Homilies of Chrysostom
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Ver. 3. "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God."
That is, "Unless thou art born again and receivest the right doctrines, thou art wandering somewhere without, and art far from the Kingdom of heaven." But He does not speak so plainly as this. In order to make the saying less hard to bear, He does not plainly direct it at him, but speaks indefinitely, "Except a man be born again": all but saying, "both thou and any other, who may have such opinions concerning Me, art somewhere without the Kingdom." Had He not spoken from a desire to establish this, His answer would have been suitable to what had been said. Now the Jews, if these words had been addressed to them, would have derided Him and departed; but Nicodemus shows here also his desire of instruction.  And this is why in many places Christ speaks obscurely, because He wishes to rouse His hearers to ask questions, and to render them more attentive. For that which is said plainly often escapes the hearer, but what is obscure renders him more active and zealous. Now what He saith, is something like this: "If thou art not born again, if thou partakest not of the Spirit which is by the washing  of Regeneration, thou canst not have a right opinion of Me, for the opinion which thou hast is not spiritual, but carnal."  (Titus 3:5.) But He did not speak thus, as refusing to confound  one who had brought such as he had, and who had spoken to the best of his ability; and He leads him unsuspectedly up to greater knowledge, saying, "Except a man be born again." The word "again,"  in this place, some understand to mean "from heaven," others, "from the beginning." "It is impossible," saith Christ, "for one not so born to see the Kingdom of God"; in this pointing to Himself, and declaring that there is another beside the natural sight, and that we have need of other eyes to behold Christ. Having heard this,
Ver. 4. "Nicodemus saith, How can a man be born when he is old?"
Callest thou Him "Master," sayest thou that He is "come from God," and yet receivest thou not His words, but usest to thy Teacher a manner of speaking which expresses  much perplexity? For the "How," is the doubting question of those who have no strong belief, but who are yet of the earth. Therefore Sarah laughed when she had said, "How?" And many others having asked this question, have fallen from the faith.
[3.] And thus heretics continue in their heresy, because they frequently make this enquiry, saying, some of them, "How was He begotten?" others, "How was He made flesh?" and subjecting that Infinite Essence to the weakness of their own reasonings.  Knowing which, we ought to avoid this unseasonable curiosity, for they who search into these matters shall, without learning the "How," fall away from the right faith. On this account Nicodemus, being in doubt, enquires the manner in which this can be, (for he understood that the words spoken referred to himself,) is confused, and dizzy,  and in perplexity, having come as to a man, and hearing more than man's words, and such as no one ever yet had heard; and for a while he rouses himself at the sublimity of the sayings, but yet is in darkness, and unstable, borne about in every direction, and continually falling away from the faith. And therefore he perseveres in proving the impossibility, so as to provoke Him to clearer teaching.
"Can a man," he saith, "enter into his mother's womb, and be born?"
Seest thou how when one commits spiritual things to his own reasonings, he speaks ridiculously, seems to be trifling, or to be drunken, when he pries into what has been said beyond what seems good to God, and admits not the submission of faith? Nicodemus heard of the spiritual Birth, yet perceived it not as spiritual, but dragged down the words to the lowness of the flesh, and made a doctrine so great and high depend upon physical consequence. And so he invents frivolities, and ridiculous difficulties. Wherefore Paul said, "The natural  man receiveth not the things of the Spirit." (1 Corinthians 2:14.) Yet even in this he preserved his reverence for Christ, for he did not mock at what had been said, but, deeming it impossible, held his peace. There were two difficulties; a Birth of this kind, and the Kingdom; for neither had the name of the Kingdom ever been heard among the Jews, nor of a Birth like this. But he stops for a while at the first, which most astonished  his mind.
Let us then, knowing this, not enquire into things relating to God by reasoning, nor bring heavenly matters under the rule of earthly consequences, nor subject them to the necessity of nature; but let us think of all reverently, believing as the Scriptures have said; for the busy and curious person gains nothing, and besides not finding what he seeks, shall suffer extreme punishment. Thou hast heard, that (the Father) begat (the Son): believe what thou hast heard; but do ask not, "How," and so take away the Generation; to do so would be extreme folly. For if this man, because, on hearing of a Generation, not that ineffable Generation, but this which is by grace, he conceived nothing great concerning it, but human and earthly thoughts, was therefore darkened and in doubt, what punishment must they deserve, who are busy and curious about that most awful Generation, which transcends all reason and intellect? For nothing causes such dizziness  as human reasoning, all whose words are of earth, and which cannot endure to be enlightened from above. Earthly reasonings are full of mud, and therefore need we streams from heaven, that when the mud has settled, the clearer portion may rise and mingle with the heavenly lessons; and this comes to pass, when we present an honest soul and an upright life. For certainly it is possible for the intellect to be darkened, not only by unseasonable curiosity, but also by corrupt manners; wherefore Paul hath said to the Corinthians, "I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able, for ye are yet carnal; for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal?" (1 Corinthians 3:2.) And also in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and in many places, one may see Paul asserting that this is the cause of evil doctrines; for that the soul possessed by passions  cannot behold anything great or noble, but as if darkened by a sort of film  suffers most grievous dimsightedness.
Let us then cleanse ourselves, let us kindle the light of knowledge, let us not sow among thorns. What the thorns are, ye know, though we tell you not; for often ye have heard Christ call the cares of this present life, and the deceitfulness of riches, by this name. (Matthew 13:22.) And with reason. For as thorns are unfruitful, so are these things; as thorns tear those that handle them, so do these passions; as thorns are readily caught by the fire, and hateful by the husbandman, so too are the things of the world; as in thorns, wild beasts, and snakes, and scorpions hide themselves, so do they in the deceitfulness of riches. But let us kindle the fire of the Spirit, that we may consume the thorns, and drive away the beasts, and make the field clear for the husbandman; and after cleansing it, let us water it with the streams of the Spirit, let us plant the fruitful olive, that most kindly of trees, the evergreen, the light-giving, the nutritious, the wholesome. All these qualities hath almsgiving, which is, as it were, a seal on  those that possess it. This plant not even death when it comes causes to wither, but ever it stands enlightening the mind, feeding the sinews  of the soul, and rendering its strength mightier. And if we constantly possess it, we shall be able with confidence to behold the Bridegroom, and to enter into the bridal chamber; to which may we all attain, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
 eis to onoma autou, G. T.
 a kribesteroi, al. a sphalesteroi.
 panta [pantas, G. T.].
 me ho nomos hemon k.t.l. G. T.
 Iesoun, G. T.
 peri ton Ch.
 Pharisaious, G. T.
 e nergoumenon auton.
 al. "of truth."
 or, "laver."
 psuchike, "belonging to the natural life," opposed in N.T. to pneumatike.
 or, "strike."
 a nothen ("again," or "from above").
 lit. "introduces."
 Ben. transposes the clauses.
 lit. "shook."
 al. "dreadful darkness."
 e mpathe.
 lit. "with."
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
"Verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God."
[1.] Little children who go daily to their teachers receive their lessons, and repeat  them, and never cease from this kind of acquisition, but sometimes employ nights as well as days, and this they are compelled  to do for perishable and transient things. Now we do not ask of you who are come to age such toil as you require of your children; for not every day, but two days only in the week do we exhort you to hearken to our words, and only for a short portion of the day, that your task may be an easy one. For the same reason also we divide  to you in small portions what is written in Scripture, that you may be able easily to receive and lay them up in the storehouses of your minds, and take such pains to remember them all, as to be able exactly to repeat them to others yourselves, unless any one be sleepy, and dull, and more idle than a little child.
Let us now attend to the sequel of what has been before said. When Nicodemus fell into error and wrested the words of Christ to the earthly birth, and said that it was not possible for an old man to be born again, observe how Christ in answer more clearly reveals the manner of the Birth, which even thus had difficulty for the carnal enquirer, yet still was able to raise the hearer from his low opinion of it. What saith He? "Verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God." What He declares is this: "Thou sayest that it is impossible, I say that it is so absolutely possible as to be necessary, and that it is not even possible otherwise to be saved." For necessary things God hath made exceedingly easy also. The earthly birth which is according to the flesh, is of the dust, and therefore heaven  is walled against it, for what hath earth in common with heaven? But that other, which is of the Spirit, easily unfolds to us the arches  above. Hear, ye as many as are unilluminated,  shudder, groan, fearful is the threat, fearful the sentence.  "It is not (possible)," He saith, "for one not born of water and the Spirit, to enter into the Kingdom of heaven"; because he wears the raiment of death, of cursing, of perdition, he hath not yet received his Lord's token,  he is a stranger and an alien, he hath not the royal watchword. "Except," He saith, "a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of heaven."
Yet even thus Nicodemus did not understand. Nothing is worse than to commit spiritual things to argument; it was this that would not suffer him to suppose anything sublime and great. This is why we are called faithful, that having left the weakness of human reasonings below,  we may ascend to the height of faith, and commit most of our blessings to her  teaching;  and if Nicodemus had done this, the thing would not have been thought by him impossible. What then doth Christ? To lead him away from his groveling imagination, and to show that He speaks not of the earthly birth, He saith, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of heaven." This He spoke, willing to draw him to the faith by the terror of the threat, and to persuade him not to deem the thing impossible, and taking pains to move him from his imagination as to the carnal birth. "I mean," saith He, "another Birth, O Nicodemus. Why drawest thou down the saying to earth? Why subjectest thou the matter to the necessity of nature? This Birth is too high for such pangs as these; it hath nothing in common with you; it is indeed called birth,' but in name only has it aught in common, in reality it is different. Remove thyself from that which is common and familiar; a different kind of childbirth bring I into the world; in another manner will I have men to be generated: I have come to bring a new manner of Creation. I formed (man) of earth and water; but that which was formed was unprofitable, the vessel was wrenched awry;  I will no more form them of earth and water, but of water' and of the Spirit.'"
And if any one asks, "How of water?" I also will ask, How of earth? How was the clay separated into different parts? How was the material uniform, (it was earth only,) and the things made from it, various and of every kind? Whence are the bones, and sinews, and arteries, and veins? Whence the membranes, and vessels of the organs, the cartilages, the tissues, the liver, spleen, and heart? whence the skin, and blood, and mucus, and bile? whence so great powers, whence such varied colors? These belong not to earth or clay. How does the earth, when it receives the seeds, cause them to shoot, while the flesh receiving them wastes them? How does the earth nourish what is put into it, while the flesh is nourished by these things, and does not nourish them? The earth, for instance, receives water, and makes it wine; the flesh often receives wine, and changes it into water. Whence then is it clear that these things are formed of earth, when the nature of the earth is, according to what has been said,  contrary to that of the body? I cannot discover by reasoning, I accept it by faith only. If then things which take place daily, and which we handle, require faith, much more do those which are more mysterious and more spiritual than these. For as the earth, which is soulless and motionless, was empowered by the will of God, and such wonders were worked in it; much more when the Spirit is present with the water, do all those things so strange and transcending reason, easily take place.
[2.] Do not then disbelieve these things, because thou seest them not; thou dost not see thy soul, and yet thou believest that thou hast a soul, and that it is a something different besides  the body.
But Christ led him not in by this example, but by another; the instance of the soul, though it is incorporeal, He did not adduce for that reason, because His hearer's disposition was as yet too dull. He sets before him another, which has no connection with the density of solid bodies, yet does not reach so high as to the incorporeal natures; that is, the movement of wind. He begins at first with water, which is lighter than earth, but denser than air. And as in the beginning earth was the subject material,  but the whole  was of Him who molded it; so also now water is the subject material, and the whole  is of the grace of the Spirit: then, "man became a living soul," (Genesis 2:7); now he becomes "a quickening Spirit." But great is the difference between the two. Soul affords not life to any other than him in whom it is; Spirit not only lives, but affords life to others also. Thus, for instance, the Apostles even raised the dead. Then, man was formed last, when the creation had been accomplished; now, on the contrary, the new man is formed before the new creation; he is born first, and then the world is fashioned anew. (1 Corinthians 15:45.) And as in the beginning He formed him entire, so He creates him entire now. Then He said, "Let us make for him a help" (Genesis 2:18 , LXX.), but here He said nothing of the kind. What other help shall he need, who has received the gift of the Spirit? What further need of assistance has he, who belongs to  the Body of Christ? Then He made man in the image of God, now He hath united  him with God Himself; then He bade him rule over the fishes and beasts, now He hath exalted our first-fruits above the heavens; then He gave him a garden for his abode,  now He hath opened heaven to us; then man was formed on the sixth day, when the world  was almost finished; but now on the first, at the very beginning, at the time when light was made before. From all which it is plain, that the things accomplished belonged to  another and a better life, and to a condition  having no end.
The first creation then, that of Adam, was from earth; the next, that of the woman, from his rib; the next, that of Abel, from seed; yet we cannot arrive at the comprehension of  any one of these, nor prove the circumstances by argument, though they are of a most earthly nature;  how then shall we be able to give account of the unseen  generation  by Baptism, which is far more exalted than these, or to require arguments  for that strange and marvelous Birth?  Since even Angels stand by while that Generation takes place, but they could not tell the manner of that marvelous working, they stand by only, not performing anything, but beholding what takes place. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, worketh all. Let us then believe the declaration of God; that is more trustworthy than actual seeing. The sight often is in error, it is impossible that God's Word should fail; let us then believe it; that which called the things that were not into existence may well be trusted when it speaks of their nature. What then says it? That what is effected is a Generation. If any ask, "How," stop his mouth with the declaration of God,  which is the strongest and a plain proof. If any enquire, "Why is water included?" let us also in return ask, "Wherefore was earth employed at the beginning in the creation of man?" for that it was possible for God to make man without earth, is quite plain to every one. Be not then over-curious.
That the need of water is absolute and indispensable,  you may learn in this way. On one occasion, when the Spirit had flown down before the water was applied, the Apostle did not stay at this point, but, as though the water were necessary and not superfluous, observe what he says; "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" (Acts 10:47.)
What then is the use of the water? This too I will tell you hereafter, when I reveal to you the hidden mystery.  There are also other points of mystical teaching connected with the matter, but for the present I will mention to you one out of many. What is this one? In Baptism are fulfilled the pledges of our covenant with God;  burial and death, resurrection and life; and these take place all at once. For when we immerse our heads in the water, the old man is buried as in a tomb below, and wholly sunk forever;  then as we raise them again, the new man rises in its stead.  As it is easy for us to dip and to lift our heads again, so it is easy for God to bury the old man, and to show forth the new. And this is done thrice, that you may learn that the power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost fulfilleth all this. To show that what we say is no conjecture, hear Paul saying, "We are buried with Him by Baptism into death": and again, "Our old man is crucified with Him": and again, "We have been planted together in the likeness of His death." (Romans 6:4, 5, 6.) And not only is Baptism called a "cross," but the "cross" is called "Baptism." "With the Baptism," saith Christ, "that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized" (Mark 10:39): and, "I have a Baptism to be baptized with" (Luke 12:50) (which ye know not); for as we easily dip and lift our heads again, so He also easily died and rose again when He willed or rather much more easily, though He tarried the three days for the dispensation of a certain mystery.
[3.] Let us then who have been deemed worthy of such mysteries show forth a life worthy of the Gift, that is, a most excellent conversation;  and do ye who have not yet been deemed worthy, do all things that you may be so, that we may be one body, that we may be brethren. For as long as we are divided in this respect, though a man be father, or son, or brother, or aught else, he is no true kinsman, as being cut off from that relationship which is from above. What advantageth it to be bound by the ties of earthly family, if we are not joined by those of the spiritual? what profits nearness of kin on earth, if we are to be strangers in heaven? For the Catechumen is a stranger to the Faithful. He hath not the same Head, he hath not the same Father, he hath not the same City, nor Food, nor Raiment, nor Table, nor House, but all are different; all are on earth to the former, to the latter all are in heaven. One has Christ for his King; the other, sin and the devil; the food  of one is Christ, of the other, that meat which decays and perishes; one has worms' work for his raiment, the other the Lord of angels; heaven is the city of one, earth of the other. Since then we have nothing in common, in what, tell me, shall we hold communion? Did we remove the same pangs,  did we come forth from the same womb? This has nothing to do with that most perfect relationship. Let us then give diligence that we may become citizens of the city which is above. How long do we tarry over the border,  when we ought to reclaim our ancient country? We risk no common danger; for if it should come to pass, (which God forbid!) that through the sudden arrival of death we depart hence uninitiated,  though we have ten thousand virtues, our portion will be no other than hell, and the venomous worm, and fire unquenchable, and bonds indissoluble. But God grant that none of those who hear these words experience that punishment! And this will be, if having been deemed worthy of the sacred mysteries, we build upon that foundation gold, and silver, and precious stones; for so after our departure hence we shall be able to appear in that place rich, when we leave not our riches here, but transport them to inviolable treasuries by the hands of the poor, when we lend to Christ. Many are our debts there, not of money, but of sins; let us then lend Him our riches, that we may receive pardon for our sins; for He it is that judgeth. Let us not neglect Him here when He hungereth, that He may ever feed us there. Here let us clothe Him, that He leave us not bare of the safety which is from Him. If here we give Him drink, we shall not with the rich man say, "Send Lazarus, that with the tip of his finger he may drop water on my broiling  tongue." If here we receive Him into our house, there He will prepare many mansions for us; if we go to Him in prison, He too will free us from our bonds; if we take Him in when He is a stranger, He will not suffer us to be strangers to the Kingdom of heaven, but will give us a portion in the City which is above; if we visit Him when He is sick, He also will quickly deliver us from our infirmities.
Let us then, as receiving great things though we give but little, still give the little that we may gain the great. While it is yet time, let us sow, that we may reap. When the winter overtakes us, when the sea is no longer navigable, we are no longer masters of this traffic. But when shall the winter be? When that great and manifest Day is at hand. Then we shall cease to sail this great and broad sea, for such the present life resembles. Now is the time of sowing, then of harvest and of gain. If a man puts not in his seed at seed time and sows in harvest, besides that he effects nothing, he will be ridiculous. But if the present is seed time, it follows that it is a time not for gathering together, but for scattering; let us then scatter, that we may gather in, and not seek to gather in now, lest we lose our harvest; for, as I said, this season summons us to sow, and spend, and lay out, not to collect and lay by. Let us not then give up the opportunity, but let us put in abundant seed, and spare none of our stores, that we may receive them again with abundant recompense, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, world without end. Amen.
 a podidosi.
 al. [by you].
 lit. "things in heaven."
 a psidas.
 i. e. unbaptized.
 a pophasis.
 or, "which is below."
 al. "this."
 i. e. submit to the teaching of faith concerning them.
 kata ta eiremena. This seems to be the best reading, and is found in Morel. Ben. and mss. Savile reads the passage thus: to soma ; ta eiremena logismo men eurein, k.t.l.
 hu pekeito stoicheion.
 to pan, i. e. the fabric of the human body.
 i. e. the new man.
 ho telon eis to soma.
 he nose.
 al. "were the first-fruits of."
 e phikesthai.
 Morel. and ms. in Bodl. "but if it is impossible to reply to these questions, how shall it not be more impossible to speak concerning the unseen and far higher Generation? or rather, how is it not superfluous to demand reasons," &c.
 al. "of Christ."
 a nankaia kai aparaitetos.
 [as it is allowed me from above] Morel.
 theia teleitai en auto sumbola. So in Euseb. Hist. Ecclesiastes 10:3. Baptism is said to be soteriou pathous aporrheta sumbola. See also Rufinus. de Constant. 9. 9.
 Morel. "having been immersed below, is hidden wholly once for all." [The whole passage is important for the patristic view of the mode of baptism.--P.S.]
 al. "the delight."
 i. e. "were we twins."
 hu perorias.
 i. e. unbaptized.
 a poteganizomene.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh: and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
[1.] Great mysteries are they, of which the Only-begotten Son of God has counted us worthy; great, and such as we were not worthy of, but such as it was meet for Him to give. For if one reckon our desert, we were not only unworthy of the gift, but also liable to punishment and vengeance; but He, because He looked not to this, not only delivered us from punishment, but freely gave us a life much more bright  than the first, introduced us into another world, made us another creature; "If any man be in Christ," saith Paul, "he is a new creature." (2 Corinthians 5:17.) What kind of "new creature"? Hear Christ Himself declare; "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God." Paradise was entrusted to us, and we were shown unworthy to dwell even there, yet He hath exalted us to heaven. In the first things we were found unfaithful, and He hath committed to us greater; we could not refrain from a single tree, and He hath provided for us the delights  above; we kept not our place in Paradise, and He hath opened to us the doors of heaven. Well said Paul, "O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" (Romans 11:33.) There is no longer a mother, or pangs, or sleep, or coming together, and embracings of bodies; henceforth all the fabric  of our nature is framed above, of the Holy Ghost and water. The water is employed, being made the Birth to him who is born; what the womb is to the embryo, the water is to the believer; for in the water he is fashioned and formed. At first it was said, "Let the waters bring forth the creeping things that have life" (Genesis 1:20 , LXX.); but from the time that the Lord entered the streams of Jordan, the water no longer gives forth the "creeping thing that hath life," but reasonable and Spirit-bearing souls; and what has been said of the sun, that he is "as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber" (Psalm 18:6), we may now rather say of the faithful, for they send forth rays far brighter than he. That which is fashioned in the womb requires time, not so that in water, but all is done in a single moment. Here our life is perishable, and takes its origin from the decay of other bodies; that which is to be born comes slowly, (for such is the nature of bodies, they acquire perfection by time,) but it is not so with spiritual things. And why? Because the things made are formed perfect from the beginning.
When Nicodemus still hearing these things was troubled, see how Christ partly opens to him the secret of this mystery, and makes that clear which was for a while obscure to him. "That which is born," saith He, "of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." He leads him away from all the things of sense, and suffers him not vainly to pry into the mysteries revealed with his fleshly eyes; "We speak not," saith He, "of flesh, but of Spirit, O Nicodemus," (by this word He directs him heavenward for a while,) "seek then nothing relating to things of sense; never can the Spirit appear to those eyes, think not that the Spirit bringeth forth the flesh." "How then," perhaps one may ask, "was the Flesh of the Lord brought forth?" Not of the Spirit only, but of flesh; as Paul de clares, when he says, "Made of a woman, made under the Law" (Galatians 4:4); for the Spirit fashioned Him not indeed out of nothing, (for what need was there then of a womb?) but from the flesh of a Virgin. How, I cannot explain unto you; yet it was done, that no one might suppose that what was born is alien to our nature. For if even when this has taken place there are some who disbelieve in such a birth, into what impiety would they not have fallen had He not partaken of the Virgin's flesh.
"That which is born  of the Spirit is spirit." Seest thou the dignity of the Spirit? It appears performing the work of God; for above he said of some, that, "they were begotten of God," (c. i. 13 ,) here He saith, that the Spirit begetteth them.
"That which is born of the Spirit is spirit." His meaning is of this kind; "He that is born  of the Spirit is spiritual." For the Birth which He speaks of here is not that according to essence,  but according to honor and grace. Now if the Son is so born also, in what shall He be superior to men so born? And how is He, Only-begotten? For I too am born of God, though not of His Essence, and if He also is not of His Essence, how in this respect does He differ from us? Nay, He will then be found to be inferior to the Spirit; for birth of this kind is by the grace of the Spirit. Needs He then the help of the Spirit that He may continue a Son? And in what do these differ from Jewish doctrines?
Christ then having said, "He that is born of the Spirit is spirit," when He saw him again confused, leads His discourse to an example from sense, saying,
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Ver. 7, 8. "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.  The wind bloweth where it listeth."
For by saying, "Marvel not," He indicates the confusion of his soul, and leads him to something lighter than body. He had already led him away from fleshly things, by saying, "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit"; but when Nicodemus knew not what "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" meant, He next carries him to another figure, not bringing him to the density of bodies, nor yet speaking of things purely incorporeal, (for had he heard he could not have received this,) but having found a something between what is and what is not body, namely, the motion of the wind, He brings him to that next. And He saith of it,
"Thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth."
Though He saith, "it bloweth where it listeth," He saith it not as if the wind had any power of choice, but declaring that its natural motion cannot be hindered, and is with power. For Scripture knoweth how to speak thus of things without life, as when it saith, "The creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly." (Romans 8:20.) The expression therefore, "bloweth where it listeth," is that of one who would show that it cannot be restrained, that it is spread abroad everywhere, and that none can hinder its passing hither and thither, but that it goes abroad with great might, and none is able to turn aside its violence.
[2.] "And thou hearest its voice,"  (that is, its rustle, its noise,) "but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
Here is the conclusion of the whole matter. "If," saith He, "thou knowest not how to explain the motion nor the path of this wind  which thou perceivest by hearing and touch, why art thou over-anxious about the working of the Divine Spirit, when thou understandest not that of the wind, though thou hearest its voice?" The expression, "bloweth where it listeth," is also used to establish the power of the Comforter; for if none can hold the wind, but it moveth where it listeth, much less will the laws of nature, or limits of bodily generation, or anything of the like kind, be able to restrain the operations of the Spirit.
That the expression, "thou hearest its voice," is used respecting the wind, is clear from this circumstance; He would not, when conversing with an unbeliever and one unacquainted with the operation of the Spirit, have said, "Thou hearest its voice." As then the wind is not visible, although it utters a sound, so neither is the birth of that which is spiritual visible to our bodily eyes; yet the wind is a body, although a very subtle one; for whatever is the object of sense is body. If then you do not complain because you cannot see this body, and do not on this account disbelieve, why do you, when you hear of "the Spirit," hesitate and demand such exact accounts, although you act not so in the case of a body? What then doth Nicodemus? still he continues in his low Jewish opinion, and that too when so clear an example has been mentioned to him. Wherefore when he again says doubtingly,
Ver. 9, 10. "How can these things be?" Christ now speaks to him more chidingly; "Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?"
Observe how He nowhere accuses the man of wickedness, but only of weakness and simplicity. "And what," one may ask, "has this birth in common with Jewish matters?" Tell me rather what has it that is not in common with them? For the first-created man, and the woman formed from his side, and the barren women, and the things accomplished by water, I mean what relates to the fountain on which Elisha made the iron tool to swim, to the Red Sea which the Jews passed over, to the pool which the Angel troubled, to Naaman the Syrian who was cleansed in Jordan, all these proclaimed beforehand, as by a figure, the Birth and the purification which were to be. And the words of the Prophet allude to the manner of this Birth, as, "It shall be announced unto the Lord a generation which cometh, and they shall announce His righteousness unto a people that shall be born, whom the Lord hath made" (Psalm 22:30; xxx. 31 , LXX.); and, "Thy youth shall be renewed as an eagle's" (Psalm 103:5 , LXX.); and, "Shine, O Jerusalem; behold, Thy King cometh!" (Isaiah 60:1; Zechariah 9:9); and, "Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven." (Psalm 32:1 , LXX.) Isaac also was a type of this Birth. For tell me, Nicodemus, how was he born? was it according to the law of nature? By no means; the mode of his generation was midway between this of which we speak and the natural; the natural, because he was begotten by cohabitation; the other, because he was begotten not of blood,  (but by the will of God.) I shall show that these figures  proclaimed beforehand not only this birth, but also that from the Virgin. For, because no one would easily have believed that a virgin could bear a child, barren women first did so, then such as were not only barren, but aged also. That a woman should be made from a rib was indeed far more wonderful than that the barren should conceive; but because that was of early and old time, another figure, new and fresh, was given, that of the barren women; to prepare the way for belief in the Virgin's travail. To remind him then of these things, Jesus said, "Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things?"
Ver. 11. "We speak that We do know, and testify that We have seen, and none receiveth  Our witness."
This He added, making His words credible by another argument, and condescending in His speech to the other's infirmity.
[3.] And what is this that He saith, "We speak that We do know, and testify that We have seen"? Because with us the sight is the most trustworthy of the senses, and if we desire to gain a person's belief, we speak thus, that we saw it with our eyes, not that we know it by hearsay; Christ therefore speaks to him rather after the manner of men, gaining belief for His words by this means also. And that this is so, and that He desires to establish nothing else, and refers not to sensual vision, is clear from this; after saying, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit," He adds, "We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen." Now this (of the Spirit) was not yet born  ; how then saith He, "what we have seen"? Is it not plain that He speaks of a knowledge not otherwise than exact?
"And none receiveth our witness." The expression "we know," He uses then either concerning Himself and His Father, or concerning Himself alone; and "no man receiveth," is the expression not of one displeased, but of one who declares a fact: for He said not, "What can be more senseless than you who receive not what is so exactly declared by us?" but displaying all gentleness, both by His works and His words, He uttered nothing like this; mildly and kindly He foretold what should come to pass, so guiding us too to all gentleness, and teaching us when we converse with any and do not persuade them, not to be annoyed or made savage; for it is impossible for one out of temper to accomplish his purpose, he must make him to whom he speaks still more incredulous. Wherefore we must abstain from anger, and make our words in every way credible by avoiding not only wrath, but also loud speaking  for loud speaking is the fuel of passion.
Let us then bind  the horse, that we may subdue the rider; let us clip the wings of our wrath, so the evil shall no more rise to a height. A keen passion is anger, keen, and skillful to steal our souls; therefore we must on all sides guard against its entrance. It were strange that we should be able to tame wild beasts, and yet should neglect our own savage minds. Wrath is a fierce fire, it devours all things; it harms the body, it destroys the soul, it makes a man deformed  and ugly to look upon; and if it were possible for an angry person to be visible to himself at the time of his anger, he would need no other admonition, for nothing is more displeasing than an angry countenance. Anger is a kind of drunkenness, or rather it is more grievous than drunkenness, and more pitiable than (possession of) a d?mon. But if we be careful not to be loud in speech,  we shall find this the best path to sobriety of conduct.  And therefore Paul would take away clamor as well as anger, when he says, "Let all anger and clamor be put away from you." (Ephesians 4:31.) Let us then obey this teacher of all wisdom, and when we are wroth with our servants, let us consider our own trespasses, and be ashamed at their forbearance. For when thou art insolent, and thy servant bears thy insults in silence, when thou actest unseemly, he like a wise man, take this instead of any other warning. Though he is thy servant, he is still a man, has an immortal soul, and has been honored with the same gifts as thee by your common Lord. And if he who is our equal in more important and more spiritual things, on account of some poor and trifling human superiority so meekly bears our injuries, what pardon can we deserve, what excuse can we make, who cannot, or rather will not, be as wise through fear of God, as he is through fear of us? Considering then all these things, and calling to mind our own transgressions, and the common nature of man, let us be careful at all times to speak gently, that being humble in heart we may find rest for our souls, both that which now is, and that which is to come; which may we all attain, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
 al. "precious."
 or, "begotten."
 or, "begotten."
 or, "from above."
 or, "spirit."
 lit "of bloods," as in c. i. 13.
 ou lambanete, G. T.
 or, "begotten."
 lit. "shouting."
 lit. "tie the feet of."
 or, "unpleasing."
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
"If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven."
[1.] What I have often said I shall now repeat, and shall not cease to say. What is that? It is that Jesus, when about to touch on sublime doctrines, often contains Himself by reason of the infirmity of His hearers, and dwells not for a continuance on subjects worthy of His greatness, but rather on those which partake of condescension. For the sublime and great, being but once uttered, is sufficient to establish that character, as far as we are able to hear it; but unless more lowly sayings, and such as are nigh to  the comprehension of the hearers, were continually uttered, the more sublime would not readily take hold on a groveling listener. And therefore of the sayings of Christ more are lowly than sublime. But yet that this again may not work another mischief, by detaining the disciple here below, He does not merely set before men His inferior sayings without first telling them why He utters them; as, in fact, He has done in this place. For when He had said what He did concerning Baptism, and the Generation by grace which takes place on earth, being desirous to admit  them to that His own mysterious and incomprehensible Generation, He holds it in suspense for a while, and admits them not, and then tells them His reason for not admitting them. What is that? It is, the dullness and infirmity of His hearers. And referring to this He added the words, "If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?" so that wherever He saith anything ordinary and humble, we must attribute this to the infirmity of His audience.
The expression "earthly things," some say is here used of the wind; that is, "If I have given you an example from earthly things, and ye did not even so believe, how shall ye be able to learn sublimer things?" And wonder not if He here call Baptism an "earthly" thing, for He calls it so, either from its being performed on earth, or so naming it in comparison with that His own most awful Generation. For though this Generation of ours is heavenly, yet compared with that true Generation which is from the Substance of the Father, it is earthly.
He does not say, "Ye have not understood," but, "Ye have not believed"; for when a man is ill disposed towards those things which it is possible to apprehend by the intellect, and will not readily receive them, he may justly be charged with want of understanding; but when he receives not things which cannot be apprehended by reasoning, but only by faith, the charge against him is no longer want of understanding, but unbelief. Leading him therefore away from enquiring by reasonings into what had been said, He touches him more severely by charging him with want of faith. If now we must receive our own Generation  by faith, what do they deserve who are busy with their reasonings about that of the Only-Begotten?
But perhaps some may ask, "And if the hearers were not to believe these sayings, wherefore were they uttered?" Because though "they" believed not, those who came after would believe and profit by them. Touching him therefore very severely, Christ goes on to show that He knoweth not these things only, but others also, far more and greater than these. And this He declared by what follows, when He said, "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven."
"And what manner of sequel is this?"  asks one. The very closest, and entirely in unison with what has gone before. For since Nicodemus had said, "We know that Thou art a teacher come from God," on this very point He sets him right, all but saying, "Think Me not a teacher in such manner as were the many of the prophets who were of earth, for I have come from heaven (but) now. None of the prophets hath ascended up thither, but I dwell there." Seest thou how even that which appears very exalted is utterly unworthy of his greatness? For not in heaven only is He, but everywhere, and He fills all things; but yet He speaks according to the infirmity of His hearer, desiring to lead him up little by little. And in this place He called not the flesh "Son of Man," but He now named, so to speak, His entire Self from the inferior substance; indeed this is His wont, to call His whole Person  often from His Divinity, and often from His humanity.
And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
Ver. 14. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up."
This again seems to depend upon what has gone before, and this too has a very close connection with it. For after having spoken of the very great benefaction that had come to man by Baptism, He proceeds to mention another benefaction, which was the cause of this, and not inferior to it; namely, that by the Cross. As also Paul arguing with the Corinthians sets down these benefits together, when he says, "Was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized into the name of Paul?" for these two things most of all declare His unspeakable love, that He both suffered for His enemies, and that having died for His enemies, He freely gave to them by Baptism entire remission of their sins.
[2.] But wherefore did He not say plainly, "I am about to be crucified," instead of referring His hearers to the ancient type? First, that you may learn that old things are akin to new, and that the one are not alien to the other; next, that you may know that He came not unwillingly to His Passion; and again, besides these reasons, that you may learn that no harm arises to Him from the Fact,  and that to many there springs from it salvation. For, that none may say, "And how is it possible that they who believe on one crucified should be saved, when he himself is holden of death?" He leads us to the ancient story. Now if the Jews, by looking to the brazen image of a serpent, escaped death, much rather will they who believe on the Crucified, with good reason enjoy a far greater benefit. For this  takes place, not through the weakness of the Crucified, or because the Jews are stronger than He, but because "God loved the world," therefore is His living Temple fastened to the Cross.
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Ver. 15. "That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."
Seest thou the cause of the Crucifixion, and the salvation which is by it? Seest thou the relationship of the type to the reality? there the Jews escaped death, but the temporal, here believers the eternal; there the hanging serpent healed the bites of serpents, here the Crucified Jesus cured the wounds inflicted by the spiritual  dragon; there he who looked with his bodily eyes was healed, here he who beholds with the eyes of his understanding put off all his sins; there that which hung was brass fashioned into the likeness of a serpent, here it was the Lord's Body, builded by the Spirit; there a serpent bit and a serpent healed, here death destroyed and a Death saved. But the snake which destroyed had venom, that which saved was free from venom; and so again was it here, for the death which slew us had sin with it, as the serpent had venom; but the Lord's Death was free from all sin, as the brazen serpent from venom. For, saith Peter, "He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth." (1 Pet. ii. 22.) And this is what Paul also declares, "And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." (Colossians 2:16.) For as some noble champion by lifting on high and dashing down his antagonist, renders his victory more glorious, so Christ, in the sight of all the world, cast down the adverse powers, and having healed those who were smitten in the wilderness, delivered them from all venomous beasts  that vexed them, by being hung upon the Cross. Yet He did not say, "must hang," but, "must be lifted up" (Acts 28:4); for He used this which seemed the milder term, on account of His hearer, and because it was proper to the type. 
Ver. 16. "God," He saith, "so loved the world that He gave His Only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
What He saith, is of this kind: Marvel not that I am to be lifted up that ye may be saved, for this seemeth good to the Father, and He hath so loved you as to give His Son for slaves, and ungrateful slaves. Yet a man would not do this even for a friend, nor readily even for a righteous man; as Paul has declared when he said, "Scarcely for a righteous man will one die." (Romans 5:7.) Now he spoke at greater length, as speaking to believers, but here Christ speaks concisely, because His discourse was directed to Nicodemus, but still in a more significant manner, for each word had much significance. For by the expression, "so loved," and that other, "God the world," He shows the great strength of His love. Large and infinite was the interval between the two. He, the immortal, who is without beginning, the Infinite Majesty, they but dust and ashes, full of ten thousand sins, who, ungrateful, have at all times offended Him; and these He "loved." Again, the words which He added after these are alike significant, when He saith, that "He gave His Only-begotten Son," not a servant, not an Angel, not an Archangel. And yet no one would show such anxiety for his own child, as God did for His ungrateful servants.
His Passion then He sets before him not very openly, but rather darkly; but the advantage of the Passion He adds in a clearer manner,  saying, "That every one that believeth in Him. should not perish, but have everlasting life." For when He had said, "must be lifted up," and alluded to death, lest the hearer should be made downcast by these words, forming some mere human opinions concerning Him, and supposing that His death was a ceasing to be,  observe how He sets this right, by saying, that He that was given was "The Son of God," and the cause of life, of everlasting life. He who procured life for others by death, would not Himself be continually in death; for if they who believed on the Crucified perish not, much less doth He perish who is crucified. He who taketh away the destitution of others much more is He free from it; He who giveth life to others, much more to Himself doth He well forth life. Seest thou that everywhere there is need of faith? For He calls the Cross the fountain of life; which reason cannot easily allow, as the heathens now by their mocking testify. But faith which goes beyond the weakness of reasoning, may easily receive and retain it. And whence did God "so love the world"? From no other source but only from his goodness.
[3.] Let us now be abashed at His love, let us be ashamed at the excess of His lovingkindness, since He for our sakes spared not His Only-begotten Son, yet we spare our wealth to our own injury; He for us gave His Own Son, but we for Him do not so much as despise money, nor even for ourselves. And how can these things deserve pardon? If we see a man submitting to sufferings and death for us, we set him before all others, count him among our chief friends, place in his hands all that is ours, and deem it rather his than ours, and even so do not think that we give him the return that he deserves. But towards Christ we do not preserve even this degree of right feeling. He laid down His life for us, and poured forth His precious Blood for our sakes, who were neither well-disposed nor good, while we do not pour out even our money for our own sakes, and neglect Him who died for us, when He is naked and a stranger; and who shall deliver us from the punishment that is to come? For suppose that it were not God that punishes, but that we punished ourselves; should we not give our vote against ourselves? should we not sentence ourselves to the very fire of hell, for allowing Him who laid down His life for us, to pine with hunger? But why speak I of money? had we ten thousand lives, ought we not to lay them all down for Him? and yet not even so could we do what His benefits deserve. For he who confers a benefit in the first instance, gives evident proof of his kindness, but he who has received one, whatever return he makes, he repays as a debt, and does not bestow as a favor; especially when he who did the first good turn was benefiting his enemies. And he who repays both bestows his gifts on a benefactor, and himself reaps their fruit besides.  But not even this induces us; more foolish are we than any, putting golden necklaces about our servants and mules and horses, and neglecting our Lord who goes about naked, and passes from door to door, and ever stands at our outlets, and stretches forth His hands to us, but often regarding Him with unpitying eye; yet these very things He undergoeth for our sake. Gladly  doth He hunger that thou mayest be fed; naked doth He go that He may provide for thee the materials  for a garment of incorruption, yet not even so do ye give up any of your own. Some of your garments are moth-eaten, others are a load to your coffers, and a needless trouble to their possessors, while He who gave you these and all else that you possess goeth naked.
But perhaps you do not lay them by in your coffers, but wear them and make yourself fine with them. And what gain you by this? Is it that the street people may see you? What then? They will not admire thee who wearest such apparel, but the man who supplies garments to the needy; so if you desire to be admired, by clothing others, you will the rather get infinite applause. Then too God as well as man shall praise thee; now none can praise, but all will grudge at thee, seeing thee with a body well arrayed, but having a neglected soul. So harlots have adornment, and their clothes are often more than usually expensive and splendid; but the adornment of the soul is with those only who live in virtue.
These things I say continually, and I will not cease to say them, not so much because I care for the poor, as because I care for your souls. For they will have some comfort, if not from you, yet from some other quarter; or even if they be not comforted, but perish by hunger, the harm to them will be no great matter. What did poverty and wasting by hunger injure Lazarus! But none can rescue you from hell, if you obtain not the help of the poor;  we shall say to you what was said to the rich man, who was continually broiling, yet gained no comfort. God grant that none ever hear those words, but that all may go into the bosom of Abraham; by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
 al. "touch."
 i. e. the new Birth.
 i. e. how is this connected with what has gone before?
 to pan.
 i. e. of the Passion.
 i. e. the Crucifixion.
 e ngus tou tupou.
 al. "clearly and openly."
 a nuparxian.
 lit. "sweetly."
 hu pothesin.
 al. "the hungry."
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
"For God sent not His Son  to condemn the world, but to save the world." 
[1.] Many of the more careless sort of persons, using the lovingkindness of God to increase the magnitude of their sins and the excess of their disregard, speak in this way, "There is no hell, there is no future punishment, God forgives us all sins." To stop whose mouths a wise man says, "Say not, His mercy is great, He will be pacified for the multitude of my sins; for mercy and wrath come from Him, and His indignation resteth upon sinners" (Ecclus. v. 6): and again, "As His mercy is great, so is His correction also." (Ecclus. xvi. 12.) "Where then," saith one, "is His lovingkindness, if we shall receive for our sins according to our deserts?" That we shall indeed receive "according to our deserts," hear both the Prophet and Paul declare; one says, "Thou shalt render to every man according to his work" (Psalm 62:12 , LXX.); the other, "Who will render to every man according to his work." (Romans 2:6.) And yet we may see that even so the lovingkindness of God is great; in dividing our existence  into two periods,  the present life and that which is to come, and making the first to be an appointment of trial, the second a place of crowning, even in this He hath shown great lovingkindness.
"How and in what way?" Because when we had committed many and grievous sins, and had not ceased from youth to extreme old age to defile our souls with ten thousand evil deeds, for none of these sins did He demand from us a reckoning, but granted us remission of them by the washing  of Regeneration, and freely gave us Righteousness and Sanctification. "What then," says one, "if a man who from his earliest age has been deemed worthy of the mysteries, after this commits ten thousand sins?" Such an one deserves a severer punishment. For we do not pay the same penalties for the same sins, if we do wrong after Initiation.  And this Paul declares, saying, "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses; of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the Covenant an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" (Hebrews 10:28, 29.) Such an one then is worthy of severer punishment.  Yet even for him God hath opened doors of repentance, and hath granted him many means for the washing away his transgressions, if he will. Think then what proofs of lovingkindness these are; by Grace to remit sins, and not to punish him who after grace has sinned and deserves punishment, but to give him a season and appointed space for his clearing.  For all these reasons Christ said to Nicodemus, "God sent not His Son to condemn the world, but to save the world."
For there are two Advents of Christ, that which has been, and that which is to be; and the two are not for the same purpose; the first came to pass not that He might search into our actions, but that He might remit; the object of the second will be not to remit, but to enquire. Therefore of the first He saith, "I came not to condemn the world, but to save the world" (c. iii. 17); but of the second, "When the Son shall have come in the glory of His Father,  He shall set the sheep on His right hand, and the goats on His left." (Matthew 25:31, 46.) And they shall go, these into life; and these into eternal punishment. Yet His former coming was for judgment, according to the rule of justice. Why? Because before His coming there was a law of nature, and the prophets, and moreover a written Law, and doctrine, and ten thousand promises, and manifestations of signs, and chastisements, and vengeances, and many other things which might have set men right, and it followed that for all these things He would demand account; but, because He is merciful, He for a while pardons instead of making enquiry. For had He done so, all would at once have been hurried to perdition. For "all," it saith, "have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23.) Seest thou the unspeakable excess of His lovingkindness?
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Ver. 18. "He that believeth on the Son,  is not judged;  but he that believeth not, is judged already."
Yet if He "came not to judge the world," how is "he that believeth not judged already," if the time of "judgment" has not yet arrived? He either means this, that the very fact of disbelieving without repentance is a punishment, (for to be without the light, contains in itself a very severe punishment,) or he announces beforehand what shall be. For as the murderer, though he be not as yet condemned by the decision of the judge, is still condemned by the nature of the thing, so is it with the unbeliever. Since Adam also died on the day that he ate of the tree; for so ran the decree, "In the day that ye eat of the tree, ye shall die" (Genesis 2:17 , LXX.); yet he lived. How then "died" he? By the decree; by the very nature of the thing; for he who has rendered himself liable to punishment, is under its penalty, and if for a while not actually so, yet he is by the sentence.
Lest any one on hearing, "I came not to judge the world," should imagine that he might sin unpunished, and should so become more careless, Christ stops  such disregard by saying, "is judged already"; and because the "judgment" was future and not yet at hand, He brings near the dread of vengeance, and describes the punishment as already come. And this is itself a mark of great lovingkindness, that He not only gives His Son, but even delays the time of judgment, that they who have sinned, and they who believe not, may have power to wash away their transgressions.
"He that believeth on the Son, is not judged." He that "believeth," not he that is over-curious: he that "believeth," not the busybody. But what if his life be unclean, and his deeds evil? It is of such as these especially that Paul declares, that they are not true believers at all: "They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him." (Titus 1:16.) But here Christ saith, that such an one is not "judged" in this one particular; for his works indeed he shall suffer a severer punishment, but having believed once, he is not chastised for unbelief.
[2.] Seest thou how having commenced His discourse with fearful things, He has concluded it again with the very same? for at first He saith, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God": and here again, "He that believeth not on the Son, is judged already." "Think not," He saith, "that the delay advantageth at all the guilty, except he repent, for he that hath not believed, shall be in no better state than those who are already condemned and under punishment."
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Ver. 19. "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light."
What He saith, is of this kind: "they are punished, because they would not leave the darkness, and hasten to the light." And hence He goes on to deprive them of all excuse for the future: "Had I come," saith He, "to punish and to exact account of their deeds, they might have been able to say, this is why we started away from thee,' but now I am come to free them from darkness, and to bring them to the light; who then could pity one who will not come from darkness unto light? When they have no charge to bring against us, but have received ten thousand benefits, they start away from us." And this charge He hath brought in another place, where He saith, "They hated Me without a cause" (John 15:25): and again, "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin." (John 15:22.) For he who in the absence of light sitteth in darkness, may perchance receive pardon; but one who after it is come abides by the darkness, produces against himself a certain proof of a perverse and contentious disposition. Next, because His assertion would seem incredible to most, (for none would prefer "darkness to light,") He adds the cause of such a feeling in them. What is that?
Ver. 19, 20. "Because," He saith, "their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."
Yet he came not to judge or to enquire, but to pardon and remit transgressions, and to grant salvation through faith. How then fled they?  Had He come and sat in His Judgment seat, what He said might have seemed reasonable; for he that is conscious to himself of evil deeds, is wont to fly his judge. But, on the contrary, they who have transgressed even run to one who is pardoning. If therefore He came to pardon, those would naturally most hasten to Him who were conscious to themselves of many transgressions; and indeed this was the case with many, for even publicans and sinners sat at meat with Jesus. What then is this which He saith? He saith this of those who choose always to remain in wickedness. He indeed came, that He might forgive men's former sins, and secure them against those to come; but since there are some so relaxed,  so powerless for the toils of virtue, that they desire to abide by wickedness till their latest breath, and never cease from it, He speaks in this place reflecting  upon these. "For since," He saith, "the profession of Christianity requires besides right doctrine a sound conversation also, they fear to come over to us, because they like not to show forth a righteous life. Him that lives in heathenism none would blame, because with gods such as he has, and with rites as foul and ridiculous as his gods, he shows forth actions that suit his doctrines; but those who belong to the True God, if they live a careless life, have all men to call them to account, and to accuse them. So greatly do even its enemies admire the truth." Observe, then, how exactly He layeth down what He saith. His expression is, not "He that hath done evil cometh not to the light," but "he that doeth it always, he that desireth always to roll himself in the mire of sin, he will not subject himself to My laws, but chooses to stay without, and to commit fornication without fear, and to do all other forbidden things. For if he comes to Me, he becomes manifest as a thief in the light, and therefore he avoids My dominion." For instance, even now one may hear many heathen say, "that they cannot come to our faith, because they cannot leave off drunkenness and fornication, and the like disorders."
"Well," says some one, "but are there no Christians that do evil, and heathens that live discreetly?"  That there are Christians who do evil, I know; but whether there are heathens who live a righteous life, I do not yet know assuredly. For do not speak to me of those who by nature are good and orderly, (this is not virtue,) but tell me of the man who can endure the exceeding violence of his passions and (yet) be temperate.  You cannot. For if the promise of a Kingdom, and the threat of hell, and so much other provision,  can scarcely keep men in virtue, they will hardly go after virtue who believe in none of these things. Or, if any pretend to do so, they do it for show; and he who doth so for show, will not, when he may escape observation, refrain from indulging his evil desires. However, that we may not seem to any to be contentious, let us grant that there are right livers among the heathen; for neither doth this go against my argument, since I spoke of that which occurs in general, not of what happens rarely.
And observe how in another way He deprives them of all excuse, when He saith that, "the light came into the world." "Did they seek it themselves," He saith, "did they toil, did they labor to find it? The light itself came to them, and not even so would they hasten to it." And if there be some Christians who live wickedly, I would argue that He doth not say this of those who have been Christians from the beginning, and who have inherited true religion from their forefathers, (although even these for the most part have been shaken from  right doctrine by their evil life,) yet still I think that He doth not now speak concerning these, but concerning the heathen and the Jews who ought to have come  to the right faith. For He showeth that no man living in error would choose to come to the truth unless he before had planned  for himself a righteous life, and that none would remain in unbelief unless he had previously chosen always to be wicked.
Do not tell me that a man is temperate, and does not rob; these things by themselves are not virtue. For what advantageth it, if a man has these things, and yet is the slave of vainglory, and remains in his error, from fear of the company of his friends? This is not right living. The slave of a reputation  is no less a sinner than the fornicator; nay, he worketh more and more grievous deeds than he. But tell me of any one that is free from all passions and from all iniquity, and who remains among the heathen. Thou canst not do so; for even those among them who have boasted great things, and who have, as they say,  mastered avarice or gluttony, have been, most of all men, the slaves of reputation,  and this is the cause of all evils. Thus it is that the Jews also have continued Jews; for which cause Christ rebuked them and said, "How can ye believe, which receive honor from men?" (c. v. 44.)
"And why, pray, did He not speak on these matters with Nathanael, to whom He testified of the truth, nor extend His discourse to any length?" Because even he came not with such zeal as did Nicodemus. For Nicodemus made this his work,  and the season which others used for rest he made a season for hearing; but Nathanael came at the instance of another. Yet not even him did Jesus entirely pass by, for to him He saith, "Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man." (c. i. 51.) But to Nicodemus He spake not so, but conversed with him on the Dispensation and on eternal life, addressing each differently and suitably to the condition of his will. It was sufficient for Nathanael, because he knew the writings of the prophets, and was not so timid either, to hear only thus far; but because Nicodemus was as yet possessed by fear, Christ did not indeed clearly reveal to him the whole, but shook his mind so as to cast out fear by fear, declaring that he who did not believe was being judged,  and that unbelief proceeded from an evil conscience. For since he made great account of honor from men, more than he did of the punishment; ("Many," saith the Evangelist, "of the rulers believed on Him, but because of the Jews they did not confess"-- c. xii. 42 ;) on this point Christ toucheth him, saying, "It cannot be that he who believeth not on Me disbelieveth for any other cause save that he liveth an unclean life." Farther on He saith, "I am the Light" (c. viii. 12), but here, "the Light came into the world"; for at the beginning He spoke somewhat darkly, but afterwards more clearly. Yet even so the man was kept back by regard for the opinion of the many, and therefore could not endure to speak boldly as he ought.
Fly we then vainglory, for this is a passion more tyrannical than any. Hence spring covetousness and love of wealth, hence hatred and wars and strifes; for he that desires more than he has, will never be able to stop, and he desires from no other cause, but only from his love of vainglory. For tell me, why do so many encircle themselves with multitudes of eunuchs, and herds of slaves, and much show? Not because they need it, but that they may make those who meet them witnesses of this unseasonable display. If then we cut this off, we shall slay together with the head the other members also of wickedness, and there will be nothing to hinder us from dwelling on earth as though it were heaven. Nor doth this vice merely thrust its captives into wickedness, but is even co-existent  with their virtues, and when it is unable entirely to cast us out of these, it still causeth us much damage in the very exercise of them, forcing us to undergo the toil, and depriving us of the fruit. For he that with an eye to this, fasts, and prays, and shows mercy, has his reward. What can be more pitiable than a loss like this, that it should befall man to bewail  himself uselessly and in vain, and to become an object of ridicule, and to lose the glory from above? Since he that aims at both cannot obtain both. It is indeed possible to obtain both, when we desire not both, but one only, that from heaven; but he cannot obtain both, who longs for both. Wherefore if we wish to attain to glory, let us flee from human glory, and desire that only which cometh from God; so shall we obtain both the one and the other; which may we all enjoy, through the grace and loving kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
 [eis ton kosmon, G. T.]
 hi na sothe ho kosmos di autou, G. T.
 ta hemetera
 or, "laver."
 Morel. "he then will be more severely punished who has sinned after grace."
 prothesmian apologias
 te doxe autou. G. T.
 eis auton, G. T.
 or, "condemned," E.V.
 lit. "walls off."
 Morel. "therefore they fled to their own hurt."
 lit "flaccid."
 e piskopton
 e n philosophia
 al. "doctrine."
 al. "shifted themselves."
 hu pograpsas. al. e pigrapsas
 or, "glory."
 or, "thou sayest."
 or, "glory."
 i. e. his one great object.
For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.
"And He came and His disciples into the land of Jud?a, and there He tarried with them (and baptized)."
[1.] Nothing can be clearer or mightier than the truth, just as nothing is weaker than falsehood, though it be shaded by ten thousand veils. For even so it is easily detected, it easily melts away. But truth stands forth unveiled for all that will behold her beauty; she seeks no concealment, dreads no danger, trembles at no plots, desires not glory from the many, is accountable to no mortal thing, but stands above them all, is the object of ten thousand secret plots, yet remaineth unconquerable, and guards as in a sure fortress these who fly to her by her own exceeding might, who avoids secret lurking places, and setteth what is hers before all men. And this Christ conversing with Pilate declared, when He said, "I ever taught openly, and in secret have I said nothing." (c. xviii. 20.) As He spake then, so He acted now, for, "After this," saith the Evangelist, "He went forth and His disciples into the land of Jud?a, and there He tarried with them and baptized." At the feasts He went up to the City to set forth in the midst of them His doctrines, and the help of His miracles; but after the feasts were over, He often went to Jordan, because many ran together there. For He ever chose the most crowded places, not from any love of show or vainglory, but because He desired to afford His help to the greatest number.
Yet the Evangelist farther on says, that "Jesus baptized not, but His disciples"; whence it is clear that this is his meaning here also. And why did Jesus not baptize? The Baptist had said before, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." Now he had not yet given the Spirit, and it was therefore with good cause that he did not baptize. But His disciples did so, because they desired to bring many to the saving doctrine.
"And why, when the disciples of Jesus were baptizing, did not John cease to do so? why did he continue to baptize, and that even until he was led to prison? for to say,
And John also was baptizing in AEnon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.
Ver. 23. John also was baptizing in ?non'; and to add,
For John was not yet cast into prison.
Ver. 24. John was not yet cast into prison,' was to declare that until that time he did not cease to baptize. But wherefore did he baptize until then? For he would have made the disciples of Jesus seem more reverend had he desisted when they began. Why then did he baptize?" It was that he might not excite his disciples to even stronger rivalry, and make them more contentious still. For if, although he ten thousand times proclaimed Christ, yielded to Him the chief place, and made himself so much inferior, he still could not persuade them to run to Him; he would, had he added this also, have made them yet more hostile. On this account it was that Christ began to preach more constantly when John was removed. And moreover, I think that the death of John was allowed, and that it happened very quickly, in order that the whole attention  of the multitude might be shifted to Christ, and that they might no longer be divided in their opinions concerning the two.
Besides, even while he was baptizing, he did not cease continually to exhort them, and to show them the high and awful nature of Jesus. For He baptized them, and told them no other thing than that they must believe on Him that came after him. Now how would a man who acted thus by desisting have made the disciples of Christ seem worthy of reverence? On the contrary, he would have been thought to do so through envy and passion. But to continue preaching gave a stronger proof; for he desired not glory for himself, but sent on his hearers to Christ, and wrought with Him not less, but rather much more than Christ's own disciples, because his testimony was unsuspected and he was by all men far more highly esteemed than they. And this the Evangelist implies, when he says, "all Jud?a and the country around about Jordan went out to him and were baptized." (Matthew 3:5.) Even when the disciples were baptizing, yet many did not cease to run to him.
If any one should enquire, "And in what was the baptism of the disciples better than that of John?" we will reply, "in nothing"; both were alike without the gift of the Spirit, both parties alike had one reason for baptizing, and that was, to lead the baptized to Christ. For in order that they might not be always running about to bring together those that should believe, as in Simon's case his brother did, and Philip to Nathanael, they instituted baptism, in order by it to bring all men to them easily, and to prepare a way for the faith which was to be. But that the baptisms had no superiority one over the other, is shown by what follows. What is that?
Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.
Ver. 25. "There arose," saith the Evangelist, "a question (between some) of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying."
For the disciples of John being ever jealously disposed towards Christ's disciples and Christ Himself, when they saw them baptizing, began to reason with those who were baptized, as though their baptism was in a manner superior to that of Christ's disciples; and taking one of the baptized, they tried to persuade him of this; but persuaded him not. Hear how the Evangelist has given us to understand that it was they who attacked him, not he who set on foot the question. He doth not say, that "a certain Jew questioned with them," but that, "there arose a questioning from the disciples of John with a certain Jew,  concerning purification."
[2.] And observe, I pray you, the Evangelist's inoffensiveness. He does not speak in the way of invective, but as far as he is able softens the charge, merely saying, that "a question arose"; whereas the sequel (which he has also set down in an inoffensive manner) makes it plain that what was said was said from jealousy.
Ver. 26. "They came," saith he, "unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold the same baptizeth, and all men come to Him."
That is, "He whom thou didst baptize"; for this they imply when they say, "to whom thou barest witness," as though they had said, "He whom thou didst point out as illustrious, and make remarkable, dares to do the same as thou." Yet they do not say, "He whom thou didst baptize" baptizeth; (for then they would have been obliged to make mention of the Voice that came down from heaven, and of the descent of the Spirit;) but what say they? "He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness"; that is, "He who held the rank of a disciple, who was nothing more than we, this man hath separated himself, and baptizeth." For they thought to make him jealous,  not only by this, but by asserting that their own reputation was now diminishing. "All," say they, "come to Him." Whence it is evident, that they did not get the better of the Jew with whom they disputed; but they spoke these words because they were imperfect in disposition, and were not yet clear from a feeling of rivalry. What then doth John? He did not rebuke them severely, fearing lest they should separate themselves again from him, and work some other mischief. What are his words? 
Ver. 27. "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from above."
Marvel not, if he speak of Christ in a lowly strain; it was impossible to teach all at once, and from the very beginning, men so pre-occupied by passion. But he desires to strike them for a while with awe and terror, and to show them that they warred against none other than God Himself, when they warred against Christ. And here he secretly establishes that truth, which Gamaliel asserted, "Ye cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." (Acts 5:39.) For to say, "None can receive anything, except it be given him from heaven," was nothing else than declaring that they were attempting impossibilities, and so would be found to fight against God. "Well, but did not Theudas and his followers receive' from themselves?" They did, but they straightway were scattered and destroyed, not so what belonged to Christ.
By this also he gently consoles them, showing them that it was not a man, but God, who surpassed them in honor; and that therefore they must not wonder if what belonged to Him was glorious, and if "all men came unto Him": for that this was the nature of divine things, and that it was God who brought them to pass, because no man ever yet had power to do such deeds. All human things are easily seen through, and rotten, and quickly melt away and perish; these were not such, therefore not human. Observe too how when they said, "to whom thou barest witness," he turned against themselves that which they thought they had put forward to lower Christ, and silences them after showing that Jesus' glory came not from his testimony; "A man cannot," he saith, "receive anything of himself, except it be given him from heaven." "If ye hold at all to my testimony, and believe it to be true, know that by that testimony ye ought to prefer not me to Him, but Him to me. For what was it that I testified? I call you yourselves to witness."
Ver. 28. "Ye yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him."
"If then ye hold to my testimony, (and ye even now produce it when ye say, to whom thou barest witness,') He is not only not diminished by receiving my witness, but rather is increased by it; besides, the testimony was not mine, but God's. So that if I seem to you to be trustworthy, I said this among other things, that I am sent before Him.'" Seest thou how he shows little by little that this Voice was divine? For what he saith is of this kind: "I am a servant, and say the words of Him that sent me, not flattering Christ through human favor, but serving His Father who sent me. I gave not the testimony as a gift,  but what I was sent to speak, I spake. Do not then because of this suppose that I am great, for it shows that He is great. He is Lord of all things." This he goes on to declare, and says,
Ver. 29. "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice."
"But how doth he who said, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose,'  now call himself His friend'?" It is not to exalt himself, nor boastingly, that he saith this, but from desire to show that he too most forwards this, (i. e. the exaltation of Christ,) and that these things come to pass not against his will or to his grief, but that he desires and is eager for them, and that it was with a special view to them that all his actions had been performed; and this he has very wisely shown by the term "friend." For on occasions like marriages, the servants of the bridegroom are not so glad and joyful as his "friends." It was not from any desire to prove equality of honor, (away with the thought,) but only excess of pleasure, and moreover from condescension to their weakness that he calleth himself "friend." For his service he before declared  by saying, "I am sent before Him." On this account, and because they thought that he was vexed at what had taken place, he called himself the "friend of the Bridegroom," to show that he was not only not vexed, but that he even greatly rejoiced. "For," saith he, "I came to effect this, and am so far from grieving at what has been done, that had it not come to pass, I should then have been greatly grieved. Had the bride not come to the Bridegroom, then I should have been grieved, but not now, since my task has been accomplished. When His servants  are advancing, we are they who gain the honor; for that which we desired hath come to pass, and the bride knoweth the Bridegroom, and ye are witnesses of it when ye say, All men come unto Him.' This I earnestly desired, I did all to this end; and now when I see that it has come to pass, I am glad, and rejoice, and leap for joy."
[3.] But what meaneth, "He which standeth and heareth Him rejoiceth greatly, because of the Bridegroom's voice"? He transfers the expression from the parable to the subject in hand; for after mentioning the bridegroom and the bride, he shows how the bride is brought home, that is, by a "Voice" and teaching. For thus the Church is wedded to God; and therefore Paul saith, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17 .) "At this Voice,'" saith he, "I rejoice." And not without a cause doth he put "who standeth," but to show that his office had ceased, that he had given over to Him "the Bride," and must for the future stand and hear Him; that he was a servant and minister; that his good hope and his joy was now accomplished. Therefore he saith,
"This my joy therefore is fulfilled."
That is to say, "The work is finished which was to be done by me, for the future I can do nothing more." Then, to prevent increase of jealous feeling, not then only, but for the future, he tells them also of what should come to pass, confirming this too by what he had already said and done.  Therefore he continues,
Ver. 30. "He must increase, but I must decrease."
That is to say, "What is mine has now come to a stand, and has henceforth ceased, but what is His increaseth; for that which ye fear shall not be now only, but much more as it advances. And it is this especially which shows what is mine the brighter; for this end I came, and I rejoice that what is His hath made so great progress, and that those things have come to pass on account of which all that I did was done." Seest thou how gently and very wisely he softened down their passion, quenched their envy, showed them that they were undertaking impossibilities, a method by which wickedness is best checked? For this purpose it was ordained, that these things should take place while John was yet alive and baptizing, in order that his disciples might have him as a witness of the superiority of Christ, and that if they should not believe,  they might be without excuse. For John came not to say these words of his own accord, nor in answer to other enquirers, but they asked the question themselves, and heard the answer. For if he had spoken of himself, their belief would not have been equal to the self-condemning  judgment which they received when they heard him answer to their question; just as the Jews also, in that they sent to him from their homes, heard what they did, and yet would not believe, by this especially deprived themselves of excuse.
What then are we taught by this? That a mad desire of glory  is the cause of all evils; this led them to jealousy, and when they had ceased for a little, this roused them to it again. Wherefore they come to Jesus, and say, "Why do thy disciples fast not?" (Matthew 9:14.) Let us then, beloved, avoid this passion; for if we avoid this we shall escape hell. For this vice specially kindles the fire of hell, and everywhere extends  its role, and tyrannically occupies every age and every rank.  This hath turned churches upside down, this is mischievous in state matters, hath subverted houses, and cities, and peoples, and nations. Why marvelest thou? It hath even gone forth into the desert, and manifested even there its great power. For men who have bidden an entire farewell to riches and all the show of the world, who converse with no one, who have gained the mastery over the more imperious desires after the flesh, these very men, made captives by vainglory, have often lost all. By reason of this passion, one who had labored much went away worse off than one who had not labored at all, but on the contrary had committed ten thousand sins; the Pharisee than the Publican. However, to condemn the passion is easy enough, (all agree in doing that,) but the question is, how to get the better of it. How can we do this? By setting honor against honor. For as we despise the riches of earth when we look to the other riches, as we contemn this life when we think of that far better than this, so we shall be enabled to spit on this world's glory, when we know of another far more august than it, which is glory indeed. One is a thing vain and empty, has the name without the reality; but that other, which is from heaven, is true, and has to give its praise Angels, and Archangels, and the Lord of Archangels, or rather I should say that it has men as well. Now if thou lookest to that theater, learnest what crowns are there, transportest thyself into the applauses which come thence, never will earthly things be able to hold thee, nor when they come wilt thou deem them great, nor when they are away seek after them. For even in earthly palaces none of the guards who stand around the king, neglecting to please him that wears the diadem and sits upon the throne, troubles himself about the voices of daws, or the noise of flies and gnats flying and buzzing about him; and good report from men is no better than these. Knowing then the worthlessness of human things,  let us collect our all into treasuries that cannot be spoiled, let us seek that glory which is abiding and immovable; which may we all attain, through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom, and with whom to the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
 Ioudaiou tinos. This reading is found in the Complut. and in most of the Greek commentators: the plural in G. T., Vulgate, and Latin writers.
 Morel. "but he speaks in a manner reservedly."
 e charisamen
 c. i. 27
 al. "implied."
 or "affairs."
 So Savile and mss. Morel.'s reading has the same sense, but is less clear and concise.
 or, "obey."
 i. e. "if they believed not."
 al. "vainglory."
 Ben. "so does it everywhere extend."
 a xian
 al. "of men."
And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.
John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.
Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.
He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.
He must increase, but I must decrease.
He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.
Ver. 31, 32. "He that cometh from above is above all. And what He hath heard He speaketh, and what He hath seen He testifieth;  and no man receiveth His testimony."
Having uttered something great and sublime concerning Him, he again brings down his discourse to a humbler strain. For the expression, "what He hath heard and seen," is suited rather to a mere man. What He knew He knew not from having learned it by sight, or from having heard it, but He included the whole in His Nature, having come forth perfect from the Bosom of His Father, and needing none to teach Him. For, "As the Father," He saith, "knoweth Me, even so know I the Father." (c. x. 15.) What then means, "He speaketh that He hath heard, and testifieth that He hath seen"? Since by these senses we gain correct knowledge of everything, and are deemed worthy of credit when we teach on matters which our eyes have embraced and our ears have taken in, as not in such cases inventing or speaking falsehoods, John desiring here to establish this point,  said, "What He hath heard and seen": that is, "nothing that cometh from Him is false, but all is true." Thus we when we are making curious enquiry into anything, often ask, "Didst thou hear it?" "Didst thou see it?" And if this be proved, the testimony is indubitable, and so when Christ Himself saith, "As I hear, I judge" (c. v. 30); and, "What I have heard from My Father, that I speak"  (c. xv. 15); and, "We speak  that We have seen" (c. iii. 11); and whatsoever other sayings He uttereth of the kind, are uttered not that we might imagine that He saith what He doth being taught of any, (it were extreme folly to think this,) but in order that nothing of what is said may be suspected by the shameless Jews. For because they had not yet a right opinion concerning Him, He continually betakes Himself to His Father, and hence makes His sayings credible.
[2.] And why wonderest thou if He betake Himself to the Father, when He often resorts to the Prophets and the Scriptures? as when He saith, "They are they that testify of Me." (c. v. 39.) Shall we then say that He is inferior to the Prophets, because He draws testimonies from them? Away with the thought. It is because of the infirmity of His hearers that He so orders His discourse, and saith that He spake what He spake having heard it from the Father, not because He needed a teacher, but that they might believe that nothing that He said was false. John's meaning is of this kind: "I desire to hear what He saith, for He cometh from above, bringing thence those tidings which none but life knoweth rightly; for what He hath seen and heard,' is the expression of one who declareth this."
"And no man receiveth His testimony." Yet He had disciples, and many besides gave heed to His words. How then saith John, "No man"? He saith "no man," instead of "few men," for had he meant "no man at all," how could he have added,
John 3:31"He that cometh from above is above all; he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth."
[1.] A dreadful thing is the love of glory, dreadful and full of many evils; it is a thorn hard to be extracted, a wild beast untamable and many headed, arming itself against those that feed it; for as the worm eats through the wood from which it is born, as rust wastes the iron whence it comes forth, and moths the fleeces, so vainglory destroys the soul which nourishes it; and therefore we need great diligence to remove the passion. Observe here how long a charm John uses over  the disciples affected by it, and can scarcely pacify them. For he softens  them with other words besides those already mentioned. And what are these others? "He that cometh from above," he saith, "is above all; he that is of the earth, is earthly, and speaketh of the earth." Since you make much ado with my testimony,  and in this way say that I am more worthy of credit than He, you needs must know this, that it is impossible for One who cometh from heaven to have His credit strengthened by one that inhabiteth earth.
And what means "above all," what is the expression intended to show to us? That Christ hath need of nothing, but is Himself sufficient for Himself, and incomparably greater than all; of himself John speaks as being "of the earth, and speaking of the earth." Not that he spake of his own mind, but as Christ said, "If I have told you of earthly things and ye believe not," so calling Baptism, not because it was an "earthly thing," but because He compared it when He spake with His own Ineffable Generation, so here John said that he spake "of earth," comparing his own with Christ's teaching. For the "speaking of earth" means nothing else than this, "My things are little and low and poor compared with His, and such as it was probable that an earthly nature would receive. In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom.'" (Colossians 2:5.) That he speaks not of human reasonings is plain from this. "He that is of the earth," saith he, "is earthly." Yet not all in him was earthly, but the higher parts were heavenly, for he had a soul, and was partaker of a Spirit which was not of earth. How then saith he that he is "earthly"? Seest thou not that he means only, "I am small and of no esteem, going on the ground and born in the earth; but Christ came to us from above." Having by all these means quenched their passion, he afterwards speaks more openly of Christ; for before this it was useless to utter words which could never have gained a place in the understanding of his hearers: but when he hath pulled up the thorns, he then boldly casts in the seed, saying,
And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.
He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.
Ver. 33. "He that hath received His testimony, hath set to his seal that God is true."
Here he touches his own disciples, as not being likely for a time to be firm believers. And that they did not even after this believe in Him, is clear from what is said afterwards; for John even when dwelling in prison sent them thence to Christ, that he might the more bind them to Him. Yet even then they scarcely believed, to which Christ alluded when He said, "And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me." (Matthew 11:6 .) And therefore now he said, "And no man receiveth His testimony," to make sure his own disciples; all but saying, "Do not, because for a time few shall believe on Him, therefore deem that His words are false; for, He speaketh that He hath seen.'" Moreover he saith this to touch also the insensibility of the Jews. A charge which the Evangelist at commencing  brought against them, saying, "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not." For this is no reproach against Him, but an accusation of those who received Him not. (c. i. 11.)
"He that hath received His testimony hath set to his seal that God is true." Here he terrifies them also by showing that he who believeth not on Him, disbelieveth not Him alone, but the Father also; wherefore he adds:
For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.
Ver. 34. "He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God."
Since then He speaketh His words, he that believeth and he that believeth not, believeth or believeth not God. "Hath set to His seal," that is, "hath declared." Then, to increase their dread, he saith, "that God is true;" thus showing, that no man could disbelieve Christ without making God who sent Him guilty of a falsehood. Because, since He saith nothing save what is from the Father, but all that He saith is His, he that heareth not Him, heareth not Him that sent Him. See how by these words again he strikes them with fear. As yet they thought it no great thing not to hearken to Christ; and therefore he held so great a danger above the heads of the unbelievers, that they might learn that they hearken not to God Himself, who hearken not to Christ. Then he proceeds with the discourse, descending to the measure of their infirmity, and saying,
"For God giveth not the Spirit by measure."
Again, as I said, he brings down his discourse to lower ground, varying it and making it suitable to be received by those who heard it then; otherwise he could not have raised them and increased their fear. For had he spoken anything great and sublime concerning Jesus Himself, they would not have believed, but might even have despised Him. Therefore he leads up all to the Father, speaking for a while of Christ as of a man. But what is it that he saith, "God giveth not the Spirit by measure"? He would show that we all have received the operation of the Spirit, by measure, (for in this place he means by "Spirit" the operation of the Spirit, for this it is that is divided,) but that Christ hath all Its operation unmeasured and entire. Now if His operations be unmeasured, much more His Essence. Seest thou too that the Spirit is Infinite? How then can He who hath received all the operation of the Spirit, who knoweth the things of God, who saith, "We speak that We have heard, and testify that We have seen" (c. iii. 11), be rightly suspected? He saith nothing which is not "of God," or which is not of "the Spirit." And for a while he uttereth nothing concerning God the Word,  but maketh all his doctrine credible by (reference to) the Father and the Spirit. For that there is a God they knew, and that there is a Spirit they knew, (even though they held not a right opinion concerning Him,) but that there is a Son, they knew not. It is for this reason that he ever has recourse to the Father and the Spirit, thence confirming his words. For if any one should take no account of this reason, and examine his language by itself, it  would fall very far short of the Dignity of Christ. Christ was not therefore worthy of their faith, because He had the operation of the Spirit, (for He needeth not aid from thence,) but is Himself Self-sufficient; only for a while the Baptist speaks to the understanding of the simpler  sort, desiring to raise them up by degrees from their low notions.
And this I say, that we may not carelessly pass by what is contained in the Scriptures, but may fully consider the object of the speaker, and the infirmity of the hearers, and many other points in them. For teachers do not say all as they themselves would wish, but generally as the state of their weak (hearers) requires. Wherefore Paul saith, "I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal; I have fed you with milk, and not with meat." (1 Corinthians 3:1, 2.) He means, "I desired indeed to speak unto you as unto spiritual, but could not"; not because he was unable, but because they were not able so to hear. So too John desired to teach some great things to the disciples, but they could not yet bear to receive them, and therefore he dwells for the most part on that which is lowlier.
It behooves us therefore to explore all carefully. For the words of the Scriptures are our spiritual weapons; but if we know not how to fit those weapons and to arm our scholars rightly, they keep indeed their proper power, but cannot help those who receive them. For let us suppose there to be a strong corselet, and helm, and shield, and spear; and let one take this armor and put the corselet upon his feet, the helmet over his eyes instead of on his head, let him not put the shield before his breast, but perversely tie it to his legs: will he be able to gain any advantage from the armor? will he not rather be harmed? It is plain to any one that he will. Yet not on account of the weakness of the weapons, but on account of the unskillfulness of the man who knows not how to use them well. So with the Scriptures, if we confound their order; they will even so retain their proper force, yet will do us no good. Although I am always telling you this both in private and in public, I effect nothing, but see you all your time nailed to the things of this life, and not so much as dreaming  of spiritual matters. Therefore our lives are careless, and we who strive for truth have but little power, and are become a laughing stock to Greeks and Jews and Heretics. Had ye been careless in other matters, and exhibited in this place the same indifference as elsewhere, not even so could your doings have been defended; but now in matters of this life, every one of you, artisan and politician alike, is keener than a sword, while in necessary and spiritual things we are duller than any; making by-work business, and not deeming that which we ought to have esteemed more pressing than any business, to be by-work even. Know ye not that the Scriptures were written not for the first of mankind alone, but for our sakes also? Hearest thou not Paul say, that "they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come; that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope"? (1 Corinthians 10:11; Romans 15:4 .) I know that I speak in vain, yet will I not cease to speak, for thus I shall clear myself  before God, though there be none to hear me. He that speaketh to them that give heed hath this at least to cheer his speech, the persuasion of his hearers; but he that speaks continually and is not listened to, and yet ceaseth not to speak, may be worthy of greater honor than the other, because he fulfills the will of God, even though none give heed unto him, to the best of his power. Still, though our reward will be greater owing to your disobedience, we rather desire that it be diminished, and that your salvation be advanced, thinking that your being well approved of  is a great reward. And we now say this not to make our discourse painful and burdensome to you, but to show to you the grief which we feel by reason of your indifference. God grant that we may be all of us delivered from this, that we may cling to spiritual zeal and obtain the blessings of heaven, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
 ho sa epadei
 e pantlei, lit. "foments."
 a no kai kato strephete
 ho heor kai ek touto m. G. T.
 i. e. the credibility of Christ.
 e gnorisa humin, G. T.
 marturoumen, G. T.
 or, "at the comm. of the Gospel."
 tou Theou logou
 or, "he."
 a telesteron
 oude onar metechontas, al. oudena logon poioumenous
 a pologesomai
The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.
"The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
[1.] Great is shown to be in all things the gain of humility.  Thus it is that we have brought arts to perfection, not by learning them all at once from our teachers; it is thus that we have built cities, putting them together slowly, little by little; it is thus that we maintain  our life. And marvel not if the thing has so much power in matters pertaining to this life, when in spiritual things one may find that great is the power of this wisdom. For so the Jews were enabled to be delivered from their idolatry, being led on gently and little by little, and hearing from the first nothing sublime concerning either doctrine or life. So after the coming of Christ, when it was the time for higher doctrines, the Apostles brought over all men without at first uttering anything sublime. And so Christ appears to have spoken to most at the beginning, and so John did now, speaking of Him as of some wonderful man, and darkly introducing high matter.
For instance, when commencing he spake thus: "A man cannot receive anything of himself"  (c. iii. 27): then after adding a high expression, and saying, "He that cometh from heaven  is above all," he again brings down his discourse to what is lowly, and besides many other things saith this, that "God giveth not the Spirit by measure." Then he proceeds to say, "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand." And after that, knowing that great is the force of punishment,  and that the many are not so much led by the promise of good things as by the threat of the terrible, he concludes his discourse with these words; "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." Here again he refers the account of punishment to the Father, for he saith not "the wrath of the Son," (yet He is the Judge,) but sets over them the Father, desiring so the more to terrify them.
"Is it then enough," saith one, "to believe on the Son, that one may have eternal life?" By no means. And hear Christ Himself declaring this, and saying, "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 7:21); and the blasphemy against the Spirit is enough of itself to cast a man into hell. But why speak I of a portion of doctrine? Though a man believe rightly on the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, yet if he lead not a right life, his faith will avail nothing towards his salvation. Therefore when He saith, "This is life eternal, that they may know Thee the only true God" (c. xvii. 3), let us not suppose that the (knowledge) spoken of is sufficient for our salvation; we need besides this a most exact life and conversation. Since though he has said here, "He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life," and in the same place something even stronger, (for he weaves his discourse not of blessings only, but of their contraries also, speaking thus: "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him";) yet not even from this do we assert that faith alone is sufficient to salvation. And the directions for living given in many places of the Gospels show this. Therefore he did not say, "This by itself is eternal life," nor, "He that doth but believe on the Son hath eternal life," but by both expressions he declared this, that the thing  doth contain life, yet that if a right conversation follow not, there will follow a heavy punishment. And he did not say, "awaiteth him," but, "abideth on him," that is, "shall never remove from him." For that thou mayest not think that the "shall not see life," is a temporary death, but mayest believe that the punishment is continual, he hath put this expression to show that it rests  upon him continually. And this he has done, by these very words forcing them on  to Christ. Therefore he gave not the admonition to them in particular, but made it universal, the manner which best might bring them over. For he did not say, "if ye believe," and, "if ye believe not," but made his speech general, so that his words might be free from suspicion. And this he has done yet more strongly than Christ. For Christ saith, "He that believeth not is condemned already," but John saith, "shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." With good cause; for it was a different thing for a man to speak of himself and for another to speak of him. They would have thought that Christ spake often of these things from self-love, and that he was a boaster; but John was clear from all suspicion. And if at a later time, Christ also used stronger expressions, it was when they had begun to conceive an exalted opinion of Him.
Chap. IV. Ver. 1, 2, 3. "When therefore Jesus  knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (though Jesus Himself baptized not but His disciples,) He left Jud?a, and departed again into Galilee."
He indeed baptized not, but they who carried the news, desiring to excite their hearers to envy, so reported. "Wherefore then departed' He?" Not from fear, but to take away  their malice, and to soften their envy. He was indeed able to restrain them when they came against Him, but this He would not do continually, that the Dispensation of the Flesh might not be disbelieved. For had He often been seized and escaped, this would have been suspected by many; therefore for the most part, He rather orders matters after the manner of a man. And as He desired it to be believed that He was God, so also that, being God, He bore the flesh; therefore even after the Resurrection, He said to the disciple, "Handle Me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones" (Luke 24:39); therefore also He rebuked Peter when he said, "Be it far from Thee, this shall not be unto thee." (Matthew 16:22.) So much was this matter an object of care to Him.
[2.] For this is no small part of the doctrines of the Church; it is the chief point of the salvation wrought for us;  by which all has been brought to pass, and has had success, for it was thus that the bonds of death were loosed, sin taken away, and the curse abolished, and ten thousand blessings introduced into our life. And therefore He especially desired that the Dispensation should be believed, as having been the root and fountain of innumerable goods to us.
Yet while acting thus in regard of His Humanity,  He did not allow His Divinity to be overcast. And so, after His departure He again employed the same language as before. For He went not away into Galilee simply,  but in order to effect certain important matters, those among the Samaritans; nor did He dispense these matters simply, but with the wisdom that belonged to  Him, and so as not to leave to the Jews any pretense even of a shameless excuse for themselves. And to this the Evangelist points when he says,
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.