Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. XI:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles: Homily XXI on Acts ix. 26, 27.
Acts 9:26, 27
“And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the Apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way.”
One may well be much at a loss here to understand how it is that, whereas in the Epistle to the Galatians Paul says, “I went not to Jerusalem,” but “into Arabia” and “to Damascus,” and, “After three years I went up to Jerusalem,” and “to see Peter” (Gal. i. 17), (ἱστορἥσαι Cat.) here the writer says the contrary. (There, Paul says,) “And none of the Apostles saw I; but here, it is said (Barnabas), brought him to the Apostles.”—Well, then, either (Paul) means, “I went not up with intent to refer or attach myself to them (ἀναθέσθαι)—for what saith he? “I referred not myself, neither went I to Jerusalem to those who were Apostles before me:” 491 or else, that the laying await for him in Damascus was after his return from Arabia; 492 or else, again, that the visit to Jerusalem was after he came from Arabia. Certainly of his own accord he went not to the Apostles, but “assayed to join himself unto the disciples”—as being 493 a teacher, not a disciple—“I went not,” he says, “for this purpose, that I should go to those who were Apostles before me: certainly, I learnt nothing from them.” Or, 494 he does not speak of this visit, but passes it by, so that the order is, “I went into Arabia, then I came to Damascus, then to Jerusalem, then to Syria:” or else, again, that he went up to Jerusalem, then was sent to Damascus, then to Arabia, then again to Damascus, then to Cæsarea. Also, the visit “after fourteen years,” probably, was when he brought up the [alms to the] brethren together with Barnabas: (Gal. ii. 1) or else he means a different occasion. (Acts xi. 30.) 495 For the Historian for conciseness, often omits incidents, and condenses the times. Observe how unambitious the writer is, and how he does not even relate (related in Acts 22.17-21) that vision, but passes it by. “He assayed,” it says, “to join himself to the disciples. And they were afraid of him.” By this again is shown the ardor of Pauls character: not (only) from the mouth of Ananias, and of those who wondered at him there, but also of those in Jerusalem: “they believed not that he was a disciple:” for truly that was beyond all human expectation. 496 He 497 was no longer a wild beast, but a man mild and gentle! And observe how he does not go to the Apostles, such is his forbearance, but to the disciples, as being a disciple. He was not thought worthy of credit. “But Barnabas”—“Son of Consolation” is his appellation, whence also he makes himself easy of access to the man: for “he was a kind man” (Acts 11.24), exceedingly, and this is proved both by the present instance, and in the affair of John (Mark)—“having taken him, brought him to the Apostles, and related to them how he had seen the Lord in the way.” 498 (Acts 15.39.) It is likely that at Damascus also he had heard all about him: whence he was not afraid but the others were, for he was a man whose glance inspired fear. “How,” it says, “he had seen the Lord in the way, and that He had spoken unto him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of the Lord. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem, and speaking boldly in the name of Jesus” (Acts 9.28): these things were demonstrative of the former, and by his acts he made good what was spoken of him. “And he spake, and disputed with the Hellenists.” (Acts 9.29.) So then the disciples were afraid of him, and the Apostles did not trust him; by this therefore he relieves them of their fear. “With the Hellenists:” he means those who used the Greek tongue: and this he did, very wisely; for those others, those profound Hebrews had no mind even to see him. “But they,” it says, “went about to slay him:” a token, this, of his energy, and triumphant victory, and of their exceeding annoyance at what had happened. Thereupon, fearing lest the issue should be the same as in the case of Stephen, they sent him to Cæsarea. For it says, “When the brethren were aware of this, they brought him down to Cæsarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus” (Acts 9.30), at the same time to preach, and likely to be more in safety, as being in his own country. But observe, I pray you, how far it is from being the case that everything is done by (miraculous) grace; how, on the contrary, God does in many things leave them to manage for themselves by their own wisdom and in a human way; so 499 to cut off the excuse of idle people: for if it was so in the case of Paul, much more in theirs. 500 “Then, it says, “the Church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace (they), being edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and abounded in the comfort of the Holy Ghost.” 501 (Acts 9.31.) He is about to relate that Peter goes down (from Jerusalem), therefore that you may not impute this to fear, he first says this. For while there was persecution, he was in Jerusalem, but when the affairs of the Church are everywhere in security, then it is that he leaves Jerusalem. See how fervent and energetic he is! For he did not think, because there was peace, therefore there was no need of his presence. Paul 502 departed, and there was peace: there is no war nor disturbance. Them, they respected most, as having often stood by them, and as being held in admiration by the multitude: but him, they despised, and were more savage against him. See, how great a war, and immediately, peace! See what that war effected. It dispersed the peace-makers. In Samaria, Simon was put to shame: in Judea, the affair of Sapphira took place. Not that, because there was peace, therefore matters became relaxed, but such was the peace as also to need exhortation. “And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.” (Acts 9.32.) Like the commander of an army, he went about, inspecting the ranks, what part was compact, what in good order, what needed his presence. See how on all occasions he goes about, foremost. When an Apostle was to be chosen, he was the foremost: when the Jews were to be told, that these were “not drunken,” when the lame man was to be healed, when harangues to be made, he is before the rest: when the rulers were to be spoken to, he was the man; when Ananias, he (Acts 1:15, Acts 2:15, Acts 3:4, Acts 4:8, Acts 5:3.): when healings were wrought by the shadow, still it was he. And look: where there was danger, he was the man, and where good 503 management (was needed); but where all is calm, there they act all in common, and he demands no greater honor (than the others). When need was to work miracles, he starts forward, and here again he is the man to labor and toil. “And there he found a certain man named Æneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. And Peter said unto him, Æneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.” (Acts 9:33, 34.) And why did he not wait for the mans faith, and ask if he wished to be healed? In the first place, the miracle served for exhortation to many: hear then how great the gain. “And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.” (Acts 9.35.) For the man was notable. “Arise, and make thy bed:” he does well to give a proof of the miracle: for they not only released men of their diseases, but in giving the health they gave the strength also. Moreover, at that time they had given no proofs of their power, so that the man could not reasonably have been required to show his faith, as neither in the case of the lame man did they demand it. (Acts 3.6.) As therefore Christ in the beginning of His miracles did not demand faith, so neither did these. For in Jerusalem indeed, as was but reasonable, the faith of the parties was first shown; “they brought out their sick into the streets, but as Peter passed by, his shadow at least might fall upon some of them” (Acts 5.15); for many miracles had been wrought there; but here this is the first that occurs. For of the miracles, some were wrought for the purpose of drawing others (to faith); some for the comfort of them that believed. “Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and alms-deeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.” (Acts 9.36-38). Why did they wait till she was dead? Why was not Peter solicited (ἐσκύλη) before this? So right-minded (φιλοσοφοὕντες) were they, they did not think it proper to trouble (σκύλλειν) the Disciples about such matters, and to take them away from the preaching: as indeed this is why it mentions that the place was near, seeing 504 they asked this as a thing beside his mark, and not now in the regular course. “Not to delay to come unto them:” for she was a disciple. And Peter arose, and went with them. And when he was come, they led him into the upper chamber.” (Acts 9.39.) They do not beseech, but leave it to him to give her life (σωτηρίαν.) See 505 what a cheering inducement to alms is here! “And all the widows,” it says, “stood round him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.” Peter went into the apartment, as one who took it calmly, but see what an accession came of it! It is not without a meaning that the Writer has informed us of the womans name, but to show that the name she bore (φερώνυμος ἦν) matched her character; as active and wakeful was she as an antelope. For in many instances there is a Providence in the giving of names, as we have often told you. “She was full,” it says, “of good works:” not only of alms, but “of good works,” first, and then of this good work in particular. “Which,” it says, “Dorcas made while she was with them.” Great humility! Not as we do; but they were all together in common, and in company with them she made these things and worked. “But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.” (Acts 9.40.) Why does he put them all out? That he may not be confused nor disturbed by their weeping. “And having knelt down, he prayed.” Observe the intentness of his prayer. “And 506 he gave her his hand.” (Acts 9.41.) So did Christ to the daughter of Jairus: “And (says the Evangelist) having taken her by the hand.” Mark severally, first the life, then the strength brought into her, the one by the word, the other by his hand—“And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive:” to some for comfort, because they received back their sister, and because they saw the miracle, and for kindly support (προστασίαν) to others. “And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord. And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.” (Acts 9.42-43.) Mark the unassuming conduct, mark the moderation of Peter, how he does not make his abode with this lady, or some other person of distinction, but with a tanner: by all his acts leading men to humility, neither suffering the mean to be ashamed, nor the great to be elated! “Many days;” 507 for they needed his instruction, who had believed through the miracles.—Let us look then again at what has been said.
“Assayed,” it says, “to join himself to the disciples.” (Recapitulation, Acts 9.26.) He did not come up to them unabashed, but with a subdued manner. “Disciples” 508 they were all called at that time by reason of their great virtue, for there was the likeness of the disciples plainly to be seen. “But they were all afraid of him.” See how they feared the dangers, how the alarm was yet at its height in them. “But Barnabas,” etc. (Acts 9.27.)—it seems to me that Barnabas was of old a friend of his—“and related,” etc.: observe how Paul says nothing of all this himself: nor would he have brought it forward to the others, had he not been compelled to do so. “And he was with them, coming in and going out at Jerusalem, and speaking boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 9:28, 29.) This gave them all confidence. “But they went about to slay him: which when the brethren knew” etc. (Acts 9.30.) Do you observe how both there (at Damascus), and here, the rest take care for him, and provide for him the means of departure, and that we nowhere find him thus far receiving (direct supernatural) aid from God? So the energy of his character is betokened. “To Cæsarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus:” so that, I suppose, he did not continue his journey by land, but sailed the rest of it. And this (departure) is Providentially ordered, that he might preach there also: and so likewise were the plots against him ordered by Gods Providence, and his coming to Jerusalem, that the story about him might no longer be disbelieved. For there he was “speaking boldly,” it says, “in the name of the Lord Jesus; and he spake and disputed against the Hellenists;” and again, “he was with them coming in and going out.—So 509 the Church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace”—i.e. it increased: and peace with itself, that peace which is peace indeed: for the war from without would have done them no harm —“they being edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and abounded in the consolation of the Holy Ghost.” And the spirit consoled them both by the miracles and by the works, and independently of these in the person of each individual. “And it came to pass, etc. And Peter said unto him, Eneas,” etc. (Acts 9.32-34.) 510 But before discourse, before exhortations, he says to the lame man himself, “Jesus Christ maketh thee whole.” This word he believed in any wise, and was made whole. Observe how unassuming he is: for he said not, “In the Name,” but 511 rather as a sign he narrates the miracle itself, and speaks as its Evangelist. “And having seen him,” it says, “all that dwelt in Lydda, and Saron, turned unto the Lord.—Now there was at Joppa,” etc. (Acts 9:35, 36.) Observe everywhere the signs taking place. But let us so believe them, as if we were now beholding them. It is not simply said, that Tabitha died, but that she died, having been in a state of weakness. And (yet) they did not call Peter until she died; then “they sent and told him not to delay to come unto them.” Observe, they send and call him by others. And he comes: he did not think it a piece of disrespect, to be summoned by two men: for, it says, “they sent two men unto him.”—Affliction, my beloved, is a great thing, and rivets our souls together. Not a word of wailing there, nor of mourning. See 512 how thoroughly matters are cleansed! “Having washed her,” it says, “they laid her in an upper chamber:” that is, they did all (that was right) for the dead body. Then Peter having come, “knelt down, and prayed; and turning him to the body, said, Tabitha, arise.” (Acts 9.40.) They did not perform all their miracles with the same ease. But this was profitable for them: for truly God took thought not only for the salvation of others, but for their own. He that healed so many by his very shadow, how is it that he now has to do so much first? There are cases also in which the faith of the applicants coöperated. This is the first dead person that he raises. Observe how he, as it were, awakes her out of sleep: first she opened her eyes: then upon seeing (Peter) she sat up: then from his hand she received strength. “And it was known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.” (Acts 9.42.) Mark the gain, mark the fruit, that it was not for display. Indeed, this is why he puts them all out, imitating his Master in this also.
513 For where tears are—or rather, where miracles are, there tears ought not to be; not where such a mystery is celebrating. Hear, I beseech you: although somewhat of the like kind does not take place now, yet in the case of our dead likewise, a great mystery is celebrating. Say, 514 if as we sit together, the Emperor were to send and invite some one of us to the palace, would it be right, I ask, to weep and mourn? Angels are present, commissioned from heaven and come from thence, sent from the King Himself to call their fellow servant, and say, dost thou weep? Knowest thou not what a mystery it is that is taking place, how awful, how dread, and worthy indeed of hymns and lauds? Wouldest thou learn, that thou mayest know, that this is no time for tears? For it is a very great mystery of the Wisdom of God. As if leaving her dwelling, the soul goes forth, speeding on her way to her own Lord, and dost thou mourn? Why then, thou shouldst do this on the birth of a child: for this in fact is also a birth, and a better than that. For here she goes forth to a very different light, is loosed as from a prison-house, comes off as from a contest. “Yes,” say you, “it is all very well to say this, 515 in the case of those of whose salvation we are assured.” Then, what ails thee, O man, that even in the case of such, thou dost not take it in this way? Say, what canst thou have to condemn in the little child? Why dost thou mourn for it? What in the newly baptized? for he too is brought into the same condition: why dost thou mourn for him? For as the sun arises clear and bright, so the soul, leaving the body with a pure conscience, shines joyously. Not such the spectacle of Emperor as he comes in state to take possession of the city (ἐπιβαίνοντα πόλεως), not such the hush of awe, as when the soul having quitted the body is departing in company with Angels. Think what the soul must then be! in what amazement, what wonder, what delight! Why mournest thou? Answer me.—But it is only in the case of sinners thou doest this? Would that it were so, and I would not forbid your mournings, would that this were the object! This lamentation were Apostolic, this were after the pattern of the Lord; for even Jesus wept over Jerusalem. I would that your mournings were discriminated by this rule. But when thou speakest the words of one 516 that would call back (the dead), and speakest of thy long intimacy and his beneficence, it is but for this thou mournest (not because he was a sinner), thou dost but pretend to say it. Mourn, bewail the sinner, and I too will give a loose to tears; I, more than thou, the greater the punishment to which he is liable as such: I too will lament, with such an object. But not thou alone must lament him that is such; the whole city must do the same, and all that meet you on the way, as men bewail them that are led to be put to death. For this is a death indeed, an evil death, the death of sinners. But (with you) all is clean reversed. Such lamentation marks a lofty mind, and conveys much instruction; the other marks a littleness of soul. If we all lamented with this sort of lamentation, we should amend the persons themselves while yet living. For as, if it rested with thee to apply medicines which would prevent that bodily death, thou wouldest use them, just so now, if this death were the death thou lamentest, thou wouldest prevent its taking place, both in thyself and in him. Whereas now our behavior is a perfect riddle; that having it in our power to hinder its coming, we let it take place, and mourn over it when it has come. Worthy indeed of lamentations are they (when we consider), what time as they shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ, what words they shall then hear, what they shall suffer! To no purpose have these men lived: nay, not to no purpose, but to evil purpose! Of them too it may be fitly said, “It were good for them had they never been born.” (Mark xiv. 21.) For what profit is it, I ask, to have spent so much time to the hurt of his own person? Had it been spent only to no purpose, were not that, I ask you, punishment enough! If one who has been an hired servant twenty years were to find that he has had all his labor in vain, would he not weep and lament, and think himself the most miserable of men? Why, here is a man who has lost all the labor of a whole life: not one day has he lived for himself, but to luxury, to debauchery, to covetousness, to sin, to the devil. Then, say, shall we not bewail this man? shall we not try to snatch him from his perils? For it is, yes, it is possible, if we will, to mitigate his punishment, if we make continual prayers for him, if for him we give alms. However unworthy he may be, God will yield to our importunity. For if 517 Paul showed mercy on one (who had no claims on his mercy), and for the sake of others spared one (whom he would not have spared), much more is it right for us to do this. By means of his substance, by means of thine own, by what means thou wilt, aid him: pour in oil, nay rather, water. Has he no alms-deeds of his own to exhibit? Let him have at least those of his kindred. Has he none done by himself? At least let him have those which are done for him, that his wife may with confidence beg him off in that day, having paid down the ransom for him. The more sins he has to answer for, the greater need has he of alms, not only for this reason, but because the alms has not the same virtue now, but far less: for it is not all one to have done it himself, and to have another do it for him; therefore, the virtue being less, let us by quantity make it the greatest. Let us not busy ourselves about monuments, not about memorials. This is the greatest memorial: set widows to stand around him. Tell them his name: bid them all make for him their prayers, their supplications: this will overcome God: though it have not been done by the man himself, yet because of him another is the author of the almsgiving. Even this pertains to the mercy of God: “widows standing around and weeping” know how to rescue, not indeed from the present death, but from that which is to come. Many have profited even by the alms done by others on their behalf: for even if they have not got perfect (deliverance), at least they have found some comfort thence. If it be not so, how are children saved? And yet there, the children themselves contribute nothing, but their parents do all: and often have women had their children given them, though the children themselves contributed nothing. Many are the ways God gives us to be saved, only let us not be negligent.
How then if one be poor? say you. Again I say, the greatness of the alms is not estimated by the quantity given, but by the purpose. Only give not less than thine ability, and thou hast paid all. How then, say you, if he be desolate and a stranger, and have none to care for him? And why is it that he has none, I ask you? In this very thing thou sufferest thy desert, that thou hast none to be thus thy friend, thus virtuous. This is so ordered on purpose that, though we be not ourselves virtuous, we may study to have virtuous companions and friends—both wife, and son, and friend—as reaping some good even through them, a slight gain indeed, but yet a gain. If thou make it thy chief object not to marry a rich wife, 518 but to have a devout wife, and a religious daughter, thou shalt gain this consolation; if thou study to have thy son not rich but devout, thou shalt also gain this consolation. If thou make these thine objects then wilt thyself be such as they. This also is part of virtue, to choose such friends, and such a wife and children. Not in vain are the oblations made for the departed, not in vain the prayers, not in vain the almsdeeds: all those things hath the Spirit ordered, 519 wishing us to be benefited one by the other. See: he is benefited, thou art benefited: because of him, thou hast despised wealth, being set on to do some generous act: both thou art the means of salvation to him, and he to thee the occasion of thine almsgiving. Doubt not that he shall get some good thereby. It is not for nothing that the Deacon cries, “For them that are fallen asleep in Christ, and for them that make the memorials for them.” It is not the Deacon that utters this voice, but the Holy Ghost: I speak of the Gift. What sayest thou? There is the Sacrifice in hand, and all things laid out duly ordered: Angels are there present, Archangels, the Son of God is there: all stand with such awe, and in the general silence those stand by, crying aloud: and thinkest thou that what is done, is done in vain? Then is not the rest also all in vain, both the oblations made for the Church, and those for the priests, and for the whole body? God forbid! but all is done with faith. What thinkest thou of the oblation made for the martyrs, of the calling made in that hour, martyrs though they be, yet even “for martyrs?” 520 It is a great honor to be named in the presence of the Lord, when that memorial is celebrating, the dread Sacrifice, the unutterable mysteries. For just as, so long as the Emperor is seated, is the time for the petitioner to effect what he wishes to effect, but when he is risen, say what he will, it is all in vain, so at that time, while the celebration of the mysteries is going on, it is for all men the greatest honor to be held worthy of mention. For look: then is declared the dread mystery, that God gave Himself for the world: along with that mystery he seasonably puts Him in mind of them that have sinned. For as when the celebration of Emperors victories is in progress, then, as many as had their part in the victory receive their meed of praise, while at the same time as many as are in bonds are set at liberty in honor of the occasion; but when the occasion is past, he that did not obtain this favor then, no longer gets any: so is it here likewise: this is the time of celebration of a victory. For, saith it, “so often as ye eat this bread, ye do show forth the Lords death.” Then let us not approach indifferently, nor imagine that these things are done in any ordinary sort. But it is in another sense 521 that we make mention of martyrs, and this, for assurance that the Lord is not dead: and this, for a sign that death has received its deaths blow, that death itself is dead. Knowing these things, let us devise what consolations we can for the departed, instead of tears, instead of laments, instead of tombs, our alms, our prayers, our oblations, that both they and we may attain unto the promised blessings, by the grace and loving-kindness of His only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost together be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, world without end. Amen.
St. Chrysostoms exposition cannot be correctly reported here. Perhaps what he did say, was in substance as follows: “but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus: whence we learn, that the plot against him at Damascus was after his return from Arabia, and then the visit (to Jerusalem), after the escape from Damascus. Certainly of his own accord he went not to the Apostles,” etc.—(So far, the first hypothesis, viz. that the visit, Acts ix. and the visit in Gal. are one and the same. Then) “or else, Paul does not mean this visit (viz. after the flight from Damascus), but passes it by, so that the order (in his narration) is as follows: I went to Arabia, then to Damascus, then viz., at some time during the residence in Damascus, to Jerusalem (to see Peter), then to Syria, i.e. back to Damascus: whereas, had he related matters fully, it should have been, that he went into Arabia, thence to Damascus, then to Jerusalem to see Peter, thence to Damascus again, then again to Jerusalem after the escape from D., thence to Cæsarea.”i:492
For ἢ εἰ μὴ τοῦτο, E. gives (as emendation) εἶτα πάλιν, and ἐκεῖθεν, for ἀπὸ ᾽Αραβίας, but retains the ἢ εἰ μὴ τοῦτο of the preceding clause, which equally needs correction.i:493
E. F. D. Edd. “As not being a teacher, but a disciple:” the reading of A. B. C. N. is attested by Cat. Œc. but below it is said that he joined himself to the disciples, ἅτε μαθητὴν ὄντα, Infra, note 1, p. 135.i:494
Here should begin the alternative to the former hypothesis (beginning ἢ τοίνυν τοῦτο φησίν) perhaps, with ἢ, εἰ μὴ τοῦτο. Cat, has ἀπῆλθον, ἦλθον, which we adopt, as the mention of Syria shows that the narrative in Gal. i. 17-21, is referred to; the subject therefore of λέγει, ἀφίησιν is Paul, and ταύτην means the visit in Acts ix. The next sentence, for ἢ εἰ μὴ τοῦτο πάλιν κ. τ. λ. requires to be remodelled as above, e. g. δέον λέγειν ὅτι ἐξ ᾽Αραβίας εἰς Δαμ. ὑποστρέψας, ἀνῆλθεν εἰς ῾Ιεροσόλυμα, εἶτα εἰς Δαμ. ἀπῆλθε πάλιν, εἰτα πάλιν εἰς ῾Ιεροσ., εἶτα ἐξεπέμφθη εἰς Καισαρείαν. The reporter, or redactor, seems to have intended a recital of St. Pauls movements before as well as after his conversion; viz. (from Tarsus) he went up to Jerusalem, then was sent (by the high-priest) to Damascus: then (after his conversion) went into Arabia (the mod. substitutes, Syria): then returned to Damascus: then (omitting all the rest) to Cæsarea.—In the Comment. on Gal. i. t. x. 675, D. Chrys. expounds thus: “Whereas he says, I went not up, this also may be said, that he went not up at the outset of his preaching, and, when he did, it was not for the purpose of learning.”i:495
Chrys. here confuses the visits of Paul to Jerusalem. That mentioned in Acts xi. 30, was the second visit, when he went to carry the gift of alms to the poor. The visit mentioned in Gal. ii. 1, synchronizes with Acts xv. 1, sq., when Paul went to attend the Apostolic council.—G.B.S.i:496
The incredulity of the Christians at Jerusalem concerning the genuineness of Sauls conversion is difficult to understand, especially since they must have heard of the miraculous manner of it. It can, however, more readily be conceived of if, as we suppose, the three years absence from the city had intervened, and during this period, Saul had been unheard of. The impression might have gone abroad that he had fallen back into his old Jewish life. Certainly the persecution which the Christians at Jerusalem had suffered at his hands would incline them to be incredulous concerning his conversion, unless there were positive proof of it. When it is said (Acts 9.27) that Barnabas brought Paul “to the apostles” in Jerusalem, we must hold this statement subject to the modification made in Pauls own statement (Gal. i. 18) that during this visit he saw, of the apostles, only Peter and James, the Lords brother. These may have been the only apostles then in the city, for Pauls stay was but for fifteen days. The purpose of this visit was to see Peter (Gal. i. 18).—G.B.S.i:497
A. B. C. ἐκεῖνο. Βαρνάβας δὲ ἄνθρωπος ἐπιεικὴς καὶ ἥμερος ἥν· καὶ ὅρα κ. τ. λ. Cat. ἐκεῖ. Βαρνάβας ἄνθρωπος ἐπιεικὴς ἦν· καὶ ὅρα. The epithet ἥμερος, “tamed,” was felt to be unsuitable to Barnabas, hence Cat. omits it, Œc. substitutes (from below) καὶ χρηστὸς σφόδρα. The mod. t. transposes the clause to the comment on Acts 9.27. The fact seems to be, that Βαρνάβας δὲ is out of its place, and that ἄνθρ. ἐπ. καὶ ἡμ. is a description of Sauls present bearing contrasted with his former character: and that the sentence should begin with ἐκεῖνο, somewhat in this way: οὐ γὰρ ἦν ὄντως προσδοκίας ἀνθρωπίνης. ᾽Εκεῖνο e.g. τὸ θήριον, that raging wild-beast, now was a man, mild and gentle.—Below, all the mss. have ἅτε μαθητὴν ὄντα, which is not easily reconciled with the former passage (note c). There it is represented, that he assayed to join himself to the disciples as being a teacher, and not a disciple; here, that he did this as being a disciple, and διὰ τὸ μετριάζειν. Œc, combines this with the former statement: “he went not to the Apostles, but assayed,” etc., μετριάζων, ἅτε διδ. ὢν, καὶ οὐ μαθ., where Henten. renders modeste de se sentiens “quum tamen” præceptor esset et non discipulus: rather, forbearing to put himself forward as he might have done, seeing he was himself a teacher, etc. The Catena has the διὰ τὸ μετριάζειν after ἀπιόντα, and again after ὄντα. Hence the true reading may be, καὶ ὅρα αὐτὸν οὐ πρὸς τ. ἀπ. ἀπιόντα, ἀλλὰ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητάς· οὐχ ἃτε μαθητὴν ὄντα, ἀλλὰ διὰ τὸ μετριάζειν.i:498
A. B. C. (and Cat.) give the text, “But Barnabas—in the way,” continuously, and then the comments all strung together. Also the clause “it is likely—about him” is placed last, after γοργὸς ἦν ὁ ἀνήρ. This expression (Cat. adds γὰρ) may denote either the quick, keen glance of Pauls eye, or the terror with which he was regarded—“to them the man had a terrible look with him.”—The modern text: “But Barnabas—in the way. This Barnabas was a mild and gentle sort of man. Son of Consolation is the meaning of his name: whence also he became a friend to Paul. And that he was exceedingly kind and accessible, is proved both from the matter in hand, and from the affair of John. Whence he is not afraid, but relates how he had seen, etc.—in the name of the Lord Jesus. For it is likely, etc. Wherefore also ταῦτα ἐκείνων κατασκευαστικὰ ποιῶν, διὰ τῶν ἔργων ἐβεβαίωσε τὰ λεχθέντα.” In the original text it is simply Ταῦτα ἐκείνων κατασκευαστικά, καί διὰ τῶν ἔργων ἐβεβαίωσε τὰ λεχθέντα, which being put before Acts 9.28, would mean, that the conduct of Paul “in Damascus,” the πῶς ἐπαρρησ., evidenced the truth of what he said, about the Lords appearing to him in the way. Hence in the mod. text: “wherefore Barnabas making the latter prove the former, confirmed by (Pauls) deeds the things told of him.” (But Ben., Ideo hæc ad illa præparant, dum ille operibus dicta confirmat. Erasm., Ideo et hæc præparatoria facit operibus confirmans ea quæ dicta erant.) We have transposed the clause, as comment on Acts 9.28.i:499
This and the next clause are transposed in the mss. so that ἐπ᾽ αὐτῶν would mean “in the case of the brethren.”i:500
The reason given in Acts 9.30 for Pauls leaving Jerusalem is, that he was in danger of being slain by his opponents; that assigned by himself in Acts 22:17, 18 is a revelation of the Lord given to him when in a trance in the temple, warning him that Jerusalem would not receive his message, and charging him to go unto the Gentiles. The two explanations have a common element in the opposition of the Jews and Hellenists at Jerusalem to Paul and their rejection of his message. “Paul, notwithstanding the opposition and machinations of the Jews, may have felt desirous to remain: he had a warm heart toward his brethren according to the flesh; he was eager for their conversion; and it required a revelation from Christ himself to cause him to comply with the importunity of his friends and to depart. Luke mentions the external reason; Paul the internal motive.” (Gloag.)—G.B.S.i:501
A. B. C. of N.T. and vulg. Hieron. have the singular throughout; and so Cat. in 1. Edd. from E. the plural throughout: our other mss.; οἰκοδομούενοι and πορευόμενοι (F. D. περισσευόμενοι), “they being edified” etc., in apposition with ᾽Εκκλησία.i:502
i.e. If Paul had remained there would not have been peace and quiet. It is doubtful, as the text stands, whether the subject to ᾐδοῦντο is, the Jewish believers, or, the adversaries: and κατεφρόνουν, ἠγρίαινον seem inconsistent as predicated of the same persons. Perhaps what Chrys. said is not fully reported, and the text may be completed thus: (comp. p. 304,) “there is no war from without, nor disturbance within. For the Jewish believers respected the Apostles, as having often stood by them, and the unbelievers durst not attack them as being had in admiration by the people: but as for Paul, the one party—viz. the zealous Jewish believers, the profound Hebrews, despised him, while the others—viz. the unbelievers were more savage against him.” Edd. (from E. alone). “And why, you may ask, does he this, and passes through when there is peace, and after Pauls departure, i.e. why does Peter delay his journey until Paul is gone, and all is quiet? Because them they most respected, as having,” etc.i:503
Καὶ ἔνθα οἰκονομία· ἔνθα δὲ, κ. τ. λ. It does not appear what οἰκονομία can be intended, unless it be the order taken for the appointment of the deacons, but this was the act of all the Apostles, Acts 6.2. Hence perhaps the reading should be: ἔνθα δὲ οἰκονομία, καὶ ἔνθα.…“But where management (or regulation) only is concerned, and where all is peace,” etc.i:504
εἴπου (ἤπου, B) ἐν τάξει παρέργου τοῦτο ᾔτουν (ἦν, C.), προηγουμένως δὲ οὐκ ἔτι, μαθήτρια γὰρ ἦν. A. B. C. Cat. But Edd. ὥστε δεῖξαι ὅτι ἐν κ. τ. λ. and μαθήτρια γὰρ ἦν before προηγ. Œcum, ἐν τάξει γὰρ παρ. τοῦτο ᾔτουν, μαθ. γὰρ ἦν, omitting. προηγ. δὲ οὐκέτι.—“If the place had not been near, they would not have made the request: for it was asking him to put himself out of his way, to do this over and above, and not in the regular course.”—This is a hint to the hearers that they should show the like forbearance and discretion, in not giving their Bishop unnecessary trouble.i:505
῾Ορᾷς ἐλεημοσύνης πόση γίνεται προτροπή. Edd. from E, “Thus is here fulfilled the saying, Alms delivereth from death. And all the widows,” etc. Below, for Εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν εἰσήει ὁ Πέτρος ὡς φιλοσοφῶν· ὅρα δὲ πόση ἡ ἐπίδοσις γέγονεν: the same have, “Where she was laid out dead, they take Peter, τάχα οἰ& 231·μενοι πρὸς φιλοσοφίαν αὐτῷ τι χαρίζεσθαι, perhaps thinking to give him a subject for elevated thought. Seest thou,” etc.—The meaning seems to be, “Peter went to see the dead body, expecting no miracle, but only as one who could bear such sights, and would teach others to do so: but see what a mighty additional boon came of it!”i:506
In the mss. Καὶ κρατήσας, φησί, τῆς χειρός. & 169·Ορα (E. Edd. ᾽Ενταῦθα δείκνυσι) κατὰ μέρος κ. τ. λ. But the passage cited is from Luke viii. 52, καὶ κρατήσας τῆς χειρὸς αὐτῆς, ἐφώνησε κ. τ. λ. to which, and probably to the ἐκβαλὼν ἔξω πάντας there preceding, St. Chrys. here referred.i:507
Edd. from E. ὃς καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ἔκρινε διελθεῖν, ἐπείδη τῆς αὐτοῦ διδασκαλίας ἐδέοντο οἱ πιστεύσαντες. “Who also for this reason judged it right to make this circuit, because those who had believed needed his instruction.”i:508
The modern text: “He calls by the name of disciples even those who were not included in the company of the twelve (Apostles), because they were all called disciples,” etc.i:509
Here the modern text has: “And the Churches had peace, being edified, and walking in the fear of the Lord:” i.e. they increased, and (had peace), peace as it is in itself, the true peace, εἰρήνην αὐτὴν δὴπου πρὸς ἑαυτὴν, τὴν ὄντως εἰρήνην.” (The singular ἡ ᾽Εκκλ. being altered to the plural, the reference in πρὸς ἑαυτὴν was not perceived.) “With good reason. For the war from without exceedingly afflicted them. And were filled with the consolation of the Holy Ghost.” See p. 136, note 3.i:510
Something must be supplied: e.g. “He did not wait for Eneas to ask, or to show his faith,” as above, p. 301.—Edd. from E. “And it came to pass—maketh thee whole. It is not the word of one making a display, but of confidence that the thing shall be. And it does very much seem to me, that the sick man believed this word, and was made whole. That Peter is unassuming, is clear from what follows. For he said not, In the Name of Jesus, but rather as a miracle he narrates it. And they that dwelt at Lydda saw, and turned unto the Lord. It was not for nothing that I said, that the miracles were wrought in order to persuade and comfort. But in Joppa—and died. Do you mark the miracles everywhere taking place? It is not merely said, etc. Wherefore also they do not call Peter until she was dead. And having heard, (that Peter was there) the disciples sent,” etc.i:511
᾽Αλλ᾽ ὡς σημεῖον μᾶλλον αὐτὸ (αὐτὸς B.) διηγεῖται καὶ εὐαγγελίζεται: “he speaks not in the form of command or promise, but of narration: he relates it, Evangelist-like, as a fact.”i:512
῞Ορα πῶς διακαθαίρεται τὰ πράγματα (omitted in E. D. F. Edd.): i.e. how the Gospel has purged away all excess of mourning, and all noisy demonstrations of grief. St. Chrys. frequently inveighs against the heathenish customs of mourning for the dead, which were still practised—such as the hiring of heathen mourning-women: Hom. in Matt. xxxi. p. 207. A. “I confess to you, I am ashamed when I see the troops of women tearing their hair, gashing their flesh, as they move through the market—and this under the very eyes of the heathen.” Conc. in Laz. v. t. i. p. 765 D. where the Christian mode of interment is described; viz. the procession of clergy with psalms and hymns of praise, lighted tapers, etc. comp. Hom. iv. in Heb. (ii. 15.)i:513
῎Ενθα γὰρ δάκρυα, μᾶλλον δὲ ἔνθα θαύματα, οὐ δεῖ δάκρυα παρεῖναι· ἔνθα τοιοῦτον μυστήριον τελεῖται. It seems, he was going to say, “Where tears are, it is no fit time for miracles,” but corrects himself, for put in that way the proposition was not true. The innovator weakly substitutes, “For where tears are, such a mystery ought not to be performed: or rather, where miracles are, there tears ought not to be.”i:514
The rest of the Hom. is given in the Florilegium or Eclogæ, in t. xii. ecl. xlv.—the only instance in which these Homilies have been employed in that compilation. Its author used the old text: it does not appear that any of his various readings were derived from the modern text.i:515
ἐπὶ τῶν εὐδοκίμων: i.e. those who are certainly not reprobates (οὐκ ἀδοκίμων). In the next sentence, E. Edd. καὶ τί πρὸς σὲ, ἄνθρωπε; σὺ γὰρ οὐδὲ ἐπὶ τῶν εὐδοκ. τοῦτο ποιεῖς. Ben. Et quid hoc ad te, o homo? tu enim erga probos hoc non agis. Erasm. tu enim neque apud probatissimos hoc agis. The other mss. and Ecl. τί οὖν…ὅτι.i:516
῞Οταν δὲ ἀνακαλούμενος ῥ& 208·ματα λέγῃς καὶ συνήθειαν καὶ προστασίαν, so mss. and Edd. but Ecl. ἀνακαλουμένου, which we adopt. To the same purport, but more fully, Hom. xii. in 1 Cor. p. 392. (and Ecl. xlv.) “If when some (friend) were taken into the palace and crowned, thou shouldest bewail and lament, I should not call thee the friend of him that is crowned, but very much his hater and enemy. But now, say you, I do not bewail him, but myself. But neither is this the part of a friend, that for thine own sake thou wouldest have him still in the contest, etc. But I know not where he is gone. How knowest thou not, answer me? For whether he lived rightly or otherwise, it is plain where he will go. Why, this is the very reason why I do bewail—because he departed a sinner. This is mere pretence. If this were the reason of thy lamenting him that is gone, thou oughtest while he was alive to have amended him, and formed his manners,” etc.i:517
Εἰ γὰρ Παῦλος ἕτερον ἠλέ& 219·σε, καὶ δἰ ἄλλους ἄλλων (Ecl. ἄλλον) ἐφείσατο, πολλῷ μᾶλλον ἡμᾶς τοῦτο δεῖ ποιεῖν. But E. Edd. Εἰ διὰ Παῦλον ἑτέρους διέσωσε, καὶ δἰ ἄλλους ἄλλων φείδεται, πῶς οὐχὶ καὶ δἰ ἡμᾶς τὸ αὐτὸ τοῦτο ἐργάσεται; “If (God) for Pauls sake saved others, and for some mens sake spares other men, how shall He not for our sakes do this same thing?” In Hom. xli. in 1 Cor. p. 393. B. Chrys. uses for illustration Jobs sacrifice for his sons, and adds, “For God is wont to grant favors to others in behalf of others, ἑτέροις ὑπὲρ ἑτέρων χαρίζεσθαι. And this Paul showed, saying, ῞Ινα ἐν πολλῷ προσώπῳ, κ. τ. λ. 2 Cor. i. 11.” But here the reference seems to be to 2 Cor. ii. 10, “To whom ye forgive anything, I forgive also; for if I forgave anything, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ.”—St. Chrysostom constantly teaches, as here, that the souls of the departed are aided by the prayers, alms, and Eucharistic oblations of the living, Hom. xli. in 1 Cor. u. s. “Even if he did depart a sinner,…we ought to succor him, in such sort as may be (ὡς ἂν οἷ& 231·ν τε ᾖ), not by tears, but by prayers and supplications, and alms and oblations. For not idly have these things been devised, nor to no purpose do we make mention of the departed in the Divine Mysteries, and for them draw near, beseeching the Lamb Which lieth there, Which taketh away the sins of the world, but in order that some consolation may thence come to them. Nor in vain does he that stands beside the altar, while the dread Mysteries are celebrating, cry out, For all that sleep in Christ, and for them that make the memorials for them.” See also Hom. iii. ad Phil. p. 217, 218. Comp. St. Cyrill. Hier. Catech. Mystag. v. §9, St. Augustin, Serm. 172.i:518
εὐλᾶβῆ γυναῖκα καὶ θυγάτριον ἀγαγέσθαι σεμνόν. A. B. C. In the Edd. καὶ θυγ. σεμνὸν, is transposed after μὴ πλουτοῦντα υἱ& 232·ν καταλιπεῖν ἀλλ᾽ εὐλαβῆ: and so in the Ecl. which however retains ἀγ, between θυγ. and σεμνόν. In the old text, wife and daughter are mentioned first, as the persons most apt to perform these offices of religion: in ἀγαγέσθαι there is a zeugma; “to take to wife, and to have wife and daughter, etc.”i:519
Hom.iii. in Phil. ad fin. Οὐκ εἰκῆ ταῦτα ἐνομοθετήθη ὑτὸ τῶν ἀποστόλων κ. τ. λ. “Not idly were these things enacted by the Apostles, that in the dread mysteries there is mention made of the departed: they know that to them great is the gain which accrues, great the benefit. For when the whole congregation stands there, all lifting up their hands, the sacerdotal body (πλήρωμα ἱερατικὸν), and the dread sacrifice is laid out, how shall we fail to prevail with God, in supplicating for these?”i:520
Τί οἴει τὸ ὑπὲρ μαρτύρων προσφέρεσθαι, τὸ κληθῆναι ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ κἂν μάρτυρες ὦσι, κἂν (καὶ A. ὑπὲρ μαρτύρων; There is no reason to suppose (as Neander, Der Heilige Johannes Chrysostomus, t. ii. p. 162) that the words κἂν μάρτυρες κ. τ. λ. are part of the Liturgy: the meaning is, Think what a great thing it is to be mentioned in that Prayer of Oblation; to be mentioned as the martyrs are mentioned, for of them also, martyrs though they be, the same form of expression is used, ὑπὲρ μαρτύρων.—In the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom the words are, ῎Ετι προσφέρομεν σοι τὴν λογικὴν ταύτην λατρείαν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἐν πίστει ἀναπαυομένων προπατόρων, πατέρων, πατριαρχῶν, προφητῶν, ἀποστόλων, κηρύκων, εὐαγγελιστῶν, μαρτύρων κ. τ. λ. See St. Augustin, Hom. on St John, p. 842, note a.i:521
i.e. not to intercede on their behalf, but for commemoration of Christs victory over death, achieved in Himself and in them. The Eucharist is, so to say, Christs ἐπινίκια, in which the Martyrs are eulogized as sharers of His triumph (and this is our commemoration of truth), and the prisoners are set at liberty (and in this sense we name our dead).
Next: Homily XXII on Acts x. 1-4.
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