John, a preacher from Antioch, was posthumously called "Golden-Mouth" (chrysostomos) for his eloquence. A former monk, highly educated and trained in rhetoric, John was eventually elevated from his preaching post in Antioch to become bishop of the capital city of Constantinople. He did not last long there: his rigorous morality and rhetorical fire did not sit well with the aristocratic and imperial society. He was twice exiled, dying during the second exile in the year 407 C.E. He was not yet sixty years old.
Hundreds of his homilies survive, many of which are series of interpretations of the books of the Christian Bible. John was particularly enamored of the apostle Paul, whom John considered a model Christian and Christian leader.
These four homilies were assembled in the early modern period as a series of homilies de mutatione nominum ("On Changing Names"). In fact, while some of them probably were preached in tandem, and while all of them do in some form address biblical name changing (with particular attention to the double-naming of Saul-Paul), it is unlikely these four sermons were preached together. The first two homilies were likely preached together; Homily 3, while on a similar topic, was probably preached in another year; Homily 4 was certainly part of some sequence, but it is unclear whether it was preached with any of the others. To complicate matters further, a fifth homily, preserved as sermo 9 in Genesim (link to PG text), was almost certainly preached with the first two homilies now called de mutatione nominum.
Nonetheless, the four homilies here do give us insight into John's thinking about Paul, names, the Bible, and conversion. The text is translated from Patrologia Graeca 51:113-57. Parenthetical numbers refer to PG columns; I have added marginal subject headings for convenience. You may link to, share, or reproduce this translation with attribution. You may not make any commercial use of this work. Any suggestions for corrections or additions to the text or annotations are more than welcome: andrew [at] andrewjacobs [dot] org.
Skip ahead to: Homily Two, Homily Three, Homily Four
1. INTRODUCTION: REAL PEOPLE AND THE DIVINE TABLE Can this be endured? Can this be tolerated? Each and every day our service grows smaller and smaller. The city is full, while the church is empty of people. The marketplace is full, and the theater, and the walkways, but God's house is desolate—or rather, if I must tell the truth, the city is desolate of people, and the church is full of people! For we shouldn't call those in the marketplace "people," but you who are in the church. Not those who are lazy, but you who are eager; not those concerned with secular things, biōtika (βιωτικὰ) but you who value the spiritual more than the secular. For it's not that someone is a person if they have the body and voice of a person. (114) But it's if someone has the soul of a person and the disposition of the soul. For nothing is so much the token of a person's soul as loving the divine sayings. Just as nothing is so much proof and sign of a beastly and irrational soul as disregarding the divine sayings.
Do you want to learn that those ignoring the recitation of divine sayings have destroyed being people through this disregard and have fallen away from this noble birth? I won't give you my word but I'll give you prophetic speech which proclaims my opinion, so you'll see whoever doesn't love spiritual works can't be people. Then you'll see that for us the city is desolate of people. For great-voiced Isaiah, the seer of wondrous sights, who was (115) deemed worthy to see seraphim while still in the flesh, who [heard] that mystical melody, when he entered the capital city of the Jews, full of people—I mean Jerusalem—and he stood in the middle of the marketplace, while all the people stood around him, he wanted to show that whoever doesn't listen to the prophetic words isn't a person, and so he cried out saying: "I came, and there was no one. I called, and no one obeyed" (Isa 50:2). And it wasn't because of the lack of people listening, but because of the laziness of those listening that he said: "I came, and there was no one," adding, "and there was no one obeying." The result is that, while they were there, they were not considered to be there, since they did not listen to the prophet. Because when he came there was no one and [when] he called no one was obeying, he turns his address toward the elements and says, "Hear, Heaven, and listen, Earth! (Isa 1:1) Now I (he says) I sent out to people, to people having a mind, but since they don't have any reason or sense, on account of this I talk with those elements having so sense, as an accusation against those who, while they have been honored with sense, make no use of that honor." Another prophet, Jeremiah, says this. For also, standing in the midst of a crowd of Jews, in that same city, as if no one was present, he cried out: "To whom shall I speak and bear witness?" (Jer 6:10) What do you say? Seeing such a crowd do you ask, to whom shall I speak? He does! For this is a crowd of bodies, not a crowd of people. This is a crowd of bodies who can't hear. Because of this he adds: "Their ears are uncircumcised, and they cannot hear" (ibid.) Do you see that all of them aren't people because they don't listen? That one says: "I came, and no one was there, I called out and there was no one was obeying." This one: "To whom shall I speak and bear witness? Their ears are uncircumcised, they cannot hear." The prophets say that if they are present but not paying eager attention to what's being said, they aren't people.
So what should we say about those not only who aren't listening but who cross through these holy, open gates, about those wandering outside this holy flock, who are far from the maternal household, in streets and alleys, just like the disorderliness and laziness of children? For when those [children] leaving their fathers' house they wander somewhere outside, passing the day in childish pastimes. That's how these sorts of children often lose their freedom and their lives! For they fall into the hands of kidnappers or bandits, who often give death as the punishment for laziness. For when they seize them, and snatch their gold ornament, either they drown them in riverbeds or, whenever they devise something more humane concerning them, they bring them to a foreign land and give away their freedom. This is what they suffer, too. That is, those who don't attend church services. For since they wander away from their Father's house and the serious study there, they fall into the mouths of heretics, and the tongues of enemies of the truth. Then, just as if they were kidnappers seizing (116) them, and snatching away the gold ornament of their faith, they drown right away, not cast into rivers, but swallowing the foul teachings of their filth.
2. It's up to you give forethought to your brothers' salvation, and to lead them back to us, even if they resist, even if they oppose, even if they cry out, even if they wail. For this love of contention is childish and is lazy thinking. But you correct their still more imperfectly inclined souls! It is yours to persuade them to become people. For just as we would not call someone a "person" who has abandoned human nourishment and is grazing on thistles and plants with animals, so too we would not call that one a "person" who hates nourishment which is true and fitting for the human soul, sitting in secular meetings and councils, which are always full of disgraceful conduct, and grazing on unnatural words. For to us someone is not a person just if they eat bread, but if for nourishment someone should partake of divine and spiritual sayings. And that this is a person listen to Christ saying: "A person does not live by bread alone, but in every word proceeding from God's mouth" (Matt 4:4). The result is that the nourishment of our life is twofold, one lesser, and the other greater; and it is necessary to seek after the latter, such that he nourishes the soul and does not overlook it wasting away in hunger.
So it's up to you to make our city full of people. Since this great and well-populated one is desolate of people, you should be the righteous ones to introduce this bountiful feast to the homeland; it's necessary to draw back the brothers, so you should convey the things here to them. For that's when we persuade them to enjoy the table, not just whenever we praise the table, but also whenever we have something from the dishes to share with those who weren't present. You do this now and one of these two things will certainly come to pass: either you persuade them to come up to us; or, even though they remain in their love of contention, they will be fed through your tongue—rather, they will certainly come back. For they will not choose to be fed with a piece of grace, when it's possible with full freedom to enjoy this paternal table. But that you are doing this, or you have done it, or you will do it, I absolutely urge and trust. For I myself have not stopped continually instructing these things and you have been filled with all knowledge, able to advise them also.
But now is the time for our table to be set for you, that [table] which is threadbare and poor, full of great hunger, but which has the best dish, what you desire when you listen to it. For extravagant foods alone doesn't make a pleasant table, but also the appetite of those invited makes [it so]. Thus a glittering table appears threadbare whenever those present leap to it when they aren't hungry; but so too also the threadbare [table] proves extravagant whenever it receives hungry guests. So then also someone else understands that it's not by the nature of the dishes but by the disposition of the ones eating that the extravagance of the table is judged, as in some way it says: "The soul which is in satiety scorns the honey, but (117) to a soul in need even the bitter seems sweet" (Prov 27:7). The nature of the things laid out doesn't change, but the disposition of those eating cheats the senses. For if the bitter seems sweet, on account of the desire of those invited, how much more does the threadbare seem extravagant? So those of us who exist together in the ultimate hunger, let us imitate the lavishness of the banquet-hosts, in each service calling you to our table. Let us do this, not having persuaded by [the nature of] our prosperity, but encouraging by the [disposition] your attention. Missing words supplied based on John's analogy.
3. LONGING FOR PAUL We have concluded for you the full duty of the epigraph, the epigraph, I mean, of the Acts of the Apostles. John had delivered a series of four homilies as a prolegomenon to homilies on Acts, In principium actorum (PG 51:65-112) to which he refers here. This line led Migne to assume all four of these homilies followed directly after In principium actorum and for Lampe to assign them the abbreviation Hom 1-4 in Act 9:1. Now the sequence was to engage with the beginning of the book, and to say at that time what this is: "We made the first book concerning everything, Theophilus, which Jesus began to do and teach" (Acts 1:1). But Paul does not set me free to use this sequential order; he calls our tongue to him and to his own achievements.
I long to see him going to Damascus, bound, not in an iron chain, but by the Master's voice!
I long to see him caught like a great fish, who roils the whole sea and raises up myriad swelling waves against the church!
I long to see him caught, not on a hook, but on the Master's word!
For just like some fisherman who is sitting on a high rock, hoisting the rod, casts out the hook from on high into the sea, just so indeed Our Master, demonstrating the spiritual fishing, as if he were sitting on a high rock of the heavens, cast that voice from above like a hook, saying, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" (Acts 9:4) That's how he caught that great fish. And the kind of thing that happened to the fish that Peter caught, according to his Master's order, the same thing happened to him. For that fish was found with a coin in its mouth, a coin or a counterfeit; for he had the zeal but not according to experience. epignōsin (ἐπιγνώσιν), that is, Peter was eager but had not yet experienced the breadth of God's power. So God granted this experience to him, he made the money genuine. And as it is for fish when they are caught, so was it for him [Paul]. For just as they are blinded as soon as they are hauled up from the sea, so when he received the hook and was drawn up he was blinded right away. But this blinding made the whole world open its eyes.
I long to see all these things!
For if a barbarian war had surrounded us and enemies on the battle line brought forth myriad actions against us, then the general of the barbarians, leading forth myriad war-machines, and confounding all of ours, full of lots of noise and disturbance, was threatening to raze the city itself and to give it over to fire and was menacing us with enslavement—suddenly, bound by our Emperor, he was led captive into the city, wouldn’t we leap forth with our wives and children for that spectacle?
So also in that moment a war was being waged: Jews were making noise and disturbing everything, and leading forth lots of war-machines against the steadfastness of the church; the head of the enemies was Paul, doing and saying more than everyone else, making noises and disturbing everything. He bound (118) him, our Lord Jesus Christ, our Emperor, he bound and led him captive, the one who upset all things; shall we not all go out for that spectacle, that is, to see him led captive?
For at that time the angels leapt out of the heavens, looking at him bound and led forth; for they not only saw him bound but they perceived how many people were going to be loosened from their bonds: not because they saw him being led by the hand but because they reckoned how many people he was going to lead by the hand from the earth into heaven. They rejoiced, not because they saw him blinded but because they perceived how many he was going to lead out of the darkness. Go forth, he says, into the nations and deliver them from darkness, converting metastēseis (μεταστήσεις); throughout these homilies John uses multiple meta- verbs, many of which I translate as "convert" in order to highlight the various registers of religious transformation imagined through Paul. them into the Kingdom of love of Christ. This is why, moving off from the introduction, I am eager to jump into the middle.
For Paul and longing for Paul have compelled us to make this leap. Paul and longing for Paul! Forgive me—or, rather, don't forgive me, but emulate this love. Throughout this passage John uses erōs (ἔρως) and cognates. For the one loving something strange naturally seeks forgiveness. But the one loving such a one, let him take pride in the longing! Let him make many companions of the desire! Let him establish myriad fellow lovers!
For if it was possible, walking on the road and advancing in order, to talk about earlier matters and then discuss the middle we would not abandon the beginning and come straight to the middle. But since the law of the Fathers commands that, after Pentecost, the book be set aside and at the end of this festival the reading of the book is concluded, I was afraid that, since at that time we were studying and passing time concerning the introduction, the sequence of the story would run out before we arrived. So I rushed from the beginning of the story, withholding the introduction of the story as if behind this chapter and calling on you to stay and stand at the beginning of the path. For having touched on the narrative of the chapter, confidently now I turn to the rest, although the service is running late. For no one will accuse us of untimeliness, since the constraint of the sequence discharges us from accusations of untimeliness. So we rushed from the introduction to the middle. That it was not possible to come to Paul walking on the road, but the book would run out before our tongue, and the doors would close on us, I shall make clear from the introduction, if it were not already clear.
4. ENDLESS QUESTIONS ARISE For if just by reading and interpreting the epigraph for you we have used up half of the service, if we also undertook to produce a speech for the vast sea of that book, beginning from the introduction, how much time would we use up to arrive at the story of Paul? I shall try to make it clear to you rather from the introduction itself. "We have made the first book about all these things, Theophilus" (Acts 1:1). How many questions do you count up here? First, why does he remind him of the earlier book? Second, why does he say book logos (λόγος) and (119) not gospel? euaggelion (εὐαγγέλιον) Even Paul calls it a gospel when he says: "Whose praise in the gospel through all the churches" (2 Cor 8:18), talking about Luke. Third, why does he say, "about all the things Jesus did"? For if John—the beloved of Christ, who enjoyed so much freedom of speech, parrhēsia (παῤῥησία) who was deemed worthy to recline on that holy breast, who drew from the wells of the Spirit—if he did not dare to say this, but using such great caution, so to speak, that "if all the things that Christ did were written down, I do not think the world would have enough room for all the books written" (John 21:25), how did he dare to say, "The first book we made concerning all the things, Theophilus, that Jesus did"? Does this question seem minor to us? But there is "mightiest Theophilus," a name with praise. For this is not simply said to the saints. And so quickly we have shown, in part, that not one iota, nor a single stroke, can been seen to be laid out simply in the Scriptures. Now if there are so many questions in the introduction, how much time are we going to spend getting to all the things that come after? For this reason we were compelled to run ahead to the middle, to come to Paul.
Since we posed all these questions, why don't we supply their answers? We're getting you accustomed to not always receiving food which has been chewed up, but to supplying the solution yourselves, in many cases, through thinking, just like doves do. For as long as their young remain in the nest they feed them from their own mouths. But when have become able to leave the nest, and they see their wings growing strong, they no longer do this. Instead they carry the seed up to their mouth and show it to them; then, if the nestlings hesitate to go nearby, the mothers throw the food to the ground and command them to pick it up for themselves. That's what we have done: taking the spiritual food up to your mouth, we have invited you to clarify for yourselves the answer as is customary. Then should you approach and hesitate to accept it, we threw it out so that you would have to take up the ideas on your own.
On PAUL'S EVIL DEEDS MORE IMPORTANT THAN HIS ACHIEVEMENTS this account, leaving the introduction, we hasten to Paul. We shall not only discuss how much he helped the Church, but also how much he hindered it. And this discussion is necessary for us. We shall discuss—
how he fought with the Word of the preaching;
how he waged war against Christ;
how he persecuted the apostles;
how he set his mind to the matters of our enemies;
how he caused more issues for the church than anyone else.
But no one should be ashamed about Paul when they hear these things. For these are not accusations against him but the basis of praises. For it is not an accusation against him to say that before he was being petty and later he became good, but (it is) to be eager before and later to be converted metaballesthai (μεταβάλλεσθαι) to wickedness. For matters are always judged at the end.
Take pilots: even if they survive myriad shipwrecks, whenever they are about to dock in the harbor, and they are steering ships laden with cargo, we do not say they fared badly, since the end covers over what came before. Or take athletes: even if they lost (120) a myriad times earlier, but won the wrestling match for the crown, we don't deprive them of the encomium for their victory because of their earlier record.
This is how we should treat Paul. For he also survived myriad shipwrecks, but when he was about to dock at the harbor, he brought his ship in laden with cargo. And just as Judas did not benefit at all from having been a disciple before he became a traitor; just so he (Paul) lost nothing having been a persecutor before he was an evangelist of these things. These are the encomia of Paul: not because he razed the church but because he built it up again. Not because he plundered the Word, but because, having plundered the Word, he then strengthened it. Not because he waged war on the apostles, not because he tore the herd to pieces, but having torn it apart afterward he pulled it back together.
5. What could be more marvelous than this? The wolf became the shepherd! The one drinking the blood of the flock did not cease to pour out his own blood to save the flock. Do you want to learn how he drank the blood of the flock? How his tongue was stained with blood? "Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the Lord's disciples" (Acts 9:1). But that one breathing threats and murder and shedding the blood of the saints, hear how he shed his own blood on behalf of the saints. "If according to human things," he says, "I have battled beasts in Ephesus" (1 Cor 15:32) and again: "I die daily" (1 Cor 15:31), and again: "We have been reckoned as sheep of slaughter" (Rom 8:36). And he said these things, the one who was present when Stephen's blood was shed and he was approving of his execution. Do you see how the wolf became the shepherd?
Are you ashamed when you hear that beforehand he was a persecutor and blasphemer and insulter? Do you see how his earlier accusation made his praise greater? Didn't I tell you, at an earlier service, that the signs after the cross were greater than those before the cross? Didn't I show you also from the signs and from the favor of the disciples: how beforehand Christ raised people from the dead by ordering them, but afterward the shadows of those enslaved to him did it (cf. Acts 5:12-15)? John had discussed the greater signs after the cross in In principium Actorum 4.7, probably delivered not long before this homily. How at that time he performed wonders by commanding, but those enslaved to him did greater things by using his name? Didn't I tell you about the enemies, how their conscience was confounded? How he conquered the whole known world? How there were greater signs after the cross than before the cross?
Today's speech is the brother of that one. For what could be a greater sign than what happened to Paul? For Peter denied him (Christ) when he was living, but Paul confessed him after he died. The drawing back and seizure of Paul's viewpoint was a greater sign than the raising of the dead through shadows. For in the second case, nature followed and didn't oppose the one giving orders. But in the first case, there was a choice to be persuaded and an ability not to be persuaded. From this the great power dunamis (δύναμις), which might also mean "miracle" of the one persuading is shown. The choice to convert was much greater than the correction of nature: "to convert" here is metabalein (μεταβαλεῖν); John's point is that the act of persuading Paul to convert is a much more difficult and impressive display of power than simply changing someone from "dead" to "living." indeed, (121) this sign—Paul coming to Christ after the cross and the tomb—was greater than all others. This is why Christ let him show all his enmity and called him at that time, to make him, unsuspecting, the proof of the resurrection and the word of his teaching.
For Peter was equally suspected when he talked about this. For a certain one of the shameless ones [i.e., the Jews] had something to say. I have spoken of "the shameless ones," because the proof of the resurrection was clear there. For even he [Peter] had denied him before, and he denied him with an oath; but then later confessing that same one later gave up his own life. If he [Christ] hadn't risen, then the one who denied him while he was still alive would not have endured myriad deaths so as not to deny him when he was dead. So the proof of the resurrection was clear under Peter. John also discussed Peter and the proof of the resurrection in In principium actorum 4.8. But the shameless ones had this to say: since he was a disciple, since he shared a table with him, and he was with him for three years, since he enjoyed the teaching, since he flattered by him and deceived, this is why he proclaimed his resurrection.
But whenever you see Paul—who didn't know him, who didn't hear him, who didn't partake in the teaching, waging war with him after the cross, condemning to death those who believe in him, confounding and disturbing all—and he is suddenly converted, metabeblēmenon (μεταβεβλημένον) surpassing all those friends of Christ in his labors on behalf of the proclamation, what more do you have— tell me!— as a pretext of shamelessness, disbelieving the word of the resurrection? For if Christ didn't rise, who could have drawn back someone so crude and inhumane, who waged war and ran wild, who could have led him to himself?
Tell me, Jew, who would have persuaded Paul to come to Christ? Peter? Or James? Or John? But all of them had grown afraid and were shuddering, and not only beforehand, but also when he had become one of the friends: when Barnabas took him by the hand and led him up to Jerusalem they were still afraid to meet with him. Even if the war had ended the fear remained among the apostles. Since they still feared him even though he was reconciled, would they dare to persuade him when he was an enemy and hostile? Did they at all endure him to come forth, to stand there, to open his mouth, to appear at all? This is not the case, it's not.
For it was not a question of human eagerness but of divine grace. That is, no human could have accomplished Paul's conversion, no matter how "eager." If Christ now was dead, as you say, and his disciples came and stole him, how could there be greater signs after the cross? How could the proof of power be greater? For not only did he convert metestēse (μετέστησε) the enemy, the leader of your battle—even if he just done this, to take captive the hostile enemy was tremendously powerful. But he didn't just make this happen, but something even greater than this. Not only did he convert him metestēsen (μετέστησεν) but in this way he made him his own, in this way he drew him up to his own favor, so that he might entrust to him all the matters of the Church. "This one," he says, "is my chosen vessel, to lift up my name before the nations and (122) kings" (Acts 9:15) and to persuade to toil more than the apostles on behalf of the Church against which he previously waged war.
6. ON PAUL'S CONVERSION Do you want to learn how he converted metestēse (μετέστησε) him? How he made him his own? How he drew him up? How he counted him among the first of his friends? No person was brave enough to say as many unspeakable things as Paul was. How is this clear? He says: "I heard unspeakable words, which cannot be spoken by a person" (2 Cor 12:4). You see how much favor the enemy and the fighter was shown? That's why it's also necessary to speak of his earlier life. For it shows us the philanthropy and the power of God. On the one hand, philanthropy: that he wished to save someone who had done such bad things, and to draw him up to him. On the other, power: that when he wanted to, he could.
And this shows Paul's soul: that he did nothing for love of contention, nor was he overpowered by human glory, like the Jews. But fired up with zeal, not for what is correct, but zeal nonetheless. Just as also he exclaimed, saying: "On this account was I pitied, because out of ignorance I was acting in faithlessness" (1 Tim 1:13). He said, astounded at God's philanthropy: "In order that Christ might show in me first all patience, as a prototype of those future believers in him in life eternal" (1 Tim 1:16). And elsewhere again he said that "the force of his power showed especially in us believing" (Eph 1:19). You see how Paul's earlier life showed God's philanthropy and power and the impartiality of his opinion? He brought this forth as proof, when he wrote to the Galatians, of being converted not through humans, but of being converted The first word for converted here is metabalesthai (μεταβαλέσθαι); the second word is metenenēchthai (μετενενῆχθαι). by divine power. "For if I have pleased people, I was not enslaved to Christ" (Gal 1:10). And from this is it clear that, not pleasing to humans, you were converted metestēs (μετέστης) to the proclamation? He says: "You heard our way of life at that time in Judaism, that in excess I pursued the church of God and plundered it" (Gal 1:15). So then if he had wanted to please people he would not have been converted metetheto (μετέθετο) to the faith. Why? He was honored among the Jews and enjoyed great plenty and was deemed worthy of prestige. He wouldn't convert metestē (μετέστη) to the dangerous life of the apostles, full of infamy, filled with calamities. So in this utter change and conversion, metabolēi kai metastasei (μεταβολῇ καὶ μεταστάσει) leaving behind honor among the Jews and the peaceful life and exchanging it for the apostolic life, which has myriad deaths, there was a lot of proof that Paul was not converted metatethēnai (μετατεθῆναι) by a human pretext. So that's why we wished to lead to his prior life in the middle (of the text), and show his fired-up zeal against the Church: in order that whenever you see his great eagerness on the church's behalf you will marvel at God's doing all these things and transforming him.
This PAUL'S NAME(S) is also why Paul's disciple narrated the previous things to us with precision, and great emphasis, saying: "Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples (123) of the Lord." Now I wished myself to begin with the introduction today, I wished to embark from the beginning of the narrative. But I see the sea of ideas from the name alone. For right away I pondered how much inquiry this "Saul" stirs in us: for in the letters I see another name set forth: "Paul, enslaved to Jesus Christ, called as apostle. Paul and Sosthenes. Paul, called apostle. Behold, I Paul say this to you" (Rom 1:1, 1 Cor 1:1, Gal 5:2). Now as Paul, and everywhere he is called Paul, but he is not called Saul.
Why was he called Saul beforehand, and afterward Paul? This is not a simple inquiry. For right away Peter runs up. For beforehand he was Simon, but afterward was named Cephas. And the sons of Zebedee, James and John, were renamed Sons of Thunder. And not just in the New (Testament), but also in the Old: we find Abraham called Abram beforehand, afterward Abraham. And Jacob now is called Jacob, afterward Israel. And Sarah beforehand called Sarai, was afterward Sarah. (124) And this change of names raises a big question for us. But I am afraid that, like the streams of rivers suddenly coming down, I might drown in the word of the teaching. For just as in a district having moisture, you might drill in some place and wells will spring up everywhere; just so also in the area of holy Scriptures, you open it up in some place and you see many rivers rising up; so today there is no small need to pile them all up in a heap. So, damming up our torrents, I shall send you off to the holy well of those presiders and teachers, which is pure and potable and sweet, the spring coming forth from the rock of contemplation.
Let CONCLUSION AND DOXA us now prepare our mind to receive the teaching, to draw water from the spiritual springs, so that the well of water might be in us from another for eternal life, from which we might all come upon the grace and philanthropy of our Lord Jesus Christ, through and with whom the Father's glory, honor, and might, with the Holy life-giving Spirit, now and forever and ever unto eternity. Amen.
(123) INTRODUCTION: ON SHORT AND LONG SPEECHES 1. What am I supposed to do today, then? When I looked at the throng of you, I became afraid to extend my speech too long. For whenever the teaching continues for a very long time, I see you tromping together, crowded, and the difficulty which spoils careful listening. For the listener who doesn't enjoy ease is unable to attend eagerly to what is said.
So when I looked at the throng of you, as I said, I became afraid to extend my speech too long. But then, considering your longing, I am afraid to shorten the teaching. When someone is thirsty, even if he hadn't seen the bottle filled earlier wouldn't he gladly bring it to his lips? But even if he wasn't going to drink all of it, he would want to see it all filled. So I have no idea what I should do for my public speech. For I want to cut short your difficulty with a short speech, but I want to fulfill your desire with a long speech. I have done both frequently I have not shirked my responsibility even once. For I know that frequently when I have spared you and ended my speech before the conclusion, those who have an insatiable soul clamored against me, those who enjoy divine streams without ceasing, those who "are blessed, who hunger and thirst for righteousness" (Matt 5:6); having become afraid of those clamoring among them, I went on again until I had greatly extended my teaching, and so I accepted responsibility. But those present who love brevity of speech called out to spare their weakness, and to shorten the length of what is said. So whenever I see you crowded together, I constrain the speech toward silence. (124) But whenever [I see you] crowded together and not withdrawing dismissed, but devoted to the greater course, I want to rouse the tongue.
"Everywhere is narrow to me" (Dan 13:22)!
Why have I suffered? For the one enslaved to one lord, and required to be subordinate to a single opinion, can please his master with good temper and not err. But I have many masters, required to be enslaved to so many people holding different opinions. I say these things not annoyed at my enslavement—not at all!—nor running away from your mastery. For nothing is more reverend to me than this enslavement. While the emperor does not grow haughty from his crown or his purple, now I take pride in the enslavement of your love. For death succeeds that kingdom, but the Kingdom of Heaven awaits this enslavement, should it be well accomplished. "Blessed is the faithful enslaved one, and thoughtful, whom his master has established to give the dole to his fellow enslaved. I say to you Amen, upon all those submitting to his enslavement" (Luke 12:42, 44). You see how much is the gain of this enslavement, whenever it is done eagerly? It is ordained for all of those who are their master's.
So I don't flee from this enslavement; for I am enslaved with Paul. For also that one says, "We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ the Lord, being enslaved to you on account of Jesus" (2 Cor 4:5). And why do I speak of Paul? For if the one being in the form of God emptied himself, taking the form of an enslaved person on account of those who are enslaved, how great if, enslaved, I have become enslaved with fellow enslaved persons on my own account? So I said these things not running away from your mastery, but seeking to encounter forgiveness if I should not set the table (125) corresponding to everyone's preferences. But rather you do what I'm saying: You who couldn't be satisfied satisfied, hungering and thirsting for righteousness and desiring long speeches, because of your brothers' weakness endure the speech cut back from its customary measure. And again: you who love brevity of speech, who have weaker dispositions, for your insatiable brothers overcome the small pain; when you raise each up other profoundly this is how you fulfill Christ's law.
Do you not see Olympian athletes standing in the middle of the theater, in the middle of the day, just as if in a baking pit, naked bodies, receiving the sun's rays like some bronze statues, and battling in the sun and dust and heat, in order that the head that has worked so hard might be wreathed with laurel leaves? No crowns of laurel leaves for you, but a crown of righteousness is set as the reward for attentiveness! And we don't keep you until the middle of the day, but on account of your inattentiveness we dismiss you after the introduction, while the air is still very cold and unheated by the beams of the sun's rays, not ordering you to receive the rays with a bare head, but we gather under this marvelous roof and we offer the exhortation from the dais considering in every way your ease, so as to ensure steady attention to what is said.
Indeed: let us not be softer than our children going to school. For before noon they would not dare to withdraw to the house, but recently weaned from milk, having recently left the breast, not yet coming on five years old, tender and young in body, they display complete patience. Even if heat or thirst of any other thing annoys them, they persevere to noon and work hard seated in school. If no one else, let us imitate these children, we who are full grown men. For if we cannot bear to listen to speeches about virtue who would be able to believe that we can endure pain on virtue's behalf? If we are listless in listening, how is it clear that have been stirred to action? If we are put out by what is easier, how will we bear what is more difficult? But the crowding is a lot, the force is a lot. But listen, because violent ones plunder the Kingdom of Heaven, because the way leading to life is narrow and difficult. Since we walk the narrow and difficult path, it is necessary for us to be constrained and undergo difficulty, in order that we might be able to travel through the narrow and difficult way. For the one widening himself might not run along the narrowed path so easily, but the one persisting, undergoing difficulty, and pressing on.
2. ON GOD ESTABLISHING NAMES For our inquiry today is not about everyday things, but is beyond the beginning of the inquiry taken up yesterday but which wasn't resolved because of the great number of issues raised. What is this? We were asking about the establishment of names that God placed upon the saints. This matter seems to be simple, if someone might listen. But it has a lot of treasure, if someone should approach it with care. For when inexperienced people simply look at the gold-bearing earth, stored up with metals, they suppose it is only bare (126) and has nothing else more. But those who are trained with skillful eyes know the value of that land; and when they put it to the test in fire they burn off all of its excess. Just so also for the holy Scriptures: some who just read the words suppose the words are bare and have nothing more. But others with faithful eyes, trained in them, just like those with their technical tools, putting their scrutiny to the fire of the Spirit, they easily see all of their gold.
Now where has this inquiry come from? For we have not fallen simply into this subject, lest some should accuse us of untimeliness. akairian (ἀκαιρίαν); in Homily 1 John defended himself against "untimeliness" for reading Acts out of order; here he seems to mean keeping to an appropriate amount of time. But we were eager to speak about Paul's achievements, when the Acts of the Apostles was read aloud to you, and we touched upon the introduction of the story. We came across the beginning of the narrative which was this: "Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the Lord's disciples" (Acts 9:1). Right away the variation of his name confused you. For we find in all of his letters and in their introductions that he is not called Saul but Paul; and this is not only the case for him but for many others. For also Peter was called Simon before, and the children of Zebedee, James and John, afterward had their names changes to Sons of Thunder, and in the Old [Testament] someone might see the same custom holding sway over some. For also Abraham beforehand called Abram was afterward called Abraham, and Sarah, beforehand Sarai, was afterward named Sarah, and Jacob afterward was hailed as Israel. It seemed strange to us to simply run through such a treasury of names.
Someone might find it congruent with secular exōthen (ἔξωθεν) leaders: for also the designation of their names is two-fold. Look: "For then," it says, "Festus was succeeded by Felix Portius" (Acts 24:27), and again: "There was with him a proconsul called Sergius Paulus" (Acts 15:7). And the one handing over Christ to the Jews was called Pontius Pilate. Not among these leaders alone but also frequently among generals there are two-fold names, and among those who have given up private life from some duty or cause, the appellation is two-fold. But when it comes to these there is no benefit for us when we ask why they were called in this way. But whenever God gives a name it is necessary for all eagerness to be in evidence so as to discover the cause.
For God doesn't usually do or say anything simply or randomly, but in each case with the wisdom befitting it. So why was he called Saul when he was persecuting and he was renamed Paul when he believed? Some say that when he was roaring and disturbing and confounding all, and he shook up esaleue (ἐσάλευε) the Church, he was called Saul on account of this same "shaking up," to saleuein (τὸ σαλεύειν) receiving the appellation from the thing. When he left behind that madness and set aside disturbance, and ended his war, and ceased epausato (ἐπαύσατο) persecuting, again he was renamed Paul from the cessation (127). tou pausasthai (τοῦ παύσασθαι). Other late fourth-century authors (such as the so-called Euthalian Apparatus, a series of notes on the New Testament) provide precisely this explanation for Paul's two names. But this reasoning is trite and not true, and I have brought it up so you won't be deceived by simple etiologies. First: the parents who gave him this name weren't some sort of prophets, who could see the future. Next: if he was called "Saul" because he shook up and disturbed the church, it was necessary for him to set aside this name right away when he stopped shaking up the church.
But now we see him desisting from the shaking of those throughout the church, but not setting aside the name: but he was still called Saul. And so you don't think I'm deceiving you when I say these things, I count out from the beginning for you:
"They cast out Stephen," it says, "and they stoned him, and the witnesses put down their cloaks at the feet of a young man called Saul" (Acts 7:59);
and again: "Saul approved of their killing him" (Acts 8:1);
elsewhere: "Saul abused the church, entering into their houses, dragging out men and women" (Acts 8:3);
and again, "Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the Lord's disciples" (Acts 9:1);
and again, "He heard the voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?'" (Acts 9:4).
So from then it was necessary for him to put away that name, for he ceased persecuting. What then? Did he set it aside right away? Not at all, and this is clear from what follows. Consider:
"Saul rose from the ground and when he opened his eyes he saw nothing" (Acts 9:8);
and again: "The Lord said to Ananias: Proceed into the lane called Straight, you will find in the house of Judah one named Saul" (Acts 9:11);
and again: "Entering Ananias said: Brother Saul, the Lord sent me, who was seen by you on the road, in order that you might see" (Acts 9:17).
Then he began to preach and confound the Jews, and not in this way did he set aside the name, but he was still called Saul.
It says: "The scheming of the Jews was known to Saul" (Acts 9:24).
Only here? Not at all!
Also it says: "There was hunger and the disciples determined to send up to Jerusalem to the saints in ministry. They sent through the hand of Barnabas and Saul" (Acts 11:29-30).
Behold, he ministers to the saints and he's still called Saul! Afterward, Barnabas went to Antioch, and seeing the grace of God and that the crowd there was numerous, he went out to Tarsus to seek out Saul (cf. Acts 11:22ff.). Behold, he even converts many and he is called Saul.
And again: "There were in Antioch throughout the church prophets and teachers, Simeon called Niger, and Lucius the Cyrenean, Menahem the foster-brother of Herod the Tetrarch, and Saul" (Acts 13:1). Behold, he was even a teacher and a prophet, and still he was called Saul.
And again: "When they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said: Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul" (Acts 13:2).
3. Behold also he is set aside by the Spirit, and he is not yet setting aside the name, but when he went to Salamis, when he found the wizard, then Luke says about him: "Saul, who is also Paul, Saulos de ho kai Paulos (Σαῦλος δὲ ὁ καὶ Παῦλος) filled with the Spirit, spoke" (Acts 13:9). From there the name (128) change was in effect.
ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF NAMES So let us not tire from asking the reason for the names. For discovery of names also has a lot of force in secular matters. For often the discovery of names has caused recognition after a long period of time; it has revealed forgotten kinship; it has resolved disputes in the court; the discovery of names has ended battles and quashed war, and frequently becomes the establishment of peace. If the power of the discovery of names is so great in secular matters, how much more so in spiritual ones?
Foremost is the need to determine precisely our inquiries.
First we should ask: why did God gave names to some saints, but he did not name others? For he himself did not name all of the saints, neither in the New [Testament] nor in the Old. (For what happens in the New, this is also in the Old, so that you might learn that there is one Master of both Testaments.) Now in the New, Christ named only these: Simon "Peter," and the children of Zebedee, James and John, "the sons of Thunder"; none of the rest of the disciples, but he sent them off in their appellations in which their parents put them from the beginning. In the Old, God renamed Abraham and Jacob. But not Joseph or Samuel or David or Elijah or Elisha or any of the rest of the prophets, but he sent them off to remain under their original appellation. This is the first question: why did some of the saints have their names changed and not others?
The second after this: why did some of them have their names changed as adults but others from the beginning, even before their own births? Christ renamed Peter and James and John as adults, but John the Baptist before his birth. "For an angel of the Lord came and said: Do not be afraid, Zechariah; behold your wife Elizabeth will bear a son and you will call his name John" (Luke 1:13). You see how the appellation is before birth? This also happens in the Old. For just as in the New, Peter and James and John had their names changed after becoming men, and were two-named, but John the Baptist received his appellation before his birth and delivery; just so also in the Old Abraham and Jacob were renamed as adults. For he was called Abram, and then he was called Abraham; and he was called Jacob, and then he was called Israel. But Isaac wasn't like this, but he accepted the name before his birth. Also just as in the former case an angel said: "Your wife will conceive in the womb and she will bear a son and you will call his name John," so also here God said to Abraham: "Your wife Sarah will bear a son and you will call his name Isaac" (Gen 17:19). This is one question: why did some have their names changed and others never did? A second after this: why some who were already in adulthood, others before birth, and these in both Testaments?
But let us come to the second question first. For that one will be easier (129). And let us look at those who were named from the beginning; working our way back after a little let us come to the first person named by God so the questions can be answered from the beginning. Whom did God first name? Who else but the first one created? For there was no other person to place an appellation on. What did he name him? Adam, in Hebrew speech; for this is not a Greek name, translated into Greek it is clearly nothing else but "earthy." While "Adam" arguably does mean "earthy" (γηῖνος) in Hebrew, that "Eden" means "virgin earth" (παρθένος γῆ) seems to be a unique invention of John's. That was the sort of area in which God planted Paradise. "For God planted Paradise," it says, "in Eden toward the East" (Gen 2:8). So you might learn that Paradise was not a work of human hands. For the land was virgin, and had not received the plow, nor was it laid open into furrows, but it had not experienced farming hands: it brought forth those trees by command alone. On this account he called her Eden, because she was a "virgin land."
(That virgin was an image of this Virgin. For just as that land brought forth Paradise for us without receiving seed, so also this one brought forth Christ for us without receiving the seed of a man. So whenever the Jew says to you: "How did a Virgin give birth?" say to him: "How did the virgin land bring forth those miraculous trees?" For "Eden" means "virgin land" in the Hebrew tongue. And if someone doesn't believe, let him ask those experienced in the tongue of the Hebrews and let him observe that this is the meaning of the name "Eden." For since we speak to those who don't know I don't want you to be misled because of this, because I am eager to make you undefeated; for when these enemies coming who do know these things, thus we precisely interpret everything.)
Now since the human was formed from Eden, the virgin earth, he was called "Adam," sharing a name with his mother. People do this, often they call newborn children after their mother's names; so also God called the human formed from the earth "Adam" after his mother's name. That one "Eden," this one "Adam." In Greek, Edem (ἐδὲμ) and Adam (ἀδάμ).
4. But what use is this? For people name after mothers as an honor for those women who have given birth. Why did God name after the mother? What great or small thing was he arranging there? For he did not do this simply or randomly, but with reason and much wisdom: "For his understanding is beyond counting" (Ps 146:5). Eden is earth, Adam is earthy, dusty, earth-born. Why then did he call him this? Reminding him through the name of his natural lowliness, establishing the lowliness of his substance in the appellation, as if on a bronze pillar, so that the name would possess the teaching of modesty, so he would not receive an idea greater than his own worth. We know clearly that we are earth from the very experience of things. But he saw no one dying before him, nor being reduced to dust; but he was very (130) beautiful in his body, and he shone forth like a golden statue just now coming forth from the furnace. So that the excess of his appearance wouldn't rouse him to madness, he established for him a name possessing sufficient teaching of humility.
For also the devil was going to come to him to have a conversation about madness. He was going to say to him, "You will be like gods" (Gen 3:5). So that, when he remembered that his name was teaching him that he is earth, he would never delude himself that he was God's equal, this is why he received ahead of time his reminder in a name: establishing for him sufficient safeguard through the appellation to fend off the future scheme of the wicked demon, reminding him of his kinship with the earth, emphasizing the full nobility of the nature, and all but saying to him: "If he should say to you, 'You will be like God,' remember the name and you have received sufficient instruction to reject the counsel. Remember your mother, know the lowliness of your kinship, not so that you will learn humility but so that you will not be roused into madness." For thus Paul says: "The first person Adam was from the dust of the earth." For by interpreting what "Adam" is to us then he said, "from the dust of the earth; the second person, the Lord from Heaven" (1 Cor 15:47).
But the heretics assault you, saying: "Behold, Christ did not take up flesh. For it says: The second person, the Lord from Heaven." You hear "second person" and you say: "He did not take up flesh"? But what might be so equally shameful about this? For what person does not have flesh? This is why he called him "person" and "second person," so you might see his kinship, both from number and from nature. So who does he say is this second person? "The Lord from Heaven." But the passage does not scandalize me, he says, and saying "from heaven." Whenever you hear that the first person Adam was out of the dust of the earth, do you then think that he is earthy? Do you suspect he is only dust, having no bodiless power—I mean the soul—and its nature? And who would say this? For just as you don't suspect that he was destitute of a soul when you hear that Adam was "of dust," so when you hear "the Lord from Heaven" do not set aside the dispensation because "from heaven" was added.
So far the first name has received sufficient defense. For Adam was called from the name of his mother so he wouldn't imagine himself greater than his own power, so he would be unconquered before the deceit of the devil, for he said: "You will be like gods."
So next: and as we move on to another one who was named before their birth by God, let us conclude the speech. Who after Adam received appellation from God before being born? Isaac. "For behold," he says, "your wife Sarah will conceive in her womb and she will bear a son and you will call his name Isaac. Then she bore him and she called his name saying, 'Isaac. For God has made me laugh'" (Gen 17:19, 21:3, 6). Why? "Who," it says, "would announce to Abraham that Sarah will nurse a son?" (Gen 21:17) Pay attention to me carefully here, so that (131) you see the wonder. She doesn't say, "that she bore a child," but that "she will nurse" a child. So no one would think the child was sneaked in, the wells of milk vouchsafed the childbirth, so when he was reminded of the name he also had sufficient instruction of the miracle of the birth. So she says, "God made me laugh," because it was possible to see a woman who had grown old, in abundant gray hair, nursing, having a child at the breast. But the laughter was a reminder of the grace of God, and the milk-bearing attested to the miracle-working. For the deed was not natural, but the achievement was entirely of grace. So Paul also says, "According to the promise of Isaac we are children" (Gal 4:28). For just as grace also operated there, so also here that one went forth from a mother who had grown cold. katepsugmenēs (κατεψυγμένης); that is, Sarah had grown old past child-bearing years. John uses this term also of Sarah at hom. in Genesim 45.5, interpreting the same verse of Genesis. You went up from cold waters: so what the mother was to him, the bath of waters was to you. You see the kinship of birth? You see the harmony of grace? You see everywhere nature at rest and the power of God producing everything? This is why "We are children according to the promise of Isaac." But (132) one thing remains be asked: he said about us: "not out of blood, nor out of the will of flesh" (John 1:13). How? Isaac was not out of blood: "It has ceased for Sarah how it is for women" (Gen 18:11). For the wells of blood were quenched, the matter of birth was removed, nature's workshop was idle. And God showed his own power.
CONCLUSION AND DOXA Behold also we have the instruction corresponding to the naming of Isaac. For it is left to come to Abraham and the sons of Zebedee and Peter; but so as not to annoy with length, we conclude the speech, holding these things over into another discussion, calling upon you, who were born according to Isaac, to remember the gentleness and clemency of Isaac and all other philosophy, in order that the prayers of that righteous one and of all those officials we might all be able to arrive in the bosom of Abraham, by grace and the philanthropy of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom and with whom the glory in the Father, honor, might, together with the Holy and life-giving Spirit, now and forever and for all eternity. Amen.
(131) 1. INTRODUCTION: ON LONG INTRODUCTIONS AND COMPLAINTS Some of our beloved have complained that we extend the introductions of our speech for a long time; and now you will know if they have complained about us rightly or wrongly, since, when you also listen to us you might cast your vote as if in a common court. But I, before I make my case, I give thanks to them for their complaints. For the complaint is solicitous, not malicious. For I myself might say that I love the one who loves me not just whenever he praises me but also whenever he complains and corrects me.
For simply to praise everything, whether you consider them well done or not, is not the mark of a friend, but of a fraud and a cheater. But to praise something which is correct and to complain about that which is incorrect, that is the mark of a friend and care-taker. And so you might learn that simply to praise and to bless everything all the time is not what a friend does, but a deceiver, it says: "For my people, those blessing you deceive you and they will disturb the tracks of your feet" (Isa 3:12). For I do not accept the enemy praising, but I welcome the friend complaining. For the former, even if he kisses me, is unpleasant, but the latter, even if he injures me, is desirable. The friendship of the former is full of suspicion, but the latter's injury possesses solicitude. On account of this someone says: "The injuries of a friend are more trustworthy than the friendships of an enemy" (Prov 27:6).
What’s that you say? "Friendly wounds are better, he says!?" For I don't pay attention to the nature of (132) how things are but to the disposition of how things are done. Do you want to learn how injuries from a friend are more trustworthy than the willing friendships of an enemy? Judas kissed the Lord, but his friendship was full of betrayal, his mouth contained poison, his tongue was filled with wickedness. Paul injured the one who was committing porneia among the Corinthians, but he saved him. And how did he injure him? He said: hand him over to Satan. That is, he said: "Hand such a one over to Satan for the destruction of flesh. Why? So that the Spirit might be saved on the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor 5:5). Do you see salvation containing injuries? You see friendship full of betrayal? So: "More trustworthy than injuries from a friend are the willing friendships of an enemy."
Let us examine how this is case not only for people but also for God and for the Devil. One is a friend, the other the enemy. One is the savior and the guardian, the other deceiver and foe. But the latter kissed at one time, while the former injured. How did the one kiss and the other injure? One said, "You will be like gods," while the other said, "You are earth and unto the earth you will return" (Gen 3:15, 19). Who was more helpful, this one saying, "You will be like gods" or that one saying "You are earth and unto earth you will return"? The latter threatened death, the former promised immortality. But the one promising immortality also got him cast out of Paradise while the one threatening death brought him up to heaven. You see how the injuries of friends are more trustworthy than enemy's willing friendships? This is why, even before I begin my defense, I gave thanks to those complaining. For when they complain—whether rightly or wrongly!— (133) they do this not wanting to reproach but to correct; but enemies, even if they complain rightly, they refute in their eagerness not to correct but to show off. When the former praise, they seek to do something very earnest; but the latter, even if they praise, they are eager to trip us up.
But however a criticism might be set in motion, it's a great good to be able to bear the criticisms and accusations, and not go wild. For "the one hating criticisms is senseless," it says (Prov 12:1). It doesn't say, "this or that kind of criticism," but simply, "criticism." For if the friend has rightly complained, sin is corrected; but if he laid blame irrationally, just praise him for his opinion, prove your point, and confess the grace of friendship. Complaining comes from excessive friendship. We shouldn't be disgusted when we're criticized. For this greatly enriches our lives, if it should be from everybody: if we might criticize those sinning and, when we sin, we might bear the criticisms pleasantly. For just like medicine applied to injuries, that's criticism of sins. For just as the one avoiding the medicine is mindless, so also the one not accepting criticisms is senseless.
But many often go wild, considering themselves and saying: "I am wise and intelligent, shall I put up with such-and-such?" They doesn't see that this is the proof of their extreme folly. "For I saw a person seeming to be wise to himself, but a foolish person has hope in himself" (Prov 26:12). That's why Paul says: "Don't be clever among yourselves" (Rom 12:16). And even if you are infinitely wise, and you understand what's needed, you are also human and you need an adviser. For only God is self-sufficient, and only he doesn't need an adviser. This is why it says about him alone: "For who knew the Lord's mind, or who was his adviser?" (Rom 11:34) But humans, even if we were infinitely wise, we would be infinitely criticized, and the weakness of our nature becomes evident. "For all things are not possible among humans," it says (Eccl 17:29). Why? For the son of a human is not immortal.
What's brighter than the sun? Nevertheless this too is eclipsed. Just like that lamplight: a shadow goes forth and hides the flashing ray; so also often also with our understanding—shining and blazing like high noon!—often ignorance goes forth and covers it up. And the wise man hasn't understood what is necessary, while someone much less sharp than he has found it out. And this happens so the wise man isn't exalted and the lowly one doesn't deprecate himself. It's a great good to be able to bear criticisms and a great good to be able to criticize. This is the greatest form of solicitude. Now if we saw a person wearing a short tunic flapping loose from their flanks, or poorly wearing some other covering, we would correct and remind them; but if we saw him with his life flapping loose, we wouldn't say a word. If we saw him with his life out of shape, we overlook it. When it's a matter of clothes, it leads to ridicule; when it's a matter of the soul, it leads to danger and punishment. You see the brother—tell me!—carried over the edge, leading a careless life, not understanding what is necessary: don't you reach out a hand, don't you lift him up out of misfortune? Don't you complain and don't you criticize? Or do you value not giving him offense and (134) not seeming confrontational over his salvation?
Now what sort of excuse will you have before God? What defense? Didn't you hear what God commanded to the Jews? Not to disregard the enemies' oxen led astray, nor to overlook one who has fallen (Exod 23:5)? Now if the Jews are commanded not to disregard the brute animals of enemies, shall we disregard the souls of brothers, tripped up day after day? And how is this not the ultimate cruelty and beastliness, not to apply as much care to people as those [Jews] do to brute beasts? This has overturned all things, this has confounded our lives, the fact that we don't bear being criticized gracefully, nor do we want to criticize others. This is why we have been confrontational when criticizing, since we have been beastly when criticized. For if the brother knew that when he was criticizing you he was being commended by you then when he was being criticized he would return the favor.
2. INTRODUCTION CONTINUED: MOSES' EXAMPLE Do you wish to learn that even if you are exceedingly intelligent, even if exceedingly learned, even if you have come to that highest peak of virtue, you have need of an adviser who will correct and criticize? Listen to an ancient story:
Moses had no equal. As it says: "he was gentler than all other people" (Num 12:3), and a friend to God, and he was filled with foreign philosophy, tēs exōthen philosophias (τῆς ἔξωθεν φιλοσοφίας) and he was full of spiritual intelligence. For it says: "Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22). You see his educated instruction? "And he was capable in reason, and in other virtue" (Acts 7:22). But listen to another testimony: For it say that God communicated with many prophets, but he did not communicate any one else this way: to the others in riddles and dreams, but to Moses face to face. What greater proof of his virtue do you seek than whenever the Master of all discussed with an enslaved person like a friend? So he was wise both in foreign and native instruction; he was powerful in word and deed. He imposed commands upon creation itself, since he was a friend of the Master of creation. He led so great a people out of Egypt. He parted the sea and drew it together again. And the marvel was miraculous to see. At that time the sun saw the sea unfilled, but walkable, the sea not with oars and boats, but crossed by horses' hooves.
Even though he was a wise man, powerful in word and deed, the friend of God, who commanded creation, a performer of such wonders, he did not understand the matter easily grasped by many people. But his father-in-law, a barbarian person, and simple, understood it and brought it out in the open. For that one didn't discover it. What is this? Listen so you might learn that each person needs an adviser—even if he's like Moses!—and that these things escaping the notice of the great and marvelous people did not often escape the notice of the small and simple.
When Moses led them out of Egypt, and he was in the wilderness, all the people stood near him, six hundred thousand, and for all of them he resolved the complaints of people arguing with each other. His father-in-law Jethro saw him doing this, a man who was unintelligent, who had lived in the desert and (135) never had in common with anyone laws or custom, but who lived in impiety, of what might there be better proof of foolishness? For nothing is more foolish than pagans! hellēnōn (Ἑλλήνων) But even though he was a barbarian, impious, foolish, when he saw him doing something unnecessarily, he corrected Moses, the wise, intelligent friend of God. And when he said "Why do they stand before you?" (Exod 18:14) and he learned the cause he said, "You have not done this correctly" (Exod 18:17). The advice comes with censure.
But the wise and intelligent friend of God, who oversaw so many myriads, didn't get angry and he held back. It's no small thing to have been instructed by a barbarian and an idiot! But neither the miracles which he performed nor the greatness of his rule puffed him up, nor did it make him embarrassed to have been corrected in front of those subordinate to him. But since he understood that, even if great signs were performed by him, nonetheless he shared in human nature and many things often escaped his notice, he accepted the advice with gentle forbearance.
Many people, avoiding the appearance of needing advice from others, frequently have chosen to forsake the help from their opinion rather than accepting the instruction to correct their mistakes. They have decided to ignore rather than to learn, not seeing that it is a complaint of not learning but as an accusation of being ignorant. Not being taught, but being in ignorance. Not to be criticized, but sinning uncorrected. For this is it: what is needed is found from the small and simple person, that which often is not found from the wise and great one.
Because he understood this, Moses listened with all gentle forbearance to him when he gave him advice and said: "Make for yourself leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. And they will bring up to you the difficult matter, while they will resolve the easy one" (Exod 18:21, 22). And when he heard he was not ashamed, nor embarrassed, nor was he abashed by those listening, nor did he say to himself: "My followers will condemn me, if, although I am their leader, I learn what to do from someone else." But indeed he was persuaded and he gave the order; and not only was he not ashamed by those at that time, but also not by those of us who came afterward. But just he took pride in the correction which took place from his father-in-law, not only before the people then, but also those from his time until today, and also those until the coming of Christ throughout the whole world—he taught them through the Scriptures that he couldn't understand what was needed and that he accepted correction from his father-in-law.
If we saw someone present when we were being criticized and corrected, we would become dizzy, we would be astounded, we would think we are going to drop entirely dead.
But not him: Seeing so many thousands present he wasn't embarrassed; rather to so many myriads at that time, and from then until now throughout the whole earth, he proclaims every day through the Scriptures what he didn't understand and what his father-in-law understood. Why did he do this, and provide a written reminder? To convince us never to think we are so great, even if we are wiser than everyone, and not to scorn advice from others, even if they are simpler than everyone. For if someone should advise something necessary, even if he is enslaved, accept the instruction. But something dangerous, even if it should happen to come from someone of the greatest rank, set aside the opinion; for it is not in the quality of the persons (136) giving advice, but in the nature of the advice itself that it is always necessary to attend to. So that's what Moses did by instructing us not to be embarrassed when criticized, even if the entire populace is present. For this is the greatest encomium: extraordinary praise, and praise of the highest philosophy, to bear criticism nobly. And so we don't praise Jethro and marvel at him now because he corrected Moses, as we are astounded at that holy one, because he was not ashamed to be corrected with so many present; and he handed down a written reminder, showing his philosophy forever, and that with great excellence he spurned glory from many.
3. Now having made a defense on behalf of our introduction, we have made again a greater introduction! But neither simply nor randomly, but discussing with you on behalf of the greatest and most necessary things, so we might bear criticism nobly, so we might readily criticize those who sin and correct them. Now it's necessary to mount a defense on behalf of length and to say why we make such long introductions.
Why do we do it? We are talking with so big a crowd, with men who have wives, who preside over households, who live in daily activity, in secular matters. And this is not only the difficulty, that they are occupied unceasingly, but that we receive them here only once a week. So wishing to prepare for them easily understood utterances, we strive to make the teaching clearer through the introductions. For someone having no work, but always focused on the Scriptures, doesn't need introductions, doesn't need set-up, but when they listen to the speaker, they receive the gist of the utterances right away. But a person bound up all the time in secular matters, present here a little and briefly, if he didn't hear the introductions and the full set-up, and see all at once the speech prepared in advance for him, he would leave having gained nothing.
But this is not the only cause for the length of our introductions. There's another no less important: For those who are present are numerous, but they aren't present frequently. So it's necessary to praise those who are present, but censure those who aren't present, so that the former might be more eager for praises while the latter on account of the complaints might forego laziness. This is the other use of the introductions. Let us frequently grasp the lengthy proposition, which cannot be brought to a conclusion in a single day, but we take a second, third, and fourth day when there is a need for exegesis on this subject matter. So it is also on the second day to repeat the last parts of the earlier teaching, so that when the end is correlated to the beginning, it makes the exegesis clearer to those present and a speech depending on a sequence isn't more opaque to the audience.
So ON BIBLICAL NAMES you might learn that a speech opening without introductions will be intelligible to no one, behold as a kind of proof I'm starting without any introductions: "Looking at him Jesus said: 'You are Simon, son of Jonah, but you shall be called Cephas, which means 'rock'" (John 1:42). You see, do you understand what was said? Or do you know the sequence in which it was said? Because I started this without an introduction, having done this, just like someone bringing a person, completely covered up, into the theater.
Take him whom we shall now (137) uncover, handing the introduction over to him. For our speech here yesterday was about Paul, when we were talking about names and we asked why at one time he was called Saul, but afterward Paul. From there we crossed over into older history and we investigated all those who received name-changes. So at that point we recalled Simon, and Christ's voice saying to him, "You are Simon, son of Jonah, but you will be called Cephas, which means Rock." This verse did not appear in Homily 2, and is one piece of evidence that the four-homily collection is a posthumous construction out of multiple homiletic series, perhaps even preached in different years, on a similar topic. You see how the teaching a little before which was full of confusion has now become more intelligible? For just as body needs a head, and the a tree needs a root, and a river needs a source, so also a speech needs an introduction. So now that we have set you up upon the beginning of the road, and we have showed the sequence, let us now grasp the story from the introduction. "Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord" (Acts 9:1).
For indeed, he is called "Paul" in the letters. Why does the Holy Spirit change his appellation? Just like a master who has bought an enslaved person, and then wishes to teach him mastery, he changes his name; just so also the Holy Spirit did at that time. For he also received Paul out of captivity, he was newly going forth newly in this mastery. This is why he changed his appellation, so that henceforth he would learn mastery. That the imposition of names is a mark of mastery let us rather make clearer than these: for it will be more intelligible than these from what God did with Adam. For wanting to teach him that he was the leader and master of all, he led all the animals before him "to see what he would call them" (Gen 2:19), showing that the imposition of names confirms mastery. If you should also wish to see this applied to people, and to learn it is frequently customary for those receiving enslaved people out of captivity to change their names, listen to what the King of Babylonia did. For when he was taking Ananias and Azariah and Mishahel out of captivity, he did not leave them their former names, but he called them Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago.
But why did he (God) not rename him (Paul) right away, but let a long time go by? Because if he had renamed him right away when he was converting, metastantan (μεταστάνταν) Paul's conversion metabolē (μεταβολὴ) would not have been apparent and the conversion metastasis (μετάστασις) toward faith. But that which befalls enslaved people, whenever fleeing they change their names right away, they become invisible, this would have happened to Paul. If right away, when he left the Jews and came to us, his name was changed no one would know that the persecutor was the same as the evangelist. This was important: to learn that he is the persecutor and he has become the apostle.
This was what disturbed the Jews, that the teacher who was established for them was found to be against them. So a sudden change of name wouldn't conceal the change of decision, for a long while he applied to him the appellation he had before. So, whenever everyone learned that he was the one who had been persecuting the church previously, when it was known to all, then he also changed his appellation.
And that this was the cause, hear him saying: "I came into the area of Syria and Cilicia; I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Palestine" he says (Gal 1:21). If he was unknown to those in Palestine where he was residing, how much more to those situated (138) elsewhere? "I was unknown by face," he says, "not by name." Why "unknown by face"? For none of the believers dared to look at him when he was at war with us. He was filled with such murder and such madness! So everyone turned away, everyone fled, if they saw him coming anywhere, and they didn't dare to look back. He was behaving so wildly against the believers. But they were only hearing that the one who at one time persecuted us was now evangelizing the faith which at one time he plundered. Since they did not know him by face, as they had only been hearing him, if he had changed his name right away, those who had heard him would not have known that the one persecuting their faith was the one evangelizing it. For since they knew his earlier name, that he was called Saul, if right away upon having converted metablētheis (μεταβληθεὶς) he was called Paul, when someone announced to them that Paul was evangelizing, the persecutor of the Church, they would not have known that it was him, because he wasn't called Paul, but Saul. This is why for a long time he maintained for him the appellation he had before, so it would be known to the believers, and to those who were distant and had not seen him.
4. Why ON PAUL'S LAST EVIL DEEDS his name wasn't converted meteblēthē (μετεβλήθη) right away has been shown sufficiently. Now it is necessary to come to the beginning of the passage. "Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord" (Acts 9:1). Why "still"? What had he done before this that it says "still"? "Still" is said about a person who has done many bad things before. So what had he done? Tell me what bad things he hadn't done! He filled Jerusalem with blood, rooting out the believers, he plundered the Church, he persecuted the apostles, he slaughtered Stephen, he spared no men or women. Now listen to his disciple saying: "Saul despoiled the church, entering house by house, dragging out men and women" (Acts 8:3). For the marketplace was not enough for him, but he invaded households. "Entering house by house," it says. And it does not say "leading" or "pulling" men and women, but "dragging out men and women." Just as if talking about a beast, "dragging out men and women." And not just men, but women too! He did not spare nature, nor did he have mercy on their gender genos (γένος) nor did he break off because of weakness.
Now he did these things out of zeal, not out of anger. This is why Jews doing these same things are worthy of accusation but when he does them he's worthy of forgiveness. From the way they did these things it was clear that they did them on account of glory from the masses; but he wasn't like this, but he was zealous for God, even if ignorantly. This is why they [i.e., the Jews] let women go, but waged war against men, since they saw in them their own impending glory. But he, because he was fired up, he set upon everybody. Keeping all of this in mind, Luke, when he saw that he wasn't yet satisfied, said: "Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the Lord's disciples."
For Stephen's murder hadn't satisfied him, nor had the persecution of the Church sated his desire. But went even further, and nowhere halted his madness. For he was zealous. But going up now from the slaughter of Stephen, he persecuted the apostles. And he did this just like a wild wolf who invaded the flock of sheep and snatched a lamb from there, and when he tore it apart with his own mouth (139) he was made more audacious by this plunder. Just so also Saul invaded the area of the apostles, he snatched from there the lamb of Christ, he slaughtered Stephen, and then became more audacious by this slaughter. That's why it says "still."
This murder didn't sate him? The gentleness of the one being slaughtered did not shame him, whose words when he was being stoned were prayed on behalf of those stoning him: "Lord," he said, "do not hold this sin against them" (Acts 7:59)? This is why the persecutor became an evangelist. For right after the murder he was converted, meteballeto (μετεβάλλετο) God heard his [Stephen's] voice. For Stephen was worthy to be heard, both on account Paul's future virtue and on account of his [Stephen's] own confession, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." Let those who have enemies hear this, those are disadvantaged. For even if you should suffer myriad terrible things, you have not been stoned, like Stephen! And look what happened! The single well of Stephen was stopped up, and others opened producing myriad rivers. For when the mouth of Stephen fell silent, right away the trumpet of Paul resounded. Thus God never leaves behind at the end those who run toward him, but he gives gifts greater than those that their enemies despoil. For they do not cast out such a soldier from the phalanx as Christ has brought in.
"But Saul, still—."
Here's another way the "still" is clear: still enraged, still raving, still at the peak of anger, still bubbling up to murder, Christ drew him back. For he didn't wait for the disease to abate, for the sickness to be quenched, for the wildness to become mildness, and then draw him in. But at the very height of madness he subdued him, in order that he might show his own power. For in the midst of frenzy at that time, while the anger still bubbled up, he overcame and prevailed over the persecutor. For we especially marvel at the healer whenever he's able to quench the fever which had set in and the heat of the illness which is at the peak of severity and remove it entirely. This is also what happened to Paul. For the voice of the Lord, like some dew falling from above, freed him entirely from the disease when he was at the peak of his fever. "Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the Lord's disciples," he sent away the crowd and he then rushed against the leaders. For just like when someone wants to cut down a tree, after removing the branches he cuts down at the root, just so he came at the disciples, wanting to destroy the root of the preaching. But the disciples were not the roots of the preaching, but the Master of the disciples. This is why he also said: "I am the vine and you are the grapes" (John 15:5). For that root is invincible. This is why, as many grapes as he cut away so many more shot forth again. For Stephen was cut away but Paul shot forth, and those who believed through Paul.
It CHRIST'S VOICE AND PAUL'S FREE CHOICE says: "For it happened as he was nearing Damascus, a bright light shone all around him out of heaven, and falling to the ground he heard a voice saying: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" (Acts 9:3, 4).
Why was the voice not heard first, but before "the light shone around him"? In order that he might hear the voice with calm. Since he was ordered to deal with a certain matter, and he was full of anger, even if myriads had called out, he would not have turned back: he was entirely (140) set on the task at hand. So this wouldn't happen to Paul—that, drunk on the madness of what he was doing he would ignore the voice, or not hear it, since he was completely focused on that marauding—first he blinded his eyes through the light, mitigated his anger, quenched all of the confusion of his soul, and great stillness in his mind, and then he sent down the voice; so that, once his boastfulness was reduced, he might then pay attention to what was being said with a sober intellect: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
This is less about complaining than it is about defending. "Why do you persecute me? What do you have to complain about me, small or great? How has someone been harmed by me? Because I raised your dead? Because I cleansed lepers? Because I cast out demons? But this is why I should be worshiped, not persecuted!" And in order that you might learn that "Why do you persecute me?" is rather about defending, hear how his Father applied this phrase to the Jews. For just as the former said, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" so the latter says to the Jews: "My people, what did I do to you, how have I injured you?" (Mic 6:3)
"Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
Look at him [Paul] lying prone, look at him bound without chains. It's just like when a master takes in hand an enslaved person who has run away many times and done myriad terrible things, having bound him he might say to him when he is bound: "What do you want me to do to you now? Look, now I have you in hand." So also Christ has taken Paul and cast him down, prone, and seeing him trembling and frightened and unable to do anything he says: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? Where then has that anger gone? Where's the madness? Where the untimely zeal? Where are the chains and the maneuvers? Where's that wildness? You are now immobile, and unable to see the one being persecuted. And the one hurrying and running around everywhere, you now have to be led about by hand." This is why he says to him, "Why do you persecute me?" In order that he might learn that in the time before he willingly conceded to him, but this was not him being weak, nor was this him being cruel, but this was out of love of humanity and that was out of solicitude.
So why does Paul say: "Who are you, Lord?" (Acts 9:5) He recognized the mastery from the forgiveness, he learned the power from the blindness, he then confesses the authority. "Who are you, Lord?" Do you see the reasonable soul? Do you see the mind filled with freedom? Do you see the impartial conscience? He hasn't resisted, he didn't contend, but he knew the Master right away. Not like the Jews when they saw the dead being raised, the blind seeing, lepers cleansed; not only did they not run to the one doing these things, but they called him a deceiver, and in every way they set a plot in motion. But Paul wasn't like this, but right away he was converted.
And then Christ? "I am Jesus, whom you persecute" (Acts 9:5). And why didn't he say, "I am Jesus, the one who resurrected, I am Jesus sitting at the right hand of God," but "I am Jesus whom you persecute"? In order that he might sting his conscience and goad his soul. Just listen to Paul after a lot of time and myriad achievements lamenting this. He says: "For I am the least of all the apostles, I who am not sufficient to be called apostle, for I persecuted the church" (1 Cor 15:9). If after myriad achievements and so much time he repents this, how clear was it (141) that he suffered in that time, not yet having any achievements, understanding in himself the persecution and hearing that voice?
5. But they are rising up from us here. John either refers to people metaphorically grumbling about his point, or (more likely) literally getting up from the ground to leave. But do not flag, even if evening falls. For this whole speech of ours is on Paul's behalf: Paul, who for three years, day and night, taught the disciples. But some are rising up here now and say: "And what's the big deal about Paul giving in? For God casting that voice was like nothing more than a rope around his neck and that's how he drew him to himself." You're listening carefully! This reasoning is also common for us among the Greeks and among the Jews, who suppose accusing a righteous person is a cloak of their own faithlessness. They don't see that the sin is a twofold sin: not setting aside their own error and trying to undermine God's holy one with such excuses. But let us, by God's grace, make a defense on his behalf!
What is the accusation? It was by constraint, Throughout this section, "constraint" is anankē (ἀνάγκη). he says, that God drew him back. What kind of "constraint," friend? He called to him from above. Do you fully believe that he called to him from above? So he also calls to you today through that voice, but you don't obey! Do you see that it was not a matter of constraint? For it were constraint it would be necessary for you to obey. If you don't obey, then clearly he obeyed out of choice. ek proaireseōs (ἐκ προαιρέσεως), also translated below as "decision" And so you might learn that the calling for Paul's salvation was significant, just as it is for everyone else, and that he didn't leave him bereft of his own achievements and praises on account of his will, and that he didn't damage his free will, autexousion (αὐτεξούσιον) but that he willingly gave in out of good judgment, I shall make this clear from another example.
The Jews heard the voice carried from above, not of the Son but of the Father, saying about Christ around the streams of the Jordan: "He is my son, my beloved" (Matt 3:17) and they said, "He is a deceiver" (Matt 27:63). You see the open war? You see the clear battle? You see that everywhere there is need of good judgment and impartiality of soul, not of prejudicial feeling? Behold the voice there and the voice here. But one was persuaded while the others objected. And not just the voice but also the Spirit in the form of a dove! For since John baptized while Christ was baptized, the voice descending came down upon the latter so that, since the two shared a human form, they wouldn't think the baptizer was greater than the baptized. And since it was not clear about whom the voice was speaking, the Holy Spirit also came in the form of a dove, drawing the voice on Christ's head. But all the same he proclaimed him through the voice and showed him through the Spirit, and afterward John cried out, "I am not fit to loosen the strap of his sandal" (Luke 3:16).
And there were myriad other testimonies, through words and deeds, but they were blind to all of them. Or rather: they saw all of these things, but they were not persuaded by anything said or done, having made up their minds in advance in a mania for glory from the masses. So then the evangelist says that many of the Jews believed in him, but didn't confess because of the leaders (142), so they wouldn't be cast out of the synagogue. And Christ himself said: "How will you be able to believe, taking glory from each other, and not seeking glory from the only God?" (John 5:44). But Paul was not like this, but hearing just once the voice of the one who was persecuted, immediately he rushed forth, immediately he obeyed, and he demonstrated the great change.
If you do not flag at the length of things said, I bring the speech to another, more apt example. For they heard the Son and so they heard just like Paul heard, and they heard for as much time as Paul heard, but they didn't believe. Just like Paul when he was mad, when he was wild, when he waged war against the disciples, he heard the voice, so too the Jews. Where, and when? They went out in the night with torches and lamps to seize him. For they reckoned to set upon a mere person. Wishing to teach them his own power, and that he is God, and for goads to those struggling, he said to them: "Whom do you seek?" (John 18:4) They stood in front of him and next to him without seeing him; now he, who was being sought, led them by the hand to discovery of him, in order that they might learn that he was not going to the Passion unwilling because, if he didn't want to allow it, they wouldn't be surrounding him. How where they unable to find him? Why do I say they were unable to find him? But they were not able to see him present! Not only were they not able to see him present, but when they answered his question they still didn't know that he was present. Thus with complete extravagance he blinded their eyes. And not only this, but he flung them on their backs with his voice. For when he said: "Whom do you seek?" they all went on their backs from the sound of that voice (cf. John 18:6).
Just as the voice knocked down Paul, and made him lie prone, so also the voice flung them all down on their backs.
And just as the he did not behold the one persecuted by him, so they did not behold the one sought by them.
Just as the he was blinded in a time of madness, so they were blinded in the same time of madness: he, when he went to bind the disciples, they, when they went out to bind Christ, they suffered these things.
Bonds here, and bonds there!
Persecution here, and persecution there!
Blindness here, and blindness there!
The voice here, and the voice there!
The demonstration of Christ's power was similar, the medicines similar, but the correction was not similar. For the sick were very different.
For what was more senseless, what was more ignorant than they? For they fell backward and they got up again and they set upon him again. Weren't they dumber than rocks? So they might learn that he is the one saying to them, "Whom do you seek," and flinging them on their backs, he says to them again when they stood up, "Whom do you seek?" and they say, "Jesus," and he says to them, "I say to you that I am he" (John 18:6). Not only saying, "Learn that both the one saying before 'whom do you seek?' and flinging you down is me." But nothing more came of this, but they remained in their blindness. Examining all of these things in parallel, learn exactly that Paul didn't give in out of constraint but from good judgment of soul and impartiality of intellect.
6. If you are steadfast and holding up, I'll tell you another more apt example which has incontrovertible proof that Paul did not give in to the Lord (143) from constraint. For afterward Paul came into Salamis, on Cyprus, and he found there a certain wizard opposing him with the governor Sergius. Now Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to him: "You who are full of every deceit and every trickery, son of the Devil, will you not cease to pervert the straight ways of the Lord?" (Acts 13:10) This from the persecutor! Let us now glorify him who converted. metabalonta (μεταβαλόντα) Before this you heard that he was harming the Church, entering into every house, dragging out men and women, he handed them over into prison. You see how he speaks out freely now on behalf of the preaching. He says: "Will you not cease to pervert the straight ways of the Lord? And now behold the hand of the Lord upon you, you will be blind, not seeing for a time" (Acts 13:10-11). The same medicine that made him see he imposed on the wizard, but that one remained in blindness.
You should learn that not only the call brought forth Paul, but also his own decision. For if the blindness alone did this, it was necessary also for the same thing to happen to the wizard. But it didn't happen. But while that one was blinded, the proconsul who saw what happened believed. One received the medicine but the other one saw. You see the extent of the good mental judgment is the same extent as the disobedience and the heart-heartedness. For the wizard became blind: and that one received no joy, for he was disobedient, but the proconsul knew Christ. But that Paul gave in willingly and from his own decision, it is sufficiently proven.
I want you to know the precise reason that God doesn't force the unwilling but he draws the willing. This is why he says, "No one comes to me except my Father brings him" (John 6:44). The one drawing draws the willing, laying down and reaching out a hand. And so you might learn that he forces no one, but even if he wants it and we don't, the matters of our salvation crumble (not because his will is weak, but because he doesn't want to constrain anyone) it is necessary to scrutinize this rationale. Now many frequently by a pretext of laziness use this type of defense, and often when they call for illumination, for conversion metabolēn (μεταβολὴν) to a better way of life, for other achievements of this sort, then, as if hesitant and reluctant, they answer: "If God wills it, he will persuade me and I shall be converted." metathēsomai (μεταθήσομαι) But I do not complain about them, but I very much (144) approve, because they have fled to the counsel of God. I also want to introduce these words from them and so say: "If God wills it!" For when you give yourself over to sleep and laziness, and you don't attempt any good deeds but just invoke God's will, you'll never have what you need. For just as I said, God never draws forward anyone by constraint and force. But while he wants everyone to be saved he constrains no one. Just as Paul says, "Wanting all people to be saved and to come into knowledge of truth" (1 Tim 2:4). How then will everyone not be saved if he wants everyone to be saved? Since everyone's will doesn't follow his will; he forces no one. Thus he also says to Jerusalem: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I have wanted to gather up your children and you did not want it?" (Matt 23:37). What then? "Behold, your house is left to you, abandoned" (Matt 23:38). You see that, even if God wants to save, should we not give ourselves we remain in destruction?
For God prepares to save the person who wants it and decides, not the unwilling who doesn't want it, as I am saying often. For people wish to be [lords] and to have mastery of those enslaved willingly and unwillingly. They have mastery over them not because they see the utility for those enslaved but because they see their own need. But since God is self-sufficient and wants to show you that he needs none of us, he gives up our enslavement; but, aiming for one thing alone, our utility, he does nothing on account of his own need but to help us. So let us go forth willingly and wittingly, knowing the gift of enslavement to him. He will not constrain the unwilling and the runaways, nor will he use force, but showing this, that he does not need to have the gift of enslavement from us, but we need to have the gift of mastery from him.
So CONCLUSION AND DOXA knowing this, and understanding the philanthropy of the Master let us show forth, as much as we are able, that our way of life is worthy of his goodness, so we might come upon the Kingdom of Heaven. May we all come upon it, by the grace and philanthropy of our Lord Jesus Christ in whom is the glory and might, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever until all eternity. Amen.
(143) INTRODUCTION: THE ATTENTIVE AND THE LAZY 1. Whenever I look out upon your small numbers, oligotēta (ὀλιγότητα) and I gaze at the flock diminished in each service, I become disheartened and I rejoice. I rejoice because of you who are present, I become disheartened because of those who are absent. Now you are worthy of praises, since you haven't become lazier from the small numbers; but they are liable to complaints since they have not been roused into interest from your eagerness.
This is why I bless you and say that you are zealots, because (144) their small-mindedness oligōria (ὀλιγωρία) hasn't done you any harm. But I denounce them and weep, since your eagerness hasn't done them any good. For they didn't hear the prophet saying: "I chose to be cast aside in the house of God rather than to reside in the lodgings of sin" (Ps 83:11). He does not say, "I chose to settle in the house of my God" nor "pass time" nor "enter in." But "I chose to be cast aside. It is precious to me to be ranked among the last ones; I am content with this (he says), even if (145) I were found worthy to be cast out into the courtyard. I consider it the greatest gift, even if someone should number me among the last ones in the house of my God." Longing makes the common master one's own: so great is the love. "In the house of my God." The lover desires to see not just the beloved, but even just his house alone, even the gateway. Not just the gateway of the household, but even the alley and the cross-street. And even if he might see the cloak, or even the sandal of the beloved he thinks the beloved is present. This is how great the prophets were. Since they weren't looking at God, who is bodiless, they were looking at the house: and through the house they imagined his presence. "I choose to be case aside in the house of my God rather than to dwell in the lodgings of sins."
Each place, each site, is a "lodging of sin" in comparison with the house of God: whether you're talking about a courthouse, or senate-house, or each one's household. For even if there are prayers there, even if there are supplications, but it's also necessary that there be competition and fights and reproaches and colloquies on behalf of secular considerations. John acknowledges that, in the Christian city, prayers to the Christian God are recited in public buildings by Christian officials, but argues that the secular considerations biōtikōn phrontidōn (βιωτικῶν φροντιδῶν) negate any gestures of piety. But this house is purified from all things. That's why they are "lodgings of sins" but this is "the house of God." And just as a great harbor, sheltered from winds and waves, offers great security to anchored ships, so indeed does the house of God, as if rescuing those entering from any storm of secular matters, offers a place with great calm and security to stand still and hear the divine sayings.
This site is the establishment of virtue, the schoolhouse of philosophy; not just in the service, during the hearing of Scriptures and the spiritual teaching and the council of the venerable fathers. But at every other time, only cast yourself before the courtyards, and immediately you set aside secular considerations. Enter into the courtyards, and it's as if some spiritual breeze envelops your souls. This same tranquility makes you shiver and teaches you to practice philosophy. Elevate your thought, and do not refrain from remembering those present, but transfer yourself from earth to heaven. If apart from the service the profit of presence here is so great, then whenever the prophets altogether cry out on all sides, whenever the apostles evangelize, whenever Christ stands in your midst, whenever the Father accepts what is happening, whenever the Holy Spirit shares its own exultation, with how much advantage do those who are present go forth, and how much loss do those who are absent suffer!
I wanted to know where those who disdain the service pass their time, what held them fast and led them away from this holy table, what they talk about. Or rather, I know clearly: either they are talking about weird and very ridiculous matters, or they are riveted to secular considerations. Both pastimes are deprived of forgiveness and possess the ultimate punishment. Now about the first there is need of neither speech nor proof. Because they throw household business at us, and say that the constraint there is unbearable. It's clear from the gospels that they can't find forgiveness: called here once a week and even then not bearing to honor spiritual matters over earthly ones! For also those called to the spiritual marriage (146) offered up these excuses: one that he bought oxen, another that he purchased a field, another that he got married (cf. Luke 14:18-20). But nevertheless they were punished. For necessities are excuses, but whenever God calls, they have no defense. For all of our necessities come after God. After his honor, then let other things be enjoyed in earnest.
Now someone enslaved, tell me, until he finishes ministering to his master, when shall he take care of matters in his own household? How is this not out of bounds for that person, where "mastery" is a simple word, to provide such respectful obedience to lords, but when it comes to the one who is truly Master—not only of us but of the powers above!—they don't consider him worthy of the same care as with us who are also enslaved?
If it were possible for you to enter into their consciousness, John is speaking about the absent Christians. then you would see clearly how full they are of wounds, how many thorns they possess. For just like the earth when it has not enjoyed the farmers' hands is parched and overgrown, so is the soul when it hasn't enjoyed spiritual teaching, and it sends out thorns and thistles. For if we, who everyday share the hearing of the prophets and the apostles, scarcely hold back anger, scarcely hold wrath in check, scarcely restrain desire, scarcely cast out consuming jealousy, and, singing out endless songs from the Holy Scripture in our suffering, scarcely repress those shameful beasts; they, who have never enjoyed this healing, nor obeyed the divine philosophy, what hope of salvation will they have, tell me? I wanted to be able to display their soul before your eyes: and you would see it defiling, squalid, in heaps, and humiliated, and deprived of free speech. For just like bodies that don't enjoy the baths are full of so much squalor and defilement, so too the soul not that doesn't enjoy the spiritual teaching, has a great stain of sins sitting around it. For the spiritual bath is here, which purges all the squalor in the hot bath of the Spirit. Or rather, not only is the fire of the Holy Spirit purging defilement, but also coloring: "For if your sins were like the purple-dyed, I would whiten them like snow" (Isa 1:18). "Even if," he says with precision, "the defilement of sins should bite into the substance of the soul, so it renders it into a permanent state of coloration, even so I can render it into the opposite quality." For he just needs to nod and he sends away all sins.
2. I'm saying these things not so you might listen; for you don't need the medicines, thanks to God; but so they might learn through you. For if I could know the places in which they were gathered, I would not bother your affection. But since it is impossible for me, just one person, to know such a sizeable populace, I hand over to you the care of your brothers. Take care of your own brothers, draw them back, call them. I know you've done this many times. But doing things many times is nothing, but to do it until you can persuade and draw them in. I know that you are bothered, that you have often considered yourselves burdened that (147) you have not persuaded them. And this has made you very annoyed. But let Paul console you, saying: "Love helps all things, it believes all things, love never falls away" (1 Cor 13:7). Do this for yourself. Even if he doesn't accept the care, you still have the wage from God. You might sow your seeds upon the earth, and you might not harvest sheaves of wheat and have to go forth empty-handed. Not so with the soul! You sow the teaching, even if that [soul] is not persuaded by the words, you have earned the wage, as great as if he were persuaded. For God has usually attended not simply to the result of matters, but also to the disposition of those toiling, and thus determines compensation.
So I call upon you: you should do what those theater-lovers do who go crazy for horse-racing. What do they do? Early in the evening they say good-bye and before dawn they meet in each other's households, and they mark off other places for themselves so that, having been welded together in one place, they might go up with great pleasure to that satanic spectacle. John here seems to refer to the social clustering of "circus factions" in places around the city, not just at the hippodrome. Just as they are eager in their own souls, and drag each other down, in the same way you should take thought for your own souls and help to save each other; when the service is going to happen, show up at your brother's household, wait outside the courtyard, and grab him when he leaves. Even if myriad other constraints call out, don't concede and don't let him cling to some secular thing until you lead him into the church and persuade him to partake of the whole service. Even if struggles and objects, even if he offers myriad excuses, don't be persuaded, don't give up, but speaking and informing him that other things instead have been prepared for him at this time and that whenever he's finished the service and shared the prayers and enjoyed the Fathers' blessings, then he can go proceed to those matters and, when you've bound him with other words greater than these, then lead him to this holy table so you can have a double wage: for his presence and for your own.
Assuredly, should we use so much zeal and eagerness concerning the pursuit of the lazier, we would attain salvation. For even if they were infinitely scornful and shameless and murderous, becoming embarrassed at the persistence of your resolution, they will at that time abandon their laziness. For they are not more difficult than that judge who doesn't know God or feel shame before people (even if they are infinitely senseless!). But nevertheless that one—crude, wild, inflexible—was put to shame by the persistent diligence of a single widowed woman (cf. Luke 18:2-5). How worthy would we be of forgiveness if, while the widowed woman was able to bend back the cruel judge, who "did not fear God nor respect persons" (Luke 18:2) and to persuade him to give grace, we were not be able to draw forth brothers much more tractable and measured than that one, since we're calling them forth for their own good?
I have often said this, and I shall not stop saying it, until I see those sick people being healed (148). I seek them out each and every day, until I am able to find them through your zeal. But I also need you—with the same distress with which I am now saying these things!— Here we have a good example of a reference to how John's voice actually sounded when delivering a homily. and with the same pain to conduct this search for the lazier ones. For it's not just to me but you too that Paul has commanded to think of your own members. For he says: "Encourage each other in these words, just as you do" and again: "Build each other up" (1 Thess 5:11). For the wage is great for those who concerned for their brothers, but the greatest punishment is for those who neglect and scorn their salvation.
3. ON PAUL'S CLAIM TO BE "CALLED" From this I have excessive confidence and I have believed that with great eagerness you do the things said. And this is why, halting this instruction here, I shall attempt to lead you to Paul's table.
"Paul, called apostle" (1 Cor 1:1). Many times you have heard it and we have read it. But it's necessary not just to read but to understand what's said, since we will gain nothing from reading. For the treasure stepped on from above doesn't show its wealth: first it's necessary to dig into it and then go down into it and that’s how you discover the full abundance. Just like with Scriptures! Reading alone is not sufficient to show the treasury of good things socked away, should you plumb its depths. If reading were sufficient, Philip wouldn't say to the eunuch: "Do you understand what you read?" (Acts 8:30). If reading were sufficient, Christ wouldn't say to the Jews, "Search the Scriptures" (John 5:39). For the one searching does not stop at the surface appearance, but descends into the very depths.
Now I see a great sea of ideas in the introductions. John uses the same metaphor of "sea of ideas" in Homily 1. For in secular letters, the salutations are simple, they just express care. Not so here, but the introduction is full of a lot of wisdom. For it is not Paul speaking, but Christ moving his soul. "Paul, called." This Paul is one name, and a simple name. But it has such a treasure of ideas socked away, as much as you know through experience. For if you remember, This summary might place Homily 4 in sequence with Homily 2 with (perhaps) an intervening other homily in between (since John refers to this as a fourth homily). Or, equally likely, John preached more than one series of homilies on names and Paul. know I talked just about this name for three whole days, talking about its causes, why he was called Saul before and Paul after, and why he did not receive the appellation right away upon converting to the faith but for some long time he kept this name, which his parents gave to him from birth. And from this we showed that there was a lot of God's wisdom and solicitude, concerning us and those saints. For if people do not simply bestow names on their children, but call this one after a father, that one after a grandfather, others after some other ancestors, how much more then did God not simply bestow appellations upon those enslaved to him, not without any rationale but with great wisdom? For some people frequently call their own sons by the names of those who have died, in honor of those who have passed on and as a consolation for them, intending through the appellation of their children some consolation for the death of the dearly departed. But God, as a reminder of virtue and teaching (149), as if with a bronze needle, instills the appellation of the saints. Runaway enslaved people might be branded with needles—tattooed—to prevent further escape. Here, as in Homily 3, John uses the naming of enslaved people as a positive comparison.
This is how he called Peter from his virtue, instilling in his name the proof of the firmness concerning faith, in order that he might have a continuous teacher, the appellation, of such steadfastness. Thus also he called John and James [Son of Thunder] from their grandiloquence when they preached. It is likely John at some point preached fuller homilies that discuss these examples of Peter and the sons of Zebedee, although they don't survive. From this brief synopsis it seems Peter gave an example of a name meant to remind someone of a needed virtue (as the prince of the apostles famously lacked firmness in the gospels) while the sons of Zebedee received their name for a persistently present quality (their prominent voices). But so I don't annoy you by repeating myself, setting these aside I shall say this: that these very names the holy ones were called were each venerable to the friends of God and fearsome to the sinners.
For when Paul received Onesimus, who was a runaway enslaved person and a thief who had stolen some of his master's property, he converted him metabalōn (μεταβαλών) and so led him by the hand to the holy mystagogy; when going to return him again to his master, he wrote this to him: "So although I have great freedom of speech in Christ to command you to do what is fitting, through love, rather I beseech you, just as I am, Paul, the old man, now also bound in Christ Jesus" (Philm 8-9). You see that he has established three things: the bonds on account of Christ, the way of life from his age, the reverence from his appellation. For although he was one person imploring him, he contended to make himself threefold: the one lacking on account of Onesimus, the old man, [and Paul]. Something is not quite parallel here: a third element is missing, probably the name "Paul" based on the previous sentence; also Migne suggests that lacking (deomenon; δεόμενον) should, also in parallel with the previous sentence, probably be bound prisoner (desmōtēn; δεσμώτην).Do you see that these names are venerable and god-loved for the faithful?
For if the appellation which a beloved was named has frequently persuaded even the unwilling father to do favors on account of the charm in a name, how much more likely was this to happen to the saints? That they were fearsome to those sinning, just like the names of teachers to lazy children, hear how he hinted at this when he wrote to the Galatians. For they had declined into Jewish weakness, and they were in danger concerning this faith; and because he wanted to support them and persuade them not to introduce anything Jewish into the teaching of the gospel, he wrote thus: "Behold, I, Paul, say to you, that if you are circumcised, Christ will be no use to you" (Gal 5:2). You said: "I." John lapses into direct address of his subject, apostrophe. Why is the name added? Wasn't it sufficiently clear when you wrote "I"? But in order that you might learn that addition of the name itself was enough to appeal to those hearing, this is why he adds the appellation, leading them into a reminder of the teacher.
And we suffer the same thing; for whenever we remember the saints, even if we are being lazy, we are steadied; and even if we scorn them, we are afraid. For whenever I hear Paul the apostle, I imagine him in distress, in confinement, in floggings, in prisons, in the depth day and night, seized up into the third heaven, hearing unspeakable words in Paradise, the vessel of election, the bride-leader of Christ, praying that he is curse from Christ on behalf of the brothers. And just like some golden rope, the chain of achievements has come in precisely along with the memory of the name to those paying attention. And we have no small profit from that.
4. THE MEANING OF "CALLED" It was possible to say a lot more than this on the appellation. But so we might touch upon the second part of the phrase, halting here concerning the interpretation of the name, we proceed to that next part. For just as the name "Paul" imparts great benefit to us, so too does "Called," to Klētos (τὸ Κλητὸς); as John is considering it a kind of second name, like "Peter" above, I leave it untranslated below, as the proper name. if we should wish to learn with appropriate eagerness it would fill us with an interpretation equal or greater. For just as when someone who has removed one stone from an ornament, or from the emperor's crown, might be able to buy illustrious houses and valuable lands, and the flocks of enslaved people, and other things much greater than these when they sell that pearl, that's how it is with the divine words: if you should desire to ponder the meaning of a single phrase, it will impart to you a great foundation of spiritual wealth: not houses or enslaved captives or acres acquired of land, but the building blocks of piety and philosophy implanted into the souls of those paying attention. John returns to this metaphor of house-building below.
So take a look at this Cletus, at how great a history of spiritual matters it introduces to us. It is necessary first to learn what Cletus is at that time and next to inquire why he used this when he wrote to the Corinthians and Romans, but not to anyone else. For he doesn't do this simply or randomly. For if we don't make the salutations of our letters casually—when writing to inferiors, we write "From so-and-so to so-and-so," while to those of equal rank we also call the recipient of the letter "master" in the salutation, but whenever to someone of much higher rank then we add on even other greater names, taking special care—if we have used such forethought, and do not write in one way to everyone, but we make appellations corresponding to the difference of the persons receiving, how much more so Paul, not simply or randomly, written in this way to these people and differently to those, with some spiritual wisdom! Because he doesn't call himself Cletus in the introduction of a letter to anyone but these, it's possible for us to learn something when we come to the beginnings of the letters. It's should now be for us to say why he did this, since we shall first show what Cletus is and what Paul wanted to teach us through this phrase.
So what then does he want to teach us by calling himself Cletus? That—
He did not first give in to the Master, but he obeyed once he was called.
He did not seek and find, but he was found while wandering.
He did not first look up to the light, but the light cast out its rays toward his eyes and, blinding his eyes from without, thus opened them within.
Because he wants to reckon none of his achievements to himself, but to God who has called him, he calls himself Cletus. "For the one who opened the gates of the pit for me," he says, "and the stadium is also responsible for the crowns. For the one who granted the beginning and planted the root, granted to me afterward the building blocks of the growing fruits." This is why when he again says elsewhere, "I have struggled more than all," he continues, "not I, but the grace which is in me" (1 Cor 15:10).
So the name Cletus is the demonstration of nothing (151) else but that Paul thinks that none of his achievements belong to him, but he concedes them all to God the Master. This is also what Christ taught his disciples when he said: "You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you" (John 15:16). And the Apostle hints at the same thing in this letter when he says: "Then I shall know you just as I was known (1 Cor 13:12). For then," he says, "I did not know myself first, but I was known first." For Christ called him when he was persecuting and attacking the Church, saying, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" This is why he calls himself Cletus.
Why ON CORINTH does he write to the Corinthians? This Corinth is the capital city of Achaea, and it abounds with spiritual gifts and quite naturally so. For she first enjoyed Paul's tongue, and just like a vine that has enjoyed some fine and careful farmer and abounds with many leaves but is continually heavy, weighed down with a lot of fruit; in the same way indeed that city, which first partook of Paul's teaching—like a fine farmer's!—and for a long time reveled in his wisdom, had flourished in all good things. She was not only bursting with spiritual gifts, but she had great welter of secular advantages. For in the wisdom of pagan texts sophiai logōn tōn exōthen (σοφίᾳ λόγων τῶν ἔξωθεν) and in wealth and power she dominated other cities. And these things swelled her up and lifted her up to madness, and because of this madness she split into many pieces.
Such was the nature of her arrogance: it broke apart the common bond of love, and split apart neighbors, and it makes each, on his own, into its master. And just as walls destroy an edifice when they have been swollen up, so also indeed the swollen soul does not tolerate connection with another. This indeed also Corinth suffered at that time: they disagreed with each other, they cut up the church into many parts, they set up myriad other teachers for themselves, and having become parties and factions they damaged the church's dignity. For dignity is the church's whenever those gathered together maintain bodily conformity with each other.
5. It is necessary to prove all these things to you: that the Corinthians first enjoyed Paul's teaching; that they were filled with spiritual gifts; that they dominated in secular advantages; that this is why, abandoning each other, they fractured and committed themselves to this one or that one. That they first enjoyed Paul's teaching hear how Paul hints at this very thing: "For if you had many pedagogues in Christ Jesus, but not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus I begot you through the Gospel" (1 Cor 4:15). For the one begetting first brings the offspring into the light. And again: "I planted you, Apollos watered you" (1 Cor 3:6), showing that first he sowed the teaching.
That they abounded in spiritual gifts is clear here: "I thank my God for the grace of God, which was given to you in Christ Jesus, that in all you were made rich in him so that you lack in no gift" (1 Cor 1:4, 5).
And indeed that they partook of wisdom (152) that is pagan, exōthen (ἔξωθεν) out of which he extended many, long speeches against wisdom, he made clear to us. He didn't do this quickly in any other letter, and here engaged in an extensive accusation, and quite naturally. Since that's where the tumor was found that's where he applied the incision, saying thus: "Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in wise speech, lest the wisdom of the cross of Christ be emptied out" (1 Cor 1:17). See how great is the accusation of pagan wisdom, that not only seems to contribute nothing to piety, but is both a hindrance and an impediment.
For it's like the brilliance of bodies, and things attractive and pretty to the eyes: should they receive some external exōthen (ἔξωθεν) supplement to their beauty, they would injure the glory of their own elegance, with cosmetics painted on here and there, and other artifices, separating it from the praise of its beauty. But should you add nothing to them, you rather emphasize their elegance, as the naked grace competes on its own and produces a complete marvel. It's the same should you introduce something external to piety and the spiritual bride, whether it's wealth or authority or strength of words, you have emptied out her glory, not allowing her full marvel to appear, but separating her glory into many parts. But if you allow her to compete on her own, naked, setting aside all human things, then all of her beauty appears precisely, then strength shines forth simply and without a fight, whenever she has no need of wealth or of wisdom or of authority or of noble birth or any other human thing, she is able to master all and prevail, through people who are simple and humble and uncertain and poor and uneducated, and while orators and philosophers and tyrants are impious, she conquers the whole world.
So also Paul says: "I did not come according to superiority of speech, preaching to you the witness of God" (1 Cor 2:1) and "The foolish things of the world has God chosen, in order that he might shame the wise" (1 Cor 1:27). He doesn't simply say "the foolish things" but "the foolish things of the world"; because the foolish things of the world are not entirely also foolish to God. But many of those who seem unintelligent here are wiser than all others to God. Just so many of those living in poverty here are richer than everyone to God. So too that Lazarus was poorer than everyone when he was in the world, he was richer than all in heaven (cf. Luke 16:19-31). He calls "the foolishness of the world" those who don't have a sharpened tongue or partake in pagan wisdom or defraud through glib speech. "And God chose them," he says, "in order to shame the wise."
But tell me: how are they shamed through them? Through the experience of things. For whenever you consider the widow sitting outside and begging, who is often also disabled in her body, [you wonder] about the immortality of the soul, about the resurrection of bodies, about God's forethought, about reward according to merit, about punishments there, about the fearsome place of judgment, about good things in store for those who did right, about chastisements threatened for those who sinned, about all these other things: then he answers with great precision and confidence. But the philosopher, thinking so highly of his beard and staff (153), with great big long channels of arguments, with a lot of ill-timed chatter, he is not able to gape, nor can he open his mouth about these things. At that point you know well how "God has chosen the foolish things of the world in order to shame the wise."
On account of their senselessness and arrogance these people were unable to discover these things, as they withheld themselves from the Spirit's teaching and ascribed everything to their own fancies, while others, the poor and outcast who were deprived of pagan instruction, learned all things with precision, attaching themselves to the teachings of heaven. Not only here does he stand accusing pagan wisdom, but he also adds other things greater than these, saying: "the wisdom of the world is its foolishness to God" (1 Cor 3:19). And instructing those who listen again with all dishonor and severity he said: "For if someone among you seems to be wise in this age let him become a fool, in order that he might become wise" (1 Cor 3:18). And again: "It is written, I shall destroy the wisdom of the wise and the intellect of the intelligent shall I set aside" (1 Cor 1:19-20). And again: "The Lord knows human calculations, that they are empty" (1 Cor 3:20).
6. These passages make clear that the Corinthians partook in wisdom; that they thought highly of themselves and were puffed up is again apparent from the same letter. For when he was accusing somewhere the person who committed porneia, he also said: "And you have become puffed up" (1 Cor 4:18). He again clarified that they quarreled with each other out of senselessness, saying: "Since among you there is strife and contention and divisions, are you not fleshly, and do you conduct yourself according to what is human?" (1 Cor 3:3) What is the manner of the strife? They have divided themselves into many leaders, and this is why he says, "I say this, what each of you says: But I am Paul's, I am Apollos's, I am Cephas's" (1 Cor 3:4). He didn't say this because they assigned themselves to Paul and Cephas and Apollos, but in these names he wants to conceal those who were responsible for the dispute; by rendering them invisible, he makes them more competitive and leads them into greater shamelessness.
What follows makes clear that they didn't assign themselves to Paul and Peter and Apollos, but to certain others. For when charging them with this split he again adds: "These things, brothers, I have transferred to myself and Apollos because of you, so you might learn among yourselves not to consider beyond what is written, 'lest you be puffed up on behalf of one against another'" (1 Cor 4:6). Many of the common people, unable to rise up Reading epairein (ἐπαίρειν) for epairesin (ἐπαίρεσιν), an otherwise unattested hapax legomenon on their own or to harm their neighbors, had set up certain people as their leaders and used their advantages as a way to express contempt for others. And the wisdom of those teaching them became a pretext for senselessness of others among them; the final result of this was a mania for glory, since they couldn't be exalted on their own, they made use of others' excellence to act haughtily against their brothers.
So "CLETUS" TEACHES HUMILITY then they were taken up into senselessness and split up, and they cut themselves up into many parts; they thought highly of themselves for the teaching—as if it were from them and they had discovered it among themselves, and had not received the teachings of truth from above and out of God's grace (154)—[Paul], wanting to reduce their puffery, right away from the introduction called himself Cletus, not only saying, "If I—the teacher!—have discovered nothing on my own, nor did I first turn to God but obeyed only when I was called, how are you—disciples!—who even received the teachings from me, able to think so highly of yourselves, as if you yourselves were their discoverers?" This is also why he proceeded to say to them: "Who divided you? What do you have that you did not receive? If you didn't receive it, why boast as if you hadn't received?" (1 Cor 4:7)
So this Cletus is nothing else but the teaching of humility, and the overthrow of conceit, and the tamping down of all boastfulness. For there is nothing, nothing which might be able to overcome and restrain us like humility, and being moderate, and no longer imagining anything great about oneself. Christ understood this too; when he began his spiritual teaching, he started first with the instruction from humility. When he opened his mouth he introduced this first law, saying this: "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (Matt 5:3).
For just as when someone is going to construct a great and illustrious household he lays down a corresponding foundation, such that it is able to carry the weight placed on it afterward; so indeed also Christ, erecting that great edifice of philosophy into their souls, first laid down the instruction of humility as a certain foundation and secure groundwork and steadfast and unmoving base; he knew that, when this was firmly rooted in their minds, he would be able to construct all the other parts of virtue securely. For just as when it is not there: even if someone should do right in the rest of virtue, he has necessarily toiled randomly and in vain and for nothing, like someone building a household on sand (cf. Matt 7:26), who endured the toil but has not enjoyed the benefit since he didn't lay down a secure foundation. Just so the one pursuing good apart from humility has destroyed everything and has perished.
But I'm not just talking about humility in words or on the tongue, but in the heart, from the soul, in the conscience, which God alone is able to see. This advantage is sufficient and often excellent enough on its own to make God propitious. For this also the publican made clear: not having anything good, unable to excel from his achievements, saying only, "Forgive me, the sinner" (Luke 18:13), he passed away having been made righteous beyond the Pharisees, for their words were not about humility but only about candor. eugnōmosunē (εὐγνωμοσύνη) For it is humility whenever someone understands great things in himself but does not imagine anything great about himself. But candor is when someone is a sinner and confesses that fact. Now if someone who doesn't know anything good about themselves confessed that this was the case, and he was drawn back to God in goodwill, how much more freedom of speech will they enjoy who, having many of their achievements, forget about all of them and count up their own worst failures? (155)
This is what Paul did: For even though he was first among all the righteous ones, he said that he was first among the sinners (cf. 1 Tim 1:15). Not only did he say this, but he was also convinced, when he was learning from the Teacher, that, after doing all those things, we ought to call ourselves useless and enslaved.
You should emulate that publican, you who are successful but are full of sins! And let us confess how we are, and let us strike our breast, and let us convince our heart not to imagine anything great about ourselves! For if we conduct ourselves in this way, this is sufficient for us as an offering and a sacrifice. Just as also David said, "An afflicted spirit is a sacrifice to God, an afflicted and humbled heart God does not discount" (Ps 51:17). He doesn't simply say "humbled" but also "afflicted." For "afflicted" is broken into pieces. suntetrimmenēn (συντετριμμένην) from suntribō (συντρίβω) literally means "shattered," figuratively "afflicted"; "broken into pieces" is diakeklasmenon (διακεκλασμένον) For it cannot, if it should wish, be elevated. Thus indeed also should we not only humble our souls, but also afflict and (156) goad them. For the memory of its own sin continually afflicts it. So let us humble it, so it is unwilling to be able to rise up to affectation, as if it were being goaded by some bridle checking the conscience, which is restraining it and persuading it to moderate in all things. In this way let us also be able to find grace from God: "How great you are, in such great humility, and opposite the Lord you find grace" (Eccl 3:20).
For CONCLUSION AND DOXA the one finding grace from God senses no difficulty, but even here is able with God's grace to run through all these fearful things with good cheer, and to flee the punishments sitting there for the sinners, with God's grace preceding everywhere, and making all things propitious in him. May we all take cheer in Christ Jesus our Lord, through whom and with whom is glory to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and for all eternity. Amen.