Matt. 5:21-26 (Part 3)

CYPRIAN: In Malachi: “Has not one God created us? Is there not one Father of us all? Why have we certainly deserted one another?”

Of this same thing according to John: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.” Also in the same place: “This is my commandment, That you love one another, even as I have loved you. Greater love than this has no man, than that one should lay down his life for his friends.” Also in the same place: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” Also in the same place: “Verily I say to you, That if two of you shall agree on earth concerning everything, whatever you shall ask it shall be given you from my Father which is in heaven. For wherever two or three are gathered together in my name, I am with them.”

Of this same thing in the first Epistle to the Corinthians: “And I indeed, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I have given you milk for drink, not meat: for while you were yet little you were not able to bear it, neither now are you able. For you are still carnal: for where there are in you emulation, and strife, and dissensions, are you not carnal, and walk after man?” Likewise in the same place: “And if I should have all faith, so that I can remove mountains, but have not charity, I am nothing. And if I should distribute all my goods for food, and if I should deliver up my body to be burned, but do not have charity, I avail nothing. Charity is great-souled; charity is kind; charity does not envy; charity does not deal falsely; is not puffed up; is not irritated; does not think evil; does not rejoice in injustice, but rejoices in the truth. It loves all things, believes all things, hopes all things, bears all things. Charity shall never fail.” Of this same thing to the Galatians: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and accuse one another, see that you are not consumed one of another.”

Of this same thing in the Epistle of John: “In this appear the children of God and the children of the devil. Whosoever is not righteous is not of God, and he who does not love his brother. For he who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” Also in the same place: “If any one shall say that he loves God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he who does not love his brother whom he sees, how can he love God whom he does not see?”

Of this same thing in the Acts of the Apostles: “But the multitude of them that had believed acted with one soul and mind: nor was there among them any distinction, neither did they esteem as their own anything of the possessions that they had; but all things were common to them.”

Of this same thing in the Gospel according to Matthew: If you would offer your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you; leave your gift before the altar, and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift at the altar.”

Also in the Epistle of John: “God is love and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.” Also in the same place: “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is a liar, and walks in darkness even until now.” The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.533.

VICTORINUS: “And when He had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain.” John relates that he saw under the altar of God, that is, under the earth, the souls of them that were slain. For both heaven and earth are called God’s altar, as the law says, commanding in the symbolical form of the truth two altars to be made,—a golden one within, and a brazen one without. But we perceive that the golden altar is thus called heaven, by the testimony that our Lord bears to it; for He says, “When you bring your gift to the altar” (assuredly our gifts are the prayers which we offer), “and there remember that your brother has anything at all against you, leave your gift before the altar.” Assuredly prayers ascend to heaven. Commentary on the Apocalypse of the Blessed John, 7.351.

5:25ff CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: It is said, “Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are in the way with him.” The adversary is not the body, as some would have it, but the devil, and those assimilated to him, who walks along with us in the person of men, who emulate his deeds in this earthly life. It is inevitable, then, that those who confess themselves to belong to Christ, but find themselves in the midst of the devil’s works, suffer the most hostile treatment. For it is written, “Lest he deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officers of Satan’s kingdom.” “For I am persuaded that neither death,” through the assault of persecutors, “nor life” in this world, “nor angels,” the apostate ones, “nor powers” (and Satan’s power is the life which he chose, for such are the powers and principalities of darkness belonging to him), “nor things present,” amid which we exist during the time of life, as the hope entertained by the soldier, and the merchant’s gain, “nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature,” in consequence of the energy proper to a man,—opposes the faith of him who acts according to free choice. “Creature” is synonymous with activity, being our work, and such activity “shall not be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” You have got a compendious account of the Christian martyr. The Stromata, 2.426.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: But the Savior himself, whom alone they think one should obey, has forbidden hatred and reviling and says: “When you go with your adversary to court, try to achieve a friendly reconciliation with him.” Accordingly, they will either refuse to accept Christ's exhortation, in that they are in opposition to the adversary, or they will become his friends and cease to oppose him. The Stromata.

TERTULLIAN: In short, inasmuch as we understand “the prison” pointed out in the Gospel to be Hades, and as we also interpret “the uttermost farthing” to mean the very smallest offense which has to be recompensed there before the resurrection, no one will hesitate to believe that the soul undergoes in Hades some compensatory discipline, without prejudice to the full process of the resurrection, when the recompense will be administered through the flesh besides. A Treatise on the Soul, 3.235.57

TERTULLIAN: For the Judge, who commits to prison, and allows no release out of it without the payment of “the very last mite,” they treat of in the person of the Creator, with the view of disparaging Him. Which petty objection, however, I deem it necessary to meet with the same answer. For as often as the Creator’s severity is paraded before us, so often is Christ (shown to be) His, to whom He urges submission by the motive of fear. Against Marcion, 3.399.

ORIGEN: In this life, this way traveled by all, you do well to accept and not ignore the suggestions of the conscience. But if you are inconsiderate and negligent in this life, conscience itself, assuming the role of a prosecutor, will accuse you before the judge. Conscience will subject to the juryman’s decision, and you will be handed over to incurable punishments. Such things you would not have suffered, if along the way you had in fact acquired goodwill toward your accuser, accepting his reproaches as offered out of goodwill. For this also the divine Evangelist John says in his letter: “If our conscience does not condemn us, we have confidence before God.” Fragment 102.

5:26 THE DIDACHE: Happy is he that gives according to the commandment; for he is guiltless. Woe to him that receives; for if one having need receives, he is guiltless; but he that receives not having need, shall pay the penalty, why he received and for what, and, coming into imprisonment, he shall be examined concerning the things which he has done, and he shall not escape from there until he pay back the last farthing. 7.377.

TERTULLIAN: For who is there that will not desire, while he is in the flesh, to put on immortality, and to continue his life by a happy escape from death, through the transformation which must be experienced instead of it, without encountering too that Hades which will exact the very last farthing? Notwithstanding, he who has already traversed Hades is destined also to obtain the change after the resurrection. For from this circumstance it is that we definitively declare that the flesh will by all means rise again. On the Resurrection of the Flesh, 3.575.

ORIGEN: Mark with me that each deed which is good or seemly is like a gain and an increment, but a wicked deed is like a loss; and as there is a certain gain when the money is greater and another when it is less, and as there are differences of more or less, so according to the good deeds, there is as it were a valuing of gains more or less. To reckon what work is a great gain, and what a less gain, and what a least, is the prerogative of him who alone knows to investigate such things, looking at them in the light of the disposition, and the word, and the deed, and from consideration of the things which are not in our power cooperating with those that are; and so also in the case of things opposite, it is his to say what sin, when a reckoning is made with the servants, is found to be a great loss, and what is less, and what, if we may so call it, is the loss of the very last mite, or the last farthing. The account, therefore, of the entire and whole life is exacted by that which is called the kingdom of heaven which is likened to a king, when “we must all stand before the judgment-sent of Christ that each one may receive the things done in the body according to what he has done, whether good or bad” and then when the reckoning is being made, shall there be brought into the reckoning that is made also every idle word that men shall speak, and any cup of cold water only which one has given to drink in the name of a disciple.
Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 9.499.

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