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

Early Church Fathers  Index     

13.  No Forgiveness to the Unforgiving.

Only, I have said these things with the view of referring his return when he comes with his kingdom to the consummation, when he commanded the servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him that he might know what they had gained by trading, and from a desire to demonstrate from this, and from the parable of the Talents, that the passage “he who wished to make a reckoning with his own servants” 6131 is to be referred to the consummation when now he is king, receiving the kingdom, on account of which, according to another parable, 6132 he went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.  Therefore, when he returned after receiving the kingdom, he wished to make a reckoning with his own servants.  And “when he had begun to reckon, there was brought unto him one who owed many talents,” 6133 and he was brought as to a king by those who had been appointed his ministers—I think, the angels.  And perhaps he was one of those under the kingdom who had been entrusted with a great administration and had not dispensed it well, but had wasted what had been entrusted to him, so that he came to owe the many talents which he had lost.  This very man, perhaps not having the means to pay, is ordered by the king to be sold along with his wife, by intercourse with whom he became the father of certain children.  But it is no easy task to see what is intellectually meant by father and mother and children.  What this means in point of truth God may know, and whether He Himself has given insight to us or not, he who can may judge.  Only this is our conception of the passage; that, as “the Jerusalem which is above” is “the mother” 6134 of Paul and of those like unto him, so there may be a mother of others after the analogy of Jerusalem, the mother, for example, of Syene in Egypt, or Sidon, or as many cities as are named in the Scriptures.  Then, as Jerusalem is “a bride adorned for her husband,” 6135 Christ, so there may be those mothers of certain powers who have been allotted to them as wives or brides.  And as there are certain children of Jerusalem, as mother, and of Christ, as father, so there would be certain children of Syene, or Memphis, or Tyre, or Sidon, and the rulers set over them.  Perhaps then, too, this one, the debtor of many talents who was brought to the king, has, as we have said, a wife and children, whom at first the king ordered to be sold, and also all that he had to be sold; but afterwards, being moved with compassion, he released him and forgave him all the debt; not, as if he were ignorant of the future, but, in order that we might understand what happened, it was written that he did so.  Each one then of those who have, as we have said, a wife and children will render an account whenever the king comes to make a reckoning, having received the kingdom and having returned; and each of them as a ruler of any Syene or Memphis, or Tyre or Sidon, or any like unto them, has also debtors.  This one, then, having been released, and having been forgiven all the debt, “went out from the king and found one of his fellow-servants,” 6136 etc.; and, on this account, I suppose that he took him by the throat, when he had gone out from the king, for unless he had gone out he would not have taken his own fellow-servant by the throat.  Then observe the accuracy of the Scripture, how that the one fell down and “worshipped,” but the other fell down and did not worship but “besought;” 6137 and the king being moved with compassion released him and forgave him all the debt, but the servant did not wish even to pity his own fellow-servant; and the king before his release ordered him to be sold and what was his, while he who had been forgiven p. 504 cast him into prison.  And observe that his fellow-servants did not bring any accusation or “said,” but “told,” 6138 and that he did not use the epithet “wicked” at the beginning in regard to the money lost, but reserved it afterwards for his action towards the fellow-servant.  But mark also the moderation of the king; he does not say, You worshipped me, but You besought me; and no longer did he order him and his to be sold, but, what was worse, he delivered him to the tormentors, because of his wickedness. 6139   But who may these be but those who have been appointed in the matter of punishments?  But at the same time observe, because of the use made of this parable by adherents of heresies, that if they accuse the Creator 6140 of being passionate, because of words that declare the wrath of God, they ought also to accuse this king, because that “being wroth,” he delivered the debtor to the tormentors.  But it must further be said to those whose view it is that no one is delivered by Jesus to the tormentors,—pray, explain to us, good sirs, who is the king who delivered the wicked servant to the tormentors?  And let them also attend to this, “So therefore also shall My heavenly Father do unto you;” 6141 and to the same persons also might rather be said the things in the parable of the Ten Pounds that the Son of the good God said, “Howbeit these mine enemies which would not that I should reign over them,” 6142 etc.  The conclusion of the parable, however, is adapted also to the simpler; for all of us who have obtained the forgiveness of our own sins, and have not forgiven our brethren, are taught at once that we shall suffer the lot of him who was forgiven but did not forgive his fellow-servant.



Matt. xviii. 23.


Luke xix. 12.


Matt. xviii. 24.


Gal. iv. 26.


Rev. xxi. 2.


Matt. xviii. 28.


Matt. 17:26, 29.


Matt. xviii. 31.


Matt. xviii. 34.


That is, the God of the Old Testament—according to Marcion.


Matt. xviii. 35.


Luke xix. 27.

Next: Chapter XIV