1 After this there was a Jewish festival, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now at Jerusalem there is a Sheep Pool, called in Hebrew Bethsaida, having five porticoes. 3 In these porticoes lay a great number of people: feeble, blind, lame and withered, waiting for the movement of the water. 4 From time to time an angel of the Lord used to come down into the pool and the water was stirred up, and the first one into the pool after it was stirred was healed of whatever ailment he had. 5 There was one man lying there who had been sick for thirty-eight years with his infirmity. 6 Jesus, seeing him lying there and knowing that he had been sick a long time, said to him, “Do you wish to be healed?” 7 The sick man said, “Sir, I have no one to plunge me into the pool once the water is stirred up. By the time I get there, someone else has gone in before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Stand up, pick up your mat and walk!” 9a The man was immediately cured; he picked up his mat, and walked.
699 Above, our Lord dealt with spiritual rebirth; here he deals with the benefits God gives to those who are spiritually reborn. Now we see that parents give three things to those who are physically born from them: life, nourishment, and instruction or discipline. And those who are spiritually reborn receive these three from Christ: spiritual life, spiritual nourishment, and spiritual teaching. And so these three things are considered here: first, the giving of spiritual life; secondly, the giving of spiritual food (c 6); and thirdly, spiritual teaching (c 7).
About the first he does three things. First, he sets forth a visible sign in which he shows Christ’s power to produce and to restore life. This is the usual practice in this Gospel: to always join to the teaching of Christ some appropriate visible action, so that what is invisible can be made known through the visible. Secondly, the occasion for this teaching is given (v 9b). Thirdly, the teaching itself is given (v 19). As to the first he does three things. First, the place of the miracle is given. Secondly, the illness involved. Thirdly, the restoration of the sick person to health (v 8).
700 The place of this miracle is described in two ways: in general and in particular. The general place is Jerusalem; so he says, After this, i.e., after the miracle performed in Galilee, there was a Jewish festival, that is Pentecost, according to Chrysostom. For above, when Christ went to Jerusalem, it was the Passover that was mentioned; and now, on the following festival of Pentecost, Jesus went up to Jerusalem again. For as we read in Exodus (23:17), the Lord commanded that all Jewish males be presented in the temple three times a year: on the festival days of the Passover, Pentecost, and the Dedication.
There were two reasons why our Lord went up to Jerusalem for these festivals. First, so that he would not seem to oppose the law, for he said himself: “I have not come to destroy the law, but to complete it” (Mt 5:17); and in order to draw the many people gathered there on the feast days to God by his signs and teaching: “I will praise him in the midst of the people” (Ps 108:30); and again, “I have declared your justice in the great assembly” (Ps 39:10). So Christ himself says, as we read below (18:20): “1 have spoken openly to the world.”
701 The specific place of the miracle was the pool called the Sheep Pool; so he says, Now at Jerusalem there is a Sheep Pool. This is described here in four ways: by its name, its structure, from its occupants, and from its power.
702 First, it is described from its name when he says, there is a Sheep Pool (probatica piscina), for probaton is Greek for “sheep.” It was called the Sheep Pool for it was there that the priests washed the sacrificial animals; especially the sheep, who were used more than the other animals. And so in Hebrew it was called Bethsaida, that is, the “house of sheep.” This pool was located near the temple, and formed from collected rain water.
703 In its mystical sense, this pool, according to Chrysostom, has prefigured Baptism. For the Lord, wishing to prefigure the grace of baptsim in different ways, first of all chose water: for this washes the body from the uncleanness which came from contact with what was legally unclean (Nm 19). Secondly, he gave this pool a power that expresses even more vividly than water the power of Baptism: for it not only cleansed the body from its uncleanness, but also healed it from its illness; for symbols are more expressive, the closer they approach the reality. Thus it signified the power of Baptism: for as this water when applied to the body had the power (not by its own nature, but from an angel) to heal its illness, so the water of Baptism has the power to heal and cleanse the soul from sins: “He loved us, and washed us from our sins” (Rv 1:5). This is the reason why the passion of Christ, prefigured by the sacrifices of the Old Law, is represented in Baptism: “All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus, have been baptized into his death” (Rom 6:3).
According to Augustine, the water in this pool signified the condition of the Jewish people, according to: “The waters are the peoples” (Rv 17:15). The Gentiles were not confined within the limits of the divine law, but each of them lived according to the vanity of his heart (Eph 4:17). But the Jews were confined under the worship of the one God: “We were kept under the law, confined, until the faith was revealed” (Gal 3:23). So this water, confined to the pool, signified the Jewish people. And it was called the Sheep Pool, for the Jews were the special sheep of God: “We are his people, his sheep” (Ps 94:7).
704 The pool is described in its structure as having five porticoes, i.e., round about, so that a number of the priests could stand and wash the animals without inconvenience. In the mystical sense these five porticoes, according to Chrysostom, signify the five wounds in the body of Christ; about which we read: “Put your hand into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe” (below 20:27). But according to Augustine, these five porticoes signify the five books of Moses.
705 The pool is also described from its occupants, for in these porticoes lay a great number of people: feeble, blind, lame and withered. The literal explanation of this is that since all the afflicted persons gathered because of the curative power of the water, which did not always cure nor cure many at the same time, it was inevitable that there be many hanging around waiting to be cured. The mystical meaning of this, for Augustine, was that the law was incapable of healing sins: “It is impossible that sins be taken away by the blood of bulls and goats” (Heb 10:4). The law merely shed light on them, for “The knowledge of sin comes from the law” (Rom 3:20).
706 And so, subject to various illnesses, these people lay there, unable to be cured. They are described in four ways. First, by their posture: for there they lay, i.e., clinging to earthly things by their sins; for one who is lying down is in direct contact with the earth: “He had compassion on them, for they were suffering, and lying like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt 9:36). But the just do not lie down, but stand upright, toward the things of heaven: “They,” i.e., sinners, “are bound, and have fallen down; but we,” the just, “have stood and are erect” (Ps 19:9).
Secondly, they are described as to their number, for there was a great number of them: “The evil are hard to correct, and the iiurnber of fools is infinite” (Ecc 1:15); and in Matthew (7:13): “The road that leads to destruction is wide, and many go this way.”
Thirdly, these sick people are described as to their condition. And he mentions four things which a person brings on himself through sin. First, a person who is ruled by sinful passions is made listless or feeble: and so he says, feeble. So it is that Cicero calls certain passions of the soul, such as anger and concupiscence and the like, illnesses of the soul. And the Psalm says: “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am week” (Ps 6:3).
Secondly, due to the rule and victory of a man’s passions, his reason is blinded by consent; and he says as to this, blind, that is, through sins. According to Wisdom (2:21): “Their own evil blinded them”; and in the Psalm (57:9): “Fire,” that is the fire of anger and concupiscence, “fell on them, and they did not see the sun.”
Thirdly, a person who is feeble and blind is inconstant in his works and is, in a way, lame. So we read in Proverbs (11:18): “The work of the wicked is unsteady.” With respect to this the Evangelist says, lame. “How long will you be lame?” (1 Kgs 18:2 1).
Fourthly, a man who is thus feeble, blind in understanding, and lame in his exterior actions, becomes dry in his affections, in the sense that all the fatness of devotion withers within him. This devotion is sought in the Psalm (62:6): “May my soul be filled with fat and marrow.” With respect to this the Evangelist says, withered. “My strength is dried up like baked clay” (Ps 21:16).
But there are some so afflicted by the lassitude of sin, who do not wait for the motion of the water, wallowing in their sins, according to Wisdom (14:22): “They live in a great strife of ignorance, and they call so many and great evils peace.” We read of such people: “They are glad when they do evil, and rejoice in the worst of things” (Prv 2:14). The reason for this is that they do not hate their sins: they do not sin from ignorance or weakness, but from malice. But others, who do not sin from malice, do not wallow in their sins, but wait by desire for the motion of the water. So he says, waiting. “Every day of my service I wait for my relief to come” (Jb 14:14). This is the ‘way those in the Old Testament waited for Christ: “I will wait for your salvation, O Lord” (Gn 49:18).
707 Finally, the power of the pool is described, for it healed all physical illnesses in virtue of an angel who came to it; so he says, From time to time an angel of the Lord used to come down into the pool. In certain ways, the power of this pool is like that of Baptism. It is like it, first, in the fact that its power was unperceived: for the power of the water in this pool did not come from its very nature, otherwise it would have healed at all times; its power was unseen, being from an angel. So he says, From time to time an angel of the Lord used to come down into the pool. The water of Baptism is like this in that precisely as water it does not have the power to cleanse souls, but this comes from the unseen power of the Holy Spirit, according to: “Unless one is born again ofwater and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (above 3:5). It is like it, in a second way, in its effect: for as the water of Baptism heals, so also the water of that pool healed. So he says, the first one into the pool was healed. Further, God gave to that water the power to heal so that men by washing might learn through their bodily health to seek their spiritual health.
Yet the water of this pool differs from the water of Baptism in three ways. First, in the source of its power: for the water in the pool produced health because of an angel, but the water of Baptism produces its effect by the uncreated power not only of the Holy Spirit, but of the entire Trinity. Thus the entire Trinity was present at the baptism of Christ: the Father in the voice, the Son in person, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. This is why we invoke the Trinity in our baptism.
Secondly, this water differs in its power: for the water in the pool did not have a continuous power to cure, but only from time to time; while the water of Baptism has a permanent power to cleanse, according to: “On that day a fountain will be open to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse the sinner and the unclean” (Zee 13:1).
Thirdly, this water differs as regards the number of people healed: for only one person was cured when the water of this pool was moved; but all are healed when the water of Baptism is moved. And no wonder: for the power of the water in the pool, since it is created, is finite and has a finite effect; but in the water of Baptism there is an infinite power capable of cleansing an infinite number of souls, if there were such: “I will pour clean water upon you, and you will be cleansed from all your uncleanness” (Ez 36:25).
708 According to Augustine, however, the angel signifies Christ, according to this reading of Isaiah (9:6): “He will be called great counsel.” Just as the angel descended at certain times into the pool, so Christ descended into the world at a time fixed by the Father: “The time is near” (Is 14:1); “When the fulness of time had come God sent his Son, made from a woman, inade under the law” (Gal 4:4). Again, just as the angel was not seen except by the motion of the water, so Christ was not known as to his divinity, for “If they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor 2:8). For as Isaiah (45:15) says: “Truly, you are a hidden God.” And so the motion of the water was seen, but not the one who set it in motion, because, seeing the weakness of Christ, the people did not know of his divinity. And just as the one who went into the pool was healed, so a person who humbly believes in God is healed by his passion: “Justified by faith, through the redemption which is in Christ, whoin God put forward as an expiation” (Rom 3:24). Only one was healed, because no one can be healed except in the oneness or unity of the Church: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph 4:5). Therefore, woe to those who hate unity, and divide men into sects.
709 Then (v 5), the Evangelist mentions the disability of a man who lay by the pool. First, we are told how long he was disabled; and secondly, why it was so long (v 7).
7 10 He was disabled for a long time, for There was one man lying there who had been sick for thirty-eight years with his infirmity. This episode is very aptly mentioned: the man who could not be cured by the pool was to be cured by Christ, because those whom the law could not heal, Christ heals perfectly, according to: “God did what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as a sin-offering, he condemned sin in his flesh” (Rom 8:3), and in Sirach (36:6): “Perform new signs and wonders.”
711 The number thirty-eight is well-suited to his infirmity, for we see it associated with sickness rather than with health. For, as Augustine says, the number forty signifies the perfection of justice, which consists in observing the law. But the law was given in ten precepts, and was to be preached to the four corners of the world, or be completed by the four Gospels, according to: “The end of the law is Christ” (Rom 10:4). So since ten times four is forty, this appropriately signifies perfect justice. Now if two is subtracted from forty, we get thirty-eight. This two is the two precepts of charity, which effects perfect justice. And so this man was sick because he had forty minus two, that is, his justice was imperfect, for “On these two commandments all the law and the prophets depend” (Mt 22:40).
712 Now the reason for the length of the man’s illness is considered. First, we have the Lord’s query; secondly, the sick man’s answer (v 7).
713 John says, Jesus, seeing him, the man, lying there. Jesus saw him not only with his physical eyes, but also with the eyes of his mercy; this is the way David begged to be seen, saying: “Look.at me, O Lord, and have mercy on me” (Ps 85:16). And Jesus knowing that he had been sick a long time—which was repugnant to the heart of Christ as well as to the sick man himself: “A long illness is a burden to the physician” (Sir 10:11)—said to him, Do you wish to be healed? He did not say this because he did not know the answer, for it was quite evident that the man wanted to be healed, he said it to arouse the sick man’s desire, and to show his patience in waiting so many years to be cured of his sickness. and in not giving up. We see from this that he was all the worthier to be cured: “Act bravely, and let your heart be strengthened, all you who hope in the Lord” (Ps 30:25). Jesus incites the man’s desires because we keep more securely what we perceive with desire and more easily acquire. “Knock,” by your desire, “and it will be opened to you,” as we read in Matthew (7:7).
Note that in other situations the Lord requires faith: “Do you believe that I can do this for you” (Mt 9:28); but here he does not make any such demand. The reason is that the others had heard of the miracles of Jesus, of which this man knew nothing. And so Jesus does not ask faith from him until after the miracle has been performed.
714 Then (v 7), the answer of the sick man is given. Two reasons are given for the length of his illness: his poverty and his weakness. As he was poor, he could not afford a man to plunge him into the pool; so he says, Sir, I have no one to plunge me into the pool. Perhaps he thought, as Chrysostom says, that Christ might even help to put him into the water. Someone else always reached the pool before him because he was weak and not able to move fast; so he says, By the time I get there, someone else has gone in before me. He could say with Job: “I cannot help myself” (Jb 6:13). This signifies that no mere man could save the human race, for all had sinned and needed the grace of God. Mankind had to wait for the coming of Christ, God and man, by whom it would be healed.
715 Now we see the man restored to health, i.e., the working of the miracle. First, the Lord’s command is given; secondly, the man’s obedience (v 9).
716 The Lord commanded both the nature of the man and his will, for both are under the Lord’s power. He commanded his nature when he said, Stand up. This command was not directed to the man’s will, for this was not within the power of his will. But it was within the power of his nature, to which the Lord gave the power to stand by his command. He gave two commands to the man’s will: pick up your mat and walk! The literal meaning for this is that these two things were commanded in order to show that the man had been restored to perfect health. For in all his miracles the Lord produced a perfect work, according to what was best in the nature of each case: “The works of God are perfect” (Dt 32:4). Now this man was lacking two things: first, his own energy, since he could not stand up by himself, thus our Lord found him lying by the pool. Secondly, he lacked the help of others; so he said, I have no one. So our Lord, in order that this man might recognize his perfect health, ordered him who could not help himself to pick up his mat, and him who could not walk to walk.
717 These are the three things which the Lord commands in the justification of a sinner. First, he should stand up, by leaving his sinful ways: “Rise up, you who sleep, and arise from the dead” (Eph 5:14). Secondly, he is commanded to pick up your mat, by making satisfaction for the sins he has committed. For the mat on which a man rests signifies his sins. And so a man takes up his mat when he begins to do the penance given to him for his sins. “I will bear the anger of God, because I have sinned against him” (Mi 7:9). Thirdly, he is commanded to walk, by advancing in what is good, according to: “They will go from strength to strength” (Ps 83:8).
718 According to Augustine, this sick man was lacking two things: the two precepts of charity. And so our Lord gives two commands to his will, which is perfected by charity: to take up his mat, and to walk. The first concerns the love of neighbor, which is first in the order of doing; the second concerns the love of God, which is first in the order of precept. Christ says, with respect to the first, pick up you mat. As if to say: When you are weak, your neighbor bears with you and, like a mat, patiently supports you: “We who are stronger ought to bear with the infirmities of the weak, and not seek to please ourselves” (Rom 15:1). Thus, after you have been cured, pick up your mat, i.e., bear and support your neighbor, who carried you when you were weak: “Carry each other’s burdens” (Gal 6:2). About the second he says, walk, by drawing near God; so we read: “They will go from strength to strength” (Ps 83:8); “Walk while you have the light” (below 12:35).
719 Next we see the man’s obedience. First, the obedience of his nature, because, The man was immediately cured. And no wonder, because Christ is the Word through whom heaven and earth were made: “He commanded and they were created” (Ps 148:5); “By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made” (Ps 32:6). Secondly, we see the obedience of the man’s will: first, because he picked up his mat, and secondly, because he walked. “We will do everything that the Lord commands, and obey him” (Ex 24:7).
9b That day, however, was a Sabbath. 10 Therefore the Jews told the man who had been cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not permitted for you to carry your mat.” 11 He replied to them, “He who cured me said to me: ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’” 12 They then asked him, “Who is this man who told you to pick up your mat and walk?” 13 But he who was cured had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away from the crowd that had gathered in that place. 14 Later, Jesus found the man in the temple and said to him, “Remember, you have been made well; now do not sin again lest something worse happen to you.” 15 The man went off and related to the Jews that it was Jesus who had cured him. 16 For reasons like this the Jews began to persecute Jesus, because he performed such works on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus had a reply for them: “My Father works even until now, and so do I.” 18 Consequently, the Jews tried all the harder to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath rest, but even called God his own Father, making himself equal to God.
720 Having seen a visible miracle which shows the power of Christ to restore spiritual life, we now see an opportunity given to him to teach. This opportunity was the persecution launched against him by the Jews. These Jews, who were envious of Christ, persecuted him for two reasons: first, the above act of his mercy; secondly, his teaching of the truth (v 17). As to the first, the Evangelist does three things. First, he gives the occasion for their persecution. Secondly, the false accusation against the man who was just cured (v 10). And thirdly, their attempt to belittle Christ (v 12).
721 Their opportunity to persecute Christ was the fact that he cured the man on the Sabbath; accordingly, the Evangelist says, That day, however, was a Sabbath, when Christ performed the miracle ofcommanding the man to pick up his mat.
Three reasons are given why our Lord began to work on the Sabbath. The first is given by Ambrose, in his commentary, On Luke. He says that Christ came to renovate the work of creation, that is, man, who had become deformed. And so he should have begun where the Creator had left off the work of creation, that is, on a Sabbath, as mentioned in Genesis (c 1). Thus Christ began to work on the Sabbath to show that he was the renovator of the whole creature.
Another reason was that the Sabbath day was celebrated by the Jews in memory of the first creation. But Christ came to make, in a way, a new creature, according to Galatians (6:15): “In Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor the lack of circumcision is a benefit; what counts is a new creation,” i.e., through grace, which comes through the Holy Spirit: “You will send forth your Spirit, and they will be created ; and you will renew the face of the earth” (Ps 103:30). And so Christ worked on the Sabbath to show that a new creation, a re-creation, was taking place through him: “that we might be the first fruits of his creatures” (Jas 1:18).
The third reason was to show that he was about to do what the law could not do: “God did what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, he condemned sin in his flesh, in order that the requirements of the law might be accomplished in us” (Rom 8:3).
The Jews, however, did not do any work on the Sabbath, as a symbol that there were certain things pertaining to the Sabbath which were to be accomplished, but which the law could not do. This is clear in the four things which God ordained for the Sabbath: for he sanctified the Sabbath day, blessed it, completed his work on it, and then rested. These things the law was not able to do. It could not sanctify; so we read: “Save me, O Lord, for there are no holy people left” (Ps 11:1). Nor could it bless; rather, “Those who rely on the works of the law are under a curse” (Gal 3:10). Neither could it, complete and perfect, because “the law brought nothing to perfection” (Heb 7:19). Nor could it bring perfect rest: “If Joshua had given them rest, God would not be speaking after of another day” (Heb 4:8).
These things, which the law could not do, Christ did. For he sanctified the people by his passion: “Jesus, in order to sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate” (Heb 13:12). He blessed them by an inpouring of grace: “Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing of heaven, in Christ” (Eph 1:3). He brought the people to perfection by instructing them in the ways of perfect justice: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). He also led them to true rest: “We who have believed will find rest,” as is said in Hebrews (4:3). Therefore, it is proper for him to work on the Sabbath, who is able to make perfect those things that pertain to the Sabbath, from which an impotent law rested.
722 Then (v 10), the Evangelist gives the accusation brought against the man who was healed. First, we have the accusation; and secondly, the explanation given by the man who was healed (v 11).
723 The man was accused for carrying his mat on the Sabbath, and not for being healed; so they say: It is the Sabbath; it is not permitted for you to carry your mat. There are several reasons foi this. One is that the Jews, although frequently charging Christ with healing on the Sabbath, had been embarrassed by him on the ground that they themselves used to pull their cattle from ditches on the Sabbath in order to save them. For this reason the Jews did not mention his healing, as it was useful and necessary; but they charge him with carrying his mat, which did not seem to be necessary. As if to say: Although your cure need not have been postponed, there was no need for you to carry your mat, or for the order to carry it. Another reason was that the Lord had shown, contrary to their opinion, that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath. And so, because being healed is not the same as doing good, but being done a good, they attack the one healed rather than the one healing. The third reason was that the Jews thought that they were forbidden by the law to do any work on the Sabbath; and it was the carrying of burdens that was especially forbidden on the Sabbath: “Do not carry a burden on the Sabbath” (Jer 17:2 1). Accordingly, they made a special point of being against the carrying of anything on the Sabbath, as being opposed to the teaching of the prophet. But this command of the prophet was mystical: for when he forbade them to carry burdens, he wanted to encourage them to rest from the burdens of their sins on the Sabbath. Of these sins it is said: “My iniquities are a heavy burden and have weighed me down” (Ps 37.5). Therefore, since the time had come to explain the meaning of obscure symbols, Christ commanded him to take up his mat, i.e, to help his neighbors in their weaknesses: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2).
724 Then (v 11), we see the man who was healed defending himself. His defense is wisely taken: for a doctrine is never so well proved to be divinely inspired as by miracles which can be accomplished only by divine power: “Going out, they preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word by the signs that followed” (Mk 16:20). Thus he argued with those who were defaming the one who healed him, saying: He who cured me said to me. As if to say: You say that I am forbidden to carry a burden on the Sabbath, and this on divine authority; but I was commanded by the same authority to pick up my mat. For, he who cured me, and by restoring my health showed that he had divine power, said to me, Pick up your mat and walk. Therefore, I was duty bound to obey the commands of one who has such power and who had done me such a favor. “I will never forget your precepts because you have brought me to life by them” (Ps 118:93).
725 Then, since they could not very well charge the man who was cured, they try to belittle Christ’s cure, for this man defended himself through Christ. But since he did not indicate precisely who he was, they maliciously ask him who it was. With respect to this, first, the search for Christ is set down. Secondly, his discovery. And thirdly, his persecution (v 16).
726 Three things are mentioned about the first: the Jews’ interrogation; the ignorance of the man who was cured, and the cause of that ignorance.
As to the first, we read: They then asked him, not with the good intention of making progress, but for the evil purpose of persecuting and destroying Christ: “You will seek me, and you will die in your sin” (below 8:21), Their very words show their malice: for while our Lord had commanded the man who was sick to become healed and to pick up his mat, they ignored the first, which is an undeniable sign of divine power, and harped on the second, which seemed to be against the law, saying, Who is this man who told you to pick up you mat and walk? “He lies in wait, and turns good into evil, and he will put blame,” i.e., attempt to put blame, “on the elect” (Sir 11:33).
727 As to the second, the Evangelist says, But he who was cured had no idea who it was. This cured man signifies those who believe and have been healed by the grace of Christ: “You are saved by grace” (Eph 2:8). Indeed, they do not know who Christ is, but they know only his effects: “While we are in the body, we are absent from the Lord: for we walk by faith, and not by sight” (2 Cor 5:6). We will know who Christ is when “we shall see him as he is,” as said in 1 John (3:2).
728 Next, the Evangelist gives the reason for the man’s ignorance, saying, for Jesus had slipped away from the crowd that had gathered in that place. There are both literal and mystical reasons why Christ left. Of the two literal reasons, the first is to give us the example of concealing our good deeds and of not using them to seek the applause of men: “Take care not to perform your good actions in the sight of men, in order to be seen by them” (Mt 6:1). The second literal reason is to show us that, in all ouractions, we should leave and avoid those who are envious, so as not to feed and increase their envy: “Do not be provoked by one who speaks evil of you, so he will not trap you by your own words” (Sir 8:14).
There are also two mystical reasons why Christ slipped away. First, it teaches us that Christ is not easy to find in the midst of men, or in the whirlwind of temporal cares; rather, he is found in spiritual seclusion: “I will lead her into the wilderness, and there I will speak to her heart” (Hos 2:14); and in Ecclesiastes (9.17): “The words of the wise are heard in silence.” Secondly, this suggests to us that Christ was to leave the Jews for the Gentiles: “He hid his face for a while from the house of Jacob” (Is 8:17), i.e., he withdrew the knowledge of his truth from the Jewish people.
729 Then (v 14), the Evangelist tells us how Jesus was found. First, he says that he was found. Secondly, that after having been found, he taught. Thirdly, that after having taught, his identity was reported to the Jews.
730 The Evangelist tells us both where and the way in which Christ was found. The way in which he was found was remarkable, for Christ is not found unless he first finds; hence he says, Later, after the above events, Jesus found the man. For we cannot find Jesus by our own power unless Christ first presents himself to us; so we read: “Seek your servant” (Ps 118:176); and, “She [wisdom] goes to meet those who desire her” (Wis 6:14).
The place Christ was found was holy, in the temple, according to: “The Lord is in his holy temple” (Ps 10:5). For his mother had also found him in the temple (Lk 2:46); and he was there for he had to be concerned with his Father’s affairs. We see from this that this man was not cured in vain, but having been converted to a religious way of life, he visited the temple and found Christ: because if we desire to come to a knowledge of the Creator, we must run from the tumult of sinful affections, leave the company of evil men, and flee to the temple of our heart, where God condescends to visit and live.
731 After Christ was found, he began to teach (v 14). First, Christ reminded the man of the gift he was given. Secondly, he offered him sound advice. And thirdly, he pointed out an imminent danger.
732 The gift was remarkable, for it was a sudden restoration to health; so he says, Remember, you have been made well. Therefore, you should always keep this in mind, according to: “I will remember the tender mercies of the Lord” (Is 63:7).
733 His advice, too, was useful, that is, do not sin again. “My son, you have sinned. Do not sin again” (Sir 21:1).
Why did our Lord mention sin to this paralytic and to certain others that he cured, and not to the rest? He did this to show that illness comes to certain people as a result of their previous sins, according to: “For this reason many of you are weak and sick, and many have died” (1 Cor 11:30). In this way he even showed himself to be God, pointing out sins and the hidden secrets of the heart: “Hell and destruction are open to the Lord; how much more the hearts of the children of men” (Prv 15:11). And so Christ mentioned sin only to some he cured and not to all, for not all infirmities are due to previous sins: some come from one’s natural disposition, and some are permitted as a trial, as with Job. Or, Christ might have brought up sin to some because they were better prepared for his correction: “Do not rebuke one who mocks, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you” (Prv 9:8). Or, we could say, in telling some not to sin, he intended his words for all the others.
734 The imminent danger was great, so he says, lest something worse happen to you. This can be understood in two ways, according to the two events that preceded. For this man was first punished with a troublesome infirmity, and then received a marvelous favor. Accordingly, Christ’s statement can refer to each. To the first, for when anyone is punished for his sin, and the punishment does not check him from sinning, it is just for him to be punished more severely. So Christ says, do not sin again, because if you do sin, something worse will happen to you: “I have struck your children in vain” (Jer 2:30). It can refer to the second, for one who falls into sin after receiving favors deserves a more severe punishment because of his ingratitude, as we see in 2 Peter (2:20): “It would be better for them not to know the way of truth, than to turn back after knowing it.” Also, because after a man has once returned to sin, he sins more easily, according to Matthew (12:45): “The last state of that man becomes worse than the first”; and in Jeremiah (2:20): “You broke your yoke a long time ago, and snapped off your chains, and said: I will not serve.’”
735 Then when he says, The man went off and related to the Jews, we see Jesus identified. Some think, as Chrysostom reports, that this man identified Jesus out of malice. But this does not seem probable: that he would be so ungrateful after receiving such a favor. He related to the Jews that it was Jesus who had cured him, in order to make it clear that Christ had the power to heal: “Come ... and I will tell you what great things the Lord has done for me,” as we read in the Psalm (65:16). This is obvious, for they had asked him who commanded him to pick up his mat, but he told them that it was Jesus who had cured him.
736 Next (v 16), we have the persecution of Christ, begun because he performed a work of mercy on the Sabbath. Thus the Evangelist says, For reasons like this the Jews began to persecute Jesus, because he performed such works on the Sabbath. “Princes have persecuted me without cause” (Ps 118:16 1).
737 Then (v 17), the second reason for his persecution is given: what he taught. First, we are given the truth he taught; and secondly, the perversity of his persecutors (v 18).
73 8 Our Lord taught the truth while justifying his breaking of the Sabbath. Here we should note that our Lord justified both himself and his disciples from breaking the Sabbath. He justified his disciples, since they were men, by comparing them to other men: as the priests who, although they worked in the temple on the Sabbath, did not break the Sabbath; and to David, who, while Ahinielech was priest, took the consecrated bread from the temple oil the Sabbath when he was running from Saul (1 Sm 21:1).
Our Lord, who was both God and man, sometimes justified himself in breaking the Sabbath by comparing himself to men, as in Luke (14:5): “Which of you, if his donkey or ox falls into a pit, will not take him out on the Sabbath?” And sometimes he justified himself by comparing himself to God: particularly on this occasion, when he said: My Father works even until now, and so do I. As if to say: Do not think that my Father rested on the Sabbath in such a way that from that time he does not work; rather, just as he is working even now without laboring, so I also am working.
By saying this, Christ eliminated the misunderstanding of the Jews: for in their desire to imitate God, they did not do any work on the Sabbath, as if God entirely ceased from work on that day. In fact, although God rested on the Sabbath from producing new creatures, he is working always and continuously even till now, conserving creatures in existence. Hence it is significant that Moses used the word “rest,” after recounting the works of God from which he rested: for this signifies, in its hidden meaning, the spiritual rest which God, by the example of his own rest, promised to the faithful, after they have done their own good works. So we may say that this command was a foreshadowing of something that lay in the future.
739 He expressly says, works even until now, and not “has worked,” to indicate that God’s work is continuous. For they might have thought that God is the cause of the world as a craftsman is the cause of a house, i.e., the craftsman is responsible only for the making or coming into existence of the house: in other words, just as the house continues in existence even when the craftsman has ceased working, so the world would exist if God’s influence ceased. But according to Augustine, God is the cause of all creatures in such a way as to be the cause of their existing: for it his power were to cease even for a moment, all things in nature would at once cease to be, just as we may say that the air is illuminated only as long as the light of the sun remains in it. The reason for this is that things which depend on a cause only for their coming into existence, are able to exist when that cause ceases; but things that depend on a cause not only for their coming into existence but also to exist, need that cause for their continuous conservation in existence.
740 Further, in saying that My Father works even until now, he rejects the opinion of those who say that God creates through the instrumentality of secondary causes. This opinion conflicts with Isaiah (26:12): “O Lord, you have accomplished all our works for LIS.” Therefore, just as my Father, who in the beginning created nature, works even until now, by preserving and conserving his creation by the same activity, so (to I work, because I am the Word of the Father, through whom he accomplishes all things: “God said: ‘Let there be light’” (Gn 1:3). Thus, just as he accomplished the first production of things through the Word, so also their conservation. Consequently, if he works even until now, so do I, because I am the Word of the Father, through whom all things are made and conserved.
741 Then (v 18), the Evangelist mentions the persecution of Christ, which resulted from his teaching: for it was because of his teaching that the Jews tried all the harder, i.e., with greater eagerness and a higher pitch of zeal, to kill him. For in the law two crimes were punished by death: the crime of breaking the Sabbath—thus anyone who gathered wood on the Sabbath was stoned, as we see from Numbers (15:32); and the crime of blasphemy—so we read: “Bring the blasphemer outside the camp ... and let all the children of Israel stone him” (Lv 24:14). Now they thought it was blasphemy for a man to claim that he was God: “We are not stoning you for any good work, but for blasphemy: because although you are a man, you make yourself God” (below 10:33). It was these two crimes they imputed to Christ: the first because he broke the Sabbath; the second because he said he was equal to God. So the Evangelist says that the Jews tried all the harder to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath rest, but even called God his own Father.
Because other just man had also called God their Father, as in “You will call me ‘Father’” (Jer 3:19), they do not just say that he called God his own Father, but added what made it blasphemy, making himself equal to God, which they understood from his statement: My Father works even until now, and so do I. He said that God was his Father so that we might understand that God is his Father by nature, and the Father of others by adoption. He referred to both of these when he said: “I am going to my Father,” by nature, “and to your Father,” by grace (below 20:17). Again, he said that as the Father works, so he works. This answers the accusation of the Jews about his breaking the Sabbath: for this would not be a valid excuse unless he had equal authority with God in working. It was for this reason they said he made himself equal to God.
742 How great then is the blindness of the Arians when they. say that Christ is less than God the Father: for they cannot understand in our Lord’s words what the Jews were able to understand. For the Arians say that Christ did not make himself equal to God, while the Jews saw this. There is another way to settle this, from the very things mentioned in the text. For the Evangelist says that the Jews persecuted Christ because he broke the Sabbath, because he said God is his Father, and because he made hiniselfequal to God. But Christ is either a liar or equal to God. But if he is equal to God, Christ is God by nature.
743 Finally, the Evangelist says, making himself equal to God, not as though he was making himself become equal to God, because he was equal to God through an eternal generation. Rather, the Evangelist is speaking according to the understanding of the Jews who, not believing that Christ was the Son of God by nature, understood him to say that he was the Son of God in the sense of wishing to make himself equal to God; but they could not believe he was such: “because although you are a man, you make yourself God” (below 10:33), i.e., you say that you are God, understanding this as you wish to make yourself God.
19 Jesus therefore replied and said to them:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
the Son cannot do anything of himself,
but only what he sees the Father doing.
For whatever the Father does,
the Son does likewise.
20a For the Father loves the Son,
and shows him everything that he does.”
744 Here we have Christ’s teaching on his life-giving power. First, his teaching is presented. Secondly, it is confirmed (v 3 1). Two things are done with the first. First, Christ’s teaching on his life-giving power in general is given. Secondly, it is presented in particular (v 20b). As to the first, three things are done. First, the origin of this power is mentioned. Secondly, the greatness of this power, at (v 19b). Thirdly, the reason for each is given (v 20).
745 We should point out, with respect to the first, that the Arians use what Christ said here, the Son cannot do anything of himself, to support their error that the Son is less than the Father. As the Evangelist said, the Jews persecuted Christ for making himself equal to God. But the Arians say that when our Lord saw that this disturbed the Jews, he tried to correct this by stating that he was not equal to the Father, saying, Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything of himself, but only what he sees the Father doing. As if to say: Do not interpret what I said, “My Father works even until now, and so do I, as meaning that I work as though I am equal to the Father. for I cannot do anything of myself. Therefore, they say, because the Son can do only what he sees the Father doing, he is less than the Father. But this interpretation is false and erroneous. For if the Son were not equal to the Father, then the Son would not be the same as the Father; and this is contrary to: “I and the Father are one” (below 10:30). For equality is considered with respect to greatness, which in divine realities is the essence itself. Hence, if the Son were not equal to the Father, he would be different from him in essence.
746 To get the true meaning of Christ’s statement, we should know that in those matters which seem to imply inferiority in the Son, it could be said, as some do, that they apply to Christ according to the nature he assumed; as when he said: “The Father is greater than I” (below 14:28). According to this, they would say that our Lord’s statement, the Son cannot do anything of himself, should be understood of the Son in his assumed nature. However, this does not stand up, because then one would be forced to say that whatever the Son of God did in his assumed nature, the Father had done before him. For example, that the Father had walked upon the water as Christ did: otherwise, he would not have said, but only what he sees the Father doing.
And if we say that whatever Christ did in his flesh, God the Father also did in so far as the Father works in him, as said below (14:10): “The Father, who lives in me, he accomplishes the works,” then Christ would be saying that the Son cannot do anything of himself, but only what he sees the Father doing in him, i.e., in the Son. But this cannot stand either, because Christ’s next statement, For whatever the Father, does, the Son does likewise, could not, in this interpretation, be applied to him, i.e., to Christ. For the Son, in his assumed nature, never created the world, as the Father did. Consequently, what we read here must not be understood as pertaining to Christ’s assumed nature.
747 According to Augustine, however, there is another way of understanding statements which seem to, but do not, imply inferriority in the Son: namely, by referring them to the origin of the Son coming or begotten from the Father. For although the Son is equal to the Father in all things, he receives all these things from the Father in an eternal begetting. But the Father gets these from no one, for he is unbegotten. According to this explanation, the continuity of thought is the following: Why are you offended because I said that God is my Father, and because I made myself equal to the Father? Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of himself. As if to say: I am equal to the Father, but in such a way as to be from him, and not he from me; and whatever I may do, is in me from the Father.
748 According to this interpretation, mention is made of the power of the Son when he says, can, and of his activity when he says, do. Both can be understood here, so that, first of all, the derivation of the Son’s power from the Father is shown, and secondly, the conformity of the Son’s activity to that of the Father.
749 As to the first, Hilary explains it this way: Shortly above our Lord said that he is equal to the Father. Some heretics, basing themselves on certain scriptural texts which assert the unity and equality of the Son to the Father, claim that the Son is unbegotten. For example, the Sabellians, who say that the Son is identical in person with the Father. Therefore, so you do not understand this teaching in this way, he says, the Son cannot do anything of himself, for the Son’s power is identical with his nature. Therefore the Son has his power from the same source as he has his being (esse); but he has his being (esse) from the Father: “I came forth from the Father, and I have come into the world” (Jn 16:28). He also has his nature from the Father, because he is God from God; therefore, it is from him that the Son has his power (posse).
So his statement, the Son cannot do anything of himself, but only what he sees the Father doing, is the same as saying: The Son, just as he does not have his being (esse) except from the Father, so he cannot do anything except from the Father. For in natural things, a thing receives its power to act from the very thing from which it receives its being: for example, fire receives its power to ascend from the very thing from which it receives its form and being. Further, in saying, the Son cannot do anything of himself, no inequality is implied, because this refers to a relation; while equality and inequality refer to quantity.
750 Someone might misunderstand his saying, but only what he sees the Father doing, and take it to mean that the Son works or acts in the way he sees the Father acting, i.e., that the Father acts first, and when the Son sees this, then the Son begins to act. It would be like two carpenters, a master and his apprentice, with the apprentice making a cabinet in the way he saw the master do. But this is not true for the Word, for it was said above (1:3): “All things were made through him.” Therefore, the Father did not make something in such a way that the Son saw him doing it and so learned from it.
But this is said so that the communication of paternity to the Son might be designated in terms of begetting or generation, which is fittingly described by the verb sees, because knowledge is conveyed to us by another through seeing and hearing. For we receive our knowledge from things through seeing. and we receive knowledge from words through hearing, Now the Son is not other than Wisdom, as we read: “I came forth out of the mouth of the Most High, the first-born before all creatures” (Sir 24:5). Accordingly, the derivation of the Son from the Father is nothing other than the derivation of divine Wisdom. And so, because the act of seeing indicates the derivation of knowledge and wisdom from another, it is proper for the generation of the Son from the Father to be indicated by an act of seeing; so that for the Son to see the Father doing something is nothing other than to proceed by an intellectual procession from the acting Father.
Another possible explanation of this is given by Hilary. For him, the word sees eliminates all imperfection from the generation of the Son or Word. For in physical generation, what is generated changes little by little in the course of time from what is imperfect to what is perfect, for such a thing is not perfect when it is first generated. But this is not so in eternal generation, since this is the generation of what is perfect from what is perfect. And so he says, but only what he sees the Father doing. For since the act of seeing is the act of a perfect thing, it is plain that the Son was begotten as perfect at once, as seeing at once, and not as coming to perfection over a course of time.
751 Apropos of the second point, Chrysostom explains it as showing the conformity of the Father to the Son in operation. So that the sense is: I say that it is lawful for me to work on the Sabbath, because my Father, too, continues to work, and I cannot do anything opposed to him: and this is because the Son cannot do anything of himself. For one does something of himself when he does not conform himself to another in his actions. But whoever is from another sins, if he is opposed to him: “Whoever speaks on his own, seeks his own glory” (below 7:18). Therefore, whoever exists from another, but acts of himself, sins. Now the Son is from the Father; thus, if he acts of himself, he sins; and this is impossible. So by saying, the Son cannot do anything of himself, he means nothing more than that the Son cannot sin. As if to say: You are persecuting me unjustly for breaking the Sabbath, because I cannot sin, since I do not act in a way opposed to my Father.
Augustine makes use of both of these explanations, that of of Hilary and the one given by Chrysostom, but in different places.
752 Then when he says, For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise, he affirms the greatness of Christ’s power. He excludes three things in the power of Christ: limitation, difference, and imperfection.
First, limitation is excluded. Since there are diverse agents in the world, and the first universal agent has power over all other agents, but the other agents, which are from him, have a limited power in proportion to their rank in the order of causality, some might think that since the Son is not of himself, that he must have a power limited to certain existents, rather than a universal power over all, as the Father has. And so to exclude this he says, whatever the Father does, i.e., to all the things to which the Father’s power extends, the Son’s power also extends: “All things were made through him” (above 1:3).
Secondly, difference is excluded. For sometimes a thing that exists from another is able to do whatever that from which it exists does. And yet the things the former does are not the same as those done by that from which it is. For example, if one fire which exists from another can do whatever that other does, i.e., cause combustion, the act of causing combustion would be specifically the same in each, even though one fire ignites certain things and the other fire ignites different things. And so that you do not think that the Son’s activity is different from the activity of the Father in this way, he says, whatever the Father does, the Son does, i.e., not different things, but the very same.
Thirdly, imperfection is excluded. Sometimes one and the same thing comes from two agents: from one as the principal and perfect agent, and from the other as an instrumental and imperfect agent. But it does not come in the same way, because the principal agent acts in a different way from the instrumental agent: for the instrumental agent acts imperfectly, and in virtue of the other. And so that no one thinks that this is the way the Son does whatever the Father does, he says that whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise, i.e., with the same power by which the Father acts, the Son also acts; because the same power and the same perfection are in the Father and the Son: “I was with him, forming all things” (Prv 8:30).
753 Then when he says, For the Father loves the Son, he gives the reason for each, i.e., for the origin of the Son’s power and for its greatness. This reason is the love of the Father, who loves the Son. Thus he says, For the Father loves the Son.
In order to understand how the Father’s love for the Son is the reason for the origin or communication of the Son’s power, we Should point out that a thing is loved in two ways. For since the good alone is loveable, a good can be related to love in two ways: as the cause of love, or as caused by love. Now in us, the good causes love: for the cause of our loving something is its goodness, the goodness in it. Therefore, it is not good because we love it, but rather we love it because it is good. Accordingly. in us, love is caused by what is good. But it is different with God, because God’s love itself is the cause of the goodness in the things that are loved. For it is because God loves us that we are good, since to love is nothing else than to will a good to someone. Thus, since God’s will is the cause of things, for “whatever he willed he made” (Ps 113:3), it is clear that God’s love is the cause of the goodness in things. Hence Denis says in The Divine Names (c. 4) that the divine love did not allow itself to be without issue. So, if we wish to consider the origin of the Son, let us see whether the love with which the Father loves the Son, is the principle of his origin, so that he proceeds from it.
In divine realities, love is taken in two ways: essentially, so far as the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit love; and notionally or personally, so far as the Holy Spirit proceeds as Love. But in neither of these ways of taking love can it be the principle of origin of the Son. For if is is taken essentially, it implies an act of the will; and if that were the sense in which it is the principle of origin of the Son, it would follow that the Father generated the Son, not by nature, but by will—and this is false. Again, love is not understood notionally, as pertaining to the Holy Spirit. For it would then follow that the Holy Spirit would be the principle of the Son—which is also false. Indeed, no heretic ever went so far as to say this. For although love, notionally taken, is the principle of all the gifts given to us by God, it is nevertheless not the principle of the Son; rather it proceeds from the Father and the Son.
Consequently, we must say that this explanation is not taken from love as from a principle (ex principio), but as from a sign (ex signo). For since likeness is a cause of love (for every animal loves its like), wherever a perfect likeness of God is found, there also is found a perfect love of God. But the perfect likeness of the Father is in the Son, as is said: “He is the image of the invisible God” (1:15); and “He is the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the image of his substance” (Heb 1:3). Therefore, the Son is loved perfectly by the Father, and because the Father perfectly loves the Son, this is a sign that the Father has shown him everything and has communicated to him his very own [the Father’s] power and nature. And it is of this love that we read above (3:5): “The Father loves the Son, and has put everything into his hands”; and, “This is my beloved. Son” (Mt 3:17).
754 With respect to what follows, and shows him everything that he does, we should point out that someone can show another his works in two ways: either by sight, as an artisan shows his apprentice the things he has made, or by hearing, as when he verbally instructs him). In whatever of these ways shows is understood, there can follow something which is not appropriate, that is, something that is not present when the Father shows things to the Son. For if we say the Father shows things to the Son by sight, then it follows, as with humans, that the Father first does something which he then shows to the Son; and that he does this by himself, without the Son. But the Father does not show the Son things which he did before, for the Son himself says: “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his ways, before he made anything” (Prv 8:22). Nor does the Father show the Son things he has done without the Son, for the Father does all things through the Son: “All things were made through him” (above 1:3). If shows is understood as a kind of hearing, two things seem to follow. For the one who teaches by word first points out something to the one who is ignorant; again, the word is something intermediate between the one showing and the one being shown. But it is in neither of these ways that the Father shows things to the Son: for he does not do so to one who is ignorant, since the Son is the Wisdom of the Father: “Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24); nor does the Father use some intermediate word, because the Son himself is the Word of the Father: “The Word was with God” (above 1:1).
Therefore, it is said that the Father shows all that he does to the Son, inasmuch as he gives the Son a knowledge of all of his works. For it is in this way that a master is said to show something to his disciple, inasmuch as he gives him a knowledge of the things he makes. Hence, according to Augustine, for the Father to show anything to the Son is nothing more than for the Father to beget or generate the Son. And for the Son to see what the Father does is nothing more than for the Son to receive his being (esse) and nature from the Father.
Nevertheless, this showing can be considered similar to seeing insofar as the Son is the brightness of the paternal vision, as we read in Hebrews (1:3): for the Father, seeing and understanding himself, conceives the Son, who is the concept of this vision. Again, it can be considered similar to hearing insofar as the Son proceeds from the Father as the Word. As if to say: The Father shows him everything, insofar he he generates him as the brightness and concept of his own wisdom, and as the Word. Thus the words, The Father shows, refer to what was said before: the Son cannot do anything of himself, but only what he sees the Father doing. And the word, everything, refers to, For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.
20b “Indeed, he will show him even greater works than these, such that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and grants life, so the Son grants life to those to whom he wishes. 22 The Father himself judges no one, but he has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all men may honor the Son as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Amen, amen, I say to you, that whoever hears my voice and believes in him who sent me, possesses eternal life; and he will not encounter judgment, but has passed from death to life. 25 Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear it will live.”
755 Having pointed out the power of the Son in general, he now shows it in more detail. First, the Lord discloses his life-giving power. Secondly, he clarifies what seemed obscure in what was said before (v 26). As to the first he does two things. First, he shows that the Son has life-giving power. Secondly, he teaches how life is received from the Son (v 24). Concerning the first he does three things. First, he presents the life-giving power of the Son. Secondly, he gives a reason for what he says (v 22). Thirdly, he shows the effect of this (v 23). With respect to the first he does two things. First, he sets forth this life-giving power in general. Secondly, he expands on it (v 21).
756 He says, to the first, Indeed, he will show even greater works than these. As if to say: You are astonished and affected by the power of the Son in his healing of the sick man, but the Father will show even greater works than these, as in raising the dead, such that you will be amazed.
757 This passage gives rise to two difficulties. First, about his saying, he will show. For the earlier statement that the Father shows everything to the Son (5:20) refers to his eternal generation. How, then, can he say here, he will show, if the Son is coeternal with him and eternity does not allow of a future? The second difficulty is over, such that you will be amazed. For if he intends to show something to amaze the Jews, then he will be showing it to the Son at the same time as to them; for they could not be amazed unless they saw it. And yet the Son saw all things from eternity with the Father.
758 We must say that this is explained in three ways. The first way is given by Augustine, and in it this future showing is referred to the disciples. For it is Christ’s custom that now and then he says that what happens to his members happens to himself, as in Matthew (25:40): “As long as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me.” And then the meaning is this: You saw the Son do something great in healing the sick man, and you were amazed; but the Father will show him even greater works than these, in his members, that is, the disciples: “He will do greater things than these,” as we read below (14:12). He then says, such that you will be amazed, for the miracles of the disciples so amazed the Jews that a great many of them were converted to the faith, as we see in the Acts.
759 The second explanation, also by Augustine, refers this showing to Christ according to his assumed nature. For in Christ there is both a divine nature and a human nature, and in each he has life-giving power from the Father, although not in the same way. According to his divinity he has the power to give life to souls; but according to his assumed nature, he gives life to bodies. Hence Augustine says: “The Word gives life to souls; but the Word made flesh gives life to bodies.” For the resurrection of Christ and the mysteries which Christ fulfilled in his flesh are the cause of the future resurrection of bodies: “God, who is rich in mercy, has brought us to life in Christ” (Eph 2:5); “If it is preached that Christ rose from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor 15:12). The first life-giving power he has from eternity; and he indicated this when he said: “The ‘ Father shows him everything that he does” (above 4:20), all of which he shows to his flesh.
The other life-giving power he has in time, and concerning this he says: he will show him even greater works than these, i.e., his power will be shown by the fact that he will do greater works, by raising the dead. He will raise some of the dead here: as Lazarus, the young girl, and the mother’s only son; and finally he will raise all on the day of judgment.
760 A third explanation refers this showing to Christ in his divine nature, according to the custom of Scripture in sayfng that a thing is beginning to take place when it is beginning to be known. For example: “All power has been given to me, in heaven and on earth” (Mt 28:18); for although Christ had the complete fulness of power from eternity (because “whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise”), he still speaks of this power as being given to him after the resurrection, not because he was then receiving it for the first time, but because it was through the glory of the resurrection that it became most known. In this interpretation, then, he says that power is given to him insofar as he exercises it in some work. As if to say: he will show him even greater works than these, i.e., he will show by his works what has been given to him. And this will come about when you are amazed, i.e., when the one who seems to you to be a mere man is revealed to be a person of divine power and as God.
We could also take the word show as referring to an act of seeing, as was explained above .
761 Now he explains in more detail the life-giving power of the Son by indicating those greater works which the Father will show the Son (v 21). Here we should point out that in the Old Testament the divine power is particularly emphasized by the fact that God is the author of life: “The Lord kills, and brings to life” (1 Sm 2:6); “1 will kill, and bring to life again” (Dt 32:39). Now just as the Father has this power, so also does the Son; hence he says, For just as the Father raises the dead and grants life, so the Son grants life to those to whom he wishes. As if to say: These are those greater works that the Father will show the Son, that is, he will give life to the dead. Such works are obviously greater, for it is greater to raise the dead than for a sick man to become well. Thus the Son grants life to those to whom he wishes, i.e., by giving initial life to the living, and by raising the dead.
We should not think that some are raised up by the Father and others by the Son. Rather, the same ones who are raised and vivified by the Father, are raised and vivified by the Son also: because just as the Father does all things through the Son, who is his power, so he also gives life to all through the Son, who is life, as he says below: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (14:6).
The Father does not raise up and give life through the Son as through an instrument, because then the Son would not have freedom of power. And so to exclude this he says, the Son grants life to those to whom he wishes, i.e., it lies in the freedom of his power to grant life to whom he wills. For the Son does not will anything different than the Father wills: for just as they are one substance, so they have one will; hence Matthew (20:15) says: “Is it not lawful for me to do as I will?”
762 Then when he says, The Father himself judges no one, he gives the reason for what was said above, and indicates his own power. It should be remarked that there are two expositions for the present passages: one is given by Augustine, and the other by Hilary and Chrysostom.
Augustine’s explanation is this. The Lord had said that just as the Father raises the dead, so also does the Son. But so that we do not think that this refers only to those miracles the Son performs in raising the dead to this life, and not to the Son’s raising to eternal life, he leads them to the deeper consideration of the resurrection to occur at the future judgment. Thus he refers explicitly to the judgment, saying, The Father himself judges no one.
Another explanation by Augustine, in which the same meaning is maintained, is that the earlier statement, just as the Father raises the dead and grants life, so the Son, should be referred to the resurrection of souls, which the Son causes inasmuch as he is the Word; but the text, The Father himself judges no one, should be referred to the resurrection of bodies, which the Son causes inasmuch as he is the Word made flesh. For the resurrection of souls is accomplished through the person of the Father and of the Son; and for this reason he mentions the Father and Son together, saying, just as the Father raises the dead ... so the Son. But the resurrection of bodies is accomplished through the humanity of the Son, according to which he is not coeternal with the Father. Consequently, he attributes judgment solely to the Son.
763 Note the wonderful variety of expressions. The Father is first presented as acting and the Son as resting, when it says: “the Son cannot do anything of himself, but only what he sees the Father doing” (5:19); but here, on the contrary, the Son is presented as acting and the Father as resting: The Father himself judges no one, but he has given all judgment to the Son. We can see from this that he is speaking from different points of view at different times. At first, he was speaking of an action which belongs to the Father and the Son; thus he says that “the Son cannot do anything of himself, but only what he sees the Father doing”; but here he is speaking of an action by which the Son, as man, judges, and the Father does not: thus he says that the Father has given all judgment to the Son. For the Father will not appear at the judgment because, in accord with what is just, God cannot appear in his divine nature before all who are to be judged: for since our happiness consists in the vision of God, if the wicked were to see God in his own nature, they would be enjoying happiness. Therefore, only the Son will appear, who alone has an assumed nature. Therefore, he alone will judge who alone will appear to all. Yet he will judge with the authority of the Father: “He is the one appointed by God to be the judge of the living and of the dead” (Acts 10:42); and in the Psalm (71:1) we read: “O Lord, give your judgment to the king.”
764 Then when he says, so that all men may honor the Son, he gives the effect which results from the power of the Son. First, he gives the effect. Secondly, he excludes an objection (v 23b).
765 He says that the Father has given all judgment to the Son, according to his human nature, because in the incarnation the Son emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, under which form he was dishonored by men, as is said below (8:49): “I honor my Father, and you have dishonored me.” Therefore, judgment was given to the Son in his assumed nature in order that all men may honor the Son as they honor the Father. For on that day “they will see the Son of Man coming with great power and glory” (Lk 21:27); “They fell on their faces and worshipped, saying: ‘Blessing and glory, and wisdom and thanks, and honor, power and strength, to our God’” (Rv 7:11).
766 Someone might say: I am willing to honor the Father, but do not care about the Son. This cannot be, because Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. For it is one thing to honor God precisely as God, and another to honor the Father. For someone may well honor God as the omnipotent and immutable Creator without honoring the Son. But no one can honor God as Father without honoring the Son; for he cannot be called Father if he does not have a Son. But if you dishonor the Son by diminishing his power, this also dishonors the Father; because where you give less to the Son, you are taking away from the power of the Father.
767 Another explanation, given by Augustine, is this. A twofold honor is due to Christ. One, according to his divinity, in regard to which he is owed an honor equal to that given the Father; and with respect to this he says, that all men may honor the Son as they honor the Father. Another honor is due the Son according to his humanity, but not one equal to that given the Father; and with respect to this he says, Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Thus in the first case he significantly used “as”; but now, the second time, he does not say “as,” but states absolutely that the Son should be honored: “He who rejects you, rejects me; and he who rejects me, rejects him who sent me,” as we read in Luke (10:16).
768 Hilary and Chrysostom give a more literal explanation, but it is only slightly different. They explain it this way. Our Lord said above, the Son grants life to those to whom he wishes. Now whoever does anything according to the free decision of his will acts because of his own judgment. But it was stated above that “whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise” (5:19). Therefore, the Son enjoys a free decision of his own will in all things, since he acts because of his own judgment. Thus he immediately mentions judgment, saying that the Father himself judges no one, i.e., without or apart from the Son. Our Lord used this way of speaking below (12:47): “I do not judge him,” i.e., I alone, “but the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” But he has given all judgment to the Son, as he has given all things to him. For as he has given him life and begotten him as living, so he has given him all judgment, i.e., begotten him as judge: “I judge only as I hear it” (below 5:30), i.e., just as I have being (esse) from the Father, so also judgment. The reason for this is that the Son is nothing other than the conception of the paternal wisdom, as was said. But each one judges by the concept of his wisdom. Hence, just as the Father does all things through the Son, so he judges all things through him. And the fruit of this is that all men may honor the Son as they honor the Father, i.e., that they may render to him the cult of “latria” as they do the Father. The rest does not change.
769 Hilary calls our attention to the remarkable relationship of the passages so that the errors concerning eternal generation can be refuted. Two heresies have arisen concerning this eternal generation. One was that of Arius, who said that the Son is less than the Father; and this is contrary to their equality and unity. The other was that of Sabellius, who said that that there is no distinction of persons in the divinity; and this is contrary to their origin.
So, whenever he mentions the unity and equality [of the Father and Son] , he immediately also adds their distinction as persons according to origin, and conversely. Thus, because he mentions the origin of the persons when he says, “the Son cannot do anything of himself, but only what he sees the Father doing” (5:19), then, so we do not think this involves inequality, he at once adds: “for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.” Conversely, when he states their equality by saying: For just as the Father raises the dead and grants life, so the Son grants life to those to whom he wishes, then, so that we do not deny that the Son has an origin and is begotten, he adds, the Father himself judges no one, but he has given all judgment to the Son. Similarly, when he mentions the equality of the persons by saying. so that all men may honor the Son as they honor the Father. he immediately adds something about a “mission,” which indicates an origin, saying: Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him, but not in such a way that involves a separation. Christ mentions such mission below (8:29) in saying: “He who sent me is with me, and he has not left me alone.”
770 Above, our Lord showed that he had life-giving power; here he shows how someone can share in this life coming from him. First, he tells how one can share in this life through him. Secondly, he predicts its fulfillment (v 25).
771 With respect to the first, we should point out that there are four grades of life. One is found in plants, which take nourishment, grow, reproduce, and are reproduced. Another is in animals which only sense. Another in living things that move, that is, the perfect animals. Finally, there is another form of life which is present in those who understand. Now among those grades of life that exist, it is impossible that the foremost life be that found in plants, or in those with sensation, or even in those with motion. For the first and foremost life must be that which is per se, not that which is participated. This can be none other than intellectual life, for the other three forms are common to a corporal and spiritual creature [as man]. Indeed, a body that lives is not life itself, but one participating in life. Hence intellectual life is the first and foremost life, which is the spiritual life, that is immediately received from the first principle of life, whence it is called the life of wisdom. For this reason in the Scriptures life is attributed to wisdom: “He who finds me finds life, and has salvation from the Lord” (Prv 8:35). Therefore we share life from Christ, who is the Wisdom of God, insofar as our soul receives wisdom from him.
Now this intellectual life is made perfect by the true knowledge of divine Wisdom, which is eternal life: “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (below 17:3). But no one can arrive at any wisdom except by faith. Hence it is that in the sciences, no one acquires wisdom unless he first believes what is said by his teacher. Therefore, if we wish to acquire this life of wisdom, we must believe through faith the things that are proposed to us by it. “He who comes to God must believe that he is and rewards those who seek him” (Heb 11:6); “If you do not believe, you will not understand,” as we read in another version of Isaiah (28:16).
772 Thus, our Lord fittingly shows that the way of obtaining life is through faith, saying, whoever hears my voice and believes in him who sent me, possesses eternal life. First, he mentions the merit of faith. Secondly, the reward of’ faith, eternal life.
773 Concerning the merit of faith, he first indicates how faith is brought to us; and secondly, the foundation of faith, that on which it rests.
Faith comes to us through the words of men: “Faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17). But faith does not rest on man’s word, but on God himself: “Abram believed God, who counted this as his justification” (Gn 15:6); “You who fear the Lord, believe in him” (Sir 2:8). Thus we are lead to believe through the words of men, not in the man himself who speaks, but in God, whose words he speaks: “When you heard the word we brought you as God’s word, you did not receive it as the word of men, but, as what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thes 2:13). Our Lord mentions these two things. First, how faith is brought to us, when he says, whoever hears my voice [literally, word], which leads to faith. Secondly, he mentions that on which faith rests, saying, and believes in him who sent me, i.e., not in me, but in him in virtue of whom I speak.
This text can apply to Christ, as man, insofar as it is through Christ’s human words that men were converted to the faith. And it can apply to Christ, as God, insofar as Christ is the Word of God. For since Christ is the Word of God, it is clear that those who heard Christ were hearing the Word of God, and as a consequence, were believing in God. And this is what he says: whoever hears my word, i.e., me, the Word of God, and believes in him, i.e., the Father, whose Word I am.
774 Then when he says, possesses eternal life, he mentions the reward of faith, and states three things we will possess in the state of glory; but they are mentioned in reverse order. First, there will be the resurrection from the dead. Secondly, we will have freedom from the future judgment. Thirdly, we will enjoy everlasting life, for as we read in Matthew (c 25), the just will enter into everlasting life. He mentions these three as belonging to the reward of faith; and the third was mentioned first since it is desired more than the others.
775 So he says, whoever believes, i.e., through faith, possesses eternal life, which consists in the full vision of God. And it is fitting that one who believes on account of God certain things that he does not see, should be brought to the full vision of these things: “These things are written that you may believe ... and that believing you may have life in his name” (below 20:31).
776 He mentions the second when he says, and he will not encounter judgment. But the Apostle says something which contradicts this: “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor 5:10), even the apostles. Therefore, even one who does believe will encounter judgment. I answer that there are two kinds of judgment. One is a judgment of condemnation, and no one encounters that judgment if he believes in God with a faith that is united with love [ a “formed faith”]. We read about this judgment: “Do not enter into judgment with your servant, for no living man is just in your sight”; and it was said above (3:18): “Whoever believes is not judged.” There is also a judgment of separation and examination; and, as the Apostle says, all must present themselves before the tribunal of Christ for this judgment. Of this judgment we read: “Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from those people who are not holy” (Ps 42:1).
777 Thirdly, he mentions a reward when he says, but has passed from death to life, or “will pass,” as another version says. This statement can be explained in two ways. First, it can refer to the resurrection of the soul. In this case the obvious meaning is that he is saying: Through faith we attain not only to eternal life and freedom from judgment, but also to the forgiveness of our sins as well. Hence he says, but has passed, from unbelief to belief, from injustice to justice: “We know that we have passed from death to life” (1 Jn 3:14).
Secondly, this statement can be explained as referring to the resurrection of the body. Then it is an elaboration of the phrase, possesses eternal life. For some might think from what was said, that whoever believes in God will never die, but live forever. But this is impossible, because all men must pay the debt incurred by the. first sin, according to: “Where is the man who lives, and will not see death?” (Ps 88:49). Consequently, we should not think that one who believes has eternal life in such a way as never to die; rather, he will pass from thi’s life, through death, to life, i.e., through the death of the body he will be revived to eternal life.
Or, “will pass,” might refer to the cause [of one’s resurrection] for when a person believes, he already has the merit for a glorious resurrection: “Your dead will live, your slain will rise” (Is 26:19). And then, once released from the death of the old man, we will receive the life of the new man, that is, Christ.
778 Amen, amen, I say to you... Since some might doubt if any would pass from death to life, our Lord predicts that this will happen, saying: I say that he [who believes] “will pass from death to life”; and I say it before it actually occurs. And this is what he states, saying: Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming, not determined by a necessity of fate, but by God’s decree: “It is the last hour” (1 Jn 2:18). And so that we do not think that it is far off, he adds, and is now here “it is now the time for us to rise froin sleep” (Rom 13:11)—i.e., the hour is now here when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear it will live.
779 This can be explained in two ways. In one way as referring to the resurrection of the body, and so it is said that the hour is coming, and is now here, as if he had said: It is true that eventually all will rise, but even now is the hour when some, whom the Lord was about to resuscitate, shall hear the voice of the Son of God. This is the way Lazarus heard it when it was said to him, “Come forth,” as we read below (11:43); and in this way the daughter of the leader of the synagogue heard it (Mt 9:18); and the widow’s son (Lk 7:12). Therefore, he says significantly, and is now here, because through me the dead already are beginning to be raised.
Another explanation is given by Augustine, according to which and is now here refers to the resurrection of the soul. For as was said above, resurrection is of two kinds: the resurrection of bodies, which will happen in the future; this does not take place now, but will occur at the future judgment. The other is the resurrection of souls from the death of unbelief to the life of faith, and from the life of injustice to that of justice; and this is now here. Hence he says, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead, i.e., unbelievers and sinners, shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear it will live, according to the true faith.
780 This passage seems to imply two strange occurrences. One, when he says that the dead will hear. The other, when he adds that it is through hearing that they will come to life again, as though hearing comes before life, whereas hearing is a certain function of life. However, if we refer this to the resurrection, it is true that the dead will hear, i.e., obey the voice of the Son of God. For the voice expresses the interior concept. Now all nature obeys the slightest command of the divine will: “He calls into existence what does not exist” (Rom 4:17). According to this, then, wood, stones, all things, not just the dry bones but also the dust of dead bodies, shall hear the voice of the Son of God so far as they obey his slightest will. And this belongs to Christ, not insofar as he is the Son of Man, but insofar as he is the Son of God, because all things obey the Word of God. And so he significantly says, of the Son of God; “What kind of man is this, for the sea and winds obey him?” (Mt 8:27).
If this statement (25b) is understood as referring to the resurrection of souls, then the reason for it is this: the voice of the Son of God has a life-giving power, that voice by which he moves the hearts of the faithful interiorly by inspiration, or exteriorly by his preaching and that of others: “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (below 6:64). And so he gives life to the dead when he justifies the wicked. And since hearing is the way to life, either of nature through obedience, namely, by repairing nature, or the hearing of faith by repairing life and justice, he therefore says, and those who hear it, by obedience as to the resurrection of the body, or by faith as to the resurrection of souls, will live, in the body in eternal life, and injustice in the life of grace.
26 “Indeed, just as the Father possesses life in himself, so he has given it to the Son to have life in himself. 27 And he [the Father] gave him the power to pass judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not be surprised at this, since the hour is coming when all those burried in tombs will hear the voice of the Son of God. 29 And those who have done well will come forth to a resurrection of life; those who have done evil will come forth to a resurrection of judgment [i.e., condemnation]. 30 I cannot do anything of myself, but I judge only as I hear it; and my judgment is just, because I am not seeking my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”
781 Above, our Lord showed that he had the power to give life and to judge; and he explained each by its effect. Here he shows how each of these powers belongs to him. First, he shows this with respect to his life-giving power. Secondly, with respect to his power to judge (v 27).
782 So he says, first: I say that as the Father raises the dead, so I do also; and anyone who hears my word has eternal life. And I possess this because, just as the Father possesses life in himself, so he has given it to the Son to have life in himself.
Apropos of this, we should note that some who live do not have life in themselves: as Paul, “I am living by faith in the Son of God” (Gal 2:20); and again in the same place: “it is not I who now live, but Christ lives in me.” Thus he lived, yet not in himself, but in another through whom he lived: as a body lives, although it does not have life in itself, but in a soul through which it lives. So that has life in itself which has an essential, non-participated life, i.e., that which is itself life. Now in every genus of things, that which is something through its essence is the cause of those things that are it by participation, as fire is the cause of all things afire. And so, that which is life through its essence, is the cause and principle of all life in living things. Accordingly, if something is to be a principle of life, it must be life through its essence. And so our Lord fittingly shows that he is the principle of all life by saying that he has life in himself, i.e., through his essence, when he says: just as the Father possesses life in himself, i.e., as he is living through his essence, so does the Son. Therefore, as the Father is the cause of life, so also is his Son.
Further, he shows the equality of the Son to the Father when he says, as the Father possesses life in himself; and he shows their distinction when he says, he has given it to the Son. For the Father and the Son are equal in life; but they are distinct, because the Father gives, and the Son receives. However, we should not understand this to mean that the Son receives life from the Father as if the Son first existed without having life, as in lower things a first matter, already existing, receives a form, and as a subject receives accidents: because in the Son there is nothing that exists prior to the reception of life. For as Hilary says: “the Son has nothing unless it is begotten,” i.e., nothing but what he receives through his birth. And since the Father is life itself, the meaning of, he has given it to the Son to have life in himself, is that the Father produced the Son as living. As if one were to say: the mind gives life to the word, not as though the word existed and then receives life, but because the mind produces the word in the same life by which it lives.
783 According to Hilary, this passage destroys three heresies. First, that of the Arians, who said that the Son is inferior to the Father. They were forced by what was stated earlier, that is, “For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise” (5:19), to say that the Son is equal to the Father in power; but they still denied that the Son is equal to the Father in nature. But now, this too is refuted by this statement, namely, just as the Father possesses life in himself, so he has given it to the Son to have life in himself. For since life pertains to the nature, if the Son has life in himself as does the Father, it is clear that he has in himself, by his very origin, a nature indivisible froin and equal to that ofthe Father.
The second error is also Arian: their denial that the Son is coeternal with the Father, when they say that the Son began to exist in time. This is destroyed when he says, the Son has life in himself. For in all living things whose generation occurs in time, it is always possible to find something that at some time or other was not living. But in the Son, whatever is, is life itself. Consequently, he so received life itself that he has life in himself, so as always to have been living.
Thirdly, by saying, he has given, he destroys the error of Sabellius, who denied the distinction of persons. For if the Father gave life to the Son, it is obvious that the Father, who gave it, is other than the Son, who received it.
784 Then (v 27), he makes it clear that he has the power to judge. First, he reveals his judiciary power. Secondly, he gives a reason for what he has said (v 30). As to the first he does two things. First, he indicates the origin of his judiciary power. Secondly, he shows that his judgment is just (v 29).
785 With regard to the first, we should note that his statement, he [the Father] gave him the power, can be understood in two ways. One way is that of Augustine; the other is that of Chrysostom.
786 If we understand it as Chrysostom does, then this section is divided into two parts. First, he reveals the origin of his judiciary power. Secondly, he settles a difficulty (v 27b).
Chrysostom punctuates this section in the following way. He gave him the power to pass judgment. And then a new sentence begins: Because he is the Son of Man, do not be surprised at this. The reason for this punctuation is that Paul of Samosata, an early heretic, who like Photius said that Christ was only a man and took his origin from the Virgin, punctuated it as: He gave him the power to pass judghnent because he is the Son of Man. And then he began a new sentence: Do not be surprised at this, since the hour is coming. It was as if he thought that it was necessary for judiciary power to be given to Christ because he is the Son of Man, that is, a mere man, who, of himself, cannot judge men. And so, if Christ is to judge others, he must be given the power to judge.
But this, according to Chrysostom, cannot stand, because it is not at all in agreement with what is stated. For if it is because he is a man that he receives judiciary power, then for the same reason, since it would belong to every man to have judiciary power in virtue of his human nature, it would not belong to Christ any more than to other men. So we should not understand it this way. Rather, we should say that because Christ is the ineffable Son of God, he is on that account also judge. And this is what he says: The Father not only give him the power to give life, but also he gave him the power, through eternal generation, to pass judgment, just as he gave him, through eternal generation, to have life in himself: “He is the one appointed by God to be the judge of the living and of the dead,” as we read in Acts (10:42).
He settles a difficulty when he says, Do not be surprised at this. First, he mentions the difficulty. Secondly, he clears it up.
787 The difficulty arose in the minds of the Jews and they were surprised because while they thought that Christ was no more than a man, he was saying things about himself that surpassed man and even the angels. So he says, Do not be surprised at this, that is, that I have said that the Son gives life to the dead and has the power to judge precisely because he is the Son of Man. They were surprised because, although they thought he was only a man, they saw that he accomplished divine effects: “What kind of man is this, for the sea and winds obey him?” (Mt 8:27). And he gives a reason why they should not be surprised, which is, because he who is the Son of Man is the Son of God. Although, as Chrysostom says, is it not said explicitly that the Son of Man is the Son of God, our Lord lays down the premises from which this statement necessarily follows: just as we notice that those who use syllogisms in their teaching do not express their main conclusion, but only that from which it follows with necessity. So our Lord does not say that he is the Son of God, but that the Son of Man is such that at his voice all the dead will rise. From this it necessarily follows that he is the Son of God: for it is a proper effect of God to raise the dead. Thus he says, Do not be surprised at this, since the hour is coming when all those burried in tombs will hear the voice of the Son of God. But he does not say of this hour, as he said above, “and is now here” (5:25). Again, here he says, all, which he did not say above: because at the first resurrection he raised only some, as Lazarus, the widow’s son and the young girl; but at the future resurrection, at the time of judgment, all will hear the voice of the Son of God, and will rise. “I will open your graves, and lead you out of your tombs” (Ez 37:12).
788 Augustine punctuates this passage in the following way. And he gave him the power to pass judgment because he is the Son of Man. And then a new sentence follows: Do not be surprised at this. In this interpretation there are two parts. The first concerns the power to judge granted to the Son of Man. In the second, the granting of an even greater power is made clear, at Do not be surprised at this.
789 As to the first we should note that, according to the mind of Augustine, he spoke above of the resurrection of souls, which is accomplished through the Son of God, but here he is speaking of the resurrection of bodies, which is accomplished through the Son of Man. And because the general resurrection of bodies will take place at the time of judgment, he mentions the judgment first, in saying, And he [the Father] gave him, i.e., Christ, the power to pass Judgment, and this, because he is the Son of Man, i.e., according to his human nature. Thus it is also after the resurrection that he says in Matthew (28:18): “All power has been given to me, in heaven and on earth.”
There are three reasons why judiciary power has been given to Christ as man. First, in order that he might be seen by all: for it is necessary that a judge be seen by all who are to be judged. Now both the good and the wicked will be judged. And the good will see Christ in his divinity and in his humanity; while the wicked will not be able to see him in his divinity, because this vision is the happiness of the saints and is seedonly by the pure in heart: “Happy are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Mt 5:8). And so, in order that Christ can be seen at the judgment not only by the good, but also by the wicked, he will judge in human form: “Every eye will see him, and all who pierced him” (Rv 1:7).
Secondly, the power to judge was given to Christ as man because by the self-abasement of his passion he merited the glory of an exaltation. Thus, just as he who died arose, so that [human] form which was judged, will judge, and he who stood before a human judge will preside at the judgment of men. He who was falsely found guilty will condemn the truly guilty, as Augustine remarks in his work, The Sayings of the Lord. “Your cause has been judged as that of the wicked; but cause and judgment you will recover” (Jb 3 6.17).
Thirdly, Christas man was given judiciary power to suggest the compassion of the judge. For it is very terrifying for a man to be judged by God: “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31); but it produces confidence for a man to have another man as his judge. Accordingly, so you can experience the compassion of your judge, you will have a man as judge: “We do not have a high priest who cannot have compassion on our weakness” (Heb 4:15).
Thus, he gave him, Christ, the power to pass judgment because he is the Son of Man.
790 Do not be surprised at this, for he has given him a greater power, that is, the power to raise the dead. Thus he says, since the hour is coming, that is, the last hour at the end of the world: “The time has come, the day of slaughter is near” (Ez 7:7), when all those burried in tombs will hear the voice of the Son of God. Above he did not say “all,” because there he was speaking of the spiritual resurrection, in which all did not rise at his first coming, for we read: “All do not have faith” (2 Thes 3:2). But here he is speaking of the resurrection of the body, and all will rise in this way, as we read in 1 Corinthians (15:20). He adds, those burried in tombs, which he had not mentioned above, because only bodies, not souls, are in tombs, and it is the resurrection of bodies that will then take place.
All those burried in tombs will hear the voice of the Son of God. This voice will be a sense perceptible sign of the Son of God, at whose sound all will be raised: “The Lord will come with the cry of the archangel and with the trumpet of God” (1 Thes 4:15); we find the same in 1 Corinthians (15:52) and in Matthew (25:6): “There was a cry at midnight.” This voice will derive its power from the divinity of Christ: “He will make his voice a powerful voice,” as the Psalm (67:34) says.
791 As we saw, Augustine says that the resurrection of the body will be accomplished through the Word made flesh, but the resurrection of the soul is accomplished through the Word. One may wonder how to understand this: whether we are talking about a first cause or a meritorious cause. If we are referring to a first cause, then it is clear that the divinity of Christ is the cause of the corporal and spiritual resurrection, i.e., of the resurrection of bodies and of souls, according to: “I will kill, and I will bring to life again” (Dt 32:39). But if we are referring to a meritorious cause, then it is the humanity of Christ which is the cause of both resurrections: because through the mysteries accomplished in the flesh of Christ we are restored not only to an incorruptible life in our bodies, but also to a spiritual life in our souls: “He was put to death on account of our sins, and he rose for our justification” (Rom 4:25). Accordingly, what Augustine says does not seem to be true.
I answer that Augustine is speaking of the exemplary cause and of that cause by which that which is brought to life is made conformable to that which brings it to life: for everything that lives through another is conformed to that through which it lives. Now the resurrection of souls does not consist in souls being conformed to the humanity of Christ, but to the Word, because the life of the soul is through the Word alone; and so he says that the resurrection of souls takes place through the Word. But the resurrection of the body will consist in our bodies being conformed to the body of Christ through the life of glory, that is, through the glory of our bodies, according to: “He will change our lowly body so it is like his glorious body” (Phil 3:2 1). And it is from this point of view that he says that the resurrection of the body will take place through the Word made flesh.
792 Then (v 29), he shows the justness of his judgment: because the good will be rewarded, and so he says, And those who have done well will come forth to a resurrection of life, i.e., to living in eternal glory; but the wicked will be damned, and so he says, those who have done evil will come forth to a resurrection of judgment [i.e., condemnation], i.e., they will rise for condemnation: “These,” the wicked, “will go into everlasting punishment; but the just will go to eternal life” (Mt 25:46); “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to an everlasting life, and others to everlasting shame” (Dn 12:2).
793 Note than when he was speaking above of the resurrection of souls, he said, “those who hear it,” the voice of the Son of God, “will live” (5:25); but here he says, will come forth. He says this because of the wicked, who will be condemned: for their life should not be called a life, but rather an eternal death. Again, above he mentioned only faith, saying, “Whoever hears my voice and believes in him who sent me, possesses eternal life; and he will not encounter judgment” (5:24). But here he mentions works, so that we do not think that faith alone, without works, is sufficient for salvation, saying: And those who have done well will come forth to a resurrection of life. As if to say: Those will come forth to a resurrection of life who do not just believe, but who have accomplished good works along with their faith: “Faith without works is dead,” as we see from James (2:26).
794 Then when he says, I cannot do anything of myself, he gives the reason for what he has just said. Now he had spoken of two things: the origin of his power, and the justness of his judgment. Consequently, he mentions the reason for each.
795 The first point, when he says, I cannot do anything of myself, can be understood in two ways, even according to Augustine. First, as referring to the Son of Man in this manner: You say that you have the power to raise the dead because you are the Son of Man. But do you have this power precisely because you are the Son of Man? No, because I cannot do anything of myself, but I judge only as I hear it. He does not say, “as I see,” as he said above; “The Son cannot do anything of himself, but only what he sees the Father doing” (5:19). But he does say, as I hear it: for in this context “to hear” is the same as “to obey.” Now to obey belongs to one who receives a command, while to command pertains to one who is superior. Accordingly, because Christ, as man, is inferior to the Father, he says, as I hear it, i.e., as infused into my soul by God. We read of this kind of hearing in Psalm 84 (v 9): “1 will hear what the Lord God says in me.” But above he said “sees,” because he was then speaking of himself as the Word of God.
796 Then when he says, and my judgment is just, he shows the justness of his judgment. For he had said: “Those who have done well will come forth to a resurrection of life.” But some might say: Will he be partial and uneven when he punishes and rewards? So he answers: No, saying: my judgment is just; and the reason is because I am not seeking my own will, but the will of him who sent me. For there are two wills in our Lord Jesus Christ: one is a divine will, which is the same as the will of the Father; the other is a human will, which is proper to himself, just as it is proper to him to be a man. A human will is borne to its own good; but in Christ it was ruled and regulated by right reason, so that it would always be conformed in all things to the divine will. Accordingly he says: I am not seeking my own will, which as such is inclined to its own good, but the will of him who sent me, that is, the Father: “I have desired to do your will, my God” (Ps 39:9); “Not as I will, but as you will” (Mt 26:39).
If this is carefully considered, the Lord is assigning the true nature of a just judgment, saying: because I am not seeking my own will. For one’s judgment is just when it is passed according to the norm of law. But the divine will is the norm and the law of the created will. And so, the created will, and the reason, which is regulated according to the norm of the divine will, is just, and its judgment is just.
797 Secondly, it is explained as referring to the Son of God; and then the aforesaid division still remains the same. Thus Christ, as the Divine Word showing the origin of his power, says: I cannot do anything of myself, in the way he said above, “the Son cannot do anything of himself” (5:19). For his very doing and his power are his being (esse); but being (esse) in him is from another, that is, from his Father. And so, just as he is not of himself (a se), so of himself he cannot do anything: “I do nothing of myself” (below 8:28).
His statement, I judge only as I hear it, is explained as his previous statement, “only what he sees the Father doing” (above 5:19). For we acquire science or any knowledge through sight and hearing (for these two senses are those most used in learning). But because sight and hearing are different is us, we acquire knowledge in one way through sight, that is, by discovering things, and in a different way through hearing, that is, by being taught. But in the Son of God, sight and hearing are the same; thus, when he says either “sees” or “hears,” the meaning is the same so far as the acquisition of knowledge is concerned. And because judgment in any intelletual nature comes from knowledge, he says significantly, I judge only as I hear it, i.e., as I have acquired knowledge together with heing from the Father, so I judge: “Everything I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (below 15:15).
798 Showing the justness of his judgment he says: and my judgment is just: the reason being, because I am not seeking my own will. But do not the Father and the Son have the same will? I answer that the Father and the Son do have the same will, but the Father does not have his will from another, whereas the Son does have his will from another, i.e., from the Father. Thus the Son accomplishes his own will as from another, i.e., as having it from another; but the Father accomplishes his will as his own, i.e., not having it from another. Thus he says: I am not seeking my own will, that is, such as would be mine if it originated from myself, but my will, as being from another, that is from the Father.
31 “If I were to bear witness to myself,
my testimony would not be valid.
32 But there is someone else who testifies
on my behalf, and I know that the witness
he bears on my behalf is true.
33 You sent [messengers] to John;
and he bore witness to the truth.
34 I myself do not need proof from men;
but I say this in order that you may be saved.
35 He was a lamp, blazing and burning brightly.
And for a while you yourselves exulted in his light.
36 But I have testimony that is greater than that of John.
The very works which my Father has given me
to perform—those works that I myself perform—
they bear witness to me that the Father sent me.
37 Moreover, the Father who sent me has himself
given testimony on my behalf,
but you have neither heard his voice,
nor seen his image;
38 and you do not have his word abiding in your hearts,
for you do not believe in him whom he has sent.
39 Search the Scriptures,
since you think you have eternal life in them;
they too bear witness to me.
40 Yet you are unwilling to come to me
in order to possess that life.”
799 Having given us the teaching on the life-giving power of the Son, he now confirms it. First, he confirms, with several testimonies, what he had said about the excellence of his power. In the second place, he reproves them because of their slowness to believe (v 41). He does two things about the first. First, he states why there was a need to resort to such testimonies. Secondly, he invokes the testimonies (v 32).
800 The need to appeal to testimony arose because the Jews did not believe in him; for this reason he says: If I were to bear witness to myself, my testimony would not be valid (verum, valid, true). Some may find this statement puzzling: for if our Lord says of himself, “I am the truth” (below 14:6), how can his testimony not be valid? If he is the truth, in whom shall one believe if the truth itself is not believed in? We may answer, according to Chrysostom, that our Lord is speaking here of himself from the point of view of the opinion of others, so that his meaning is: If I were to bear witness to myself, my testimony would not be valid so far as your outlook is concerned, because you do not accept what I say about myself unless it is confirmed by other testimony: “You are bearing witness to yourself; your testimony is not valid” (below 8:13).
801 Next, he presents these testimonies: first, a human testimony; secondly, a divine testimony. He does two things about the first. First, he mentions the testimony of John; secondly, he tells why this testimony was given (v 34). With respect to the first he does two things. First, he brings in the testimony; secondly, he commends it (v 32).
802 He brings on the witness when he says: But there is someone else who testifies on my behalf. This is, in the opinion of Chrysostom, John the Baptist, of whom we read above: “There was a man sent by God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, that he might bear witness to the light” (1:6).
803 He commends John’s testimony on two grounds: first, because of its truth; secondly, because of its authority, for the Jews had sought it (v 33).
804 He commends his testimony because of its truth, saying: And I know, from certain experience, that the witness he, that is, John, bears on my behalf is true. His father, Zechariah, had prophesied this of him: “You will go before the face of the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people a knowledge of salvation” (Lk 1:76). Now it is obvious that false testimony is not a testimony that saves, because lying is a cause of death: “A lying mouth kills the soul” (Wis 1:11). Therefore, if John’s testimony was for the purpose of giving knowledge of salvation to his people, his testimony is true.
805 The Gloss has a different explanation of this: If I were to bear witness to myself, my testimony would not be valid. For above, Christ was referring to himself as God, but here he is referring to himself as a man. And the meaning is: If I, namely, a man, were to bear witness to myself, i.e., apart from God, that is, which God the Father does not certify, then it follows that my testimony would not be valid, for human speech has no truth unless it is supported by God, according to: “God is true, but every man is a liar” (Rom 3:4). Thus, if we take Christ as a man separated from the Deity and not in conformity with it, we find a lie both in his essence and in his words: “Although I bear witness to myself, my testimony is true” (below 8:14); “I am not alone, because the Father is with me” (below 16:32). And so, because he was not alone but with the Father, his testimony is true.
Accordingly, to show that his testimony is true, not in virute of his humanity considered in itself, but in so far as it is united to his divinity and to the Word of God, he says, But there is someone else who testifies on my behalf: not John, but the Father, according to this explanation. Because if the testimony of Christ as man is not of itself true and productive, much less is the testimony of John. Therefore, the testimony of Christ is not verified by the testimony of John, but by the testimony of the Father. So this someone else who testifies is understood to be the Father. And I know that the witness he bears on my behalf is true, for he is truth: “God is light, “‘ i.e., truth, “and in him there is no darkness,” i.e., lie (1 Jn 1:5).
The first explanation, which is that given by Chrysostom, is nearer to the letter of the text.
806 He also commends the testimony of John by reason of its authority, because it was sought after by the Jews, saying: You sent [messengers] to John. As if to say: I know that his testimony is true and you should not reject it, because the great authority John enjoyed among you led you to seek his testimony about me; and you would not have done this if you did not think that he was worthy of belief: “The Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to him” (above 1:19). And on this occasion, John bore witness, not to himself, but to the truth, i.e., to me. As a friend of the truth, he bore testimony to the truth, which is Christ: “He declared openly, and did not deny, and stated clearly, ‘I am not the Messiah’” (above 1:20).
807 Then (v 34), he gives the reason why an appeal was made to the testimony of John. First, he excludes a supposed reason. Next, he presents the true reason (v 34b).
808 Someone might think that John’s testimony was brought in to assure them about Christ, on the ground that Christ’s own testimony was not sufficient. He excludes this reason when he says, I myself do not need proof from men. Here we should note that sometimes in the sciences a thing is proved by something else which is more evident to us, but which is less evident in itself; and at other times a thing is proved by something else which is more evident in itself and absolutely. Now, in this case, the issue is to prove that Christ is God. And, although the truth of Christ is, in itself and absolutely, more evident, yet it is proved by the testimony of John, which was better known to the Jews. So Christ, of himself, did not have any need of John’s testimony; and this is what he says: I myself do not need proof from men.
809 But this seems to conflict with: “You are my witnesses, said the Lord” (Is 40:10); and with “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the remotest part of the world” (Acts 1:8). So how can he say: I myself do not need proof from men.
This can be understood in two ways. In the first way, the sense is: I myself do not need proof from men, as relying on it alone; but I have stronger testimony, that is, divine testimony: “For me, it does not matter much if I am judged by you” (1 Cor 4:3); “You know that I have not desired the day of man,” i.e., human glory (Jer 17:16).
Another interpretation is: I myself do not need proof from men, insofar as the one giving witness is a man, but insofar as he is enlightened by God in order to testify: “There was a man sent by God, whose name was John” (above 1:6); “We did not seek glory from men” (1 Thes 2:6); “1 do not seek my own glory” (below 8:50). And so I receive the testimony of John not just as a man, but insofar as he was sent and enlightened by God in order to testify.
A third explanation, and a better one, is: I myself do not need proof from men, i.e., human testimony. As far as I am concerned, I receive my authority from no one but God, who proves that I am great.
810 Next (v 34b), he gives the real reason for appealing to John’s testimony. First, he states the reason. Secondly, he explains it. The reason for appealing to this testimony was so that the Jews might be saved by believing in Christ, and this because of John’s testimony. Thus he says: I do not need John’s testimony for my sake, but I say this in order that you may be saved: “He desires the salvation of’ all men” (1 Tim 2:4). “Christ came into this world to save sinners” (1 Tim 1:15).
811 He explains his statement, in order that you may be saved: that is, because I am appealing to testimony you have accepted. And so he mentions that John was accepted by them: He was a lamp, blazing and burning brightly. First, he states that John was a witness accepted on his own merits. Secondly, he mentions to what degree he was accepted by them (v 35b).
812 Three things perfected John and show that he was a witness accepted in his own right. The first concerns the condition of his nature, and he refers to this when he says, He was a lamp. The second concerns the perfection of his love, because he was a blazing lamp. The third is related to the perfection of his understanding, because he was a lamp that was burning brightly.
John was perfect in his nature because he was a lamp, i.e., enriched by grace and illumined by the light of the Word of God. Now a lamp differs from a light: for a light radiates light of itself, but a lamp does not give light of itself, but by participating in the light. Now the true light is Christ: “He was the true light, which enlightens every man coming into this world” (above 1:9). John, however, was not a light, as we read in the same place, but a lamp, because he was enlightened “in order to bear witness to the light” (above 1:8), by leading men to Christ. We read of this lamp: “I have prepared a lamp for my anointed” (Ps 131:17).
Further, he was blazing and impassioned in his affections, so he says, blazing. For some people are lamps only as to their office or rank, but they are snuffed out in their affections: for as a lamp cannot give light unless there is a fire blazing within it, so a spiritual lamp does not give any light unless it is first set ablaze and burns with the fire of love. Therefore, to be ablaze comes first, and the giving of light depends on it, because knowledge of the truth is given due to the blazing of love: “If any one loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him” (below 14:23); and “I have called you friends, because everything I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (below 15:15); “You who fear the Lord, love him, and your hearts will be enlightened” (Sir 2:20).
The two characteristics of fire are that it both blazes and shines. Its blazing signifies love for three reasons. First, because fire is the most active of all bodies; so too is the warmth of love (charity), so much so that nothing can withstand its force: “The love of Christ spurs us on” (2 Cor 5:14). Secondly, because just as fire, because it is very volatile, causes great unrest, so also this love of charity makes a person restless until he achieves his objective: “Its light is fire and flame” (Sg 8:6). Thirdly, just as fire is inclined to move upward, so too is charity; so much so that it joins us to God: “He who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1Jn 4:16).
Finally, John had an intellect that was burning brightly. First, it was bright within, because of his knowledge of the truth: “The Lord will fill your soul with brightness,” i.e., he will make it shine (Is 58:11). Secondly, it was bright without, because of his preaching: “You will shine in the world among them like stars, containing the word of life” (Phil 2:15). Thirdly, it was bright because it manifested good works: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works” (Mt 5:16).
813 And so, because John was of himself so acceptable—for he was a lamp, not smothered out but blazing, not dark but burning brightly—he deserved to be accepted by you, as indeed he was, because for a time you yourselves exulted in his light. He fittingly links their exulting or rejoicing with light; because a man rejoices most is that which most pleases him. And among physical things nothing is more pleasant than light, according to: “It is a delight for the eyes to see the sun” (Sir 11:7). He says, you yourselves exulted in his light, i.e., you rested in John and put your end in him, thinking that he was the Messiah. But you did this only for a time, because you wavered on this; for when you saw that John was leading men to another, and not to himself, you turned away from him. Thus we read in Matthew (21:32) that the Jews did not believe in John. They belonged to that group referred to by Matthew (13:21 ) as believing “for a while.”
814 Then (v 36), he presents the divine testimony. First, he mentions its greatness; and then he continues on to describe it.
815 He says: I do not need proof from men for my sake, but for your sake, for I have testimony that is greater than that of John, that is, the testimony of God, which is greater than the testimony of John: “If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater” (1 Jn 5:9), It is greater, I say, because of its greater authority, greater knowledge, and infallible truth, for God cannot deceive: “God is not like man, a liar” (Nm 23:19).
816 God bore witness to Christ in three ways: by works, by himself, and by the Scriptures. First, he mentions his witness as given by the working of miracles; secondly, the way God gave witness by himself (v 37); thirdly, the witness given through the Scriptures (v 39).
817 He says first: I have testimony that is greater than that of John, that is, my works, i.e., the working of miracles, the very works which my Father has given me to perform. We should point out that it is natural for man to learn of the power and natures of things from their actions, and therefore our Lord fittingly says that the sort of person he is can be learned through the works he does. So, since he performed divine works by his own power, we should believe that he has divine power within him: “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin,” that is, the sin of unbelief (below 15:24). And so he leads them to a knowledge of himself by appealing to his works, saying, the very works which my Father has given me in the Word, through an eternal generation, by giving me a power equal to his own. Or we could say, the very works which my Father has given me, in my conception, by making me one person who is both God and man, to perform, i.e., to perform them by my own power. He says this to distinguish himself from those who do not perforrn miracles by their own power but have to obtain it as a favor from God; thus Peter says: “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth: stand up” (Acts 3:6). Thus it was God, and not themselves, who accomplished these works; but Christ accomplished them by his own power: “Lazarus, come forth,” as John reports below (11:43). Accordingly, those works that I myself perform—they bear witness to me; “If you do not believe me, at least believe my works” (below 10:38). We see from Mark (16:20) that God bears witness by the working of miracles: “The Lord worked with them and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.”
818 Then (v 37), he presents the second way God bore witness to Christ, namely, by himself. First, he mentions the way; secondly, he shows that they were not able to receive this testimony.
819 He says: It is not only the works which my Father has given me to perform that bear witness to me, but the Father who sent me has himself given testimony on my behalf: in the Jordan, when Christ was baptized (Mt 3:17); and on the mountain, when Christ was transfigured (Mt 17:5). For on both these occasions the voice of the Father was heard: “This is my beloved Son.” And so they should believe in Christ, as the true and natural Son of God: “This is the testimony of God: he has borne witness to his Son” ( 1 Jn 5:9). Consequently, anyone who does not believe that he is the Son of God, does not believe in the testimony of God.
820 Someone could say that God also gave testimony to others by himself: for example, to Moses, on the mountain, with whom God spoke while others were present. We, however, never heard his testimony, as the Lord says: you have neither heard his voice. On the other hand, we read in Deuteronomy (4:33): Did it ever happen before that the people heard the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you heard, and have lived?” Then how can Christ say: you have neither heard his voice?
I reply, according to Chrysostom, that the Lord wishes to show those established in a philosophical frame of mind that God gives testimony to someone in two ways, namely, sensibly and intelligibly. Sensibly, as by a sensible voice only; and in this way he gave witness to Moses on Mount Sinai: “You heard his voice, and saw no form at all” (Dt 4:12). Likewise, he gives testimony by a sensible form, as he appeared to Abraham (Gn 26), and to Isaiah: “I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne” (Is 6:1). However, in these visions, neither the audible voice nor the visible figure were like anything in the animal kingdom, except efficiently, in the sense that these were formed by God. For since God is a spirit, he neither emits audible sounds nor can he be portrayed as a figure. But he does bear testimony in an intelligible manner by inspiring in the hearts of certain persons what they ought to believe and to hold: “I will hear what the Lord God will speak within me” (Ps 84:9); “I will lead her into the wilderness and there I will speak to her heart,” as we read in Hosea (2:14).
Now you were able to receive the testimony given in the first of these ways; and this is not surprising, because they were the words and image of God only efficiently, as was said. But they were not able to receive the testimony given in that intelligible voice; so he says: you have neither heard his voice, i.e., you were not among those who shared in it. “Everyone who has heard the Father and has learned, comes to me” (below 6:45). But you do not come to me. Therefore, you have neither heard his voice nor seen his image, i.e., you do not have his intelligible testimony. Hence he adds: and you do not have his word abiding in your hearts, i.e., you do not have his word that is inwardly inspired. And the reason is, for you do not believe in him whom he, the Father, has sent. For the word of God leads to Christ, since Christ himself is the natural Word of God. But every word inspired by God is a certain participated likeness of that Word. Therefore, since every participated likeness leads to its original, it is clear that every word inspired by God leads to Christ. And so, because you are not led to me, you do not have his word, i.e., the inspired word of God, abiding in your hearts. “He who does not believe in the Son of God does not have life abiding in him,” as it says below (sic). He says abiding, because although there is no one who does not have some truth from God, they alone have the truth and the word abiding in them whose knowledge has progressed to the point where they have reached a knowledge of the true and natural Word.
821 Or we could say that, you have neither heard his voice, can be taken as showing the three ways in which God reveals things. This is done either by a sensible voice, as he bore witness to Christ in the Jordan and on the mountain, as in 2 Peter (1:16): “We were eyewitnesses of his greatness. For he received honor and glory from God the Father, when a voice came from the heavens.” And the Jews did not hear this. Or, God reveals things through a vision of his essence, which he reveals to the blessed. And they did not see this, because “while we are in the body, we are absent from the Lord” (2 Cor 5:6). Thirdly, it is accomplished by an interior word through an inspiration; and the Jews did not have this either.
822 Then when he says, Search the Scriptures, he gives the third way in which God bore witness to Christ, through the Scriptures. First, he mentions the testimony of the Scriptures. Secondly, he shows that they were not able to gather the fruit of this testimony (v 40).
823 He says: Search the Scriptures. As if to say: You do not have the word of God in your hearts, but in the Scriptures; therefore, you must seek for it elsewhere than in your hearts. Hence, Search the Scriptures, that is, the Old Testament, for the faith of Christ was contained in the Old Testament, but not on the surface, for it lay hidden in its depths, under shadowy symbols: “Even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil is over their hearts” (2 Cor 3:15). Thus he significantly says, Search, probe into the depths: “If you search for her [wisdom] like money, and dig for her like a treasure, you will understand the fear of the Lord and will find the knowledge of God” (Prv 2:4); “Give me understanding and I will search your commandments” (Ps 118:34).
The reason why you should search them I take from your own opinion, because you think you have eternal life in them, since we read in Ezekiel (18:19): “He who has kept my commands will live.” But you are mistaken; because although the precepts of the old law are living, they do not contain life in themselves. They are said to be living only to the extent that they lead to me, the Christ. Yet you use them as though they contained life in themselves, and in this you are mistaken, for they bear witness to me, i.e., they are living to the extent that they lead to a knowledge of me. And they lead to a knowledge of me either by plain prophecies, as in Isaiah (7:14): “A virgin will conceive.” or in Deuteronomy (18:15): “The Lord your God will raise up a prophet for you.”; and so Acts (10:43) says: “All the prophets bear witness to him.” The Scriptures also lead to a knowledge of Christ through the symbolic actions of the prophets; thus we read: “I have used resemblences in the ministry of the prophets” (Hos 12:10). Knowledge of Christ is also given in their sacraments and figures, as in the immolation of’ the lamb, and other symbolic sacraments of the law: “The law has only a shadow of the good things to come” (Heb 10:1). And so, because “the Scriptures of the Old Testament gave much testimony about Christ, the Apostle says: “He promised the Good News before, through his prophets in the holy Scriptures; the Good News of his Son, a descendant of David in his human nature” (Rom 1:2).
824 The fruit which you think you have in the Scriptures, that is, eternal life, you will not be able to obtain, because in not believing the testimonies of the Scriptures about me, you are unwilling to come to me, i.e., you do not wish to believe in me, in whom the fruit of these Scriptures exists, in order to possess that life in me, the life which I give to those who believe in me: “I give them eternal life” (below 10:28); “Wisdom infuses life into her children” (Sir 4:12); “He who finds me will find life, and will have salvation from the Lord” (Prv 8:35).
41 “Praise from men I do not need,
42 but I know you,
and you do not have the love of God in your hearts.
43 I have come in my Father’s name,
and yet you do not accept me.
If someone else came in his own name,
you would be accepting him.
44 How can people like you believe,
when you crave praise from each other,
and yet not even ask for that one praise
which is from God alone?
45 Do not think that I will accuse you
before my Father.
The one who accuses you is Moses,
in whom you place your trust.
46 If you believed Moses,
you would perhaps believe me as well,
for it was about me that he wrote.
47 But if you do not believe in his written statements,
how will you believe in my spoken words?”
825 After God confirmed the greatness of his power by the testimonies of men, of’God, and of’ the Scriptures, he here rebukes the Jews for being slow to believe. Now the Jews persecuted Christ on two grounds: for breaking the Sabbath, by which he seemed to go against the law, and for saying that he is the Son of God, by which he seemed to go against God. Thus they persecuted him on account of their reverence for God and their zeal for the law. And so our Lord wishes to show that their persecution of him was really inspired not by these motives, but by contrary reasons.
He first shows that the cause of their unbelief was their lack of reverence for God. Secondly, that another cause of their unbelief was their lack of reverence for Moses (v 45). As to the first he does two things. First, he shows their irreverence for God. Secondly, he shows that this is the cause of their unbelief (v 44). Concerning the first he does two things. First, he mentions their lack of reverence for God. Secondly, he makes this obvious by a sign (v 43). With respect to the first he does two things. First, he rejects what they might have assumed to be his intention, from what he had said before. Secondly, he presents his real intention (v 42).
826 The Jews might have assumed that Christ was seeking some kind of praise from men, since he had reminded them of so many witnesses to himself, as John, God, his own works, and the testimony of the Scriptures. Against this thought he says, Praise from men I do not need, i.e., I do not seek praise from men; for I have not come to be an example of one seeking human glory: “We did not seek glory from men” (1 Thes 2:6). Or, Praise from men I do not need, i.e., I do not need human praise, because from eternity I have glory with the Father: “Glorify me, Father, with the glory I had before the world was made” (below 17:5). For I have not come to be glorified by men, but rather to glorify them, since all glory proceeds from me (Wis 7:25) [“Wisdom is a pure emanation of the glory of the almighty God.”] It is through this wisdom that I have glory. God is said to be praised and glorified by men—“Glorify the Lord as much as you are able; he will still surpass even that” (Sir 43:30)—not that he might become by this more glorious, but so that he might appear glorious among us.
827 Thus Christ presented the various testimonies to himself not for the reason they thought, but for another one: because I know you, i.e., I have made known about you, that you do not have the love of God in your hearts, although you pretend to have it. And so you are not persecuting me because of your love for God. You would be persecuting me for the love of God if God and the Scriptures did not bear witness to me; but God himself bears. witness to me by himself, his works and in the Scriptures, as has been said. Consequently, if you truly loved God, then so far from rejecting me, you would come to me. You, therefore, do not love God.
Another interpretation would be this. It is as though he were saying: I have not brought in these witnesses because I wanted your praise; but I know you do not love God and your waywardness makes me sad, and I want to lead you back to the way of truth: “Now they have seen and hated both me and my Father” (below 15:24); “The pride of those who hate you continuously rises,” as the Psalm (73:23) says.
828 Here we should point out that God cannot be hated in himself by anyone, nor can he be hated with respect to all his effects, since every good in things comes from God, and it is impossible for anyone to hate all good, for he will at least love existence and life. But someone may hate some effect of God, insofar as this is opposed to what he desires: for example, he might hate punishment, and things of that sort. It is from this point of view that God is said to be hated.
829 Then (v 43), he gives a sign that they do not love God. First, a present sign; secondly, a future sign (v 43b).
830 The present sign concerns his own coming; so he says, I have come in my Father’s name. As if to say: What I say is obvious, for if one loves his Lord, it is clear that he will honor and receive one who comes from him, and seek to honor him. But I have come in my Father’s name, and I make his name known to the world: “I have made your name known to those you have given me” (below 17:6), and yet you do not accept me. Therefore, you do not love him. The Son is said to make his Father known to men because, although the Father, as God, was known—“God is known in Judah” (Ps 75:1)—yet he was not known as the natural Father of the Son before Christ came. Thus Solomon asked: “What is his name? And what is the name of his son?” Prv 30:4).
831 The future sign concerns the coming of the Antichrist. For the Jews could say: Although you come in his name, we have not accepted you, because we will not accept anyone but God the Father. The Lord speaks against this, and says that it cannot be, because you will accept another, who will come, not in the Father’s name, but in his own name; and what is more, he will come, not in the name of the Father, but in his own name, precisely because he will not seek the glory of the Father but his own. And whatever he does, he will attribute it, not to the Father, but to himself: “who opposes and is exalted above all that is called God, or is worshipped” (2 Thes 2:4). You would be accepting him; and so the Apostle continues in the same letter: “God will send them a misleading influence so that they might believe what is false” (2 Thes 2:11). And this, because they did not accept the true teaching, that they might be saved. So the Gloss says: “Because the Jews were unwilling to accept Christ, the penalty for this sin will be, fittingly enough, that they will receive the Antichrist; with the result that those who were unwilling to believe the truth, will believe a lie.”
According to Augustine, however, we can understand this text as applying to heretics and false teachers: who spread a teaching that comes from their own hearts and not from the mouth of God, and who praise themselves and despise the name of God. Of such persons it is written: “You have heard that the Antichrist is coming; and now many antichrists have appeared” (1 Jn 2:18). So it is clear that your persecution of me does not spring from your love for God, but from your hatred and envy of him. And this was the reason why they did not believe.
832 He concludes: How can people like you believe, when you crave praise from each other, i.e., human praise, and yet not even ask for that one praise which is from God alone? which is true glory. The reason they could not believe in Christ was that, since their proud minds were craving their own glory and praise, they considered themselves superior to others in glory, and regarded it as a disgrace to believe in Christ, who seemed common and poor. And this was why they could not believe in him. The one who can believe in Christ is the person of humble heart, who seeks the glory of God alone, and who strives to please him. And so we read: “Many of the leaders believed in him; but they did not admit it because of the Pharisees, so that they would not be expelled from the synagogue” (below 12:42). We can see from this just how dangerous vainglory is. For this reason Cicero says: “Let a man beware of that glory that robs him of all freedom; that freedom for which a man of great spirit should risk everything.” And the Gloss says: “It is a great vice to boast and to strive for human praise: to desire that others think you have what you really do not have.”
833 Then (v 45), he shows that they do not have zeal for Moses. First, how Moses was against them. Secondly, he gives the reason for this opposition (v 46). As to the first he does two things First, he rejects their false zeal; secondly, he shows them true zeal, The one who accuses you is Moses.
834 As to the first he says: Do not think that I will accuse you before my Father. There are three reasons for his saying this. First, the Son of God did not come into the world to condemn the world, but to save it. So he says, Do not think that I have come to condemn, I have come to free: “God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world,” that is, to condemn the world, “but that the world might be saved through him” (above 3:17). And so the blood of Christ cries out, not to accuse, but to forgive: “We have the blood of Christ, crying out better than that of Abel” (Heb 12:24), whose blood cried out to accuse; “Who will accuse God’s elect? It is Christ who justifies. Who is it, then, who will condemn?” (Rom 8:33). As to his second reason for saying this, he says: Do not think that I will accuse you before my Father, because I will not be the one to accuse you, but to judge you: “The Father has given all judgment to the Son” (above 5:22). The third reason is: Do not think that I, i.e., I alone, will accuse you before my Father for what you are doing to me; for even Moses will accuse you for not believing him in the things he said of me.
835 Consequently he adds: The one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you place your trust, because you believe you are saved through his precepts. Moses accuses them in two ways. Materially, because they deserved to be accused for transgressing his commands: “Those who have sinned under the law, will be judged by the law” (Rom 2:12). Again, Moses accuses them because he and the other saints will have authority in the judgment: “The two-edged swords will be in their hands” (Ps 149:6).
836 He presents the reason for this opposition when he says: If you believed Moses, you would perhaps believe me as well, as is clear from “The Lord your God will raise up a prophet for you, from your nation and your brothers; he will be like me: you will listen to him” (Dt 18:15), and from all the sacrifices, which were a symbol of Christ. He says, perhaps, to indicate that their will acts from a free judgment, and not to imply that there is any doubt on the part of God.
837 Then when he says, But if you do not believe in his written statements, how will you believe in my spoken words? he gives a sign of this opposition. He does this by comparing two things, and then denying of the lesser of them what is denied of the greater. First, there is a comparison between Moses and Christ: for although Christ, absolutely speaking, is greater than Moses, Moses was the greater in reputation among the Jews. Thus he says: If you do not believe Moses, you will not believe me either. Secondly, he compares the way in which they presented their teaching: Moses gave his precepts in a written form; and so they can be studied for a long time, and are not easily forgotten. Hence they impose a stronger obligation to believe. But Christ presented his teachings in spoken words. Thus he says, But if you do not believe in his written statements, which you have preserved in your books, how will you believe in my spoken words?