1 Thessalonians 4
Homilies of Chrysostom
Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
"Finally then, brethren, we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as ye received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye abound more and more. For ye know what charge we gave you through the Lord Jesus Christ. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification."

When he has met what was pressing, and what was upon his hands, and is about henceforth to enter upon things that are perpetual, and which they ought continually to hear, he adds this expression, "finally," that is, always and forever. "We beseech and exhort you in the Lord." Strange! He does not even speak of himself as of sufficient credit to exhort. And yet who was so worthy of credit? But he takes Christ along with him. We exhort you, he says, by God. Which also he said to the Corinthians, "God entreats (exhorts) you through us." (2 Corinthians 5:20.) "That as ye received of us." This "received" is not of words only, but of actions also, viz. "how ye ought to walk," and he means thereby the whole conduct of life. "And to please God, that ye abound more and more." That is, that by more abounding ye do not stop at the limit of the commandments, but that you even go beyond them. For this it is, that "ye abound more and more." In what preceded he accepts the marvel of their firm faith, but here he regulates their life. For this is proficiency, even to go beyond the commandments and the statutes. For no longer from the constraint of a teacher, but from their own voluntary choice, is all this performed. For as the earth ought not to bear only what is thrown upon it, so too ought the soul not to stop at those things which have been inculcated, but to go beyond them. Do you see that he has properly said "to go beyond"? For virtue is divided into these two things, to decline from evil, and to do good. For the withdrawal from evil is not sufficient for the arrival at virtue, but it is a kind of path, and a beginning leading thereto; still we have need of great alacrity. The things therefore to be avoided he tells them in the order of commandment. And justly. For these things indeed being done bring punishment, but not being done, yet bring no praise. The acts of virtue however, such as to give away our goods, and such like, are not of the order of commandment, he says. But what? "He that is able to receive, let him receive." (Matthew 19:12.) It is profitable, therefore, that as he with much fear and trembling had given these commandments to them, he also by these letters reminds them of that his care. Wherefore he does not repeat them, but reminds them of them.

"For ye know," he says, "what charge we gave you through our Lord Jesus Christ. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification." And observe how he nowhere so vehemently glances at any other thing, as at this. As elsewhere also he writes to this effect; "Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14.) And why dost thou wonder, if he everywhere writes to his disciples upon this subject, when even in his Epistle to Timothy he has said, "Keep thyself pure." (1 Timothy 5:22.) Also in his second Epistle to the Corinthians he has said, "In much patience, in fastings, by pureness." (2 Corinthians 6:5, 6.) And one may find this in many places, both in this Epistle to the Romans, and everywhere, and in all his Epistles. For in truth this is an evil pernicious to all. And as a swine full charged with mire, wherever he enters, fills all places with his ill odor, and chokes the senses with dung, so too does fornication; it is an evil not easy to be washed away. But when some even who have wives practice this, how excessive is the outrage! "For this," he says, "is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye abstain from all fornication." For there are many forms of disorderly conduct. The pleasures of wantonness are of many kinds and various, it were not tolerable to mention them. But having said "from all fornication," he leaves it to those who know them.

For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.
For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
Ver. 4, 5. "That each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles which know not God."

He says, "That each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel." It is, then, a matter to be learnt, and that diligently, not to be wanton. But we possess our vessel, when it is pure; when it is impure, sin possesses it. And reasonably. For it does not do the things which we wish, but what sin commands. "Not in the passion of lust," he says. Here he shows also the manner, according to which one ought to be temperate; that we should cut off the passions of lust. For luxury, and wealth, and idleness, and sloth, and ease, and all such things, lead us on to irregular lust. "Even as the Gentiles," he says, "which know not God." For such are they who do not expect that they shall suffer punishment.

Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.
Ver. 6. "That no man transgress, and wrong his brother in the matter."

He has well said, "that no man transgress." To each man God has assigned a wife, he has set bounds to nature, that intercourse with one only: therefore intercourse with another is transgression, and the taking of more than belongs to one, [991] and robbery; or rather it is more cruel than any robbery; for we grieve not so much, when our riches are carried off, as when marriage is invaded. Dost thou call him brother, and wrongest him, and that in things which are unlawful? Here he speaks concerning adultery, but above also concerning "all fornication." For since he was about to say, "That no man transgress and wrong his brother," Do not think, he says, that I say this only in the case of brethren; you must not have the wives of others at all, nor even women that have no husbands, and that are common. You must abstain from "all fornication"; "Because," he says, "the Lord is an avenger in all these things." He exhorted them first, he shamed them, saying, "even as the Gentiles." Then from reasonings he showed the impropriety of defrauding a brother. Afterwards he adds the principal thing; "Because," he says, "the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as also we forewarned you and testified." For we do not these things without being punished, neither do we enjoy so much pleasure, as we undergo punishment.

For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
Ver. 7. "For God called us not for uncleanness, but in sanctification."

Because he had said "his brother," and had also added, that God is the avenger, showing that even if an unbeliever has suffered this, he who has done it shall suffer punishment, he says, it is not as avenging him that He punishes thee, but because thou hast insulted Himself. He Himself called thee, thou hast insulted Him who called thee. On this account, he has added,

He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
Ver. 8. "Therefore he that rejecteth, rejecteth not man, but God, who giveth His Holy Spirit unto you."

So that even if thou shouldest defile the Empress, he says, or even thine own handmaid, that hath a husband, the crime is the same. Why? Because He avenges not the persons that are injured, but Himself. For thou art equally defiled, thou hast equally insulted God; for both the one and the other is adultery, as both the one and the other is marriage. And though thou shouldest not commit adultery, but fornication, though the harlot has no husband, yet nevertheless God avenges, for He avenges Himself. For thou dost this act, not despising the man, [992] so much as God. And it is manifest from this, that thou doest it concealing it from man, but thou pretendest that God doth not see thee. For tell me, if one who was thought worthy of the purple, and of infinite honor from the king (Emperor), and was commanded to live suitably to the honor, should go and defile himself with any woman; whom has he insulted? her, or the king who gave him all? She indeed is insulted too, but not equally.

Wherefore, I beseech you, let us guard against this sin. For as we punish women, when, being married to us, they give themselves to others, so also are we punished, though not by the Roman laws, yet by God. For this also is adultery. For not only is adultery committed in doing so by her who is married to another, but by him also, who is yoked to a wife. Attend carefully to what I say. For although what is said is offensive to many, it is necessary to be said, to set the matter right for the future. Not only is this adultery, when we defile a woman who is married to a man; but if we ourselves being married to a woman defile one who is free and disengaged, the matter is adultery. For what, if she with whom the adultery is committed is not bound? Yet art thou bound. Thou hast transgressed the law. Thou hast injured thine own flesh. For tell me, wherefore dost thou punish thy wife, if she commit fornication with a man who is loosed, and has not a wife? Because it is adultery. Why? Yet he who defiled her has not a wife, but she is bound to a husband. Well then, thou also art bound to a wife; so that in like manner thy offence also is adultery. For it is said, "Every one that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, maketh her an adulteress: and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away, committeth adultery." (Matthew 5:32.) If he who marries her who is divorced commits adultery, he who, with a wife of his own, defiles himself also with that other--it is manifest to every one. But perhaps to you who are men, enough has been said on this subject. For concerning them that are such, Christ says, "Their worm will not die and the fire will not be quenched." (Mark 9:44.) But for the sake of the young it is necessary to speak to you, not to the young themselves so much, but to you. For these things are suitable not to them only, but also to you. And how? I will now tell you. He who has not learnt to commit fornication, will neither know how to commit adultery. But he who walloweth among harlots, will quickly also arrive at the other, and will defile himself, if not with the married, yet with those who are disengaged.

What then do I advise, so as to extirpate the roots? So many of you as have young sons, and are bringing them up to a worldly life, [993] quickly draw them under the yoke of marriage. For since whilst he is yet young desires trouble him, for the time before marriage, by admonitions, threats, fears, promises, and numberless other methods restrain them. But at the season of marriage, let no one defer it. Behold, I speak the words of a match-maker, that you should let your sons marry. But I am not ashamed to speak thus, since not even Paul was ashamed to say, "Defraud ye not one the other" (1 Corinthians 7:5.), which seems more shameful than what I have said; yet he was not ashamed. For he did not pay heed to words, but to the acts that were set right by words. When thy son is grown up, before he enters upon warfare, or any other course of life, consider of his marriage. And if he sees that thou wilt soon take a bride for him, and that the time intervening will be short, he will be able to endure the flame patiently. But if he perceives that thou art remiss and slow, and waitest until he shall acquire a large income, and then thou wilt contract a marriage for him, despairing at the length of the time, he will readily fall into fornication. But alas! the root of evils here also is the love of money. For since no one cares how far his son shall be sober and modest, but all are mad for gold, for this reason no one makes this a matter of concern. Wherefore I exhort you first to regulate well their souls. If he find his bride chaste, and know that body alone, then will both his desire be vehement, and his fear of God the greater, and the marriage truly honorable, receiving bodies pure and undefiled; and the offspring will be full-charged with blessing, and the bride and bridegroom will comply with one another, for both being inexperienced in the manners of others, they will submit to one another. But one that begins when younger to wax wanton, and to have experience of the ways of harlots, for the first and second evening will praise his own wife; but after that he will soon fall back into that wantonness, seeking that dissolute and disorderly laughter, the words that are full of base import, the dissolute deportment, [994] and all the other indecency, which it is not tolerable that we should mention. But a woman of free estate would not endure to make such exhibitions, nor to tarnish herself. For she was espoused to her husband to be his partner in life, and for the procreation of children, not for the purposes of indecency and laughter; that she might keep the house, and instruct him also to be grave, not that she might supply to him the fuel of fornication.

But the gestures [995] of a harlot seem to you agreeable. I know it. For the Scripture says, "The lips of a strange woman drop honey." (Proverbs 5:3.) For on this account I take all this trouble, that ye may have no experience of that honey, for it straightway turns into gall. And this also the Scripture says, "Who for a season is smooth to thy throat, but afterwards thou shalt find her more bitter than gall, and sharper than a two-edged sword." (Proverbs 5:3, 4, Sept.) What sayest thou? Bear with me speaking somewhat impure, if I may say so--and expressing myself as one shameless and unblushing. For I do not submit to this willingly, but on account of those who are shameless in their actions, I am compelled to speak this sort of words. And many such we see even in the Scriptures. For even Ezekiel, reproaching Jerusalem, utters many such things, and is not ashamed. And justly. For he did not say them from his own inclination, but from his concern. For although the words seem to be indecent, yet his aim is not indecent, but even highly becoming one who wishes to banish uncleanness from the soul. For if the shameless soul does not hear the very words, it is not affected. For a physician wishing to remove a putrid sore, first thrusts his fingers into the wound, and if he does not first defile his healing hands, he will not be able to cure it. So it is with me. Unless I first defile my mouth, that heals your passions, I shall not be able to heal you. But rather neither is my mouth defiled, nor his hands. Why then? Because the uncleanness is not that of nature, nor from our own body, [996] as neither in that case from his hands, but from what is another's. But if where the body is another's, he does not refuse to dip his own hands, tell me, shall we refuse, where it is our own body? For you are our body, sickly indeed and impure, but ours nevertheless.

What then is this which I say, and for which I have made so long a digression? A garment indeed which your slave wears, you would not choose ever to wear, being disgusted on account of its filth, but you would rather go naked than make use of it. But a body that is unclean and filthy, and which is used not only by your slave, but by numberless others, that will you abuse, and not be disgusted? Are you ashamed at hearing this? But be ashamed of the actions, not of the words. And I pass over all other things, the rudeness, and the corruption of their manners, the servility and illiberality of the rest of their life. Tell me, should you and your servant go to the same woman? and I wish it were only your servant, and not, it may be, the executioner! And yet you could not bear to take the executioner by the hand; but her who has been made one body with him you kiss and embrace, and do not shudder, nor fear! Are, you not ashamed? are you not abashed? are you not pierced with anguish?

I said indeed to your fathers, that they ought early to lead you to marriage: but nevertheless neither are you without liability to punishment. For if there were not other young men also, more numerous than you, living in chastity, both formerly, and now, there would perhaps be some excuse for you. But if there are, how can you say, that we were not able to restrain the flame of lust? For they, who have been able, are your accusers, in that they are partakers of the same nature. Hear Paul saying, "Follow after peace...and the sanctification, without which no man shall see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14.) Is not this threat sufficient to terrify you? Do you see others continuing altogether in chastity, and in gravity passing their lives; and cannot you command yourself even so long as the period of youth? Do you see others ten thousand times overcoming pleasure, and cannot you once refrain? With your leave, I will tell you the cause. For youth is not the cause, since then all young men would be dissolute. But we thrust ourselves into the fire. For when you go up to the theater, and sit feasting your eyes with the naked limbs of women, for the time indeed you are delighted, but afterwards, you have nourished thence a mighty fever. When you see women exhibited as it were in the form of their bodies and spectacles and songs containing nothing else but irregular loves: such a woman, it is said, loved such a man, and not obtaining him, hanged herself; and unlawful loves having mothers for their object; when you receive these things by hearing also, and through women, and through figures, yea, and even through old men, (for many there put masks upon their faces, and play the parts of women,) tell me, how will you be able to continue chaste afterwards, these narratives, these spectacles, these songs occupying your soul, and dreams of this sort henceforth succeeding. For it is the nature of the soul for the most part to raise visions of such things, as it wishes for and desires in the daytime. Therefore when you there both see base actions, and hear baser words, and receive indeed the wounds but do not apply the remedies, how will not the sore naturally be increased? how will not the disease become more intense; and in a much greater degree than in our bodies? For if we were willing, our will admits of correction more easily than our bodies. For there indeed drugs, and physicians, and time are required, but here it is sufficient having but the will, to become both good and bad. So that you have rather admitted the disorder. When therefore we gather to us indeed the things that injure, but pay no regard to the things that benefit, how can there ever be any health?

On this account Paul said, "even as the Gentiles who knew not God." Let us be ashamed, let us be afraid, if the Gentiles, that know not God, are often chaste. Let us turn for shame, when we are worse than they. It is easy to achieve chastity, if we will, if we withdraw ourselves from those things that are injurious, since it is not even easy to avoid fornication, if we will not. For what is more easy than to walk in the market-place? but from the excess of laziness it is become difficult, not only in the case of women, but sometimes even in that of men. What is more easy than to sleep? but we have made even this difficult. Many however of the rich toss themselves through a whole night, from their not waiting for the need of sleep, and then sleeping. And in short nothing is difficult, when men are willing; as nothing is easy, when they are unwilling; for we are masters of all these things. On this account the Scripture says, "If ye be willing and hear me." (Isaiah 1:19, Sept.) And again, "If ye be unwilling, and hear not." (Ver. 20.) So that all depends upon being willing or unwilling. On this account we both are punished and are praised. But may it be ours, being of those who are praised, to obtain the promised blessings, by the grace and lovingkindness, &c.


[991] pleonexia, E.V. "covetousness." [The corresponding verb is here inadequately translated "wrong." It designates a man who is not content with his own wife, but takes possession of his brother's.--J.A.B.]

[992] ekeinon, i. e. the husband.

[993] [i. e. not designing them to religious celibacy.--J.A.B.]

[994] schemata diakeklasmena. See on 1 Timothy 1:17, Hom. iv. , where he advises the wife to please her husband by modesty and simplicity.

[995] [One ms. has "words," which seems to suit the connection better.--J.A.B.]

[996] Downes would read stomatos, "mouth."

But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
"But concerning love of the brethren we [997] have no need to write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another; for indeed ye do it toward all the brethren, and those which are in all Macedonia."

Why then having discoursed with them earnestly concerning chastity, and being about to discourse about the duty of working, and about the not sorrowing for the departed, does he introduce that which was the principal of all good things, love, as if he were passing it over, saying, "We have no need to write to you"? This also is from his great wisdom, and belongs to spiritual instruction. For here he shows two things. First, that the thing is so necessary, as not to require instruction. For things that are very important are manifest to all. And secondly, by saying this he makes them more ashamed than if he had admonished them. For he who thinks that they have behaved aright, and therefore does not admonish them, even if they had not behaved aright, would the sooner lead them to it. And observe, he does not speak of love towards all, [998] but of that towards the brethren. "We have no need to write unto you." He ought then to have been silent, and to say nothing, if there was no need. But now by saying there is no need, he has done a greater thing, than if he had said it.

"For ye yourselves are taught of God." And see with how high a praise he has made God their Teacher in this matter. Ye need not, he says, to learn from man. Which also the prophet says, "and they shall all be taught of God." (Isaiah 54:13.) "For ye yourselves," he says, "are taught of God to love one another. For indeed ye do it toward all the brethren, and those which are in all Macedonia"; and toward all the others, he means. These words are very encouraging to make them do so. And I do not merely say, that ye are taught of God, but I know it from the things which you do. And in this respect he bore many testimonies to them.

"But we exhort you, brethren, that ye abound more and more, and study;" that is, increase and study.

And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;
And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
Ver. 11, 12. "To be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your hands, even as we charged you: that ye may walk honestly [999] toward them that are without, and may have need of nothing."

He shows of how many evils idleness is the cause, and of how many benefits industry. And this he makes manifest from things which happen among us, as he often does, and that wisely. For by these things the majority are led on more than by spiritual things. For it is a mark of love to our neighbors not to receive from them, but to impart to them. And observe. Being about to exhort and admonish, he places in the middle their good conduct, both that they may recover even from the preceding admonition, and from the threat, when he said, "He therefore that rejecteth, rejecteth not man, but God," and that they may not be restive at this. And this is the effect of working, that one does not receive of others, nor live idly, but by working imparts to others. For it is said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35.) "And to work," he says, "with your hands." Where are those, who look out for work that is spiritual? Seest thou how he takes from them every excuse, saying, "with your hands"? But does one practice fasting with his hands? or watchings all night? or lyings on the ground? This no one can say. But he is speaking of spiritual work. For it is truly spiritual, that one should by working impart to others, and there is nothing equal to this. "That ye may walk," he says, "becomingly." Seest thou whence he touches them? He has not said, that ye may not be shamed by begging. But he has indeed insinuated the same, yet he puts it in a milder way, so as both to strike and not to do this severely. For if those who are among us are offended at these things, much more those who are without, finding numberless accusations and handles, when they see a man who is in good health and able to support himself, begging and asking help of others. Wherefore also they call us Christ-mongers. On this account, he means, "the name of God is blasphemed." (Romans 2:24.) But none of these things has he stated; but that which was able to touch them most nearly, the disgracefulness of the thing.

That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
"But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, which have no hope."

There are many things which from ignorance alone cause us sorrow, so that if we come to understand them well, we banish our grief. This therefore Paul also showing, says, "I would not have you ignorant, that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, which have no hope." Is it on this account thou wouldest not have them ignorant? But wherefore dost thou not speak of the punishment that is laid up? Ignorant, says he, of the doctrine of the Resurrection. But why? This is manifest from the other, and is admitted. But meanwhile, together with that, there will also be this not inconsiderable gain. For since they did not disbelieve the Resurrection, but nevertheless bewailed, on this account he speaks. And he discourses indeed with those who disbelieve the Resurrection in one way, but with these in another. For it is manifest that they knew, who were enquiring about the "times and seasons." (1 Thess. v. 1.)

Ver. 13. "But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, which have no hope."

These two things, poverty and despondency, distressed them most, which also pertain to all men. See therefore how he remedies them. But their poverty arose from their goods being taken from them. But if he commands those, whose goods had been taken from them for Christ's sake, to support themselves by working, much more then others. For that they were taken away is manifest from his saying, Ye became partakers [1000] with the churches of God. How partakers with them? "And ye took joyfully the spoiling of your possessions." (Hebrews 10:34.)

Here he proceeds now to start his discourse concerning the Resurrection. And why? Had he not discoursed with them upon that point? [1001] Yes, but here he glances at some further mystery. What then is this? "That we that are alive," he says, "that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in nowise precede them that are fallen asleep." The discourse then of the Resurrection was sufficient to comfort him that was grieving. But that which is now said is sufficient also to make the Resurrection eminently worthy of credit. But first let us speak of what precedes, "But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, which have no hope." See how here also he treats them mildly. He does not say, "Are ye so without understanding?" as he said to the Corinthians, "foolish"? that, knowing there is a resurrection, ye so sorrow, as those who do not believe; but he speaks very mildly, showing respect to their other virtues. And he has not said "concerning the dead," but "them that are asleep," [1002] even at the beginning suggesting consolation to them. "That ye sorrow not," he says, "even as the rest, which have no hope." Therefore to afflict yourselves for the departed is to act like those who have no hope. And they justly. For a soul that knows nothing of the Resurrection, but thinks that this death is death, naturally afflicts itself, and bewails and mourns intolerably as for lost ones. But thou, who expectest a resurrection, on what account dost thou lament? To lament then is the part of those who have no hope.

Hear this, ye women, as many of you as are fond of wailing, as many as at times of mourning take the sorrow impatiently, that ye act the part of heathens. But if to grieve for the departed is the part of heathens, then tell me whose part it is to beat one's self, and tear the cheeks? On what account do you lament, if you believe that he will rise again, that he has not perished, that the matter is but a slumber and a sleep? You say, On account of his society, his protection, his care of our affairs, and all his other services. When therefore you lose a child at an untimely age, who is not yet able to do anything, on what account do you lament? Why do you seek to recall him? He was displaying, you say, good hopes, and I was expecting that he would be my supporter. On this account I miss my husband, on this account my son, on this account I wail and lament, not disbelieving the Resurrection, but being left destitute of support, and having lost my protector, my companion, who shared with me in all things--my comforter. On this account I mourn. I know that he will rise again, but I cannot bear the intermediate separation. A multitude of troubles rushes in upon me. I am exposed to all who are willing to injure me. Those of my servants who formerly feared me now despise me, and trample upon me. If any one has been benefited, he has forgotten the benefit he received from him; if any one was ill-treated by the departed, to return the grudge against him, he lets loose his anger upon me. These things do not suffer me to bear my widowhood. It is for these things that I afflict myself, for these things I bewail.

How then shall we comfort such? What shall we say? How shall we banish their sorrow? [1003] In the first place I shall endeavor to convict them, that their wailing proceeds not from these things they say, but from an unreasonable passion. For if you mourn for these things, you ought always to mourn the departed. But if when a year has passed away, you forget him as if he had never been, you do not bewail the departed nor his protection. But you cannot endure the separation, nor the breaking off of your society? And what can they say, who even enter into second marriages? Sure enough! It is the former husbands that they long for. But let us not direct our discourse to them, but to those who preserve a kind affection towards the departed. Wherefore dost thou lament thy child? Wherefore thine husband? The former, because I had not enjoyed him, you say; the latter, because I expected that I should have enjoyed him longer. And this very thing, what want of faith does it argue, to suppose that thy husband or thy son constitutes thy safety, and not God! How dost thou not think to provoke Him? For often on this account He takes them away, that thou mayest not be so bound to them, so that it may withdraw thy hopes from them. For God is jealous, and wills to be loved by us most of all things: and that, because He loves us exceedingly. For ye know that this is the custom of those who love to distraction. They are excessively jealous, and would choose rather to throw away their life, than to be surpassed in esteem by any of their rival lovers. On this account also God hath taken him because of these words. [1004]

For, tell me, on what account were there not in old times widowhoods, and untimely orphanhoods? Wherefore did He permit Abraham and Isaac to live a long time? Because even when he was living he preferred God before him. He said indeed, slay; and he slew him. Why did he bring Sarah to so great an age? Because, even whilst she was living, he listened to God rather than to her. For this reason God said to him, "Hear Sarah thy wife." (From Genesis 21:12.) No one then either from love to husband or wife, or on account of the protection of a child, provoked God to anger. But now because we are declining downwards, and have exceedingly fallen off, we men love our wives more than God, and we women honor our husbands more than God. It is on this account that He draws us even against our will to the love of Himself. Love not thy husband more than God, and thou shalt not ever experience widowhood. Or rather, even if it should happen, thou shalt not have the feeling of it. Why? Because thou hast an immortal Protector who loves thee better. If thou lovest God more, mourn not: for He who is more beloved is immortal, and does not suffer thee to feel the loss of him who is less beloved. This I will make manifest to thee by an example. Tell me, if thou hast a husband, complying with thee in all things, one that is respected, and that makes thee honorable everywhere, and not to be despised, one respected amongst all, intelligent and wise, and loving thee, thou being esteemed happy on his account, and in conjunction with him shouldest thou also bring forth a child, and then before it has arrived at the age of maturity, that child should depart; wilt thou then feel the affliction? By no means. For he that is more beloved makes it disappear. And now if thou love God more than thy husband, assuredly He will not soon take him away. But even if He should take him, thou wilt not be sensible of the affliction. For this reason the blessed Job felt no severe suffering, when he heard of the death of his children all at once, because he loved God more than them. And whilst He whom he loved was living, those things would not be able to afflict him.

What sayest thou, O woman? Thy husband or thy son was thy protector? But does not thy God spare thee? Who gave thee thy very husband? Was it not He? And who made thee? Was it not He? He surely who brought thee out of nothing into being, and breathed into thee a soul, and put in thee a mind, and vouchsafed to favor thee with the knowledge of Himself, and for thy sake spared not His only-begotten Son, does not He spare thee? And does thy fellow-servant spare thee? What wrath is due to these words! What of this kind hast thou had from thy husband? Thou canst not say anything. For if he has even done thee any kindness, it was after he had received kindness, you having previously begun. But in the case of God no one can say any such thing. For it is not as having received any favors from us that God benefits us, but being incapable of want, from His goodness alone He does good to mankind. He has promised thee a kingdom, He has given immortal life, glory, brotherhood, adoption. He has made thee fellow-heir with His Only-Begotten. And dost thou after so great benefits remember thy husband? What has he bestowed of this kind? He has made His sun to shine, He has given rain, He sustains thee with yearly nourishment. Woe to us for our great ingratitude!

For this reason He takes thy husband, that thou mayest not seek him. But dost thou still cling to him though departed, and forsakest God, when it was thy duty to give thanks, to cast it all upon Him? For what is it that thou hast received from thy husband? The pains of childbirth, and labors, and insults and reproaches often, and chidings, and bursts of anger. Are not these the things that come from husbands? But there are, you say, other things too that are good. Of what sort then are these? Did he set off thy beauty with costly garments? Did he put gold ornaments about thy face? Did he make thee respected by all? But if thou wilt, thou shalt adorn thyself with a much better ornament than the departed. For gravity makes its possessor much more admirable than golden ornaments. This King also has garments, not of this sort, but much better. With those, if thou wilt, invest thyself. Of what sort then are they? There is a clothing which has fringes of gold; if thou wilt, array the soul. But did he make thee not to be despised by men? And what is there great in that? Thy widowhood suffers thee not to be despised by the demons. Then thou ruledst over thy servants, if at least thou didst at all rule over them. But now, instead of thy servants, thou hast mastery over unbodied powers, principalities, authorities, the ruler of this world. And thou dost not mention the troubles, in which thou sharedst with him, sometimes the fear of magistrates, sometimes the preference given to neighbors. From all these things thou art now delivered, from dread and fear. But art thou solicitous who will support the children that are left thee? The "Father of the fatherless." For tell me, who gave them? Dost thou not hear Christ in the Gospels saying, "Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment?" (Matthew 6:25.)

Seest thou, that thy lamentation is not from loss of his society, but from want of faith. But the children of a father that is dead are not equally illustrious. Wherefore? They have God for their Father, and are they not illustrious? How many can I show you brought up by widows, who have become famous, how many who have been under their fathers, and have been undone! For if thou bringest them up from their first youth, as they ought to be brought up, they will enjoy an advantage much greater than a father's protection. For that it is the business of widows--I speak of the bringing up of children--hear Paul saying, "If she hath brought up children" (1 Timothy 5:10.); and again, "She shall be saved through the child-bearing," (he has not said through her husband,) if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety." (1 Timothy 2:15.) Instill into them the fear of God from their first youth, and He will protect them better than any father; this will be a wall not to be broken. For when there is a guard seated within, we have no need of contrivances without: but where he is not, all our outward contrivances are vain.

This will be to them wealth and glory too and ornament. This will make them illustrious, not upon earth, but even in heaven. For do not look to those who are begirt with the golden girdles, nor those who are borne on horses, nor those who shine in kings' palaces on account of their fathers, nor those who have footmen and tutors. For these things perhaps cause widows to bewail over their orphans, thinking that this my son also, if his father at least were living, would have enjoyed so much happiness; but now he is in a state of depression and dishonor, and worthy of no consideration. Think not of these things, O woman, but open to thee in thought the gates of heaven, consider the palace there, behold the King who is there seated. Consider if those who are upon the earth can be more illustrious than thy son there--and then groan. But if some are of good repute on earth, this is not worth any consideration. It is allowed him, if thou wilt, to be a soldier in heaven, to enlist him in the ranks of that army. For those who are enlisted there are not borne on horses, but in the clouds. They walk not upon earth, but are caught up into heaven. They have not slaves to go before them, but the Angels themselves. They stand not in the presence of a mortal king, but of Him who is immortal, the King of kings and Lord of lords. They have not a leathern girdle about their loins, but that glory which is unspeakable, and they are more splendid than kings, or whoever have been most illustrious. For in those royal courts not wealth is required, nor noble birth, nothing else than virtue alone; and where that is present, nothing is wanting to their obtaining the chief place.

Nothing is painful to us, if we are willing to cultivate wisdom. Look up to heaven, and see how much more splendid it is than the roofs of palaces. And if the pavement of the palaces above is so much more grand than those below, that the one may be considered as dirt in comparison with the other; if any one should be thought worthy to see those palaces perfectly, what blessedness will not be his!

"But she," he says, "that is a widow indeed, and desolate, hath her hope set on God." (1 Timothy 5:5.) To whom is this said? To those who have no [1005] children, because they are more highly approved, and have a greater opportunity of pleasing God, because all their chains are loosened to them. There is no one to hold them fast, no one to compel them to drag their chains after them. Thou art separated from thy husband, but art united to God. Thou hast not a fellow-servant for thy associate, but thou hast thy Lord. When thou prayest, tell me, dost thou not converse with God? When thou readest, hear Him conversing with thee. And what does He say to thee? Much kinder words than thy husband. For though indeed thy husband should flatter thee, the honor is not great, for he is thy fellow-servant. But when the Lord flatters the slave, then is the courtship great. How then does He court us? Hear by what means he does it. "Come," He says, "unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28.) And again through the Prophet He calls, saying, "Will a woman forget to have compassion on the offspring of her womb? But even if a woman should forget, yet will I not forget thee, saith the Lord." (Isaiah 49:15, Sept.) Of how great a love are these words? And again, "Turn unto Me" (Isaiah 45:22.); and again elsewhere, "Turn unto Me, and thou shalt be saved." (Isaiah 44:22.) And if one was willing to select too from the Canticles, taking them in the more mystical way, he will hear Him conversing and saying to every soul that is fitted for Him, "My fair one, my dove." (Cant. ii. 10.) What is sweeter than these words? Seest thou the conversation of God with men? But what? tell me, seest thou not how many children of those blessed women are gone, and are in their tombs; how many have suffered more severely, and with their husbands have lost also their children? To these things let us attend; let us be anxious about these things, and nothing will be grievous to us, but we shall continue passing all our time in spiritual joy; and we shall enjoy the eternal blessings, of which may we all be partakers, by the grace and lovingkindness, &c.


[997] [Chrys. reads "we," as do many N.T. documents; yet "ye" is pretty certainly right, having been altered because "ye have no need to write to you" is a harsh construction. The "and" after "brethren" is quite certainly genuine for Chrys., but has very slight authority for the N.T. text.--J.A.B.]

[998] philadelphia is strictly "lovingness toward brethren," not merely "as of brethren."

[999] [This ought to be now rendered "becomingly," the English word "honestly" having ceased to carry that meaning.--J.A.B.]

[1000] [Chrys. is aiming to quote (ii. 14.), "Ye became imitators of the churches of God which are in Jud?a"; and he then explains the situation in Jud?a by quoting from the Epistle to the Hebrews. The chronology of the Epistles is seldom very real to his mind. The inaccurate and abridged quotation is natural, but of course the amended text filled it out, as seen in the earlier editions.--J.A.B.]

[1001] [Chrys. thinks of 1 Corinthians 15.as preceding Thess. in time, and he had himself previously discoursed thereon.--J.A.B.]

[1002] [Chrys. has, as so often, the reading which became the Textus Receptus, viz. here the perfect participle, "them that are asleep." The Rev. Ver. properly adopts the other reading, the present participle, "them that fall asleep," in the successive instances. In ver. 14 and 15 (Hom. vii.) both Chrys. and N.T. have the aorist participle, "them that fell asleep," loosely translated, "them that are fallen asleep."--J.A.B.]

[1003] [See this subject copiously and admirably treated in one of Chrys.'s seven sermons on the Rich Man and Lazarus, entitled "Excessive Grief at the Death of Friends," and translated in Fish's "Masterpieces of Pulpit Eloquence" (New York), Vol. I. , pp. 83 ff.--J.A.B.]

[1004] i. e. "because you say such things about him."

[1005] [Two mss., which generally present good readings, give the negative. Other mss. and two editions have no negative, and that is the harder reading, likely to be altered. It may possibly be explained (Field) by understanding the foregoing question thus: "With reference to whom is this said?" i. e. in comparison with whom? Then the thought is that, in comparison with those who have children, a widow that is really such has better opportunities of usefulness. Comp. 1 Corinthians 7:32.--J.A.B.]

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
Ver. 14. "For if we believe," he says, "that Jesus died and rose again," and lived, [1006] "even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with Him."

Where are they who deny the Flesh? [1007] For if He did not assume Flesh, neither did He die. If He did not die, neither did He rise again. How then does he exhort us from these things to faith? Was he not then according to them a trifler and a deceiver? For if to die proceeds from sin, and Christ did not sin, how does he now encourage us? And now, concerning whom does he say, O men, for whom do ye mourn? For whom do ye sorrow? for sinners, or simply for those who die? And why does he say, "Even as the rest, which have no hope"? For whom do the rest mourn? so that to them all these things are vapid. [1008] "The firstborn from the dead" (Colossians 1:18.), he says, the first-fruits. Therefore there must also be others left. And see how here he introduces nothing from reasonings, because they were docile. For in writing to the Corinthians, he started many things also from reasonings, and then he added, "Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened." (1 Corinthians 15:36.) For this is more authoritative, but it is when he converses with the believer. But with him who is without, what authority would this have? "Even so," he says, "them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with Him." Again, "fallen asleep": he nowhere says, the dead. But with respect to Christ, his words are, "He died," because there followed mention of the Resurrection, but here "them that are fallen asleep." How "through Jesus"? [1009] Either that they fell asleep through Jesus, or that through Jesus will He bring them. The phrase "that fell asleep through Jesus" means the faithful. Here the heretics say, that he is speaking of the baptized. What place then is there for "even so"? For Jesus did not fall asleep through Baptism. But on what account does he say, "them that are fallen asleep"? So that he is discoursing not of a general Resurrection, but of a partial one. Them that are fallen asleep through Jesus, he says, and thus he speaks in many places.

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in nowise precede them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

The Prophets indeed, wishing to show the credibility of the things said by them, before all other things say this, "The vision which Isaiah saw" (Isaiah 1:1.); and again, "The word of the Lord which came to Jeremiah" (Jeremiah 1:1, Sept); and again, "Thus saith the Lord"; with many such expressions. And many of them even saw God sitting, as far as it was possible for them to see Him. But Paul not having seen Him sitting, but having Christ speaking in himself, instead of Thus saith the Lord, said, "Do ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me?" (2 Corinthians 13:3.) And again, "Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ." For the "Apostle" speaks the things of Him who sent him; showing that nothing is of himself. And again, "I think that I also have the Spirit of God." (1 Corinthians 7:40.) All those things therefore he spake by the Spirit, but this, which he now says, he heard even expressly from God. As also that which he had said discoursing to the Elders of Ephesus, "It is more blessed to give than to receive," he heard among things not recorded. [1015] (Acts 20:35.)

Let us then see what he now also says. "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in nowise precede them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the last trump." For then, he saith, "The powers of the heavens shall be shaken." (Matthew 24:29.) But wherefore with the trumpet? For we see this on Mount Sinai too, and Angels there also. But what means the voice of the Archangel? As he said in the parable of the Virgins, Arise! "The Bridegroom cometh." (From Matthew 25:6.) Either it means this, or that as in the case of a king, so also shall it then be, Angels ministering at the Resurrection. For He says, let the dead rise, and the work is done, the Angels not having power to do this, but His word. As if upon a king's commanding and saying it, those who were shut up should go forth, and the servants should lead them out, yet they do this not from their own power, but from that Voice. This also Christ says in another place: "He shall send forth his Angels with a great trumpet, and they shall gather together his Elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Matthew 24:31.) And everywhere you see the Angels running to and fro. The Archangel therefore I think is he, who is set over those who are sent forth, and who shouts thus: "Make all men ready, for the Judge is at hand." And what is "at the last trumpet"? [1016] Here he implies that there are many trumpets, and that at the last the Judge descends. "And the dead," he says, "in Christ shall rise first. Then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

Ver. 15. "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in nowise precede them that are fallen asleep."

Speaking concerning the faithful, and them "which are fallen asleep in [1010] Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:18.); and again, "the dead shall rise in Christ." Since his discourse is not concerning the Resurrection only, but both concerning the Resurrection and concerning the honor in glory; all then shall partake of a Resurrection, he says, but not all shall be in glory, only those in Christ. Since therefore he wishes to comfort them, he comforts them not with this only, but also with the abundant honor, and with its speedy arrival, since they knew that. For in proof that he wishes to comfort them with the honor, as he goes on, he says, "And we shall be ever with the Lord": and "we shall be caught up in the clouds."

But how do the faithful fall asleep in Jesus? It means having Christ within themselves. But the expression, "He shall bring with Him," shows that they are brought from many places. "This." Something strange he was about to tell them. On this account he also adds what makes it worthy of credit; "From the word of the Lord," he says, that is, we speak not of ourselves, but having learnt from Christ, "That we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in nowise precede them that are fallen asleep." Which also he says in his Epistle to the Corinthians; "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." (1 Corinthians 15:52.) Here he gives a credibility to the Resurrection by the manner also [in which it will occur].

For because the matter seems to be difficult he says that as it is easy for the living to be taken up, so also for the departed. But in saying "we," he does not speak of himself, for he was not about to remain until the Resurrection, but he speaks of the faithful. On this account he has added, "We that are left unto the coming of the Lord shall in nowise precede them that are fallen asleep." As if he had said, Think not that there is any difficulty. It is God that does it. They who are then alive shall not anticipate those who are dissolved, who are rotted, who have been dead ten thousand years. But as it is easy to bring those who are entire, so is it also those who are dissolved.

But there are some who disbelieve the matter, because they know not God. For, tell me, which is the more easy, to bring one into being out of nothing, or to raise up again him that was dissolved? But what say they? A certain one suffered shipwreck and was drowned in the sea, and having fallen many fishes caught him, and each of the fish devoured some member. Then of these very fishes, one was caught in this gulf, and one in that, and this was eaten by one man, and that by another, while having in it the devoured pieces of flesh. And again, those who ate the fishes, that had eaten up the man, died in different places, and were themselves perhaps devoured by wild beasts. And--when there has been so great a confusion and dispersion--how shall the man rise again? Who shall gather up the dust? But wherefore dost thou say this, O man, and weavest strings of trifles, and makest it a matter of perplexity? For tell me, if the man had not fallen into the sea, if the fish had not eaten him, nor the fish again been devoured by numberless men--but he had been preserved with care in a coffin, and neither worms nor anything else had disturbed him, how shall that which is dissolved rise again? How shall the dust and ashes be again conglutinated? [1011] Whence shall there be any more its bloom for the body? But is not this a difficulty?

If indeed they be Greeks who raise these doubts, we shall have numberless things to say to them. What then? For there are among them those who convey souls into plants, and shrubs, and dogs. Tell me, which is more easy, to resume one's own body, or that of another? Others again say that they are consumed by fire, and that there is a resurrection of garments and of shoes, and they are not ridiculed. Others say atoms. With them, however, we have no argument at all; but to the faithful, (if we ought to call them faithful who raise questions,) we will still say what the Apostle has said, that all life springs from corruption, all plants, all seeds. [1012] Seest thou not the fig tree, what a trunk it has, what stems, how many leaves, and branches, stalks, and roots, occupying so much ground and embosomed therein. This then, such and so great as it is, springs from the grain which was thrown into the ground and itself first corrupted. And if it be not rotted and dissolved, there will be none of these things. Tell me, whence does this happen? And the vine too, which is so fair both to see and to partake of, springs from that which is vile in appearance. And what, tell me, is not the water that descends from above one thing? how is it changed into so many things? For this is more wonderful than the Resurrection. For there indeed the same seed and the same plant is the subject, and there is a great affinity. But here tell me how, having one quality and one nature, it turns into so many things? In the vine it becomes wine, and not only wine, but leaves and sap. For not only is the cluster of grapes, but the rest of the vine nourished by it. Again, in the olive (it becomes) oil, and the other so numerous things. And what is wonderful, here it is moist, there dry, here sweet there sour, here astringent, elsewhere bitter. Tell me how it turns into so many things? Show me the reason! But you cannot.

And in the case of thyself, tell me, for this comes nearer, this seed, that is deposited, how is it fashioned and molded into so many things? how into eyes? how into ears? how into hands? how into heart? Are there not in the body ten thousand differences of figures, of sizes, of qualities, of positions, of powers, of proportions? Nerves and veins and flesh and bones and membranes, and arteries and joints and cartilages, and as many more things beside these, as the sons of the physicians precisely specify, which compose our nature--and these come from that one seed! Does not this then seem to you much more difficult than those things? How is the moist and soft congealed into the dry and cold, that is, bone? How into the warm and moist, which are united in the blood? How into the cold and soft, the nerve? How into the cold and moist, the artery? [1013] Tell me, whence are these things? Art thou not quite at a loss about these things? Dost thou not see every day a resurrection and a death taking place in the periods of our life? Whither is our youth gone? whence is our age come? how is it that he who is grown old cannot indeed make himself young, but begets another, a very young child, and what he cannot give to himself, that he bestows upon another?

This also we may see in trees and in animals. And yet that which gives to another ought first to bestow upon itself. But this is what human reasoning demands. But when God creates, let all things give way. If these things are so difficult, nay, so excessively difficult, I am reminded of those mad persons, who are curious about the incorporeal Generation of the Son. Things that take place every day, that are within the grasp of our hands, and that have been enquired into ten thousand times, no one has yet been able to discover; tell me, then, how is it they are curious about that secret and ineffable Generation? Is not the mind of such men wearied in treading that void? Has it not been whirled into ten thousand giddinesses? Is it not dumfounded? And yet not even so are they instructed. When they are able to say nothing about grapes and figs, they are curious about God! For tell me, how is that grape-stone resolved into leaves and stems? How before this were they not in it, nor seen in it? But it is not the grape-stone, you say, but all is from the earth. Then how is it that without this the earth bears nothing of itself? But let us not be void of understanding. What takes place is neither from the earth, nor from the grape-stone, but from Him who is Lord both of the earth and of its seeds. For this reason He has caused the same thing to be made both without them, and with them. In the first place, showing His own power, when he said, "Let the earth bring forth the herb of grass." (From Genesis 1:11.) And secondly, besides showing His power, instructing us also to be laborious and industrious.

Why then have these things been said by us? Not idly, but that we may believe also in the Resurrection, and that, when we again wish to apprehend something by our reasonings, but do not find it, we may not be angry and take offense, but discreetly withdrawing and checking our reasoning, we may take refuge in the power and skillfulness of God. Knowing these things therefore, let us put a curb upon our reasonings. Let us not transgress our bounds, nor the measures that have been assigned to our knowledge. For, "If any man," he says, "thinketh that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know." (1 Corinthians 8:2.)

I speak not concerning God, he says, but concerning everything. For what? wouldest thou learn about the earth? What dost thou know? Tell me. How great is its measure? What is its size? What is its manner of position? What is its essence? What is its place? Where does it stand, and upon what? None of these things can you tell? But that it is cold, and dry, and black, this you can tell--and nothing farther. Again, concerning the sea? But there you will be reduced to the same uncertainty, not knowing where it begins, and where it ends, and upon what it is borne, what supports the bottom of it, and what sort of place there is for it, and whether after it there is a continent, or it ends in water and air. And what dost thou know of the things that are in it? But what? Let me pass over the elements. Would you have us select the smallest of plants? The unfruitful grass, a thing which we all know, tell me, how it is brought forth? Is not the material of it water, and earth, and dung? What is it that makes it appear so beautiful, and have such an admirable color? Whence does that beauty so fade away? This is not the work of water, or of earth. Seest thou that there is everywhere need of faith? How does the earth bring forth, how does it travail? Tell me. But you can tell me none of these things.

Be instructed, O man, in things that are here below, and be not curious nor overmeddling about heaven. And would it were heaven, and not the Lord of heaven! Dost thou not know the earth from which thou wast brought forth, in which thou wast nourished, which thou inhabitest, on which thou walkest, without which thou canst not even breathe; and art thou curious about things so far removed? Truly "man is vanity." (Psalm 39:5, and cxliv. 5.) And if any one should bid thee descend into the deep, and trace out things at the bottom of the sea, thou wouldest not tolerate the command. But, when no one compels thee, thou art willing of thyself to fathom the unsearchable abyss? Do not so, I beseech you. But let us sail upwards, not floating, for we shall soon be weary, and sink; but using the divine Scriptures, as some vessel, let us unfurl the sails of faith. If we sail in them, then the Word of God will be present with us as our Pilot. But if we float upon human reasonings, it will not be so. For to whom of those who float, is a Pilot present? So that the danger is twofold, in that there is no vessel, and that the Pilot is absent. For if even the boat without a pilot is unsafe, when both are wanting, what hope is there of safety? Let us not then throw ourselves into manifest danger, but let us go upon a safe vessel, having fastened ourselves by the sacred anchor. For thus we shall sail into the tranquil haven, with much merchandise, [1014] and at the same time with great safety, and we shall obtain the blessings laid up for them that love Him, in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom, to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, power, honor, now and always and world without end. Amen.


[1006] [This passage is here enlarged from Romans 14:9, even as in many documents and Textus Receptus of N.T. that passage is enlarged from this.--J.A.B.]

[1007] i. e. the Incarnation, as the Docet?, and in a manner the Marcionites and the Manichees. St. Aug. Conf.

[1008] heola. He means to those who deny the Incarnation.

[1009] [The Greek rendered "in Jesus" is properly "through Jesus," and stands between "them that fell asleep" and "will bring," so that it may be understood as connected with either. Modern commentators usually prefer to connect with the participle, and then the natural meaning is that through Jesus death became to them a falling asleep. Comp. Ellicott. The amenders of Chrys.'s text made it "them that fell asleep by faith in Jesus."--J.A.B.]

[1010] [Here Chrys. first quotes accurately from 1 Corinthians 15:18, and then adds from iv. 15 below, there taking "in Christ" with the verb, when the connection requires us to understand, "the dead in Christ shall rise." Comp. Ellicott on iv. 15, and notice below, at the beginning of Hom. viii. , that Chrys. connects as here.--J.A.B.]

[1011] This word is used by Bp. Pearson in this very argument, which he may have borrowed from St. Chrys.; see his work on the Creed, art. Resurrection.

[1012] See 1 Corinthians 15:36.

[1013] The arteries were then thought to convey air through the body.

[1014] emporias, al. euporias, facility.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Ver. 18. "Wherefore comfort one another with these words."

If He is about to descend, on what account shall we be caught up? For the sake of honor. For when a king drives into a city, those who are in honor go out to meet him; but the condemned await the judge within. And upon the coming of an affectionate father, his children indeed, and those who are worthy to be his children, are taken out in a chariot, that they may see and kiss him; but those of the domestics who have offended remain within. We are carried upon the chariot of our Father. For He received Him up in the clouds, and "we shall be caught up in the clouds." (Acts 1:9.) Seest thou how great is the honor? and as He descends, we go forth to meet Him, and, what is more blessed than all, so we shall be with Him.

"Who shall speak of the mightinesses of the Lord, and make all His praises to be heard?" (Psalm 106:2, Sept.) How many blessings has He vouchsafed to the human race! Those who are dead are raised first, and thus the meeting takes place together. Abel who died before all shall then meet Him together with those who are alive. So that they in this respect will have no advantage, but he who is corrupted, and has been so many years in the earth, shall meet Him with them, and so all the others. For if they awaited us, that we might be crowned, as elsewhere he says in an Epistle, "God having provided some better thing concerning us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect" (Hebrews 11:40.), much more shall we also await them; or rather, they indeed awaited, but we not at all. For the Resurrection takes place "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye."

But as to the saying, that they are gathered together; they arise indeed everywhere, but are gathered together by the Angels. The former therefore is the work of the power of God commanding the earth to give up its deposit, and there is no one who ministers in it, as He then called Lazarus, "Lazarus, come forth" (John 11:43.); but the gathering is the work of ministers. But if Angels gather them together, and run to and fro, how are they [1017] caught up here? They are caught up after the descent, [1018] after that they are gathered together.

For this is also done without any one being aware. [1019] For when they see the earth agitated, the dust mingling, the bodies rising perchance [1020] on every side, no one ministering to this, but the "shout" being sufficient, the whole earth filled (for consider how great a thing it is that all the men from Adam unto His coming shall then stand with wives and children),--when they see so great a tumult upon the earth,--then they shall know. As therefore in the Dispensation that was in the Flesh, they had foreseen nothing of it, so also will it then be.

When these things then are done, then also will be the voice of the Archangel shouting and commanding the Angels, and the trumpets, or rather the sound of the trumpet. What trembling then, what fear will possess those that remain upon the earth. For one woman is caught up and another is left behind, and one man is taken, and another is passed over. (Matthew 24:40, 41; Luke 17:34, 35.) What will be the state of their souls, when they see some indeed taken up, but themselves left behind? Will not these things be able to shake their souls more terribly than any hell? Let us represent then in word that this is now present. For if sudden death, or earthquakes in cities, and threatenings thus terrify our souls; when we see the earth breaking up, and crowded with all these, when we hear the trumpets, and the voice of the Archangel louder than any trumpet, when we perceive the heaven shriveled up, and God the King of all himself coming nigh--what then will be our souls? Let us shudder, I beseech you, and be frightened as if these things were now taking place. Let us not comfort ourselves by the delay. For when it must certainly happen, the delay profits us nothing.

How great will then be the fear and trembling! Have you ever seen men led away to death? What do you think is the state of their souls, as they are going on the way to the gate? is it not worse than many deaths? What would they not choose both to do and to suffer, so that they might be delivered from that cloud of darkness? I have heard many say, who have been recalled by the mercy of the king (Emperor), after having been led away, that they did not even see men as men, their souls being so troubled, so horror-struck, and beside themselves. If then the death of the body thus frightens us, when eternal death approaches, what will be our feelings? And why do I speak of those who are led away? A crowd then stands around, the greater part not even knowing them. If any one looked into their souls, no one is so cruel, no one so hard-hearted, no one so firm, as not to have his soul dejected, and relaxed with fear and despair. And if when others are taken off by this death, which differs nothing from sleep, those who are not concerned in it are thus affected; when we ourselves fall into greater evils, what then will be our state? It is not, believe me, it is not possible to represent the suffering by words.

Nay, you say, but God is full of love to man, and none of these things will happen! Then it is written in vain! No, you say, but only as a threat, that we may become wise! If then we are not wise, but continue evil, will He not, tell me, inflict the punishment? Will He not then recompense the good either with rewards? Yes, you say, for that is becoming to Him, to do good even beyond desert. So that those things indeed are true and will certainly be, while the punishments will not be at all, but are only for the purpose of a threat, and of terror! By what means I shall persuade you, I know not. If I say, that "the worm will not die, and the fire will not be quenched" (Mark 9:44.); if I say, that "they shall go away into everlasting fire" (Matthew 25:41, 46.); if I set before you the rich man already suffering punishment, you will say that it is all a matter of threatening. Whence then shall I persuade you? For this is a Satanic reasoning, indulging you with a favor that will not profit, and causing you to be slothful.

How then can we banish it? Whatever things we say from Scripture, you will say, are for the purpose of threatening. But with respect to future things this indeed might be said, but not so concerning things that have happened, and have had an end. You have heard of the deluge. And were those things also said by way of threat? Did they not actually happen? Those men too said many such things, and for a hundred years while the ark was building, and the wood was being wrought, and the righteous man was calling aloud, there was no one who believed. But because they did not believe the threat in words, they suffered the punishment in very deed. And this will be our fate too, if we shall not have believed. On this account it is that He compares His coming with the days of Noah, because as some disbelieved in that deluge, so will they in the deluge of hell. Were these things a threat? were they not a fact? Then will not He, who then brought punishment upon them so suddenly, much more inflict it now also? For the things that are committed now are not less than the offenses of that time. How?--because then, it says, "the sons of God went in unto the daughters of men" (Genesis 6:4.), and those mixtures were the great offense. But now there is no form of wickedness, which is unattempted. Do you then believe that the deluge took place? Or does it seem to you a fable? And yet even the mountains where the ark rested, bear witness; I speak of those in Armenia.

But, even superabundantly, I will turn my discourse to another thing more evident than that. Has any one of you ever traveled in Palestine? For I will no longer mention report, but facts, and yet the other were clearer than facts. For whatever things the Scripture says, are more to be trusted than things we see. Has any one of you then ever traveled in Palestine? I suppose so. What then? Bear witness then for me, ye who have seen the places, to those who have not been there. For above Ascalon and Gaza up to the very end of the river Jordan there is a country wide and fruitful--or rather there was--for it is not now. This then is that which was as a garden. For it is said, "Lot beheld all the plain [1021] of Jordan--and it was well watered everywhere, like the garden of the Lord." (Genesis 13:10.) This, therefore, that was so flourishing, and that rivaled all countries, which for thrivingness exceeded the Paradise of God, is now more desolate than any wilderness. And there stand trees, indeed, and they bear fruit. But the fruit is a monument of the wrath of God. For there stand pomegranates, I speak both of the tree and the fruit, having a very fine appearance, and to the ignorant man holding out great hopes. But if they are taken into the hand, being broken open they display no fruit indeed, but much dust and ashes stored up within. Such also is the whole land. If you find a stone, you will find it full of ashes. And why do I speak of stone and wood and earth, where the air and water partake of the calamity? For as when a body is burnt and consumed, the shape remains, and the outline in the appearance of the fire, and the bulk and the proportion, but the power is no more, so truly there you may see earth, which yet has nothing of earth about it, but all ashes; trees and fruit, but nothing of trees and fruit about them; air and water, but nothing of water nor of air about them, for even these are turned to ashes. And yet how could air ever have been burnt, or water, whilst it remained water? For wood and stones indeed it is possible to burn, but air and water it is altogether impossible. Impossible to us, but possible to Him who did these things. Therefore the air is nothing else than a furnace, the water is a furnace. All things are unfruitful, all unproductive, all for vengeance; images of wrath that has gone before, and proofs of that which is to come.

Are these too but threatening words? Are these but the sound of words? For to me indeed the former things were not incredible, but things not seen were equally credible with things that were seen. But even to the unbeliever these are sufficient to produce faith. If any one disbelieves hell, let him consider Sodom, let him reflect upon Gomorrah, the vengeance that has been inflicted, and which yet remains. This is a proof of the eternity of punishment. Are these things grievous? And is it not grievous, when you say that there is no hell, but that God has merely threatened it? when you slack the hands of the people? [1022] It is thou who disbelievest that compellest me to say these things; it is thou that hast drawn me out into these words. If thou believedst the words of Christ I should not be compelled to bring forward facts to induce belief. But since you have evaded them, you shall be persuaded henceforth, whether willing or unwilling. For what have you to say concerning Sodom? Would you wish also to know the cause, for which these things were then done? It was one sin, a grievous and accursed one certainly, yet but one. The men of that time had a passion for boys, and on that account they suffered this punishment. But now ten thousand sins equal and even more grievous than these are committed. Then He who for one sin poured forth so much anger, and neither regarded the supplication of Abraham, nor yet Lot who dwelt among them, the man who from honor to His servants offered his own daughters to insult, will He spare, when there are so many sins? These things truly are ridiculous, trifling, delusion, and diabolical deceit!

Do you wish that I should also bring forward another? You have certainly heard of Pharaoh, king of the Egyptians; you know therefore the punishment also which he suffered, how even with his whole host, chariots and horses and all, he was engulfed in the Erythr?an sea. Would you hear also other examples? he perhaps was an impious man, or rather not perhaps, but certainly he was an impious man. Would you see those also punished, who were of the number of believers, and who held fast to God, but were not of upright life? Hear Paul saying, "Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us murmur, as some of them murmured, and perished by the destroyer. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them tempted, and perished by the serpents." (1 Corinthians 10:8-10.) And if fornication, and if murmuring had such power, what will not be the effect of our sins?

And if thou dost not now pay the penalty, do not wonder. For they knew not of a hell, therefore they were visited with punishments following close at their heels. But thou, whatever sins thou commit, though thou shouldest escape present penalty, wilt pay for it all There. Did he so punish those who were nearly in the state of children, and who did not sin so greatly--and will He spare us? It would not be reasonable. For if we commit the same sins with them, we shall deserve a greater punishment than they did. Wherefore? Because we have enjoyed more grace. But when our offenses are numerous, and more heinous than theirs, what vengeance shall we not undergo? They--and let no one think I say it as admiring them, or excusing them; far be it: for when God punishes, he who passes a contrary sentence, does it at the suggestion of the devil; I say this therefore, not praising them nor excusing them, but showing our wickedness--they therefore, although they murmured, were, however, traveling a wilderness road: but we murmur though we have a country, and are in our own houses. They, although they committed fornication, yet it was just after they came out of the evils of Egypt, and had hardly heard of such a law. But we do it, having previously received from our forefathers the doctrine of salvation, so that we are deserving of greater punishment.

Would you hear also of other things? what were their sufferings in Palestine, famines, pestilences, wars, captivities, under the Babylonians, and under the Assyrians, and their miseries from the Macedonians, and those under Hadrian and Vespasian? I have something that I wish, beloved, to relate to thee; nay, do not run away! [1023] Or rather I will tell thee another thing before it. There was once a famine, it says, and the king was walking upon the wall; then a woman came to him and uttered these words: "O king, this woman said to me, Let us roast thy son to-day, and eat him--to-morrow mine. And we roasted and ate, and now she does not give me hers." (From 2 Kings 6:28.) What can be more dreadful than this calamity? Again, in another place the Prophet says, "The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children." (Lamentations 4:10.) The Jews then suffered such punishment, and shall we not much rather suffer?

Would you also hear other calamities of theirs? Read over Josephus, and you will learn that whole tragedy, if perchance we may persuade you from these things, that there is a hell. For consider, if they were punished, why are we not punished? or how is it reasonable that we are not now punished, who sin more grievously than they? Is it not manifest that it is, because the punishment is kept in store for us? And, if you please, I will tell you in the person of every individual how they were punished. Cain murdered his brother. A horrible sin indeed, who can deny it? But he suffered punishment; and a heavy one, equivalent to ten thousand deaths, for he would rather have died ten thousand times. For hear him saying, "If Thou castest me out from the land, and I shall be hidden from Thy face, then it will happen that every one who findeth me will slay me." (Genesis 4:14, Sept.) Tell me then, do not many even now do the same things that he did? For when thou slayest not thy brother according to the flesh, but thy spiritual brother, dost thou not do the same? For what, though not by the sword? yet by some other means; when being able to relieve his hunger, thou neglectest him. What then? Has no one now envied his brother? has no one plunged him into dangers? But here they have not suffered punishment, yet they will suffer it. Then he, who never heard the written laws, nor the prophets, nor saw great miracles suffered such great vengeance; and shall he who has done the same things in another way, and was not rendered wise by so many examples, shall he go unpunished? Where then is the justice of God, and where His goodness?

Again, a certain one for having gathered sticks on the Sabbath was stoned, and yet this was a small commandment, and less weighty than circumcision. He then who gathered sticks on the Sabbath was stoned; but those who often commit ten thousand things contrary to the Law have gone off unpunished! If then there be not a hell, where is His justice, where His impartiality, that respects not persons? And yet He lays to their charge many such things, that they did not observe the Sabbath.

Again, another, Charmi, [1024] having stolen a devoted thing, was stoned with all his family. What then? Has no one from that time committed sacrilege? Saul, again, having spared contrary to the command of God, suffered so great punishment. Has no one from that time spared? Would indeed that it were so! Have we not, worse than wild beasts, devoured one another contrary to the command of God, and yet no one has fallen in war? [1025] Again, the sons of Eli, because they ate before the incense was offered, suffered the most severe punishment together with their father. Has no father then been neglectful with respect to his children? and are there no wicked sons? But no one has suffered punishment. Where will they suffer it then, if there be no hell?

Again, numberless instances one might enumerate. What? Ananias and Sapphira were immediately punished, because they stole part of what they had offered. Has no one then since that time been guilty of this? How was it then that they did not suffer the same punishment?

Do we then persuade you that there is a hell, or do you need more examples? Therefore we will proceed also to things that are unwritten, such as now take place in life. For it is necessary that this idea should be gathered by us from every quarter, that we may not, by vainly gratifying ourselves, do ourselves harm. Do you not see many visited by calamities, maimed in their bodies, suffering infinite troubles, but others in good repute? For what reason do some suffer punishment for murders, and others not? Hear Paul saying, "Some men's sins are evident,...and some men they follow after." (1 Timothy 5:24.) How many murderers have escaped! how many violators of the tombs! But let these things pass. How many do you not see visited with the severest punishment? Some have been delivered to a long disease, others to continued tortures, and others to numberless other ills. When therefore you see one who has been guilty of the same things as they, or even much worse--and yet not suffering punishment, will you not suspect, even against your will, that there is a hell? Reckon those here who before you have been severely punished, consider that God is no respecter of persons, and that though you have done numberless wickednesses, you have suffered no such thing, and you will have the idea of hell. For God has so implanted that idea within us, that no one can ever be ignorant of it. For poets and philosophers and fabulists, and in short all men, have philosophized concerning the retribution that is there, and have said that the greater number are punished in Hades. And if those things are fables, yet what we have received are not so.

I say not these things as wishing to frighten you, nor to lay a burden on your souls, but to make them wise, and render them easier. I could wish also myself that there were no punishment--yes, myself most of all men. And why so? Because whilst each of you fears for his own soul, I have to answer for this office also in which I preside over you. So that most of all it is impossible for me to escape. But it cannot be that there is not punishment and a hell. What can I do? Where then, they say, is the kindness of God to men? In many places. But on this subject I will rather discourse at some other season, that we may not confuse the discourses concerning hell. In the meantime let not that slip, which we have gained. For it is no small advantage to be persuaded concerning hell. For the recollection of such discourses, like some bitter medicine, will be able to clear off every vice, if it be constantly settled in your mind. Let us therefore use it, that having a pure heart, we may so be thought worthy to see those things, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man. Which may we all obtain by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, &c.


[1015] [The saying was probably in circulation among the Christians, for Paul bids the elders "remember the words."--J.A.B.]

[1016] [The N.T. text is, without variation, "with the trump of God." Chrys. mingles in his recollection this and the kindred passage in 1 Corinthians 15:53. The quotation at the head of the Homily is correct.--J.A.B.]

[1017] i. e. How are those, whom the Angels have already taken and gathered, still "here," that they should be caught up? L. places entautha before autoi, which gives that sense more decidedly. Or "here" may only mean "in this passage."

[1018] Musculus takes it of our Lord's descent, Hervetus otherwise.

[1019] He seems to allude to Matthew 24:36.

[1020] hisos, which has been translated "equally."

[1021] [Properly "the region around Jordan," and denoting the deep and rather wide valley through which it flows. Chrys. makes it include all of central Judea, and applies to that whole district what he had heard of the desolate country between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, the N.T. "wilderness of Judea."--J.A.B.]

[1022] See Hebrews 12:12; Jeremiah 38:4.

[1023] me apopedeses, perhaps only "turn away."

[1024] [This is an error in the documents, or a slip of memory in the preacher, for he means Achan the son of Carmi, Joshua 7:1.--J.A.B.]

[1025] [No one of us has been punished for it, as Saul was, by falling in battle.--J.A.B.]

The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom
Text Courtesy of Christian Classics Etherial Library.

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