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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Christ's Reprehension of the Pharisees Seeking a Sign. His Censure of Their Love of Outward Show Rather Than Inward Holiness.  Scripture Abounds with Admonitions of a Similar Purport. Proofs of His Mission from the Creator.

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Chapter XXVII.—Christ’s Reprehension of the Pharisees Seeking a Sign.  His Censure of Their Love of Outward Show Rather Than Inward Holiness. Scripture Abounds with Admonitions of a Similar Purport. Proofs of His Mission from the Creator.

I prefer elsewhere refuting 4575 the faults which the Marcionites find in the Creator. It is here enough that they are also found in Christ. 4576 Behold how unequal, inconsistent, and capricious he is! Teaching one thing p. 394 and doing another, he enjoins “giving to every one that seeks;” and yet he himself refuses to give to those “who seek a sign.” 4577 For a vast age he hides his own light from men, and yet says that a candle must not be hidden, but affirms that it ought to be set upon a candlestick, that it may give light to all. 4578 He forbids cursing again, and cursing much more of course; and yet he heaps his woe upon the Pharisees and doctors of the law. 4579 Who so closely resembles my God as His own Christ? We have often already laid it down for certain, 4580 that He could not have been branded 4581 as the destroyer of the law if He had promulged another god. Therefore even the Pharisee, who invited Him to dinner in the passage before us, 4582 expressed some surprise 4583 in His presence that He had not washed before He sat down to meat, in accordance with the law, since it was the God of the law that He was proclaiming. 4584 Jesus also interpreted the law to him when He told him that they “made clean the outside of the cup and the platter, whereas their inward part was full of ravening and wickedness.” This He said, to signify that by the cleansing of vessels was to be understood before God the purification of men, inasmuch as it was about a man, and not about an unwashed vessel, that even this Pharisee had been treating in His presence. He therefore said: “You wash the outside of the cup,” that is, the flesh, “but you do not cleanse your inside part,” 4585 that is, the soul; adding: “Did not He that made the outside,” that is, the flesh, “also make the inward part,” that is to say, the soul?—by which assertion He expressly declared that to the same God belongs the cleansing of a man’s external and internal nature, both alike being in the power of Him who prefers mercy not only to man’s washing, 4586 but even to sacrifice. 4587 For He subjoins the command: “Give what ye possess as alms, and all things shall be clean unto you.” 4588 Even if another god could have enjoined mercy, he could not have done so previous to his becoming known. Furthermore, it is in this passage evident that they 4589 were not reproved concerning their God, but concerning a point of His instruction to them, when He prescribed to them figuratively the cleansing of their vessels, but really the works of merciful dispositions. In like manner, He upbraids them for tithing paltry herbs, 4590 but at the same time “passing over hospitality 4591 and the love of God.” 4592 The vocation and the love of what God, but Him by whose law of tithes they used to offer their rue and mint? For the whole point of the rebuke lay in this, that they cared about small matters in His service of course, to whom they failed to exhibit their weightier duties when He commanded them: “Thou shalt love with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, the Lord thy God, who hath called thee out of Egypt.” 4593 Besides, time enough had not yet passed to admit of Christ’s requiring so premature—nay, as yet so distasteful 4594 —a love towards a new and recent, not to say a hardly yet developed, 4595 deity. When, again, He upbraids those who caught at the uppermost places and the honour of public salutations, He only follows out the Creator’s course, 4596 who calls ambitious persons of this character “rulers of Sodom,” 4597 who forbids us “to put confidence even in princes,” 4598 and pronounces him to be altogether wretched who places his confidence in man. But whoever 4599 aims at high position, because he would glory in the officious attentions 4600 of other people, (in every such case,) inasmuch as He forbade such attentions (in the shape) of placing hope and confidence in man, He at the same time 4601 censured all who were ambitious of high positions. He also inveighs against the doctors of the law themselves, because they were “lading men with burdens grievous to be borne, which they did not venture to touch with even a finger of their own;” 4602 but not as if He made a mock of 4603 the burdens of the law with any feeling of detestation towards it. For how could He have felt aversion to the law, who used with so much earnestness to upbraid them for passing over its weightier matters, alms—giving, hospitality, 4604 and the love of God? Nor, indeed, was it only these great things (which He recognized), but even 4605 the tithes of rue and the cleansing of cups.  But, p. 395 in truth, He would rather have deemed them excusable for being unable to carry burdens which could not be borne.  What, then, are the burdens which He censures? 4606 None but those which they were accumulating of their own accord, when they taught for commandments the doctrines of men; for the sake of private advantage joining house to house, so as to deprive their neighbour of his own; cajoling 4607 the people, loving gifts, pursuing rewards, robbing the poor of the rights of judgment, that they might have the widow for a prey and the fatherless for a spoil. 4608 Of these Isaiah also says, “Woe unto them that are strong in Jerusalem!” 4609 and again, “They that demand you shall rule over you.” 4610 And who did this more than the lawyers? 4611 Now, if these offended Christ, it was as belonging to Him that they offended Him.  He would have aimed no blow at the teachers of an alien law. But why is a “woe” pronounced against them for “building the sepulchres of the prophets whom their fathers had killed?” 4612 They rather deserved praise, because by such an act of piety they seemed to show that they did not allow the deeds of their fathers. Was it not because (Christ) was jealous 4613 of such a disposition as the Marcionites denounce, 4614 visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the fourth generation? What “key,” indeed, was it which these lawyers had, 4615 but the interpretation of the law? Into the perception of this they neither entered themselves, even because they did not believe (for “unless ye believe, ye shall not understand”); nor did they permit others to enter, because they preferred to teach them for commandments even the doctrines of men. When, therefore, He reproached those who did not themselves enter in, and also shut the door against others, must He be regarded as a disparager of the law, or as a supporter of it? If a disparager, those who were hindering the law ought to have been pleased; if a supporter, He is no longer an enemy of the law. 4616 But all these imprecations He uttered in order to tarnish the Creator as a cruel Being, 4617 against whom such as offended were destined to have a “woe.” And who would not rather have feared to provoke a cruel Being, 4618 by withdrawing allegiance 4619 from Him? Therefore the more He represented the Creator to be an object of fear, the more earnestly would He teach that He ought to be served. Thus would it behove the Creator’s Christ to act.





From the Marcionite point of view.


Luke xi. 29.


Luke xi. 33.


Luke 6:28, Luke 11:37.












Luke xi. 39.




Matt. 9:13, Matt. 12:7, Hos. 8:6.


Luke xi. 41.


The Pharisees and lawyers.




Marcion’s gospel had κλῆσιν (vocationem, perhaps a general word for hospitality) instead of κρίσιν, judgment,—a quality which M. did not allow in his god. See Epiphanius, Hæres. xlii., Schol. 26 (Oehler and Fr. Junius).


Luke xi. 42.


Deut. vi. 5.




Nondum palam facto.


Sectam administrat.


Isa. i. 10.


Ps. cxviii. 9.








Luke xi. 46.




Vocationem: Marcion’s κλῆσιν.








See Isa. 5:5, 23, Isa. 10:2.


Isa. xxviii. 14.


The books point to Isa. 3:3, 4 for this; but there is only a slight similarity in the latter clause, even in the Septuagint.


Legis doctores: the νομικοί of the Gospels.


Luke xi. 47.






Luke xi. 52.


As Marcion held Him to be.


A Marcionite position.





Next: Examples from the Old Testament, Balaam, Moses, and Hezekiah, to Show How Completely the Instruction and Conduct of Christ Are in Keeping with the Will and Purpose of the Creator.

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