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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 61

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 61.—137.  Petilianus said:  "But the Lord Christ says, ‘Whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’  But He condemns you wretched men as follows:  ‘Whosoever shall break one of these commandments, he shalt be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.’"

138.  Augustin answered:  When you happen to quote the testimony of Scripture as other than it really is, and it does not bear on the question which is at issue between us, I am not greatly concerned; but when it interferes with the matter on hand, unless it is quoted truly, then I think that you have no right to find fault if I remind you how the passage really stands.  For you must be aware that the verse which you quoted is not as you quoted it, but rather thus:  "Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."  And immediately He continues, "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." 2154   For elsewhere He shows and proves of the Pharisees that they say and do not.  It is these, therefore, to whom He is referring also here, when He said, "Whosoever shall break one of these commandments, and shall teach men so,"—that is, shall teach in words what he has violated in deeds; whose righteousness He says that our righteousness must excel, in that we must both keep the commandments and teach men so.  And yet not even on account of those Pharisees, with whom you compare us,—not from any motives of prudence, but from malice,—did our Lord enjoin that the seat of Moses should be deserted, which seat He doubtless meant to be a figure of His own; for He said indeed that they who sat in Moses’ seat were ever saying and not doing, but warns the people to do what they say, and not to do what they do, 2155 lest the chair, with all its holiness, should be deserted, and the unity of the flock divided through the faithlessness of the shepherds.



Matt. 5:19, 20.


Matt. 23:2, 3.

Next: Chapter 62

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