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

Early Church Fathers  Index     

4.  The Multitudes and the Disciples Contrasted.

And straightway He constrained the disciples to enter into the boat, and to go before Him unto the other side, till He should send the multitudes away.” 5365   It should be observed how often in the same passages is mentioned the word, “the multitudes,” and another word, “the disciples,” so that by observing and bringing together the passages about this matter it may be seen that the aim of the Evangelists was to represent by means of the Gospel history the differences of those who come to Jesus; of whom some are the multitudes and are not called disciples, and others are the disciples who are better than the multitudes.  It is sufficient, however, for the present, for us to set forth a few sayings, so that any one who is moved by them may do the like with the whole of the Gospels.  It is written then—as if the multitudes were below, but the disciples were able to come to Jesus when He went up into the mountain, where the multitudes were not able to be—as follows:  “And seeing the multitudes He went up into the mountain, and when He had sat down His disciples came unto Him; and He opened His mouth and taught them saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit,” etc. 5366   And again in another place, as the multitudes stood in need of healing, it is said, “Many multitudes followed Him and He healed them.” 5367   We do not find any healing recorded of the disciples; since if any one is already a disciple of Jesus he is whole, and being well he needs Jesus not as a physician but in respect of His other powers.  Again in another place, when He was speaking to the multitudes, His mother and His brethren stood without, seeking to speak to Him; this was made known to Him by some one to whom He answered, stretching forth His hand not towards the multitudes but towards the disciples, and said, “Behold My mother and My brethren,” 5368 and bearing testimony to the disciples as doing the will of the Father which is in heaven, He added, “He is My brother and sister and mother.” 5369   And again in another place it is written, “All the multitude stood on the beach and He spake to them many things in parables.” 5370   Then after the parable of the sowing, it was no longer the multitudes but the disciples who came and said to Him, not “Why speakest thou to us in parables,” but, “Why speakest thou to them in parables.” 5371   Then also He answered and said, not to the multitudes but to the disciples, “To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to the rest in parables.” 5372 p. 434 Accordingly, of those who come to the name of Jesus some, who know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, would be called disciples; but those to whom such a privilege is not given would be called multitudes, who would be spoken of as inferior to the disciples.  For observe carefully that He said to the disciples, “To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,” but about the multitudes, “To them it is not given.” 5373   And in another place He dismisses the multitudes indeed, and goes into the house, 5374 but He does not dismiss the disciples; and there came to Him into His house, not the multitudes but His disciples, saying, “Declare to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 5375   Moreover, also, in another place when Jesus heard the things concerning John and withdrew in a boat to a desert place apart, the multitudes followed Him; when He came forth and saw a great multitude He had compassion on them and healed their sick—the sick of the multitudes, not of the disciples. 5376   “And when even was come there came to Him,” not the multitudes, but the disciples, as being different from the multitudes, saying, “Send the multitudes away that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.” 5377   And, further, when Jesus took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven He blessed and brake the loaves, He gave not to the multitudes but to the disciples, 5378 that the disciples might give to the multitudes who were not able to take from Him, but received with difficulty at the hands of the disciples the loaves of the blessing of Jesus, and did not eat even all these; for the multitudes were filled and left that which remained over in twelve baskets which were full.



Matt. xiv. 22.


Matt. v. 1-3.


Matt. xii. 15.


Matt. xiv. 46-49.


Matt. xiv. 50.


Matt. 13:2, 3.


Matt. xiii. 10.


Matt. xiii. 11.


Matt. xiii. 11.


Matt. xiii. 36.


Matt. xiii. 36.


Matt. 14:13, 14.


Matt. xiv. 15.


Matt. xiv. 19.

Next: Chapter V