Early Church Fathers
121 So Meyer et al. What Robert South says (Sermon on John vii. 17) of the Sermon on the Mount as a whole, can certainly be applied here: "All the particulars of Matt. v.-vii. are wrapt up in the doctrine of self-denial, prescribing to the world the most inward purity of heart, and a constant conflict with all our sensual appetites and worldly interests," etc. Augustin's interpretation is correct as far as it goes, but it is too restricted. Christ does not here insist upon the renunciation of sinful lusts, but upon the evasion of occasions of sin. What is harmless and innocent of itself, when through any temperament or condition it becomes an occasion of sinning, is to be relinquished.
122 Eat. So Vulgate.
123 Per alias nuptias, quarum potestatem dat divortium ("by another marriage, power of which divorce gives."-Bengel). So also Meyer, Alford, etc.
124 Solutam a viro...moechatur; Vulgate, dimissam...adulterat.
125 Matt. xix. 8.
126 Rom. vii. 2, 3.
127 In conjugio...mulierem; Vulgate, matrimonio...uxorem.
128 In conjugio...mulierem; Vulgate, matrimonio...uxorem.
129 1 Cor. vii. 10, 11.
130 1 Cor. vii. 29.
131 Luke xiv. 26.
132 Matt xi. 12. Qui vim faciunt diripiunt illud; Vulgate, violenti rapiunt illud.
133 Gal. iii. 28 and Col. iii. 11.
134 Uxores ducent; Vulgate, nubentur.
135 Matt. xxii. 30.
136 1 Cor. xv. 53, 54.
137 Luke xiv. 26.
138 Matt. vi. 25.
139 John x. 15.
140 Augustin expresses himself (Retract. I. xix. 6) as having misgivings about his own explanation of this matter here. He advises readers to go to his other writings on the subject of marriage and divorce, or to the works of other writers. He says all sin is not fornication (omne peccatum fornicatio non est); and to determine which sins are fornication, and when a wife may be dismissed, is a most broad (latebrosissima) question. He calls the question a most difficult (difficillimam) one, and says, "But verily I feel that I have not come to the perfect conclusion of this matter (imo non me pervenisse ad hujus rei perfectionem sentio." Retract. ii. 57). Some of his treatises on the marriage relation: De Bono Conjugali; De Conjugiis Adulterinis; De Nuptiis et Concupiscientia.
141 John viii. 11. Vide deinceps ne pecces; Vulgate, jam amplius noli peccare.
142 Ignoscitur, lit. "is pardoned."
143 Lit. "'it is pardoned."
144 1 Cor. vii. 14. Augustin conforms to the approved reading in the Greek text: in uxore...in fratre. Vulgate, per mulierem,...per virum. (See Revised Version.)
145 Luke x. 35.
146 Modern commentators do not spring this question, agreeing that the fornication referred to is of the wife. Paulus, Döllinger (in Christ. u. Kirche, to which Professor Conington replied in Cont. Rev., May, 1869) think the fornication of the woman was committed before her marriage. Plumptre also prefers the reference to ante-nuptial sin.
147 Rom. ii. 1.
148 a/polelume/nhn; that is, one divorced unlawfully who has not been guilty of fornication (so Meyer very positively, Stier et. al., Alford hesitatingly). This explanation might seem to limit re-marriage to such an one, inasmuch as the essence of the marriage bond has not been touched (So Alford et. al.).
149 That is, innocent or guilty, she cannot marry without committing adultery. The Roman-Catholic Church forbids divorces, but permits an indefinite separation a mensa et toro ("from table and bed").
150 Abraham taking Hagar with Sarah's consent.
151 About the year 343; for Augustin wrote this treatise about the year 393.
152 The law permitted divorce for "some uncleanness" (Deut xxiv. 1). In the time of Christ divorce was allowed on trivial grounds. While Schammai interpreted the Deuteronomic prescription of moral uncleanness or adultery, Hillel interpreted it to include physical uncleanness or unattractiveness. A wife's cooking her husband's food unpalatably he declared to be a legitimate cause for dissolution of the marriage bond. Opposing the loose views current, Christ declared that it was on account of the "hardness of their hearts" that Moses had suffered them to put away their wives, and asserted adultery to be the only allowable reason for divorce. The question whether the innocent party may marry, is beset with great difficulties in view of this passage and Matt. xix. 9. The answer turns somewhat upon the construction of the passage. Augustin here, the Council of Trent (and so the Roman-Catholic Church), Weiss, Mansel, and others hold that all marriage of a divorced person is declared illegal. In another place (De Conj. Adult. i. 9) Augustin says, "Why, I say, did the Lord interject `the cause of fornication,0' and not say rather, in a general way, `Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another commits adultery0'?...I think, because the Lord wishes to mention that which is greater. For who will deny that it is a greater adultery to marry another when the divorced wife has not committed fornication than when any one divorces his wife and then marries another? Not because this is not adultery, but because it is a lesser sort." The Apost. Constitutions (vii. 2) say, "Thou shalt not commit adultery, for thou dividest one flesh into two," etc. Weiss: "Jesus everywhere takes it for granted that in the sight of God there is no such thing as a dissolution of the marriage bond" (Leben Jesu, i. 529). President Woolsey, on the other hand, unhesitatingly declares, that, by Christ's precepts, marriage is dissolved by adultery, so that the innocent party may marry again. According to this passage, the woman divorced on other grounds than adultery seems to be declared adulterous if she marry. According to Matt. xix. 9 the man who puts away his wife for adultery, seems to be permitted to marry without becoming adulterous himself. According to Mark x. 12 the woman had the privilege in that day of putting away her husband, but "there is no evidence in the Hebrew Scriptures that the woman could get herself divorced from her husband." To the able treatment of Augustin, which might seem either exceedingly fearless or mawkish at the present day, according to the stand-point of the critic, the reader would do well to read Alford and Lange on this passage; Stanley on I Cor. vii. 11; and Woolsey, art. "Divorce" in Scaff-Herzog Encycl. Whatever may be the exact meaning of our Lord concerning the marriage of the innocent party, it is evident that He regards the marriage bond as profoundly sacred, and warrants the celebrant in binding the parties to marriage to be faithful one to the other "till death do you part." He Himself said, "What, therefore, God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Mark x. 9).
153 Jusjurandum; Vulgate, juramenta; Greek, tou= o_rkouj.
154 Amplius; Vulgate, abundantius.
155 Gal. i. 20.
156 2 Cor. xi. 31.
157 Rom. i. 9.
158 1 Cor. xv. 31.
159 Matt. vi. 13.
160 Revised Version, Evil One. So Euthymius, Zig. (auctorem habet diabolum), Chrysostom, Theophylact, Fritzsche, Keim, Meyer, Plumptre, etc. The interpretation of Augustin is shared by Luther, Bengel, De Wette, Tholuck, Ewald, etc.
161 Augustin is somewhat perplexed about the meaning, but decides the injunction to be directed against the abuse of the oath, not to forbid it wholly. The oath was permitted by the law (Lev. xxii. 11), was to be held sacred (Num. xxx. 2), and to be made in God's name (Deut. vi. 13). It was customary under the Old Testament to swear (Gen. xxiv. 37, Josh. ix. 15; perhaps only a solemn affirmation), and in the name of the Lord (1 Sam. xx. 42; Irenaeus, Clement, Origen, Chrysostom, etc.). The Anabaptists, Mennonites, and Quakers understand the precept to forbid all oaths, even in the civil court. "Christendom, if it were fully conformed to Christ's will, as it should be, would tolerate no oaths whatever" (Meyer). "The proper state of Christians is to require no oaths" (Alford). If interpreted as a definite prohibition of all swearing, the passage comes into conflict with Christ's own example (Matt. xxvi. 63), and the apostle's conduct in the passages quoted by Augustin. The meaning has been restricted to rash and frivolous oaths on the street and in the market (Keim); in daily conversation (Carr, Camb. Bible for Schools). In the ideal Christian community, where truth and honesty prevail, oaths will be superfluous: the simple asseverations, "Yea, nay," will be sufficient. To this, Christ's precept ultimately looks. But He, no doubt, had in mind the widespread profanity of His day, and the current opinion that only oaths containing the name of God were binding (Lightfoot cites from the Rabbinical books to this effect). All unnecessary appeals to God, as well as careless and profane swearing, are forbidden, as coming either from bad passions within or a want of reverence. "Prohibition would be repeal of the Mosaic law" (Plumptre). "All strengthening of the simple `Yea and nay0' is occasioned by the presence of sin and Satan in the world. There is no more striking proof of the existence of evil than the prevalence of the foolish, low, useless habit of swearing. It could never have arisen if men did not believe each other to be liars," etc. (Schaff). "Men use their protestations because they are distrustful one of another. An oath is physic, which supposes disease" (M. Henry). When the oath is performed for the "sake of ethical interests, as when the civil authority demands it," as seems to be necessary and safe for society in its present unsanctified condition, the precept does not interfere (Köstlin, art. "Oath," Schaff-Herzog Encyl., Meyer, Wuttke, Alford, Tholuck, etc.). An interesting imitation of the Rabbinical casuistry above referred to was practised by the crafty and subtle Louis XI. Scott says (Introd. to Quentin Durward), "He admitted to one or two peculiar forms of oath the force of a binding obligation which he denied to all others, strictly preserving the secret; which mode of swearing he really accounted obligatory, as one of the most valuable of State secrets."
162 1 Cor. ii. 15.
163 Gen. iii. 19.
164 Pro fide et societate.
165 Adversus malum; Vulgate, malo.
166 Vestimentum; Vulgate, pallium.
167 Omni petenti te, da; Vulgate, qui petit a te, etc.
168 With Augustin, Calvin, Tholuck, Ewald, Lange construe this as neuter, evil; Chrysostom, Theophylact, the devil; De Wette, Meyer, Alford, Plumptre, as also the Revised Version, the man who does evil. Renan says the practice of this doctrine put down slavery: "It was not Spartacus who suppressed slavery, but rather was it Blandina" ("Ce n'est pas Spartacus qui a supprimè l'esclavage, c'est bien plûtô Blandine").
170 Toleratis; Vulgate, sustinetis.
171 2 Cor. xi. 20, 21.
172 2 Cor. xii. 15.
173 Acts xxii. 25.
174 Principi sacerdotum; Vulgate, summum sacerdotem.
175 Acts xxiii. 3-5.
176 Interpreted by modern commentators usually of temporary forgetfulness, or, what is much better, failure to recognise through infirmity of vision.
177 English version, "fixed"-Ps. lvii. 7.
178 Exprobra de malo; Vulgate, testimonium perhibe de malo.
179 John xviii. 23.
180 The coat or tunic was the under-garment. The cloak, or pallium, was the outer-garment, and the more precious.
181 English version, "coat."
182 English version, "'cloak."
183 The Greek word a0ggareu/w is derived from the Persian, to press one into service, as a courier to bear despatches. (See Thayer, Lexicon.)