After this John 2:12-25 He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples; and there they abode not many days. And the passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and He found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting, and He made a sort of scourge of cords, and cast them all out of the temple, and the sheep and the oxen, and He poured out the small money of the changers and overthrew their tables, and to those that sold the doves He said, Take these things hence; make not My Father's house a house of merchandize. Then His disciples remembered that it was written, that the zeal of your house shall eat me up. The Jews therefore answered and said to Him, What sign showest Thou unto us, that You do such things? Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. The Jews therefore answered, Forty-six years was this temple in building, and will you raise it up in three days? But He spoke of the temple of His body. When therefore He rose from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus said. Now when He was at Jerusalem at the passover at the feast, many believed in His name, beholding His signs which He did. But Jesus Himself did not trust Himself to them, for that He knew all men, and because He had no need that any should bear witness concerning man. For He Himself knew what was in man.
The numbers which are recorded in the book of that name obtained a place in Scripture in accordance with some principle which determines their proportion to each thing. We ought therefore to enquire whether the book of Moses which is called Numbers teaches us, should we be able to trace it out, in some special way, the principle with regard to this matter. This remark I make to you at the outset of my tenth book, for in many passages of Scripture I have observed the number ten to have a peculiar privilege, and you may consider carefully whether the hope is justified that this volume will bring you from God some special benefit. That this may prove to be the case, we will seek to yield ourselves as fully as we can to God, who loves to bestow His choicest gifts. The book begins at the words:
After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples, and there they abode not many days. The other three Evangelists say that the Lord, after His conflict with the devil, departed into Galilee. Matthew and Luke represent that he was first at Nazara, and then left them and came and dwelt in Capernaum. Matthew and Mark also state a certain reason why He departed there, namely, that He had heard that John was cast into prison. The words are as follows: Matthew says,
Then the devil leaves Him, and behold, angels came and ministered unto Him. But when He heard that John was delivered up, He departed into Galilee, and leaving Nazareth He came and dwelt at Capernaum on the seashore in the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; and after the quotation from Isaiah:
From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Mark has the following:
And He was in the desert forty days and forty nights tempted by Satan, and He was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto Him. But after John was delivered up Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of God, that the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe in the Gospel. Then after the narrative about Andrew and Peter and James and John, Mark writes:
And having finished the temptation the devil departed from Him for a season. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a fame went out concerning Him into all the region round about, and He taught in their synagogues being glorified of all. And He came to Nazara, where He had been brought up, and He entered as His custom was into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. Then Luke gives what He said at Nazara, and how those in the synagogue were enraged at Him and cast Him out of the city and brought Him to the brow of the hill on which their cities were built, to cast Him down headlong, and how going through the midst of them the Lord went His way; and with this he connects the statement,
And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and He was teaching them on the Sabbath day.
The truth of these matters must lie in that which is seen by the mind. If the discrepancy between the Gospels is not solved, we must give up our trust in the Gospels, as being true and written by a divine spirit, or as records worthy of credence, for both these characters are held to belong to these works. Those who accept the four Gospels, and who do not consider that their apparent discrepancy is to be solved anagogically (by mystical interpretation), will have to clear up the difficulty, raised above, about the forty days of the temptation, a period for which no room can be found in any way in John's narrative; and they will also have to tell us when it was that the Lord came to Capernaum. If it was after the six days of the period of His baptism, the sixth being that of the marriage at Cana of Galilee, then it is clear that the temptation never took place, and that He never was at Nazara, and that John was not yet delivered up. Now, after Capernaum, where He abode not many days, the passover of the Jews was at hand, and He went up to Jerusalem, where He cast the sheep and oxen out of the temple, and poured out the small change of the bankers. In Jerusalem, too, it appears that Nicodemus, the ruler and Pharisee, first came to Him by night, and heard what we may read in the Gospel.
After these things, John 3:23-26 Jesus came, and His disciples, into the land of Judæa, and there He tarried with them and baptized, at the same time at which John also was baptizing in Ænon near Salim, because there were many waters there, and they came and were baptized; for John was not yet cast into prison. On this occasion, too, there was a questioning on the part of John's disciples with the Jews about purification, and they came to John, saying of the Saviour,
Behold, He baptizes, and all come to Him. They had heard words from the Baptist, the exact tenor of which it is better to take from Scripture itself. Now, if we ask when Christ was first in Capernaum, our respondents, if they follow the words of Matthew, and of the other two, will say, After the temptation, when,
leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea. But how can they show both the statements to be true, that of Matthew and Mark, that it was because He heard that John was delivered up that He departed into Galilee, and that of John, found there, after a number of other transactions, subsequent to His stay at Capernaum, after His going to Jerusalem, and His journey from there to Judæa, that John was not yet cast into prison, but was baptizing in Ænon near Salim? There are many other points on which the careful student of the Gospels will find that their narratives do not agree; and these we shall place before the reader, according to our power, as they occur. The student, staggered at the consideration of these things, will either renounce the attempt to find all the Gospels true, and not venturing to conclude that all our information about our Lord is untrustworthy, will choose at random one of them to be his guide; or he will accept the four, and will consider that their truth is not to be sought for in the outward and material letter.
We must, however, try to obtain some notion of the intention of the Evangelists in such matters, and we direct ourselves to this. Suppose there are several men who, by the spirit, see God, and know His words addressed to His saints, and His presence which He vouchsafes to them, appearing to them at chosen times for their advancement. There are several such men, and they are in different places, and the benefits they receive from above vary in shape and character. And let these men report, each of them separately, what he sees in spirit about God and His words, and His appearances to His saints, so that one of them speaks of God's appearances and words and acts to one righteous man in such a place, and another about other oracles and great works of the Lord, and a third of something else than what the former two have dealt with. And let there be a fourth, doing with regard to some particular matter something of the same kind as these three. And let the four agree with each other about something the Spirit has suggested to them all, and let them also make brief reports of other matters besides that one; then their narratives will fall out something on this wise: God appeared to such a one at such a time and in such a place, and did to him thus and thus; as if He had appeared to him in such a form, and had led him by the hand to such a place, and then done to him thus and thus. The second will report that God appeared at the very time of the foresaid occurrences, in a certain town, to a person who is named, a second person, and in a place far removed from that of the former account, and he will report a different set of words spoken at the same time to this second person. And let the same be supposed to be the case with the third and with the fourth. And let them, as we said, agree, these witnesses who report true things about God, and about His benefits conferred on certain men, let them agree with each other in some of the narratives they report. He, then, who takes the writings of these men for history, or for a representation of real things by a historical image, and who supposes God to be within certain limits in space, and to be unable to present to several persons in different places several visions of Himself at the same time, or to be making several speeches at the same moment, he will deem it impossible that our four writers are all speaking truth. To him it is impossible that God, who is in certain limits in space, could at the same set time be saying one thing to one man and another to another, and that He should be doing a thing and the opposite thing as well, and, to put it bluntly, that He should be both sitting and standing, should one of the writers represent Him as standing at the time, and making a certain speech in such a place to such a man, while a second writer speaks of Him as sitting.
In the case I have supposed where the historians desire to teach us by an image what they have seen in their mind, their meaning would be found, if the four were wise, to exhibit no disagreement; and we must understand that with the four Evangelists it is not otherwise. They made full use for their purpose of things done by Jesus in the exercise of His wonderful and extraordinary power; they use in the same way His sayings, and in some places they tack on to their writing, with language apparently implying things of sense, things made manifest to them in a purely intellectual way. I do not condemn them if they even sometimes dealt freely with things which to the eye of history happened differently, and changed them so as to subserve the mystical aims they had in view; so as to speak of a thing which happened in a certain place, as if it had happened in another, or of what took place at a certain time, as if it had taken place at another time, and to introduce into what was spoken in a certain way some changes of their own. They proposed to speak the truth where it was possible both materially and spiritually, and where this was not possible it was their intention to prefer the spiritual to the material. The spiritual truth was often preserved, as one might say, in the material falsehood. As, for example, we might judge of the story of Jacob and Esau. Genesis xxvii Jacob says to Isaac, truth, for he already partook of the rights of the first-born, which were perishing in his brother, and clothing himself with the goatskins he assumed the outward semblance of Esau, and was Esau all but the voice praising God, so that Esau might afterward find a place to receive a blessing. For if Jacob had not been blessed as Esau, neither would Esau perhaps have been able to receive a blessing of his own. And Jesus too is many things, according to the conceptions of Him, of which it is quite likely that the Evangelists took up different notions; while yet they were in agreement with each other in the different things they wrote. Statements which are verbally contrary to each other, are made about our Lord, namely, that He was descended from David and that He was not descended from David. The statement is true,
He was descended from David, as the Apostle says, Romans 1:3
born of the seed of David according to the flesh, if we apply this to the bodily part of Him; but the self-same statement is untrue if we understand His being born of the seed of David of His diviner power; for He was declared to be the Son of God with power. And for this reason too, perhaps, the sacred prophecies speak of Him now as a servant, and now as a Son. They call Him a servant on account of the form of a servant which he wore, and because He was of the seed of David, but they call Him the Son of God according to His character as first-born. Thus it is true to call Him man and to call Him not man; man, because He was capable of death; not man, on account of His being diviner than man. Marcion, I suppose, took sound words in a wrong sense, when he rejected His birth from Mary, and declared that as to His divine nature He was not born of Mary, and hence made bold to delete from the Gospel the passages which have this effect. And a like fate seems to have overtaken those who make away with His humanity and receive His deity alone; and also those opposites of these who cancel His deity and confess Him as a man to be a holy man, and the most righteous of all men. And those who hold the doctrine of Dokesis, not remembering that He humbled Himself even unto death Philippians 2:8 and became obedient even to the cross, but only imagining in Him the absence of suffering, the superiority to all such accidents, they do what they can to deprive us of the man who is more just than all men, and are left with a figure which cannot save them, for as by one man came death, so also by one man is the justification of life. We could not have received such benefit as we have from the Logos had He not assumed the man, had He remained such as He was from the beginning with God the Father, and had He not taken up man, the first man of all, the man more precious than all others, purer than all others and capable of receiving Him. But after that man we also shall be able to receive Him, to receive Him so great and of such nature as He was, if we prepare a place in proportion to Him in our soul. So much I have said of the apparent discrepancies in the Gospels, and of my desire to have them treated in the way of spiritual interpretation.
On the same passage one may also make use of such an example as that of Paul, who at one place Romans 7:14 says that he is carnal, sold under sin, and thus was not able to judge anything, while in another place he is the spiritual man who is able to judge all things and himself to be judged by no man. Of the carnal one are the words,
Not what I would that do I practise, but what I hate that do I. And he too who was caught up to the third heaven and heard unspeakable words is a different Paul from him who says, Of such an one I will glory, but of myself I will not glory. If he becomes 1 Corinthians 9:20-22 to the Jews as a Jew that he may gain the Jews, and to those under the law as under the law that he may gain those under the law, and to them that are without law as without law, not being without law to God, but under law to Christ, that he may gain those without law, and if to the weak he becomes weak that he may gain the weak, it is clear that these statements must be examined each by itself, that he becomes a Jew, and that sometimes he is under the law and at another time without law, and that sometimes he is weak. Where, for example, he says something by way of permission 1 Corinthians 7:6 and not by commandment, there we may recognize that he is weak; for who, he says, 2 Corinthians 11:29 is weak, and I am not weak? When he shaves his head and makes an offering, or when he circumcises Timothy, Acts 16:3 he is a Jew; but when he says to the Athenians, Acts 17:23
I found an altar with the inscription, To the unknown God. That, then, which you worship not knowing it, that declare I unto you, and,
As also some of your own poets have said, For we also are His offspring, then he becomes to those without the law as without the law, adjuring the least religious of men to espouse religion, and turning to his own purpose the saying of the poet,
From Love do we begin; his race are we. And instances might perhaps be found where, to men not Jews and yet under the law, he is under the law.
These examples may be serviceable to illustrate statements not only about the Saviour, but about the disciples too, for here also there is some discrepancy of statement. For there is a difference in thought perhaps between Simon who is found by his own brother Andrew, and who is addressed
You shall be called Cephas, John 1:41 and him who is seen by Jesus when walking by the sea of Galilee, along with his brother, and addressed conjointly with that brother,
Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men. There was some fitness in the fact that the writer who goes more to the root of the matter and tells of the Word becoming flesh, and hence does not record the human generation of the Word who was in the beginning with God, should not tell us of Simon's being found at the seashore and called away from there, but of his being found by his brother who had been staying with Jesus at the tenth hour, and of his receiving the name Cephas in connection with his being thus found out. If he was seen by Jesus when walking by the sea of Galilee, it would scarcely be on a later occasion that he was addressed,
You are Peter and upon this rock I will build My church. With John again the Pharisees know Jesus to be baptizing with His disciples, adding this to His other great activities; but the Jesus of the three does not baptize at all. John the Baptist, too, with the Evangelist of the same name, goes on a long time without being cast into prison. With Matthew, on the contrary, he is put in prison almost at the time of the temptation of Jesus, and this is the occasion of Jesus retiring to Galilee, to avoid being put in prison. But in John there is nothing at all about John's being put in prison. Who is so wise and so able as to learn all the things that are recorded about Jesus in the four Evangelists, and both to understand each incident by itself, and have a connected view of all His sojournings and words and acts at each place? As for the passage presently before us, it gives in the order of events that on the sixth day the Saviour, after the business of the marriage at Cana of Galilee, went down with His mother and His brothers and His disciples to Capernaum, which means
field of consolation. For after the feasting and the wine it was fitting that the Saviour should come to the field of consolation with His mother and His disciples, to console those whom He was training for disciples and the soul which had conceived Him by the Holy Ghost, with the fruits which were to stand in that full field.
But we must ask why His brothers are not called to the wedding: they were not there, for it is not said they were; but they go down to Capernaum with Him and His mother and His disciples. We must also examine why on this occasion they do not
go in to Capernaum, nor
go up to, but
go down to it. Consider if we must not understand by His brothers here the powers which went down along with Him, not called to the wedding according to the explanations given above, since it is in lower and humbler places than those who are called disciples of Christ, and in another way, that these brothers receive assistance. For if His mother is called, then there are some bearing fruit, and even to these the Lord goes down with the servants and disciples of the Word, to help such persons, His mother also being with Him. Those indeed who are called Capernaum appear not to be able to allow Jesus and those who went down with Him to make a longer stay with them: hence they remain with them not many days. For the lower field of consolation does not admit the illumination of many doctrines, but is only capable of a few. To get a clear view of the difference between those who receive Jesus for longer and for shorter time, we may compare with this,
They abode there not many days, the words recorded in Matthew as spoken by Christ when risen from the dead to His disciples who were being sent out to teach all nations,
Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. To those who are to know all that human nature can know while it still is here, is said with emphasis,
I am with you; and as the rise of each new day upon the field of contemplation brings more days before the eyes of the blessed, therefore He says,
All the days till the end of the world. As for those in Capernaum, on the contrary, to whom they go down as to the more needy, not only Jesus, but also His mother and His brothers and His disciples
abode there not many days.
Some may very likely and not unreasonably ask, whether, when all the days of this age are over, there will no longer be any one to say,
Lo, I am with you, with those, namely, who received Him till the fulfilment of the age, for the
until seems to indicate a certain limit of time. To this we must say that the phrase,
I am with you, is not the same as
I am in you. We might say more properly that the Saviour was not in His disciples but with them, so long as they had not arrived in their minds at the consummation of the age. But when they see to be at hand, as far as their effort is concerned, the consummation of the world which is crucified to them, then Jesus will be no longer with them, but in them, and they will say,
It is no longer I that live but Christ that lives in me, Galatians 2:20 and
If you seek a proof of Christ that speaks in me. 2 Corinthians 13:3 In saying this we are keeping for our part also to the ordinary interpretation which makes the
always the time down to the consummation of the age, and are not asking more than is attainable to human nature as it is here. That interpretation may be adhered to and justice yet be done to the
I. He who is with His disciples who are sent out to teach all the nations, until the consummation, may be He who emptied Himself and took the form of a servant, and yet afterwards may be another in point of state; afterwards He may be such as He was before He emptied Himself, until all His enemies are made by His Father the footstool of His feet; and after this, when the Son has delivered up the kingdom to God and the Father, it may be the Father who says to them,
Behold, I am with you. But whether it is
all the days up to that time, or simply
all the days, or not
all days but
every day, any one may consider that likes. Our plan does not allow us at present to digress so far.
But Heracleon, dealing with the words,
After this He went down to Capernaum, declares that they indicate the introduction of another transaction, and that the word
went down is not without significance.
Capernaum, he says,
means these farthest-out parts of the world, these districts of matter, into which He descended, and because the place was not suitable, he says, He is not reported either to have done anything or said anything in it. Now if the Lord had not been reported in the other Gospels either as having done or said anything at Capernaum, we might perhaps have hesitated whether this view ought or ought not to be received. But that is far from being the case. Matthew says our Lord left Nazareth and came and dwelt at Capernaum on the seaside, and that from that time He began to preach, saying,
Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And Mark, starting in his narrative from the temptation by the devil, relates that after John was cast into prison, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the Gospel of God, and after the call of the four fishermen to the Apostleship,
they enter into Capernaum; and straightway on the Sabbath day He taught in the synagogue, and they were astonished at His doctrine. And Mark records an action of Jesus also which took place at Capernaum, for he goes on to say,
In their synagogue there was a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, saying, Ah! What have we to do with You, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? We know You who You are, the Son of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold your peace and come out of him; and the unclean spirit, tearing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed. And at Capernaum Simon's mother-in-law is cured of her fever. And Mark adds that when evening had come all those were cured who were sick and who were possessed with demons. Luke's report is very like Mark's about Capernaum. He says,
And He came to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and He was teaching them on the Sabbath day, and they were astonished at His teachings, for His word was with power. And in the synagogue there was a man having a spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, Ah! What have we to do with You, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know You who You are, the holy one of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold your peace and come out of him. Then the demon having thrown him down in the midst, went out of him, doing him no harm. And then Luke reports how the Lord rose up from the synagogue and went into the house of Simon, and rebuked the fever in his mother-in-law, and cured her of her disease; and after this cure,
when the sun was setting, he says,
all, as many as had persons sick with various diseases, brought them to Him, and He laid his hands on each one of them and cured them. And demons also went out from many, crying and saying, You are the Son of God, and He rebuked them and suffered them not to speak because they knew that He was the Christ. We have presented all these statements as to the Saviour's sayings and doings at Capernaum in order to refute Heracleon's interpretation of our passage,
Hence He is not said to have done or to have spoken anything there. He must either give two meanings to Capernaum, and show us his reasons for them, or if he cannot do this he must give up saying that the Saviour visited any place to no purpose. We, for our part, should we come to passages where even a comparison of the other Gospels fails to show that Jesus' visit to this place or that was not accompanied by any results, will seek with the divine assistance to make it clear that His coming was not in vain.
Matthew for his part adds, that when the Lord had entered into Capernaum the centurion came to him, saying,
My boy is lying in my house sick of the palsy, grievously tormented, and after telling the Lord some more about him, received the reply,
Go, and as you have believed, so be it unto you. And Matthew then gives us the story of Peter's mother-in-law, in close agreement with the other two. I conceive it to be a creditable piece of work and becoming to one who is anxious to hear about Christ, to collect from the four Gospels all that is related about Capernaum, and the discourses spoken, and the works done there, and how many visits the Lord paid to the place, and how, at one time, He is said to have gone down to it, and at another to have entered into it, and where He came from when He did so. If we compare all these points together, we shall not go astray in the meaning we ascribe to Capernaum. On the one hand, the sick are healed, and other works of power are done there, and on the other, the preaching, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, begins there, and this appears to be a sign, as we showed when entering on this subject, of some more needy place of consolation, made so perhaps by Jesus, who comforted men by what He taught and by what He did there, in that place of consolation. For we know that the names of places agree in their meaning with the things connected with Jesus; as Gergesa, where the citizens of these parts besought Him to depart out of their coasts, means,
The dwelling of the casters-out. And this, also, we have noticed about Capernaum, that not only did the preaching,
Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, begin there, but that according to the three Evangelists Jesus performed there His first miracles. None of the three, however, added to the first wonders which he records as done in Capernaum, that note attached by John the disciple to the first work of Jesus, Son of God was good cheer, and in the light of human experience it is also the most representative of Him. For the Word of God does not show forth His own beauty so much in healing the sick, as in His tendering the temperate draught to make glad those who are in good health and are able to join in the banquet.
Jews.Its Institution: and the Distinction Between
Feasts of the LordAnd Feasts Not So Spoken of.
And the passover of the Jews was at hand. John 2:13 Inquiring into the accuracy of the most wise John (on this passage), I put myself the question, What is indicated by the addition
of the Jews? Of what other nation was the passover a festival? Would it not have been enough to say,
And the passover was at hand? It may, however, be the case that the human passover is one thing when kept by men not as Scripture intended, and that the divine passover is another thing, the true passover, observed in spirit and truth by those who worship God in spirit and in truth; and then the distinction indicated in the text may be that between the divine passover and that said to be of the Jews. We should attend to the passover law and observe what the Lord says of it when it is first mentioned in Scripture. Exodus 12:1-3
And the Lord spoke unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month is to you the beginning of months, it is the first for you among the months of the year. Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, On the tenth of this month shall every man take a sheep, according to the houses of your families; then after some directions in which the word passover does not occur again, he adds,
Thus shall you eat it, your loins girt and your shoes on your feet, and your staves in your hands, and you shall eat it with haste. It is the passover of the Lord. He does not say,
It is your passover. And a little further on He names the festival again in the same way,
And it shall come to pass, when your sons say to you, What is this service? And you shall say to them, It is the sacrifice, the passover of the Lord, how He guarded the houses of the children of Israel. And again, a little further on,
And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, This is the law of the passover. No alien shall eat of it. And again in a little,
But if a proselyte come to you, and keep the passover of the Lord, every male of him shall be circumcised. Observe that in the law we never find it said,
Your passover; but in all the passages quoted the phrase occurs once without any adjunct, while we have three times
The passover of the Lord. To make sure that there is such a distinction between the passover of the Lord and the passover of the Jews, we may consider the way in which Isaiah speaks of the matter: Isaiah 1:13
Your new moons and your Sabbaths and your great day I cannot bear; your fast and your holiday and your new moons and your feasts my soul hates. The Lord does not call them His own, these observances of sinners (they are hated of His soul, if such there be); neither the new moons, nor the Sabbaths, nor the great day, nor the fast, nor the festivals. And in the legislation about the Sabbath in Exodus, we read,
And Moses said to them, This is the word which the Lord spoke, The Sabbath is a holy rest unto the Lord. And a little further on, sacrifices which are offered at each festival, as if all the festivals came under the law of the continuous and daily sacrifice, we find it written,
And the Lord spoke unto Moses, Announce to the children of Israel, and thus shall you say unto them, My gifts, My offerings, My fruits for a smell of sweet savour, you shall observe to offer unto Me at My festivals. And you shall say unto them, These are the offerings which you shall offer unto the Lord. The festival set forth in Scripture He calls His own, not those of the people receiving the law, He speaks of His gifts, His offerings. A similar way of speaking is that in Exodus with regard to the people; it is said by God to be His own people, when it does not sin; but in the section about the calf He abjures it and calls it the people of Moses. Exodus 8:21-23 On the one hand,
You shall say to Pharaoh, Thus says the Lord, Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness. But if you will not let My people go, behold, I will send against you and against your servants, and against your people and against your houses, the dog-fly; and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of the dog-fly, and on the land on which they are, against it will I send them. And I will glorify on that day the land of Gesem, on which My people are; on it there shall be no dog-fly, that you may know that I am the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. And I will make a distinction between My people and your people. To Moses, on the other hand, He says, Exodus 32:7
Go, descend quickly, for your people has transgressed, which you led out of the land of Egypt. As, then, the people when it does not sin is the people of God, but when it sins is no longer spoken of as His, thus, also, the feasts when they are hated by the Lord's soul are said to be feasts of sinners, but when the law is given regarding them, they are called feasts of the Lord. Now of these feasts passover is one, which in the passage before us is said to be that not of the Lord, but of the Jews. In another passage, too, Leviticus 23:2 we find it said,
These are the feasts of the Lord, which you shall call chosen, holy. From the mouth of the Lord Himself, then, we see that there is no gainsaying our statement on this point. Some one, no doubt, will ask about the words of the Apostle, where he writes to the Corinthians: 1 Corinthians 5:7
For our Passover also was sacrificed for us, namely, Christ; he does not say,
The Passover of the Lord was sacrificed, even Christ. To this we must say, either that the Apostle simply calls the passover our passover because it was sacrificed for us, or that every sacrifice which is really the Lord's, and the passover is one of these, awaits its consummation not in this age nor upon earth, but in the coming age and in heaven when the kingdom of heaven appears. As for those feasts, one of the twelve prophets says, Hosea 9:5
What will you do in the days of assembly, and in the days of the feast of the Lord? But Paul says in the Epistle to the Hebrews:
But you have come unto Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to ten thousands of angels, the assembly and church of the firstborn, who are written in heaven. And in the Epistle to the Colossians:
Let no one judge you in meat and in drink, or in respect of a feast-day or a new moon, or a sabbath-day; which are a shadow of the things to come.
Now in what manner, in those heavenly things of which the shadow was present to the Jews on earth, those will celebrate festivals who have first been trained by tutors and governors under the true law, until the fullness of the time should come, namely, above, when we shall be able to receive into ourselves the perfect measure of the Son of God, this it is the work of that wisdom to make plain which has been hidden in a mystery; and it also may show to our thought how the laws about meats are symbols of those things which will there nourish and strengthen our soul. But it is vain to think that one desiring to work out in his fancy the great sea of such ideas, even if he wished to show how local worship is still a pattern and shadow of heavenly things, and that the sacrifices and the sheep are full of meaning, that he should advance further than the Apostle, who seeks indeed to lift our minds above earthly views of the law, but who does not show us to any extent how these things are to be. Even if we look at the festivals, of which passover is one, from the point of view of the age to come, we have still to ask how it is that our passover is now sacrificed, namely, Christ, and not only so, but is to be sacrificed hereafter.
A few points may be added in connection with the doctrines now under consideration, though it would require a special discussion in many volumes to treat of all the mystical statements about the law, and specially of those connected with the festivals, and more particularly still with the passover. The passover of the Jews consists of a sheep which is sacrificed, each taking a sheep according to his father's house; and the passover is accompanied by the slaughter of thousands of rams and goats, in proportion to the number of the houses of the people. But our Passover is sacrificed for us, namely, Christ. Another feature of the Jewish festival is unleavened bread; all leaven is made to disappear out of their houses; but
we keep the feast 1 Corinthians 5:8 not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Whether there be any passover and any feast of leaven beyond the two we have mentioned, is a point we must examine more carefully, since these serve for a pattern and a shadow of the heavenly ones we spoke of, and not only such things as food and drink and new moons and sabbaths, but the festivals also, are a shadow of the things to come. In the first place, when the Apostle says,
Our passover is sacrificed, Christ, one may feel with regard to this such doubts as these. If the sheep with the Jews is a type of the sacrifice of Christ, then one should have been offered and not a multitude, as Christ is one; or if many sheep were offered it is to follow out the type, as if many Christs were sacrificed. But not to dwell on this, we may ask how the sheep, which was the victim, contains an image of Christ, when the sheep was sacrificed by men who were observing the law, but Christ was put to death by transgressors of the law, and what application can be found in Christ of the direction, Exodus 12:8
They shall eat the flesh this night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread on bitter herbs shall they eat, and
Eat not of it raw, nor sodden with water, but roast with fire; the head with the feet and the entrails; you shall not set any of it apart till the morning, and a bone thereof you shall not break. But that which is left thereof till the morning you shall burn. The sentence,
A bone of it you shall not break, John appears to have made use of in his Gospel, as applying to the transactions connected with Christ, and connecting with them the occasion spoken of in the law when those eating the sheep are bidden not to break a bone of it. He writes as follows: The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who was crucified with him; but when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they broke not His legs, but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and straightway there came out blood and water. And he that has seen has borne witness and his witness is true, and he knows that he says truth that you also may believe. And these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
A bone of Him you shall not break. There are a myriad other points besides this in the Apostle's language which would call for inquiry, both about the passover and the unleavened bread, but they would have to be dealt with, as we said above, in a special work of great length. At present we can only give an epitome of them as they bear on the text presently before us, and aim at a short solution of the principal problem. We call to mind the words,
This is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, for it is said of the passover, Exodus 12:5
You shall take it of the lambs or of the goats. The Evangelist here agrees with Paul, and both are involved in the difficulties we spoke of above. But on the other hand we have to say that if the Word became flesh, and the Lord says, John 6:53
Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you. He that eats My flesh and drinks My blood, has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed and My blood is drink indeed. He that eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him,— then the flesh thus spoken of is that of the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world; and this is the blood, some of which was to be put on the two side posts of the door, and on the lintels in the houses, in which we eat the passover. Of the flesh of this Lamb it is necessary that we should eat in the time of the world, which is night, and the flesh is to be roast with fire, and eaten with unleavened bread; for the Word of God is not flesh and flesh only. He says, in fact, Himself, John 6:48-50
I am the bread of life, and
This is the bread of life which came down from heaven, that a man should eat of it, and not die. I am the bread of life that came down from heaven; if a man eat of this bread, he shall live forever. We must not overlook, however, that by a loose use of words, any food is called bread, as we read in Moses in Deuteronomy,
Forty days He ate no bread and drank no water, instead of, He took no food, either wet or dry. I am led to this observation by John's saying,
And the bread which I will give is My flesh, for the life of the world. Again, we eat the flesh of the Lamb, with bitter herbs, and unleavened bread, when we repent of our sins and grieve with the sorrow which is according to God, a repentance which operates for our salvation, and is not to be repented of; or when, on account of our trials, we turn to the speculations which are found to be those of truth, and are nourished by them. We are not, however, to eat the flesh of the Lamb raw, as those do who are slaves of the letter, like irrational animals, and those who are enraged at men truly reasonable, because they desire to understand spiritual things; truly, they share the nature of savage beasts. But we must strive to convert the rawness of Scripture into well-cooked food, not letting what is written grow flabby and wet and thin, as those do who have itching ears, 2 Timothy 4:3-4 and turn away their ears from the truth; their methods tend to a loose and flabby conduct of life. But let us be of a fervent spirit and keep hold of the fiery words given to us of God, such as Jeremiah received from Him who spoke to him, Jeremiah 5:14
Behold, I have made My words in your mouth like fire, and let us see that the flesh of the Lamb be well cooked, so that those who partake of it may say, as Christ speaks in us,
Our heart burned by the way, as He opened to us the Scriptures. Luke 24:32 Further, if it is our duty to enquire into such a point as the roasting of the flesh of the Lamb with fire, we must not forget the parallel of what Jeremiah suffered on account of the words of God, as he says:
And it was as a glowing fire, burning in my bones, and I am without any strength, and I cannot bear it. But, in this eating, we must begin at the head, that is to say, at the principal and the most essential doctrines about heavenly things, and we must end at the feet, the last branches of learning which enquire as to the final nature in things, or about more material things, or about things under the earth, or about wicked spirits and unclean demons. For it may be that the account of these things is not obvious, like themselves, but is laid away among the mysteries of Scripture, so that it may be called, tropically, the feet of the Lamb. Nor must we fail to deal with the entrails, which are within and hidden from us; we must approach the whole of Scripture as one body, we must not lacerate nor break through the strong and well-knit connections which exist in the harmony of its whole composition, as those do who lacerate, so far as they can, the unity of the Spirit that is in all the Scriptures. But this aforesaid prophecy of the Lamb is to be our nourishment only during the night of this dark life of ours; what comes after this life is, as it were, the dawn of day, and why should we leave over till then the food which can only be useful to us now? But when the night is passed, and the day which succeeds it is at hand, then we shall have bread to eat which has nothing to do with the leavened bread of the older and lower state of things, but is unleavened, and that will serve our turn until that which comes after the unleavened bread is given us, the manna, which is food for angels rather than men. Every one of us, then, may sacrifice his lamb in every house of our fathers; and while one breaks the law, not sacrificing the lamb at all, another may keep the commandment entirely, offering his sacrifice, and cooking it aright, and not breaking a bone of it. This, then, in brief, is the interpretation of the Passover sacrificed for us, which is Christ, in accordance with the view taken of it by the Apostles, and with the Lamb in the Gospel. For we ought not to suppose that historical things are types of historical things, and material things of material, but that material things are typical of spiritual things, and historical things of intellectual. It is not necessary that our discourse should now ascend to that third passover which is to be celebrated with myriads of angels in the most perfect and most blessed exodus; we have already spoken of these things to a greater extent than the passage demands.
We must not, however, fail to enquire into the statement that the passover of the Jews was at hand, when the Lord was at Capernaum with His mother and His brothers and His disciples. In the Gospel according to Matthew, after being left by the devil, and after the angels came and ministered to Him, when He heard that John was delivered up He withdrew into Galilee, and leaving Nazara He came and dwelt in Capernaum. Then He began to preach, and chose the four fishermen for His Apostles, and taught in the synagogues of the whole of Galilee and healed those who were brought to Him. Then He goes up into the mountain and speaks the beatitudes and what follows them; and after finishing that instruction He comes down from the mountain and enters Capernaum a second time. Matthew viii Then He embarked in a ship and crossed over to the other side to the country of the Gergesenes. On their beseeching Him to depart out of their coasts He embarked in a ship and crossed over and came to His own city. Then He wrought certain cures and went about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues; after this most of the events of the Gospels take place, before Matthew indicates the approach of the time of passover. With the other Evangelists also, after the stay at Capernaum it is long till we come to any mention of the passover; which may confirm in their opinion those who take the view about Capernaum which was set forth above. That stay, in the neighbourhood of the passover of the Jews, is set in a brighter light by that nearness, both because it was better in itself, and still more because at the passover of the Jews there are found in the temple those who sell oxen and sheep and doves. This adds emphasis to the statement that the passover was not that of the Lord but that of the Jews; the Father's house was made, in the eyes of those who did not hallow it, a house of merchandise, and the passover of the Lord became for those who took a low and material view of it a Jewish passover. A fitter occasion than the present will occur for enquiring as to the time of the passover, which took place about the spring equinox, and for any other enquiry which may arise in connection with it. As for Heracleon, he says,
This is the great festival; for it was a type of the passion of the Saviour; not only was the lamb put to death, the eating of it afforded relaxation, the killing it pointed to what of the passion of the Saviour was in this world, and the eating it to the rest at the marriage. We have given his words, that it may be seen with what a want of caution and how loosely he proceeds, and with what an absence of constructive skill even on such a theme as this; and how little regard in consequence is to be paid to him.
And Jesus went up to Jerusalem. John 2:13-17 And He found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves and the changers of money sitting; and He made a scourge of cords, and cast out of the temple the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the small coin of the changers, and overturned their tables, and to those who sold the doves He said, Take these things hence; make not My Father's house a house of merchandise. Then His disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of your house shall eat me up. It is to be noted that John makes this transaction of Jesus with those He found selling oxen and sheep and doves in the temple His second work; while the other Evangelists narrate a similar incident almost at the end and in connection with the story of the passion. Matthew has it thus: Matthew 21:10-13
At Jesus' entry into Jerusalem the whole city was stirred, saying, Who is this? And the multitudes said, This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth of Galilee. And Jesus went into the temple and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of them that sold doves. And He says to them, It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers. Mark has the following:
And they came to Jerusalem. And having entered into the temple He began to cast out those that sold and bought in the temple, and the tables of the money-changers He overthrew and the seats of them that sold doves. And He suffered not that any should carry a vessel through the temple; and He taught and said to them, Is it not written that My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? But you have made it a den of robbers. And Luke: Luke 19:41-42
And when he came near, He beheld the city and wept over it, saying that, if you had known in this day, even you, the things that belong to peace; but now they are hid from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you, when they shall surround you and shut you in on every side, and shall dash you to the ground and your children, and they shall not leave in you one stone upon another, because you knew not the time of your visitation. And He entered into the temple and began to cast out those that sold, saying to them, It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers. It is further to be observed that what is recorded by the three as having taken place in connection with the Lord's going up to Jerusalem, when He did these things in the temple, is narrated in a very similar manner by John as taking place long after this, after another visit to Jerusalem different from this one. We must consider the statements, and in the first place that of Matthew, where we read: Matthew 21:1
When He drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage over against the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway you shall find an ass tied and a colt with her; loose them and bring them to Me. And if any man say unto you, What are you doing? You shall say, The Lord has need of them, and straightway he will send them. But this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king comes, meek and seated upon an ass and upon the colt of an ass. And the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them; they brought the ass and the foal, and they placed on them their garments, and He sat thereon. And the most part of the multitude spread their garments on the road, but the multitudes that went before Him, and they that followed, cried, Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest. After this comes,
And when He had entered into Jerusalem the whole city was stirred, which we cited above. Then we have Mark's account: Mark 11:1-12
And when they drew near unto Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, to the Mount of Olives, He sends two of His disciples and says to them, Go into the village over against you. And straightway as you enter into it you shall find a colt tied, on which no man has ever sat, loose it and bring it. And if any one say to you, Why do ye this? Say, Because the Lord has need of him, and straightway he will send him back hither. And they went and found the colt tied at the door outside on the road, and they loose him. And some of them that stood there said to them, What do ye, loosing the colt? And they said to them as Jesus told them, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast on it their garments. But others cut down branches from the field and spread them in the way. And they that went before and they that followed cried, Hosanna, blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord; blessed be the kingdom that comes, of our father David! Hosanna in the highest! And He went into Jerusalem to the temple, and looked round about on all things, and as it was already evening, He went out to Bethany with the twelve. And on the morrow when they had come forth from Bethany He was hungry. Then, after the affair of the withered fig tree,
They came to Jerusalem. And He went into the temple and began to cast out them that sold. Luke narrates as follows: Luke 19:29
And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany at the mount that is called the Mount of Olives, He sent two of his disciples, saying, Go into the village over against you, in which when you enter, you shall find a colt tied, on which no man ever has sate; loose him and bring him. And if any man asks you, Why do ye loose him? You shall say thus, The Lord has need of him. And the disciples went and found as He said to them. And when they were loosing the colt its owners said to them, Why loose ye the colt? and they said, Because the Lord has need of him. And they brought him to Jesus, and they threw their garments on the colt, and set Jesus thereon. And as He went, they strewed their garments in the way. And when He was drawing near, being now at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works which they had seen, saying, Blessed is the King in the name of the Lord; peace in heaven and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from the multitude said to Him, Master, rebuke Your disciples. And He answered and said, I say unto you, If these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out. And when He drew near He beheld the city and wept over it, and so on, as we cited above. John, on the contrary, after giving an account nearly identical with this, as far as,
And Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep, gives a second account of an ascent of the Lord to Jerusalem, and then goes on to tell of the supper in Bethany six days before the passover, at which Martha served and Lazarus was at table.
On the morrow, John 12:12-15 a great multitude that had come to the feast, having heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet Him; and they cried, Hosanna, blessed be the King of Israel in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, having found a young ass, sat thereon, as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold your King comes, sitting on the foal of an ass. I have written out long sections from the Gospels, but I have thought it necessary to do so, in order to exhibit the discrepancy at this part of our Gospel. Three of the Gospels place these incidents, which we supposed to be the same as those narrated by John, in connection with one visit of the Lord to Jerusalem. While John, on the other hand, places them in connection with two visits which are widely separated from each other and between which were various journeys of the Lord to other places. I conceive it to be impossible for those who admit nothing more than the history in their interpretation to show that these discrepant statements are in harmony with each other. If any one considers that we have not given a sound exposition, let him write a reasoned rejoinder to this declaration of ours.
We shall, however, expound according to the strength that is given to us the reasons which move us to recognize here a harmony; and in doing so we entreat Him who gives to every one that asks and strives acutely to enquire, and we knock that by the keys of higher knowledge the hidden things of Scripture may be opened to us. And first, let us fix our attention on the words of John, beginning,
And Jesus went up to Jerusalem. John 2:13 Now Jerusalem, as the Lord Himself teaches in the Gospel according to Matthew, Matthew 5:35
is the city of the great King. It does not lie in a depression, or in a low situation, but is built on a high mountain, and there are mountains round about it, and the participation of it is to the same place, and there the tribes of the Lord went up, a testimony for Israel. But that city also is called Jerusalem, to which none of those upon the earth ascends, nor goes in; but every soul that possesses by nature some elevation and some acuteness to perceive the things of the mind is a citizen of that city. And it is possible even for a dweller in Jerusalem to be in sin (for it is possible for even the acutest minds to sin), should they not turn round quickly after their sin, when they have lost their power of mind and are on the point not only of dwelling in one of those strange cities of Judæa, but even of being inscribed as its citizens. Jesus goes up to Jerusalem, after bringing help to those in Cana of Galilee, and then going down to Capernaum, that He may do in Jerusalem the things which are written. He found in the temple, certainly, which is said to be the house of the Father of the Saviour, that is, in the church or in the preaching of the ecclesiastical and sound word, some who were making His Father's house a house of merchandise. And at all times Jesus finds some of this sort in the temple. For in that which is called the church, which is the house of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth, 1 Timothy 3:15 when are there not some money-changers sitting who need the strokes of the scourge Jesus made of small cords, and dealers in small coin who require to have their money poured out and their tables overturned? When are there not those who are inclined to merchandise, but need to be held to the plough and the oxen, that having put their hand to it and not turning round to the things behind them, they may be fit for the kingdom of God? When are there not those who prefer the mammon of unrighteousness to the sheep which give them the material for their true adornment? And there are always many who look down on what is sincere and pure and unmixed with any bitterness or gall, and who, for the sake of miserable gain, betray the care of those tropically called doves. When, therefore, the Saviour finds in the temple, the house of His Father, those who are selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting, He drives them out, using the scourge of small cords which He has made, along with the sheep and oxen of their trade, and pours out their stock of coin, as not deserving to be kept together, so little is it worth. He also overturns the tables in the souls of such as love money, saying even to those who sell doves,
Take these things hence, that they may no longer traffic in the house of God. But I believe that in these words He indicated also a deeper truth, and that we may regard these occurrences as a symbol of the fact that the service of that temple was not any longer to be carried on by the priests in the way of material sacrifices, and that the time was coming when the law could no longer be observed, however much the Jews according to the flesh desired it. For when Jesus casts out the oxen and sheep, and orders the doves to be taken away, it was because oxen and sheep and doves were not much longer to be sacrificed there in accordance with Jewish practices. And possibly the coins which bore the stamp of material things and not of God were poured out by way of type; because the law which appears so venerable, with its letter that kills, was, now that Jesus had come and had used His scourge to the people, to be dissolved and poured out, the sacred office (episcopate) being transferred to those from the Gentiles who believed, and the kingdom of God being taken away from the Jews Matthew 21:43 and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits of it. But it may also be the case that the natural temple is the soul skilled in reason, which, because of its inborn reason, is higher than the body; to which Jesus ascends from Capernaum, the lower-lying place of less dignity, and in which, before Jesus' discipline is applied to it, are found tendencies which are earthly and senseless and dangerous, and things which have the name but not the reality of beauty, and which are driven away by Jesus with His word plaited out of doctrines of demonstration and of rebuke, to the end that His Father's house may no longer be a house of merchandize but may receive, for its own salvation and that of others, that service of God which is performed in accordance with heavenly and spiritual laws. The ox is symbolic of earthly things, for he is a husbandman. The sheep, of senseless and brutal things, because it is more servile than most of the creatures without reason. Of empty and unstable thoughts, the dove. Of things that are thought good but are not, the small change. If any one objects to this interpretation of the passage and says that it is only pure animals that are mentioned in it, we must say that the passage would otherwise have an unlikely air. The occurence is necessarily related according to the possibilities of the story. It could not have been narrated that a herd of any other animals than pure ones had found access to the temple, nor could any have been sold there but those used for sacrifice. The Evangelist makes use of the known practice of the merchants at the times of the Jewish feasts; they did bring in such animals to the outer court; this practice, with a real occurrence He knew of, were His materials. Any one, however, who cares to do so may enquire whether it is in agreement with the position held by Jesus in this world, since He was reputed to be the Son of a carpenter, to venture upon such an act as to drive out a crowd of merchants from the temple? They had come up to the feast to sell to a great number of the people, the sheep, several myriads in number, which they were to sacrifice according to their fathers' houses. To the richer Jews they had oxen to sell, and there were doves for those who had vowed such animals, and many no doubt bought these with a view to their good cheer at the festival. And did not Jesus do an unwarrantable thing when He poured out the money of the money-changers, which was their own, and overthrew their tables? And who that received a blow from the scourge of small cords at the hands of One held in but slight esteem, was driven out of the temple, would not have attacked Him and raised a cry and avenged himself with his own hand, especially when there was such a multitude present who might all feel themselves insulted by Jesus in the same way? To think, moreover, of the Son of God taking the small cords in His hands and plaiting a scourge out of them for this driving out from the temple, does it not bespeak audacity and temerity and even some measure of lawlessness? One refuge remains for the writer who wishes to defend these things and is minded to treat the occurrence as real history, namely, to appeal to the divine nature of Jesus, who was able to quench, when He desired to do so, the rising anger of His foes, by divine grace to get the better of myriads, and to scatter the devices of tumultuous men; for
the Lord scatters the counsels of the nations and brings to naught devices of the peoples, but the counsel of the Lord abides forever. Thus the occurrence in our passage, if it really took place, was not second in point of the power it exhibits to any even of the most marvellous works Christ wrought, and claimed no less by its divine character the faith of the beholders. One may show it to be a greater work than that done at Cana of Galilee in the turning of water into wine; for in that case it was only soulless matter that was changed, but here it was the soul and will of thousands of men. It is, however, to be observed that at the marriage the mother of Jesus is said to be there, and Jesus to have been invited and His disciples, but that no one but Jesus is said to have descended to Capernaum. His disciples, however, appear afterwards as present with Him; they remembered that
the zeal of your house shall devour me. And perhaps Jesus was in each of the disciples as He ascended to Jerusalem, whence it is not said, Jesus went up to
Jerusalem and His disciples, but He went down to Capernaum,
He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples.
We have now to take into consideration the statements of the other Gospels on the expulsion from the temple of those who made it a house of merchandise. Take in the first place what we find in Matthew. On the Lord's entering Jerusalem, he says,
All the city was stirred, saying, Who is this? But before this he has the story of the ass and the foal which were taken by command of the Lord and found by the two disciples whom he sent from Bethphage into the village over against them. These two disciples loose the ass which was tied, and they have orders, if any one says anything to them, to answer that
the Lord has need of them; and immediately he will send them. By these incidents Matthew declares that the prophecy was fulfilled which says,
Behold, the King comes, meek and sitting on an ass and a colt the foal of an ass, which we find in Zechariah. Zechariah 9:9 When, then, the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them, they brought the ass and the colt, and placed on them, he says, their own garments, and the Lord sat upon them, clearly on the ass and the colt. Then
the most part of the multitude spread their garments in the way, and others cut down branches from the trees and strewed them in the way, and the multitudes that went before and that followed cried, Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest. Hence it was that when He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was moved, saying, Who is this?
and the multitudes said, those obviously who went before Him and who followed Him, to those who were asking who He was,
This is the prophet Jesus of Nazareth of Galilee. And Jesus entered into the temple and cast out all those that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers and the seats of them that sold doves: and He says unto them, It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you make it a den of robbers. Let us ask those who consider that Matthew had nothing but the history in his mind when he wrote his Gospel, what necessity there was for two of the disciples to be sent to the village over against Bethphage, to find an ass tied and its colt with it and to loose them and bring them? And how did it deserve to be recorded that He sat upon the ass and the foal and entered into the city? And how does Zechariah prophesy about Christ when he says, Zechariah 9:9
Rejoice greatly, you daughter of Zion, proclaim it, you daughter of Jerusalem. Behold your king comes unto you, just is He and bringing salvation, meek and sitting on an ass and a young foal? If it be the case that this prophecy predicts simply the material incident described by the Evangelists, how can those who stand on the letter maintain that this is so with regard to the following part also of the prophecy, which runs:
And He shall destroy chariots from Ephraim and horse from Jerusalem, and the bow of the warrior shall be destroyed, and a multitude and peace from the Gentiles, and He shall rule over the waters as far as the sea, and the rivers to the ends of the earth, etc. It is to be noted, too, that Matthew does not give the words as they are found in the prophet, for instead of
Rejoice greatly, you daughter of Zion, proclaim it, you daughter of Jerusalem, he makes it,
Tell ye the daughter of Zion. He curtails the prophetic utterance by omitting the words,
Just is He and bringing salvation, then he gives,
meek and sitting, as in the original, but instead of
on an ass and a young colt, he gives,
on an ass and a colt the foal of an ass. The Jews, examining into the application of the prophecy to what is recorded about Jesus, press us in a way we cannot overlook with the enquiry how Jesus destroyed chariots out of Ephraim and horse from Jerusalem, and how He destroyed the bow of the enemy and did the other deeds mentioned in the passage. So much with regard to the prophecy. Our literal interpreters, however, if there is nothing worthy of the appearance of the Son of God in the ass and the foal, may perhaps point to the length of the road for an explanation. But, in the first place, fifteen stades are not a great distance and afford no reasonable explanation of the matter, and, in the second place, they would have to tell us how two beasts of burden were needed for so short a journey;
He sat, it is said,
on them. And then the words:
If any man say anything unto you, say ye that the Lord has need of them, and straightway he will send them. It does not appear to me to be worthy of the greatness of the Son's divinity to say that such a nature as His confessed that it had need of an ass to be loosed from its bonds and of a foal to come with it; for everything the Son of God has need of should be great and worthy of His goodness. And then the very great multitude strewing their garments in the way, while Jesus allows them to do so and does not rebuke them, as is clear from the words used in another passage, Luke 19:40
If these should hold their peace, the stones will cry out. I do not know if it does not indicate a certain degree of stupidity on the part of the writer to take delight in such things, if nothing more is meant by them than what lies on the surface. And the branches being cut down from the trees and strewn on the road where the asses go by, surely they are rather a hindrance to Him who is the centre of the throng than a well-devised reception of Him. The difficulties which met us on the part of those who were cast out of the temple by Jesus meet us here in a still greater degree. In the Gospel of John He casts out those who bought, but Matthew says that He cast out those who sold and those who bought in the temple. And the buyers would naturally be more numerous than the sellers. We have to consider if the casting out of buyers and sellers in the temple was not out of keeping with the reputation of one who was thought to be the Son of a carpenter, unless, as we said before, it was by a divine power that He subjected them. The words addressed to them, too, are harsher in the other Evangelists than in John. For John says that Jesus said to them,
Make not My Father's house a house of merchandise, while in the others they are rebuked for making the house of prayer a den of robbers. Now the house of His Father did not admit of being turned into a den of robbers, though by the acts of sinful men it was brought to be a house of merchandise. It was not only the house of prayer, but in fact the house of God, and by force of human neglect it harboured robbers, and was turned not only into their house but their den — a thing which no skill, either of architecture or of reason, could make it.
Now to see into the real truth of these matters is the part of that true intelligence which is given to those who can say, 1 Corinthians 2:16
But we have the mind of Christ that we may see those things which are freely given to us of God; and doubtless it is beyond our powers. For neither is the ruling principle in our soul free from agitation, nor are our eyes such as those of the fair bride of Christ should be, of which the bridegroom says, Song of Songs 1:15
Your eyes are doves, signifying, perhaps, in a riddle, the observant power which dwells in the spiritual, because the Holy Spirit came like a dove to our Lord and to the lord in every one. Such as we are, however, we will not delay, but will feel about the words of life which have been spoken to us and strive to lay hold of that power in them which flows to him who touches them in faith. Now Jesus is the word of God which goes into the soul that is called Jerusalem, riding on the ass freed by the disciples from its bonds. That is to say, on the simple language of the Old Testament, interpreted by the two disciples who loose it: in the first place him who applies what is written to the service of the soul and shows the allegorical sense of it with reference to her, and in the second place him who brings to light by the things which lie in shadow the good and true things of the future. But He also rides on the young colt, the New Testament; for in both alike we find the word of truth which purifies us and drives away all those thoughts in us which incline to selling and buying. But He does not come alone to Jerusalem, the soul, nor only with a few companions; for many things have to enter into us before the word of God which makes us perfect, and as many things have to come after Him, all, however, hymning and glorifying Him and placing under Him their ornaments and vestures, so that the beasts He rides on may not touch the ground, when He who descended out of heaven is seated on them. But that His bearers, the old and the new words of Scripture, may be raised yet higher above the ground, branches have to be cut down from the trees that they may tread on reasonable expositions. But the multitudes which go before and follow Him may also signify the angelic ministrations, some of which prepare the way for Him in our souls, and help in their adorning, while some come after His presence in us, of which we have often spoken, so that we need not now adduce testimonies about it. And perhaps it is not without reason that I have likened to an ass the surrounding voices which conduct the Word Himself to the soul; for it is a beast of burden, and many are the burdens, heavy the loads, which are brought into view from the text, especially of the Old Testament, as he can clearly see who observes what is done in this connection on the part of the Jews. But the foal is not a beast of burden in the same way as the ass. For though every lead of the latter be heavy to those who have not in themselves the upbearing and most lightening power of the Spirit, yet the new word is less heavy than the old. I know some who interpret the tied-up ass as being believers from the circumcision, who are freed from many bonds by those who are truly and spiritually instructed in the word; and the foal they take to be those from the Gentiles, who before they receive the word of Jesus are free from any control and subject to no yoke in their unbridled and pleasure-loving existence. The writers I am speaking of do not say who those are that go before and who those follow after; but there would be no absurdity in saying that those who went before were like Moses and the prophets, and those who followed after the holy Apostles. To what Jerusalem all these go in it is now our business to enquire, and what is the house which has many sellers and buyers to be driven out by the Son of God. And perhaps the Jerusalem above to which the Lord is to ascend driving like a charioteer those of the circumcision and the believers of the Gentiles, while prophets and Apostles go before Him and follow after Him (or is it the angels who minister to Him, for they too may be meant by those who go before and those who follow), perhaps it is that city which before He ascended to it contained the so-called Ephesians 6:12
spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places, or the Canaanites and Hittites and Amorites and the other enemies of the people of God, and in a word, the foreigners. For in that region, too, it was possible for the prophecy to be fulfilled which says, Isaiah 1:7
Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire, your land, strangers devour it in your presence. For these are they who defile and turn into a den of robbers, that is, of themselves the heavenly house of the Father, the holy Jerusalem, the house of prayer; having spurious money, and giving pence and small change, cheap worthless coinage, to all who come to them. These are they who, contending with the souls, take from them what is most precious, robbing them of their better part to return to them what is worth nothing. But the disciples go and find the ass tied and loose it, for it cannot have Jesus on account of the covering that is laid upon it by the law. 2 Corinthians 3:14 And the colt is found with it, both having been lost till Jesus came; I mean, namely, those of the circumcision and those of the Gentiles who afterwards believed. But how these are sent back again after Jesus has ascended to Jerusalem seated upon them, it is somewhat dangerous to say; for there is something mystical about it, in connection with the change of saints into angels. After that change they will be sent back, in the age succeeding this one, like the ministering spirits, Hebrews 1:11 who are sent to do service for the sake of them who will thereby inherit salvation. But if the ass and the foal are the old and the new Scriptures, on which the Word of God rides, it is easy to see how, after the Word has appeared in them, they are sent back and do not wait after the Word has entered Jerusalem among those who have cast out all the thoughts of selling and buying. I consider, too, that it is not without significance that the place where the ass was found tied, and the foal, was a village, and a village without a name. For in comparison with the great world in heaven, the whole earth is a village where the ass is found tied and the colt, and it is simply called
the village without any other designation being added to it. From Bethphage Matthew says the disciples are sent out who are to fetch the ass and the colt; and Bethphage is a priestly place, the name of which means
House of Jaw-bones. So much we have said, as our power allowed, on the text of Matthew, reserving for a further opportunity, when we may be permitted to take up the Gospel of Matthew by itself, a more complete and accurate discussion of his statements. Mark and Luke say that the two disciples, acting on their Master's instructions, found a foal tied, on which no one had ever sat, and that they loosed it and brought it to the Lord. Mark adds that they found the foal tied at the door, outside on the road. But who is outside? Those of the Gentiles who were strangers Ephesians 2:12 from the covenants, and aliens to the promise of God; they are on the road, not resting under a roof or a house, bound by their own sins, and to be loosed by the twofold knowledge spoken of above, of the friends of Jesus. And the bonds with which the foal was tied, and the sins committed against the wholesome law and reproved by it — for it is the gate of life — in respect of it, I say, they were not inside but outside the door, for perhaps inside the door there cannot be any such bond of wickedness. But there were some persons standing beside the tied-up foal, as Mark says; those, I suppose, who had tied it; as Luke records, it was the masters of the foal who said to the disciples, Why loose ye the foal? For those lords who subjected and bound the sinner are illegal masters and cannot look the true master in the face when he frees the foal from its bonds. Thus when the disciples say,
The Lord has need of him, these wicked masters have nothing to say in reply. The disciples then bring the foal to Jesus naked, and put their own dress on it, so that the Lord may sit on the disciples' garments which are on it, at His ease. What is said further will not, in the light of Matthew's statements, present any difficulty; how Mark 11:15
They come to Jerusalem, and entering into the temple He began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, or how Luke 19:41
When He drew near and beheld the city He wept over it; and entering into the temple He began to cast out them that sold. For in some of those who have the temple in themselves He casts out all that sell and buy in the temple; but in others who do not quite obey the word of God, He only makes a beginning of casting out the sellers and buyers. There is a third class also besides these, in which He began to cast out the sellers only, and not also the buyers. With John, on the contrary, they are all cast out by the scourge woven of small cords, along with the sheep and the oxen. It should be carefully considered whether it is possible that the changes of the things described and the discrepancies found in them can be satisfactorily solved by the anagogic method. Each of the Evangelists ascribes to the Word different modes of action, which produce in souls of different tempers not the same effects but yet similar ones. The discrepancy we noticed in respect of Jesus' journeys to Jerusalem, which the Gospel now in hand reports quite differently from the other three, as we have expounded their words, cannot be made good in any other way. John gives statements which are similar to those of the other three but not the same; instead of branches cut from the trees or stubble brought from the fields and strewed on the road he says they took branches of palm trees. He says that much people had come to the feast, and that these went out to meet Him, crying,
Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord, and
Blessed is the King of Israel. He also says that it was Jesus Himself who found the young ass on which Christ sat, and the phrase, young ass, doubtless conveys some additional meaning, as the small animal afforded a benefit not of men, nor through men, but through Jesus Christ. John moreover does not, any more than the others, reproduce the prophetic words exactly; instead of them he gives us
Fear not, O daughter of Zion; behold your King comes sitting (instead of
on the foal of an ass (for
on an ass and a young foal). The words
Fear not, daughter of Zion, are not in the prophet at all. But as the prophetic utterance has been applied by all in this way, let us see if there was not a necessity that the daughter of Zion should rejoice greatly and that the greater than she, the daughter of Jerusalem, should not only rejoice greatly but should also proclaim it when her king was coming to her, just and bringing salvation, and meek, having mounted an ass and a young colt. Whoever, then, receives Him will no longer be afraid of those who are armed with the specious discourses of the heterodox, those chariots of Ephraim said to be destroyed by the Lord, Zechariah 9:10 nor the horse, the vain thing for safety, that is the mad desire which has accustomed itself to the things of sense and which is injurious to many of those who desire to dwell in Jerusalem and to attend to the sound word. It is also fitting to rejoice at the destruction by Him who rides on the ass and the young foal of every hostile dart, since the fiery darts of the enemy are no longer to prevail over him who has received Jesus to his own temple. And there will also be a multitude from the Gentiles with peace Zechariah 9:9-10 at the Saviour's coming to Jerusalem, when He rules over the waters that He may bruise the head of the dragon on the water, and we shall tread upon the waves of the sea and to the mouths of all the rivers on the earth. Mark, however, writing about the foal, reports the Lord to have said,
On which never man sat; and he seems to me to hint at the circumstance that those who afterwards believed had never submitted to the Word before Jesus' coming to them. For of men, perhaps, no one had ever sate on the foal, but of hearts or of powers alien to the Word some had sate on it, since in the prophet Isaiah the wealth of opposing powers is said to be borne on asses and camels. Isaiah 30:6
In the distress and the affliction, he writes,
the lion and the lion's cub, whence also the offspring of flying asps, who carried their riches on asses and camels. The question occurs again, for those who have no mind but for the bare words, if according to their view the words,
on which never man sat, are not quite meaningless. For who but a man ever sits on a foal? So much of our views.
Let us see what Heracleon makes of this. He says that the ascent to Jerusalem signifies the Lord's going up from material things to the spiritual place, which is a likeness of Jerusalem. And he considers that the words are,
He found in the temple, and not
in the sanctuary, because the Lord is not to be understood as instrumental in that call only, which takes place where the spirit is not. He considers the temple to be the Holy of Holies, into which none but the High-Priest enters, and there I believe he says that the spiritual go; while the court of the temple, where the levites also enter, is a symbol of these psychical ones who are saved, but outside the Pleroma. Then those who are found in the temple selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money-changers sitting, he took to represent those who attribute nothing to grace, but regard the entrance of strangers to the temple as a matter of merchandise and gain, and who minister the sacrifices for the worship of God, with a view to their own gain and love of money. And the scourge which Jesus made of small cords and did not receive from another, he expounds in a way of his own, saying that the scourge is an image of the power and energy of the Holy Spirit, driving out by His breath those who are bad. And he declares that the scourge and the linen and the napkin and other things of such a kind are symbolic of the power and energy of the Holy Spirit. Then he assumes what is not written, as that the scourge was tied to a piece of wood, and this wood he takes to be a type of the cross; on this wood the gamblers, merchants, and all evil was nailed up and done away. In searching into the act of Jesus, and discussing the composition of the scourge out of two substances, he romances in an extraordinary way; He did not make it, he says, of dead leather. He wished to make the Church no longer a den of robbers, but the house of His Father. We must here say what is most necessary on the divinity, as referred to in Heracleon's text. If Jesus calls the temple at Jerusalem the house of His Father, and that temple was made in honour of Him who made heaven and earth, why are we not at once told that He is the Son of no one else than the Maker of heaven and earth, that He is the Son of God? To this house of the Father of Jesus, as being the house of prayer, the Apostles of Christ also, as we find in their
Acts, are told Acts 5:20 by the angel to go and to stand there and preach all the words of this life. But they came to the house of prayer, through the Beautiful Gate, to pray there, a thing they would not have done had they not known Him to be the same with the God worshipped by those who had dedicated that temple. Hence, too, they say, those who obeyed God rather than men, Peter and the Apostles,
The God Acts 5:29-30 of our Fathers raised up Jesus, whom you slew, hanging Him on a tree; for they know that by no other God was Jesus raised from the dead but the God of the fathers, whom Jesus also extols as the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, who are not dead but living. How, too, could the disciples, if the house was not that of the same God with the God of Christ, have remembered the saying in the sixty-ninth Psalm,
The zeal of your house shall devour Me; for thus it is found in the prophet, and not
has devoured Me. Now Christ is zealous principally for that house of God which is in each of us; He does not wish that it should be a house of merchandise, nor that the house of prayer should be a den of robbers; for He is the Son of a jealous God. We ought to give a liberal interpretation to such utterances of Scripture; they speak of human things, but in the way of metaphor, to show that God desires that nothing foreign should be mixed up with His will in the soul of all men, indeed, but principally of those who are minded to accept the message of our most divine faith. But we must remember that the sixty-ninth Psalm, which contains the words,
The zeal of your house shall devour me, and a little further on,
They gave Me gall for My drink and for My thirst they gave Me vinegar, both texts being recorded in the Gospels, that that Psalm is spoken in the person of the Christ, and nowhere shows any change of person. It shows a great want of observation on Heracleon's part that he considers the words,
The zeal of your house shall devour Me, to be spoken in the person of those powers which were cast out and destroyed by the Saviour; he fails to see the connection of the prophecy in the Psalm. For if these words are understood as spoken by the expelled and destroyed powers, it follows that he must take the words,
They gave Me vinegar to drink, which are a part of the same psalm, to be also spoken by those powers. What misled him was probably that he could not understand how the
shall devour Me could be spoken by Christ, since He did not appreciate the way in which anthropopathic statements are applied to God and to Christ.
The Jews then answered and said to Him, What sign showest Thou unto us, seeing that You do these things? John 2:18-19 Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Those of the body, and those who incline to material things, seem to me to be meant by the Jews, who, after Jesus has driven out those who make God's house a house of merchandise, are angry at Him for treating these matters in such a way, and demand a sign, a sign which will show that the Word, whom they do not receive, has a right to do such things. The Saviour joins on to His statement about the temple a statement which is really one with the former, about His own body, and to the question, What sign do You do, seeing that You do such things? Answers,
Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. He could have exhibited a thousand other signs, but to the question,
Seeing that You do such things, He could not answer anything else; He fittingly gave the answer about the sign connected with the temple, and not about signs unconnected with the temple. Now, both of these two things, the temple and the body of Jesus, appear to me, in one interpretation at least, to be types of the Church, and to signify that it is built of living stones, 1 Peter 2:5 a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, built Ephesians 2:20 on the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus being the head corner-stone; and it is, therefore, called a temple. Now, from the text, 1 Corinthians 12:27
You are the body of Christ, and members each in his part, we see that even though the harmonious fitting of the stones of the temple appear to be dissolved and scattered, as it is written in the twenty-second Psalm that all the bones of Christ are, by the plots made against it in persecutions and afflictions, on the part of those who war against the unity of the temple in persecutions, yet the temple will be raised again, and the body will rise again on the third day after the day of evil which threatens it, and the day of consummation which follows. For the third day will rise on the new heaven and the new earth, when these bones, the whole house of Israel, Ezekiel 37:11 will rise in the great Lord's day, death having been overcome. And thus the resurrection of the Saviour from the passion of the cross contains the mystery of the resurrection of the whole body of Christ. But as that material body of Jesus was sacrificed for Christ, and was buried, and was afterwards raised, so the whole body of Christ's saints is crucified along with Him, and now lives no longer; for each of them, like Paul, glories Galatians 6:14 in nothing but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which He is crucified to the world, and the world to Him. Not only, therefore, is it crucified with Christ, and crucified to the world; it is also buried with Christ, for we were buried with Christ, Paul says. Romans 6:4 And then he says, as if enjoying some earnest of the resurrection,
We rose with Him, because He walks in a certain newness of life, though not yet risen in that blessed and perfect resurrection which is hoped for. Either, then, he is now crucified, and afterwards is buried, or he is now buried and taken down from the cross, and, being now buried, is to rise at some future time. But to most of us the mystery of the resurrection is a great one, and difficult of contemplation; it is spoken of in many other passages of Scripture, and is specially announced in the following passage of Ezekiel:
And the hand of the Lord was upon me, and He led me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me in the midst of the plain, and it was full of human bones. And He led me round about them in a circle, and behold there were very many on the face of the plain, and behold they were very dry. And He said to me, Son of man, shall these bones live? And I said, Lord, Lord, You know. And He said to me, Prophesy to these bones, and you shall say to them, Hear the word of the Lord, you dry bones; and a little further on,
And the Lord spoke to me, saying, Son of man, these bones are the house of Israel. And they say, Our bones have become dry, our hope is lost, we have breathed our last. For what bones are these which are addressed,
Hear ye the word of the Lord, as if they heard the word of the Lord? They belong to the house of Israel, or to the body of Christ, of which the Lord says,
All My bones are scattered, although the bones of His body were not scattered, and not even one of them was broken. But when the resurrection itself takes place of the true and more perfect body of Christ, then those who are now the members of Christ, for they will then be dry bones, will be brought together, bone to bone, and fitting to fitting (for none of those who are destitute of fitting (ἁρμονία) will come to the perfect man), to the measure Ephesians 4:13 of the stature of the fullness of the body of Christ. And then the many members will be the one body, all of them, though many, becoming members of one body. But it belongs to God alone to make the distinction of foot and hand and eye and hearing and smelling, which in one sense fill up the head, but in another the feet and the rest of the members, and the weaker and humbler ones, the more and the less honourable. God will temper the body together, and then, rather than now, He will give to that which lacks the more abundant honour, that there may be, by no means, any schism in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another, and, if any member be well off, all the members may share in its good things, or if any member be glorified, all the members may rejoice with it.
What I have said is not alien to the passage now engaging us, dealing as it does with the temple and those cast out from it, of which the Saviour says,
The zeal of your house shall devour Me; and with the Jews who asked that a sign should be showed them, and the Saviour's answer to them, in which He combines the discourse on the temple with that on His own body, and says,
Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up. For from this temple, which is the body of Christ, everything that is irrational and savours of merchandise must be driven away, that it may no longer be a house of merchandise. And this temple must be destroyed by those who plot against the Word of God, and after its destruction be raised again on that third day which we discussed above; when the disciples also will remember what He, the Word, said before the temple of God was destroyed, and will believe, not only their knowledge but their faith also being then made perfect, and that by the word which Jesus spoke. And every one who is of this nature, Jesus purifying him, John 15:3 puts away things that are irrational and things that savour of selling, to be destroyed on account of the zeal of the Logos that is in Him. But they are destroyed to be raised again by Jesus, not on the third day, if we attend to the exact words before us, but
in three days. For the rising again of the temple takes place on the first day after it has been destroyed and on the second day, and its resurrection is accomplished in all the three days. Hence a resurrection both has been and is to be, if indeed we were buried with Christ, and rose with Him. And since the word,
We rose with Him, does not cover the whole of the resurrection,
in Christ shall all be made alive, 1 Corinthians 15:22-24 but every one in his own order, Christ the first fruits, then they that are Christ's at His coming, and then the end. It belongs to the resurrection that one should be on the first day in the paradise of God, Luke 23:43 and it belongs to the resurrection when Jesus appears and says,
Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father, John 20:17 but the perfection of the resurrection was when He came to the Father. Now there are some who fall into confusion on this head of the Father and the Son, and we must devote a few words to them. They quote the text, 1 Corinthians 15:15
Yea, and we are found false witnesses for God, because we testified against God that He raised up Christ, whom He raised not up, and other similar texts which show the raiser-up to be another person than He who was raised up; and the text,
Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up, as if it resulted from these that the Son did not differ in number from the Father, but that both were one, not only in point of substance but in point of subject, and that the Father and the Son were said to be different in some of their aspects but not in their hypostases. Against such views we must in the first place adduce the leading texts which prove the Son to be another than the Father, and that the Son must of necessity be the son of a Father, and the Father, the father of a Son. Then we may very properly refer to Christ's declaration that He cannot do anything but what He sees the Father doing and saying, John 5:19 because whatever the Father does that the Son also does in like manner, and that He had raised the dead, i.e., the body, the Father granting Him this, who must be said to have been the principal agent in raising up Christ from the dead. But Heracleon says,
In three days, instead of
On the third day, not having examined the point (and yet having noted the words
in three), that the resurrection is brought about in three days. But he also calls the third the spiritual day, in which they consider the resurrection of the Church to be indicated. It follows from this that the first day is to be called the
earthly day, and the second the psychical, the resurrection of the Church not having taken place on them. Now the statements of the false witnesses, recorded in the Gospel according to Matthew and Mark towards the end of the Gospel, and the accusation they brought against our Lord Jesus Christ, appear to have reference to this utterance of His,
Destroy this temple, and I will build it up in three days. For He was speaking of the temple of His body, but they supposed His words to refer to the temple of stone, and so they said when accusing Him,
This man said, I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it up in three days, or, as Mark has it,
We heard Him say, that I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build up another temple not made with hands. Here the high-priest stood up and said to Him,
Answerest Thou nothing? What do these witness against You? But Jesus held His peace. Or, as Mark says,
And the high-priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus saying, Answerest Thou nothing? What do these witness against You? But He held His peace and answered nothing. These words must, I think, necessarily have reference to the text now before us.
The Jews therefore said,
Forty and six years was this temple in building, John 2:20 and will you raise it up in three days? How the Jews said that the temple had been forty-six years building, we cannot tell, if we adhere to the history. For it is written in the third Book of Kings, 1 Kings 5:18 that they prepared the stones and the wood three years, and in the fourth year, in the second month, 1 Kings 6:1 when Solomon was king over Israel, the king commanded, and they brought great precious stones for the foundation of the house, and unhewn stones. And the sons of Solomon and the sons of Hiram hewed the stones and laid them in the fourth year, and they founded the house of the Lord in the month Nisan and the second month: in the tenth year in the month Baal, which was the eighth month, the house was finished according to the whole count and the whole plan of it. Thus comparing the time of its completion with the period of building, the building of it occupies less than eleven years. How, then, do the Jews come to say that the temple was forty-six years in building? One might, indeed, do violence to the words and make out the period of forty-six years at all costs, by counting from the time when David, after planning about the building of the temple, said to Nathan the prophet, 2 Samuel 7:2
Behold I dwell in a house of cedar, and the ark of God dwells in the midst of the tent, for though it is true that he was prevented, as being a man of blood, from carrying out the building, he seems to have busied himself in collecting materials for it. In the first Book of Chronicles, 1 Chronicles 29:1-5 certainly, David the king says to all the congregation,
Solomon my son, whom the Lord has chosen, is young and tender, and the work is great, because he is not to build for man but for the Lord God. According to my whole power I have prepared for the house of my God, gold, silver, brass, and iron, wood, stones of Soom, and stones for filling up, and precious stones of many kinds, and all sorts of precious wood, and a large quantity of Parian marble. And besides this, for the pleasure I have taken in the house of my God, the gold and the silver I possess, lo, I have given it for the house of my Lord, to the full; from such supplies I prepared for the house of the saints, three thousand talents of gold from Suphir, and seven thousand talents of stamped silver. that the houses of God may be overlaid with them by the hands of artificers. For David reigned seven years in Hebron and thirty-three years in Jerusalem; 1 Kings 2:11 so that if it could be shown that the beginning of the preparations for the temple and of David's collecting the necessary material, was in the fifth year of his reign, then, with some forcing, the statement about forty-six years might stand. But some one else will say that the temple spoken of was not that built by Solomon, for that it was destroyed at the period of the captivity, but the temple built at the time of Ezra, Ezra 6:1 with regard to which the forty-six years can be shown to be quite accurate. But in this Maccabean period things were very unsettled with regard to the people and the temple, and I do not know if the temple was really built in that number of years. Heracleon pays no attention to the history, but says that in that he was forty-six years preparing the temple, Solomon was an image of the Saviour. The number six he connects with matter, that is, the image, and the number forty, which he says is the tetrad, not admitting of combination, he connects with the inspiration and the seed in the inspiration. Consider if the forty cannot be taken as due to the four elements of the world arranged in the building of the temple at the points at issue, and the six to the fact that man was created on the sixth day.
But He spoke of the temple of His body. John 2:21 When, therefore, He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said. This refers to the statement that the body of the Son is His temple. It may be asked whether this is to be taken in its plain sense, or whether we should try to connect each statement that is recorded about the temple, with the view we take about the body of Jesus, whether the body which He received from the Virgin, or that body of Christ which the Church is said to be, as we are said by the Apostle 1 Corinthians 12:27 to be all members of His body. One may, on the one hand, suppose it to be hopeless to get everything that is said about the temple properly connected with the body, in whatever sense the body be taken, and one may have recourse to a simpler explanation, and say that the body (in either of these senses) is called the temple, because as the temple had the glory of God dwelling in it, so He who was the image and glory of God, the first-born of every creature, could rightly be called, in respect of His body or the Church, the temple containing the image. We, for our part, see it to be a hard task to expound every particular of what is said about the temple in the third Book of Kings, and far beyond our powers of language, and we defer it in the meantime, as a thing beyond the scale of the present work. We also have a strong conviction that in such matters, which transcend human nature, it must be the work of divine wisdom to make plain the meaning of inspired Scripture, of that wisdom which is hidden in a mystery, which none of the rulers of this world knew. We are well aware, too, that we need the assistance of that excellent Spirit of wisdom, in order to understand such matters, as they should be understood by ministers of sacred things; and in this connection we will attempt to describe, as shortly as we may, our view of what belongs to this subject. The body is the Church, and we learn from Peter 1 Peter 2:5 that it is a house of God, built of living stones, a spiritual house for a holy priesthood. Thus the son of David, who builds this house, is a type of Christ. He builds it when his wars are at an end, 1 Kings 5:3-5 and a period of profound peace has arrived; he builds the temple for the glory of God in the Jerusalem on earth, so that worship may no longer be celebrated in a moveable erection like the tabernacle. Let us seek to find in the Church the truth of each statement made about the temple. If all Christ's enemies are made the footstool of His feet, 1 Corinthians 15:25 and Death, the last enemy, is destroyed, then there will be the most perfect peace. Christ will be Solomon, which means
Peaceful, 1 Chronicles 22:9 and the prophecy will find its fulfilment in Him, which says,
With those who hated peace I was peaceful. And then each of the living stones will be, according to the work of his life here, a stone of that temple, one, at the foundation, an apostle or a prophet, bearing those placed upon him, and another, after those in the foundation, and supported by the Apostles, will himself, with the Apostles, help to bear those in more need. One will be a stone of the inmost parts, where the ark is, and the cherubim, and the mercy-seat; another will be on the outer wall, and another even outside the outer wall of the levites and priests, a stone of the altar of whole burnt offerings. And the management and service of these things will be entrusted to holy powers, angels of God, being, respectively, lordships, thrones, dominions, or powers; and there will be others subject to these, typified by three thousand six hundred 1 Kings 5:15-18 chief officers, who were appointed over the works of Solomon, and the seventy thousand of those who bore burdens, and the eighty thousand stone-cutters in the mountain, who wrought in the work, and prepared the stones and the wood. It is to be remarked that those reported as bearing burdens are related to the Hebdomad. The quarrymen and stone-cutters, who make the stones fitted for the temple, have some kinship to the ogdoad. And the officers, who are six hundred in number, are connected with the perfect number six multiplied into itself. The preparation of the stones, as they are taken out and fitted for the building, extends over three years; this appears to me to point solely to the time of the eternal interval which is akin to the triad. This will come to pass when peace is consummated after the number of years of the transaction of the matters connected with the exodus from Egypt, namely, three hundred and forty, and of what took place in Egypt four hundred and thirty years after the covenant made by God with Abraham. Thus, from Abraham to the beginning of the building of the temple, there are two sabbatic numbers, the 700 and the 70; and at that time, too, our King Christ will command the seventy thousand burden-bearers not to take any chance stones for the foundation of the temple, but great stones, precious, unhewn, that they may be hewn, not by any chance workmen, but by the sons of Solomon; for so we find it written in the third Book of Kings. Then, too, on account of the profound peace, Hiram, king of Tyre, cooperates in the building of the temple, and gives his own sons to the sons of Solomon, to hew, in company with them, the great and precious stones for the holy place, which, in the fourth year, are placed in the foundation of the house of the Lord. But in an ogdoad of years the house is finished in the eighth month of the eighth year after its foundation.
For the sake of those, however, who consider that nothing further than the narrative itself is meant to be indicated in these words, it may not be unfitting to introduce at this point some considerations which they can scarcely withstand, to show that the words ought to be regarded as those of the Spirit, and that the mind of the Spirit should be sought for in them. Did the sons of the kings really spend their time in hewing the great and precious stones, and practise a craft so little in keeping with royal birth? And the number of the burden-bearers and of the stone-cutters and of the officers, the duration, too, of the period of preparing the stones and marking them, is all this recorded as it really was? The holy house, too, was got ready in peace and was to be built for God without hammer or axe or any iron tool, that there might be no disturbance in the house of God. And again I would ask those who are in bondage to the letter how it is possible that there should be eighty thousand stone-cutters and that the house of God should be built out of hard white stones without the noise of hammer or axe or any iron tool being heard in His house while the building was going on? Is it not living stones that are hewn without any noise or tumult somewhere outside the temple, so that they are brought ready prepared to the place which awaits them in the building? And there is some sort of an ascent about the temple of God, not with angles, but with bends of straight lines. For it is written, 1 Kings 6:8
And there was a winding staircase to the middle, and from the middle to the third floor; for the staircase in the house of God had to be spiral, thus imitating in its ascent the circle, which is the most perfect figure. But that this house might be secure five ties are built in it, 1 Kings 6:10 as fair as possible, a cubit high, that on looking up one might see it to be suggested how we rise from sensible things to the so-called divine perceptions, and so be brought to perceive those things which are seen only by the mind. But the place of the happier stones appears to be that called Dabir, where the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord was, and, as I may say, the handwriting of God, the tables written with His own finger. And the whole house is overlaid with gold;
the whole house, we read, 1 Kings 6:21
he overlaid with gold until all the house was finished. But there were two cherubim in Dabir, a word which the translators of the Hebrew Bible into Greek failed to render satisfactorily. Some, failing to do justice to the language, render it the temple; but it is more sacred than the temple. Now everything about the house was made golden, for a sign that the mind which is quite made perfect estimates accurately the things perceived by the intellect. But it is not given to all to approach and know them; and hence the veil of the court is erected, since to most of the priests and levites the things in the inmost part of the temple are not revealed.
It is worth while to enquire how, on the one hand, Solomon the king is said to have built the temple, and on the other the master-builder whom Solomon sent and fetched, 1 Kings 7:13
Hiram of Tyre, the son of a woman who was a widow; and he was of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass, and filled with wisdom and understanding, to work all works in brass; and he was brought in to King Solomon and wrought all his works. Here I ask whether Solomon can be taken for the first-born of all creation, Colossians 1:15 and Hiram for the man whom he assumed, from the constraint of men — for the word Tyrians means
constrainers— the man who derived his birth from nature, and being filled with all manner of art and wisdom and understanding, was brought in to cooperate with the first-born of all creation, and to build the temple. In this temple there are also windows, 1 Kings 6:4 placed obliquely and out of sight, so that the illumination of the divine light may enter for salvation, and — why should I go into particulars?— that the body of Christ, the Church, may be found having the plan of the spiritual house and temple of God. As I said before, we require that wisdom which is hidden in a mystery, and which he alone can apprehend who is able to say,
But we have the mind of Christ,— we require that wisdom to interpret spiritually each detail of what is said in accordance with the will of Him who caused it to be written. To enter into these details is not in accordance with our present subject. What has been said may suffice to let us understand how
He spoke about the temple of His body.
After all this it is proper to ask whether what is narrated as having taken place about the temple has ever taken place or ever will take place about the spiritual house. The argument may seem to pinch in whichever way we take it. If we say that it is possible that something like what is told about the temple may take place with regard to the spiritual house, or has already taken place in it, then those who hear us will, with difficulty, be brought to admit that a change can take place in such good things as these, firstly, because they do not wish it, and secondly, because of the incongruity of thinking that such things admit of change. If, on the other hand, We seek to maintain the unchangeableness of the good things once given to the saints, then we cannot apply to them what we find in the history, and we shall seem to be doing what those of the heresies do, who fail to maintain the unity of the narrative of Scripture from beginning to end. If we are not to take the view proper to old wives or Jews, of the promises recorded in the prophets, and especially in Isaiah, if, that is to say, we are to look for their fulfilment in connection with the Jerusalem on earth, then, as certain remarkable things connected with the building of the temple and the restoration of the people from the captivity are spoken of as happening after the captivity and the destruction of the temple, we must say that we are now the temple and the people which was carried captive, but is to come up again to Judæa and Jerusalem, and to be built with the precious stones of Jerusalem. But I cannot tell if it be possible that, at the revolution of long periods of time, things of the same nature should take place again, but in a worse way. The prophecies of Isaiah which we mentioned are the following: Isaiah 54:11-14
Behold I prepare for your stone carbuncle and for your foundation sapphire; and I will make your battlements jasper, and your gates stones of crystal, and your outer wall choice stones; and all your sons shall be taught of the Lord, and in great peace shall your children be, and in righteousness shall you be built. And a little further on, to the same Jerusalem: Isaiah 60:13-20
And the glory of Lebanon shall come to you with cypress, and pine, and cedar, along with those who will glorify My holy place. And the sons of them that humbled you and insulted you shall come to you in fear; and you shall be called the city of the Lord, Sion of holy Israel, because you were desolate and hated, and there was none to help you. And I will make you an eternal delight, a joy of generations of generations. And you shall suck the milk of the Gentiles and shall eat the riches of kings, and you shall know that I am the Lord that saves you and the God of Israel that chooses you. And instead of brass I will bring you gold, and instead of iron I will bring you silver, and for wood I will bring you brass, and for stones iron. And I will establish your rulers in peace and your overseers in righteousness. And wickedness shall no more be heard in your land, nor affliction and distress in your borders, but your walls shall be called salvation and your gates sculpture. And the sun shall no longer be to you for light by day, nor shall the rising of the moon give light to you by night, but Christ shall be to you an everlasting light and your God your glory. For your sun shall no more go down, and your moon shall not fail, for your Lord shall be to you an everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be fulfilled. These prophecies clearly refer to the age still to come, and they are addressed to the children of Israel in their captivity, to whom He was sent and came, who said,
I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Matthew 15:24 Such things, though they are captives, they are to receive in their own land; and proselytes also are to come to them at that time through Christ, and are to fly to them, according to the saying, Isaiah 54:15
Behold, proselytes shall come to you through Me, and shall flee to you for refuge. And if all this is to take place with the captives, then it is plain that they must be about their temple, and that they must go up there again to be built up, having become the most precious of stones. For we find with John in his Apocalyse, Revelation 3:12 the promise made to him that overcomes, that he will be a pillar in the temple of God, and will go no more out. All this I have said with a view to our obtaining a cursory view at least of the matters pertaining to the temple, and the house of God, and the Church and Jerusalem, which we cannot now take up systematically. Those, however, who, in their reading of the prophets, do not shrink from the labour of seeking after their spiritual meaning, must enquire into these matters with the greatest particularity, and must take account of every possibility. So far of
the temple of His body.
When He was raised from the dead, John 2:22 His disciples remembered that He spoke this, and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said. This tells us that after Jesus' resurrection from the dead His disciples saw that what He had said about the temple had a higher application to His passion and His resurrection; they remembered that the words,
In three days I will raise it up, pointed to the resurrection; believed the Scripture or the word which Jesus said, before. For faith in its full sense is the act of him who accepts with his whole soul what is professed at baptism. As for the higher sense, as we have already spoken of the resurrection from the dead of the whole body of the Lord, we have now to note that the disciples were put in mind by the fulfilment of the Scripture which when they were in life they had not fully understood; its meaning was now brought under their eyes and made quite clear to them, and they knew of what heavenly things it was the pattern and shadow. Then they believed the Scripture who formerly did not believe it, and believed the word of Jesus which, as the speaker means to convey, they had not believed before the resurrection. For how can any one be said in the full sense to believe the Scripture when he does not see in it the mind of the Holy Spirit, which God would have us to believe rather than the literal meaning? From this point of view we must say that none of those who walk according to the flesh believe the spiritual things of the law, of the very beginnings of which they have no conception. But, they say, those are more blessed who have not seen and yet believe, than those who have seen and have believed, and for this they quote the saying to Thomas at the end of the Gospel of John,
Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed. But it is not said here that those who have not seen and yet have believed are more blessed than those who have seen and believed. According to their view those after the Apostles are more blessed than the Apostles; than which nothing can be more foolish. He who is to be blessed must see in his mind the things which he believes, and must be able with the Apostles to hear the words spoken to him,
Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear, Matthew 13:16 and
Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see the things which you see, and have not seen them, and to hear the things which you hear, and have not heard them. Yet he may be content who only receives the inferior beatitude, which says: John 20:29
Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed. But how much more blessed are those eyes which Jesus calls blessed for the things which they have seen, than those which have not attained to such a vision; Simeon is content to take into his arms the salvation of God, and after seeing it, he says, Luke 2:29-30
Now, O Lord, let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation. We must strive, therefore, as Solomon says, to open our eyes that we may be satisfied with bread;
Open your eyes, he says,
and be satisfied with bread. What I have said on the text, faith, that the perfection of our faith will be given us at the great resurrection from the dead of the whole body of Jesus which is His Holy Church. For what is said about knowledge,
Now I know in part, 1 Corinthians 13:12 that, I think, may be said in the same way of every other good; and one of these others is faith.
Now I believe in part, we may say,
but when that which is perfect has come, then the faith which is in part will be done away. As with knowledge, so with faith, that which is through sight is far better, if I may say so, than that which is through a glass and in an enigma.
Now, when He was in Jerusalem at the passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, beholding His signs which He did. But He, Jesus, did not trust Himself to them, because He knew all (men) and because He needed not that any should testify of man, for he Himself knew what was in man. One might ask how Jesus did not Himself believe in those of whom we are told that they believed. To this we must say it was not those who believed in Him that Jesus did not trust, but those who believed in His name; for believing in His name is a different thing from believing in Him. He who will not be judged because of his faith is exempted from the judgment, not for believing in His name, but for believing in Him; for the Lord says, John 3:18
He that believes in Me is not judged, not,
He who believes in My name is not judged; the latter believes, and hence he is not worthy to be condemned already, but he is inferior to the other who believes in Him. Hence it is that Jesus does not trust Himself to him who believes in His name. We must, therefore, cleave to Him rather than to His name, lest after we have done wonders in His name, we should hear these words addressed to us which He will speak to those who boast of His name alone. Matthew 7:21-23 With the Apostle Paul Philippians 4:13 let us seek joyfully to say,
I can do all things in Christ Jesus strengthening me. We have also to notice that in a former passage John 2:13 the Evangelist calls the passover that of the Jews, while here he does not say that Jesus was at the passover of the Jews, but at the passover at Jerusalem; and in the former case when the passover is called that of the Jews, it is not said to be a feast; but here Jesus is recorded to have been at the feast; when at Jerusalem He was at the passover during the feast, and many believed, even though only in His name. We ought to notice certainly that
many are said to believe, not in Him, but in His name. Now, those who believe in Him are those who walk in the straight and narrow way, Matthew 7:14 which leads to life, and which is found by few. It may well be, however, that many of those who believe in His name will sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, the Father's house, in which are many mansions. And it is to be noted that the many who believe in His name do not believe in the same way as Andrew does, and Peter, and Nathanael, and Philip. These believe the testimony of John when he says,
Behold the Lamb of God, or they believe in Christ as found by Andrew, or Jesus saying to Philip,
Follow Me, or Philip saying,
believed in His name, beholding His signs which He did. And as they believe the signs and not in Him but in His name, Jesus
He needed not that any should testify of man, may fitly be used to show that the Son of God is able of Himself to see the truth about each man and is in no need of such testimony as any other could supply. The words, however,
He had no need that any should testify of man, are not equivalent to
He had no need of testimony about any being. If we take the word
man to include every being who is according to the image of God, or every reasonable creature, then He will have no need that any should testify to Him of any reasonable being whatever, since He Himself, by the power given Him by the Father, knows them all. But if the term
man be restricted to mortal animated reasonable beings, then it might be said, on the one hand, that He had need of testimony respecting the beings above man, and while His knowledge was adequate with regard to man it did not extend to those other beings. On the other hand, however, it might be said that He who humbled Himself had no need that any should testify to Him concerning man, but that He had such need in respect of beings higher than men.
It may also be asked what signs those many saw Him do who believed on Him, for it is not recorded that He did any signs at Jerusalem, though some may have been done which are not recorded. One may, however, consider if what He did may be called signs, when He made a scourge of small cords, and cast them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables. As for those who suppose that it was only about men that He had no need of witnesses, it has to be said that the Evangelist attributes to Him two things, that He knew all beings, and that He had no need that any one should testify of man. If He knew all beings, then He knew not only men but the beings above men, all beings who are without such bodies as ours; and He knew what was in man, since He was greater than those who reproved and judged by prophesying, and who brought to the light the secret things of the hearts of those whom the Spirit suggested to them to be thus dealt with. The words,
He knew what was in man, could also be taken as referring to the powers, better or worse, which work in men. For if any one gives place to the devil, Satan enters into him; thus did Judas give place, and thus did the devil put it in his heart to betray Jesus, and
after the sop, therefore,
the devil entered into him. John 13:2-27 But if any one gives place to God, he becomes blessed; for blessed is the man whose help is from God, and the ascent is in his heart from God. You know what is in man, Thou who know all things, O Son of God. And now that our tenth book has come to be large enough we will here pause in our theme.
Source. Translated by Allan Menzies. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 9. Edited by Allan Menzies. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1896.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/101510.htm>.
Contact information. The editor of New Advent is Kevin Knight. My email address is feedback732 at newadvent.org. (To help fight spam, this address might change occasionally.) Regrettably, I can't reply to every letter, but I greatly appreciate your feedback — especially notifications about typographical errors and inappropriate ads.