Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. XII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Homilies on First Corinthians.: Homily XXXIX
1 Cor. xv. 11
Whether then it be I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.
Having exalted the Apostles and abased himself, then again having exalted himself above them that he might make out an equality: (for he did effect an equality, when he showed that he had advantages over them as well as they over him,) and having thereby proved himself worthy of credit; neither so doth he dismiss them, but again ranks himself with them, pointing out their concord in Christ. Nevertheless he doth it not so as that he should seem to have been tacked on to them, 270 but as himself also to appear in the same rank. For so it was profitable for the Gospel. Wherefore also he was equally earnest, on the one hand, that he might not seem to overlook them; on the other, that he might not be on account of the honor paid to them held cheap by those that were under his authority. Therefore he also now makes himself equal again, saying,
“Whether then it be I or they, so we preach.” “From whomsoever,” saith he, “ye choose to learn, learn; there is no difference between us.” And he said not, “if ye will not believe me, believe them;” but while he makes himself worthy of credit and saith that he is of himself sufficient, he affirms the same also of them by themselves. For the difference of persons took no effect, their authority being equal. And in the Epistle to the Galatians p. 234 he doth this, taking them with him, not as also standing in need of them, but saying indeed that even himself was sufficient: “For they who were of repute imparted nothing to me:” (Gal. ii. 6.) nevertheless, even so I follow after agreement with them. “For they gave unto me,” saith he, “their right hands.” (Gal. ii. 9.) For if the credit of Paul were always to depend on others and to be confirmed by testimony from others, the disciples would hence have received infinite injury. It is not therefore to exalt himself that he doeth this, but fearing for the Gospel. Wherefore also he here saith, making himself equal, “Whether it be I or they, so we preach.”
Well did he say, “we preach,” indicating his great boldness of speech. For we speak not secretly, nor 271 in a corner, but we utter a voice clearer than a trumpet. And he said not, “we preached,” but, “even now so we preach.” “And so ye believed.” Here he said not, “ye believe,” but, “ye believed.” Because they were shaken in mind, therefore he ran back to the former times, and proceeds to add the witness from themselves.
[2.] 1 Cor. 15.12. “Now if Christ is preached that He hath been raised from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?”
Seest thou how excellently he reasons, and proves the resurrection from the fact of Christs being raised, having first established the former in many ways? “For both the prophets spake of it,” saith he, “and the Lord Himself showed it by His appearing, and we preach, and ye believed;” weaving thus his fourfold testimony; the witness of the prophets, the witness of the issue of events, the witness of the apostles, the witness of the disciples; or rather a fivefold. For this very cause too itself implies the resurrection; viz. his dying for others sins. If therefore this hath been proved, it is evident that the other also follows, viz. that the other dead likewise are raised. And this is why, as concerning an admitted fact, he challenges and questions them, saying, “Now if Christ hath been raised, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?”
Hereby also again abating the boldness of the gainsayers: in that he said not, “how say, ye,” but, “how say some among you.” And neither doth he bring a charge against all nor declare openly the very persons whom he accuses, in order not to make them more reckless: neither on the other hand doth he conceal it wholly, that he may correct them. For this purpose accordingly, separating them from the multitude, he strips himself for the contest with them, by this both weakening and confounding them, and holding the rest in their conflicts with these firmer to the truth, nor suffering them to desert to those that were busy to destroy them: he being in fact prepared to adopt a vehement mode of speech.
Further, lest they should say, “this indeed is clear and evident unto all that Christ is raised, and none doubts it; this doth not however necessarily imply the other also, to wit, the resurrection of mankind:”—for the one was both before proclaimed and came to pass, and was testified of by his appearing; the fact, namely, of Christs resurrection: but the other is yet in hope, i.e., our own part:—see what he doeth; from the other side again he makes it out: which is a proof of great power. Thus, “why do some say,” saith he, “that there is no resurrection of the dead?” Of course then the former also in its turn is subverted by this, the fact, namely, that Christ is raised. Wherefore also he adds, saying,
1 Cor. 15.13. “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither hath Christ been raised.”
Seest thou Pauls energy, and his spirit for the combat, so invincible? how not only from what is evident he demonstrates what is doubted, but also from what is doubted, endeavors to demonstrate to gainsayers the former evident proposition? Not because what had already taken place required demonstration, but that he might signify this to be equally worthy of belief with that.
[3.] “And what kind of consequence is this?” saith one. “For if Christ be not raised, that then neither should others be raised, doth follow: but that if others be not raised, neither should Christ be raised, what reason can there be in this?” Since then this doth not appear to be very reasonable, see how he works it out wisely, scattering his seeds beforehand from the beginning, even from the very groundwork of the Gospel: as, that “having died for our sins,” He was raised; and that He is “the first-fruits of them that slept.” For the first-fruits—of what can He be the first-fruits, except of them that are raised? And how can He be first-fruits, if they rise not of whom He is first-fruits? How then are they not raised?
Again, if they be not raised, wherefore was Christ raised? Wherefore came He? Wherefore did He take upon Him flesh, if he were not about to raise flesh again? For He stood not in need of it Himself but for our sakes. But these things he afterwards set down as he goes on; for the present he saith, “If the dead be not raised, neither hath Christ been raised,” as p. 235 though that were connected with this. For had He not intended to raise Himself, He would not have wrought that other work. Seest thou by degrees the whole economy overthrown by those words of theirs and by their unbelief in the resurrection? But as yet he saith nothing of the incarnation, but of the resurrection. For not His having become incarnate, but His having died, took away death; since while He had flesh, the tyranny of death still had dominion.
1 Cor. 15.14. “And if Christ hath not been raised, then is our preaching vain, your faith also is vain.”
Although what followed in due course would have been, “but if Christ be not risen, ye fight against things evident, and against so many prophets, and the truth of facts;” nevertheless he states what is much more fearful to them: “then is our preaching vain, your faith also is vain.” For he wishes to shake thoroughly their mind: “we have lost all,” saith he, “all is over, if He be not risen.” Seest thou how great is the mystery of the œconomy? As thus: if after death He could not rise again, neither is sin loosed nor death taken away nor the curse removed. Yea, and not only have we preached in vain, but ye also have believed in vain.
[4.] And not hereby alone doth he show the impiety of these evil doctrines, but he further contends earnestly against them, saying,
1 Cor. 15.15. “Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God: because we witnessed of Him that He raised up Christ; whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead are not raised.”
But if this be absurd, (for it is a charge against God and a calumny,) and He raised Him not, as ye say, not only this, but other absurdities too will follow.
And again he establishes it all, and takes it up again, saying,
1 Cor. 15.16. “For if the dead are not raised, neither hath Christ been raised.”
For had He not intended to do this, He would not have come into the world. And he names not this, but the end, to wit, His resurrection; through it drawing all things.
1 Cor. 15.17. “And if Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain.”
With whatever is clear and confessed, he keeps on surrounding the resurrection of Christ, by means of the stronger point making even that which seems to be weak and doubtful, strong and clear.
“Ye are yet in your sins.” For if He was not raised, neither did He die; and if He died not, neither did He take away sin: His death being the taking away of sin. “For behold,” saith one, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John i. 29.) But how “taketh away?” By His death. Wherefore also he called him a Lamb, as one slain. But if He rose not again, neither was He slain: and if He was not slain, neither was sin taken away: and if it was not taken away, ye are in it: and if ye are in it, we have preached in vain: and if we have preached in vain, ye have believed in vain that ye were reconciled. And besides, death remains immortal, if He did not arise. For if He too was holden of death and loosed not its pains, how released He all others, being as yet Himself holden of it? Wherefore also he adds,
1 Cor. 15.18. “Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ have perished.”
“And why speak I of you,” saith he, “when all those also are perished, who have done all and are no longer subject to the uncertainty of the future?” But by the expression, “in Christ,” he means either “in the faith,” or “they who died for His sake, who endured many perils, many miseries, who walked in the narrow way. 272 ”
Where are those foul-mouthed Manichees who say that by the resurrection here means the liberation from sin 273 ? For these compact and continuous syllogisms, holding as they do also conversely, indicate nothing of what they say, but what we affirm. It is true, “rising again” is spoken of one who has fallen: and this is why he keeps on explaining, and saith not only that He was raised, but adds this also, “from the dead.” And the Corinthians too doubted not of the forgiveness of sins, but of the resurrection of bodies.
But what necessity is there at all, that except mankind be not without sin, neither should Christ Himself be so? Whereas, if He were not to raise men up, it were natural to say, “wherefore came He and took our flesh and rose again?” But on our supposition not so. Yea, and whether men sin or do not sin, there is ever with God an impossibility of sinning, and what happens to us reaches not to Him, nor doth one case answer to the other by way of conversion, as in the matter of the resurrection of the body 274 .
[4.] 1 Cor. 15.19. “If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most pitiable.
What sayest thou, O Paul? How “in this p. 236 life only have we hope,” if our bodies be not raised, the soul abiding and being immortal? Because even if the soul abide, even if it be infinitely immortal, as indeed it is, without the flesh it shall not receive those hidden good things, as neither truly shall it be punished. For all things shall be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ, “that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Cor. v. 10.) Therefore he saith, “if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most pitiable.” For if the body rise not again, the soul abides uncrowned without that blessedness which is in heaven. And if this be so, we shall enjoy nothing then at all: and if nothing then, in the present life is our recompense. “What then in this respect can be more wretched than we?” saith he.
But these things he said, as well to confirm them in the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, as to persuade them concerning that immortal life, in order that they might not suppose that all our concerns end with the present world. For having sufficiently established what he purposed by the former arguments, and having said, “if the dead are not raised, neither hath Christ been raised; but if Christ were not raised, we have perished, and we are yet in our sins;” again he also subjoins this, thoroughly demolishing their arrogance. For so when he intends to introduce any of the necessary doctrines, he first shakes thoroughly their hardness of heart by fear: which accordingly he did here, having both above scattered those seeds, and made them anxious, as those who had fallen from all: and now again after another manner, and so as they should most severely feel it, doing this same thing and saying, “we are of all men most pitiable, if after so great conflicts and deaths and those innumerable evils, we are to fall from so great blessings, and our happiness is limited by the present life.” For in fact all depends on the resurrection. So that even hence it is evident that his discourse was not of a resurrection from sins, but of bodies, and of the life present and to come.
[5.] 1 Cor. 15.20. “But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of them that are asleep.”
Having signified how great mischiefs are bred from not believing the resurrection, he takes up the discourse again, and says, “But now hath Christ been raised from the dead;” continually adding, “from the dead,” so as to stop 275 the mouths of the heretics. “The first-fruits of them that slept.” But if their first-fruits, then themselves also, must needs rise again. Whereas if he were speaking of the resurrection from sins, and none is without sin;—for even Paul saith, “I know nothing against myself, yet am I not hereby justified 276 ;”—how shall there be any who rise again, according to you? Seest thou that his discourse was of bodies? And that he might make it worthy of credit, he continually brings forward Christ who rose again in the flesh.
Next he also assigns a reason. For, as I said, when one asserts but does not state the reason, his discourse is not easily received by the multitude. What then is the reason?
1 Cor. 15.21. “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.”
But if by a man, doubtless by one having a body. And observe his thoughtfulness, how on another ground also he makes his argument inevitable. As thus: “he that is defeated,” saith he, “must in his own person also renew the conflict, the nature which was cast down must itself also gain the victory. For so the reproach was wiped away.”
But let us see what kind of death he is speaking of.
1 Cor. 15.22. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
What then? tell me; did all die in Adam the death of sin 277 ? How then was Noah righteous in his generation? and how Abraham? and how Job? and how all the rest? And what, I pray? shall all be made alive in Christ? Where then are those who are led away into hell fire? Thus, if this be said of the body, the doctrine stands: but if of righteousness and sin, it doth so no longer.
Further, lest, on hearing that the making alive is common to all, thou shouldest also suppose that sinners are saved, he adds,
1 Cor. 15.23. “But every man in his own order.”
For do not, because thou hearest of a resurrection, imagine that all enjoy the same benefits. Since if in the punishment all will not suffer alike but the difference is great; much more where there are sinners and righteous men shall the separation be yet wider.
p. 237 “Christ the first-fruits, then they that are Christs;” i.e., the faithful and the approved.
1 Cor. 15.24. “Then cometh the end.”
For when these shall have risen again, all things shall have an end, not as now when after Christs resurrection things abide yet in suspense. Wherefore he added, “at His coming,” that thou mayest learn that he is speaking of that time, “when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God even the Father; when He shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power.”
[6.] Here, give heed to me carefully, and see that no part escape you of what I say. For our contest is with enemies 278 : wherefore we first must practice the reductio ad absurdum which also Paul often doeth. Since in this way shall we find what they say most easy of detection. Let us ask them then first, what is the meaning of the saying, “When he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father?” For if we take this just as it stands and not in a sense becoming Deity, He will not after this retain it. For he that hath delivered up to another, ceases any longer to retain a thing himself. And not only will there be this absurdity, but that also the other person who receives it will be found not to be possessor of it before he hath so received it. Therefore according to them, neither was the Father a King before, governing our affairs: nor will it seem that the Son after these things will be a King. How then, first of all, concerning the Father doth the Son Himself say, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work:” (John v. 17.) and of Him Daniel, “That His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, which shall not pass away?” (Dan. vii. 14.) Seest thou how many absurdities are produced, and repugnant to the Scriptures, when one takes the thing spoken after the manner of men?
But what “rule,” then doth he here say, that Christ “putteth down?” That of the angels? Far from it. That of the faithful? Neither is it this. What rule then? That of the devils, concerning which he saith, “Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness:” (Eph. vi. 12.) For now it is not as yet “put down” perfectly, they working in many places, but then shall they cease.
1 Cor. 15.25. “For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet.”
Again from hence also another absurdity is produced, unless we take this also in a way becoming Deity. For the expression “until,” is one of end and limitation: but in reference to God, this does not exist.
1 Cor. 15.26. “The last enemy that shall be abolished is death.”
How the last? After all, after the devil, after all the other things. For so in the beginning also death came in last; the counsel of the devil having come first, and our disobedience, and then death. Virtually then indeed it is even now abolished: but actually, at that time.
[7.] 1 Cor. 15.27. “For He hath put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He saith, All things are put in subjection, it is manifest that He is excepted who did subject all things unto Him.”
1 Cor. 15.28. “And when all things have been subjected unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subjected unto Him that did subject all things unto Him.”
And yet before he said not that it was the Father who “put things under Him,” but He Himself who “abolishes.” For “when He shall have abolished,” saith he, “all rule and authority:” and again, “for He must reign until He hath put all His enemies under His feet.” How then doth he here say, “the Father?”
And not only is there this apparent perplexity, but also that he is afraid with a very unaccountable fear, and uses a correction, saying, “He is excepted, who did subject all things unto Him,” as though some would suspect, whether the Father might Himself not be subject unto the Son; than which what can be more irrational? nevertheless, he fears this.
How then is it? for in truth there are many questions following one upon another. Well, give me then your earnest attention; since in fact it is necessary for us first to speak of the scope of Paul and his mind, which one may find everywhere shining forth, and then to subjoin our solution: this being itself an ingredient in our solution.
What then is Pauls mind, and what is his custom? He speaks in one way when he discourses of the Godhead alone, and in another when he falls into the argument of the economy. Thus having once taken hold of our Lords Flesh, he freely thereafter uses all the sayings that humiliate Him; without fear as though that were able to bear all such expressions. Let us see therefore here also, whether his discourse is of the simple Godhead, or whether in view of the incarnation he asserts of Him those things which he saith: or rather let us first point out where he did this of which I have spoken. Where then did he this? Writp. 238 ing to the Philippians he saith, “Who, being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God, but emptied Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross. Wherefore hath God highly exalted Him.” (Philip. ii. 6-9.)
Seest thou how when he was discoursing of the Godhead alone, he uttered those great things, that He “was in the form of God” and that He “was equal with” Him that begat Him, and to Him refers the whole? But when He showed Him to thee made flesh, he lowered again the discourse. For except thou distinguish these things, there is great variance between the things spoken. Since, if He were “equal with God,” how did He highly exalt one equal with Himself? If He were “in the form of God,” how “gave” He Him “a name?” for he that giveth, giveth to one that hath not, and he that exalteth, exalteth one that is before abased. He will be found then to be imperfect and in need, before He hath received the “exaltation” and “the Name;” and many other absurd corollaries will hence follow. But if thou shouldest add the incarnation, thou wilt not err in saying these things. These things then here also consider, and with this mind receive thou the expressions.
[8.] Now together with these we will state also other reasons why this pericope of Scripture was thus composed. But at present it is necessary to mention this: first, that Pauls discourse was of the resurrection, a thing counted to be impossible and greatly disbelieved: next, he was writing to Corinthians among whom there were many philosophers who mocked at such things always. For although in other things wrangling one with another, in this they all, as with one mouth, conspired, dogmatically declaring that there is no resurrection. Contending therefore for such a subject so disbelieved and ridiculed, both on account of the prejudice which had been formed, and on account of the difficulty of the thing; and wishing to demonstrate its possibility, he first effects this from the resurrection of Christ. And having proved it both from the prophets, and from those who had seen, and from those who believed: when he had obtained an admitted reductio ad absurdum, he proves in what follows the resurrection of mankind also. “For if the dead rise not,” saith he, “neither has Christ been raised.”
Further; having closely urged these converse arguments in the former verses, he tries it again in another way, calling Him the “first-fruits,” and pointing to His “abolishing all rule and authority and power, and death last.” “How then should death be put down,” saith he, “unless he first loose the bodies which he held?” Since then he had spoken great things of the Only-Begotten, that He “gives up the kingdom,” i.e., that He Himself brings these things to pass, and Himself is victor in the war, and “putteth all things under His feet,” he adds, to correct the unbelief of the multitude, “for He must reign till He hath put all His enemies under His feet.” Not as putting an end to the kingdom, did he use the expression “until,” but to render what was said worthy of credit, and induce them to be confident. For “do not,” saith he, “because thou hast heard that He will abolish all rule, and authority and power,” to wit, the devil, and the bands of demons, (many as there are,) and the multitudes of unbelievers, and the tyranny of death, and all evils: do not thou fear as though His strength was exhausted. For until He shall have done all these things, “He must reign;” not saying this, that after He hath brought it to pass He doth not reign; but establishing this other, that even if it be not now, undoubtedly it will be. For His kingdom is not cut off: yea, He rules and prevails and abides until He shall have set to right all things.
And this manner of speech one might find also in the Old Testament; as when it is said, “But the word of the Lord abideth for ever;” (Ps. cxix. 89.) and, “Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail.” (Ps. cii. 27.) Now these and such-like things the Prophet saith, when he is telling of things which a long space of time must achieve and which must by all means come to pass; casting out the fearfulness of the duller sort of hearers.
But that the expression, “until,” spoken of God, and “unto,” do not signify an end, hear what one saith: “From everlasting unto everlasting Thou art God:” (Ps. xc. 2.) and again, “I am, I am,” and “Even to your old age I am He.” (Is. xlvi. 4.)
For this cause indeed doth he set death last, that from the victory over the rest this also might be easily admitted by the unbeliever. For when He destroys the devil who brought in death, much more will He put an end to His work.
[9.] Since then he referred all to Him, the “abolishing rule and authority,” the perfecting of His kingdom, (I mean the salvation of the faithful, the peace of the world, the taking away of evils, for this is to perfect His kingdom,) the putting an end to death; and he said not, “the Father by Him,” but, “Himself shall put down, and Himself shall put under His feet,” and he no where mentioned Him that begat Him; he was afraid afterward, lest on this account among p. 239 some of the more irrational persons, either the Son might seem to be greater than the Father, or to be a certain distinct principle, unbegotten. 279 And therefore, gently guarding himself, he qualifies the magnitude of his expressions, saying, “for He put all things in subjection under His feet,” again referring to the Father these high achievements; not as though the Son were without power. For how could He be, of whom he testified so great things before, and referred to Him all that was said? But it was for the reason which I mentioned, and that he might show all things to be common to Father and Son which were done in our behalf. For that Himself alone was sufficient to “put all things in subjection under Him,” hear again Paul saying, (Philip. iii. 21.) “Who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of His glory, according to the working whereby He is able even to subject all things unto Himself.”
Then also he uses a correction, saying, “But when He saith, all things are put in subjection, it is evident that He is excepted who did subject all things unto Him,” testifying even thence no small glory to the Only-Begotten. For if He were less and much inferior, this fear would never have been entertained by him. Neither is he content with this, but also adds another thing, as follows. I say, lest any should doubtingly ask, “And what if the Father hath not been put under Him? this doth not at all hinder the Son from being the more mighty;” fearing this impious supposition, because that expression was not sufficient to point out this also, he added, going very much beyond it, “But when all things have been subjected unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subjected;” showing His great concord with the Father, and that He is the principle of all other good things and the first Cause, who hath begotten One so great in power and in achievements.
[10.] But if he said more than the subject-matter demanded, marvel not. For in imitation of his Master he doeth this: since He too purposing to show His concord with Him that begat Him, and that He hath not come without His mind, descends so far, I say not, as the proof of concord demanded, but as the weakness of the persons present required. For He prays to His Father for no other cause but this; and stating the reason He saith, “that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me.” (John xi. 42.) In imitation therefore of Him, Paul here in his manner of speech goes beyond what was required; not that thou mightest have any suspicion of a forced servitude, far from it; but that he might the more entirely cast out those impious doctrines. For so when he is minded to pull up any thing by the roots, he is wont to do it, and abundantly more with it 280 . Thus too, for example, when he spake of a believing wife and an unbelieving husband, companying with one another by the law of marriage, that the wife might not consider herself defiled by that intercourse and the embraces of the unbeliever, he said not, “the wife is not unclean,” nor, “she is no wise harmed by the unbeliever,” but, which was much more, “the unbeliever is even sanctified by her,” not meaning to signify that the heathen was made holy through her, but by the very great strength of the expression anxious to remove her fear. So also here, his zeal to take away that impious doctrine by a very strong utterance was the cause of his expressing himself as he did. For as to suspect the Son of weakness is extreme impiety: (wherefore he corrects it, saying, “He shall put all enemies under His feet:”) so on the other hand is it more impious to consider the Father inferior to Him. Wherefore he takes it also away with exceeding force. And observe how he puts it. For he said not simply, “He is excepted which put all things under Him,” but, “it is manifest,” “for even if it be admitted,” saith he, “nevertheless I make it sure 281 .”
And that thou mayest learn that this is the reason of the things spoken, I would ask thee this question: Doth an additional “subjection” at that time befal the Son? And how can this be other than impious and unworthy of God? For the greatest subjection and obedience is this, that He who is God took the form of a servant. How then will He be “subjected?” Seest thou, that to take away the impious notion, he used this expression? and this too in a suitable though reserved sense? For he becomes a Son and a divine Person, so He obeys; not humanly, but as one acting freely and having all authority. Otherwise how is he co-enthroned? How, “as the Father raiseth up, even so He, whom He will?” (John v. 21.) How are “all things that the Father hath His,” and all that He hath, the Fathers? (John xvi. 15.) For these phrases indicate to us an authority exactly measured by 282 that of Him that begat Him.
[11.] But what is this, “When He shall deliver up the kingdom?” The Scripture acknowledges two kingdoms of God, the one by appropriation 283 , the other by creation 284 . Thus, He is King over all, both Greeks and Jews and devils and His adversaries, in respect of His p. 240 creation: but He is King of the faithful and willing and subject, in respect of His making them His own. This is the kingdom which is said also to have a beginning. For concerning this He saith also in the second Psalm, “Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance.” (Ps. ii. 8.) Touching this also, He Himself said to His disciples, “All authority hath been given unto Me by My father,” (Matt. xxviii. 18.) referring all to Him that begat Him, not as though of Himself He were not sufficient, but to signify that He is a Son, and not unbegotten. This kingdom then He doth “deliver up,” i.e., “bring to a right end.”
“What then,” saith one, “can be the reason why He spake nothing of the Spirit?” Because of Him he was not discoursing now, nor doth he confound all things together. Since also where he saith, “There is one God the Father, and one Lord Jesus,” undoubtedly not as allowing the Spirit to be inferior, is he therefore silent, but because for the time it was not urgent, he so expressed himself. For he is wont also to make mention of the Father only, yet we must not therefore cast out the Son: he is wont to speak also of the Son and of the Spirit only, yet not for this are we to deny 285 the Father.
But what is, “that God may be all in all?” That all things may be dependent upon Him, that none may suppose two authorities without a beginning, nor another kingdom separated off; that nothing may exist independent of him. For when the enemies shall be lying under the feet of the Son, and He having them cast under His feet be at no variance with His Father, but at concord with Him in entire perfection, then He shall Himself “be all in all.”
But some say that he spake this to declare the removal of wickedness, as though all would yield thenceforth and none would resist nor do iniquity. For when there is no sin, it is evident that “God shall be all in all.”
[12.] But if bodies do not rise again, how are these things true? For the worst enemy of all, death, remains, having wrought whatever he listed. “Nay,” saith one, “for they shall sin no more.” And what of that? For he is not discoursing here of the death of the soul, but of that of the body? How then is he “put down?” For victory is this, the winning of those things which have been carried off and detained. But if mens bodies are to be detained in the earth, it follows that the tyranny of death remains, these bodies for their part being holden, and there being no other body for him to be vanquished in. But if this which Paul spake of, ensue, as undoubtedly it will ensue, Gods victory will appear, and that a glorious one, in His being able to raise again the bodies which were holden thereby. Since an enemy too is then vanquished, when a man takes the spoils, not when he suffers them to remain in the others possession: but unless one venture to take what is his, how can we say that he is vanquished? After this manner of victory doth Christ Himself say in the Gospels that He hath been victorious, thus speaking, “When he shall bind the strong man, then shall he also spoil his goods.” (Matt. xii. 29.) Since if this were not so, it would not be at all a manifest victory. For as in the death of the soul, “he that hath died is justified from sin;” (Rom. vi. 7.) (and yet we cannot say that this is a victory, for he is not the victor who adds no more to his wickedness, but he who hath done away the former captivity of his passions;) just so in this instance also, I should not call deaths being stayed from feeding on the bodies of men a splendid victory, but rather that the bodies heretofore holden by him should be snatched away from him.
But if they should still be contentious and should say that these things were spoken of the souls death, how is this “destroyed last?” since in the case of each one at his Baptism it hath been destroyed perfectly. If however thou speakest of the body, the expression is admissible; I mean, such a saying as that it will be “last destroyed.”
But if any should doubt why discoursing of the resurrection, he did not bring forward the bodies which rose again in the time of our Lord, our answer might be the following: that this could not be alleged in behalf of the resurrection. For to point out those who after rising died again, suited not one employed in proving that death is entirely destroyed. Yea, this is the very reason why he said that he is “destroyed last,” that thou mightest never more suspect his rising again. For when sin is taken away, much more shall death cease: it being out of all reason when the fountain is dried up, that the stream flowing from it should still subsist; and when the root is annihilated, that the fruit should remain.
[13.] Since then in the last day the enemies of God shall be destroyed, together with death and the devil and the evil spirits, let us not be dejected at the prosperity of the enemies of God. For the enemies of the Lord in the moment of their glory and exaltation fail; “yea, like smoke have they failed away.” (Ps. xxxvii. 20.) When thou seest any enemy of God wealthy, with armed attendants and many flatterers, be not cast down, but lament, weep, call upon God, that He may enrol him amongst His friends: and the more he prospers being Gods enemy, p. 241 so much the more do thou mourn for him. For sinners we ought always to bewail, but especially when they enjoy wealth and abundance of good days; even as one should the sick, when they eat and drink to excess.
But there are some, who when they hear these words are of so unhappy a disposition, as to sigh bitterly thereupon, and say, “Tears are due to me who have nothing.” Thou hast well said, “who have nothing,” not because thou hast not what another hath, but because thou accountest the thing such as to be called happy; yea, for this cause art thou worthy of infinite lamentations: even as, if a person living in health should count happy him that is sick and lying on a soft couch, this latter is not near so wretched and miserable as he, because he hath no sense of his own advantages. Just such a result one may observe in these mens case also: nay, and hereby our whole life is confounded and disordered. For these sayings have undone many, and betrayed them to the devil, and made them more pitiable than such as are wasted with famine. Yea, that those who long after more, are more wretched than mendicants, as being possessed with a greater and bitterer sorrow than they, is evident from what follows.
A drought once overtook our city, and all were trembling for the last of evils, and were beseeching God to rid them of this fear. And one might see then that which was spoken of by Moses; (Deut. xxviii. 23.) “the heavens become brass,” and a death, of all deaths the most horrible, waited for every day. But afterwards, when it seemed good to the merciful God, beyond all expectation there was wafted down from heaven a great and plentiful rain, and thenceforth all were in holiday and feasting, as having come up from the very gates of death. But in the midst of so great blessings and the common gladness of all, one of those exceedingly wealthy people went about with a gloomy and downcast countenance, quite dead with sorrow; and when many enquired the reason, wherefore in the common joy of all men he alone is sorrowful, he could not even keep within him his savage passion, but goaded by the tyranny of the disease, declared before them all the reason. “Why,” saith he, “having in my possession ten thousand measures of wheat, I have no means of disposing of them left.” Shall we then count him happy, tell me, for these words, for which he deserved to be stoned? Him that was more cruel than any wild beast, the common enemy? What sayest thou, man? Art thou sad because all did not perish, that thou mightest gather gold? Hast thou not heard what Solomon saith, (Prov. xi. 26.) “He that withholdeth 286 corn, the people shall curse him?” but goest about a common enemy of the blessings of the world, and a foe to the liberality of the Lord of the world, and a friend of Mammon, or rather his slave? Nay, doth not that tongue deserve to be cut out, and the heart to be quenched, that brought forth these words?
[14.] Seest thou how gold doth not suffer men to be men, but wild beasts and fiends? For what can be more pitiful than this rich man, whose daily prayer is that there may be famine, in order that he may have a little gold? Yea, and his passion by this time is come round to the contrary of itself: he not even rejoicing in his abundant store of the fruits of the earth, but on this very account grieving the rather, (to such a pass is he come,) that his possessions are infinite. Although one who hath much ought to be joyful: but this man on that very account is dejected. Seest thou that, as I said, the rich do not reap as much pleasure from what is present, as they endure sorrow for what hath not yet been added? For he that had innumerable quantities of wheat did more grieve and lament than he who suffered hunger. And while the one, on merely having his necessary food, was crowning himself and leaping for joy and giving thanks to God; the other, who had so much, was fretting and thought he was undone. It is not then the superfluity which causes our pleasure, but a self-controlling mind: since without this, though one obtain and have all, he will feel as one deprived of all and will mourn accordingly: inasmuch as this man too of whom we are now speaking, even if he had sold all he had for as large a sum as he wished, would again have grieved that it was not for more; and if he could have had more, he would again have sought another advance; and if he had disposed of the bushel for one pound, he would even then have been distracted for sorrow, that the half bushel could not be sold for as much. And if the price were not set so high at first, marvel not. Since drunkards also are not at first inflamed, but when they have loaded themselves with much wine, then they kindle the flame into greater fierceness: so these men, by how much more they have grasped, in so much the greater poverty do they find themselves, and they who gain more than others, are the very persons to be the most in want.
[15.] But I say these things not only to this man, but also to each one of those who are so diseased: those, I say, who raise the price of their wares and make a traffic of the poverty of their neighbors. For of humanity none any where makes account: but every where the covetous desire brings out many at the time of sale. And oil and wine is sold by one quicker, by another more slowly, but neither out of regard p. 242 to others; rather the one seeks gain, the other to avoid loss by the spoiling of his produce. Thus, because most men not making much account of the laws of God, shut up and keep all in doors, God by other means leading them to humanity,—that were it but of necessity they may do something kind,—hath infused into them the fear of greater loss, not allowing the fruits of the earth to keep any long time, in order that out of mere dread of the damage from their spoiling, they may expose for sale to the needy, even against their will, such things as they wickedly bury at home and keep. However, after all this, some are so insatiable as not even thereby to be corrected. Many, for example, have gone so far as to empty whole casks, not giving even a cup-full to the poor man, nor a piece of money to the needy, but after it hath become vinegar, they dash it all upon the ground, and destroy their casks together with the fruit. Others again who would not give a part of a single cake to the hungry, have thrown whole granaries into some river: and because they listened not to God who bade them give to the needy, at the bidding of the moth, even unwillingly, they emptied out all they had in their houses, in utter destruction and waste; drawing down upon their own heads together with this loss much scorn and many a curse.
And such is the course of their affairs here; but the hereafter, what words shall set before us? For as these men in this world cast their moth-eaten grain, become useless, into rivers; even so the doers of such things, on this very account become useless, God casts into the river of fire. Because as the grain by the moth and worm, so are their souls devoured by cruelty and inhumanity. And the reason of these things is their being nailed to things present, and gaping after this life only. Whence also such men are full of infinite sadness; for name whatever pleasure thou wilt, the fear of their end is enough to annihilate all, and such an one “is dead, while he is yet alive.” (1 Tim. v. 6.)
Now then that unbelievers should have these feelings, is no marvel; but when they who have partaken of so great mysteries and learned such high rules of self-denial concerning things to come, delight to dwell in things present, what indulgence do they deserve?
[16.] Whence then arises their loving to dwell in present things? From giving their mind to luxury, and fattening their flesh, and making their soul delicate, and rendering their burden heavy, and their darkness great, and their veil thick. For in luxury the better part is enslaved, but the worse prevails; and the former is blinded on every side and dragged on in its maimed condition; while the other draws and leads men about every where, though it ought to be in the rank of things that are led.
Since great indeed is the bond between the soul and the body; the Maker having contrived this, lest any should induce us to abhor it as alien. For God indeed bade us love our enemies; but the devil hath so far prevailed as to induce some 287 even to hate their own body. Since when a man saith that it is of the devil, he proves nothing else than this; which is the extreme of dotage. For if it be of the devil, what is this so perfect harmony, such as to render it meet in every way for the energies of the self-controlling soul? “Nay,” saith one, “if it be meet, how doth the body blind it?” It is not the body which blinds the soul; far from it, O man; but the luxury. But whence do we desire the luxury? Not from our having a body, by no means; but from an evil choice. For the body requires feeding, not high feeding 288 , the body needs nourishing, not breaking up and falling apart. You see that not to the soul only, but to the very body also which receives the nourishment, the luxury is hostile. For it becomes weaker instead of strong, and softer instead of firm, and sickly instead of healthful, and heavier instead of light, and slighter instead of compact, and ill-favored instead of handsome, and unsavory instead of fragrant, and impure instead of clean, and full of pain instead of being at ease, and useless instead of useful, and old instead of young, and decaying instead of strong, and slow and dull instead of quick, and maimed instead of whole. Whereas if it were of the devil, it ought not to receive injury from the things of the devil, I mean, from sin.
[17.] But neither is the body, nor food, of the devil, but luxury alone. For by means of it that malignant fiend brings to pass his innumerable evils. Thus did he make victims of 289 a whole people. “For the beloved waxed fat,” saith one, “and grew thick, and was enlarged, and kicked.” (Deut. xxxii. 15.) And thence also was the beginning of those thunderbolts on Sodom. And to declare this, Ezekiel said, “But this was the iniquity of Sodom, in pride and fulness of bread and refinements 290 they waxed wanton.” (Ezek. xvi. 4.) Therefore also Paul said, (1 Tim. v. 6.) “She that giveth herself to pleasure 291 , is dead while she liveth.” How should this be? Because as a sepulchre she bears about her body, bound close to innumerable evils 292 . And if the body so perish, how will the soul be affected; what disorder, what p. 243 waves, what a tempest will she be filled with? Hereby, you see, she becomes unfitted for every duty, and will have no power easily to speak, or hear, or take counsel, or do anything that is needful. But as a pilot when the storm hath got the better of his skill, is plunged into the deep, vessels and sailors and all: so also the soul together with the body is drowned in the grievous abyss of insensibility.
For, in fact, God hath set the stomach in our bodies as a kind of mill, giving it a proportionate power, and appointing a set measure which it ought to grind every day. If therefore one cast in more, remaining undigested it doth injury to the whole body. Hence diseases and weaknesses and deformities: since in truth luxury makes the beautiful woman not only sickly, but also foul to look upon. For when she is continually sending forth unpleasant exhalations, and breathes fumes of stale wine, and is more florid than she ought to be, and spoils the symmetry that beseems a woman, and loses all her seemliness, and her body becomes flabby, her eyelids bloodshot and distended, and her bulk unduly great, and her flesh an useless load; consider what a disgust it all produces.
Moreover, I have heard a physician say that many have been hindered from reaching their proper height by nothing so much as luxurious living. For the breath being obstructed by the multitude of things which are cast in and being occupied in the digestion of such things, that which ought to serve for growth is spent on this digestion of superfluities. Why need one speak of gout, rheum dispersed every where, the other diseases hence arising, the whole abomination? For nothing is so disgusting as a woman pampering herself with much food. Therefore among the poorer women one may see more of beauty: the superfluities being consumed and not cleaving to them, like some superfluous clay, of no use and benefit. For their daily exercise, and labors, and hardships, and their frugal table, and spare diet, minister unto them much soundness of body, and thence also much bloom.
[18.] But if thou talkest of the pleasure of luxury, thou wilt find it to go no farther than the throat: since as soon as it hath passed the tongue, it is flown away, leaving behind in the body much that is disgusting. For do not I pray look on the voluptuaries at table only, but when you see them rise up, then follow them, and you will see bodies rather of wild beasts and irrational creatures than of human beings. You will see them with headache, distended, bound up, needing a bed and a couch and plenty of rest, and like men who are tossed in a great tempest and require others to save them, and long for that condition in which they were before they were swelled even to bursting 293 : they carrying their bellies about with a burden like that of women with child, and can scarce step forward, and scarce see, and scarce speak, and scarce do any thing. But if it should chance that they sleep a little, they see again strange dreams and full of all manner of fancies.
What should one say of that other madness of theirs? the madness of lust, I mean, for this also hath its fountains from hence. Yea, as horses wild after the female, so they, goaded on by the sting of their drunkenness, leap upon all, more irrational than they, and more frantic in their boundings; and committing many more unseemlinesses which but to name is unlawful. For they know not in fact any longer what they suffer, nor what they do.
But not so he that keeps from luxury: rather he sits in harbor, beholding other mens shipwrecks, and enjoys a pleasure pure and lasting, following after that life which becomes him that is free. Knowing therefore these things, let us flee from the evil banquets of luxury and cleave to a spare table; that being of a good habit both of soul and body, we may both practice all virtue, and attain the good things to come, through the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with Whom to the Father, with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
ἐν παραβύστῳ. The παραβύστον was one of the inferior courts at Athens, so called because it had cognizance only of trivial and obscure matters, and because it was situate ἐν ἀφανεῖ τόπῳ τῆς πόλεως, in an obscure part of the city. Hence the phrase. Pausan. Attic. c. 28; Demosth. contr. Timocr. p. 715 Ed. Reiske.235:272
[The author fails to give the full force of this striking phrase. It means “Those whose sleep is a sleep in Christ.” C.]235:273
The Manichæans say, “that Christ came in the last times, to deliver not bodies but souls.” St. Aug. de Hæres. §. 46. They argued against the resurrection of the body from such texts as 1 Cor. 5:5, 1 Cor. 15:50; see Epiph. Hæres. 66. §. 86, 87. They as well as the old Gnostics, of course, took this line, holding as they did the inherent corruption of matter.235:274
His argument may be thus briefly stated. The Apostle had in the former verses made use of the resurrection of Christ and our resurrection as terms implying one another. If (according to the Manichees) the word resurrection means only liberation from sin, the terms no longer imply one another. For Christ by His divine nature cannot sin. It doth not therefore follow that, if we be not raised, Christ is not risen.236:275
lit. sew up, ἀπόῤῥαψαι.236:276
οὐδεν ἐμαυτῷ σύνοιδα. 1 Cor. iv. 4.236:277
This may seem at first sight, especially to the English reader, inconsistent with such texts as Eph. 2:1, Col. 2:12, &c. But it will be found that the term νεκροὶ used in those texts, is applied rather to each persons actual sin and its effects, than to the general result of Adams transgression; and that ἀποθανὼν, when applied to the latter, relates to the death of the body: as in Rom. v. 15. which is so expounded by St. Aug. de Nupt. ii. 46.
[Whatever may be thought of the speakers view of the former part of this verse, it is clear that he does not make the “all” of the second clause coextensive with the “all” of the first. He expressly excludes sinners. And he is right. Men are connected with Adam by nature, but with Christ by faith and this is the work of grace. Adam and Christ are the two heads of humanity but in a different way. The limitation of the second “all” is further confirmed by the fact that the whole discussion here is about believers. The Apostle says nothing in this chapter about the resurrection of unbelievers. C.]237:278
The partisans of Marcellus of Ancyra, who about the middle of the fourth century taught that the Personal Kingdom of the Son, and indeed His Personality, will cease at the last day, He being such an emanation from the Father as shall be again absorbed into the Father. See S. Cyril, Catech. xv. 27. and others quoted by Bp. Pearson on the Creed, Art. vi. part 2. This error is supposed to have occasioned the insertion at Constantinople of the words, “Of whose kingdom there shall be no end,” in the Nicene Creed. It appears that Marcellus alleged this text.239:279
πολλῃ κέχρηται τῃ περιουσίᾳ.239:281
This distinction, in these terms, is found elsewhere in St. Chrysostom; as on 47 (48) Psalm, v. 1; on 1 Tim. vi. 11; as quoted by Suicer v. βασιλεία.240:285
τιμιουλκῶν, Theodotion. συνέχων LXX.242:287
The Manichæans, and Gnostic sects.242:288
τροφῆς οὐ τρυφῆς.242:289
“It is thy own soul, wretched woman, that thou hast lost: the spiritual life gone, thou for a while leadst on a life of thine own, and movest about, wearing thy death upon thee.” S. Cypr. of the Lapsed. C. 30.243:293
πρὶν ἢ διαῤῥαγῆναι.
Next: Homily XL
Like & share St-Takla.org
© Saint Takla Haymanout Website: Coptic Orthodox Church - Alexandria, Egypt / URL: https://st-takla.org / Contact us at