Sunday, October 20, 2013

Do We Really Need More Atheism?

Pic of Rembrandt one of the greatest Paointers.
Pic of Michelangelo one of the greatest Sculptors.
Link to Bach one of the greatest musicians.
Link to wiki of Newton one of the greatest scientists.

Pic of the Kamer Rouge one of the greatest atrocites.
Pic of the Holocaust one of the greatest atrocities.
Pic of Stalinic russia one of the greatest atrocities.
Pic of

The worldviews of these people caused them to do what they did--not their religion; but can you really seperate the two?


Three Major Problems with Dispensational Hermeneutics

They wrongly use the idea that the correct interpretation is the interpretation of the original audience.

Don't believe in the Analogy of Faith.

Inconsistently hyper-literal.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Original Manuscripts of the New Testament


We do not have the original manuscripts of the New Testament. What we have today are  copies of the copies of the copies of the autographs. Why?

Συντετέλεσται δῆτα καθ᾿ ἡμᾶς ἅπαντα, ὁπηνίκα τῶν μὲν προσευκτηρίων τοὺς οἴκους ἐξ ὕψους εἰς ἔδαφος αὐτοῖς θεμελίοις καταρριπτουμένους, τὰς δ᾿ ἐνθέους καὶ ἱερὰς γραφὰς κατὰ μέσας ἀγορὰς πυρὶ παραδιδομένας αὐτοῖς ἐπείδομεν ὀφθαλμοῖς τούς τε τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν ποιμένας αἰσχρῶς ὧδε κἀκεῖσε κρυπταζομένους, τοὺς δὲ ἀσχημόνως ἁλισκομένους καὶ πρὸς τῶν ἐχθρῶν καταπαιζομένους,

All these things were fulfilled in us, when we saw with our own eyes the houses of prayer thrown down to the very foundations, and the Divine and Sacred Scriptures committed to the flames in the midst of the market-places, and the shepherds of the churches basely hidden here and there, and some of them captured ignominiously, and mocked by their enemies. (Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, Book 8, Chapter 2)

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In other instances stiffer resistance is offered when believers were asked to give up their Christian books. In the account of the martyrdom of Agape, Irene, and Chione, at successive hearings the three women were interrogated by the prefect Dulcitius of Thessalonica, who inquired, ‘Do you have in your possession any writings, parchments, or books (ὑπομνήματα ἢ διφθέραι ἢ βιβλία) of the impious Christians?’ Chione replied, ‘We do not, Sir. Our present emperors have taken these  from us’. On the next day Irene was once again brought before the court, the prefect asked, ‘Who was it that advised you to retain these parchments and writings (τὰς διφθέρας ταύτας καὶ τὰς γραφάς) up to the present time?’ ‘It was almighty God’, Irene replied, ‘who bade us love him unto death. For this reason we did not dare to be traitors, but we chose to be burned alive or suffer anything else that might happen to us rather than betray them’ (προδοῦναι αὐτάς, i.e. the writings).

After sentencing the young woman to be placed naked in the public brothel, the prefect gave orders that the writings (τὰ γραμματεῖα) in the cabinets and chests belonging to her were to be burned publicly. The account concludes by describing how, in March and April of the year 304, the three became martyrs for their faith by being burned at the stake. (The Canon of the New Testament, Bruce M. Metzger, page 108)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Jesus Sinks or Jesus Floats: Two views of Jesus' baptism

Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις ἦλθεν Ἰησοῦς ἀπὸ Ναζαρὲτ τῆς Γαλιλαίας καὶ ἐβαπτίσθη εἰς τὸν Ἰορδάνην ὑπὸ Ἰωάννου. καὶ εὐθὺς ἀναβαίνων ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος εἶδεν σχιζομένους τοὺς οὐρανοὺς καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα ὡς περιστερὰν καταβαῖνον εἰς αὐτόν· Mark 1:9-19


A Baptist translation: “And it happened in those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was submerged into the Jordan by John. And immediately, while coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens being ripped open and the spirit as a dove coming down to him.”
A literal Baptist translation: “And it became in those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was submerged into the Jordan by John. And immediately while ascending out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the spirit as a dove descending into him.”


A Presbyterian translation: “And it happened in those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and received the “rite of baptism” in the Jordan by John. And immediately, while coming back out of the water, he saw the heavens being ripped open and the spirit as a dove coming down on him.”
A literal Presbyterian translation: “And it became in those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was ceremonially cleansed in the Jordan by John. And immediately while ascending out from the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the spirit as a dove descending into him.”

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βαπτισθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εὐθὺς ἀνέβη ἀπὸ τοῦ ὕδατος· καὶ ἰδοὺ ἠνεῴχθησαν οἱ οὐρανοί, καὶ εἶδεν πνεῦμα θεοῦ καταβαῖνον ὡσεὶ περιστερὰν ἐρχόμενον ἐπ’ αὐτόν· Matthew 3:16

A Baptist translation: “And having been submerged, immediately Jesus ascended from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove going upon him.”
A literal Baptist translation: “And having been submerged, immediately Jesus ascended from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the spirit of god descending like a dove coming upon him.”

A Presbyterian translation: “And having received the “rite of baptism”, immediately Jesus returned from the water and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove going upon him.”
A literal Presbyterian translation: “And having been ceremonially cleansed, immediately Jesus ascended from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the spirit of god descending like a dove coming upon him.”

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Finding the Middle: Part 4 What's wrong with Household Theology?

Abraham's Four Seeds
by John G. Reisinger
(New Covenant Theology)
Appendix Number Four 
An Exposition of Acts 2:39 and Infant Baptism.
     "For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Acts 2:39 

     Consider a few very obvious objections to using Acts 2:39 as a "proof text" for infant baptism: 

1.  Peter is speaking to unbelievers and not to Christian parents. He is telling convicted sinners how to be saved, not giving believing parents the assurance that their children are "in the covenant." The "you" in the phrase "the promise is unto you" are unbelievers asking what they must do to be saved.  In the very next verse (40), Peter exhorts these unsaved people to "save yourselves from this untoward generation." How can an exhortation to lost sinners to trust Christ be turned into a promise to Christian parents that their children are in a special covenantal relationship with God? 

2.  The "promise" in Joel that Peter is quoting is "whosoever shall call on the Lord shall be saved" and it can in no way be connected to infant baptism.  (Cf. Romans 10:13 where Paul also quotes Joel 2:32 and shows that "the promise" spoken of in Joel, and quoted by Peter, is the promise of the gospel to all unbelievers whether they are Gentiles or Jews.) Here is a classic illustration of what I said earlier concerning Biblical terminology versus phrases like "covenant of grace."  Peter declaring the promise of the gospel of grace to unbelievers cannot be turned into "God making a covenant of grace with Christian parents," and yet this is exactly what covenant theologians do with this text. 

3.  The children of believers have no more unique promise in this text than do those who "are afar off" (the heathen). Peter understood the gospel promise of whosoever in Joel to include three distinct groups.  The promise that "whosoever shall call on the Lord shall be saved" is given to the following persons: 

     A. To "you," unconverted and convicted sinners; and the same promise is to 

     B. "Your children," if they will repent and believe; and likewise the same promise is to 

     C. "All who are afar off" in heathen Gentile lands, if they will also repent and believe the same gospel.  

     Let us look again at the comparison of Joel's prophecy and Peter's interpretation: 

     Joel 2:32  Acts 2:39 

     that WHOSOEVER shall call upon the Lord  YOU, and to your CHILDREN, and to ALL that are AFAR OFF, 

     shall be delivered...  [...shall receive Spirit...vs 38][...shall be saved...vs 40] 

     and in the REMNANT whom the lord shall call.  even AS MANY as the Lord our God shall CALL. 

     And it shall come to pass,  The promise is unto 

     Notice how clearly Peter interprets the words whosoever and as many.  What Peter is declaring is this:  Just as all men without exception ("covenant" children included) are guilty lost sinners who need to be saved, so all men without exception ("covenant" children included and no "non-covenant" children excluded) are freely invited in the one gospel of grace to believe and be saved.  Peter is showing that the gospel message is now to all men without exception and not just for the Jews. There is now only one category of lost people before God.  No one is physically either inside or outside of a special covenantal category by birth.  There is only one gospel message, and that one message is for all men without distinction or exception.  You do not have unregenerate "pagan" children and unregenerate "covenant" children with different promises for each group.  There is one gospel for all lost sinners. 

4.  The last phrase "even as many as the Lord our God shall call" must be applied to all three categories mentioned in the text.  Peter is saying, "as many as God shall call from among you, shall call from among your children, and shall call from among the heathen afar off." It is the sovereign effectual call of God in all three categories that determines the true objects of the promise. The one and only thing that determines whether a person is either "in" or "under" grace is the eternal election of God, and the only thing that proves it in time is the effectual call of the Holy Spirit.  Being "under a covenant of grace" has nothing at all to do with physical birth.  We must not destroy the universal offer of the gospel of God's free grace by turning it into a supposed "covenant of grace" given exclusively to Christian parents and "their seed." We also must not overthrow the doctrine of sovereign election by making the physical children of believers to be in a special spiritual category before God through physical birth and baptism.

    A birth certificate proving you were born in the right home does not make you a covenant child.  I repeat, this text of Scripture promises just as much to a "pagan" child who is "afar off" as it does to a so called "covenant child" born in a Christian home. The "promise" in Acts 2:39 is given equally to the pagans, to the hearers, and to their children. 

5.  The people addressed in Acts 2:39 are still unbelievers in vs. 40, and they themselves get converted and baptized in vs. 41.  It is exegetically impossible to make Acts 2:39 refer to Christian parents.  Such a gross misuse of a text of Scripture is only possible by totally misunderstanding the "promise made to Abraham and his seed." 

     It is not accidental that hyper-Calvinism and a strong "covenant seed" concept go hand in hand. It is impossible to think and speak in terms of "covenant children" and "non-covenant children" and not wind up with two different "gospels," one for the "covenant child" that includes "God loves you" for sure, and one for the "pagan child" that cannot include "God loves you" until we are first sure that they are one of the elect.   

     I think it can be proven historically that one of the major problems created by using Acts 2:39 as a proof text for infant baptism is that it confuses the message of the gospel of grace to all men.  The "Seed" in Acts 2 is neither natural Jews nor children of believing parents.  The Seed in this whole chapter is our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He is the true Seed to whom the promises were made, and the message of this chapter, and especially verse 39, is that the promise to the seed has been fulfilled — the Messiah Redeemer has come — believe in Him and be saved whoever you are. 

     The gospel of grace is to be preached to "whosoever believeth," not just one nationality or group and their physical children.  There is no such thing as a "covenant community" inclusive of all "physical" children now that the prophecy of Joel has been fulfilled.  No one group any longer has any special claim or privilege because of birth.  There is only ONE status before God — GUILTY, regardless of who your parents are, and there is only ONE gospel message to every guilty sinner — REPENT and BELIEVE.  This is the one message we must preach to the children of believers as well as the children of unbelievers.

     This is what Peter is declaring in Acts 2:39! Do not destroy the universal offer of the gospel by twisting these words into a "promise to Christian parents."



Finding the Middle: Part 3 What's wrong with Administration Theology?

Abraham's Four Seeds
by John G. Reisinger
(New Covenant Theology)
Appendix Number Three 
Covenant Theology's "Two Administrations
Of One Covenant."
     Some time ago I discussed the basic theme of this book with a group of Reformed ministers that was about equally divided on the subject of Covenant Theology, Dispensationalism, and the view that I hold.  Several of those who held strongly to Covenant Theology insisted on using the term "covenant of grace" as if it had the authority of a verse of Scripture.  They made no attempt to prove their assertions from Scripture texts.  They kept speaking in terms of logic and theology.  

     I finally said:  "We agree that the Bible is structured around two covenants. However, the two covenants that you keep talking about, namely, a covenant of works with Adam in the garden of Eden and a covenant of grace made with Adam immediately after the fall, have no textual basis in the Word of God.  They are both "theological" covenants and not Biblical covenants. They are the children of your theological system.  Their mother is Covenant Theology and their father is logic applied to that system.  Neither of your two covenants had their origin in Scripture texts and Biblical exegesis.  Both of them were invented by theology as the "necessary consequences" of your theological system." 

     The one brother asked: "Where are the Bible texts that establish the two covenants that you feel are the two major covenants in the Scripture?" 

     We looked up Hebrews 8:6-13 where the Holy Spirit clearly states a "new" covenant replaces an "old" covenant. I pointed out that these verses speak about two distinct and different covenants, and the "old," or first one, has nothing to with Adam in the Garden of Eden. The "Old Covenant" is specifically identified as the law covenant made at Sinai with Israel. The "new" covenant that takes the place of the "old" covenant is the covenant that Jesus ratified on the cross with His atoning blood and which we remember at the Lord's Table. It is impossible to push the New Covenant back to Adam when he fell. 

     I then said: "This passage in Hebrews clearly speaks about the two major covenants in Scripture.  It just as clearly identifies one of these covenants as the law covenant that God made with Israel at Sinai "when he took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt;" and yet your system will not even admit that Sinai is a legal covenant, let alone admit that it is the "first or old" covenant that is replaced by the "new covenant." The Scripture always identifies the legal covenant made at Sinai as the "old" covenant and also always contrasts it with the "new" covenant established by Christ. This whole section in Hebrews is built entirely on the comparison of a new covenant that is "better" than an "old" covenant that it replaces." 

     The brother immediately said: "But there is only one covenant with two administrations.  Sinai cannot be a separate legal covenant.  There can be no legal covenants made with the church, and Israel is the redeemed church.  The foundation of the system of Covenant Theology is the fact that there is only one covenant with two different administrations. There simply is no possibility that Sinai was a legal covenant." 

     I replied: "You just said it all. The basic foundation blocks of your theology cannot be established with specific texts of Scripture. The non-Biblical terminology that you keep using grows out of your system of theology instead of texts of Scripture. Why will you not discuss the actual words that the Holy Spirit used in Heb 8:6-13?  Why do you insist on using theological terms that are not found in the Word of God and keep refusing to discuss the actual terms that are consistently used by the Holy Spirit in the Word of God?" 
Page 79
     "It is impossible for you to read into these texts of Scripture in Hebrews the terms that you keep using, and it is just as impossible to get out of the verses the theological concepts that you hold concerning one covenant with two administrations. In fact these particular verses clearly contradict your view by specifically comparing two different covenants to each other.  Let us look at the actual texts of Scripture themselves and see if the Word of God will allow for the "one covenant/two administrations" view that you admit is the foundation of your whole system of theology.  Let me read a few verses from the Book of Hebrews and substitute the word "administration" for the word "covenant," since that is what you say the word really means, and see how it fits."

     I then read the following verses and substituted or added the appropriate words: But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also is the Mediator of a better administration of the one covenant of grace . . . For if that first administration of the one covenant of grace had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second administration of the same covenant of grace . . . I will make a new administration of the same covenant with the house of Israel . . . not according to the administration that I made with their fathers . . . Jesus has become the Surety of a better administration of the same covenant . . . Heb 7:22; 8:6-10 (adjusted to fit Covenant Theology). 

     I pleaded with the man to attempt to read either the terms "one covenant with two administrations," or the theological meaning of those terms, into the whole eighth chapter of Hebrews.  Of course, he could not and would not even try.  Why will men who sincerely hold to "verbal" inspiration insist on using terms that are not only not found in Scripture, but also cannot be made to fit into Scripture? In the case of Covenant Theology, their terms often force the Scripture to say the exact opposite of what it clearly does say!  Do they really believe that the Holy Spirit would deliberately say "covenant" when He did not mean covenant?  Would He move men to write about a contrast between two different covenants, a "new" and an "old," when there was really only one covenant? 
We then turned to Gal. 4:24,25 where the Holy Spirit specifically speaks about "the two covenants:" 
. . . which things are symbolic.  For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar - for this Hagar is Mount Sinai . . . Gal. 4:24,25. 

     These texts not only fail to mention either of the two covenants that these men were insisting was the foundation of all Scripture, but these texts do clearly identify one of the two major covenants in Scripture as the law covenant given at Sinai to the Nation of Israel.  

     The men refused to discuss the texts and kept repeating: "But Sinai cannot be a legal covenant.  There is only one covenant with two administrations." 

     And I kept repeating: "What do these texts of Scripture mean?  Please, please, tell me what the words in these texts mean." 

     The whole argument in Galatians 3 through 5 and Hebrews 8-10 clearly proves that there are two distinctly different covenants around which the major part of Scripture is built, namely, the "old" covenant made at Sinai with the Nation of Israel which was based on works and obedience, and the "new" covenant established at the cross based on grace and faith. These brethren would not deny clear Bible texts so they said nothing.  

     I then said: "Now that I have given you two Biblical passages to clearly prove my view, you give me one text of Scripture that proves your `covenant of grace' with its `two administrations' that you keep talking about." 

     There was dead silence for several minutes.  

     Finally one man said: "Well, we do not exactly have a specific text of Scripture." 

     We moved on to the next point!  
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     By the way, Professor John Murray in his later writings disagreed with many modern Covenant Theologians concerning a supposed "covenant of works" with Adam.  He even chides them for using the phrase "covenant of works" in connection with Adam and also for attempting to connect the Mosaic covenant with Adam in any way.  Murray also admits that one of the favorite texts used by covenant theologians as their key proof text to prove a covenant of works with Adam does not prove that at all.  I have yet to read a modern covenant theologian, besides Murray, that admitted this! Earlier writers did not use Hosea 6:7 the way modern writers do.

     This administration [Adamic] has often been denoted the Covenant of Works . . . It is not designated a covenant in Scripture.  Hosea 6:7 may be interpreted otherwise and does not provide the basis for such a construction of the Adamic economy . . . It should never be confused with what the Scripture calls the old covenant or first covenant (cf. Jer.  31:31-34; 2 Cor. 3:14; Heb.8:7,13).  The first or old covenant is the Sinaitic. And not only must this confusion in denotation be avoided, but also any attempt to interpret the Mosaic covenant in terms of the Adamic institution.  The latter could only apply to the state of innocency, and to Adam alone as a representative head.  The view that in the Mosaic covenant there is a repetition of the so-called covenant of works, current among covenant theologians, is a grave misconception and involves an erroneous conception of the Mosaic covenant . . . From: Collected Writings of John Murray, Vol. 4, pg 49,50, Banner of Truth. 

     It amuses me to hear modern writers quote John Murray as the final authority on Covenant Theology and in the same breath deny that the law covenant at Sinai was the "first" or "old covenant."  Most of Murray's devotees vehemently defend what Murray himself calls an "erroneous conception of the Mosaic covenant."  When I quoted the above statement of John Murray to the pastors mentioned earlier, they said nothing.  There is absolutely no doubt that John Murray believed that the "first or old covenant is the Sinaitic." 

     I recently read a pamphlet by a Reformed Baptist pastor insisting that the so-called Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace are the foundation stones for understanding Scripture. The author never mentioned the two covenants in Galatians four or Hebrews eight; and worse yet, neither of the two covenants that he was talking about are ever mentioned one time in Scripture.  Here is the way the booklet begins: 

     Genesis 3:15 "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." 

     Genesis 3:19 "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." 

     ". . . In Genesis chapter three we observe two covenants in action.  Two very different covenants are in force at the same time . . ." 31 

     The very first page "assumes" as a fact what cannot be established with texts of Scripture. Nowhere in the booklet does the writer attempt any textual exegesis for either of the two covenants that he "observes" to be at work in Genesis.  Can you find "two covenants in action" in the texts which the author quoted?  This is the typical method used by Covenant Theologians.  They just assume there are two covenants in Genesis without any textual evidence.  This is exactly what the Dispensationalist does with his charts. 

     Why do men insist on ignoring the two major covenants that the Holy Spirit continually speaks about, and then proceed to build a whole system of theology on two covenants never once mentioned by any writer of Scripture?  And remember, in order to do this, they have to read verses like those from Hebrews eight and refuse to let the word "covenant" mean "covenant."  These men must say, "I know the Bible says new covenant, but it really means new administration of the same covenant." Covenant theology insists on putting the word "covenant" in Genesis where the Holy Ghost has not put it, and then they refuse to let the word covenant really mean "covenant" when the Holy Spirit does use that specific word in passages like Hebrews 8.  Amazing!

     31 The Two Covenants, Covenant of Works and Covenant of Grace, by Walter Chantry, Published by Grace Baptist Church, Carlisle, PA.  
Page 81
     I left Dispensationalism simply because I could not find its basic presuppositions in the Word of God.  Writers would make statements that were not actually in the texts of Scripture, but these things "had to be true" simply because the system demanded it.  Later, when I began to honestly study the Westminster Confession of Faith and look up every proof text, I was just as horrified as when I honestly investigated Dispensationalism.  As a Baptist, I expected to find the texts on infant baptism to be totally irrelevant, but I did not expect the same thing to be true of the proof texts used to prove the whole covenant concept as well as the Confession's view of the law. 

     Covenant theologians are forced into inventing the terms "covenant of works" and "covenant of grace" simply because they fail to see the uniqueness of God's dealings with Israel as a special nation put "under law" as no other nation ever was before or ever will be again.  According to this system of theology, Israel (the "Church" in the Old Testament) simply must be under the same covenant that we (the same "Church" in the New Testament) are under.  You cannot put believers (and Israel is "the redeemed people of God") under a legal covenant.  The system just will not allow for that. Most covenant theologians, in order to be consistent with their system, must deny the clear Biblical fact that the covenant Israel was put under at Sinai was really a conditional and legal covenant of works.  Their system demands that Sinai be a covenant of grace since there can be "no law covenants made after Gen.3:15." 
We wholeheartedly agree that God had a gracious purpose in putting the Nation of Israel under the law as a covenant, but that fact cannot change the law covenant into a covenant of grace.  The law, as a covenant, was intended to be the "needle that pierced the conscience so that the thread of the gospel could follow and heal."  However, to be able to accomplish that ministry of death, the law had to have the teeth of a true legal covenant with the power of life and death. If the Decalogue could not make men feel lost in sin and condemned by God, then how could it "prepare the sinner for the gospel?" And how could it accomplish such a ministry without having the authority of a covenant of life and death. 

     Covenant Theology consistently confuses God's eternal purpose in electing grace with the specific and different covenants that God made, in time and history, with specific people or nations. They are forced to bleed the word "covenant" of its Biblical meaning and make it impossible to give the word a uniform definition. They will sometimes let it mean "covenant" and other times insist it cannot mean covenant but means "administration." They then force the word "covenant" into places where it does not belong.  
Covenant Theology literally builds its whole system on two deliberate mistakes. It puts two covenants into Genesis 2 & 3 even though those chapter never mention either of the two covenants. The two unproven covenants then become the foundation of the whole system of covenant theology! If there is no "covenant of works with Adam" in the garden whereby Adam could have "earned eternal life by his obedience" then there is no covenant theology. If God did not make a formal "covenant of grace" with Adam immediately after the fall, then the system of theology set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith is without any Biblical foundation. These are not wild statements. Any honest and knowledgeable covenant theologian will readily admit to what I have just said. He knows that his whole theological system hangs on the "two major covenants" which he calls "the covenant of works with Adam before he fell" and "the covenant of grace made with Adam after he fell." (See the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 7, Sections 2,3.) 

     The Covenant Theologian also knows (but is slow to admit) that both of his major covenants are Biblico-theological covenants and are not derived from specific texts of Scripture. Both of these non-textual covenants are the "good and necessary consequences deduced" from the very system that they are supposed to support! The covenant of works and the covenant of grace are the foundation blocks of the very system that is used as the basis for deducing, as "good and necessary consequences," the very same two covenants used as the foundation that it is trying to establish. This is circular reasoning at its worst.  
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     The word "covenant" cannot mean covenant in Hebrews 8 even though the Holy Spirit says "covenant." There must be two covenants in Genesis chapter 2 and 3 even though the Holy Spirit does not mention either one of them, and there can only be one real covenant in Hebrews 8 even though the Holy Spirit says there are two. Such "interpretation" is essential when you start a system of theology with basic presuppositions that have themselves been "deduced" by logic as the "necessary consequences" of the very system you are trying to prove.  However, such interpretation is both non-Biblical and illogical. You cannot use the so-called Biblical-theological method to "deduce" two non-textual covenants from a system of theology that is built four square on accepting as facts the two covenants that you are trying to prove. 

     Once you read the two non-Biblical covenants into Genesis 2 & 3, you are then forced to deny that the Biblical "Old" and "New" covenants spoken of in Heb. 8, II Cor. 3, and Gal. 3 & 4 are actually two distinctly different covenants. Of theological necessity, these two covenants simply must be two different administrations of the same covenant. Covenant Theology must then commit its second deliberate error. After forcing two non-Biblical covenants into Genesis 2 & 3, it must now delete from Scripture the true Biblical covenant of works (the "Old covenant") made at Sinai and turn it into a covenant of "grace," and they must also delete the Biblical covenant of grace (the "New covenant") established in the blood of Christ and turn it into a "new administration" of the same legal covenant that was given to Israel at Sinai. From this point on, the covenant theologian will use the non-Biblical phrase "covenant of grace" as if he were quoting a text of Scripture. 

     When a covenant theologian uses the term "covenant of grace," (Hodge quote) what he really means is the "gospel of grace," or God's one and only method of saving men.  This is why he calls the promise of "the seed" in Genesis 3:15 and 12:3 the "covenant of grace." He means that God has always saved men by one method, and that method is by grace through faith.  On this point we are in total agreement.  We do not question for a moment the truth that men have always been saved by grace alone.  The Bible calls that "the gospel."  Why do Covenant Theologians insist on calling it "the Covenant of Grace"?  Why distort Acts 2:39, and its clear declaration of the one gospel message to all men, into a supposed "covenant of grace" with Christian parents. 

     The answer to these questions is easy.  The Biblical word "gospel" will not do for the covenant theologian what the non-Biblical phrase "covenant of grace" will do for him.  If he says, "God preached the gospel of grace to Abraham and promised to save him by faith and also promised to save all of his children who would also believe the gospel," he is speaking Biblically and we will agree with him.  However, such Biblical terminology gives him no grounds to baptize a "covenant child."  Even Hodge could not find "justification" for infant baptism without inventing a non-biblical terminology. 

     When the covenant theologian is speaking about the "gospel of grace," he is using Biblical terminology, but when he speaks of "the covenant of grace," he is speaking in purely theological terms with no textual proof.  Why not stick with Biblical terminology and avoid a lot of confusion?  Why add to the Word of God things that are not there?  Why make Paul's statement that "God preached the gospel to Abraham" mean "God put Abraham under the covenant of grace"?  Nothing is gained by ignoring Biblical words and substituting theological terms. However, a lot of confusion and error would be avoided if everyone used the same terms that the Holy Spirit put into the Scripture. Why distort the Scriptures that clearly state that "God preached the gospel to Abraham," and try to make it say that God put "Abraham under a covenant of grace"? 

     A Covenant theologian seeks to establish his basic presuppositions without using specific texts of Scripture simply because he has no clear texts to use.  He must load a word or phrase with the preconceived concepts of his system and then use the loaded word or phrase as if he were quoting an actual text of Scripture. Check how often the Westminster Confession of Faith will use the phrase "commonly called" to establish a point instead of quoting a Bible verse.  They do not use a verse of Scripture simply because they have no verse to use. The "truth" they are seeking to establish did not grow out of texts of Scripture but out of their theological system. By the phrase "commonly called," they really, "We do not have a text of Scripture, but theologians use this word or phrase all the time."  
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     Several other statements found with annoying repetition in the writings of covenant theologians are, "The Standards of our Church declare . . .," or, "The Framers of our Larger Catechism correctly state . . ." I am amazed at how often writers will assume that they have actually proven their point simply because they have quoted the Confession or Catechism! If what they are trying to prove is really Scriptural, then why not use Scripture texts to prove it?  Why not say, "As the Holy Spirit said . . .", and then quote the Word of God? 32 

     The fact that God preached "the gospel to Abraham" does not mean that he was "under a covenant of grace" any more than the fact that the whole city of Nineveh heard the gospel would mean that God put them "under a covenant of grace." The clear truth that God has always saved men "by grace through faith," and it is a clear truth, in no way proves that Israel as a nation was under a "covenant of grace."  Hebrews 3:15 - 4:2 proves beyond question that the Nation of Israel alone was under the great privilege of having the gospel promises. However, most of them died in unbelief and went to hell.  It is one thing to be under the preaching of the gospel of grace, but it is quite another to be under the grace promised in the gospel.  No one "under grace" ever perished!  To be "under a covenant of grace" and "to be secure forever in Christ" are one and the same thing in the Scriptures. The Word of God knows nothing of people perishing in hell who were "under the covenant of grace." 33 

     Israel was under unique privileges that no other nation had.  They had the gospel preached to them as no other nation. The legal covenant at Sinai was given to Israel alone: 

     The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made NOT this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. The Lord talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire... Dt 5:2,3 
The second giving of the Ten Commandments (Old Covenant) then follows (Dt. 5:4-20). The NT Scriptures are crystal clear that the primary function of that legal covenant was to act as a "schoolmaster" to convict Israel of their sin unto justification (Gal. 3:24,25; Rom. 5:20; 7:1-11).  The covenant of law was the handmaid of the gospel of grace to the Nation of Israel, and as such, was one of the greatest blessings that God gave to them.  However, there is a great difference between "a gracious purpose" and "a covenant of grace."  There is no grace in the Law Covenant made at Sinai when it says, "do or die," but it was very gracious of God to give it.  The law covenant served the purpose of grace by killing any hope of salvation by works.  

     The NT Scriptures are very clear that this was the very purpose God had in mind when He put Israel "under law" (Rom. 5:20; Gal. 3:24). The confusion caused by trying to turn the legal covenant at Sinai into a "covenant of grace" becomes glaringly evident when you try to understand what Paul meant by insisting that the primary God-ordained function of the law was death by conviction of sin (II Cor. 3). The contradictions among Covenant Theologians interpreting Paul's view of law are astounding. Just read their many and conflicting views on what Paul meant in Rom. 6:14 when he said "You are not under the law, but under grace."



Finding the Middle: Part 2 What's wrong with Dispensational Theology?

Abraham's Four Seeds
by John G. Reisinger
(New Covenant Theology)
Appendix Number Two
Dispensationalism

     The following material is condensed from the book: "Lewis Sperry Chafer, Major Bible Themes, Revised by John F. Walvoord, Academie Books." I use this source because Lewis Sperry Chafer is recognized as one of the most influential early leaders of Dispensationalism in this country. He was the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary. Dr. John F. Walvoord, recently retired president of the same seminary, is probably the best representative of Dispensationalism as it is understood today. Since Dispensationalism does not have a universally accepted creed, this particular book would represent the most widely accepted authority of the past (Chafer) and the present (Walvoord). All the emphasis is mine unless otherwise stated. 

Walvoord emphasizes the importance of Dispensationalism: 

     In the study of Scripture, it is most important to understand that (1) scriptural revelation falls into well defined periods. (2) These are clearly separated, and the recognition of these divisions and their divine purposes constitute one of the most important factors in true interpretation of the Scriptures. (3) These divisions are termed "dispensations," and in successive periods of time different dispensations may be observed . . . . It is probable that the recognition of the dispensations sheds more light on the whole message of the Bible than any other aspect of Biblical study . . . P. 126 

Chafer and Walvoord define the word dispensation as follows: 

     A dispensation can be defined as a stage in the progressive revelation of God constituting a distinctive stewardship or rule of life. Although the concept of a dispensation and an age in the Bible is not precisely the same, it is obvious that each age had its dispensation . . . 

Scofield defines the word "dispensation" this way: 

A dispensation is a period of time during which man is tested in respect of obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God. 
The different dispensations are essential if all men are to be proven truly guilty before God. The various testing periods are necessary in order to "stop every mouth." 

. . . Man's relationship to God is not the same in every age. It has been necessary to bring fallen man into divine testing. This, in part, is God's purpose in the ages, and the result of the testings is in every case an unquestionable demonstration of the utter failure and sinfulness of man. In the end, every mouth will be stopped because every assumption of the human heart will be revealed as foolish and wicked by centuries of experience.29 

     Each dispensation, therefore, begins with man being divinely placed in a new position of privilege and responsibility, and each closes with the failure of man resulting in righteous judgments from God. While there are certain abiding facts such as the holy character of God which are of necessity the same in every age, there are varying instructions and responsibilities which are, as to their application, limited to a given period . . . . In the dispensations God has demonstrated every possible means of dealing with man. In every dispensation man fails and only God's grace is sufficient. In the dispensations is fulfilled God's purpose to manifest His glory, both in the natural world and human history. Throughout eternity no one can raise a question as to whether God could have given man another chance to attain salvation or holiness on his own ability.30 A knowledge of the dispensations is accordingly, the key to understanding God's purpose in history and the unfolding of the Scripture which records God's dealing with man and His divine revelation concerning Himself. Page 126,136. 

29 Paul shows that all men, without exception, to be guilty before God (Rom 1:18-3:19) without any references to or need of dispensations.

30 Could not someone in the second or third dispensation plead that he did not have as much of an opportunity as someone with the added revelation of the fifth or sixth dispensation? Was not the argument of the rich man in Luke 16:27-31 based on this very premise? 

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Here are the basic principles of Dispensationalism: 

     In studying the seven dispensations, certain principles are essential to understanding this teaching. Dispensationalism is derived from natural, or literal, interpretation of the Bible. It is impossible to interpret the Bible in its normal, literal sense without realizing that there are different ages and different dispensations. A second principle is that of progressive revelation, that is, the fact recognized by nearly all students of Scripture, that revelation is given by stages. Third, all expositors of the Bible will need to recognize that later revelation to some extent supersedes earlier revelation with a resulting change in rules of life in which earlier requirements may be changed or withdrawn and new requirements added. For instance, while God commanded Moses to kill a man for gathering sticks on Saturday (Num. 15:32-36), no one would apply this command today because we live in a different dispensation. Page 128. 

Most, not all, dispensationalists hold to seven dispensations. Here is Chafer and Walvoord's outline: 
1. Dispensation of innocence: Age of Liberty. Begins at Gen 1:26,27 and ends at Gen 3:6. 
2. Dispensation of conscience: Age of Human Determination. Begins at Gen 3:7 and ends at Gen 8:19. 
3. Dispensation of human government: Covenant With Noah. Begins at Gen 8:20 and ends at Gen 11:9. 
4. Dispensation of promise: Covenant With Abraham. Begins at Gen 11:10 and ends at Ex 19:3. 
5. Dispensation of law: [The Nation of Israel] Begins at Ex 19:4 and ends at Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost. 

     In one sense the dispensation of the law ended at the cross (Rom. 10:4, 2 Cor. 3:11-14; Gal. 3:19,25). But in another sense it was not concluded until the day of Pentecost, when the dispensation of Grace began. Although the law ended as a specific rule of life, it continues to be a revelation of the righteousness of God and can be studied with profit by Christians in determining the holy character of God. The moral principles underlying the law continue, since God does not change; but believers today are not obliged today to keep the details of the law, as the dispensation has changed and the rule of life given Israel is not the rule of life for the church. Although many applications of the law may be made, a strict interpretation relates the Mosaic law to Israel only. P.134 

6. Dispensation of grace: [The Church] Begins at Acts 2 and ends at the Rapture of the Church. The dispensation of grace was directed to the church alone . . . Under grace, however, failure also was evident as grace produced neither worldwide acceptance of Christ nor a triumphant church . . . The dispensation of grace ends with the rapture of the church, which will be followed by the judgment of the professing church (Rev. 17:16). 

     The age of grace is a different dispensation in that it concerns the church comprising Jewish and Gentile believers. By contrast, the law of Israel was for Israel only, human government was for the entire world, and conscience extends to all people. In the present dispensation, the mosaic law is completely canceled as to its immediate application, but continues to testify to the holiness of God and provides many spiritual lessons by application. Although all dispensations contain a gracious element, the dispensation of grace is the supreme manifestation both in the fullness of salvation received and in the rule of life. Page 135 

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7. Dispensation of the kingdom: [The Millennium] Begins at the Second Coming and ends with the destruction of the earth and heaven by fire and is followed by the eternal state (Rev. 21 -22).

     The dispensation of the kingdom begins with the second coming (Matt. 24; Rev. 19) and is preceded by a period of time including the Tribulation, which to some extent is a transitional period . . . 

     In the millennial kingdom, divine grace is also revealed in fulfillment of the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34), in salvation (Isa. 12), in physical and temporal prosperity (Isa 35), in abundance of revelation (Jer. 31:33,34), forgiveness of sin (Jer. 31:34), and in the regathering of Israel (Isa. 11:11,12; Jer. 30:1-11; Ezek. 39:25-29) . . . 

     The dispensation of the kingdom differs from all preceding dispensations in that it is the final form of moral testing. The advantages of the dispensation include a perfect government, the immediate presence of Christ, universal knowledge of God and the terms of salvation, and Satan rendered inactive. In many respects the dispensation of the kingdom is climatic and brings to consummation God's dealing with man." Page 136 
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Finding the Middle: Part 1 What's wrong with Covenant Theology?

Abraham's Four Seeds
by John G. Reisinger
(New Covenant Theology)

Appendix Number One
Covenant Theology
     All of the following quotations are taken from the Westminster Confession of Faith. This is the most widely accepted and revered document to come out of the Reformation. This source represents both the historical and the present view of consistent Covenant Theology. Recently there have been great differences of opinion on what the Confession actually means and how it is to be worked out, but to my knowledge no Presbyterian group has challenged the Confession itself in the area of covenants, the law or the church. 
Basic presupposition: Covenants are the "key" to understanding and unifying all of Scripture. 

1. Man is always in covenant relationship with God. 
"The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God's part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant." 1 Chapter 7, Section 1 
1 Isa. 40:13-17; Job 9:32,33; I Sam. 2:25; Ps. 113:5,6; Ps. 100:2,3; Job 22:2,3; 35:7,8; Luke 17:10; Acts 17:24,25. 

2. The whole of Scripture is covered by two covenants. 
      (A)The first is the Covenant of Works made with Adam in the garden prior to his fall. 
     (B) The second is the Covenant of Grace made with Adam immediately after his fall.

    (A) The Covenant of Works: The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, 1 wherein life was promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity, 2 upon condition of perfect and personal obedience." 3 Chapter 7, Section 2 
1 Gal. 3:12. 2 Rom. 10:5; 5:12-20. 3 Gen. 2:17; Gal 3:10. 

     (B). The Covenant of Grace: "Man by his fall having made himself incapable of life by that covenant [covenant of works], the Lord was pleased to make a second, 1 commonly called the covenant of grace: whereby he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved; 2 and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto life his Holy Spirit. to make them willing and able to believe. 3 Chapter 7, Section 3. 
1 Gal. 3:21; Rom. 8:3; 3:20,21; Gen. 3:15; Isa 42:6. 2 Mark 16:15,16; John 3:16; Rom 10:6,9; Gal:3:11. 3 Ezek. 36:26,27; John 6:44,45. 
This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel:4 Chapter 7, Section 5. 
4 Heb. 1:1; I Cor. 3:6-9. 

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3. The promised blessing in the covenant of works was life, and Adam was given the ability to "earn" this promised blessing of life by his obedience to the terms of covenant. 
(A) ". . . life was promised to Adam . . . upon condition of perfect and personal obedience." Chapter 7, Section 3. 

(B) "God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which he bound him and his posterity, to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it; and endued him with power and ability to keep it." 1 Chapter 19, Section 1. 
1 Gen 1:26,27; 2:17; Rom 2:14,15; 10:5; 5:12-19; Gal 3:10,12; Eccles. 7:29; Job 28:28. 
4. The content of the covenant of works that Adam was to obey in order to earn "life" was the ten commandments, "commonly called [by NO writer of Scripture] the moral law." 

A. This law [given to Adam as a covenant of works], after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai in ten commandments, and written in two tables . . .1 Chapter 19, Section 2. 
1 James 1:25; 2:8,10-12; Rom 13:8,9; Deut 5:32; 10:4; Ex 34:1. 
5. The proviso of the covenant was "perfect, entire, exact, and personal obedience" for a probationary period." Both Chapter 7, Section 2, and Chapter 19, Section 1 speak of Adam being put "under the covenant of works" and his being promised to be rewarded with life "upon fulfilling" the covenant's conditions. 
6. Adam, by his sin (his failure to obey the covenant of works and earn life), forever lost the opportunity to earn life by works.

A. Man by his fall having made himself incapable [of earning] life by that covenant [by meeting its terms and earning the blessing of life it promised], the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace . . . Chapter 7, Section 3. 
Question: Do the Scriptures ever represent the tragedy of Adam's fall as "losing an opportunity to earn life," or does they represent the fall as Adam losing the life and righteousness that he already had by virtue of the fact that he, Adam, was created righteous in the image of God. No where are we told Adam failed to get something that he did not have. It always speaks of his losing something that he already had. (Compare the Heidelburg Confession where the whole idea of a "covenant of works" is conspicuous by its absence.) 
The so-called "Covenant of Grace" is in reality the message of the gospel of grace. This "covenant," or actually the gospel of grace, enables sinners today to secure, by faith, what Adam would have earned if he had kept the covenant of works. Nowhere do the Scriptures suggest such an idea or comparison. 

Since there is only one unchanging Covenant of Grace (The basic assumption of Covenant Theology), some very logical deductions follow: 

1. There can only be one Church, therefore the Nation of Israel has to be one with the Church today. 

2. The visible signs, seals and forms of worship change under the "new administration," but the one and same covenant is unchanged and still in force. 

3. Since the "moral law" (Tablets of Stone) expresses the nature of God, those tables are the one unchanging canon of conduct that governs the one people of God in all ages. Christ (in the Sermon on the Mount) and the Apostles (in the Epistles) reaffirm the authority of the "moral law" (Tablets of Stone) and show us true meaning of the unchanging written on those covenantal tablets. Neither Christ nor His Apostles add any "higher laws" to the "one unchanging moral law written on the Tables of Stone." The Ten Commandments must be the highest standard of morality that was ever given. 

4. Since Israel is the Church and is under the same covenant as the Church is under today, then children of believing parents must still be considered a part of the Church and should be "signed and sealed" in Baptism as covenant children. Under the "new administration" of the one and same covenant only the covenant sign changes, and baptism replaces circumcision. The Sabbath has to be part of the "one unchanging moral law," but the day is changed from the seventh to the first, etc. All that changes is the "administration" of the one and same covenant. The visible signs and seals change but not the covenant. There can only be "one covenant with two administration." If this concept can be shown to clearly contradict the New Covenant Scriptures, then the whole system upon which the concept is built is destroyed. That is Covenant Theology! 
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"I am NOT writing a new commandment to you...On the other hand, I AM writing a new commandment to you" 1 John 2:7-8 (cf John 13:34)



John Chrysostom (c. 347–407, Greek: Ἰωάννης ὁ Χρυσόστομος), Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic sensibilities.


St. John, named Chrysostom (golden-mouthed) on account of his eloquence, came into the world of Christian parents, about the year 344, in the city of Antioch. His mother, at the age of 20, was a model of virtue. He studied rhetoric under Libanius, a pagan, the most famous orator of the age. In 374, he began to lead the life of an anchorite in the mountains near Antioch, but in 386 the poor state of his health forced him to return to Antioch, where he was ordained a priest.

In 398, he was elevated to the See of Constantinople and became one of the greatest lights of the Church. But he had enemies in high places and some were ecclesiastics, not the least being Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, who repented of this before he died. His most powerful enemy, however, was the empress Eudoxia, who was offended by the apostolic freedom of his discourses. Several accusations were brought against him in a pseudo-council, and he was sent into exile.

In the midst of his sufferings, like the apostle, St. Paul, whom he so greatly admired, he found the greatest peace and happiness. He had the consolation of knowing that the Pope remained his friend, and did for him what lay in his power. His enemies were not satisfied with the sufferings he had already endured, and they banished him still further, to Pythius, at the very extremity of the Empire. He died on his way there on September 14, 407.

Homily 16 on Matthew

Think not that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets.
Why, who suspected this? Or who accused Him, that He should make a defense against this charge? Since surely from what had gone before no such suspicion was generated. For to command men to be meek, and gentle, and merciful, and pure in heart, and to strive for righteousness, indicated no such design, but rather altogether the contrary.
Wherefore then can He have said this? Not at random, nor vainly: but inasmuch as He was proceeding to ordain commandments greater than those of old, saying, It was said to them of old time, You shall not kill; but I say unto you, Be not even angry; and to mark out a way for a kind of divine and heavenly conversation; in order that the strangeness thereof might not disturb the souls of the hearers, nor dispose them quite to mutiny against what He said He used this means of setting them right beforehand.
For although they fulfilled not the law, yet nevertheless they were possessed with much conscientious regard to it; and while they were annulling it every day by their deeds, the letters thereof they would have remain unmoved, and that no one should add anything more to them. Or rather, they bore with their rulers adding thereto, not however for the better, but for the worse. For so they used to set aside the honor due to our parents by additions of their own, and very many others also of the matters enjoined them, they would free themselves of by these unseasonable additions.
Therefore, since Christ in the first place was not of the sacredotal tribe, and next, the things which He was about to introduce were a sort of addition, not however lessening, but enhancing virtue; He knowing beforehand that both these circumstances would trouble them, before He wrote in their mind those wondrous laws, casts out that which was sure to be harboring there. And what was it that was harboring there, and making an obstacle?

2. They thought that He, thus speaking, did so with a view to the abrogation of the ancient institutions. This suspicion therefore He heals; nor here only does He so, but elsewhere also again. Thus, since they accounted Him no less than an adversary of God, from this sort of reason, namely, His not keeping the sabbath; He, to heal such their suspicion, there also again sets forth His pleas, of which some indeed were proper to Himself; as when He says, My Father works, and I work; John 5:17 but some had in them much condescension, as when He brings forward the sheep lost on the sabbath day, Matthew 12:11 and points out that the law is disturbed for its preservation, and makes mention again of circumcision, as having this same effect. John 7:23
Wherefore we see also that He often speaks words somewhat beneath Him, to remove the semblance of His being an adversary of God.
For this cause He who had raised thousands of the dead with a word only, when He was calling Lazarus, added also a prayer; and then, lest this should make Him appear less than Him that begot Him, He, to correct this suspicion, added, I said these things, because of the people which stands by, that they may believe that you have sent me. And neither does He work all things as one who acted by His own power, that He might thoroughly correct their weakness; nor does He all things with prayer, lest He should leave matter of evil suspicion to them that should follow, as though He were without strength or power: but He mingles the latter with the former, and those again with these. Neither does He this indiscriminately, but with His own proper wisdom. For while He does the greater works authoritatively, in the less He looks up unto Heaven. Thus, when absolving sins, and revealing His secrets, and opening Paradise, and driving away devils, and cleansing lepers, and bridling death, and raising the dead by thousands, He did all by way of command: but when, what was much less than these, He was causing many loaves to spring forth out of few, then He looked up to Heaven: signifying that not through weakness He does this. For He who could do the greater with authority, how in the lesser could He need prayer? But as I was saying, He does this to silence their shamelessness. The same reckoning, then, I bid you make of His words also, when you hear Him speak lowly things. For many in truth are the causes both for words and for actions of that cast: as, for instance, that He might not be supposed alien from God; His instructing and waiting on all men; His teaching humility; His being encompassed with flesh; the Jews' inability to hear all at once; His teaching us to utter no high word of ourselves. For this cause many times, having in His own person said much that is lowly of Himself, the great things He leaves to be said by others. Thus He Himself indeed, reasoning with the Jews, said, Before Abraham was, I Am: John 8:58 but His disciple not thus, but, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
Again, that He Himself made Heaven, and earth, and sea, and all things visible and invisible, in His own person He nowhere expressly said: but His disciple, speaking plainly out, and suppressing nothing, affirms this once, twice, yea often: writing that all things were made by Him; and, without Him was not one thing made; and, He was in the world, and the world was made by Him.
And why marvel, if others have said greater things of Him than He of Himself; since (what is more) in many cases, what He showed forth by His deeds, by His words He uttered not openly? Thus that it was Himself who made mankind He showed clearly even by that blind man; but when He was speaking of our formation at the beginning, He said not, I made, but He who made them, made them male and female. Matthew 19:4 Again, that He created the world and all things therein, He demonstrated by the fishes, by the wine, by the loaves, by the calm in the sea, by the sunbeam which He averted on the Cross; and by very many things besides: but in words He has nowhere said this plainly, though His disciples are continually declaring it, both John, and Paul, and Peter.
For if they who night and day hear Him discourse, and see Him work marvels; to whom He explained many things in private, and gave so great power as even to raise the dead; whom He made so perfect, as to forsake all things for Him: if even they, after so great virtue and self-denial, had not strength to bear it all, before the supply of the Spirit; how could the people of the Jews, being both void of understanding, and far behind such excellency, and only by hazard present when He did or said anything, how could they have been persuaded but that He was alien from the God of all, unless he had practised such great condescension throughout?
For on this account we see that even when He was abrogating the sabbath, He did not as of set purpose bring in such His legislation, but He puts together many and various pleas of defense. Now if, when He was about to cause one commandment to cease, He used so much reserve in His language, that He might not startle the hearers; much more, when adding to the law, entire as it was, another entire code of laws, did He require much management and attention, not to alarm those who were then hearing Him.
For this same cause, neither do we find Him teaching everywhere clearly concerning His own Godhead. For if His adding to the law was sure to perplex them so greatly, much more His declaring Himself God.

3. Wherefore many things are uttered by Him, far below His proper dignity, and here when He is about to proceed upon His addition to the law, He has used abundance for correction beforehand. For neither was it once only that He said, I do not abrogate the law, but He both repeated it again, and added another and a greater thing; in that, to the words, Think not that I have come to destroy, He subjoined, I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
Now this not only obstructs the obstinacy of the Jews, but stops also the mouths of those heretics, who say that the old covenant is of the devil. For if Christ came to destroy his tyranny, how is this covenant not only not destroyed, but even fulfilled by Him? For He said not only, I do not destroy it; though this had been enough; but I even fulfill it: which are the words of one so far from opposing himself, as to be even establishing it.
And how, one may ask, did He not destroy it? In what way did He rather fulfill either the law or the prophets? The prophets He fulfilled, inasmuch as He confirmed by His actions all that had been said concerning Him; wherefore also the evangelist used to say in each case, That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet. Both when He was born, Matthew 1:22-23 and when the children sung that wondrous hymn to Him, and when He sat on the ass, Matthew 21:5-16 and in very many more instances He worked this same fulfillment: all which things must have been unfulfilled, if He had not come.
But the law He fulfilled, not in one way only, but in a second and third also. In one way, by transgressing none of the precepts of the law. For that He did fulfill it all, hear what He says to John, For thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness. Matthew 3:15 And to the Jews also He said, Which of you convinces me of sinJohn 8:46 And to His disciples again, The prince of this world comes, and finds nothing in me. John 14:30 And the prophet too from the first had said that He did no sinIsaiah 53:9
This then was one sense in which He fulfilled it. Another, that He did the same through us also; for this is the marvel, that He not only Himself fulfilled it, but He granted this to us likewise. Which thing Paul also declaring said, Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believesRomans 10:4 And he said also, that He judged sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh. Romans 8:3-4 And again, Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid! Yea, we establish the law. Romans 3:31 For since the law was laboring at this, to make man righteous, but had not power, He came and brought in the way of righteousness by faith, and so established that which the law desired: and what the law could not by letters, this He accomplished by faith. On this account He says, I am not come to destroy the law.

4. But if any one will inquire accurately, he will find also another, a third sense, in which this has been done. Of what sort is it then? In the sense of that future code oflaws, which He was about to deliver to them.
For His sayings were no repeal of the former, but a drawing out, and filling up of them. Thus, not to kill, is not annulled by the saying, Be not angry, but rather is filled up and put in greater security: and so of all the others.
Wherefore, you see, as He had before unsuspectedly cast the seeds of this teaching; so at the time when from His comparison of the old and new commandments, He would be more distinctly suspected of placing them in opposition, He used His corrective beforehand. For in a covert way He had indeed already scattered those seeds, by what He had said. Thus, Blessed are the poor, is the same as that we are not to be angry; and, Blessed are the pure in heart, as not to look upon a woman forlust; and the not laying up treasures on earth, harmonizes with, Blessed are the merciful; and to mourn also, to be persecuted and reviled, coincide withentering in at the strait gate; and, to hunger and thirst after righteousness, is nothing else than that which He says afterwards, Whatsoever ye would that menshould do to you, do ye also to them. And having declared the peace-maker blessed, He again almost said the same, when He gave command to leave the gift, and hasten to reconciliation with him that was grieved, and about agreeing with our adversary.
But there He set down the rewards of them that do right, here rather the punishments of them who neglect practice. Wherefore as in that place He said, The meek shall inherit earth; so here, He who calls his brother fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire; and there, The pure in heart shall see God; here, he is a complete adulterer who looks unchastely. And having there called the peace-makers, sons of God; here He alarms us from another quarter, saying, Lest at any time the adversary deliver you to the judge. Thus also, whereas in the former part He blesses them that mourn, and them that are persecuted; in the following, establishing the very same point, He threatens destruction to them that go not that way; for, They that walk 'in the broad way,' says He, 'make their end there.' And, You cannot serve God andmammon, seems to me the same with, Blessed are the merciful, and, those that hunger after righteousness.
But as I said, since He is going to say these things more clearly, and not only more clearly, but also to add again more than had been already said (for He no longer merely seeks a merciful man, but bids us give up even our coat; not simply a meek person, but to turn also the other cheek to him that would smite us): therefore He first takes away the apparent contradiction.
On this account, then, as I have already stated, He said this not once only, but once and again; in that to the words, Think not that I have come to destroy, He added, I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
For verily I say unto you, Till Heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all come to pass.
Now what He says is like this: it cannot be that it should remain unaccomplished, but the very least thing therein must needs be fulfilled. Which thing He Himself performed, in that He completed it with all exactness.
And here He signifies to us obscurely that the fashion of the whole world is also being changed. Nor did He set it down without purpose, but in order to arouse the hearer, and indicate, that He was with just cause introducing another discipline; if at least the very works of the creation are all to be transformed, and mankind is to be called to another country, and to a higher way of practising how to live.
5. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of HeavenMatthew 5:19
Thus, having rid Himself of the evil suspicion, and having stopped the mouths of them who would fain gainsay, then at length He proceeds to alarm, and sets down a heavy, denunciation in support of the enactments He was entering on.
For as to His having said this in behalf not of the ancient laws, but of those which He was proceeding to enact, listen to what follows, For I say unto you, says He,Unless your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of Heaven.
For if He were threatening with regard to the ancient laws, how said He, except it shall exceed? since they who did just the same as those ancients, could not exceed them on the score of righteousness.
But of what kind was the required excess? Not to be angry, not even to look upon a woman unchastely.
For what cause then does He call these commandments least, though they were so great and high? Because He Himself was about to introduce the enactment of them; for as He humbled Himself, and speaks of Himself frequently with measure, so likewise of His own enactments, hereby again teaching us to be modest in everything. And besides, since there seemed to be some suspicion of novelty, He ordered His discourse for a while with reserve.
But when you hear, least in the kingdom of Heaven, surmise nothing but hell and torments. For He was used to mean by the kingdom, not merely the enjoyment thereof, but also the time of the resurrection, and that awful coming. And how could it be reasonable, that while he who called his brother fool, and trangressed but one commandment, falls into hell; the breaker of them all, and instigator of others to the same, should be within the kingdom. This therefore is not what He means, but that such a one will be at that time least, that is, cast out, last. And he that is last will surely then fall into hell. For, being God, He foreknew the laxity of the many, He foreknew that some would think these sayings were merely hyperbolical, and would argue about the laws, and say, What, if any one call another a fool, is he punished? If one merely look on a woman, does he become an adulterer? For this very cause He, destroying such insolence beforehand, has set down the strongest denunciation against either sort, as well them who transgress, as them who lead on others so to do.
Knowing then His threat as we do, let us neither ourselves transgress, nor discourage such as are disposed to keep these things.
But whosoever shall do and teach, says He, shall be called great.
For not to ourselves alone, should we be profitable, but to others also; since neither is the reward as great for him who guides himself aright, as for one who with himself adds also another. For as teaching without doing condemns the teacher (for you who teach another, it is said, do you not teach yourself Romans 2:21?) so doing but not guiding others, lessens our reward. One ought therefore to be chief in either work, and having first set one's self right, thus to proceed also to the care of the rest. For on this account He Himself has set the doing before the teaching; to intimate that so most of all may one be able to teach, but in no other way. For one will be told,Physician, heal yourself. Luke 4:23 Since he who cannot teach himself, yet attempts to set others right, will have many to ridicule him. Or rather such a one will have no power to teach at all, his actions uttering their voice against him. But if he be complete in both respects, he shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven.

6. For I say unto you, Unless your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of Heaven.Matthew 5:20
Here by righteousness He means the whole of virtue; even as also discoursing of Job, He said, He was a blameless man, righteous. According to the same signification of the word, Paul also called that man righteous for whom, as he said, no law is even set. For, says he, a law is not made for a righteous man. 1 Timothy 1:9 And in many other places too one might find this name standing for virtue in general.
But observe, I pray you, the increase of grace; in that He will have His newly-come disciples better than the teachers in the old covenant. For by Scribes and Phariseeshere, He meant not merely the lawless, but the well-doers. For, were they not doing well, He would not have said they have a righteousness; neither would He have compared the unreal to the real.
And observe also here, how He commends the old law, by making a comparison between it and the other; which kind of thing implies it to be of the same tribe and kindred. For more and less, is in the same kind. He does not, you see, find fault with the old law, but will have it made stricter. Whereas, had it been evil, He would not have required more of it; He would not have made it more perfect, but would have cast it out.
And how one may say, if it be such, does it not bring us into the Kingdom? It does not now bring in them who live after the coming of Christ, favored as they are with more strength, and bound to strive for greater things: since as to its own foster-children, them it does bring in one and all. Yea, for many shall come, says He, from east and west, and shall lie down in the bosoms of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Matthew 8:11 And Lazarus also receiving the great prize, is shown dwelling in Abraham'sbosom. And all, as many as have shone forth with excellency in the old dispensation, shone by it, every one of them. And Christ Himself, had it been in anything evil or alien from Him, would not have fulfilled it all when He came. For if only to attract the Jews He was doing this, and not in order to prove it akin to the new law, and concurrent therewith; wherefore did He not also fulfill the laws and customs of the Gentiles, that He might attract the Gentiles also?
So that from all considerations it is clear, that not from any badness in itself does it fail to bring us in, but because it is now the season of higher precepts.
And if it be more imperfect than the new, neither does this imply it to be evil: since upon this principle the new law itself will be in the very same case. Because in truthour knowledge of this, when compared with that which is to come, is a sort of partial and imperfect thing, and is done away on the coming of that other. For when, says He, that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part shall be done away: 1 Corinthians 13:10 even as it befell the old law through the new. Yet we are not to blame the new law for this, though that also gives place on our attaining unto the Kingdom: for then, says He, that which is in part shall be done away: but for all this we call it great.
Since then both the rewards thereof are greater, and the power given by the Spirit more abundant, in reason it requires our graces to be greater also. For it is no longera land that flows with milk and honey, nor a comfortable old age, nor many children, nor grain and wine, and flocks and herds: but Heaven, and the good things in the Heavens, and adoption and brotherhood with the Only-Begotten, and to partake of the inheritance and to be glorified and to reign with Him, and those unnumbered rewards. And as to our having received more abundant help, hear Paul, when he says, There is therefore no condemnation now to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit: for the law of the Spirit of life has made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

7. And now after threatening the transgressors, and setting great rewards for them that do right, and signifying that He justly requires of us something beyond the former measures; He from this point begins to legislate, not simply, but by way of comparison with the ancient ordinances, desiring to intimate these two things: first, that not as contending with the former, but rather in great harmony with them, He is making these enactments; next, that it was meet and very seasonable for Him to add thereto these second precepts.
And that this may be made yet clearer, let us hearken to the words of the Legislator. What then does He Himself say?
You have heard that it was said to them of old time, You shall not kill. Matthew 5:21
And yet it was Himself who gave those laws also, but so far He states them impersonally. For if on the one hand He had said, You have heard that I said to them of old,the saying would have been hard to receive, and would have stood in the way of all the hearers. If again, on the other hand, after having said, You have heard that it was said to them of old by my Father, He had added, But I say, He would have seemed to be taking yet more on Himself.
Wherefore He has simply stated it, making out thereby one point only; the proof that in fitting season He had come saying these things. For by the words, It was said to them of old, He pointed out the length of the time, since they received this commandment. And this He did to shame the hearer, shrinking from the advance to the higher class of His commandments; as though a teacher should say to a child that was indolent, Do you not know how long a time you have consumed in learning syllables? This then He also covertly intimates by the expression, them of old time, and thus for the future summons them on to the higher order of His instructions: as if He had said, You are learning these lessons long enough, and you must henceforth press on to such as are higher than these.
And it is well that He does not disturb the order of the commandments, but begins first with that which comes earlier, with which the law also began. Yea, for this too suits with one showing the harmony between them.
But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment.
Do you see authority in perfection? Do you see a bearing suited to a legislator? Why, which among prophets ever spoke on this wise? Which among righteous men? Which among patriarchs? None; but, Thus says the Lord. But the Son not so. Because they were publishing their Master's commands, He His Father's. And when I say, His Father's, I mean His own. For mine, says He, are yours, and yours are mine. John 17:10 And they had their fellow-servants to legislate for, He His own servants.
Let us now ask those who reject the law, is, 'Be not angry' contrary to 'Do no murder'? Or is not the one commandment the completion and the development of the other? Clearly the one is the fulfilling of the other, and that is greater on this very account. Since he who is not stirred up to anger, will much more refrain from murder; and he who bridles wrath will much more keep his hands to himself. For wrath is the root of murder. And you see that He who cuts up the root will much more remove the branches; or rather, will not permit them so much as to shoot out at all. Not therefore to abolish the law did He make these enactments, but for the more complete observation of it. For with what design did the law enjoin these things? Was it not, that no one might slay his neighbor? It follows, that he who was opposing the law would have to enjoin murder. For to murder, were the contrary to doing no murder. But if He does not suffer one even to be angry, the mind of the law is established by Him more completely. For he that studies to avoid murder will not refrain from it equally with him that has put away even anger; this latter being further removed from the crime.

8. But that we may convict them in another way also, let us bring forward all their allegations. What then do they affirm? They assert that the God who made the world, who makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, who sends the rain on the just and on the unjust, is in some sense an evil being. But the more moderate (forsooth) among them, though declining this, yet while they affirm Him to be just, they deprive Him of being good. And some other one, who is not, nor made any of the things that are, they assign for a Father to Christ. And they say that he, who is not good, abides in his own, and preserves what are his own; but that He, that is good, seeks what are another's, and desires of a sudden to become a Saviour to them whose Creator He was not. Do you see the children of the devil, how they speak out of the fountain of their father, alienating the work of creation from God: while John cries out, He came unto His own, and, The world was made by Him?
In the next place, they criticise the law in the old covenant, which bids put out an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; and straightway they insult and say,Why, how can He be good who speaks so?
What then do we say in answer to this? That it is the highest kind of philanthropy. For He made this law, not that we might strike out one another's eyes, but that fear of suffering by others might restrain us from doing any such thing to them. As therefore He threatened the Ninevites with overthrow, not that He might destroy them, (for had that been His will, He ought to have been silent), but that He might by fear make them better, and so quiet His wrath: so also has He appointed a punishment for those who wantonly assail the eyes of others, that if good principle dispose them not to refrain from such cruelty, fear may restrain them from injuring their neighbor's sight.
And if this be cruelty, it is cruelty also for the murderer to be restrained, and the adulterer checked. But these are the sayings of senseless men, and of those that are mad to the extreme of madness. For I, so far from saying that this comes of cruelty, should say, that the contrary to this would be unlawful, according to men's reckoning. And whereas, you say, Because He commanded to pluck out an eye for an eye, therefore He is cruel; I say, that if He had not given this commandment, then He would have seemed, in the judgment of most men, to be that which you say He is.
For let us suppose that this law had been altogether done away, and that no one feared the punishment ensuing thereupon, but that license had been given to all thewicked to follow their own disposition in all security, to adulterers, and to murderers, to perjured persons, and to parricides; would not all things have been turned upside down? Would not cities, market-places, and houses, sea and land, and the whole world, have been filled with unnumbered pollutions and murders? Every one sees it. For if, when there are laws, and fear, and threatening, our evil dispositions are hardly checked; were even this security taken away, what is there to prevent men's choosingvice? And what degree of mischief would not then come revelling upon the whole of human life?
The rather, since cruelty lies not only in allowing the bad to do what they will, but in another thing too quite as much; to overlook, and leave uncared for, him who has done no wrong, but who is without cause or reason suffering ill. For tell me; were any one to gather together wicked men from all quarters, and arm them with swords, and bid them go about the whole city, and massacre all that came in their way, could there be anything more like a wild beast than he? And what if some other should bind, and confine with the utmost strictness those whom that man had armed, and should snatch from those lawless hands them, who were on the point of being butchered; could anything be greater humanity than this?
Now then, I bid you transfer these examples to the law likewise; for He that commands to pluck out an eye for an eye, has laid the fear as a kind of strong chain upon the souls of the bad, and so resembles him, who detains those assassins in prison; whereas he who appoints no punishment for them, does all but arm them by such security, and acts the part of that other, who was putting the swords in their hands, and letting them loose over the whole city.
Do you see not, how the commandments, so far from coming of cruelty, come rather of abounding mercy? And if on account of these you call the Lawgiver grievous, and hard to bear with; tell me which sort of command is the more toilsome and grievous, Do no murder, or, Be not even angry? Which is more in extreme, he who exacts a penalty for murder, or for mere anger? He who subjects the adulterer to vengeance after the fact, or he who enjoins a penalty even for the very desire, and that penalty everlasting? See ye not how their reasoning comes round to the very contrary? How the God of the old covenant, whom they call cruel, will be found mild and meek: and He of the new, whom they acknowledged to be good, will be hard and grievous, according to their madness? Whereas we say, that there is but one and the same Legislator of either covenant, who dispensed all meetly, and adapted to the difference of the times the difference between the two systems of law. Therefore neither are the first commandments cruel, nor the second hard and grievous, but all of one and the same providential care.
For that He Himself gave the old covenant also, hear the affirmation of the prophet, or rather (so we must speak), of Him who is both the one and the other: I will make a covenant with you, not according to the covenant which I made with your fathers. Jeremiah 31:31-32
But if he receive not this, who is diseased with the Manichæan doctrines, let him hear Paul saying the very same in another place, For Abraham had two sons, one by the bondmaid, and another by the free woman; and these are two covenants. Galatians 4:22 As therefore in that case the wives are different, the husband the same; so here too the covenants are two, the Lawgiver one.
And to prove to you that it was of one and the same mildness; in the one He says, An eye for an eye, but in this other,
If one smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matthew 5:39
For as in that case He checks him that does the wrong with the fear of this suffering, even so also in this. How so, it may be said, when He bids turn to him the other cheek also? Nay, what of that? Since not to take away his fear did He enjoin this, but as charging yourself to allow him to take his fill entirely. Neither did He say, that the other continues unpunished, but, do not thou punish; at once both enhancing the fear of him that smites, if he persist, and comforting him who is smitten.

9. But these things we have said, as one might say them incidentally, concerning all the commandments. Now we must go on to that which is before us, and keep to the thread of what had been affirmed. He that is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: so He speaks. Thus He has not altogether taken the thing away: first, because it is not possible, being a man, to be freed from passions: we may indeed get the dominion over them, but to be altogether without them is out of the question.
Next, because this passion is even useful, if we know how to use it at the suitable time. See, for instance, what great good was wrought by that anger of Paul, which he felt against the Corinthians, on that well-known occasion; and how, as it delivered them from a grievous pest, so by the same means again he recovered the people of the Galatians likewise, which had fallen aside; and others too beside these. What then is the proper time for anger? When we are not avenging ourselves, but checking others in their lawless freaks, or forcing them to attend in their negligence.
And what is the unsuitable time? When we do so as avenging ourselves: which Paul also forbidding, said Avenge not yourselves, dearly beloved, but rather give place unto wrathRomans 12:19 When we are contending for riches: yea, for this has he also taken away, where he says, Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? 1 Corinthians 6:7 For as this last sort is superfluous, so is the first necessary and profitable. But most men do the contrary; becoming like wild beasts when they are injured themselves, but remiss and cowardly when they see despite done to another: both which are just opposite to the laws of the Gospel.
Being angry then is not a transgression, but being so unseasonably. For this cause the prophet also said, Be angry, and sin not.

10. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council.
By the council in this place He means the tribunal of the Hebrews: and He has mentioned this now, on purpose that He might not seem everywhere to play the stranger and innovator.
But this word, Raca, is not an expression of a great insolence, but rather of some contempt and slight on the part of the speaker. For as we, giving orders either to our servants, or to any very inferior person, say, Away with you; you here, tell such an one: so they who make use of the Syrians' language say, Raca, putting that word instead of you. But God, the lover of man, roots up even the least faults, commanding us to behave to one another in seemly manner, and with due respect; and this with a view of destroying hereby also the greater.
But whosoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
To many this commandment has appeared grievous and galling, if for a mere word we are really to pay so great a penalty. And some even say that it was spoken rather hyperbolically. But I fear lest, when we have deceived ourselves with words here, we may in deeds there suffer that extreme punishment.
For wherefore, tell me, does the commandment seem over burdensome? Do you not know that most punishments and most sins have their beginning from words? Yea, for by words are blasphemies, and denials are by words, and revilings, and reproaches, and perjuries, and bearing false witness. Regard not then its being a mere word, but whether it have not much danger, this do thou inquire. Are you ignorant that in the season of enmity, when wrath is inflamed, and the soul kindled, even the least thing appears great, and what is not very reproachful is counted intolerable? And often these little things have given birth even to murder, and overthrown whole cities. For just as where friendship is, even grievous things are light, so where enmity lies beneath, very trifles appear intolerable. And however simply a word be spoken, it is surmised to have been spoken with an evil meaning. And as in fire: if there be but a small spark, though thousands of planks lie by, it does not easily lay hold of them; but if the flame have waxed strong and high, it readily seizes not planks only, but stones, and all materials that fall in its way; and by what things it is usually quenched, by the same it is kindled the more (for some say that at such a time not only wood and tow, and the other combustibles, but even water darted forth upon it does but fan its power the more); so is it also with anger; whatever any one may say, becomes food in a moment for this evil conflagration. All which kind of evils Christ checking beforehand, had condemned first him that is angry without a cause to the judgment, (this being the very reason why He said, He that is angry shall be in danger of the judgment); then him that says Raca, to the council. But as yet these are no great things; for the punishments are here. Therefore for him who calls fool He has added the fire of hell, now for the first time mentioning the name of hell. For having before discoursed much of the kingdom, not until then did He mention this; implying, that the former comes of His own love and indulgence towards man, this latter of our negligence.
11. And see how He proceeds little by little in His punishments, all but excusing Himself unto you, and signifying that His desire indeed is to threaten nothing of the kind, but that we drag Him on to such denunciations. For observe: I bade you, says He, not be angry for nought, because you are in danger of the judgment. You have despised the former commandment: see what anger has produced; it has led you on straightway to insult, for you have called your brother 'Raca.' Again, I set another punishment, 'the council.' If you overlook even this, and proceed to that which is more grievous, I visit you no longer with these finite punishments, but with the undying penalty of hell, lest after this you should break forth even to murder. For there is nothing, nothing in the world more intolerable than insolence; it is what has very great power to sting a man's soul. But when the word too which is spoken is in itself more wounding than the insolence, the blaze becomes twice as great. Think it not then a light thing to call another fool. For when of that which separates us from the brutes, and by which especially we are human beings, namely, the mind and the understanding—when of this you have robbed your brother, you have deprived him of all his nobleness.
Let us not then regard the words merely, but realizing the things themselves, and his feeling, let us consider how great a wound is made by this word, and unto how muchevil it proceeds. For this cause Paul likewise cast out of the kingdom not only the adulterous and the effeminate, but the revilers 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 also. And with great reason: for the insolent man mars all the beauty of charity, and casts upon his neighbor unnumbered ills, and works up lasting enmities, and tears asunder the members of Christ, and is daily driving away that peace which God so desires: giving much vantage ground unto the devil by his injurious ways, and making him the stronger. Therefore Christ Himself, cutting out the sinews of the devil's power, brought in this law.
For indeed He makes much account of love: this being above all things the mother of every good, and the badge of His disciples, and the bond which holds together our whole condition. With reason therefore does He remove with great earnestness the roots and the sources of that hatred which utterly spoils it.
Think not therefore that these sayings are in any wise hyperbolical, but consider the good done by them, and admire the mildness of these laws. For there is nothing for which God takes so much pains, as this; that we should be united and knit together one with another. Therefore both in His own person, and by His disciples, as well those in the Old, as in the New Testament, He makes so much account of this commandment; and is a severe avenger and punisher of those who despise the duty. For intruth nothing so effectually gives entrance and root to all wickedness, as the taking away of love. Wherefore He also said, When iniquity abounds, the love of the many shall wax cold. Thus Cain became his brother's murderer; thus Esau; thus Joseph's brethren; thus our unnumbered crimes have come revelling in, this bond being dissevered. You see why He Himself also roots out whatever things injure this, on every side, with great exactness.

12. Neither does He stop at those precepts only which have been mentioned, but adds also others more than those: whereby He signifies how much account He makes thereof. Namely, having threatened by the council, by the judgment, and by hell, He added other sayings again in harmony with the former, saying thus:
If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you; leave there your gift before the altar, and go away; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24
O goodness! O exceeding love to man! He makes no account of the honor due unto Himself, for the sake of our love towards our neighbor; implying that not at all from any enmity, nor out of any desire to punish, had He uttered those former threatenings, but out of very tender affection. For what can be milder than these sayings? Let my service, says he, be interrupted, that your love may continue; since this also is a sacrifice, your being reconciled to your brother. Yea, for this cause He said not,after the offering, or before the offering; but, while the very gift lies there, and when the sacrifice is already beginning, He sends you to be reconciled to your brother; and neither after removing that which lies before us, nor before presenting the gift, but while it lies in the midst, He bids you hasten there.
With what motive then does He command so to do, and wherefore? These two ends, as it appears to me, He is hereby shadowing out and providing for. First, as I have said, His will is to point out that He highly values charity, and considers it to be the greatest sacrifice: and that without it He does not receive even that other; next, He is imposing such a necessity of reconciliation, as admits of no excuse. For whoso has been charged not to offer before he be reconciled, will hasten, if not for love of his neighbor, yet, that this may not lie unconsecrated, to run unto him who has been grieved, and do away the enmity. For this cause He has also expressed it all most significantly, to alarm and thoroughly to awaken him. Thus, when He had said, Leave your gift, He stayed not at this, but added, before the altar (by the very place again causing him to shudder); and go away. And He said not merely, Go away, but He added, first, and then come and offer your gift. By all these things making it manifest, that this table receives not them that are at enmity with each other.
Let the initiated hear this, as many as draw near in enmity: and let the uninitiated hear too: yea, for the saying has some relation to them also. For they too offer a gift and a sacrificeprayer, I mean, and alms giving. For as to this also being a sacrifice, hear what the prophet says: A sacrifice of praise will glorify me; and again,Sacrifice to God a sacrifice of praise; and, The lifting up of mine hands is an evening sacrifice. So that if it be but a prayer, which you are offering in such a frame ofmind, it were better to leave your prayer, and become reconciled to your brother, and then to offer your prayer.
For to this end were all things done: to this end even God became man, and took order for all those works, that He might set us at one.
And whereas in this place He is sending the wrong doer to the sufferer, in His prayer He leads the sufferer to the wrong doer, and reconciles them. For as there He says,Forgive men their debts; so here, If he has ought against you, go your way unto him.
Or rather, even here too He seems to me to be sending the injured person: and for some such reason He said not, Reconcile yourself to your brother, but, Be thou reconciled. And while the saying seems to pertain to the aggressor, the whole of it really pertains to him that is aggrieved. Thus, If you are reconciled to him, says Christ,through your love to him you will have me also propitious, and will be able to offer your sacrifice with great confidence. But if you are still irritated, consider that even I readily command that which is mine to be lightly esteemed, that you may become friends; and let these thoughts be soothing to your anger.
And He said not, When you have suffered any of the greater wrongs, then be reconciled; but, Though it be some trifle that he has against you. And He added not,Whether justly or unjustly; but merely, If he has ought against you. For though it be justly, not even in that case ought thou to protract the enmity; since Christ also was justly angered with us, yet nevertheless He gave Himself for us to be slain, not imputing those trespasses. 2 Corinthians 5:19
For this cause Paul also, when urging us in another way to reconciliation, said, Let not the sun go down upon your wrathEphesians 4:26 For much as Christ by this argument of the sacrifice, so there Paul by that of the day, is urging us on to the self-same point. Because in truth he fears the night, lest it overtake him that is smitten alone, and make the wound greater. For whereas in the day there are many to distract, and draw him off; in the night, when he is alone, and is thinking it over by himself, the waves swell, and the storm becomes greater. Therefore Paul, you see, to prevent this, would fain commit him to the night already reconciled, that the devil may after that have no opportunity, from his solitude, to rekindle the furnace of his wrath, and make it fiercer. Thus also Christ permits not, though it be ever so little delay, lest, the sacrifice being accomplished, such an one become more remiss, procrastinating from day to day: for He knows that the case requires very speedy treatment. And as a skillful physician exhibits not only the preventives of our diseases, but their correctives also, even so does He likewise. Thus, to forbid our calling fool, is a preventive of enmity; but to command reconciliation is a means of removing the diseases that ensue on the enmity.
And mark how both commands are set forth with earnestness. For as in the former case He threatened hell, so here He receives not the gift before the reconciliation, indicating great displeasure, and by all these methods destroying both the root and the produce.
And first of all He says, Be not angry; and after that, revile not. For indeed both these are augmented, the one by the other: from enmity is reviling, from reviling enmity. On this account then He heals now the root, and now the fruit; hindering indeed the evil from ever springing up in the first instance: but if perchance it may have sprouted up and borne its most evil fruit, then by all means He burns it down the more.

13. Therefore, you see, having mentioned, first the judgment, then the council, then hell, and having spoken of His own sacrifice, He adds other topics again, thus speaking:
Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are in the way with him. Matthew 5:25
That is, that you may not say, What then, if I am injured; what if I am plundered, and dragged too before the tribunal? even this occasion and excuse He has taken away: for He commands us not even so to be at enmity. Then, since this injunction was great, He draws His advice from the things present, which are wont to restrain the grosser sort more than the future. Why, what do you say? says He. That your adversary is stronger, and does you wrong? Of course then he will wrong you more, if you do not make it up, but art forced to go into court. For in the former case, by giving up some money, you will keep your person free; but when you have come under the sentence of the judge, you will both be bound, and pay the utmost penalty. But if you avoid the contest there, you will reap two good results: first, not having to suffer anything painful: and secondly, that the good done will be thereafter your own doing, and no longer the effect of compulsion on his part. But if you will not be ruled by these sayings, you wrong not him, so much as yourself.
And see here also how He hastens him; for having said, Agree with your adversary, He added, quickly; and He was not satisfied with this, but even of this quickness He has required a further increase, saying, Whilst you are in the way with him; pressing and hastening him hereby with great earnestness. For nothing does so much turn our life upside down, as delay and procrastination in the performance of our good works. Nay, this has often caused us to lose all. Therefore, as Paul for his part says, Before the sun set, do away the enmity; and as He Himself had said above, Before the offering is completed, be reconciled; so He says in this place also, Quickly, while you are in the way with him, before you have come to the doors of the court; before you stand at the bar and art come to be thenceforth under the sway of him that judges. Since, before entering in, you have all in your own control; but if you set your foot on that threshold, you will not by ever so earnest efforts be able to arrange your matters at your will, having come under the constraint of another.
But what is it to agree? He means either, consent rather to suffer wrong? or, so plead the cause, as if you were in the place of the other; that you may not corrupt justice by self-love, but rather, deliberating on another's cause as your own, may so proceed to deliver your vote in this matter. And if this be a great thing, marvel not; since with this view did He set forth all those His blessings, that having beforehand smoothed and prepared the hearer's soul, he might render it apter to receive all His enactments.
Now some say that He obscurely signifies the devil himself, under the name of the adversary; and bids us have nothing of his, (for this, they say, is to agree with him): no compromise being possible after our departure hence, nor anything awaiting us, but that punishment, from which no prayers can deliver. But to me He seems to be speaking of the judges in this world, and of the way to the court of justice, and of this prison.
For after he had abashed men by higher things, and things future, he alarms them also by such as are in this life. Which thing Paul also does, using both the future and the present to sway his hearer: as when, deterring from wickedness, he points out to him that is inclined to evil, the ruler armed: thus saying, But if you do that which isevil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain; for he is a minister of GodRomans 13:4 And again, enjoining us to be subject unto him, he sets forth not the fear of God only, but the threatening also of the other party, and his watchful care. For you must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.Romans 5:5 Because the more irrational, as I have already said, are wont to be sooner corrected by these things, things which appear and are at hand. Wherefore Christ also made mention, not of hell only, but also of a court of justice, and of being dragged there, and of the prison, and of all the suffering there; by all these means destroying the roots of murder. For he who neither reviles, nor goes to law, nor prolongs enmity, how will he ever commit murder? So that from hence also it is evident, that in the advantage of our neighbor stands our own advantage. For he that agrees with his adversary, will benefit himself much more; becoming free, by his own act, from courts of law, and prisons, and the wretchedness that is there.

14. Let us then be obedient to His sayings; let us not oppose ourselves, nor be contentious; for first of all, even antecedently to their rewards, these injunctions have their pleasure and profit in themselves. And if to the more part they seem to be burdensome, and the trouble which they cause, great; have it in your mind that you are doing it for Christ's sake, and the pain will be pleasant. For if we maintain this way of reckoning at all times, we shall experience nothing burdensome, but great will be the pleasure we reap from every quarter; for our toil will no longer seem toil, but by how much it is enhanced, so much the sweeter and pleasanter does it grow.
When therefore the custom of evil things, and the desire of wealth, keep on bewitching you; do thou war against them with that mode of thinking which tells us, Great is the reward we shall receive, for despising the pleasure which is but for a season; and say to your soul; Are you quite dejected because I defraud you of pleasure? Nay, be of good cheer, for I am introducing you into Heaven. You do it not for man's sake, but for God's. Be patient therefore a little while, and you shall see how great is the gain. Endure for the present life, and you shall receive an unspeakable confidence. For if we would thus discourse with our own soul, and not only consider that which is burdensome in virtue, but take account also of the crown that comes thereof, we shall quickly withdraw it from all wickedness.
For if the devil, holding out pleasure for a season, but pain for ever, is yet strong, and prevails; seeing our case is just the reverse in these matters, the labor temporary, the pleasure and profit immortal, what plea shall we have, if we follow not virtue after so great encouragement? Why, the object of our labors is enough to set against all, and our clear persuasion that for God's sake we are enduring all this. For if one having the king his debtor, thinks he has sufficient security for all his life; consider how great will he be, who has made the Gracious and Everlasting God a debtor to himself, for good deeds both small and great. Do not then allege to me labors and sweats; for not by the hope only of the things to come, but in another way also, God has made virtue easy, assisting us everywhere, and putting His hand to our work. And if you will only contribute a little zeal, everything else follows. For to this end He will have you too to labor a little, even that the victory may be yours also. And just as a king would have his own son present indeed in the array; he would have him shoot with the bow, and show himself, that the trophy may be reckoned his, while he achieves it all Himself: even so does God in our war against the devil: He requires of you one thing alone, that you show forth a sincere hatred against that foe. And if you contribute this to Him, He by Himself brings all the war to an end. Though thou burn with anger, with desire of riches, with any tyrannical passion whatever; if He see you only stripping yourself and prepared against it, He comes quickly to you, and makes all things easy, and sets you above the flame, as He did those children of old in the Babylonian furnace: for they too carried in with them nought but their good will.
In order then that we also may extinguish all the furnace of disordered pleasure here, and so escape the hell that is there, let these each day be our counsels, our cares, and our practice, drawing towards us the favor of God, both by our full purpose concerning good works, and by our frequent prayers. For thus even those things which appear insupportable now, will be most easy, and light, and lovely. Because, so long as we are in our passions, we think virtue rugged and morose and arduous, vicedesirable and most pleasing; but if we would stand off from these but a little, then both vice will appear abominable and unsightly, and virtue easy, mild, and much to be desired. And this you may learn plainly from those who have done well. Hear, for instance, how of those passions Paul is ashamed, even after his deliverance from them, saying, For what fruit had ye then in those things, whereof you are now ashamed? Romans 6:21 But virtue, even after his labor, he affirms to be light, calling the laboriousness of our affliction momentary and light, and rejoicing in his sufferings, and glorying in his tribulations, and taking a pride in the marks wherewith he had been branded for Christ's sake.
In order then that we too may establish ourselves in this habit, let us order ourselves each day by what has been said, and forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, let us press on towards the prize of the high calling: Philippians 3:13-14 unto which God grant that we may all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

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Source. Translated by George Prevost and revised by M.B. Riddle. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First SeriesVol. 10. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co.,1888.Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. .