Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol IX:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew.: Chapter VI
6. The Meaning of Leaven. Jesus Knowledge of the Heart.
Then expounding clearly and representing to them, who were being distracted because of the equivocal meaning of loaf and leaven, in an undisguised fashion, that He was not speaking to them about sensible bread but about the leaven in the teaching, He subjoins, “How is it that ye do not perceive that I spake not you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” 5594 And though He had not laid bare the interpretation, but still continued to use metaphorical language, the disciples would have understood that the discourse of the Saviour was about the teaching, figuratively called leaven, which the Pharisees and Sadducees were teaching. So long, then, as we have Jesus with us fulfilling the promise which runs, “Lo, I am with you always unto the consummation of the age,” 5595 we cannot fast nor be in want of food, so that, because of want of it we should desire to take and eat the forbidden leaven, even from the Pharisees and Sadducees. Now there may sometimes be a time, when He is with us, that we are without food, as is spoken of in the passage above, “They continue with me now three days and have nothing to eat;” 5596 but, even though this should happen, being unwilling to send us away fasting lest we faint on the way, He gives thanks over the loaves which were with the disciples, and causes us to have the seven baskets over from the seven loaves, as we have recorded. And moreover this also is to be observed, in view of those who think that the divinity of the Saviour is not at all demonstrable from the Gospel of Matthew, that the fact that, when the disciples were reasoning among themselves p. 454 and saying, “We have no loaves,” Jesus knew their reasonings and said, “Why reason ye among yourselves, O ye of little faith, because ye took no loaves,” 5597 was beyond the power of man; for the Lord alone, as Solomon says in the third Book of Kings, knows the hearts of men. 5598 But since the disciples understood, when Jesus said, “Beware of the leaven,” 5599 that He did not tell them to beware of the loaves but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees, you will understand that whenever leaven is named it is put figuratively for teaching, whether in the law, or in the Scriptures which come after the law; and so perhaps leaven is not offered upon the altar; for it is not right that prayers should take the form of teaching, but should only be supplications of good things from God. But one might inquire, on account of what has been said about disciples who came to the other side, if any one who has reached the other side can be reproached as one of little faith, and as not yet understanding nor remembering what was done by Jesus. But it is not difficult, I think, to say to this, that in relation to that which is perfect, on the coming of which “that which is in part shall be done away,” 5600 all our faith here is little faith, and in regard to that, we who know in part do not yet know nor remember; for we are not able to obtain a memory which is sufficient and able to attain to the magnitude of the nature of the speculations.
Matt. xvi. 11.453:5595
Matt. xxviii. 20.453:5596
Matt. xv. 32.454:5597
Matt. xvi. 8.454:5598
1 Kings viii. 39.454:5599
Matt. xvi. 6.454:5600
1 Cor. xiii. 10.
Next: Chapter VII
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