Origen’s Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. (Cont.)
Book XI. (Cont.)
12. Things Clean and Unclean According to the Law and the Gospel.
“And He called to Him the multitude and said unto them, Hear and understand,” etc. (Mat_15:10) We are clearly taught in these words by the Saviour that, when we read in Leviticus and Deuteronomy the precepts about meat clean and unclean, for the transgression of which we are accused by the material Jews and by the Ebionites who differ little from them, we are not to think that the scope of the Scripture is found in any superficial understanding of them. For if “not that which entereth into the mouth defileth the man, but that which proceedeth out of the mouth,” (Mat_15:11) and especially when, according to Mark, the Saviour said these things “making all meats clean,” (Mar_7:19) manifestly we are not defiled when we eat those things which the Jews who desire to be in bondage to the letter of the law declare to be unclean, but we are then defiled when, whereas our lips ought to be bound with perception and we ought “to make for them what we call a balance and weight,” (Ecclesiasticus 28:25) we speak offhand and discuss matters we ought not, from which there comes to us the spring of sins. And it is indeed becoming to the law of God to forbid those things which arise from wickedness, and to enjoin those things which tend to virtue, but as for things which are in their own nature indifferent to leave them in their own place, as they may, according to our choice and the reason which is in us, be done ill if we sin in them, but if rightly directed by us be done well. And any one who has carefully thought on these matters will see that, even in those things which are thought to be good, it is possible for a man to sin who has taken them up in an evil way and under the impulse of passion, and that these things called impure 441 may be considered pure, if used by us in accordance with reason. As, then, when the Jew sins his circumcision shall be reckoned for uncircumcision, but when one of the Gentiles acts uprightly his uncircumcision shall be reckoned for circumcision, (Rom_2:25-26) so those things which are thought to be pure shall be reckoned for impure in the case of him who does not use them fittingly, nor when one ought, nor as far as he ought, nor for what reason he ought. But as for the things which are called impure, “All things become pure to the pure,” for, “To them that are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure, since both their minds and their conscience are defiled.” (Tit_1:15) And when these are defiled, they make all things whatsoever they touch defiled; as again on the contrary the pure mind and the pure conscience make all things pure, even though they may seem to be impure; for not from intemperance, nor from love of pleasure, nor with doubting which draws a man both ways, do the righteous use meats or drinks, mindful of the precept, “Whether ye eat or drink or whatsoever other thing ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1Co_10:31) And if it be necessary to delineate the foods which are unclean according to the Gospel, we will say that they are such as are supplied by covetousness, and are the result of base love of gain, and are taken up from love of pleasure, and from deifying the belly which is treated with honour, when it, with its appetites, and not reason, rules our souls. But as for us who know that some things are used by demons, or if we do not know, but suspect, and are in doubt about it, if we use such things, we have used them not to the glory of God, nor in the name of Christ; for not only does the suspicion that things have been sacrificed to idols condemn him who eats, but even the doubt concerning this; for “he that doubteth,” according to the Apostle, “is condemned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith; and whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Rom_14:23) He then eats in faith who believes that that which is eaten has not been sacrificed in the temples of idols, and that it is not strangled nor blood; (cf. Act_15:20) but he eats not of faith who is in doubt about any of these things. And the man who knowing that they have been sacrificed to demons nevertheless uses them, becomes a communicant with demons, while at the same time, his imagination is polluted with reference to demons participating in the sacrifice. And the Apostle, however, knowing that it is not the nature of meats which is the cause of injury to him who uses them or of advantage to him who refrains from their use, but opinions and the reason which is in them, said, “But meat commendeth us not to God, for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we eat not are we the worse.” (1Co_8:8) And since he knew that those who have a loftier conception of what things are pure and what impure according to the law, turning aside from the distinction about the use of things pure and impure, and superstition, I think, in respect of things being different, become indifferent to the use of meats,31 and on this account are condemned by the Jews as transgressors of law, he said therefore, somewhere, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink,” etc., (Col_2:16) teaching us that the things according to the letter are a shadow, but that the true thoughts of the law which are stored up in them are the good things to come, in which one may find what are the pure spiritual meats of the soul, and what are the impure foods in false and contradictory words which injure the man who is nourished in them, “For the law had a shadow of the good things to come.” (Heb_10:1)
13. The Offence of the Pharisees.
And as in many cases we have to consider the astonishment of the Jews at the words of the Saviour, because they were spoken with authority, so also in regard to the words in this place. Having called the multitudes therefore, He said unto them, “Hear and understand,” (Mat_15:10) etc. And He said this, the Pharisees being offended at this saying, as, because of their evil opinions and their worthless interpretation of the law, they were not the plant of his own Father in heaven, and on this account were being rooted up; (Mat_15:13) for they were rooted up as they did not receive the true vine, which was cultivated by the Father, even Jesus Christ. (Joh_15:1) For how could they be a plant of His Father who were offended at the words of Jesus, words which turn men away from the precept, “Handle not, nor taste, nor touch, - all which things were to perish in the using - after the precepts and doctrines of men,” (Col_2:22, Col_2:23) but induce the intelligent hearer of them to seek in regard to them the things which are above and not the things upon the earth as the Jews do? (Col_3:2) And since, because of their evil opinions, the Pharisees were not the plant of His Father in heaven, 442 on this account, as about such as were incorrigible, He says to the disciple, “Let them alone;” (Mat_15:14)“Let them alone,” He said for this reason, that as they were blind they ought to become conscious of their blindness and seek guides; but they, being unconscious of their own blindness, profess to guide the blind, not reckoning that they would fall into a pit, about which it is written in the Psalms, “He hath made a pit, and digged it, and will fall into the ditch which he hath marie.” (Psa_7:15) Again, elsewhere it is written, “And seeing the multitudes, He went up into the mountain, and when He had sat down His disciples came unto Him;” (Mat_5:1) but here He stretches forth His hand to the multitude, calling them unto Him, and turning their thoughts away from the literal interpretation of the questions in the law, when He in the first place said to them, who did not yet understand what they heard, “Hear and understand,” and thereafter as in parables said to them, “Not that which entereth into the mouth defileth the man, but that which proceedeth out of the mouth.” (Mat_15:10-11)
14.Why the Pharisees Were Not a Plant of God. Teaching of Origen on the “Bread of the Lord.”
After this, it is worth while to look at the phrase which has been assailed in a sophistical way by those who say32 that the God of the law and the God of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not the same; for they say that the heavenly Father of Jesus Christ is not the husbandman of those who think that they worship God according to the law of Moses. Jesus Himself said that the Pharisees, who were worshipping the God who created the world and the law, were not a plant which His heavenly Father had planted, and that for this reason it was being rooted up. (Mat_15:13) But you might also say this, that even if it were the Father of Jesus who “brought in and planted the people,” when it came out of Egypt, “to the mountain of His own inheritance, to the place which He had prepared for Himself to dwell in,” (Exo_15:7) yet Jesus would have said, in regard to the Pharisees, “Every plant which My heavenly Father planted not, shall be rooted up.” Now, to this we will say, that as many as on account of their perverse interpretation of the things in the law were not a plant of His Father in heaven, were blinded in their minds, as not believing the truth, but taking pleasure in unrighteousness, (2Th_2:12) by him who is deified by the sons of this world, and on this account is called by Paul the god of this world. (2Co_4:4) And do not suppose that Paul said that he was truly God; for just as the belly, though it is not the god of those who prize pleasure too highly, being lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, is said by Paul to be their god, (Phi_3:19) so the prince of this world, in regard to whom the Saviour says, “Now has the prince of this world been judged,” (Joh_16:11) though he is not God, is said to be the god of those who do not wish to receive the spirit of adoption, in order that they may become sons of that world, and sons of the resurrection from the dead, (cf. Luk_20:36) and who, on this account, abide in the sonship of this world. I have deemed it necessary to introduce these matters, even though they may have been spoken by way of digression, because of the saying, “They are blind guides of the blind.” (Mat_15:14) Who are such? The Pharisees, whose minds the god of this world hath blinded as they are unbelieving, because they have not believed in Jesus Christ; and he hath blinded them so that the “light of the Gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ should not dawn upon them.” (2Co_4:4) But not only must we avoid being guided by those blind ones who are conscious that they are in need of guides, because they have not yet received the power of vision of themselves; but even in the case of all who profess to guide us in sound doctrine, we must hear with care, and apply a sound judgment to what is said, lest being guided according to the ignorance of those who are blind, and do not see the things that concern sound doctrine, we ourselves may appear to be blind because we do not see the sense of the Scriptures, so that both he who guides and he who is guided will fall into the ditch of which we have Spoken before. Next to this, it is written in what way Peter answered and said to the Saviour, as if he had not understood the saying, “Not that which cometh into the mouth defileth the man, but that which goeth out of the mouth,”“Declare unto us the parable.” (Mat_15:11) To which the Saviour says, “Are ye also, even yet, without understanding?” (Mat_15:16) As if He had said, “Having been so long time with Me, do ye not yet understand the meaning of what is said, and do ye not perceive that for this reason that which goeth into his month does not defile the man, because it passeth into the belly, 443 and going out from it is cast into the draught?” (Mat_15:17) It was not in respect of the law in which they appeared to believe, that the Pharisees were not a plant of the Father of Jesus, but in respect of their perverse interpretation of the law and the things written in it. For since there are two things to be understood in regard to the law, the ministration of death which was engraven in letters (cf. 2Co_3:7) and which had no kinship with the spirit, and the ministration of life which is understood in the spiritual law, those who were able with a sincere heart to say, “We know that the law is spiritual,” (Rom_7:14) and therefore “the law is holy, and the commandment holy and righteous and good,” (Rom_7:12) were the plant which the heavenly Father planted; but those who were not such, but guarded with care the letter which killeth only, were not a plant of God but of him who hardened their heart, and put a veil over it, which veil had power over them so long as they did not turn to the Lord; “for if any one should turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away, and the Lord is the Spirit.” (2Co_3:16, 2Co_3:17) Now some one when dealing with the passage might say, that just as “not that which entereth into the mouth defileth the man,” (Mat_15:11) of even though it may be thought by the Jews to be defiled, so not that which entereth into the mouth sanctifieth the man, even though what is called the bread of the Lord may be thought by the simpler disciples to sanctify. And the saying is I think, not to be despised, and on this account, demands clear exposition, which seems to me to be thus; as it is not the meat but the conscience of him who eats with doubt which defiles him that eateth, for “he that doubteth is condemned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith,” (Rom_14:23) and as nothing is pure to him who is defiled and unbelieving, not in itself, but because of his defilement and unbelief, so that which is sanctified through the word of God and prayer (cf. 1Ti_4:5) does not, in its own nature, sanctify him who uses it, for, if this were so, it would sanctify even him who eats unworthily of the bread of the Lord, and no one on account of this food would become weak or sickly or asleep for something of this kind Paul represented in saying, “For this cause many among you are weak and sickly and not a few sleep.” (1Co_11:30) And in the case of the bread of the Lord, accordingly, there is advantage to him who uses it, when with undefiled mind and pure conscience he partakes of the bread. And so neither by not eating, I mean by the very fact that we do not eat of the bread which has been sanctified by the word of God and prayer, are we deprived of any good thing, nor by eating are we the better by any good thing; for the cause of our lacking is wickedness and sins, and the cause of our abounding is righteousness and right actions; so that such is the meaning of what is said by Paul, “For neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we eat not are we the worse.” (1Co_8:8) Now, if “everything that entereth into the mouth goes into the belly and is cast out into the drought,” (Mat_15:17) even the meat which has been sanctified through the word of God and prayer, in accordance with the fact that it is material, goes into the belly and is cast out into the draught, but in respect of the prayer which comes upon it, according to the proportion of the faith, becomes a benefit and is a means of clear vision to the mind which looks to that which is beneficial, and it is not the material of the bread but the word which is said over it which is of advantage to him who eats it not unworthily of the Lord. And these things indeed are said of the typical and symbolical body. But many things might be said about the Word Himself who became flesh, (Joh_1:14) and true meat of which he that eateth shall assuredly live for ever, no worthless person being able to eat it; for if it were possible for one who continues worthless to eat of Him who became flesh, who was the Word and the living bread, it would not have been written, that “every one who eats of this bread shall live for ever.” (Joh_6:51)
15. Eating with Unwashed Heart Defiles the Man.
Next to this let us see how the things which proceed out and defile the man do not defile the man because of their proceeding out of the mouth, but have the cause of their defilement in the heart, when there come forth out of it, before those things which proceed through the mouth, evil thoughts, of which the species are - murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, railings. (Mat_15:18, Mat_15:19) For these are the things which defile the man, when they come forth out of the heart, and going out from it proceed through the mouth; so that, if they did not come out of the heart, but were retained there somewhere about the heart, and were not allowed to be spoken through the mouth, 444 they would very quickly disappear, and a man would be no more defiled. The spring and source, then, of every sin are evil thoughts; for, unless these gained the mastery, neither murders nor adulteries nor any other such thing would exist. Therefore, each man must keep his own heart with all watchfulness; (Pro_4:23) for when the Lord comes in the day of judgment. “He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts,” (1Co_4:5) “all the thoughts of men meanwhile accusing or else excusing them,” (Rom_2:15)“when their own devices have beset them about.” (Hos_7:2) But of such a nature are the evil thoughts that sometimes they make worthy of censure even those things which seem good, and which, so far as the judgment of the masses is concerned, are worthy of praise. Accordingly, if we do alms before men, having in our thoughts the design of appearing to men philanthropic, and of being honoured because of philanthropy, we receive the reward from men; (Mat_6:1, Mat_6:2) and, universally, everything that is done with the consciousness in the doer that he will be glorified by men, has no reward from Him who beholds in secret, and renders the reward to those who are pure, in secret. So, too, therefore, is it with apparent purity if it is influenced by considerations of vain glory or love of gain; and the teaching which is thought to be the teaching of the Church, if it becomes servile through the word of flattery, either when it is made the excuse for covetousness, or when any one seeks glory from men because of his teaching, is not reckoned to be the teaching of those “who have been set by God in the Church: first, apostles; secondly, prophets; and thirdly, teachers.” (1Co_12:28) And you will say the like in the case of him who seeks the office of a bishop for the sake of glory with men, or of flattery from men, or for the sake of the gain received from those who, coming over to the word, give in the name of piety; for a bishop of this kind at any rate does not “desire a good work,” (1Ti_3:2) nor can he be without reproach, nor temperate, nor soberminded, as he is intoxicated with glory and intemperately satiated with it. And the same also you will say about the elders and deacons. And if we seem to some to have made a digression in speaking of these things, consider if it were not necessary that they should be said, because that evil thoughts are the spring of all sins, and can pollute even those actions which, if they were done apart from evil thoughts, would have justified the man who did them. We have thus investigated according to our ability what are the things which defile; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man; but if we must say it with boldness, with unwashed heart to eat anything whatsoever which is the natural food of our reason, defileth the man.
16. Concerning the Canaanitish Woman. Meaning of the “Borders of Tyre and Sidon.”
“And Jesus went out thence and withdrew into the parts of Tyre and Sidon. And behold a Canaanitish woman.” (Mat_15:21, Mat_15:22) Whence the “thence”? Was it from the land of Gennesaret, concerning which it was said before, “And when they had crossed over they came into the land of Gennesaret?” (Mat_14:34) But He withdrew, perhaps because the Pharisees were offended when they heard that “not that which entereth in, but that which proceedeth out, defileth the man;” (Mat_15:11) and that, because of their being suspected of plotting against Him, it is said, “He withdrew,” is manifest from the passage, “And when He heard that John was delivered up He withdrew into Galilee.” (Mat_4:12) Perhaps also on this account, when describing the things in this place, Mark says that “He rose up and went into the borders of Tyre, and having entered into the house wished no man to know it.” (Mar_7:24) It is probable that He sought to avoid the Pharisees who were offended at His teaching, waiting for the time for His suffering, which was more fitting and rightly appointed. But some one might say that Tyre and Sidon are used for the Gentiles; accordingly when He withdrew from Israel He came into the parts of the Gentiles. Among the Hebrews, then, Tyre is called Sor, and it is interpreted “anguish.” Sidon, which is also the Hebrew name, is rendered “hunters.” And among the Gentiles likewise the hunters are the evil powers, and among them is great distress, the distress, namely, which exists in wickedness and passions. When Jesus, then, went out from Gennesaret He withdrew indeed from Israel and came, not to Tyre and Sidon, but into “the parts” of Tyre and Sidon, with the result that those of the Gentiles now believe in part; so that if He had visited the whole of Tyre and Sidon, no unbeliever would have been left in it. 445 Now, according to Mark, “Jesus rose up and went into the borders of Tyre,” (Mar_7:24) - that is, the distress of the Gentiles, - in order that they also from these borders who believe can be saved, when they come out of them; for attend to this: “And behold a Canaanitish woman came out from these borders and cried saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David, my daughter is terribly vexed with a demon.” (Mat_15:22) And I think that if she had not come out from those borders she would not have been able to cry to Jesus with the great faith to which testimony was borne; and according to the proportion of faith one comes out from the borders among the Gentiles, which “when the Most High divided the nations He set up according to the number of the sons of Israel,” (Deu_32:8) and prevented their further advance. Here, then, certain borders are spoken of as the borders of Tyre and Sidon, but in Exodus the borders of Pharaoh, (Exo_8:2) in which, they say, were formed the plagues against the Egyptians. And we must suppose that each of us when he sins is in the borders of Tyre or Sidon or of Pharaoh and Egypt, or some one of those which are outside the allotted inheritance of God; but when he changes from wickedness to virtue he goes out from the borders of evil, and comes to the borders of the portion of God, there being among these also a difference which will be manifest to those who are able to understand the things that concern the division and the inheritance of Israel, in harmony with the spiritual law. And attend also to the meeting, so to speak, which took place between Jesus and the Canaanitish woman; for He comes as to the parts of Tyre and Sidon, and she comes out of those parts, and cried, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David.” (Mat_15:22) Now the woman was Canaanitish, which is rendered, prepared for humiliation. The righteous, indeed, are prepared for the kingdom of heaven and for the exaltation in the kingdom of God; (cf. Mat_25:34) but sinners are prepared for the humiliation of the wickedness which is in them, and of the deeds which flow from it and prepare them for it, and of the sin which reigns in their mortal body. Only, the Canaanitish woman came out of those borders and went forth from the state of being prepared for humiliation, crying and saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David.”
17. Exposition of the Details in the Narrative.
Now bring together from the Gospels those who call Him Son of David, as she, and the blind men in Jericho; (Mat_20:30) and who call Him Son of God, and that without the addition “truly” like the demoniacs who say, “What have we to do with Thee, Thou Son of God;” (Mat_8:29) and who call Him so with the addition “truly,” like those in the boat who worshipped Him saying, “Truly Thou art the Son of God.” (Mat_14:33) For the bringing together of these passages will, I think, be useful to you with a view to seeing the difference of those who come to Jesus; some indeed come as to Him “who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh;” (Rom_1:3) but others come to Him who “was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness;” (Rom_1:4) and of these some with the “truly,” and some without it. Further, observe, that the Canaanitish woman besought Him not about a son, whom she does not seem to have brought forth at all, but about a daughter who was terribly vexed with a demon; but another mother receives back alive her son who was being carried forth dead. (Luk_7:12) And again the ruler of the synagogue makes supplication for a daughter twelve years old, as being dead, (Mat_9:18) but the nobleman about a son as being still sick, and at the point of death. (Joh_4:46) The daughter, accordingly, who was distressed by a demon, and the dead son sprang from two mothers; and the dead daughter, and the son who was sick unto death, sprang from two fathers, of whom the one was a ruler of the synagogue, and the other was a nobleman. And I am persuaded these things contain reasons concerning the verse kinds of souls which Jesus vivifies and heals. And all the cures that He works among the people, especially those recorded by the Evangelists, took place at that time, that those who would not otherwise have believed unless they saw signs and wonders might believe; (Joh_4:48) for the things aforetime were symbols of the things that are ever being accomplished by the power of Jesus; for there is no time when each of the things which are written is not done by the power of Jesus according to the desert of each. The Canaanitish woman, therefore, because of her race was not worthy even to receive an answer from Jesus, who acknowledged that He had not been sent by the Father 446 for any other thing than to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, (Mat_15:24) - a lost race of souls possessed of clear vision; but, because of her resolution and of having worshipped Jesus as Son of God, she obtains an answer, which reproaches her with baseness of birth and exhibits the measure of her worthiness, namely, that she was worthy of crumbs as the little dogs, but not of the loaves. But when she with intensified resolution, accepting the saying of Jesus, puts forth the claim to obtain crumbs even as a little dog, and acknowledges that the masters are of a nobler race, then she gets a second answer, which bears testimony to her faith as great, and a promise that it shall be done unto her as she wills. (Mat_15:28) And corresponding, I think, “to the Jerusalem above, which is free, the mother” (Gal_4:26) of Paul and those like to him, must we conceive of the Canaanitish woman, the mother of her who was terribly distressed with a demon, who was the symbol of the mother of such a soul. And consider whether it is not according to sound reason that there are also many fathers and many mothers corresponding to the fathers of Abraham to whom the patriarch went away, (Gen_15:15) and to Jerusalem the “mother,” as Paul says, concerning himself and those like to him. And it is probable that she of whom the Canaanitish woman was a symbol came out of the borders of Tyre and Sidon, of which the places on earth were types, and came to the Saviour and besought Him and even now beseeches Him saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David, my daughter is terribly vexed with a demon.” (Mat_15:22) Then also to those without and to the disciples when necessary He answers and says, “I was not sent;” (Mat_15:24) teaching us that there are some lost souls pre-eminently intellectual and clear of vision, figuratively called sheep of the house of Israel; which things, I think, the simpler who are of opinion that they are spoken in regard to the Israel which is after the flesh will of necessity admit, namely, that our Saviour was sent by the Father to no others than to those lost Jews. But we, who can truthfully boast that “if we have once known Christ after the flesh, but now no longer do we know Him so,” (2Co_5:16) are assured that it is pre-eminently the work of the Word to save the more intelligent, for these are more akin to Him than those who are duller. But since the lost sheep of the house of Israel, with the exception of “the remnant according to the election of grace,” (Rom_11:5) disbelieved the Word, on this account “God chose the foolish things of the world,” (1Co_1:27) namely, that which was not Israel, nor clear of vision, that He might put to shame the wise ones of Israel; and He called “the things which are not,” (1Co_1:28) handing over to them an intelligent nation who were able to admit “the foolishness of the preaching,” (1Co_1:21) and of His good pleasure saved those who believe in this, that He might refute “the things which are,” having perfected praise for Himself, “out of the mouths of babes and sucklings,” (Psa_8:2) when they became hostile to truth. Now, the Canaanitish woman, having come, worshipped Jesus as God, saying, “Lord, help me,” but He answered and said, “It is not possible to take the children’s bread and cast it to the little dogs.” (Mat_15:25, Mat_15:26) But some one might inquire also into the meaning of this saying, since, - inasmuch as there was a measure of loaves such that both the children and the dogs of the household could not eat loaves, unless the dogs ate other loaves than those which were well made, - it was not possible according to right reason for the well-made loaf of the children to be given as food to the little dogs. But no such thing appears in the case of the power of Jesus, for of this it was possible both for the children and those called little dogs to partake. Consider, then, whether perhaps with reference to the saying, “It is not possible to take the bread of children,” we ought to say that, “He who emptied Himself and took upon Him the form of a servant,” (Phi_2:7) brought a measure of power such as the world was capable of receiving, of which power also He was conscious that a certain quantity went forth from Him as is plain from the words, “Some one did touch Me, for I perceived that power had gone forth from Me.” (Luk_8:46) From this measure of power, then, He dispensed, giving a larger portion to those who were pre-eminent and who were called sons, but a smaller portion to those who were not such, as to the little dogs. But though these things were so, nevertheless where there was great faith, to her, who because of her base birth in Canaanitish land was a little dog, He gave as to a child the bread of the children. And perhaps, also, of the words of Jesus there are some loaves which it is possible to give to the more rational, as to children only; and other words, as it were, crumbs from the great house and table of the well-born 447 and the masters, which may be used by some souls, like the dogs. And according to the law of Moses it is written about certain things, “Ye shall cast them to the dogs,” (Exo_22:31) and it was a matter of care to the Holy Spirit to give instruction about certain foods that they should be left to the dogs. Let others, then, who are strangers to the doctrine of the Church, assume that souls pass from the bodies of men into the bodies of dogs, according to their varying degree of wickedness; but we, who do not find this at all in the divine Scripture, say that the more rational condition changes into one more irrational, undergoing this affection in consequence of great slothfulness and negligence. But, also, in the same way, a will which was more irrational, because of its neglect of reason, sometimes turns and becomes rational, so that that which at one time was a dog, loving to eat of the crumbs that fell from the table of its masters, comes into the condition of a son. For virtue contributes greatly to the making of one a son of God, but wickedness, and mad fury in wanton discourses and shamelessness, contribute to the giving of a man the name of dog according to the word of the Scripture. (2Sa_16:9) And the like you will also understand in the case of the other names which are applied to animals without reason. Only, he who is reproached as a dog and yet is not indignant at being called unworthy of the bread of children and with all forbearance repeats the saying of that Canaanitish woman, “Yea, Lord, for even the little dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ (Mat_15:27) table,” will obtain the very gentle answer of Jesus saying to him, “Great is thy faith,” - when he has received so great faith - and saying, “Be it done unto thee even as thou wilt,” (Mat_15:28) so that he himself may be healed, and if he has produced any fruit which stands in need of healing, that this, too, may be cured.
18. Concerning the Multitudes Who Were Healed. Comparison of the Mountain Where Jesus Sat to the Church.
“And Jesus departed thence,” - manifestly, from what has been said before, from the parts of Tyre and Sidon, - “and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee.” (Mat_15:29) which is commonly called the Lake of Gennesaret, and again went up into the mountain where He went up and sat. We may say, then, that into this mountain where Jesus sits, not only the sound in health go up, but along with the sound, those also who were suffering from various disorders. And, perhaps, this mountain to which Jesus went up and sat is that which is more commonly called the Church, which has been set up through the word of God over the rest of the world and the men upon it; whither go not the disciples only, leaving the multitudes as in the case of the beatitudes, but great multitudes who were not accused themselves of being deaf or suffering from any affection, but who had such along with themselves. For you may see, along with the multitudes who come to this mountain where the Son of God sits, some who have become deaf to the things promised, and others blind in soul and not looking at the true light, and others who are lame and not able to walk according to reason, and others who are maimed and not able to work according to reason. Those, accordingly, who are suffering in soul from such things, though they go up along with the multitudes into the mountain where Jesus was, so long as they are outside of the feet of Jesus, are not healed by Him; but when, as men suffering from such disorders, they are cast by the multitude at His feet, (Mat_15:30) and at the extremities of the body of Christ, not being worthy to obtain such things so far as they themselves are concerned, they are then healed by Him. And when you see in the congregation of what is more commonly called the church the catechumens cast behind those who are at the extreme end of it, and as it were at the feet of the body of Jesus - the church - coming to it with their own deafness and blindness and lameness and crookedness, and in time cured according to the Word, you would not err in saying that such having gone up with the multitudes of the church to the mountain where Jesus was, are cast at His feet and are healed; so that the multitude of the church is astonished at beholding transformations which have taken place from so great evils to that which is better, so that it might say, those who were formerly dumb afterwards speak the word of God, and the lame walk, the prophecy of Isaiah being fulfilled, not only in things bodily but in things spiritual, which said, “Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of him that hath an impediment in his speech be plain.” (Isa_35:6) And there, unless the expression, “the lame man shall leap as an hart,” is to be taken as accidental, we will say that those formerly lame, 448 and who now through the power of Jesus leap as an hart are not without design compared to a hart, which is a clean animal, and hostile to serpents and cannot at all be injured by their poison. But also, in respect of the fact that the dumb are seen speaking is the prophecy fulfilled which said, “And the tongue of him that hath an impediment shall be plain,” or rather that which said, “Hear ye deaf;” but the blind see according to the prophecy following, “Hear ye deaf, and ye blind look up that ye may see.” (Isa_42:18) Now the blind see, when they see the world and from the exceeding great beauty of the things created they contemplate the Creator corresponding in greatness and beauty to them; and when they see clearly “the invisible things of God Himself from the creation of the world, which are perceived through the things that are made;” (Rom_1:20) that is, they see and understand with care and clearness. Now the multitudes seeing these things, glorified the God of Israel, (Mat_15:31) and glorify Him in the persuasion that it is the same God, who is the Father of Him who healed those previously mentioned, and the God of Israel. For He is not the God of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles. (Rom_3:29) Let us then cause to go up along with ourselves to the mountain where Jesus sits - His church - those who wish to go up to it along with us, the deaf, the blind, the lame, the maimed and many others, and let us cast them at the feet of Jesus that He may heal them, so that the multitudes are astonished at their healing; for it is not the disciples who are described as wondering at such things, although at that time they were present with Jesus, as is manifest from the words, “And Jesus called unto Him His disciples and said, I have compassion on the multitudes,” (Mat_15:32) etc.; and perhaps if you attend carefully to the words, “There came unto Him great multitudes,” (Mat_15:30) you would find that the disciples at that time did not come to Him, but had begun long ago to follow Him and followed Him into the mountain. But there came unto Him those who were inferior to the disciples, and were then for the first time approaching Him, who had not the same experience as those who had gone up with them. Observe, moreover, in the Gospel who are described as having followed Jesus, and who as having come to Him, and who as having been brought to Him, and the division between those who go before and of those who follow; and of those who came, who came to Him in the house, and who when He was elsewhere. For by observation, and by comparing things spiritual with spiritual, you would find many things worthy of the accurate wisdom in the Gospels.
19. Concerning the Seven Loaves. The Narrative of the Feeding of the Four Thousand Compared with That of the Five Thousand.
“And Jesus called unto Him His disciples and said.” (Mat_15:32) Above in the similar history to this about the loaves, before the loaves are spoken of, “Jesus came forth and saw a great multitude and had compassion upon them and healed their sick. And when even was come the disciples came to Him saying, The place is desert and the time is already past, send them away,” (Mat_14:15) etc. But now after the healing of the deaf and the rest, He takes compassion on the multitude which had continued with Him now three days and had nothing to eat. And there the disciples make request concerning the five thousand; (Mat_14:15) but here He speaks of His own accord about the four thousand. (Mat_15:32) Those, too, are fed when it was evening after they had spent a day with Him; but these, who are testified to have continued with Him three days, partake of the loaves lest they might faint by the way. And there the disciples say to Him when He was not inquiring, that they had only five loaves and two fishes; but here to Him making inquiry, they give answer about the seven loaves and the few small fishes. And there He commands the multitudes to sit down or lie upon the grass; for Luke also wrote, “Make them sit down,” (Luk_9:14) and Mark says, “He commanded them all to sit down;” (Mar_6:30) but here He does not command but proclaims33 to the multitude to sit down. Again, there, the three Evangelists say in the very same words that “He took the five loaves and the two fishes and looking up to heaven He blessed;” (Mat_14:19; Mar_6:41; Luk_9:16) but here, as Matthew and Mark have written, “Jesus gave thanks and brake;” (Mat_15:36; Mar_8:6) there, they recline upon the grass, but here they sit down upon the ground. You will moreover investigate in the accounts in the different places the variation found in John, who wrote in regard to that transaction that Jesus said, “Make the 449 men sit down,” (Joh_6:10) and that, having given thanks, He gave of the loaves to them that were set down, but he did not mention this miracle at all.34 Attending, then, to the difference of those things which are written in the various places in regard to the loaves, I think that these belong to a different order from those; wherefore these are fed in a mountain, and those in a desert place; and these after they had continued three days with Jesus, but those one day, on the evening of which they were fed. And further, unless it be the same thing for Jesus to do a thing of Himself and to act after having heard from the disciples, consider if those to whom Jesus shows kindness are not superior when He fed them on the spot with a view to showing them kindness. And, if according to John, (Joh_6:13) they were barley loaves of which the twelve baskets remained over, but nothing of this kind is said about these, how are not these superior to the former? And the sick of those He healed, (Mat_14:14) but here He heals these, along with the multitudes, who were not sick but blind, and lame, and deaf, and maimed; wherefore also in regard to these the four thousand marvel, (Mat_15:31) but in regard to the sick no such thing is said. And these I think who ate of the seven loaves for which thanks were given, are superior to those who ate of the five which were blessed; and these who ate the few little fishes to those who ate of the two, and perhaps also these who sat down upon the ground to those who sat down on the grass.
And those from fewer loaves leave twelve baskets, but these from a greater number leave seven baskets, inasmuch, as they were able to receive more. And perhaps these tread upon all earthly things and sit down upon them, but those upon the grass - upon their flesh only - for “all flesh is grass.” (Isa_40:6) Consider also after this, that Jesus does not wish to send them away fasting lest they faint on the way, as being without the loaves of Jesus, and while they were still on the way - the way to their own concerns - might suffer injury. Take note also of the cases where Jesus is recorded to have sent any one away, that you may see the difference of those who were sent away by Him after being fed, and those who had been sent away otherwise; and, as a pattern of one who was sent away otherwise, take “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.”35 But further the disciples who are always with Jesus are not sent away by Him; but the multitudes after they have eaten are sent away. Likewise, again, the disciples who conceive nothing great about the Canaanitish woman say, “Send her away, for she crieth after us;” (Mat_15:23) but the Saviour does not at all appear to send her away; for saying unto her, “O woman, great is thy faith, be it done to thee even as thou wilt,” (Mat_15:28) He healed her daughter from that hour: it is not however written that He sent her away. So far at the present time have we been able to investigate and see into the passage before us.