Matt. 7:7-12 (Part 3)

7:9ff TERTULLIAN: Him, therefore, whom you call the Creator recognize also as “Father.” It is even He who knows what His children require. For when they asked for bread, He gave them manna from heaven; and when they wanted flesh, He sent them abundance of quails—not a serpent for a fish, nor for an egg a scorpion.  Against Marcion, 3.393.

CYPRIAN: The Lord also in His Gospel, setting forth the love of God the Father, says, “What man is there of you, whom, if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to them that ask Him?” The Lord is here comparing the father after the flesh, and the eternal and liberal love of God the Father. But if that evil father upon earth, deeply offended by a sinful and evil son, yet if he should see the same son afterwards reformed, and, the sins of his former life being put away, restored to sobriety and morality and to the discipline of innocence by the sorrow of his repentance, both rejoices and gives thanks, and with the eagerness of a father’s exultation, embraces the restored one, whom before he had cast out; how much more does that one and true Father, good, merciful, and loving—Himself Goodness and Mercy and Love— rejoice in the repentance of His own sons! Nor does He threaten punishment to those who are now repenting, or mourning and lamenting, but rather promises pardon and clemency.  Thus, the Lord in the Gospel calls those that mourn, blessed;  because he who mourns calls forth mercy. He who is stubborn and haughty heaps up wrath against himself, and the punishment of the coming judgment. And therefore, dearest brother, we have decided that those who do not repent, nor give evidence of sorrow for their sins with their whole heart, and with manifest profession of their lamentation, are to be absolutely restrained from the hope of communion and peace if they begin to beg for them in the midst of sickness and peril; because it is not repentance for sin, but the warning of urgent death, that drives them to ask; and he is not worthy to receive consolation in death who has not reflected that he was about to die. The Epistles of Cyprian, 5.333.

7:12 THE DIDACHE: The way of life, then, is this: First, you shall love God30 who made you; second, your neighbor as yourself;  and all things whatsoever you would not want to occur to you, you also do not do to another.

JUSTIN MARTYR: Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ spoke well when He summed up all righteousness and piety in two commandments. They are these: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”  For the man who loves God with all the heart, and with all the strength, being filled with a God-fearing mind, will reverence no other god; and since God wishes it, he would reverence that angel who is beloved by the same Lord and God. And the man who loves his neighbor as himself will wish for him the same good things that he wishes for himself, and no man will wish evil things for himself. Accordingly, he who loves his neighbor would pray and labor that his neighbor may be possessed of the same benefits as himself. Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew, 1.246.

ARISTIDES: Christians love their neighbors; they judge justly, and they never do to others what they would not wish to happen to themselves.
The Apology of Aristides the Philosopher, 9.277.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Here is then a comprehensive precept, and an exhortation of life, all-embracing: “As you would that men should do to you, do likewise to them.”  We may comprehend the commandments in two, as the Lord says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength; and your neighbor as yourself.” Then from these He infers, “on this hang the law and the prophets.” 

Further, to him [the rich young ruler] that asked, “What good thing shall I do, that I may inherit eternal life?”

He answered, “You know the commandments?” And on him replying, “Yes,” Jesus said, “This do, and you shall be saved.”36 Especially conspicuous is the love of the Instructor set forth in various health-giving commandments, in order that the discovery may be readier, from the abundance and arrangement of the Scriptures. We have the Decalogue given by Moses, which, indicating by an elementary principle, simple and of one kind, defines the designation of sins in a way conducive to salvation: “You shall not commit adultery. You shall not worship idols. You shall not corrupt boys. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. Honor your father and your mother.”  And so forth. These things are to be observed, and whatever else is commanded in reading the Bible. The Instructor, 2.292.

ATHENAGORAS: For our account does not lie with human laws, which a bad man can evade (at the outset I proved to you, sovereign lords, that our doctrine is from the teaching of God), but we have a law which makes the measure of righteousness to consist in dealing with our neighbor as ourselves. A Plea for the Christians, 2.146.

BARDESANES: For men have not been commanded to do anything but that which they are able to do. For the commandments set before us are only two, and they are such as are compatible with freedom and consistent with equity: one, that we refrain from everything which is wrong, and which we should not like to have done to ourselves; and the other, that we should do that which is right, and which we love and are pleased to have done to us likewise. Who, then, is the man that is too weak to avoid stealing, or to avoid lying, or to avoid acts of licentiousness, or to avoid hatred and deception? All these things are under the control of the mind of man; and are not dependent on the strength of the body, but on the will of the soul. For even if a man be poor, and sick, and old, and disabled in his limbs, he is able to avoid doing all these things. And, as he is able to avoid doing these things, so is he able to love, and to bless, and to speak the truth, and to pray for what is good for every one with whom he is acquainted; and if he be in health, and capable of working, he is able also to give of that which he has; moreover, to support with strength of body him that is sick and enfeebled—this also he can do. The Book of the Laws of Divers Countries, 8.725.

TERTULLIAN: “And as you would that men should do to you, do also to them likewise.” In this command is no doubt implied its counterpart: “And as you would that men should not do to you, so should you also not do to them likewise.” Against Marcion, 3.372.

CYPRIAN: When He taught what is life eternal, He embraced the sacrament of life in a large and divine brevity, saying, “And this is life eternal, that they might know You, the only and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”  Also, when He would gather from the law and the prophets the first and greatest commandments, He said, “'Hear, O Israel; the Lord your God is one God: and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. And the second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”  “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  And again: “Whatsoever good things you would that men should do to you, do even so to them. For this is the law and the prophets.” The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.455.

ARCHELAUS: And that is quite in accordance with the truth which we have learned now, that if one prevails in the keeping of the two commandments, he fulfills the whole law and the prophets. The Disputation of Archelaus and Manes, 6.217.

© OTR 2023