Chap. I. — After the Salutation, the Writer Declares That He Would Communicate to His Brethren Something of That Which He Had Himself Received.
All hail, ye sons and daughters, in the name of our Lord2 Jesus Christ, who loved us in peace.
Seeing that the divine fruits3 of righteousness abound among you, I rejoice exceedingly and above measure in your happy and honoured spirits, because ye have with such effect received the engrafted4 spiritual gift. Wherefore also I inwardly rejoice the more, hoping to be saved, because I truly perceive in you the Spirit poured forth from the rich Lord5 of love. Your greatly desired appearance has thus filled me with astonishment over you.6 I am therefore pursuaded of this, and fully convinced in my own mind, that since I began to speak among you I understand many things, because the Lord hath accompanied me in the way of righteousness. I am also on this account bound7 by the strictest obligation to love you above my own soul, because great are the faith and love dwelling in you, while you hope for the life which He has promised.8 Considering this, therefore, that if I should take the trouble to communicate to you some portion of what I have myself received, it will prove to me a sufficient reward that I minister to such spirits, I have hastened briefly to write unto you, in order that, along with your faith, ye might have perfect knowledge. The doctrines of the Lord, then, are three:9 the hope of life, the beginning and the completion of it. For the Lord hath made known to us by the prophets both the things which are past and present, giving us also the first-fruits of the knowledge10 of things to come, which things as we see accomplished, one by one, we ought with the greater richness of faith11 and elevation of spirit to draw near to Him with reverence.12 I then, not as your teacher, but as one of yourselves, will set forth a few things by which in present circumstances ye may be rendered the more joyful.
Chap. II — The Jewish Sacrifices Are Now Abolished.
Since, therefore, the days are evil, and Satan13 possesses the power of this world, we ought to give heed to ourselves, and diligently inquire into the ordinances of the Lord. Fear and patience, then, are helpers of our faith; and long-suffering and continence are things which fight on our side. While these remain pure in what respects the Lord, Wisdom, Understanding, Science, and Knowledge rejoice along with them.14 For He hath revealed to us by all the prophets that He needs neither sacrifices, nor burnt-offerings, nor oblations, saying thus, “What is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me, saith the Lord? I am full of burnt-offerings, and desire not the fat of lambs, and the blood of bulls and goats, not when ye come to appear before 138 Me: for who hath required these things at your hands? Tread no more My courts, not though ye bring with you fine flour. Incense is a vain abomination unto Me, and your new moons and sabbaths I cannot endure.”15 He has therefore abolished these things, that the new law of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is without the yoke of necessity, might have a human oblation.16 And again He says to them, “Did I command your fathers, when they went out from the land of Egypt, to offer unto Me burnt-offerings and sacrifices? But this rather I commanded them, Let no one of you cherish any evil in his heart against his neighbour, and love not an oath of falsehood.” (Jer_7:22; Zec_8:17) We ought therefore, being possessed of understanding, to perceive the gracious intention of our Father; for He speaks to us, desirous that we, not17 going astray like them, should ask how we may approach Him. To us, then, He declares, “A sacrifice [pleasing] to God is a broken spirit; a smell of sweet savour to the Lord is a heart that glorifieth Him that made it.”18 We ought therefore, brethren, carefully to inquire concerning our salvation, lest the wicked one, having made his entrance by deceit, should huff19 us forth from our [true] life.
Chap. III. — The Fasts of the Jews Are Not True Fasts, Nor Acceptable to God.
He says then to them again concerning these things, “Why do ye fast to Me as on this day, saith the Lord, that your voice should be heard with a cry? I have not chosen this fast, saith the Lord, that a man should humble his soul. Nor, though ye bend your neck like a ring, and put upon you sackcloth and ashes, will ye call it an acceptable fast.” (Isa_58:4, Isa_58:5) To us He saith, “Behold, this is the fast that I have chosen, saith the Lord, not that a man should humble his soul, but that he should loose every band of iniquity, untie the fastenings of harsh agreements, restore to liberty them that are bruised, tear in pieces every unjust engagement, feed the hungry with thy bread, clothe the naked when thou seest him, bring the homeless into thy house, not despise the humble if thou behold him, and not [turn away] from the members of thine own family. Then shall thy dawn break forth, and thy healing shall quickly spring up, and righteousness shall go forth before thee, and the glory of God shall encompass thee; and then thou shalt call, and God shall hear thee; whilst thou art yet speaking, He shall say, Behold, I am with thee; if thou take away from thee the chain [binding others], and the stretching forth of the hands20 [to swear falsely], and words of murmuring, and give cheerfully thy bread to the hungry, and show compassion to the soul that has been humbled.” (Isa_58:6-10) To this end, therefore, brethren, He is long-suffering, foreseeing how the people whom He has prepared shall with guilelessness believe in His Beloved. For He revealed all these things to us beforehand, that we should not rush forward as rash acceptors of their laws.21
Chap. IV. — Antichrist Is at Hand: Let Us Therefore Avoid Jewish Errors.
It therefore behoves us, who inquire much concerning events at hand,22 to search diligently into those things which are able to save us. Let us then utterly flee from all the works of iniquity, lest these should take hold of us; and let us hate the error of the present time, that we may set our love on the world to come: let us not give loose reins to our soul, that it should have power to run with sinners and the wicked, lest we become like them. The final stumbling-block (or source of danger) approaches, concerning which it is written, as Enoch23 says, “For for this end the Lord has cut short the times and the days, that His Beloved may hasten; and He will come to the inheritance.” And the prophet also speaks thus: “Ten kingdoms shall reign upon the earth, and a little king shall rise up after them, who shall subdue under one three of the kings.24 In like manner Daniel says concerning the same, “And I beheld the fourth beast, wicked and powerful, and more savage than all the beasts of the earth, and how from it sprang up ten horns, and out of them a little budding horn, and how it subdued under one three of the great horns.”25 Ye ought therefore to understand. And this also I further beg of you, as being one of you, and loving you both individually and collectively more than my own soul, to take heed now to yourselves, and not to be like some, adding largely to your sins, and saying, “The covenant is both theirs and ours.”26 But they thus finally lost it, after Moses had already received it. For the Scripture saith, “And Moses was fasting in 139 the mount forty days and forty nights, and received the covenant from the Lord, tables of stone written with the finger of the hand of the Lord;” (Exo_31:18, Exo_34:28) but turning away to idols, they lost it. For the Lord speaks thus to Moses: “Moses go down quickly; for the people whom thou hast brought out of the land of Egypt have transgressed.” (Exo_32:7; Deu_9:12) And Moses understood [the meaning of God], and cast the two tables out of his hands; and their covenant was broken, in order that the covenant of the beloved Jesus might be sealed upon our heart, in the hope which flows from believing in Him.27 Now, being desirous to write many things to you, not as your teacher, but as becometh one who loves you, I have taken care not to fail to write to you from what I myself possess, with a view to your purification.28 We take earnest29 heed in these last days; for the whole [past] time of your faith will profit you nothing, unless now in this wicked time we also withstand coming sources of danger, as becometh the sons of God. That the Black One30 may find no means of entrance, let us flee from every vanity, let us utterly hate the works of the way of wickedness. Do not, by retiring apart, live a solitary life, as if you were already [fully] justified; but coming together in one place, make common inquiry concerning what tends to your general welfare. For the Scripture saith, “Woe to them who are wise to themselves, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isa_5:21) Let us be spiritually-minded: let us be a perfect temple to God. As much as in us lies, let us meditate upon the fear of God, and let us keep His commandments, that we may rejoice in His ordinances. The Lord will judge the world without respect of persons. Each will receive as he has done: if he is righteous, his righteousness will precede him; if he is wicked, the reward of wickedness is before him. Take heed, lest resting at our ease, as those who are the called [of God], we should fall asleep in our sins, and the wicked prince, acquiring power over us, should thrust us away from the kingdom of the Lord. And all the more attend to this, my brethren, when ye reflect and behold, that after so great signs and wonders were wrought in Israel, they were thus [at length] abandoned. Let us beware lest we be found [fulfilling that saying], as it is written, “Many are called, but few are chosen.”31
Chap. V. — The New Covenant, Founded on the Sufferings of Christ, Tends to Our Salvation, but to the Jews’ Destruction.
For to this end the Lord endured to deliver up His flesh to corruption, that we might be sanctified through the remission of sins, which is effected by His blood of sprinkling. For it is written concerning Him, partly with reference to Israel, and partly to us; and [the Scripture] saith thus: “He was wounded for our transgressions, and braised for our iniquities: with His stripes we are healed. He was brought as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb which is dumb before its shearer.” (Isa_53:5, Isa_53:7) Therefore we ought to be deeply grateful to the Lord, because He has both made known to us things that are past, and hath given us wisdom concerning things present, and hath not left us without understanding in regard to things which are to come. Now, the Scripture saith, “Not unjustly are nets spread out for birds.”32 This means that the man perishes justly, who, having a knowledge of the way of righteousness, rushes off into the way of darkness. And further, my brethren: if the Lord endured to suffer for our soul, He being Lord of all the world, to whom God said at the foundation of the world, “Let us make man after our image, and after our likeness,” (Gen_1:26) understand how it was that He endured to suffer at the hand of men. The prophets, having obtained grace from Him, prophesied concerning Him. And He (since it behoved Him to appear in flesh), that He might abolish death, and reveal the resurrection from the dead, endured [what and as He did], in order that He might fulfill the promise made unto the fathers, and by preparing a new people for Himself, might show, while He dwelt on earth, that He, when He has raised mankind, will also judge them. Moreover, teaching Israel, and doing so great miracles and signs, He preached [the truth] to him, and greatly loved him. But when He chose His own apostles who where to preach His Gospel, [He did so from among those] who were sinners above all sin, that He might show He came “not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mat_9:13; Mar_2:17; Luk_5:32) Then He manifested Himself to be the Son of God. For if He had not come in the flesh, how could men have been saved by beholding Him?33 Since looking upon 140 the sun which is to cease to exist, and is the work of His hands, their eyes are not able to bear his rays. The Son of God therefore came in the flesh with this view, that He might bring to a head the sum of their sins who had persecuted His prophets34 to the death. For this purpose, then, He endured. For God saith, “The stroke of his flesh is from them;”35 and36 “when I shall smite the Shepherd, then the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.” (Zec_13:7) He himself willed thus to suffer, for it was necessary that He should suffer on the tree. For says he Who prophesies regarding Him, “Spare my soul from the sword,37 fasten my flesh with nails; for the assemblies of the wicked have risen up against me.”38 And again he says, “Behold, I have given my back to scourges, and my cheeks to strokes, and I have set my countenance as a firm rock.” (Isa_50:6, Isa_50:7)
Chap. VI. — The Sufferings of Christ, and the New Covenant, Were Announced by the Prophets.
When, therefore, He has fulfilled the commandment, what saith He? “Who is he that will contend with Me? let him oppose Me: or who is he that will enter into judgment with Me? let him draw near to the servant of the Lord.” (Isa_50:8) “Woe unto you, for ye shall all wax old, like a garment, and the moth shall eat you up.” (Isa_50:9) And again the prophet says, “Since39 as a mighty stone He is laid for crushing, behold I cast down for the foundations of Zion a stone, precious, elect, a corner-stone, honourable.” Next, what says He? “And he who shall trust40 in it shall live for ever.” Is our hope, then, upon a stone? Far from it. But [the language is used] inasmuch as He laid his flesh [as a foundation] with power; for He says, “And He placed me as a firm rock.” (Isa_50:7) And the prophet says again, “The stone which the builders rejected, the same has become the head of the corner.” (Psa_118:22) And again he says, “This is the great and wonderful day which the Lord hath made. (Psa_118:24) I write the more simply unto you, that ye may understand. I am the off-scouring of your love.41 What, then, again says the prophet? “The assembly of the wicked surrounded me; they encompassed me as bees do a honeycomb,” (Psa_22:17, Psa_118:12) and “upon my garment they cast lots.” (Psa_22:19) Since, therefore, He was about to be manifested and to suffer in the flesh, His suffering was foreshown. For the prophet speaks against Israel, “Woe to their soul, because they have counselled an evil counsel against themselves, (Isa_3:9) saying, Let us bind the just one, because he is displeasing to us.”42 And Moses also says to them,43 “Behold these things, saith the Lord God: Enter into the good land which the Lord sware [to give] to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and inherit ye it, a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Exo_33:1; Lev_20:24) What, then, says Knowledge?44 Learn: “Trust,” she says, “in Him who is to be manifested to you in the flesh — that is, Jesus.” For man is earth in a suffering state, for the formation of Adam was from the face of the earth. What, then, meaneth this: “into the good land, a land flowing with milk and honey?” Blessed be our Lord, who has placed in us wisdom and understanding of secret things. For the prophet says, “Who shall understand the parable of the Lord, except him who is wise and prudent, and who loves his Lord?”45 Since, therefore, having renewed us by the remission of our sins, He hath made us after another pattern, [it is His purpose] that we should possess the soul of children, inasmuch as He has created us anew by His Spirit.46 For the Scripture says concerning us, while He speaks to the Son, “Let Us make man after Our image, and after Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the beasts of the earth, and the fowls of heaven, and the fishes of the sea.” (Gen_1:26) And the Lord said, on beholding the fair creature47 man, “Increase, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” (Gen_1:28) These things [were spoken] to the Son. Again, I will show thee how, in respect to us,48 He has accomplished a second fashioning in these last days. The Lord says, “Behold, I will make49 the last like the first.”50 In reference to this, then, the prophet proclaimed, “Enter ye into the land 141 flowing with milk and honey, and have dominion over it.” (Exo_33:3) Behold, therefore, we have been refashioned, as again He says in another prophet, “Behold, saith the Lord, I will take away from these, that is, from those whom the Spirit of the Lord foresaw, their stony hearts, and I will put hearts of flesh within them,” (Eze_11:19, Eze_36:26) because He51 was to be manifested in flesh, and to sojourn among us. For, my brethren, the habitation of our heart is a holy temple to the Lord. (Comp. Eph_2:21) For again saith the Lord, “And wherewith shall I appear before the Lord my God, and be glorified?” (Comp. Psa_42:2) He says,52 “I will confess to thee in the Church in the midst53 of my brethren; and I will praise thee in the midst of the assembly of the saints.” (Psa_22:23; Heb_2:12) We, then, are they whom He has led into the good land. What, then, mean milk and honey? This, that as the infant is kept alive first by honey, and then by milk, so also we, being quickened and kept alive by the faith of the promise and by the word, shall live ruling over the earth. But He said above,54 “Let them increase, and rule over the fishes.” (Gen_1:28) Who then is able to govern the beasts, or the fishes, or the fowls of heaven? For we ought to perceive that to govern implies authority, so that one should command and rule. If, therefore, this does not exist at present, yet still He has promised it to us. When? When we ourselves also have been made perfect [so as] to become heirs of the covenant of the Lord.55
Chap. VII. — Fasting, and the Goat Sent Away, Were Types of Christ.
Understand, then, ye children of gladness, that the good Lord has foreshown all things to us, that we might know to whom we ought for everything to render thanksgiving and praise. If therefore the Son of God, who is Lord all things], and who will judge the living and the dead, suffered, that His stroke might give us life, let us believe that the Son of God could not have suffered except for our sakes. Moreover, when fixed to the cross, He had given Him to drink vinegar and gall. Hearken how the priests of the people56 gave previous indications of this. His commandment having been written, the Lord enjoined, that whosoever did not keep the fast should be put to death, because He also Himself was to offer in sacrifice for our sins the vessel of the Spirit, in order that the type established in Isaac when he was offered upon the altar might be fully accomplished. What, then, says He in the prophet? “And let them eat of the goat which is offered, with fasting, for all their sins.”57 Attend carefully: “And let all the priests alone eat the inwards, unwashed with vinegar.” Wherefore? Because to me, who am to offer my flesh for the sins of my new people, ye are to give gall with vinegar to drink: eat ye alone, while the people fast and mourn in sackcloth and ashes. [These things were done] that He might show that it was necessary for Him to suffer for them.58 How,59 then, ran the commandment? Give your attention. Take two goats of goodly aspect, and similar to each other, and offer them. And let the priest take one as a burnt-offering for sins.60 And what should they do with the other? “Accursed,” says He, “is the one.” Mark how the type of Jesus61 now comes out. “And all of you spit upon it, and pierce it, and encircle its head with scarlet wool, and thus let it be driven into the wilderness.” And when all this has been done, he who bears the goat brings it into the desert, and takes the wool off from it, and places that upon a shrub which is called Rachia,62 of which also we are accustomed to eat the fruits63 when we find them in the field. Of this64 kind of shrub alone the fruits are sweet. Why then, again, is this? Give good heed. [You see] “one upon the altar, and the other accursed;” and why [do you behold] the one that is accursed crowned? Because they shall see Him then in that day having a scarlet robe about his body down to his feet; and they shall say, Is not this He whom we once despised, and pierced, and mocked, and crucified? Truly this is65 He who then declared Himself to be the Son of God. For how like is He to Him!66 With a view to this, [He required] the goats to be of goodly aspect, and similar, that, when they see Him then coming, they may be amazed by the likeness of the goat. Behold, then,67 the type of Jesus who was to suffer. But why is it that they 142 place the wool in the midst of thorns? It is a type of Jesus set before the view of the Church. [They68 place the wool among thorns], that any one who wishes to bear it away may find it necessary to suffer much, because the thorn is formidable, and thus obtain it only as the result of suffering. Thus also, says He, “Those who wish to behold Me, and lay hold of My kingdom, must through tribulation and suffering obtain Me.” (Comp. Act_14:22)
Chap. VIII. — The Red Heifer a Type of Christ.
Now what do you suppose this to be a type of, that a command was given to Israel, that men of the greatest wickedness69 should offer a heifer, and slay and burn it, and, that then boys should take the ashes, and put these into vessels, and bind round a stick70 purple wool along with hyssop, and that thus the boys should sprinkle the people, one by one, in order that they might be purified from their sins? Consider how He speaks to you with simplicity. The calf71 is Jesus: the sinful men offering it are those who led Him to the slaughter. But now the men are no longer guilty, are no longer regarded as sinners.72 And the boys that sprinkle are those that have proclaimed to us the remission of sins and purification of heart. To these He gave authority to preach the Gospel, being twelve in number, corresponding to the twelve tribes73 of Israel. But why are there three boys that sprinkle? To correspond74 to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, because these were great with God. And why was the wool [placed] upon the wood? Because by wood Jesus holds His kingdom, so that [through the cross] those believing on Him shall live for ever. But why was hyssop joined with the wool? Because in His kingdom the days will be evil and polluted in which we shall be saved, [and] because he who suffers in body is cured through the cleansing75 efficacy of hyssop. And on this account the things which stand thus are clear to us, but obscure to them because they did not hear the voice of the Lord.
Chap. IX. — The Spiritual Meaning of Circumcision.
He speaks moreover concerning our ears, how He hath circumcised both them and our heart. The Lord saith in the prophet, “In the hearing of the ear they obeyed me.” (Psa_18:44) And again He saith, “By hearing, those shall hear who are afar off; they shall know what I have done.” (Isa_33:13) And, “Be ye circumcised in your hearts, saith the Lord.” (Jer_4:4) And again He says, “Hear, O Israel, for these things saith the Lord thy God.” (Jer_7:2) And once more the Spirit of the Lord proclaims, “Who is he that wishes to live for ever? By hearing let him hear the voice of my servant.”76 And again He saith, “Hear, O heaven, and give ear, O earth, for God77 hath spoken.” (Isa_1:2) These are in proof.78 And again He saith, “Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of this people.” (Isa_1:10) And again He saith, “Hear, ye children, the voice of one crying in the wilderness.”79 Therefore He hath circumcised our ears, that we might hear His word and believe, for the circumcision in which they trusted is abolished.80 For He declared that circumcision was not of the flesh, but they transgressed because an evil angel deluded them.81 He saith to them, “These things saith the Lord your God” — (here82 I find a new83 commandment) — “Sow not among thorns, but circumcise yourselves to the Lord.”84 And why speaks He thus: “Circumcise the stubbornness of your heart, and harden not your neck?” (Deu_10:16) And again: “Behold, saith the Lord, all the nations are uncircumcised85 in the flesh, but this people are uncircumcised in heart.” (Jer_9:25, Jer_9:26) But thou wilt say, “Yea, verily the people are circumcised for a seal.” But so also is every Syrian and Arab, and all the priests of idols: are these then also within the bond of His covenant?86 Yea, the Egyptians also practise circumcision. Learn then, my children, concerning all things richly,87 that Abraham, the first who enjoined circumcision, looking forward in spirit to Jesus, practised that rite, having received the mysteries88 of the three letters. For [the Scripture] saith, “And Abraham 143 circumcised ten, and eight, and three hundred men of his household.”89 What, then, was the knowledge given to him in this? Learn the eighteen first, and then the three hundred.90 The ten and the eight are thus denoted — Ten by I, and Eight by H.91 You have [the initials of the, name of] Jesus. And because92 the cross was to express the grace [of our redemption] by the letter The says also, “Three Hundred.” He signifies, therefore, Jesus by two letters, and the cross by one. He knows this, who has put within us the engrafted93 gift of His doctrine. No one has been admitted by me to a more excellent piece of knowledge94 than this, but I know that ye are worthy.
Chap. X. — Spiritual Significance of the Precepts of Moses Respecting Different Kinds of Food.
Now, wherefore did Moses say, “Thou shalt not eat the swine, nor the eagle, nor the hawk, nor the raven, nor any fish which is not possessed of scales?”95 He embraced three doctrines in his mind [in doing so]. Moreover, the Lord saith to them in Deuteronomy, “And I will establish my ordinances among this people.” (Deu_4:1) Is there then not a command of God they should not eat [these things]? There is, but Moses spoke with a spiritual reference.96 For this reason he named the swine, as much as to say, “Thou shalt not join thyself to men who resemble swine.” For when they live in pleasure, they forget their Lord; but when they come to want, they acknowledge the Lord. And [in like manner] the swine, when it has eaten, does not recognize its master; but when hungry it cries out, and on receiving food is quiet again. “Neither shalt thou eat,” says he “the eagle, nor the hawk, nor the kite, nor the raven.” “Thou shalt not join thyself,” he means, “to such men as know not how to procure food for themselves by labour and sweat, but seize on that of others in their iniquity, and although wearing an aspect of simplicity, are on the watch to plunder others.”97 So these birds, while they sit idle, inquire how they may devour the flesh of others, proving themselves pests [to all] by their wickedness. “And thou shalt not eat,” he says, “the lamprey, or the polypus, or the cuttlefish.” He means, “Thou shalt not join thyself or be like to such men as are ungodly to the end, and are condemned98 to death.” In like manner as those fishes, above accursed, float in the deep, not swimming [on the surface] like the rest, but make their abode in the mud which lies at the bottom. Moreover, “Thou shall not,” he says, “eat the hare.” Wherefore? “Thou shall not be a corrupter of boys, nor like unto such.”99 Because the hare multiplies, year by year, the places of its conception; for as many years as it lives so many100 it has. Moreover, “Thou shall not eat the hyena.” He means, “Thou shall not be an adulterer, nor a corrupter, nor be like to them that are such.” Wherefore? Because that animal annually changes its sex, and is at one time male, and at another female. Moreover, he has rightly detested the weasel. For he means, “Thou shalt not be like to those whom we hear of as committing wickedness with the mouth,101 on account of their uncleanness; nor shall thou be joined to those impure women who commit iniquity with the mouth. For this animal conceives by the mouth.” Moses then issued102 three doctrines concerning meats with a spiritual significance; but they received them according to fleshly desire, as if he had merely spoken of [literal] meats. David, however, comprehends the knowledge of the three doctrines, and speaks in like manner: “Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly,” (Psa_1:1) even as the fishes [referred to] go in darkness to the depths [of the sea]; “and hath not stood in the way of sinners,” even as those who profess to fear the Lord, but go astray like swine; “and hath not sat in the seat of scorners,”103 even as those birds that lie in wait for prey. Take a full and firm grasp of this spiritual104 knowledge. But Moses says still further, “Ye shall eat every animal that is cloven-footed and ruminant.” What does he mean? [The ruminant animal denotes him] who, on receiving food, recognizes Him that nourishes him, and being satisfied by Him,105 is visibly made glad. Well spake [Moses], having respect to the commandment. 144 What, then, does he mean? That we ought to join ourselves to those that fear the Lord, those who meditate in their heart on the commandment which they have received, those who both utter the judgments of the Lord and observe them, those who know that meditation is a work of gladness, and who ruminate106 upon the word of the Lord. But what means the cloven-footed? That the righteous man also walks in this world, yet looks forward to the holy state107 [to come]. Behold how well Moses legislated. But how was it possible for them to understand or comprehend these things? We then, rightly understanding his commandments,108 explain them as the Lord intended. For this purpose He circumcised our ears and our hearts, that we might understand these things.
Chap. XI. — Baptism and the Cross Prefigured in the Old Testament.
Let us further inquire whether the Lord took any care to foreshadow the water [of baptism] and the cross. Concerning the water, indeed, it is written, in reference to the Israelites, that they should not receive that baptism which leads to the remission of sins, but should procure109 another for themselves. The prophet therefore declares, “Be astonished, O heaven, and let the earth tremble110 at this, because this people hath committed two great evils: they have forsaken Me, a living fountain, and have hewn out for themselves broken cisterns.111 Is my holy hill Zion a desolate rock? For ye shall be as the fledglings of a bird, which fly away when the nest is removed.” (Comp. Isa_16:1, Isa_16:2) And again saith the prophet, “I will go before thee and make level the mountains, and will break the brazen gates, and bruise in pieces the iron bars; and I will give thee the secret,112 hidden, invisible treasures, that they may know that I am the Lord God.” (Isa_45:2, Isa_45:3) And “He shall dwell in a lofty cave of the strong rock.”113 Furthermore, what saith He in reference to the Son? “His water is sure;114 ye shall see the King in His glory, and your soul shall meditate on the fear of the Lord.” (Isa_33:16-18) And again He saith in another prophet, “The man who doeth these things shall be like a tree planted by the courses of waters, which shall yield its fruit in due season; and his leaf shall not fade, and all that he doeth shall prosper. Not so are the ungodly, not so, but even as chaff, which the wind sweeps away from the face of the earth. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in judgment, nor sinners in the counsel of the just; for the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” (Psa_1:3-6) Mark how He has described at once both the water and the cross. For these words imply, Blessed are they who, placing their trust in the cross, have gone down into the water; for, says He, they shall receive their reward in due time: then He declares, I will recompense them. But now He saith,115 “Their leaves shall not fade.” This meaneth, that every word which proceedeth out of your mouth in faith and love shall tend to bring conversion and hope to many. Again, another prophet saith, “And the land of Jacob shall be extolled above every land.” (Zep_3:19) This meaneth the vessel of His Spirit, which He shall glorify. Further, what says He? “And there was a river flowing on the right, and from it arose beautiful trees; and whosoever shall eat of them shall live for ever.” (Eze_47:12) This meaneth,116 that we indeed descend into the water full of sins and defilement, but come up, bearing fruit in our heart, having the fear [of God] and trust in Jesus in our spirit. “And whosoever shall eat of these shall live for ever,” This meaneth: Whosoever, He declares, shall hear thee speaking, and believe, shall live for ever.
1 The Codex Sinaiticus has simply “Epistle of Barnabas” for title; Dressel gives, “Epistle of Barnabas the Apostle,” from the Vatican ms. of the Latin text.
2 The Cod. Sin. has simply, “the Lord.”
3 Literally, “the judgments of God being great and rich towards you;” but, as Hefele remarks, δικαίωμα seems here to have the meaning of “righteousness,” as in Rom_5:18.
4 This appears to be the meaning of the Greek, and is confirmed by the ancient Latin version. Hilgenfeld, however, following Cod. Sin., reads “thus,” instead of “because,” and separates the clauses.
5 The Latin reads, “spirit infused into your from the honourable fountain of God.”
6 This sentence is entirely omitted in the Latin.
7 The Latin text is here quite different, and seems evidently corrupt. We have followed the Cod. Sin., as does Hilgenfeld.
8 Literally, “in the hope of His life.”
9 The Greek is here totally unintelligible: it seems impossible either to punctuate or construe it. We may attempt to represent it as follows: “The doctrines of the Lord, then, are three: Life, Faith, and Hope, our beginning and end; and Righteousness, the beginning and the end of judgment; Love and Joy and the Testimony of gladness for works of righteousness.” We have followed the ancient Latin text, which Hilgenfeld also adopts, though Weitzäcker and others prefer the Greek.
10 Instead of “knowledge” (γνώσεως), Cod. Sin. has “taste” (γεύσεως).
11 Literally, “we ought more richly and loftily to approach His fear.”
12 Instead of, “to Him with fear,” the reading of Cod. Sin., the Latin has, “to His altar,” which Hilgenfeld adopts.
13 The Latin text is literally, “the adversary;” the Greek has, “and he that worketh possesseth power;” Hilgenfeld reads, “he that worketh against,” the idea expressed above being intended.
14 Or, “while these things continue, those which respect the Lord rejoice in purity along with them — Wisdom,” etc.
15 Isa_1:11-14, from the Sept., as is the case throughout. We have given the quotation as it stands in Cod. Sin.
16 Thus in the Latin. The Greek reads, “might not have a man-made oblation.” The Latin text seems preferable, implying that, instead of the outward sacrifices of the law, there is now required a dedication of man himself. Hilgenfeld follows the Greek.
17 So the Greek. Hilgenfeld, with the Latin, omits “not.”
18 Psa_51:19. there is nothing in Scripture corresponding to the last clause.
19 Literally, “sling us out.”
20 The original here is χειροτονίαν, from the LXX. Hefele remarks, that it may refer to the stretching forth of the hands, either to swear falsely, or to mock and insult one’s neighbor.
21 The Greek is here unintelligible: the Latin has, “that we should not rush on, as if proselytes to their law.”
22 Or it might be rendered, “things present.” Cotelerius reads, “de his instantibus.”
23 The Latin reads, “Daniel” instead of “Enoch;” comp. Dan_9:24-27.
24 Dan_7:24, very loosely quoted.
25 Dan_7:7, Dan_7:8, also very inaccurately cited.
26 We here follow the Latin text in preference to the Greek, which reads merely, “the covenant is ours.” What follows seems to show the correctness of the Latin, as the author proceeds to deny that the Jews had any further interest in the promises.
27 Literally, “in hope of His faith.”
28 The Greek is here incorrect and unintelligible; and as the Latin omits the clause, our translation is merely conjectural. Hilgenfeld’s text, if we give a somewhat peculiar meaning to ἐλλιπεῖν, may be translated: “but as it is becoming in one who loves you not to fail in giving you what we have, I, though the very offscouring of you, have been eager to write to you.”
29 So the Cod. Sin. Hilgenfeld reads, with the Latin, “let us take.”
30 The Latin here departs entirely from the Greek text, and quotes as a saying of “the Son of God” the following precept, nowhere to be found in the New Testament: “Let us resist all iniquity, and hold it in hatred.” Hilgenfeld joins this clause to the former sentence.
31 An exact quotation from Mat_20:16 or Mat_22:14. It is worthy of notice that this is the first example in the writings of the Fathers of a citation from any book of the New Testament, preceded by the authoritative formula, “it is written.”
32 Pro_1:17, from the LXX, which has mistaken the meaning.
33 The Cod. Sin. reads, “neither would men have been saved by seeing Him.”
34 Cod. Sin. has, “their prophets,” but the corrector has changed it as above.
35 A very loose reference to Isa_53:8.
36 Cod. Sin. omits “and,” and reads, “when they smite their own shepherd, then the sheep of the pasture shall be scattered and fail.”
37 Cod. Sin. inserts “and.”
38 These are inaccurate and confused quotations from Psa_22:21, Psa_22:17, and Psa_119:120.
39 The Latin omits “since,” but it is found in all the Greek mss.
40 Cod. Sin. has “believe.” Isa_8:14, Isa_28:16.
41 Comp. 1Co_4:13. The meaning is, “My love to you is so great, that I am ready to be or to do all things for you.”
42 Wis. 2:12. This apocryphal book is thus quoted as Scripture, and intertwined with it.
43 Cod. Sin. reads, “What says the other prophet Moses unto them?”
44 The original word is “Gnosis,” the knowledge peculiar to advanced Christians, by which they understand the mysteries of Scripture.
45 Not found in Scripture. Comp. Isa_40:13; Pro_1:6. Hilgenfeld, however, changes the usual punctuation, which places a colon after prophet, and reads, “For the prophet speaketh the parable of the Lord. Who shall understand,” etc.
46 The Greek is here very elliptical and obscure: “His Spirit” is inserted above, from the Latin.
47 Cod. Sin. has “our fair formation.”
48 Cod. Sin. inserts, “the Lord says.”
49 Cod. Sin. has “I make.”
50 Not in Scripture, but comp. Mat_20:16, and 2Co_5:17
51 Cod. Sin. inserts “Himself;” comp. Joh_1:14
52 Cod. Sin. omits “He says.”
53 Cod. Sin. omits “in the midst.”
54 Cod. Sin. has “But we said above.”
55 These are specimens of the “Gnosis,” or faculty of bringing out the hidden spiritual meaning of Scripture referred to before. Many more such interpretations follow.