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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol IX:
Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew.: Chapter XIX

Early Church Fathers  Index     

19.  Relation of Faith and Unbelief to the Supernatural Powers of Jesus.

Following this you may see, “He did not there many mighty works because of their unbelief.” 5287   We are taught by these things that powers were found in those who believed, since “to every one that hath shall be given and he shall have abundance,” 5288 but among unbelievers not only did the powers not work, but as Mark wrote, “They could not work.” 5289   For attend to the words, “He could not there do any mighty works,” for it is not said, “He would not,” but “He could not; ”as if there came to the power when working co-operation from the faith of him on whom the power was working, but this co-operation was hindered in its exercise by unbelief.  See, then, that to those who said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said, “Because of your little faith.” 5290   And to Peter, when he began to sink, it was said, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” 5291   But, moreover, she who had the issue of blood, who did not ask for the cure, but only reasoned that if she were to touch the hem of His garment she would be healed, was healed on the spot.  And the Saviour, acknowledging the method of healing, says, “Who touched Me?  For I perceived that power went forth from Me.” 5292   And perhaps, as in the case of material things there exists in some things a natural attraction towards some other thing, as in the magnet for iron, and in what is called naphtha for fire, so there is an attraction in such faith towards the divine power, according to what is said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove.” 5293   And Matthew and Mark, wishing to set forth the excellency of the divine power, that it has power even in unbelief, but not so great power as it has in the faith of those who are being benefited, seem to me to have said with accuracy, not that He did not “any” mighty works because of their unbelief, but that He did not “many” there. 5294   And Mark also does not say, that He could not do any mighty work there, and stop at that point, but added, “Save that He laid His hands upon a few sick folk and healed them,” 5295 the power in Him thus overcoming the unbelief.  Now it seems to me that, as in the case of material things, tillage is not sufficient in itself for the gathering in of the fruits, unless the air cooperates to this end, nay, rather, He who forms the air with whatever quality He wills and makes it whatever He wills; nor the air apart from tillage, but rather He who by His providence has enacted that the things which spring up from the earth could not spring up apart from tillage; for this He has done once for all in the law, “Let the earth put forth grass sowing seed after its p. 427 kind and after its likeness;” 5296 so also neither do the operations of the powers, apart from the faith of those who are being healed, exhibit the absolute work of healing, nor faith, however great it may be, apart from the divine power.  And that which is written about wisdom, you may apply also to faith, and to the virtues specifically, so as to make a precept of this kind, “If any one be perfect in wisdom among the sons of men, and the power that comes from Thee be wanting, he will be reckoned as nothing;” 5297 or, “If any one be perfect in self-control, so far as is possible for the sons of men, and the control that is from Thee be wanting, he will be reckoned as nothing;” or, “If any one be perfect in righteousness, and in the rest of virtues, and the righteousness and the rest of the virtues that are from Thee be wanting to him, he will be reckoned as nothing.”  Wherefore, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, nor the strong man in his strength,” 5298 for that which is fit matter for glorying is not ours, but is the gift of God; the wisdom is from Him, and the strength is from Him; and so with the rest.



Matt. xiii. 58.


Matt. xiii. 12.


Matt. 17:19, 20.


Matt. xiv. 31.


Luke 8:45, 46.


Matt. xvii. 20.


Matt. xiii. 58.


Mark vi. 5.


Mark vi. 5.


Gen. i. 11.


Wisdom of Solomon ix. 6.


Jer. ix. 23.

Next: Chapter XX

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