HE Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting, desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.
Douay Rheims Version
ND there came to him the Pharisees and Sadducees tempting: and they asked him to shew them a sign from heaven.
And there came unto Him Pharisees, &c. They had previously asked for a sign (xii. 38). But here again they asked for one because of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. For when they perceived that this miracle was celebrated by the multitudes who had been partakers of the bread, they called it an earthly sign, and insinuated that Christ was a magician, and by the help of the devil (who rules on the earth) had multiplied the loaves, and performed His other miracles. This may be gathered from chapter xii. 24. They ask, therefore, of Christ a sign from Heaven—that God, Who reigns above, would by it give attestation that Christ was sent by Him. And that if He did it, they would believe Christ to be the Messiah. But the Sadducees, who were atheists, thought no sign could be given from Heaven by God, who in their opinion had no existence. Lyra explains otherwise. He is of opinion, that the Jews were given to judicial astrology, and asked a sign of Christ, whereby He should show from the stars that He was Messiah. They thought that God had pointed out, and as it were written in the stars, all His providence about human affairs, and the whole order of the universe. But Matthew here intimates nothing of the kind. The Pharisees really seem to have alluded to the manna, as may be collected from John vi. 30, 31. As though they said, “0 Jesu, Thou hast indeed multiplied bread upon earth, but give a sign from Heaven. Rain down manna from the sky, as Moses did; so shalt Thou show Thyself like unto Moses, and the new Law-giver sent by God.” So Remigius, Bede, Abulensis.
But he answered, &c. The physical reason of this is, that the redness of the sky or the atmosphere indicates that the clouds are not dense, and therefore will be dissipated during the night, and consequently the following day be serene or free from clouds. For red is an intermediate colour between black and white. The blackness of the clouds signifies that they are thick and dense, so that the rays of the sun cannot pierce through them. Their whiteness shows that they are of very great rarity, so that the sun’s rays shine through them. The redness of the clouds indicates that they are not altogether dense, or rarefied, but are becoming so.
And in the morning, it will be foul weather—rain or wind—for the sky is red and lowring. The Greek word is the same as in the preceding verse—πυρράζει, i.e., is ruddy, στυγνάζων, i.e., a sky bringing sorrow. The physical reason is that if the sky be red in the morning, it indicates that there are indeed only a few clouds, but that they are so dense that they cannot be dispersed by the rising sun. Wherefore, when the sun ascends and waxes hot they are resolved into rain or wind, rather than are driven by Him elsewhere. Hear what Pliny says about the signs of the weather (lib. 18, c. 35): If the sun set clear, it is a sign of fine weather. If he set with a clear sky, and rise in the same way, it is a certain sign of fine ,weather. If the sun appear larger, at sunrise thin at sunset; if he rise with a bluish tinge, or set in the same way, it is a sign of rain; if of a fiery colour, it betokens east wind. When the clouds are red before sunrise, there will be wind. When they are grey, or dark intermingled with red, it is a sign of rain.
Symbolically: Abulensis says (quæst. 9.) In the first advent of Christ there was the serenity of grace: in His second advent there shall be the storm of vengeance and of hell, which God shall cause to thunder against the reprobate.
Ye can discern the face of the sky, i.e., its external form and appearance. The signs of the times. These are the signs of the time of Messiah’s advent, or of the times, i.e., of the seventy weeks of Daniel, of the prophecy of the Patriarch Jacob (Gen. xlix. 10.), and the rest of the Prophets. For these prophecies, together with the miracles, which Christ was working every day plainly proved that Messiah was already come, and that He was Messiah. This verse must be read as an interrogation, not as Lyra reads as a negative assertion. He explains thus, ye Jews are given to astrology, and ye wish by means of the stars to discern the time of Messiah’s advent. But ye are in error. For by the stars may be derived presages of fine weather, or of storm, but not of the advent of Messiah. But this is a mistake. The argument in this place is from a minor to a major, thus, “If from the signs of Heaven ye know how to discern coming fine weather, or a coming tempest, much more can ye and ought ye from the oracles of the Prophets and My miracles to recognize Me to be Messiah.” So SS. Hilary, Jerome, Euthymius. It is also plain from Luke xii. 56, where Christ says, Ye hypocrites ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth: how is it ye cannot discern this time? i.e., of My advent. Thus in like manner there are many in the present day who are lynxes in earthly things, moles in things Divine: prudent in the world, foolish for Heaven, of piercing sight in heaping up money, most ignorant in the worship of God. Their wisdom is in their purse, they are very dull in matters of conscience. S. Chrysostom gives another explanation (Hom. 54.) “There are signs of the present time, and there are other signs of what is to come. The signs of healing which I show are of time present: but the signs of the future shall be the signs in Heaven for which ye are now asking, 0 ye Scribes. For then there shall be signs in the sun and in the moon, and in the stars. (Luke xxi. 25.) Ye therefore act like Thales, who gazing at Heaven whilst he was walking, fell into a ditch. Thus also ye gazing at the future, and neglecting the present time of grace, are going headlong to destruction.”
An evil generation, &c. Christ repeats this verse, which we have already explained in chap. 12.
And having left them, &c. From Magedan He passed over the Sea of Galilee, and returned to its hither bank, as appears from the following verse. Again and again did Christ pass over this sea, that He might teach the Galileans who dwelt on either side of it, according to the prophesy of Isaiah ix. 1.
And when His disciples, &c., had come, Gr. ε̉λθόντες, i.e., when they had gone, meaning when they had ascended into the ship to cross over; for it is plain from the circumstances that this happened in the ship. For in the ship, and in sailing they would require food, of which they would find abundance in the harbour. The expression is a Hebraism. For the Hebrew verbs often denote an action not completed, but begun, or intended. So here, when they had come, i.e., when they had begun to come, when they were going they forgot, because the need of bodily refreshment had escaped their memory, through dwelling upon the company of the Lord, and the sweetness of the true bread, which was with them, i.e., Christ. So says Anselm.
Beware, Gr. όρα̃τε, i.e., see of the leaven, i.e., of the doctrine as He explains verse 12. Of this leaven He bids them beware, not in that the Pharisees taught and expounded the law of Moses: for in that respect He says they were to be heard and obeyed. But so far as they corrupted it with their own vain traditions, contrary to the law of God, and which were like sour leaven. By these traditions they infected the minds of their hearers. Luke (xii. 1.) calls it hypocrisy, take heed of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For they had regard only to outward ceremonies and apparent sanctity, and neglected the purity of the heart. S. Jerome says, this is the leaven, of which the Apostle speaks. “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Thus heretical doctrine, if it once cast the least spark into thy breast, will in a short time grow into a mighty flame, and take possession of the whole man.
But they reasoned, &c. Hugo and Dionysius expound thus: Christ said, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, because we have not taken bread, and He does not wish us to accept bread from them. Others take it more simply, thus: When the disciples heard Christ speak of leaven, they remembered that they had not taken any bread into the ship; and being afraid lest Christ might sail as he was accustomed, to some desert place, they were anxious to procure some loaves, and were disputing about it among themselves, perchance one throwing the blame of forgetfulness upon another. In this they committed two faults. First they were too anxious about the bread, and did not sufficiently trust in Christ, whose power and providence they had experienced but a little while before. The second fault was that they thought Christ was speaking of earthly leaven and bread, when He was speaking of what was spiritual.
But when Jesus knew it, &c. He knew this by the power of His Divinity; for He had not heard them speaking about this thing. Of little faith, as if I were speaking of earthly bread, for which I would have you anxious; or as if I were unable or unwilling to provide bread for you, either on board the ship or in the desert.
How many baskets (sportas), &c. Since Matthew as well as Mark invariably calls these baskets sportsæ, and the baskets of’ the former miracle cophini it is clear that sportæ were a different kind of vessel and measure from cophini.
That I spake not to you concerning bread, &c. For from leaven bread is commonly made. Ye ought to have known from My words and deeds that I was not speaking of earthly bread but of spiritual, that is to say, of doctrine.
Then they understood, &c. Christ’s reproof sharpened their understanding.
When He was come . . . Cesarea Philippi. This was a town of Phœnicia, situated at the foot of Lebanon. It was previously called Dan, because it had been captured by that tribe: and because two streams, named Jor and Dan, there unite and form the river Jordan. But because the name of Pan, the god of shepherds, was better known to the Gentiles than the Hebrew tribe Dan, the place was called by them Paneas. Afterwards, Philip, the son of Herod of Ascalon, who was tetrarch of Ituræa and Trachonites, enlarged it and made it the capital of his tetrarchy, and called it Cesarea, in honour of Tiberius Cæsar. It must be distinguished from the Cesarea between Dor and Joppa, which is called in the Acts absolutely Cesarea of Palestine. It was the boundary of Canaan, as promised by God to the Israelites towards the north, as Beersheba was its boundary on the south. Many of the neighbouring Gentiles flocked to this city. Therefore Christ retired to it upon this occasion, that He might teach the Gentiles as well as the Jews, and that He might speak with more freedom about the Messiah. For in Judea it was perilous to speak upon this subject; since the Scribes were ready to accuse Him to the Roman governors of aiming at royal power, and of treason against Cæsar. Again this city had been a seat of idolatry, (Judges xviii. 29, &c.). Christ therefore wished to cleanse it from this stain, and to bring it to the worship of God, yea to be the beginning and the matrix of Gentile Christian nations. It is now in the possession of the Turks, and is called Belima.
When do men say, &c. i.e., whom do they say that I, who out of humility, am wont to call Myself the Son of Man, am? And, especially I now so call Myself, that I may examine your faith concerning Me, 0 ye Apostles. The Syriac less correctly divides the sentence, in this manner, What do men say concerning Me, that I am the Son of Man? For Christ does not here ask whether He be so called, but asserts that He is the Son of Man, and goes on to ask what further men think about Him.
But some said . . . or one of the Prophets. The common people among the Jews were aware that for several hundred years Prophets had failed to be amongst them, together with the ark of the covenant and the oracles from the mercy seat. Thus they thought that Christ was not a new Prophet, but one of the ancient Prophets. For in Christ they beheld their virtues: their miracles and their doctrine. Few indeed were they who believed with certainty that He was the Messiah. By far the greater number did not believe. They were offended at His humility and His poverty. They thought Messiah would come with regal pomp as the Son of Solomon; as the Jews still think and expect. Wherefore although some of the people had recently said, when they saw so many miracles done by Christ, “Is not this the Son of David?” and, “This is indeed that Prophet which should come into the world;” yet this was a sudden and transient cry, elicited by beholding a miracle, not a firm and settled opinion: thus Abulensis. They thought that the soul of one of the Prophets had passed into Christ by metempsychosis. So Jansen and Baronius. Or more probably they thought one of the prophets had risen again, and Jesus was he; as though Jesus were really John the Baptist, Elias, or Jeremias: For the Pharisees and the Jews generally believed in the resurrection of the dead. This indeed is plain from what Herod said of Christ: This is John himself who is risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do show themselves in Him. Some thought Jesus to be John the Baptist, because he appeared to be very like him in age, in sanctity and in his preaching. And since John had been shortly before put to death by Herod, he was fresh in their memory, and seemed to be worthy of rising again. Others thought Christ was Elias, on account of the like zeal in both; and because Elias was not yet dead, and was expected by all the Jews to return according to the prophecy of Malachi (iv. 5): “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet.” They thought therefore that Elias had returned, and that Jesus was he. Others were of opinion that Christ was Jeremiah, because Jeremiah was a most holy man, and a mirror of patience and charity; and because some thought Jeremiah would return with Elias to preach to the Jews, being moved by those words, “I have given thee for a prophet to the Gentiles.” (Jer. i. 5.)
Jesus saith to them, but whom do ye, &c. From the words but you, S. Jerome gathers that Christ here tacitly, as it were, calls the Apostles gods. “They indeed, because they are men have human ideas, but ye, who are gods, whom do ye think that I am?” But S. Chrysostom says with regard to the subject itself, “The Lord by His second question admonishes His disciples to think more loftily concerning Him. By the very manner of His interrogation, He shows that those common opinions fell far short of His dignity. You, He says, who have been always with Me, and who yourselves have done so many miracles in My name, whom do ye say that I am?”
Simon Peter answering, &c He who was called Simon when he was circumcised, was by Christ named Cephas, i.e., Peter. Some think Peter, as it were the mouth of the Apostles, answered not for himself alone, but for all. So S. Jerome, also Anselm, S, Thomas, the Gloss, Dionysius, Lyra, Jansen, and S. Augustine. Also S. Ambrose (l. de Incarn. c. 4). With more probability S. Hilary, Abulensis, Maldonatus, Francis Lucas, Barradi, and others think Peter spoke for himself, and his own feeling. For the other Apostles being silent, and hesitating what reply to give, Peter being wiser than the rest, forasmuch as he was taught of God, and being more fervent, lest any one should answer unworthily concerning Christ, dashed in with his answer, and replied on behalf of all: not because he knew the mind of all, for he had not spoken with them concerning the matter, but because he wished that his own opinion should be common to them all. This was what S. Jerome and the others who have been cited really meant, namely, that Peter, as about to be constituted after the resurrection the Prince of the Apostles and of the whole Church, being more deeply taught and inspired by God, recognized the Divinity of Christ, and answered concerning it what all the rest would have answered. This is plain, because to Peter only, as the reward of this confession, Christ promised the most ample reward and prerogative. For he says to him by name above the rest of the Apostles, “Blessed art thou Simon Bar-jona,” &c.
Thou art the Christ, &c. Gr. ό Χριστός, with the article. Thou, I say, art the Christ, or Messiah, i.e., anointed by God with the unction of the grace of the hypostatic Union with theWORD, and by this consecrated the Chief Doctor, High Priest, Prophet, and King of the world. Doctor, that Thou mayest teach men the will and law of God: High Priest, that by offering Thyself a sacrifice to God, Thou mayest reconcile the world to God; a prophet, that Thou mayest declare the secret things of God, and foretell things to come: a king that Thou mayest rule over Heaven and earth, and all the things which in them are.
Son of God: Not by grace and adoption, as all the saints are sons of God, but by nature and the Deity communicated to Thee by God the Father, by eternal generation. Wherefore the Greek has the definite article, ό υίὸς, i.e., that Son, viz., the only natural son, of one substance with the Father. Living, who thus, formaliter lives the Divine, uncreated and beatific life, that causaliter, He breathes into all things created by Him, His own strength and vigour, and into living things, life and a soul. For from Him, as from a fountain and a sun of life, there floweth all the light and life of all angels, men, animals and plants. See what I have said on S. John i. 4. Thus S. Leo (Serm. de Transfig.): “The divine Peter, by the revelation of the Heavenly Father, overcoming corporeal things, and transcending things human, beheld the Son of the Living God, and confessed the glory of the Deity.” Thus too S. Chrysostom, Hilary, Theophylact, Euthymius, S. Augustine, and Athanasius (Serm. 3. contra Arian.), and others, passim, who from this passage prove the Divinity of Christ.
Moreover SS. Hilary and Chrysostom and others are of opinion that S. Peter first of all men confessed the Divinity of Christ. Others deny this, saying that Nathanael confessed it before Peter, when he said, Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou are the King of Israel. Nevertheless it is plain that before this confession of Peter the Apostles acknowledged Christ to be God from His very words, and from the many and great miracles which He wrought to prove it. We see this from the words of Peter (John vi. 65 ), “Lord to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ the Son of God.” Also from the words of the Apostles themselves, “Verily Thou art the Son of God.” (Matth. xiv. 33.) But the Apostles, inasmuch as they were uninstructed, had formed a very confused and poor conception of this doctrine, and believed, after a sort, that Christ was truly the Son of God, above other Prophets, yea that He was God. But after what manner this was so, whether by eternal generation, or by some other way they were ignorant. But Peter being enlightened by God, recognized it distinctly, clearly, and sublimely, and first being asked concerning this thing, openly and constantly confessed the same and testified in this place, that verify, Christ was peculiarly the Son of God, that is, begotten of God the Father by eternal generation, and therefore consubstantial with Him, and very and eternal God. Christ required this faith concerning Himself from Peter and the Apostles—for the Apostles tacitly approved Peter’s confession, and tacitly confessed the same—as well because that faith is the foundation of our justification, as because the Passion and Death of Christ were at hand, in which it was needful that the Apostles should be sustained by this faith in the Divinity of Christ; lest when He was dead, they should think faith and all other things were dead with Him. This is plain from verse 21, &c.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou Simon Bar-jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven. That is to say, blessed and happy art thou, 0 Peter, on account of this new faith concerning Me; for this is a mighty gift and benefit, not of flesh and blood, that is, not of nature, but by the grace of God inspiring and revealing to thee this very thing. For this faith is the beginning and the foundation of all grace and glory, and therefore it shall lead thee, and many through thee and thy example and preaching, to eternal blessedness. For blessedness in the journey standeth in the faith and love of Christ: but the blessedness of the country is the vision and fruition of the same, according to those words of S. John for “this is life eternal, that they may know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” Hence the synod of Ephesus (Act III.) says, “Thrice most blessed and worthy of all praise is the Apostle Peter, who is the rock and the base of the Catholic Church, and the foundation of the true faith.” Hence also has arisen the custom of the faithful of addressing the Pontiff “Most Blessed Father.” Hence S. Jerome saith to Pope Damasus, “I am united to thy Blessedness,” that is, to the Chair of Peter.
Simon Bar-jona. For the father of Simon Peter was called Johanna, that is John, as is plain from S. John xxi. 15, meaning “God hath given: or God hath pitied: or the gift of God, from ‘Ia’ which is contracted from Jehovah, and ‘chanan,’ that is, he hath visited, he hath given.” Peter, then, was the son of John, or the grace of God, because he was most pleasing to God, and full of His grace. S. Chrysostom observes, that Christ gave the addition “Bar-jona,” not only according to the Hebrew custom, which always adds the name of the father to the children, but with a special reference to Peter’s answer, as though Christ confirmed it and said, “Thou hast spoken truly, 0 Peter, that I am the Son of God, for as thou art the son of Jona, a man from a man, according to natural generation, so am I the Son of God the Father, but begotten of Him from eternity—God of God, of one substance and Godhead with Him.” Symbolically Jona, that is “a dove,” is the emblem of the Holy Ghost, who in the form of a dove came down upon Christ. In this place also he descended upon Peter, and revealed to him that Christ was verify and indeed the Son of God. Thus S. Jerome—“Peter obtains a name from his confession, because he had a revelation from the Holy Ghost, whose son he was to be called.” Bar-jona in our language signifies “the son of a dove.” “For flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee”—that is, not earthly parents nor friends nor any man who consists of flesh and blood has revealed unto thee that I am the Son of God—forasmuch as this knowledge far transcends all nature, and the natural knowledge of all men, but My Heavenly Father hath made it known to thee by the illumination of His grace. “What flesh and blood could not reveal, has been revealed by the grace of the Holy Ghost,” saith S. Jerome. By flesh, S. Hilary understands the bodily eyes of S. Peter, for they had told him that Christ was a man, but the revelation of the Father alone had made known to him that He was God.
And I say unto thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church. “And I,” in Greek, “κα̉γὼ” i.e., but I, or now I, give back to thee as a reward, and I in turn say and promise: for as S. Jerome saith. “Christ pays back the testimony of the Apostle concerning Himself.” Peter had said, “Thou art the Christ—the Son of the living God:” this true confession received a reward, namely, “Thou art Peter.” I therefore who am the very Son of God as thou hast confessed, I the Son of God tell and assure thee, and by saying it, I make and constitute thee, Peter, so that after Me thou mayest become the rock of the Church. Christ had promised this name to Simon (S. John i. 42), Saying, “Thou shalt be called Cephas, which is interpreted Peter:” but in this place He fulfils the promise, and gives him the name of Peter in fact. S. Leo (Ser. III, Anniver. Ascens.) thus expounds: “And I say unto thee, that even as My Father hath made known to thee My excellence, so do I also make known to thee that thou art Peter, i.e., inasmuch as I am the inviolable Rock, &c., so likewise thou art a rock, because thou art strengthened by My strength, and the things which are Mine by My own power are thine by participation with Me.”
Thou are Peter, and upon this role I will build My Church. The meaning is, thou art Peter; that is, the rock of the Church: for upon thee as upon a most solid rock I will build My Church: for the WORD declares and gives the reason why he is Peter, that is to say, “Thou art Peter, because upon thee as upon a rock I will build My Church.” S. Augustine (Tract 27, upon John, and.B. 1 Retract, C. 1) says, “Upon this Rock, that is upon Myself, because the rock was Christ,” 1 Cor. x. 4. Calvin, (B. 4, Inst. c. 6), and the heretics eagerly follow this interpretation, that they may overthrow the authority and the primacy of Peter and the Pope. But that Peter himself is here called the rock, the rest of the Fathers almost universally agree. Maldonatus and Bellarmine (B. 1, concerning the Roman Pontiff, e. 10) quote them at large. The meaning then is this, thou art “Kepha,” or “Cephas,” i.e., a rock or a very hard and very firm stone, for this is the signification of the Hebrew “Keph,” and of the Chaldee and Syriac “Kepha,” marked out and ordained by Me, that after My death, and the gift of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, having been entirely solidified and made strong, thou mayest become the foundation of the Church which I will build upon thee. For before the coming of the Holy Ghost, Peter was very far from being the rock of the Church; yea through fear he denied Christ in His Passion. So then the word “Peter,” and “Petra,” denotes the firmness of S. Peter as a prince of the Church, and of his successors the Pontiffs, and their constancy in the faith and religion of Christ. Thus among others, Angelus Caninius on the Hebrew names of the New Testament c. xu 1.
Moreover, that Peter is here called the Rock, is proved first, by the pronoun “this,” upon “this rock;” for since “this” is demonstrative it ought thus to be understood, viz.:—this rock of which I have spoken, and to whom I speak, i.e., thou art Peter the rock of the Church, and upon thee as upon a rock I will build My Church. For there had been no mention made of any other rock to which the pronoun “this” could refer, except Peter. It is otherwise in 1 Cor. x., for there it is said “they drank of that spiritual rock which followed them, and that rock was Christ.” Here the word rock precedes, which he explains by saying, that it was so, typically, that is to say, represented Christ: as if Christ had spoken in French He would have said “Tu es Pierre, et sur cest pierre je bastiray mon eglise.”
You may say, Christ said not thou art petra, but thou art Petrus, and so deny that the pronoun this refers to Peter. I answer, that Christ is said to have spoken in Syriac, thou art kepha, and upon this kepha I will build, &c. For kepha means a rock, and hence Peter in Syriac was called kepha. But the Greek translator, who is followed by the Latin, gave the masculine form of the noun—namely petrus rather than petra, which is feminine: but πέτρος and πέτρα in Greek equally signify a rock or a stone. Peter therefore is the same word as petra, but the translator made a variation for the sake of elegance, and rendered it thou art Peter and upon this petra, not upon this Petros, as in a true and proper sense he might have done, both because petra in Greek is more frequently used for a rock or a stone than petros, and because houses are properly built upon stones, not upon men. Beza allows this when he says “the Lord speaking in Syriac did not make use of a surname, but said cepha in both places, as in the vernacular the word pierr is used both as a proper and a common noun. In Greek, likewise, πέτρος and πέτρα differ only in their termination, not in their meaning.” Thus far correctly, but mistakenly he adds, “Matthew, or whoever was his translator, seems by this difference of interpretation to have intended that Peter, who is a part of the building, should be distinguished from the rock itself on which the building stands, that is from Christ; likewise that Peter himself should be distinguished from the promise of the faith which is common to the whole Church, as ancient writers also clearly prove, in order that Antichrist (so the heretics calls the Roman Pontiff) may become most ridiculous when his followers endeavour to establish his tyranny from this passage.” How petulantly and falsely Beza writes may be seen and learnt from the original passages of the Fathers which Bellarmine and Maldonatus cite, as I have already said. Besides, the text of Scripture itself is to be preferred to the translator: nor had the Greek translator a meaning different from the Syriac text, as I have previously said. I omit many other proofs, which either from what has been said, or from what will be said, will show the falsity of Beza’s conclusion.
Secondly—The same thing is plain from this, that there would be a want of connection to say thou art Peter and upon Myself the Rock I will build My church. In this indeed there would be a lessening of the speech, and an overthrow of the benefit bestowed. For Peter might say to Christ, “I am Peter, that is the rock of the Church, how then dost thou build Thy Church not upon me but upon Thyself?”
Thirdly—Because all that goes before and that follows refer to Peter alone: “and I,” he saith, “say to thee, 0 Peter, that is, I give and assign to thee as the reward and prerogative of thy great faith and confession, that after Myself, and after My death and resurrection, I will make thee the rock and foundation of the Church;” for this is the meaning of I will build My Church.
Fourthly—Because the original oriental versions agree together in this, that petrus is the very same word as petra, and petra as petrus, whence they give the same name Kepha to Petrus and Petra. Christ therefore as Angelus Caninius says, spoke thus in Syriac: ant kepha, veal kepha hadden ebne iat tsibbuti; or as the Syriac Gospel has it, ant hu kipha, veal hada kipha ebne leidti, that is, thou art Cepha, that is a rock, and upon this Cepha, that is petra, meaning upon thee, who art Peter or a rock, “I will build my Church.” Moreover, the Hebrew Gospel, which Sebastian Munster has edited as authentic, and as written by S. Matthew himself, has in like manner atta kepha, veal kepha hazzot ebne eth macpeli. So also the Armenian Gospel: Is bim, he saith e vera ais bim, that is, thou art a rank, and upon this rock I will build, &c.; and the Arabic Gospel, ant alsachra va ala hada, alsachra abni baidti, thou art a rock, and upon that rock I will build my Church. The Æthiopic Gospel has Anta quoqueh va dibazati, quoqh annesa lebeita Christianei, that is, thou are a rock and upon this rock I will build the Christian house—that is the Church. The Coptic also has, but I say unto thee that thou art this Peter, I will found my Church upon this rock, which is none else than this Peter, otherwise there would be no connection, for he gives the reason, the because, why he will build the Church upon a rock, because indeed Peter will be a solid rock on which the whole Church being founded may rest securely as upon a strong foundation. The Persian is, “I say unto thee that thou art sanac,” i.e., a rock, “and upon this sanac,” that is, rock, “I will build my Church.” Moreover, the Persian paraphrase explains sanac as a rock, adding, thou art the rock, that is, foundation and judge. (Vide Peter Victor in Annotat. ad N. T. pp. 105, 102, where he gives at length all these versions.)
To S. Augustine it is replied that he was misled by his ignorance of the Hebrew and Syriac languages, and therefore thought that petrus was something different from petra, and that Peter was as it were called appellatively from it Petreius, although it appears from the Syriac that Petrus and Petra are the same. Again, S. Augustine admits as probable the explanation of those who say that Peter is the rock of the Church; and in this respect he is at issue with Calvin, who is of opinion that such an explanation is blasphemy against Christ. Listen to S. Augustine in his sermon on the Chair of Peter. “Lastly, for strengthening the devotion of the churches he is called the rock; as saith the Lord, ‘thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church;’ for he is called the rock because he first laid the foundations of the faith for the nations, and like an immovable rock he holds the joints and the superstructure of the entire Christian edifice. Peter then is called a rock on account of devotion, and the Lord is called a rock on account of strength; as saith the Apostle, ‘they drank of that spiritual Rock which followed them, and that Rock was Christ.’ Rightly does he deserve an association in name who had obtained an association in work. Peter lays the foundation, Peter plants; the Lord gives the increase, the Lord waters.” The same Augustine (Serm. 16 de Sanctis) says, “Worthy was Peter to be a foundation for building up the people of God, to be a pillar for support, a key to the kingdom.”
In fine, even if that exposition of S. Augustine were allowed, although it is not the true one, still it may thence be proved that Peter, after Christ, who is the Rock and Corner Stone of the Church, is still the next foundation, rock, or stone of the Church. For then the sense would be, I am the Rock upon which I will build the Church; but thou, 0 Peter, art next unto Me, and the next rock of the Church, upon whom immediately after Myself I will build My Church, and therefore thee only I call Peter, who before wast called Simon. By the same arguments the Magdeburg Centuriators (l. 1. cent. 1, chap. 4.) are refuted, and the Genevan ministers who in their Bibles expound thus—“upon this rock, that is, upon this confession or faith—viz.: that I am the Son of God.” For nowhere previously has this confession been called a rock, as Peter immediately before was called Cephas, that is, a rock.
You may say, some of the Fathers, by the rock, understand the faith which Peter confessed and set forth. So S. Chrysostom, S. Hilary (l. 6 de Trinit.), S. Cyril. (l. 4 de Trinit.), S. Ambrose (l. 6 in Luc. c. 9). I answer, these Fathers do not mean the faith abstractedly, but the faith as it was in Peter, and consequently they take Peter himself to be the rock of the Church, as they themselves afterwards fully explain. They hold that Peter, for the merit of his faith received the dignity of a rock in the Church. As SS. Hilary and Chrysostom say expressly; for on account of that faith he had deserved to be himself the foundation of the Church, and that his faith should never fail, but that he should confirm and strengthen others in the faith. (S. Luke xxii. 32.) For the Church is fashioned and renewed not of faith, but of faithful men, who are as it were its parts (for the Church is nothing else than the company of the faithful), wherefore, likewise, in order that the head of the Church may be of the same nature as the body, that head must be a faithful man—that is to say, Peter and the Pontiff. The faith then is the reason of the founding, but the foundation is Peter himself. So S. Chrysostom, Cyril (l. 4 de Trinit.) and S. Ambrose, Bellarmine (l. 1 de Pont. c. 10) where he refutes both Erasmus and Chytræus, who follow Origen, who allegorizes after his custom, and understands by the rock all the faithful. In this way indeed the whole Church would be the rock, for the whole Church consists of none other than the faithful; but where then would be the walls, the floors, and the roof of the Church? Of what then shall these be built? (See also Gretser in defence of Bellarm, l. 3. c. 5.)
Lastly, Christ bestowed this gift upon Peter as the future Pontiff of the Church; wherefore He gave the same gift to all the other Pontiffs, his successors, and that for the good of the Church, that it might be strengthened by them as by a rock, in the faith and religion of Christ. Wherefore, S. Bernard (l. 2, de Consid.) saith to Pope Eugenius, “Who art thou? A great priest—the chief Pontiff. Thou art the prince of bishops, thou art the heir of the Apostles, thou art Abel in primacy, Noah in government, Abraham in the patriarchate; in order, thou art Melchisedeck, in dignity Aaron, in authority Moses, in judgeship Samuel, in power Peter, in unction a Christ. To thee the keys have been delivered, the sheep entrusted.”
And upon this rock. From hence it is plain that like as Cephas is derived from cepha, so is Peter from petra, indeed that he is the same as petra, as I have already shown. Wherefore, when Optatus Milevit. (l. 2, against Parmen.) and others derive Cephas from the Greek κεφαλή, that is, a head—they do it by a congruous allusion, not by a real etymology. By a similar allusion, S. Gregory Nazianzen (Orat. on the Passover) derives Phase or Pascha—which is a Hebrew word, as everybody knows (Exod. xii.), from the Greek πάσχειν, that is, to suffer. For in the Passover happened the Passion of Christ, and His immolation as the Paschal Lamb. Moreover, Christ gave this name of rock, rather than other names (such as pillar, tower, anchor, foundation, &c.), because this name of rock is given in Scripture to Christ Himself (Isaiah xxviii. 16; Psalm cxviii. 22; Matthew xxi 42.) He communicated, therefore, a share in His own name, together with His dignity and office. Thus S. Jerome; and S. Gregory (On the Seven Penitential Psalms) says: “Christ is the rock, from which rock Peter received his name, and upon which He said that He would build.” Listen to S. Leo (Serm. 3, On the Anniversary of his Accession), where he introduces Christ as speaking thus to Peter: “Since I am the rock, I the cornerstone, who make of both one; I the foundation, besides which no one can lay any other; nevertheless thou art a rock likewise, because thou art strengthened by My strength in order that what things are Mine by Mine own power, may be thine also through participation with Me: and upon this rock I will build My Church; upon this strength He says, I will construct an eternal temple, &c.”
I will build My Church. That is to say, I therefore call thee Peter and the rock, because as a house is built upon a rock that it may rest firm and immovable upon it against every blast of the winds, so will I build upon thee, 0 Peter, as upon a most solid rock, My Church; that resting upon thee, it may abide firm against all the attacks of heretics and wicked men, and that thou mayest keep and sustain it in the true faith and worship of God, in like manner as a rocky foundation sustains and holds together the entire house which is built upon it. Thus S. Ambrose (Serm. 4) saith: “Peter is called the rock, because—like an immovable rock—he sustains the joints and the mass of the whole Christian edifice.”
You may say all the Apostles are the foundation of the Church, as is plain from Eph. ii. 20, and Apoc. xxi. 20; so then Peter only is not the rock of the Church. I answer, that Peter is the rock and the foundation of the whole Church and of the entire body of the faithful, and therefore of the Apostles themselves. For the office of Peter—who is primate and chief—was to retain, direct, and strengthen the Apostles in faith, religion, and duty, and if at any time they should err, to correct them. Whence S. Jerome (l. 1, contra Jovin.) says: “Wherefore among twelve one is chosen, that by the appointment of a head, occasion of schism might be taken away.” And S. Cyprian (Tract on the Unity of the Church) says, “the primacy is given to Peter that it might be shown there is one Church of Christ and one Chair.”
Observe, Christ in this place promises by two metaphors, as S. Jerome says, that after His death and resurrection He will give to Peter the principality of the Church. The first metaphor is that of a foundation or foundation rock. For that thing, which in a building is the rock and foundation, in a body is the head, in a state the ruler, in a kingdom the king, in a church the pontiff. The second metaphor is that of the keys: for keys are only given to kings and rulers.
Observe, secondly: to build the Church upon this rock, signifies two things. First, that upon this reasonable stone—namely, Peter, as the head of all the Apostles—the care and government of the whole Church devolve next after Christ. Thus S. Chrysostom (Hom. 55), S. Ambrose (Serm. 57), S. Gregory (l. 4, Epist. 32). Secondly, that the Church rests upon and is strengthened by Peter as a foundation, as the Vicar of Christ, so that it cannot err in matters of faith. Whence Peter, on account of his lofty confession of faith, received grace from Christ to become and to be appointed this foundation rock.
And this is the meaning of SS. Hilary, Chrysostom, Cyril—and Nyssen, in the end of his book (Contra Judæos)—when they say that the Church was built by Christ upon the faith and confession of Peter, as I have explained above. Moreover, S. Chrysostom in this place lays stress upon the words I will build, and says: “They are similar to those words ‘God said,’ in the first chapter of Genesis, by which words all things were created and subsist.” In like manner he says: “I will build, hath wrought all, even though tyrants oppose, soldiers fight, the people rage, custom struggles. For the word of God coming like a vehement fire, hath burnt up the thorns, hath cleansed the fields, hath prepared the ground, hath raised the building on high, &c.” S. Jerome also (Epist. 57), consulting Pope Damasus whether we may say there are three Hypostases in the Holy Trinity or only one—thus addresses him: “I am speaking with the successor of the fisherman, and the disciple of the Cross. I, following none first, except Christ, am united to your Blessedness; that is, in communion with the See of Peter. I know that upon that rock the Church is built. Whosoever eateth the Lamb outside of this house is profane; if any man be not in the ark of Noah, he shall perish in the swelling of the deluge.”
And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Namely, against the Church, because it has been founded upon Peter and his successors, as upon a most solid rock.
The gates of hell, i.e., the infernal city, meaning all hell, with its entire army of demons, and with the whole power of Lucifer its king. For hell and the city of God, i.e., the Church, are here put in opposition. When S. Augustine wrote his work de Civitate Dei, in the beginning of which he speaks of the two opposite cities; the one of God which is the Church; the other of the devil, i.e., of demons and wicked men: he takes the gates of hell to mean heresies, and heresiarchs; for they fight against the faith of Peter and the Church, and they proceed from hell and are stirred up by the devil. So S. Epiphanius (in Ancoratu), not far from the beginning. There are here the two figures of speech—synecdoche and metonymy; for by the gates he means the whole city, both because the gate is the entrance into a city, and because the chief defences and strength of a city are wont to be at the gates, because if they and the adjoining walls are safe, the city is safe, if they are taken, the city is taken.
Shall not prevail. Heb. lo juchelu la, i.e., shall not be able to stand against it—namely, the Church. So S. Hilary and Maldonatus. More simply, shall not prevail, i.e., shall not conquer or overcome, or pull down the Church. For this is the meaning of the original Greek. We have here the figure of speech, miosis: for little is said but much is meant; not only that the Church shall not be conquered, but that she shall conquer and subdue under her all heretics, tyrants, and every other enemy, as she overcame Arians, Nestorians, Pelagians, Nero, Decius, Diocletian, &c. Therefore by this word Christ first animates his Church that she should not be faint hearted when she sees herself attacked by all the power of Satan and wicked men. In the second place, He as it were sounds a trumpet for her, that she may always watch with her armour on against so many enemies, who attack her with extreme hatred. Thirdly, He promises to her, as well as to her head, Peter, i.e., the Pontiff—victory and triumph over them all. Again, Christ and the Holy Ghost assist with special guidance her head, the Roman Pontiff, that he should not err in matters of faith, but that he may be firm as an adamant, says S. Chrysostom, and that he may rightly administer and rule the Church, and guide it in the path of safety, as Noah also directed the ark that it should not be overwhelmed in the deluge. Wherefore S. Chrysostom (Hom. de Verb. Isaiah) says: “It were more easy for the sun to be extinguished than for the Church to fail;” and again, “what can be more powerful than the Church of God: the barbarians destroy fortifications, but not even the devils overcome the Church. When it is attacked openly, it conquers; when it is attacked by treachery, it overcomes.” S. Augustine on the Psalms against the Donatists, says: “Reckon up the Bishops even from the very Pontificate of Peter. That is the very rock which the proud gates of hell conquer not.” This has been made especially plain in the conversion of all nations, specially of Rome and the Romans. For Rome being the head, both of the world and of idolatry, where the idols of all nations were worshipped, has been converted from them by S. Peter and his successors, and has bowed down her proud head to the cross of Christ, which thing is of all miracles the greatest.
And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven. Thee—who art one person—namely, Bar-jona, or the son of Jona, as is plain from everything which precedes and follows. Not therefore in this place were the keys of Heaven promised to Peter in the person of the Church, or primarily to the Church herself, as the heretics take it, but to Peter himself as the head of the Church; and through him to the Church and her ministers, in like manner as to the same Peter they were specially given and consigned by Christ after His resurrection, when He said: “Feed My sheep.” Thus the Greek and Latin Fathers explain, passim, whose words Bellarmine recites (l. 1 de Pontiff, c. 12), where in like manner he proves at length that this is the meaning of S. Augustine, when he says that Peter bore the figure of the Church because indeed Peter was a representative of the Church as a king of a kingdom: for so indeed S. Augustine explains himself (Tract. ult. upon S. John), where he says: “Of this Church the Apostle Peter, on account of the primacy of his Apostleship, was a kind of general representative.” And on Psalm 109, “Of which Church he is acknowledged to be the representative, on account of the primacy which was his among the disciples.” Wherefore for the good of the Church Peter, as her head, received the keys from Christ; from which it is also plain that Christ promised the keys to Peter as a future Pontiff, and consequently promised the same keys to the other Roman Pontiffs, successors of Peter. For Christ in this place had regard to a most necessary matter, and of the highest moment to His ever-abiding Church—that is to say, to its perpetual head; and He ordained the best and most abiding constitution for her, namely, the monarchical, that the one Church of Christ should be ruled by the one Roman Pontiff, as S. Cyprian teaches on the Unity of the Church; S. Jerome (l. 1, contra. Jovin.), and others, passim. Our Gretzer, and after him Adam Contsen, ably refute the cavils of Calvin and his followers about this passage. The keys—you will ask what the keys here signify. Calvin answers (l. 4, Inst. c. 6, sec. 3), that they signify both the power to preach the Gospel, as well as the forgiveness of sins to him who believes the Gospel which promises forgiveness. But this is a jejune and worthless explanation. For by keys doors are opened, not the mouths of preachers. Whence keys specially belong to kings and rulers; not to doctors, and teachers, and preachers; wherefore the keys here signify properly the right to rule; whereunto pertains not only power to preach the Gospel, but also to absolve sins, to admonish, to ordain priests, to interpret Holy Scripture, to excommunicate, and to do all other things which pertain to the good government of the Church.
I say therefore, by the keys is here signified the chief power, both of order and jurisdiction, over the whole Church, promised and delivered in this place by Christ to Peter. For with such an object in view the keys of the cities are delivered to kings and princes. And Christ thus explains the keys in what follows, when He says: Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, &c. For he who hath the keys of a house, or of a city is its lord, to open or shut it at his pleasure: to admit into it, and to shut out of it whom he will. There is an allusion to Is. c. xxii., where God promising the principality of the synagogue to Eliakim, the Pontiff of the Old Testament, says: “And I will lay upon his shoulder the key of the house of David, so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut and none shall open.” Moreover, Eliakim was a type of Christ as a priest, of whom it is said (Rev. xxi.), “I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” The sense then is this—I, Christ, will give to thee, Peter, as a Pontiff, and consequently to all the other Popes who come after thee, the keys of the kingdom of heaven, by which I mean supreme authority to rule the universal Church dispersed throughout the whole world, that by the keys, i.e., by thy power in opening or shutting the Church to men, thou mayest open or shut heaven to them. Where observe Christ said not, I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of earth, lest an earthly and temporal power should be thought to be meant, but of the kingdom of heaven, that this power might be properly and directly exercised in spiritual things, which are those that pertain to the kingdom of heaven; but that it should be exercised only indirectly with reference to temporal things, being such as are necessary, or at least very profitable to spiritual matters. Thus S. Chrysostom (Hom. 55) teaches that by the delivery of these keys by Christ to Peter there was committed to him the care and government of the whole world, and that he was created pastor and head of the entire Church. Thus also S. Gregory (l. 4, ep. 32) says: “It is plain to all who know the Gospel that by the Lord’s voice the care of the whole Church has been committed to S. Peter, the chief of all the Apostles.” And he immediately adds the reason, “for to him it is said, I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Thus also S. Hilary on this passage, and S. Leo, (Serm. 2 in Anniv. Assum.), and others, passim. Listen also to S. Augustine (Serm 28 de Sanct.) “Peter alone among the Apostles had grace to hear, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church.” Worthy indeed was he to be a foundation stone for building up the people in the house of God; to be a pillar to support them, a key for the kingdom. Hence also S. Ambrose (l. 2, ep. 13) to his sister Marcellina—when he records the contest which he had with the Arians, who had demanded that the keys of the Cathedral of Milan, over which he presided should be delivered to them, and that by the command of the Emperor Valentinian the younger, who was ruled by his mother Justina, an Arian—said: “The order is given,—‘Deliver up the Cathedral.’ I answer, it is neither lawful for me to deliver it, nor is it fitting for thee, 0 Emperor, to receive it. Thou hast no right to intrude upon the house of a private person, dost thou think, that God’s house may be taken away? It is alleged, all things are lawful to the Emperor, for all things are his. I answer, Do not burden thyself, 0 Emperor, to think that thou hast any imperial right over those things which are Divine. Do not lift up thyself, but if thou wouldst reign long, be subject to God, for it is written, Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s. To the Emperor pertain palaces, but churches to the priesthood. To him has been committed the power over the public fortifications, not of sacred buildings.” Thus Hosius, bishop of Cordova, president of the Nicene Counsel, steadfastly replied to the Arian Emperor Constantius, when he made a similar demand; that to him belonged the keys of the cities, but the keys of the church to the Pontiff alone. “To thee” he says, “God has committed the empire, to us he has entrusted what belongs to the Church.”
Tropologically, the keys denote the industry, skill and wisdom in ruling which ought to exist in a Pontiff; for a key ought to be skilfully placed, fitted to, and turned in the lock, that the door may be opened; so “the art of arts is the government of souls,” says S. Gregory in his Pastoral.
And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven. Whatsoever, i.e., whomsoever, but he says whatsoever, because the neuter gender is fuller and of more universal application than the masculine. For the Pontiff binds and looses not men only, but sins, vows, oaths, &c. There is a transition from the metaphor of the keys to the kindred metaphor of binding and loosing; for to open and shut, to bind and loose, are akin. Whence, by it, he signifies the same thing—that by the keys and by the rock are meant the supreme authority of Peter and the Pontiffs in ruling the Church. The power therefore of binding is a very ample one, and is exercised by Peter and the Pontiff in various ways. First, by not absolving but retaining sins and offences, and by refusing sacramental absolution in the sacrament of penance to such as are unworthy, and without the proper dispositions, so likewise by refusing the Eucharist and other sacraments. (S. John xx. 23.) Second, by enjoining penance to the lapsed. Third, by binding such as are guilty with excommunication and other ecclesiastical censures. Fourth, by enjoining laws and precepts with respect to feasts, fasts, tithes, &c., upon the faithful. Fifth, by binding Christians with definitions of faith, when the Pontiff, ex cathedra, defines and declares what is to be believed, what is to be rejected, as erroneous and heretical, what monastic orders are good, what are not—what estate of life is honourable and lawful—what is not, &c. Hence, from the contraries, it is plain what is meant by loosing; namely, to absolve and to release from the aforesaid obligations. Christ therefore here explains the power of the keys through the metaphor, not of opening and shutting, which are the two proper offices of keys, but by one more powerful, that is of chains, by binding men with them, or loosing those that are bound; which power S. Peter and the Roman Pontiffs, his successors, have received from Christ over all men whatsoever, throughout the whole world. The Pontiffs, nevertheless, give a share of this power, as they think good, to bishops and pastors and other ministers of the Church subordinate to them; and therefore Christ said to the other Apostles also (Matthew xviii. 18): Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever ye shall 1oose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven; by which words the same power is given to the Apostles by Christ over the whole world which is here given to Peter; but the same power is here given in an especial manner to Peter only, to signify that he has the primacy and the principality in this power, so as to be able by it to be direct, constrain, correct the other Apostles, as it were subordinate to him, and committed to his care, and hence that he might, if indeed it were needful, deprive them of it. Whence the Synod of Alexandria, over which S. Athanasius presided, agreeable to the council of Nice, writes to Pope Felix that the power of binding and loosing has been, by a special privilege granted, above others, to the Roman See by the Lord Himself.
Upon earth: (Following upon these words à Lapide enters upon a discussion as to how far, and in what manner the jurisdiction of the Supreme Pontiff extends over souls in hell or purgatory. He gives various opinions of theologians, not apparently of the very highest authority, which it would be wearisome to translate, and then concludes the discussion, summing up as follows: Translator.) In fine it is more agreeable to truth that the Pope possesses judicial power to bind and loose those only who are living upon the earth, but not the dead. When therefore he gives indulgences applicable to the departed, it is not in the way of judicial absolution, because the dead are no longer under his jurisdiction, but by way of suffrages, as he is accustomed fully to express in his Bulls—namely, by expending for the dead so much of the treasure of the Church, of which he is the steward, as the departed owe of penalties to God. For this treasure is upon earth, and is at the disposal of the Pontiff. This is the opinion of S. Thomas, Bonaventura, Alensis, Gabriel, Major, Richardus, Cajetan, D. Soto, Navarre, and Bellarmine (Tract. de Indul.), whom Suarez cites and follows (de Pœnit: Disp. 53, s. 2. n. et seq.), who also adds, that properly and directly the Pontiff can neither excommunicate the dead, nor absolve them from excommunication, but only indirectly, in so far as he may directly forbid, or permit the living to pray for one who is dead, and by so doing may deprive the dead indirectly of the suffrages of the Church, as though they had been excommunicated—or, on the other hand, may give them a share in those suffrages, in the same manner as if he absolved them from excommunication. When, therefore, Christ saith here to Peter Whatsoever thou shall loose, &c., by loosing is to be understood not only judicial absolution, but every dispensation, favour and grace as well, which, by the efficacy of that power, has been conferred upon him by Christ, and of this kind is that dispensing of the treasure of the Church which, by way of suffrages, the Pontiff expends and applies for the benefit of the faithful departed. This then is the meaning of the words upon earth.
Then He commanded . . . Jesus the Christ. Some Greek MSS. and the Syriac omit the word Jesus. Then the sentence flows more clearly; for all men knew that He was called Jesus, but they did not know that He was Messiah, or Christ, the true Son of God. Christ did not wish the Apostles to preach this doctrine to others, for two reasons; first, because they themselves were not as yet sufficiently instructed and confirmed in it. Secondly, because Christ was about to be put to death by the Jews. Wherefore the Jews would have been scandalised if the Apostles had preached that He was Messiah and God, and would have said to them, Away with your Christ to destruction, Who would make us Deicides—even as the Jews say to Christians now; wherefore, had they once cast away faith in Christ, they would not have hearkened to it any more, even though it had been attested afterwards by miracles. Thus they were to wait for the death, the glory, and the resurrection of Christ; that then they might proclaim Him to be Messiah and the Son of God, and confirm this doctrine by miracles, and persuade the people, as they did at Pentecost (Acts ii.), according to the words: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in Heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” (Phil. ii. 9, 10.) Thus S. Jerome: “Preach Me when I shall have suffered those things, since it is not expedient that Christ should be publicly proclaimed, and His majesty made commonly known among the people, when they are about shortly to behold Him scourged and crucified.”
From that time forth began Jesus, &c. Gr. α̉πὸ τότε, i.e., from this time in which He had made known to them His Divinity, He began to teach them concerning His Passion and Death. For there are two chief points of faith—namely, Christ’s Divinity, and His Humanity, together with His Cross and Passion, by which He redeemed the world. There was also another reason—lest when the Apostles beheld Christ put to death, they should doubt concerning His Divinity; and He would show them that the two things were not inconsistent. For in this way only could He make perfect satisfaction to the justice of God for the sins of Adam and his posterity. Lastly, He wished to instruct men how to imitate Him and bear His cross.
And Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him. Took Him—that is to say, apart—as though more familiarly and secretly he would chide Him out of vehement love, which before the others he did not dare to do. So S. Chrysostom, and Euthymius; and S. Jerome, who comments thus: “Peter did not wish that his confession should be brought to nought, as he had said, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,’ for he did not think that it was possible that the Son of God should be put to death; and so he takes Him into connexion with himself, or leads Him apart that he might not appear to reprove his teacher in the presence of his fellow-disciples, and began to rebuke Him with loving affection, and to say to Him with desire, ‘Be it far from Thee, 0 Lord;’ or—as it is better—in the Greek, ‘Be propitious to Thyself, 0 Lord.’” It will not be, says S. Thomas, that this should have, as it were, a necessary propitiation. And Christ indeed accepted the affection, but reproved the ignorance. Be it far from Thee, Lord; this shall not be unto Thee. So shameful a death shall not befall Thee; for who can endure that the Son of God should be crucified and put to death? The Greek is ίλεώς σοι, i.e., mayest thou be, or may God be propitious to thee. So the LXX usually translates the Hebrew, hali-la-lach, i.e., let there be prohibition to Thee—as formerly people were wont to say “the gods forbid”—“the gods send better things.” The Syriac is spare Thyself. Peter speaks out of human prudence and affection, not by Divine inspiration as when he said a little before, “Thou art Christ the Son of the Living God,” for here being left to himself he fails, and therefore he is reproved by Christ.
But He turned and said unto Peter, Get thee behind Me, Satan—thou art an offence unto Me (Syriac, thou art a stumbling-block unto Me), for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. S. Hilary refers the Get thee behind Me to Peter, but the words Satan, thou art an offence unto Me he refers not to Peter, but to the devil, who had suggested to Peter to say, be it far from Thee, 0 Lord. S. Hilary writes thus: “For the Lord, knowing the suggestion of the Satanic craft, saith to Peter, ‘Go thou backward after Me’—i.e., that he should follow the example of His Passion. But He adds against him by whom this speech had been suggested, Thou art an offence unto Me, Satan: for we must not think that the name of Satan and the offence of the stumbling-block are to be applied to Peter after such great words of blessedness and power had been applied to him.” But all other writers join Satan with Get thee behind Me, and consider that the whole was spoken to Peter. Christ therefore saith unto Peter, Get thee behind leave Me—i.e., leave Me, depart hence, get out of My sight; for in this matter thou art not a friend unto Me, but Satan—that is, an adversary (for this is the meaning of the Hebrew “Satan,” and so the Vulgate has it; 2 Sam. xix, 22, and 1 Kings v. 4)—and a scandal, that is, a stumbling-block and hindrance to Me; for thou wouldst hinder My Passion, and consequently the redemption and salvation of man, which by My Passion I am about to merit and obtain. So S. Chrysostom, Euthymius, and S. Jerome, who says: “It is My own and My Father’s good pleasure that I should die for the salvation of man, thou considerest only thine own will, and wouldst not that the grain of wheat should fall into the earth so as to bring forth much fruit.” “And therefore,” says S. Thomas, “because thou art contrary to My will thou oughtest to be called an adversary, for Satan is interpreted adversary, or contrary; not, however—as many think—that Satan and Peter are condemned by the same sentence, for to Peter it is said, Get thee behind Me, Satan, ie., thou who art contrary to My will, follow thou Me. But to Satan it is said, Get thee hence, Satan; and it is not said to him ‘behind me,’ that it may be understood, Go away into everlasting fire.” Calvin and his followers object that Christ here calls Peter Satan; therefore He a little previously did not call him the rock, nor appoint him the head of the Church. S. Jerome answers that Peter was called Satan (that is, an adversary) only for the particular time in which he withstood Christ, who was willing to suffer and be crucified, but that he was appointed a rock, not for the time then present, but for the future; namely, that after Christ’s death and resurrection he should become the rock and head of the Church. Secondly, S. Augustine (Serm. 13, de Verb. Dom. secundum Matth.) and Theophylact reply, that Peter is called blessed, and constituted the rock of the Church, inasmuch as being enlightened by the revelation of God, he had confessed Christ the Son of the Living God, and therefore had been by Him appointed the rock of the Church; but that he is here called Satan so far as he, departing from God and God’s decree (of which he was ignorant), followed human affection, on account of which he was unwilling that Christ—whom he loved so much—should die. Moreover, the fifth Œcumenical Council of Constantinople, in a constitution of Pope Vigilius, pronounces an anathema against those who explain the words of Christ (Get thee behind Me, Satan) to have been spoken to Peter, lest the mind of Christ, being perturbed by his dissuasion, should avoid the Passion, so that by His Passion He might be profitable to Himself, and who therefore do not believe that His death purchased the rewards of eternal life for us.* In a similar way, blessed Peter Damian (l. 1, Epist. xvi. to Pope Alex. II) calls Cardinal Hildebrand, who afterwards became Pope Gregory VII., “his holy Satan.” Satan, because he opposed his refusing the cardinalate and returning to his Camaldolese hermitage; holy, because he did it with a holy purpose, namely, because he saw that the work of Peter was very useful to the Church.
For thou savourest not, &c.; Arab. thou thinkest not; Gr. ού Φρονείς, i.e., thou understandest not, thou dost not receive, nor approve with thine intellect and thine affections the things which are pleasing to God, but the things which human prudence, that is to say, flesh and blood, suggests. This was the fount and the cause of Peter’s error, and of all other men, that Thou savourest not. For thou wouldst consider My body and My life, and wouldst provide for human consolation contrary to God’s decree, whereby He has most wisely appointed that I should die for the salvation of men. Thus men sin when they prefer the weak judgment of the flesh to the wise and lofty judgment of God. For, “the animal man perceiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him, and he cannot understand them.” (i. Cor. ii. 14).
Then Jesus said, &c. This medicine of self-denial and the cross Christ opposes to natural love, which Peter had shown to Christ when he would have hindered His Passion. Therefore He spake this not to Peter only, but to the other Apostles, yea even to the multitude, as Mark says (viii. 34). This is a sort of axiom of Christ’s school, if any one will come after Me, &c. It means, says Chrysostom, “Thou, 0 Peter, suggestest unto Me, spare Thy life, be propitious to Thyself, but I say to thee that not only is it hurtful to thee to keep Me from My Passion, but not even thyself canst be saved, unless thou shalt suffer and renounce thy life. Christ gives three commands, first, let a man deny himself; second, 1et him take up the cross; third, let him follow Me.”
If any man will, &c. Christ does not compel, nor use violence, says S. Chrysostom, but invites the willing, and kindly allures and draws them. For who would not long and burn to follow Christ, the Son of God? But as God bids all follow Christ, so likewise He bids them freely choose and embrace self denial. Again Christ draws all men, when He says “come after Me.” He means, ye will not be the first in the cross, in death, in martyrdom. I, your Captain, will go before you; wherefore follow Me because I will precede you, not only by My example, but by My help, and I will make you certain of victory and the crown, if only ye will follow Me and earnestly co-operate with My grace. Thus Cato going before his soldiers through the sands of Lybia, said, “Have experience of your perils by mine. I will command nothing except what I do myself first.”
Let him deny himself: i.e., Let him put away from him his own judgment, and human affection. For this is the dearest to a man of all things, by which man is delighted and fed, so that he thinks it is man himself. For man is that which flourishes and lives in man. He bids therefore that every one should mortify his natural affections, so far as they are repugnant to the will of God.
Christ, as it were, says to Peter, Be thou willing to act in all thy judgments, desires, affections, and notably in the death of the cross as God hath appointed for thee, that thou mayest embrace that will, although nature and natural affection would dread it, and flee from it according to the words, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not” (John xxi. 18). Whence Origen explains let him deny himself to mean, Let him deny his life by undergoing death for the sake of faith in Me, even as I undergo the death of the cross for God’s sake. After a like manner let every believer deny himself, i.e., his own desires, his own imaginations, his own human reasonings, his own will; and let him conform it in all things to the will of God. So too with regard to his senses, so far as they desire things forbidden by God, let him say, I will not see, or hear, or taste those things, because I wish to follow the law of God, and to please God, and not to give satisfaction to my carnal appetites.
S. Gregory observes, (Hom. 32 in Evang.) Christ does not say, Let him deny his riches, but let him deny himself, so that a man should go away from himself, and become a stranger to himself, yea that he should leave off to be what he was and begin to be what he was not, and become as it were a new and another man. “It is less,” he says, “to deny what a man has; but it is far more to deny what he is. It sufficeth not to relinquish what is ours unless we leave also ourselves.” S. Gregory then asks the question, “Whither shall we go out of ourselves?” And he answers, “We have become something different through our fall into sin from that which we were made. Let us leave therefore ourselves, as we have made ourselves by sinning: and let us remain ourselves such as we have been made by grace. Behold, he who was proud, if he has been converted to Christ, has been made humble; he has left himself.” He shows us the same thing by the example of Paul, “Let us consider how Paul had denied himself, when he said, ‘I live, yet not I’; forasmuch as that cruel persecutor was dead and the pious preacher had begun to live, I Christ indeed liveth in me. ’” It is as though he said plainly, I indeed am dead to myself, because I live not after the flesh. Nevertheless I am not dead essentially, because I live in Christ spiritually. Therefore let the Truth say, let It say, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself; because except a man cease from himself, he cannot draw nigh to Him who is above himself: nor is he able to apprehend that which is beyond himself, if he knows not how to slay that which he is.
S. Chrysostom (Hom. 56.) illustrates the same principle by a similitude. “If thou understandest what it is to deny another, then wilt thou rightly perceive what it is to deny thyself. He who has denied another, if he see him beaten with rods, if cast into chains, he does not assist him, he is altogether unmoved, as one who is wholly apart from him. Thus too He wills us by no means to spare our own body, that not even though it be beaten, nor burnt, nor suffer any other thing, we should spare it.” Victor of Antioch adds, “He hath not said, a man must not be too self indulgent; or that he should not spare his own flesh too much; but rising to a very lofty height, let him deny himself, He says, or abjure himself, that is, let him have no commerce with himself, or with his own flesh, but let him so conduct himself, as though it were not he himself who bears the cross but some other person.” Note this word abjure. For as in baptism we renounce Satan, and as it were abjure him, so ought we fully to deny, and as it were abjure ourselves, that is our lusts. For these are more the enemies of our salvation than the devils themselves. For we dread the devil, but our lusts flatter and deceive us, and profess to be our friends. For there is greater danger from one who secretly lies in wait than from an open enemy.
In the Lives of the Fathers (l. 5, libello 1, de profectu patrum, num. 7) the Abbot John gives the following proofs of self-denial and a holy life: “Be patient under injuries, and not soon angry: be a peacemaker, and not rendering evil for evil: not looking at the faults of others, nor exalting thyself; but be subject with humility unto every one: renouncing all fleshly pleasures, and the things which are after the flesh, in humility of spirit in fasting, in patience, in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness, and in labours, shutting thyself up in a sepulchre, as though thou wast already dead, that death may every day seem to be very nigh unto thee.” S. Agidius, a companion of S. Francis, a very holy man, and enlightened by God, was wont to give these paradoxes of self denial which follow:
“If thou wilt see clearly, pluck out thine eyes, and become blind.
“If thou wilt hear well, be thou deaf.
“If thou wouldst speak well, become dumb.
“If thou wouldst walk well, cut off thy feet.
“If thou wouldst work well, cut off thine hands.
“If thou wouldst love well, hate thyself.
“If thou wouldst live well, make thyself die.
“If thou wouldst gain, learn to lose.
“If thou wouldst be rich, become poor.
“If thou wouldst live in pleasure, afflict thyself.
“If thou wouldst be secure, have perpetual fear.
“If thou wouldst be exalted, humble thyself.
“If thou wouldst be honoured, despise thyself, and honour those who despise thee.
“If thou wouldst have what is good, bear evil.
“If thou wouldst be at rest, work.
“If thou wouldst be blessed, desire to be evil spoken of.
“Oh how great is this wisdom, to know how to do these things! and because they are great, they are not given unto all men.”
“The same Agidius gives the following as the way of salvation, and perfection through self denial:
“If thou wilt be saved, do not ask of any human creature the reason wherefore anything befalls thee.
“If thou wilt be saved, make it thy business to rise superior to every consolation and honour which a creature can give thee.
“Woe to those who desire to be honoured for their wickedness.
“If any one contendeth with thee and thou wishest to overcome, be overcome; for when thou thinkest thou hast won, thou has lost.
“If thou lovest, thou shalt be loved.
“If thou fearest, thou shalt be feared.
“If thou doest service, service shall be done unto thee.
“If thou actest well to others, others shall behave well towards thee.
“Blessed is he who loves, and seeks not to be loved again.
“Blessed is he who serves, and seeketh not to be served. And forasmuch as these things are great, fools cannot attain unto them.”
There are three things which ought more especially to cleave to thy mind. The first is to bear willingly all tribulations. The second, to be more and more humble on account of everything which thou doest, or receivest. The third, faithfully to love those good things which cannot be seen with bodily eyes.
Let him take up his cross. That as I have borne Mine, he may follow with alacrity Me, Christ, as it were the first cross bearer, and the Standard Bearer and Captain of the cross bearers—I who bore My cross, on which I was to be crucified, on My shoulders to Mount Calvary. Luke adds the word daily, to signify that every day, and sometimes every hour, some trouble will come to every one, which he ought to bear bravely and patiently; and that throughout his whole life; and thus must every one live upon the cross, and die upon the cross with Christ. “He takes up his cross” says S. Jerome, “who is crucified to the world, to whom also the world is crucified, who follows a crucified Lord.” This cross is, 1. persecution and martyrdom; 2. any affliction or tribulation sent by God; 3. temptation of the devil, permitted by God for our probation and humiliation, and to increase our reward; 4. self denial and the mortification of our lusts.
His own cross, i.e., every one has his peculiar cross; one has it from wife, or children, or relations; another from character; a third from rivals; a fourth from misfortunes; a fifth from poverty; a sixth from exile, bonds, and so on.
2. His own cross, i.e., commensurate with his strength. For God does not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, says S. Paul. He gives to every one a cross as a sort of medicine suitable to the vice from which he suffers. Thus to him who is inclined to pride, God gives some despite, or temptation of the flesh, such as He permitted to come upon S. Paul. The cross He gives to the covetous is loss of goods. To the learned, a fall into some mistake, or bad repute, lest he should be puffed up, and think too highly of himself.
3. His own cross, i.e., decreed by God from eternity for his good. When therefore thou feelest the cross, think upon God, and say, “0 Lord, I willingly accept this cross from thy Fatherly hand, for this is the cross which has been appointed to me from eternity, and decreed by Thee for the destruction of my faults; wherefore I render unto Thee boundless thanks. For I know and believe that by it Thou wouldst make me like unto thy well beloved Son, here in patience, and hereafter in glory. ‘For, whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren.’” (Rom. viii. 29.)
4. As S. Gregory says (Hom. 32. in Evang.), “The cross is taken up in two ways, when either by abstinence the body is affected, or by compassion for our neighbour the mind is afflicted. Let us consider how in both ways Paul bore his cross. For he said, “I chastise my body and reduce it to servitude, lest perchance preaching to others, I myself should be made reprobate.” (Vulg.) Next let us hear his mind’s cross through compassion for his neighbour. For he said, “Who is Weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not?” Behold how the perfect preacher carried the cross in his body, to give an example of abstinence. And forasmuch as He took upon Himself the failings of other men’s infirmity, He carried the cross in His heart.”
For he that will save his life, &c. Greek and Vulgate, his soul. Forasmuch as the cross is bitter and gives pain, “Christ,” says S. Chrysostom, “here animates believers to take it up, by the great reward and the crown of glory which it brings. It is as though one should say to a husbandman: ‘If thou shouldst keep thy corn, thou losest it; if thou sowest it, thou renewest it. For who does not know that the corn, which decays in the dust, springs up from the same dust in a renewed form?’” Origen explains this verse in two ways. 1. Thus: If any man (being a lover of life present) spares his soul through fear of death, and thinking that his soul will perish by that death, he shall lose it, withdrawing it from life eternal. But if any one (despising life present) shall contend for the truth even until death, he shall lose indeed his soul so far as pertains to this life; but since he shall lose it for Christ’s sake, he shall make it safe for the life eternal. The other explanation is as follows: If any one understands what true safety is, and wishes to gain it for the salvation of his soul, he, by denying himself, loses his soul (so far as carnal pleasures are concerned) for Christ’s sake; and losing his soul in this way, he saves it through works of piety. Thus far Origen. The former explanation seems to be the more correct, and may be amplified thus. He who in this life, fleeing from the cross and self-denial, wishes to preserve his soul—that is, his life—and therefore denies Me and My faith in persecution; or wishes to save his soul—that is, the desires of his soul—he shall lose his soul in the life to come, in hell. But he who shall lose his soul in this life for Christ’s sake—either by dying for Him in persecution, or by denying his lusts for His sake—he shall find his soul, which he lost in this life, in the life to come. He shall find it in eternal glory, in the bosom of Christ, Who shall raise and glorify the soul which was exposed to death for His sake. The antithesis between lose and save requires this meaning.
For what does it profit, &c. Lose—Greek, ζημιωθη̃, i.e., make loss, be fined. The meaning is, What assistance shall it be to thee—for this is the meaning of the Greek ω̉φελει̃—to have gained all the riches, honours, and pleasures of the whole world, if on account of them you destroy yourself, and be fined as to your soul with the eternal torments of hell? According to the words, “If you lose all things, remember to save your soul.” For wealth and pleasure, if you lose, you may recover! but the soul once lost, is lost for ever. 0 foolish children of Adam, why do ye so love these fleeting things, that for them ye lose your souls, and deliver them to everlasting burnings? 0 insensate, who for a drop of pleasure purchase eternal pains.
Or what shall a man, &c., exchange; Greek, α̉ντάλλαγμα, i.e., compensation, exchange, price, ransom. For thy soul is above all price, all compensation; because it has been purchased and redeemed by the precious Blood of Christ, the Lord our God. Wherefore the whole world is an insufficient price for the soul of one man. For if once thou shalt lose it, by no price canst thou redeem it, nor be able to buy back thy soul with any other soul, because thou hast but one. Here, indeed, the soul is able to redeem her falls by repentance, by tears, and by good works: but in the Day of Judgment there will be no longer place for repentance and redemption. Behold, therefore, the deceit of Satan and the folly of man. Satan buys the soul of a sinner from him at the cheapest rate, for the brief pleasure of gluttony, of luxury, and so on. “He offers an apple, and deprives him of Paradise,” says S. Bernard.
The Son of Man, &c.—according to his works, i.e., according to what he hath wrought, not according to what he hath known, understood, believed.
Shall come in the glory of His Father. This is the incentive with which Christ stirs up all to heroic acts of self-denial, of the cross, and of virtue. Hear what S. Jerome says (Epist. 1, ad Heliodorum): Thus he invites him to a solitary life, and to take up his cross—“Dost thou fear poverty? Christ calls the poor blessed. Art thou terrified at labour? But no athlete is crowned without sweat. Dost thou think about food? But faith is not afraid of famine. Dost thou fear to wear out thy limbs upon the bare ground? But the Lord lieth with thee. Does the infinite vastness of the desert affright thee? But do thou walk in Paradise in thy mind. That day will come, it will surely come, in which this corruptible and this mortal shall put on incorruption and immortality. Blessed is the servant whom the Lord shall find watching. Then when the earth with its inhabitants shall tremble at the sound of the trumpet, thou shalt rejoice. Then shall the most mighty kings tremble in their nakedness. Plato, with his disciples, shall be found a fool. The arguments of Aristotle shall not profit. But then shalt thou, a rustic and poor, exult. Thou shalt laugh, and say, Behold my crucified God, behold the Judge, who, wrapped in swathing-bands, cried in the manger.” Thus S. Jerome, pathetically but truly.
Verily I say unto you, &c., in His kingdom. Syriac, into His kingdom. Christ promised that a reward in the heavenly kingdom should be given for good works of self-denial and the cross. Now, lest any one should find fault that it was to be put off for many ages, He shows that it was in reality near; He shows that very kingdom in the transfiguration, after a few days, to some yet alive.
Shall not taste of death, i.e., shall not die. It is a metaphor taken from the deadly cup which was given to persons condemned to die.
In His Kingdom. You will ask what was this kingdom of Christ; and when some of the Apostles standing there beheld it? S. Gregory answers (Hom. 32, in Evang.), and Bede, that this kingdom of Christ was the Church, and its diffusion throughout all nations, which verily the Apostles beheld, yea, brought about. Christ says this, says S. Gregory, that from the spread of the Church’s kingdom, which they were about to behold, they might learn how great would be their future glory in the heavenly kingdom, which in this life is invisible. For God, by the visible things, which He sets forth, confirms the hope of the invisible promises. And, 2. Some think that it was to take place at the resurrection, and in the day of judgment, of which Christ spake in the preceding verse. But I say it took place in the Transfiguration of Christ. For in it they beheld Christ’s glorious kingdom as in a glass. Three of the Apostles, namely, Peter, James, and John, had a foretaste of this kingdom. This view is plain from what follows. All the three Evangelists who relate the Transfiguration, place it immediately after this promise, as though it were the fulfilment of it. Thus SS. Hilary, Chrysostom, Jerome, Ambrose, Theophylact, and others, passim. Whence S. Leo says (de Transfig.). In the kingdom, that is in royal splendour. For in His Transfiguration Christ gave to His Apostles a specimen of the glory, the joy and the happiness which the Saints shall obtain in the Heavenly Kingdom, that He might thereby animate them to Evangelical labours and sorrows, and that they might animate others to the same. After the same manner S. Jerome animates Eustochium. “Go forth,” he saith, “for a little space from thy prison, and picture to thine eyes the reward of thy present labours, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man. What sort of day will that be when Mary the mother of the Lord shall meet thee with choirs of virgins? When after Pharaoh with his host has been drowned in the Red Sea, she shall sing the antiphon to the responsive choirs, as she bears the timbrel. Let us sing to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea. Then shall Thecla joyfully fly to embrace thee. Then too the Spouse Himself shall meet thee, and shall say, Arise and come, My kinswoman, and My fair one, for lo the winter is passed, the rain is over. Then the angels shall wonder and say, who is this that looketh forth as the morning, beautiful as the moon, chosen as the sun? Then the little ones, lifting up the palms of victory, shall sing with concordant voice, ‘Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the Highest!’ Then the hundred and forty and four thousand before the Throne, and before the Elders shall hold their harps, and shall chant the new song.”* The construction of this passage is somewhat involved, and the thought obscure. What appears, however, to be meant is this. First, that there were some early heretics who held that the primary or chief object of our Lord’s Passion was to procure certain rewards and advantages to Himself, rather than to reconcile man to God, and obtain the salvation of the human race. Secondly, that our Lord’s rebuke was given to Peter, on the ground that if he followed Peter’s advice, and shrank from His coming Passion, He would by so doing deprive Himself of the benefits flowing from it.
The anathema of the Council, which is referred to in the text, seems therefore to be directed against those who would consider our Lord’s rebuke to Peter as springing from the thought that, listening to S. Peter’s advice would deprive Himself of the benefits of His Passion.
The heretical idea condemned by the Council is the very subtle one, that our Lord was actuated by a regard to self-interest in His voluntary submission to suffering and death. (Back up to the place)