer, remembering the punishment which those underwent who murmured against Moses. Be not self-willed, be not malicious, be not hard-hearted, be not passionate, be not mean-spirited; for all these things lead to blasphemy. But be meek, as were Moses and David, 3408 since “the meek shall inherit the earth.” 3409
Concerning Long-Suffering, Simplicity, Meekness, and Patience.
VIII. Be slow to wrath; for such a one is very prudent, since “he that is hasty of spirit is a very fool.” 3410 Be merciful; for “blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” 3411 Be sincere, quiet, good, “trembling at the word of God.” 3412 Thou shalt not exalt thyself, as did the Pharisee; for “every one that exalteth himself shall be abased,” 3413 and “that which is of high esteem with man is abomination with God.” 3414 Thou shalt not entertain confidence in thy soul; for “a confident man shall fall into mischief.” 3415 Thou shalt not go along with the foolish, but with the wise and righteous; for “he that walketh 3416 with wise men shall be wise, but he that walketh with the foolish shall be known.” 3417 Receive the afflictions that fall upon thee with an even mind, and the chances of life without over-much sorrow, knowing that a reward shall be given to thee by God, as was given to Job and to Lazarus. 3418
That It is Our Duty to Esteem Our Christian Teachers Above Our Parents—The Former Being the Means of Our Well-Being, the Other Only of Our Being.
IX. Thou shalt honour him that speaks to thee the word of God, and be mindful of him day and night; and thou shalt reverence him, 3419 not as the author of thy birth, but as one that is made the occasion of thy well-being. For where the doctrine concerning God is, there God is present. Thou shalt every day seek the face of the saints, that thou mayest acquiesce in their words.
That We Ought Not to Divide Ourselves from the Saints, But to Make Peace Between Those that Quarrel, to Judge Righteously, and Not to Accept Persons.
X. Thou shalt not make schisms among the saints, but be mindful of the followers of Corah. 3420 Thou shalt make peace between those that are at variance, as Moses did when he persuaded them to be friends. 3421 Thou shalt judge righteously; for “the judgment is the Lords.” 3422 Thou shalt not accept persons when thou reprovest for sins; but do as Elijah and Micaiah did to Ahab, and Ebedmelech the Ethiopian to Zedekiah, and Nathan to David, and John to Herod. 3423
Concerning Him that is Double-Minded and Desponding.
XI. Be not of a doubtful mind in thy prayer, whether it shall be granted or no. For the Lord said to me Peter upon the sea: “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” 3424 “Be not thou ready to stretch out thy hand to receive, and to shut it when thou shouldst give.” 3425 p. 468
Concerning Doing Good.
XII. If thou hast by the work of thy hands, give, that thou mayest labour for the redemption of thy sins; for “by alms and acts of faith sins are purged away.” 3426 Thou shalt not grudge to give to the poor, nor when thou hast given shalt thou murmur; for thou shalt know who will repay thee thy reward. For says he: “He that hath mercy on the poor man lendeth to the Lord; according to his gift, so shall it be repaid him again.” 3427 Thou shalt not turn away from him that is needy; for says he: “He that stoppeth his ears, that he may not hear the cry of the needy, himself also shall call, and there shall be none to hear him.” 3428 Thou shall communicate in all things to thy brother, and shall not say thy goods are thine own; for the common participation of the necessaries of life is appointed to all men by God. Thou shalt not take off thine hand from thy son or from thy daughter, but shalt teach them the fear of God from their youth; for says he: “Correct thy son, so shall he afford thee good hope.” 3429
How Masters Ought to Behave Themselves to Their Servants, and How Servants Ought to Be Subject.
XIII. Thou shall not command thy man-servant, or thy maid-servant, who trust in the same God, with bitterness of soul, lest they groan against thee, and wrath be upon thee from God. And, ye servants, “be subject to your masters,” 3430 as to the representatives of God, with attention and fear, “as to the Lord, and not to men.” 3431
Concerning Hypocrisy, and Obedience to the Laws, and Confession of Sins.
XIV. Thou shalt hate all hypocrisy; and whatsoever is pleasing to the Lord, that shalt thou do. By no means forsake the commands of the Lord. But thou shalt observe what things thou hast received from Him, neither adding to them nor taking away from them. “For thou shalt not add unto His words, lest He convict thee, and thou becomest a liar.” 3432 Thou shalt confess thy sins unto the Lord thy God; and thou shalt not add unto them, that it may be well with thee from the Lord thy God, who willeth not the death of a sinner, but his repentance.
Concerning the Observance Due to Parents.
XV. Thou shalt be observant to thy father and mother as the causes of thy being born, that thou mayest live long on the earth which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Do not overlook thy brethren or thy kinsfolk; for “thou shalt not overlook those nearly related to thee.” 3433
Concerning the Subjection Due to the King and to Rulers.
XVI. Thou shalt fear the king, knowing that his appointment is of the Lord. His rulers thou shalt honour as the ministers of God, for they are the revengers of all unrighteousness; to whom pay taxes, tribute, and every oblation with a willing mind.
Concerning the Pure Conscience of Those that Pray.
XVII. Thou shalt not proceed to thy prayer in the day of thy wickedness, before thou hast laid aside thy bitterness. This is the way of life, in which may ye be found, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
That the Way Which Was Afterward Introduced by the Snares of the Adversary is Full of Impiety and Wickedness.
XVIII. But the way of death 3434 is known by its wicked practices: for therein is the ignorance of God, and the introduction of many evils, and disorders, and disturbances; whereby come murders, adulteries, fornications, perjuries, unlawful lusts, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, witchcrafts, rapines, false-witnesses, hypocrisies, double-heartedness, deceit, pride, malice, insolence, covetousness, obscene talk, jealousy, confidence, haughtiness, arrogance, impudence, persecution of the good, enmity to truth, love of lies, ignorance of righteousness. For they who do such things do not adhere to goodness, or to righteous judgment: they watch not for good, but for evil; from whom meekness and patience are far off, who love vain things, pursuing after reward, having no pity on the poor, not labouring for him that is in misery, nor knowing Him that made them; murderers of infants, destroyers of the workmanship of God, that turn away from the needy, adding affliction to the afflicted, the flatterers of the rich, the despisers of the poor, full of sin. May you, children, be delivered from all these.
That We Must Not Turn from the Way of Piety Either to the Right Hand or to the Left. An Exhortation of the Lawgiver.
XIX. See that no one seduce thee 3435 from piety; for says He: “Thou mayst not turn aside from p. 469 it to the right hand, or to the left, that thou mayst have understanding in all that thou doest.” 3436 For if thou dost not turn out of the right way, thou wilt not be ungodly.
[See pp. 377, etc., supra]465:3344
Deut. xxx. 15465:3345
Deut. xxx. 19465:3346
1 Kings xviii. 21.465:3347
Matt. vi. 24.465:3348
1 Tim. iv. 10.465:3349
[See Teaching, i. 1.—R.]465:3350
[Teaching, i. 1.—R.]465:3351
The Greek words properly mean: “Introduced was the way of death; not of that death which exists according to the mind of God, but that which has arisen from the plots of the adversary.”465:3352
[The larger half of chap. i., Teaching, is found in the first half of this chapter; but the matter peculiar to each is of about the same extent.—R.]465:3353
Deut. vi. 5; Mark xii. 32465:3354
Lev. xix. 18465:3355
Tob. iv. 15.465:3356
Matt. v. 44.465:3357
Luke vi. 32; Matt. 5:46, 47.465:3358
Deut. xxiii. 7465:3359
1 Pet. ii. 11465:3360
Matt. v. 39; Luke vi. 29465:3361
Ps. vii. 4.465:3362
Matt. v. 41.465:3363
Matt. v. 40; Luke vi. 29.465:3364
Luke vi. 30.465:3365
Matt. v. 42.465:3366
Ps. cxii. 5.465:3367
Matt. v. 45.466:3368
Prov. iii. 9466:3369
Gal. vi. 10466:3370
[Ex. xx. 13 Five brief precepts, of which this is the first, are common to Teaching, ii. 2, and the rest of this chapter.—R.]466:3371
Gen. ii. 24.466:3372
Lev. xviii. 22.466:3373
Deut. xxiii. 17.466:3376
2 Kings v.466:3378
John xii. 6.466:3379
Matt. xxvii. 5; Acts i. 18.466:3380
[Seven brief clauses of Teaching, ii. 2, 3, are found in this chapter.—R.]466:3382
Ex. xxii. 18466:3383
Ex. xxi. 23., LXX.466:3384
Matt. v. 34.466:3385
Ps. lxiii. 11.466:3386
Prov. xiv. 31.466:3387
[Chap. iv. also contains seven clauses found in Teaching (ii. 3–6), while chap. v. has but five and a verbal resemblance; chap. ii. of the Teaching is, however, almost entirely given in these passages.—R.]466:3388
Prov. xii. 28., LXX.466:3389
Prov. vi. 2.466:3390
Ps. cxl. 11.466:3391
Matt. xii. 36; Lev. xix. 11.466:3392
Ps. v. 6.466:3393
Hab. ii. 9.466:3394
Matt. xxiv. 51466:3395
1 Pet. v. 5466:3396
Deut. i. 17; Lev. xix. 17466:3397
Prov. ix. 8466:3398
Isa. liv. 14466:3399
1 Sam. xvii., xviii467:3401
2 Sam. iii., xx467:3402
[Chaps. vi.-viii. contain passages parallel to nearly one-half of chap. iii., Teaching, and in the same order.—R.]467:3403
1 Sam. xv. 23.467:3404
Num. xxiii. 23.467:3405
Lev. 19:26, 31; Deut. 18:10, 11.467:3406
Matt. vi. 24.467:3407
Ps. cxxxi. 1.467:3408
Num. xii. 3; Ps. cxxxi. 1.467:3409
Matt. v. 5.467:3410
Prov. xiv. 29., LXX.467:3411
Matt. v. 7.467:3412
Isa. lxvi. 2.467:3413
Luke xviii. 14.467:3414
Luke xvi. 15.467:3415
Prov. xiii. 17., LXX.467:3416
The words from “for he that walketh” to “be known” are omitted in one V. ms.467:3417
Prov. xiii. 20.467:3418
Job xlii.; Luke xvi.467:3419
[Chaps. ix.-xvii. contain nearly every clause of Teaching, chap. iv., in the same order, and with every appearance of a designed enlargement of that passage.—R.]467:3420
Ex. ii. 13467:3422
Deut. i. 17467:3423
1 Kings xviii., xxi., xxii.; 2 Sam. xii.; Matt. xiv.467:3424
Matt. xiv. 31.467:3425
Ecclus. iv. 31.468:3426
Prov. xvi. 6; Dan. iv. 27.468:3427
Prov. xix. 17.468:3428
Prov. xxi. 13.468:3429
Prov. xix. 18.468:3430
Eph vi. 5.468:3431
Eph. vi. 7.468:3432
Prov. xxx. 6.468:3433
Isa. lviii. 7.468:3434
[For the remarkable agreement of this chapter with Teaching, chap. v., see the latter; comp. also Barnabas, xx.—R.]468:3435
[Chaps. xix.-xxi. have few parallels with the Teaching.—R.]469:3436
Deut. v. 32
Next: Sec. II.—On the Formation of the Character of Believers, and on Giving of Thanks to God
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