The Church Fathers on John 7:44-50
Jul 4th, 2021 • 10 min
44. Jesus cried and said. He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.
45. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.
46. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
47. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not; for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
48. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
49. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
50. And I know that His commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
Chrys. Because the love of human praise prevented the chief rulers from believing, Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, but on Him that sent me: as if to say, Why are ye afraid to believe on Me? Your faith through Me passes to God.
Aug. He signifies to them that He is more than He appears to be, (for to men He appeared but a man; His Godhead was hid.) Such as the Father is, such am I in nature and in dignity; He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, i. e. on that which He sees, but on Him that sent Me, i. e. on the Father, [ He that believes in the Father must believe in Him as the Father, i. e. must believe that He has a Son; and reversely, he who believes in the Son thereby believes in the Father.]
And again, if any one thinks that God has sons by grace, but not a Son equal and coeternal with Himself, neither does he believe on the Father, who sent the Son; because what he believes on is not the Father who sent Him. And to shew that He is not the Son, in the sense of one out of many, a son by grace, but the Only Son equal to the Father, He adds, And He that seeth Me, seeth Him that sent me; so little difference is there between Me and Him that sent Me, that He that seeth Me, seeth Him.
Our Lord sent His Apostles, yet none of them dared to say, He that believeth on Me. We believe an Apostle, but we do not believe on an Apostle. Whereas the Only Begotten says, He that believeth on Me, doth not believe on Me, but on Him that sent Me. Wherein He does not withdraw the believer’s faith from Himself, but gives him a higher object than the form of a servant, for that faith.
Chrys. He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, but on Him that sent Me: as if He said, He that taketh water from a stream, taketh the water not of the stream, but of the fountain. Then to shew that it is not possible to believe on the Father, if we do not believe on Him, He says, He that seeth Me, seeth Him that sent Me. What then? Is God a body? By no means; seeing here is the mind’s vision. What follows still further shews His union with the Father. I am come a light into the world. This is what the Father is called in many places. He calls Himself the light, because he delivers from error, and disperses the darkness of the understanding; that whosoever believeth in Me should not abide in darkness.
Aug. Whereby it is evident, that He found all in darkness. In which darkness if they wish not to remain, they must believe in the light which is come into the world. He says in one place to His disciples, Ye are the light of the world; but He did not say to them, Ye are come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on you should not abide in darkness. All saints are lights, but they are so by faith, because they are enlightened by Him, from Whom to withdraw is darkness.
Chrys. And to shew that He does not let His despisers go unpunished, from want of power, He adds, And if any man hear my words and believe not, I judge him not.
Aug. i. e. I judge him not now. He does not say, I judge him not at the last day, for that would be contrary to the sentence above, The Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son. And the reason follows, why He does not judge now; For I came not to Judge the world, but to save the world. Now is the time of mercy, afterward will be the time of judgment.
Chrys. But that this might not serve to encourage sloth, He warns men of a terrible judgment coming; He that rejecteth Me, and heareth not My words, hath one that judgeth him.
Aug. Mean time they waited to know who this one was; so He proceeds: The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him at the last day. He makes it sufficiently clear that He Himself will judge at the last day. For the word that He speaks, is Himself. He speaks Himself, announces Himself. We gather too from these words that those who have not heard, will be judged differently from those who have heard and despised.
Aug. I judge him not; the word that I have spoken shall judge him: for I have not spoken of Myself. The word which the Son speaks judges, because the Son did not speak of Himself: for I have not spoken of Myself: i. e. I was not born of Myself.
Aug. 1 I ask then how we shall understand this, I will not judge, but the word which I have spoken will Judge? Yet He Himself is the Word of the Father which speaketh. Is it thus? I will not judge by My human power, as the Son of man, but as the word of God, because I am the Son of God.
Chrys. Or, I Judge him not, i. e. I am not the cause of his destruction, but he is himself, by despising my words. The words that I have just said, shall be his accusers, and deprive him of all excuse; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him. And what word? This, viz. that2 I have not spoken of Myself, but the Father which sent me gave Me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak. All these things were said on their account, that they might have no excuse.
Aug. When the Father gave the Son a commandment, He did not give Him what He had not: for in the Wisdom of the Father, i. e. in the Word, are all the commandments of the Father. The commandment is said to be given, because it is not from him to whom it is said to be given. But to give the Son that which He never was without, is the same as to beget the Son who never was not.
Theophyl. Since the Son is the Word of the Father, and reveals completely what is in the mind of the Father, He says He receives a commandment what He should say, and what He should speak: just as our word, if we say what we think, brings out what is in our minds.
And I know that His commandment is life everlasting. Aug. If life everlasting is the Son Himself, and the commandment is life everlasting, what is this but saying, I am the commandment of the Father? And in the same way in the following; Whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me, so I speak, we must not understand, said unto Me, as if words were spoken to the Only Word. The Father spoke to the Son, as He gave life to the Son; not that the Son knew not, or had not, but that He was the Son. What is meant by, as He said unto Me, so I speak, but that I am the Word who speaks. The Father is true, the Son is truth: the True, begat the Truth. What then could He say to the Truth, if the Truth was perfect from the beginning, and no new truth could be added to Him? That He spake to the Truth then, means that He begat the Truth.
1 Augustine literally: That is, He has spoken from His Father. So the sentence will run thus. I shall not judge, but the Word of the Father shall judge. But the Word of the Father is the Son of God Himself: so the sentence will run, I shall not judge, but I shall judge. How can both of these be true? In this way. I shall not judge by virtue of any human praise, in that I am the Son of man, but I shall judge by virtue of the power of the Word, in that I am the Son of God.
2 i. e. My having said so often that I have not, &c.
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