Rosary2007's Weblog

Words from GOD – Words to GOD

Archiv für Christ

Are these the Last Days?- by Archbishop Dr. Uwe AE.Rosenkranz

No. 20

Cover of "The Late, Great Planet Earth"

Cover of The Late, Great Planet Earth





Reformation Trust

Are These the Last Days?

© 2014 by R.C. Sproul

Published by Reformation Trust Publishing
A division of Ligonier Ministries
421 Ligonier Court, Sanford, FL 32771
July 2014
First edition

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher, Reformation Trust Publishing. The only exception is brief quotations in published reviews.

Cover design: Gearbox Studios

All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Sproul, R. C. (Robert Charles), 1939–
Are these the last days? / by R.C. Sproul. — First edition.
pages cm. — (Crucial questions series; No. 20)
ISBN 978-1-56769-376-8 — ISBN 1-56769-376-8
1. Bible. Matthew XXIV–Criticism, interpretation, etc. 2. Jesus Christ–Prophecies. 3. Second Advent–Biblical teaching. I. Title.
BS2575.52.S68 2014








Chapter One


In the middle of the nineteenth century, a serious potato famine struck the nation of Ireland. Facing starvation, multitudes of people fled to other countries to seek sustenance. Some boarded ships and sailed for the New World, with many finally landing in New York City. Among those immigrants was my great-grandfather, who came to the United States from Donegal in the northern province of Ulster. Since he wanted his children and grandchildren to remember their heritage, he told tales of former days in Ireland and encouraged all of the family to learn the songs of the Irish people. My mother sang Irish lullabies to us and permitted my sister and me to stay home from school each year on Saint Patrick’s Day, when the Pittsburgh radio stations played Irish songs all day.
However, to this day, I think of myself more as an American than an Irishman. Although I’ve been to Europe many times, I’ve yet to go back to Ireland. On the other hand, my son has been more zealous about our ancestry, making sure that all eight of his children have Irish names. And as a tribute to his ancestry, he wore a kilt to his ordination service.
At my house, we left many of the markers of our ethnic identity behind, but for a Jew in antiquity, this would certainly not have been the case. The Jews are one of the most remarkable groups of people who have ever populated the face of the earth. In the first century AD alone, their nation was conquered, their temple destroyed, and their capital, Jerusalem, was burned to the ground, killing an estimated 1.1 million Jews. After this, most Jews were dispersed to the four corners of the world. They went to what are the modern-day nations of Russia, Poland, Hungary, Germany, and Holland, and to many other places. Even though Jews have been without a homeland for most of the past two millennia, they have never lost their ethnic and national identity.
This remarkable phenomenon is predicted in detail in the Olivet Discourse.
One of the most important and controversial chapters in all of the New Testament, the discourse, which is found in Matthew 24, is one of the most dramatic prophecies given by our Lord.

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” …
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Matt. 24:1–3, 32–35)

Before we consider this text, I’d like you to consider a “what if” scenario. Suppose I were to claim that last night I received a special revelation from God. I declare that I now have the gift of prophecy and will give you a prediction of things that are to come to pass. I predict that sometime within the next twelve months, the United States will fall, the Capitol building in Washington will be destroyed, the White House will be demolished, the fifty states of the union will be dissolved, and the United States as an independent nation will cease to exist. Finally, I don’t know the exact timing, but only that it will happen sometime within the next twelve months.
Without question, within the next twelve months, you would know for certain whether my claim was true or false. If it didn’t come to pass, you would be justified in labeling me a false prophet, unworthy of your attention.
I give this illustration to demonstrate what is at stake in the text. In all of the Bible, I cannot think of any prophecy more astonishing than the prophecy that our Lord Jesus gave on the Mount of Olives concerning the temple and Jerusalem. In Luke’s account, He told the disciples that not one stone of the Herodian temple would be left on top of one another and that the city of Jerusalem itself would be destroyed (Luke 21:6, 24). This was a truly shocking claim. Herod’s temple was magnificent, to say the least. The temple’s stones were as large as sixteen feet long and eight feet high. In the first century, if there was any building that seemed impregnable, it was the temple in Jerusalem. When Jesus made this prediction, the Jewish people would have considered Him either a lunatic or a prophet endowed with supernatural knowledge.
Of course, we know that Jesus had supreme authority to make these claims, and history has vindicated Him. These things came to pass in perfect detail; as foretold by Jesus, the temple was destroyed in AD 70 and the Jews were dispersed throughout the world. This prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple provides firm proof of the identity of Jesus and the inspiration of Scripture by the Holy Spirit, and it should close the mouth of even the most hardened skeptic.
After Jesus made this astonishing prediction, the disciples immediately came to Him and wanted to know the exact timing of His predictions. Jesus then engaged in a long discussion of the signs of the times, and gave a description of the great tribulation and of His return.
In recent days, these topics have seen increased interest. Books such as Hal Lindsey’s The Late, Great Planet Earth and the Left Behind series have been wildly popular. Everyone is interested in the timing and exact details of Jesus’ return. However, Jesus’ answer to the question of timing creates some challenges for us. He says in verse 34, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”
Do you see the problem? To the Jews, the term generation referred to a time frame of roughly forty years. So, Jesus seemed to be saying that the destruction of temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, and His appearance at the end of the age were all going to take place within forty years. Many critics thus reject Jesus because they believe He was saying that His return, the end of the world, and the consummation of His kingdom would all take place within four decades.
How do we deal with this? The critics deal with it very simply. They say Jesus was partially right in His predictions and partially wrong. Therefore, He was a false prophet. Others say He was completely right in His prediction and that every New Testament prophecy (i.e., His return, the future resurrection, the rapture of the saints, etc.) was fulfilled in the first century, leaving nothing for future fulfillment. I don’t agree with either of these positions.
I am convinced that what Jesus is talking about in this passage had special reference to a judgment of Christ coming on the Jewish nation, thus ending the age of the Jews. This Jewish age ended with the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews, which triggered the beginning of the New Testament time period, which is later called “the age of the Gentiles.” This is where we still find ourselves today.
In the next few chapters, I’m going to interpret the Olivet Discourse in a manner that I believe is consistent with the way that it would have been understood by the disciples at that time. When Jesus is asked when these things will happen, He says, “I can’t tell you the day and the hour, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that this generation will not pass away until all of these things take place.” I believe our Lord was speaking the unvarnished truth.

Chapter Two


In the previous chapter, I mentioned the difficulties that accompany Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. Jesus made the bold statement that the generation of His hearers would not pass away until “the end.” As we saw in the last chapter, this creates many interpretive challenges, especially in reference to Jesus’ final return. How are we to understand His words concerning His coming, the end times, and the gospel being preached to all the nations? Was Jesus mistaken in His time frame? How do we reconcile this account? Let’s begin by taking a closer look at verses 3–14 of Matthew 24.

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:3–14)

As I suggest possible ways to understand this text, we have to tread very carefully and with a fair amount of humility. While I’ve wrestled with this passage for many years, I do not propose an infallible interpretation. Though I am convinced that there is merit to my conclusions, I am aware that many Christians throughout history have debated this subject and have come to different conclusions. I simply lend my voice to the discussion.
Historically, as I have already mentioned in the previous chapter, there have been numerous ways to interpret Jesus’ words in Matthew 24. Some critics say Jesus was simply wrong and thus deem Him a false prophet. Others have tried to interpret the term generation to mean something other than a time frame of about forty years. Still others have made the case that Jesus was only speaking about the immediate future and not His second coming and the end of history as we know it. Others have pointed to a twofold approach to fulfillment, a primary fulfillment in the first century and an ultimate fulfillment at the end of history. This is often the case with prophecies from the Old Testament.
Verse 3 reads, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (v. 3b). We should exercise caution when considering the disciples’ question. What did they mean by “age”? Customarily, many say that “the end of the age” refers to Jesus’ return to consummate His kingdom here on earth. But could there be any other possible interpretations? Typically, when we say “end of an age,” we are referring to a particular era defined by certain characteristics, such as the Iron Age, the Bronze Age, or the Ice Age. Many believe this passage is making a distinction between the age of the Jews and the age of the Gentiles.
To explore the meaning of “the end of the age,” let’s consider Luke’s account of the Olivet Discourse, which gives us further information:

But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:20–24)

Jesus is giving a warning to His followers, telling them what to do when they see the armies surrounding Jerusalem. The advice He gives is completely counterintuitive to any usual response to an invading army or military siege. In the ancient world, in the case of an invasion, people would leave their homes and possessions and flee for refuge in a walled city. This is the very reason there were walls around cities in the ancient world. They were built as a defense against invaders.
When Jesus spoke these words, the walls of Jerusalem were one hundred and fifty feet high. When the Romans attacked Jerusalem in AD 70, they had to besiege the city, and even with their military might, they found it a Herculean task to get through those walls. The siege lasted many months, so long that by the end of the struggle, the Mount of Olives was completely bare of olive trees; Roman soldiers encamped on the mount had cut all the trees down and burned them for warmth.
But Jesus said, “When you see the armies coming, don’t go to the city. Go to the mountains. Go to the desert. Go anywhere but Jerusalem, because in Jerusalem you will not find safety, but only destruction.”
When Jerusalem fell and the city was destroyed, more than a million Jews were killed. But the Christians followed Jesus’ advice and fled beyond the city. Luke’s account says, “these are days of vengeance,” meaning God’s wrath was poured out upon His people. When Jesus wept over Jerusalem, He was weeping for His people, who rejected Him and would suffer the punishment for this rejection.
We must not miss this portion of Luke 21: “They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (v. 24). All of this happened. Jesus makes a distinction between the times of the Gentiles and the times of the Jews. In the eleventh chapter of Romans, Paul deals with the question of ethnic Israel and whether God will work again with the Jewish people. He says that once the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled, there will be a new outreach to ethnic Israel.
I will never forget watching the news in 1967 as the Jews fought for the city of Jerusalem. When they got to the Wailing Wall, the Jewish soldiers threw their rifles down and ran to the last surviving temple wall and began to pray. I wept because what I was seeing was so amazing. Was this the fulfillment of Luke 21? Biblical scholars were reading the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other and asking, “Are we now near the end of the times of the Gentiles?”
In the Olivet Discourse, when Jesus spoke about “the end of the age,” I am convinced that He wasn’t talking about the end of the world, but about the end of the Jewish age. When Jerusalem fell, the age of the Jews, which spanned from Abraham to AD 70, ended. It marked the beginning of the times of the Gentiles.
However, Jesus gives a few caveats as He answers His disciples’ question of when these things will take place. He didn’t want them to be deceived that the end had already come when it hadn’t, so He gave them a list of what we call “signs of the times.” These were signs that had to happen before the end would come. Most people believe Jesus was describing the signs that will come right before the final consummation of His kingdom. We then have a tendency to pay careful attention to current events, wondering if they show any evidence that we are in the end times. But if we look carefully at this passage, we learn that Jesus is not talking about the signs that trigger the end of time, but the signs that had to take place before the destruction of Jerusalem. Consider the passage more carefully:

For many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. (Matt. 24:5–8)

Reflect upon these signs: people claiming to be the Christ, false prophets, wars and rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes. How can these things be signs? When are there not wars and rumors of wars? When are there not earthquakes? When are there not famines? There have also always been false prophets and false christs. If these things have always been with us, in what sense could they be signs?
In order for these things to be signs, they would have to happen in a significant way and in a significant time frame. This is the very meaning of the word significant: literally, “having sign-value.” The problem is further complicated if we assume that Jesus is not talking about signs that the disciples themselves would observe, but signs that were going to happen two thousand years in the future.
The Jewish historian Josephus wrote much concerning these signs that Jesus mentioned. He wrote about the numerous false prophets among the Jews, many claiming to be the Messiah. He also reported four severe famines between AD 41 and 50 in which many people starved to death. He reports two very serious earthquakes, one during the reign of Caligula and the second during the reign of Claudius. Next came Nero, who ushered in a great persecution against Christians. Jesus alludes to this: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another” (Matt. 24:9–10).
Jesus speaks of His followers being persecuted, being killed, and betraying one another. This took place under Caligula and Nero as well. The great fire that destroyed Rome was allegedly set by Nero himself. But in order to deflect guilt, he accused the Christians of setting the fire, which ignited a time of great persecution. He even used Christians as human torches to illumine gardens, and in his madness unleashed horrible persecution against the Jews, particularly those who were in Rome. He killed many of the Christians’ leaders, including the Apostles Paul and Peter. Surely this fulfilled what Jesus told His disciples.
Jesus was proven right. Everything that He said would happen actually took place. And it happened in a significant way to the people to whom Jesus gave these warnings. He wasn’t giving His first-century disciples a warning about what was going to happen in the twenty-first century. He was saying, “Watch out for what’s happening between now and the time Jerusalem is destroyed.” But, He had a lot more to say, including the warning of the appearance of “the abomination of desolation.” We’ll consider this teaching in the next chapter.

Chapter Three


In the year 168 BC, the pagan ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes had the audacity to build a pagan altar in the Jewish temple. Instead of sacrificing bulls, goats, or lambs, he desecrated the temple by sacrificing a pig. This was the height of blasphemy, because the Jews viewed pigs as unclean. This foul desecration provoked one of the most important Jewish revolutions against foreign invaders.
We have to understand how important the holiness of God was and is for the Jewish people. The Jews believed that the temple was sacred and holy because the Holy One of Israel made His dwelling there. To them, this was the most sacred place in the world. To defile it with pagan sacrifices was the greatest insult that you could inflict upon Israel.
Faithful Jews saw in this atrocity the fulfillment of a prophecy found in the book of Daniel that refers to the “abomination of desolation” or the “abomination that makes desolate” (Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). Jesus seizes upon this term as He continues in His Olivet Discourse:

So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Christ!” or “There he is!” do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, “Look, he is in the wilderness,” do not go out. If they say, “Look, he is in the inner rooms,” do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. (Matt. 24:15–28)

The reference to “the abomination of desolation” is mysterious, but it is critical; it is the supreme sign to indicate the nearness of the fulfillment of these prophecies. Antiochus’ idolatry was certainly abominable, but this event took place in the past, and Jesus is referring to something that will take place in the future. But what did Jesus have in view?
In AD 40, Emperor Caligula of Rome commanded that a statue of himself be built and placed inside the temple. You can imagine how this provoked the people of Israel. By the goodness of God’s providence, Caligula died before that profanation took place.
In AD 69, one year before the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple, something unprecedented took place. A sect of radical Jews called Zealots forcefully took over the temple and made it into a type of military base. The Zealots were a group of Jews who were passionate about the violent overthrow of their Roman occupiers. Once they took over the temple, they committed all kinds of atrocities within it, paying no respect to the holiness of God. The historian Josephus expressed his passionate denunciation of the horrible desecration that the Zealots committed against the temple. Was this what Jesus had in mind?
One other possible interpretation could be the presence of the Roman standards themselves. When the Roman armies marched, they carried their banners with the Roman standards emblazoned upon them. The Jews considered these images to be idolatrous. The presence of these standards in the temple would also have been considered an abomination.
While it’s difficult to be certain which particular incident Jesus had in view, what we do know is that during the siege of Jerusalem His people followed His instructions. Remember that Jesus said in verse 15, “Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” This charge from Jesus would have been completely counterintuitive for His audience. When an invading army came, the normal procedure in the ancient world have been to flee to the nearest impregnable walled city they could find. Of course, in Judea, that would have been Jerusalem. But Jesus told His disciples, “When all these events happen, don’t go to Jerusalem. Go to the mountains. Run for the hills.” This is exactly what happened in AD 70. We know that around one million Jews were killed, but the Christians had fled.
Jesus continues His instructions: “Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath” (vv. 17–20). This is obviously a message of urgency. We know that the Jewish people had flat roofs on their houses with outside stairs that went up to them. They would use the roof as a type of patio, a place to relax in the evening as the weather cooled. Jesus is saying to them, “Don’t waste any time. As soon as you’re aware of the presence of the abomination of desolation, leave quickly. Don’t pack any bags. If you are in the field, don’t return home to get any extra clothes. Whatever you’re wearing or whatever you have in your pack, take that and forget everything else.”
The note of urgency sounds again in the following verses. Time was of the essence, and quite simply, it is hard to be quick and mobile when you are pregnant or nursing. Winter seasons are the most difficult for outdoor survival, and having these signs come to pass on the Sabbath would have been challenging for the Jew because of the prohibitions against traveling long distances. Jesus is telling His followers to pray that these things don’t happen at the wrong time so that nothing will impede their escape.
He continues in verses 21 and 22, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”
Josephus records the fact that political upheaval in Rome indeed shortened the destructive siege, allowing for more survivors than normally would have been expected. Based on what we know of that time period, it seems clear that Jesus was talking about a near-future event for His original audience, not something centuries and centuries down the road.
Jesus then says in verses 23 and 24, “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” There is a widely held view in the church that Satan is as powerful as God and is engaged in a duel of miracles with Him, performing miracles to support his lies. It is believed that these miracles could even deceive God’s people. I don’t believe for one second that Satan ever did or ever will have the ability to perform a bona fide miracle. The signs and wonders of the false christs and prophets are not authentic signs and wonders in the service of a lie. Rather, they’re false signs and wonders. They’re tricks designed to deceive.
We should be concerned about the view that Satan can perform authentic miracles taking hold in the church. In the New Testament, the Apostolic writers appeal to the miracles of Jesus and the Apostles as proof that they were the true agents of revelation. They were the visible proof that God was with them. But if Satan can do a miracle, then the New Testament view of miracles as a means to authenticate the gospel message becomes invalid. When a miracle takes place, how could you ever know if it was from God or from Satan? This doesn’t mean that God’s people can’t be deceived by trickery. Clearly, we can, or else Jesus wouldn’t have warned against it.
Jesus continues in verses 26–28, “So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” When Jesus appears, this moment of catastrophic judgment will be like lightning. Lightning flashes and instantly goes across the sky. You don’t even have time to measure its duration.
How should we understand His last statement concerning corpses and vultures? One of the reasons predictive prophecy is so difficult to interpret is that symbolic imagery is challenging to understand. The safest way to interpret images in apocalyptic literature is to understand how those images are used throughout the whole Bible. This principle can help us, but doesn’t always solve every difficulty. While we can’t say with certainty what Jesus means by this last statement, some of the finest New Testament scholars have suggested one creative interpretation. Most people have seen how scavenger birds circle over an animal that has recently died. Interestingly, the chief symbol of the Roman army was an eagle. Perhaps Jesus is saying that Rome is like a bird of prey. God will be the agent of punishment upon His people, and right before His wrath is poured out, “the eagles” will be circling.

Chapter Four


It’s been said that the whole history of philosophy is nothing more than a footnote to the theories of Plato and Aristotle. When Plato established his academy in the outskirts of Athens, he was driven by a single passion in his quest for truth. According to Plato, that passion was to “save the phenomena.” What did he mean by that? He was looking for the objective truth that makes the study of science possible. We can only understand observable data (or phenomena) if we have a sure foundation to stand upon. Plato was looking for an ultimate theory that would give clarity to all the mysteries and puzzles of this world. He wanted to discover the ideas that would explain the data that come to us through our five senses.
The renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has announced that we don’t need God to explain the creation. His way of saving the phenomena is to affirm what he calls “spontaneous generation.” For him, this means that the universe created itself. But it is sheer nonsense to assert that something can create itself or can come into being by its own power.
What does all this have to do with the Olivet Discourse? Quite simply, in regard to the Olivet Discourse, I have been trying to save the phenomena. I am trying to construct a framework that will allow us to make sense of Jesus’ words.
To that end, let’s consider what Jesus says after explaining the signs that would come just before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple—“immediately after the tribulation of those days” (v. 29). Our section for this chapter could be most difficult section of the Olivet Discourse. Jesus says:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Matt. 24:29–35)

Imagine being with Jesus right after hearing all that He said. It seems obvious that you’d want to ask, “When will these things take place?” He makes it clear that these things won’t happen until other specific events take place. He then uses the word “immediately” to recount what will happen next. Not two thousand years later, but immediately.
Our interpretive task becomes even more difficult in the following verses. We know from the facts of history that all the things that Jesus predicted about the destruction of Jerusalem came to pass. But what about verse 29, which says, “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven”? You can imagine how the skeptics of the Bible would love to use this text. They could easily say, “O yes! The temple is gone. Jerusalem was destroyed. The Jews were dispersed throughout the world. But the sun is still shining, and the moon is still there at night, and this calamitous portrait of all of these astronomical perturbations that were going to accompany the coming of the Son of Man did not take place. Therefore, Christ’s prediction failed to come to pass.” It gets worse as we read what Jesus says in verses 33 and 34: “So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”
There are many scholars for whom I have the utmost respect who come to very strange conclusions when dealing with this text. They try every way imaginable to remove this portion of Jesus’ prediction from the context in which we find it. But it seems clear that Jesus meant to discuss these things all as one unit. So, how should we understand this text?
There are various options. One is to invoke the principle of primary and secondary fulfillments of prophecy. When prophecies are made, they can have an initial fulfillment within a time frame of one generation and then have an ultimate fulfillment many years later. This is a true possibility. But even if that’s the case, we’re still left with the problem of explaining the description of the sun being blotted out and all the rest of these astronomical perturbations. There is no record of these things taking place.
Another approach is to consider the time frame. Phrases such as “this generation will not pass away” or words like “immediately” may be taken not literally, but figuratively. Many commentators prefer this approach. They believe the reference to “this generation” is a figurative reference to a certain type of person. It doesn’t actually refer to a rough time frame of forty years. In addition, many would understand Jesus’ references to His return to be figurative as well.
It seems that a key question that should be asked is, How are time frame references usually described in the Bible? Are they usually described figuratively or literally? More practical still for this discussion, how are predictions of God’s cosmic judgment usually described? Literally or figuratively?
There is a helpful pattern in Old Testament prophecy demonstrated in chapters 13 and 34 of Isaiah. There, we read vivid descriptions of divine judgment upon Babylon and Eden that actually came to pass in history. When the prophets described God’s judgment, they said things like, “For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light” (Isa. 13:10) and “All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree” (Isa. 34:4). Sounds very much like the language of Jesus, doesn’t it?
The language of divine judgment is frequently communicated by way of metaphor and figures. Amos 5:20 reads, “Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?”
Throughout the Old Testament, there are various prophetic warnings to Israel concerning God’s judgment. The book of Ezekiel stands out as a primary example. Ezekiel contains some of the most bizarre portions of Scripture, such as the description in chapter 1 of the whirling merkabah, the wheel within the wheel. Many believe that this is a reference to the chariot throne of God that carries Him to various portions of the world to bring judgment. This kind of language was used between Elijah and Elisha in 2 Kings 2:12: “And Elisha saw it and he cried, ‘My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ And he saw him no more.” When God removed His glory from Jerusalem in Ezekiel 10, the shekinah cloud was accompanied by the chariot of God’s judgment. In Matthew 24, the same kind of language is used by Jesus as He warns His people of what is to come.
Jesus says in verse 30, “Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man.” I don’t know of any commentator on the gospel of Matthew who speaks with dogmatic certainty about the true nature of this sign. But there are some strange observations in the writings of the Jewish historian, Josephus, regarding certain signs that were observed between AD 60 and 70, one of which was a blazing comet that crossed the sky. Consider one extraordinary passage from his writings. It seems so strange that Josephus gives the impression that he was reluctant to record this event.

Besides these [signs in the heavens], a few days after the feast, on the one and twentieth day of the month, a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon occurred or appeared: I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities.
Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the temple,] as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, the priest said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence.”

So, the priests and multitudes of other people testified to the same chariots that surrounded the city also appearing in the clouds with multitudes of heavenly soldiers. We’d probably be justified in calling them angels. Then an audible voice was heard from heaven saying, “Let us remove hence.” It’s almost exactly the same phenomenon that took place when God left Jerusalem in Ezekiel’s time (Ezek. 10).
It seems to me that the most natural reading of Matthew 24:29–35 would be that everything Jesus said would happen has already taken place in history. He was not referring to a yet-future fulfillment from our standpoint. He was referring to a judgment upon the nation of Israel that took place in AD 70.

Chapter Five


Imagine getting a call at four o’clock in the afternoon from a robber. He says to you, “In order to make things fair, I wanted to let you know that at eight o’clock tonight I’m going to break in to your house and rob you blind.” If you took him seriously, what would you do? You’d have the whole police department waiting for the robber, and you’d probably arm yourself to protect your family and possessions. Jesus makes a similar point as He continues in the Olivet Discourse.

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matt. 24:36–44)

The plot thickens as we arrive at this portion of the Olivet Discourse, and the difficulties in interpretation are not slowing down in the least. Jesus seems to be shifting His emphasis at this point in the text. Some commentators believe that until verse 35, Jesus had been simply speaking about the destruction of Jerusalem. But at this point in the text, He shifts His attention to matters concerning His ultimate coming at the time of the consummation of His kingdom. Others argue that even the previous passages that refer to His coming in glory did not refer to His coming in AD 70, but rather to His final, climactic coming at the end of history. Still others maintain that Jesus is following a prophetic pattern from the Old Testament.
Oftentimes with Old Testament prophecy there would be a near fulfillment, but also an ultimate fulfillment in the future. This particular passage has also been seen as a rebuttal to my position that these matters have already taken place in the past.
It is important to remember that this whole discourse was provoked by Jesus’ announcement that the temple would be destroyed in Jerusalem. In light of this announcement, the disciples asked Him two questions. First, “When will these things take place?” and second, “What will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
It would be much easier if Jesus had answered the first question with the signs that He gives—famines, earthquakes, and wars—and then finished by saying, “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (v. 34), and only then went on to speak about His coming. Unfortunately for the task of interpretation, He says, “all these things.” Most would believe that “all these things” would refer to all three events—the destruction of the temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, and Christ’s coming. This is the issue that has provoked so much skepticism and criticism of both Jesus and the trustworthiness of the Bible.
I’m amazed by this skepticism. My understanding of Jesus’ words is that He is essentially saying, “I can tell you these things are all going to take place within the next forty years but I don’t know what year, month, day, or hour.” In chapter one, I used the illustration of predicting the demise of the United States within twelve months but not knowing the specific day or hour in no way negates the veracity of the prediction. Therefore, the first thing we see in this text is that Jesus does not retreat from His first prediction about the fulfillment of the things He prophesied.
In addition, many readers are bothered when Jesus says He doesn’t know the day or the hour. If that is the case, how could He know that it would be within forty years? It would require supernatural knowledge to be able to predict the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem with such astonishing accuracy. Why would His supernatural abilities be limited to generalities? Why can’t Jesus give us more specific details?
This isn’t much of a problem if we have an orthodox understanding of the incarnation. The Council of Chalcedon in AD 451 clearly acknowledged the mysterious nature of the incarnation, confessing Christ as having two natures—divine and human—in one person. Human beings are incapable of an exhaustive understanding of how the two natures of Jesus are united in one person. But Chalcedon did clearly define the boundaries of our speculation concerning the mystery of the incarnation. The council stated that Jesus is vera homo, vera deus, meaning “truly man and truly God.” His true humanity is united with the true deity of the second person of the Godhead. The boundary that the council established is seen in the Chalcedonian Creed’s insistence that this union was without mixture, confusion, separation, or division. Each nature retained its own attributes. This means that the incarnation did not result in a single, mixed nature where the deity and the humanity are blended together such that the divine is not truly divine and the human is not truly human, resulting in a tertium quid—“a third thing” that is neither God nor man but something else. The council was very careful to insist that each nature of Jesus retains its own attributes. A deified human nature is no longer human and a humanized divine nature is no longer divine. But in the incarnation, the attributes of deity remain in the divine nature and the attributes of humanity remain in the human nature.
There are times in Jesus’ earthly ministry when He clearly manifests His human nature. For example, He was hungry, tired, and susceptible to physical pain. Since Jesus was a true human being, His human nature did not possess omniscience. On the other hand, the divine nature frequently communicated supernatural knowledge to the human nature of Jesus. There were times that Jesus spoke things that no human being could ever know. But this truth doesn’t mean the divine nature communicated everything to the human nature. So when Jesus says, “I don’t know the day and the hour,” he’s speaking of His humanity. The human nature is not omniscient. According to His humanity, Jesus knew that the time frame for His prophecies would be within forty years, but not the rest of the details. We create many problems for ourselves when we attempt to deify the human nature of Jesus. In this case, Jesus’ human nature knew the general time frame of the generation, but not the day and the hour.
He goes on to describe the circumstances of His coming. I’m not sure if He is simply speaking of the judgment of Jerusalem or also about what will happen at the time of His final appearance, but in either case, there is a sense of warning and urgency. He says in verse 37, “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” What do Noah and Jesus have in common here?
God told Noah of the coming rain and commanded Noah to get to work building an ark. Can you imagine how his friends must have ridiculed him? But Noah just kept hammering away while the people kept laughing, giving no heed to the judgment that was coming. In the days of Noah, people would have been eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark and it started to rain. All the scoffers found out soon enough that Noah knew exactly what he was doing.
Today, the whole world is filled with people who scoff like Noah’s critics. Our Lord warns that each of us will be called to account, but no one knows when this will take place. But we’re at ease, eating and drinking, and we make fun of those who warn of the judgment of God. Isn’t God a God of love, after all? As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the coming of the Son of Man. God’s judgment will fall when no one is looking for it or expecting it.
Jesus says in verses 43 and 44, “But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Many have tried to predict the hour for Jesus’ return, but every last one has been wrong. Jesus does not give us a calendar, but says, “Be ready. Watch.” In another place, He ends by asking, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8). Jesus is referring to His final return. If He comes before I die, I want to make sure He finds faith in me. Whether He comes now or whether you go to Him at your death, there will be a reckoning and judgment that no human can escape. We need to be ready. We need to be prepared. We need to be vigilant.

Chapter Six


Imagine that you went out to dinner and ordered your meal, and the server said to you, “That’s a fine selection. Unfortunately, we are running a little bit behind in the kitchen right now, but if you’ll be patient, we’ll have your dinner prepared to your liking sometime within the next three hours.” I don’t think you would be too happy with that. No one likes to wait forever for their food when they go out to eat. We are accustomed to waiting ten to twenty minutes for a meal, but if our wait time approaches an hour or so, even at a nice restaurant, we might ask the manager if there is a problem. If we are left waiting for our food any longer than that, we’d know for certain that something was wrong. Someone is not doing his job.
The concept of doing one’s duty is an important theme as we continue to examine the Olivet Discourse. As He concludes the discourse, Jesus speaks of the faithful servant, who executes his duties well and in a timely fashion, and the wicked servant, who does not. Jesus has been warning His disciples to diligently to watch for His return. Let’s consider the rest of the chapter.

Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, “My master is delayed,” and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 24:45–51)

When I was in seminary, one of the professors was Dr. Markus Barth, son of the famous Swiss theologian Karl Barth. I remember being astonished when Markus Barth produced a two-hundred-page academic paper on the first few words of Paul’s letter to the Romans: “Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ.” Many weighty tomes have been written about the words Jesus Christ, but what amazed me was that the whole focus of Barth’s manuscript was on the single word slave.
The word that Jesus uses that is translated as “servant” is sometimes translated as “slave.” People have a negative reaction to that word, but the great irony of the New Testament teaching is that no one ever becomes truly free until they become a slave of Jesus Christ. All of us are slaves of one sort or another. We’re either slaves of Christ or slaves of sin. There’s no other option for humanity.
One of Paul’s favorite metaphors for the Christian’s status in Christ is, “You are not your own” (1 Cor. 6:19). What does he mean by that? Paul’s point is that Christians can never consider themselves autonomous. He goes on to explain that we are not our own because we’ve been bought with a price (v. 20). Jesus paid the asking price of our salvation. Paul’s metaphor is vital to the Christian life.
Jesus asks, “Who then is the faithful and wise servant?” This is a question of fidelity. Who is a faithful servant? It’s a strange term to use regarding a servant who is under the complete ownership of another. But the simplest meaning of a faithful servant is one who is full of faith, who can be trusted, and who is consistent in allegiance to his owner.
Jesus goes on to say in verse 45, “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time?” The master went on a journey and called one of his servants to be the steward of the house while he is away. This master put his servant in charge of all of the affairs of the house. We notice that Jesus emphasizes that timeliness is important. Jesus spoke of the faithful servant who was responsible not only to provide the food, but also to provide it on time. He said that this servant would be blessed if the master found him doing his job when he returned. The good servant, the faithful and wise servant, is the one who does what his master calls him to do. Jesus says in verse 47, “Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.” The master will give the servant even more responsibility and esteem because he has been faithful in the things given to him. This echoes Jesus’ words in Luke 16:10 that he who wants to be given more responsibility in the kingdom must first be faithful in little things.
Jesus then describes the wicked servant in verses 48–51: “But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Here the wicked servant is having an internal dialogue. He thinks, “My master’s gone. Who knows when he’s coming back? Who knows if he’s ever coming back? It’s time to party! My master is delayed and I can do what I want.”
You may not relate to the wicked servant entirely, but most of us have jobs and employers. How do you work when no one is looking? Are you on task? Are you committed to the responsibility that has been given to you? Or, when there is no supervisor to watch you, do you take advantage of the gap in oversight and do whatever you want?
Why is it that our behavior changes when no one is watching? Why do businesses have clocks where workers have to punch in every day? Why can’t we just expect people to come to work and leave when they’re supposed to? It’s because of sin. It’s because we have a tendency to behave in one way when we are being watched and act differently when we’re free of supervision. Consider the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11–32. Isn’t it interesting that the son took his father’s inheritance to a far-off country to squander it? He did this because nobody knew him in the foreign land. Nobody was watching. He could be free from all restraint.
The wicked servant is neither faithful nor wise. He is like the fool in Psalm 53:1 who says in his heart, “There is no God.” The most serious and fatal self-delusion of the wicked is their belief that God will not judge them. The Bible tells us that God is long-suffering and patient. The reason for this kindness and mercy is to give us time to repent and turn to Christ. But we should never assume that God’s gracious patience means that He won’t call us to account. Many are tempted to think this way. In this passage, Jesus is addressing those who assume that the Master will never return. They think this gives them license to do whatever they want. No supervision. No faithfulness. No trust. No wisdom.
The master of the servant will come on a day when the servant isn’t looking for him, and at an hour of which he is unaware. And the master will say to the faithful servant, “I left you with responsibility. I blessed you. I gave you an elevated status in my kingdom and increased responsibility.” But to the wicked slave there will be nothing but judgment and separation from the house of the master. The response of the wicked slave will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Have you ever seen a person weep and gnash their teeth? I once knew a man who was caught in a very serious sin. He began to cry, wail, and sob. Nothing could comfort him. As his weeping was drawing to an end he said, “How could I have done this? Why did I do this?” This is going to be the scene of those who have ignored their master.
So the obvious question is, What will you be doing when He comes? Will He find you faithful? Not casually or occasionally, but all the time? Christ has bought us for Himself, and He has given us a task to perform whether we can physically see Him or not. May He find us faithful when He comes.

Sproul, R. C. (2014). Are These the Last Days? (First edition, Bd. 20, S. iv–55). Orlando, FL; Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust; Ligonier Ministries.

How to know GOD´s will- by Uwe Rosenkranz

No. 4

Reformation Trust

Can I Know God’s Will?

© 1984, 1999, 2009 by R. C. Sproul

Previously published as God’s Will and the Christian (1984) and as part of Following Christ (1991) by Tyndale House Publishers, and as Can I Know God’s Will? by Ligonier Ministries (1999).

Published by Reformation Trust
a division of Ligonier Ministries
400 Technology Park, Lake Mary, FL 32746

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the publisher, Reformation Trust. The only exception is brief quotations in published reviews.

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked RSV are taken from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1952 (2nd edition, 1971) by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked KJV are from The Holy Bible, King James Version.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Sproul, R. C. (Robert Charles), 1939–
[God’s will and the Christian]
Can I know God’s will? / R. C. Sproul.
p. cm.–(The crucial questions series)
First published as: God’s will and the Christian. 1984. Following Christ. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, c1991. Can I know God’s Will? Ligonier Ministries, 1999.
ISBN 978-1-56769-179-5
1. Providence and government of God–Christianity. 2. God (Christianity)–Will. I. Sproul, R. C. (Robert Charles), 1939– Following Christ. II. Title.
BT135.S745 2009





Chapter One

Lost in Wonderland, Alice came to a fork in the road. Icy panic stung her as she stood frozen by indecision. She lifted her eyes toward heaven, looking for guidance. Her eyes did not find God, only the Cheshire cat leering at her from his perch in the tree above.

“Which way should I go?” Alice blurted.
“That depends,” said the cat, fixing a sardonic smile on the confused girl.
“On what?” Alice managed to reply.
“It depends on your destination. Where are you going?” the cat asked.
“I don’t know,” Alice stammered.
“Then,” said the cat, his grin spreading wider, “it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

The destination matters to the Christian. We are a pilgrim people. Though we do not wander in a wilderness in route to the Promised Land, we seek a better country, an eternal city whose builder and maker is God. Someday He will take us home to His kingdom.
So the ultimate destination is clear. We are certain that there is a glorious future for the people of God. However, what of tomorrow? We feel anxious about the immediate future, just as unbelievers do. The specifics of our personal futures are unknown to us. Like children we ask: “Will I be happy? Will I be rich? What will happen to me?” We must walk by faith rather than by sight.
As long as there have been people, there have been soothsayers and wizards exploiting our anxieties. If prostitution is the world’s oldest profession, surely fortune-telling is the second oldest. “Tell me of tomorrow” is the plea of the stock market speculator, the competitive businessman, the sports forecaster, and the young couple in love. The student asks, “Will I graduate?” The manager muses, “Will I be promoted?” The person in the doctor’s waiting room clenches his hands and asks, “Is it cancer or indigestion?” People have examined lizard entrails, snakeskins, the bones of owls, the Ouija board, the daily horoscope, and the predictions of sports handicappers—all to gain a small margin of insurance against an unknown future.
The Christian feels the same curiosity, but frames the question differently. He asks: “What is the will of God for my life?” To search for the will of God can be an exercise in piety or impiety, an act of humble submission or outrageous arrogance—depending on what will of God we seek. To try to look behind the veil at what God has not been pleased to reveal is to tamper with holy things that are out of bounds. John Calvin said that when God “closes his holy mouth,” we should desist from inquiry (Commentaries on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, trans. and ed. John Owen [reprint, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House. 2003], 354).
On the other hand, God delights to hear the prayers of His people when they individually ask, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” The Christian pursues God, looking for His marching orders, seeking to know what course of action is pleasing to Him. This search for the will of God is a holy quest—a pursuit that is to be undertaken with vigor by the godly person.
The Biblical Meaning of the Will of God

We yearn for simple answers to difficult questions. We want clarity. We desire to cut through the entanglements to the heart of the question. Sometimes the answers are simple enough in themselves, but the process of finding them is laborious and confusing. Sometimes the answers are simplistic, giving us temporary relief from the pressures and the burdens of confusing questions.
However, there is a profound difference between the simple answer and the simplistic answer. The simple answer is correct; it accounts for all the data found in the complex problem. It is clear and can be easily grasped in its fullness. It abides, being able to stand the test of rigorous questioning. The simplistic answer is a counterfeit. On the surface it appears to be the genuine article, but under closer scrutiny it yields its bogus flaws. The simplistic answer may account for some of the data but not all of it. It remains fuzzy. Worst of all, it does not abide; it fails the test of deeper questioning. It does not satisfy in the long haul.
One of the most excruciating questions in theology is, “Why did Adam fall?” The simplistic answer, commonly heard, is that Adam fell by his own free will. Such an answer is satisfying until we probe the question more deeply. Suppose we ask: “How could a righteous creature made by a perfect Creator sin? How could Adam make an evil choice while possessing no prior inclination or disposition to evil? Was he simply deceived or coerced by Satan? If so, why would Adam then be blameworthy?” If he was merely deceived, then the fault is all Satan’s. If he was coerced, then it was not a free choice. If he sinned because he had a prior desire or inclination to sin, then we must ask: “What was the source of his evil desire? Did God put it there?” If so, then we cast a shadow on the integrity of the Creator.
Perhaps the simplest way to expose the weak character of the simplistic answer that Adam fell by his own free will is to ask our question another way: “Why did Adam exercise his own free will to sin?” It simply won’t do to answer, “Because he chose to.” This answer is a mere repetition of the question in a declarative form.
I would like to offer a simple answer to the difficult question of Adam’s fall, but I simply can’t. The only response I can give to the question is that I don’t know the answer.
Some readers will surely chasten me at this point by saying to themselves: “I know the answer! Adam fell because it was the will of God.”
I immediately ask: “In what sense was Adam’s fall the will of God? Did God force Adam to fall and then punish him for doing what he had no power to avoid?” To ask such an impious question is to answer it. Certainly the fall must have been the “will of God” in some sense, but the crucial question remains, “In what sense?”
So here we are, pressed squarely against a biting question that involves the matter of the will of God. We want to know how the will of God worked in Adam’s life; but more personally, we want to know how the will of God works in our own lives.
When questions are difficult and complex, it is a good rule to collect as much data about them as possible. The more clues the detective has to work with, the easier it usually is to solve the crime (note the word usually). Sometimes the detective suffers from too many clues, which only serve to compound the difficulty of the solution. The corporate executive faced with major decision-making responsibilities knows the importance of sufficient data- and record-keeping. His maxim may be: “If you have enough data, the decisions jump out at you.” Again we must add the qualifier usually. Sometimes the data are so complex that they jump out like screaming banshees, defying our ability to sort through them all.
I emphasize the point of data, complexity, and simplicity because the biblical meaning of the will of God is a very complicated matter. To approach it simplistically is to invite disaster. At times, wrestling with the complexities of the biblical concept of the will of God can give us an Excedrin headache. Yet ours is a holy quest, a pursuit that is worth a few headaches along the way. But we must guard against proceeding in a simplistic way, lest we change the holy quest into an unholy presumption.
We note at the outset that the Bible speaks of the “will of God” in more than one way. This is the key problem that complicates our quest and serves as a warning against simplistic solutions. In the New Testament, there are two Greek words that can be and have been translated by the English word will. It would seem that all we need is to identify precisely the meanings of the two words and check out the Greek text every time we see the word will, and our problems will be solved. Alas, it doesn’t work that way. The plot thickens when we discover that each of the two Greek words has several nuances of meaning. Simply checking the Greek text for word usage is not enough to solve our difficulty.
However, finding the meanings of the Greek words is a helpful starting place. Let’s examine the two words briefly to see whether they shed any light on our quest. The words are boule and thelema.
The term boule has its roots in an ancient verb that means a “rational and conscious desire,” as opposed to thelema, meaning “an impulsive or unconscious desire.” The ancient subtle distinction was between rational desire and impulsive desire. As the Greek language developed, however, this distinction was softened, and eventually the words became used at times as synonyms, with authors switching from one to the other for purposes of stylistic change.
In the New Testament, boule usually refers to a plan based on careful deliberation; it is used most often with respect to the counsel of God. Boule frequently indicates God’s providential plan, which is predetermined and inflexible. Luke is fond of using it this way, as we read in the book of Acts: “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan [boule] and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23).
Here the resolute decree of God is in view, which no human action can set aside. God’s plan is impregnable; His “will” is unalterable.
The word thelema is rich in its diversity of meanings. It refers to what is agreeable, what is desired, what is intended, what is chosen, or what is commanded. Here we have the notions of consent, desire, purpose, resolution, and command. The force of the various meanings is determined by the context in which thelema appears.
The Decretive Will of God

Theologians describe as the “decretive will of God” that will by which God decrees things to come to pass according to His supreme sovereignty. This is also sometimes called “God’s sovereign efficacious will”; by it, God brings to pass whatsoever He wills. When God sovereignly decrees something in this sense, nothing can prevent it from coming to pass.
When God commanded the light to shine, the darkness had no power to resist the command. The “lights” came on. God did not persuade the light to shine. He did not negotiate with elemental powers to form a universe. He did not achieve a plan of redemption by trial and error; the cross was not a cosmic accident exploited by the Deity. These things were decreed absolutely. Their effects were efficacious (producing the desired result) because their causes were sovereignly decreed.
A serious danger faces those who restrict the meaning of the will of God to the sovereign will. We hear the Muslim cry, “It is the will of Allah.” We slip at times into a deterministic view of life that says, “Que será, sera,” or “What will be, will be.” In so doing, we embrace a sub-Christian form of fatalism, as if God willed everything that happened in such a way as to eliminate human choices.
Classical theologians insist on the reality of man’s will in acting, choosing, and responding. God works His plan through means, via the real choices of willing and acting creatures. There are secondary as well as primary causes. To deny this is to embrace a kind of determinism that eliminates human freedom and dignity.
Yet there is a God who is sovereign, whose will is greater than ours. His will restricts my will. My will cannot restrict His will. When He decrees something sovereignly, it will come to pass—whether I like it or not, whether I choose it or not. He is sovereign. I am subordinate.
The Preceptive Will of God

When the Bible speaks of the will of God, it does not always mean the decretive will of God. The decretive will of God cannot be broken or disobeyed. It will come to pass. On the other hand, there is a will that can be broken: “the preceptive will of God.” It can be disobeyed. Indeed, it is broken and disobeyed every day by each one of us.
The preceptive will of God is found in His law. The precepts, statutes, and commandments that He delivers to His people make up the preceptive will. They express and reveal to us what is right and proper for us to do. The preceptive will is God’s rule of righteousness for our lives. By this rule we are governed.
It is the will of God that we not sin. It is the will of God that we have no other gods before Him; that we love our neighbor as we love ourselves; that we refrain from stealing, coveting, and committing adultery. Yet the world is filled with idolatry, hatred, thievery, covetousness, and adultery. The will of God is violated whenever His law is broken.
One of the great tragedies of contemporary Christendom is the preoccupation of so many Christians with the secret decretive will of God to the exclusion and neglect of the preceptive will. We want to peek behind the veil, to catch a glimpse of our personal future. We seem more concerned with our horoscope than with our obedience, more concerned with what the stars in their courses are doing than with what we are doing.
With respect to God’s sovereign will, we assume we are passive. With respect to His preceptive will, we know that we are active and therefore responsible and accountable. It is easier to engage in ungodly prying into the secret counsel of God than to apply ourselves to the practice of godliness. We can flee to the safety of the sovereign will and try to pass off our sin to God, laying the burden and responsibility of it on His unchanging will. Such characterizes the spirit of antichrist, the spirit of lawlessness or antinomianism, that despises God’s law and ignores His precepts.
Protestants are particularly vulnerable to this distortion. We seek refuge in our precious doctrine of justification by faith alone, forgetting that the very doctrine is to be a catalyst for the pursuit of righteousness and obedience to the preceptive will of God.
Biblical Righteousness

Habakkuk’s famous statement, “the just shall live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4, KJV), is found three times in the New Testament. It has become a slogan of evangelical Protestantism, whose emphasis has been on the doctrine of justification by faith alone. This slogan, containing a hint of the essence of the Christian life, has its focal point in the biblical concept of righteousness.
One of Jesus’ most disturbing comments was the statement, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20). It is easy for us to assume that Jesus meant that our righteousness must be of a higher sort than that characterized by men who were hypocrites. The image that we have of scribes and Pharisees from the New Testament period is that of unscrupulous, ruthless practitioners of religious deceit. We must bear in mind, however, that the Pharisees as a group were men historically committed to a very lofty level of righteous living. Yet Jesus tells us that our righteousness must exceed theirs. What did He mean?
When we consider the biblical notion of righteousness, we are dealing with a matter that touches virtually every plane of theology. In the first place, there is the righteousness of God, by which all standards of rightness and wrongness are to be measured. God’s character is the ultimate foundation and model of righteousness. In the Old Testament, righteousness becomes defined in terms of obedience to the commandments delivered by God, who Himself is altogether righteous. Those commands include not only precepts of human behavior with respect to our fellow human beings, but also matters of a liturgical and ceremonial nature.
In Old Testament Israel and among the New Testament Pharisees, liturgical righteousness was substituted for authentic righteousness. That is to say, men became satisfied with obeying the rituals of the religious community rather than fulfilling the broader implications of the law. For example, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for tithing their mint and cumin while omitting the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy. Jesus indicated that the Pharisees were correct in giving their tithes, but were incorrect in assuming that the liturgical exercises had completed the requirements of the law. Here, liturgical righteousness had become a substitute for true and full obedience.
Within the evangelical world, righteousness is a rare word indeed. We speak of morality, spirituality, and piety. Seldom, however, do we speak of righteousness. Yet the goal of our redemption is not piety or spirituality but righteousness. Spirituality in the New Testament sense is a means to the end of righteousness. Being spiritual means that we are exercising the spiritual graces given by God to mold us after the image of His Son. The disciplines of prayer, Bible study, church fellowship, witnessing, and the like are not ends in themselves, but are designed to assist us in living righteously. We are stunted in our growth if we assume that the end of the Christian life is spirituality.
Spiritual concerns are but the beginning of our walk with God. We must beware of the subtle danger of thinking that spirituality completes the requirements of Christ. To fall into such a trap—the trap of the Pharisees—is to substitute liturgical or ritualistic practices for authentic righteousness. By all means we are to pray and to study the Bible, and to bear witness in evangelism. However, we must never, at any point in our lives, rest from our pursuit of righteousness.
In justification we become righteous in the sight of God by means of the cloak of Christ’s righteousness. However, as soon as we are justified, our lives must give evidence of the personal righteousness that flows out of our justification. It is interesting to me that the whole biblical concept of righteousness is contained in one Greek word, dikaios. That same Greek word is used to refer, in the first instance, to the righteousness of God; in the second instance, to what we call justification; and in the third instance, to the righteousness of life. Thus, from beginning to end—from the nature of God to the destiny of man—our human duty remains the same—a call to righteousness.
True righteousness must never be confused with self-righteousness. Since our righteousness proceeds from our justification, which is based on the righteousness of Christ alone, we must never be deluded into thinking that our works of righteousness have any merit of their own. Yet as Protestants, zealously maintaining our doctrine of justification by faith alone, we must be ever mindful that the justification that is by faith alone is never by a faith that is alone. True faith manifests itself in righteousness exceeding that of the Pharisees and the scribes, for it is concerned with the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy.
We are called to bear witness to the righteousness of God in every area of life—from our prayer closets to our courtrooms, from our pews to our marketplaces. The top priority of Jesus is that we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. All other things will be added to that.
An Allergy to Restraint

“Everybody do your own thing.” This cliché from the sixties characterizes the spirit of our age. Increasingly freedom is being equated with the inalienable right to do whatever you please. It carries with it a built-in allergy to laws that restrain, whether they be the laws of God or the laws of men.
This pervasive anti-law, or antinomian, attitude is reminiscent of the biblical epoch that provoked God’s judgment because “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judg. 17:6). The secular world reflects this attitude in the statement, “Government can’t legislate morality.” Morality is seen as a private matter, outside the domain of the state and even of the church.
A shift has occurred in word meaning so subtle that many have missed it. The original intent of the concept, “You cannot legislate morality,” was to convey the idea that passing a law prohibiting a particular kind of activity would not necessarily eliminate such activity. The point of the phrase was that laws do not ipso facto produce obedience to those laws. In fact, on some occasions, the legal prohibition of certain practices has incited only greater violation of established law. The prohibition of alcoholic beverages is an example.
The contemporary interpretation of legislating morality differs from the original intent. Instead of saying that government cannot legislate morality, it says government may not legislate morality. That means government should stay out of moral issues such as the regulation of abortion, deviant sexual practices, marriage and divorce, and so on, since morality is a matter of conscience in the private sector. For government to legislate in these areas is often viewed as an invasion of privacy by the state, representing a denial of basic freedoms for the individual.
If we take this kind of thinking to its logical conclusion, we leave the government with little to do. If government may not legislate morality, its activity will be restricted to determining the colors of the state flag, the state flower, and perhaps the state bird. (However, even questions of flowers and birds may be deemed “moral,” as they touch on ecological issues, which are ultimately moral in character.) The vast majority of matters that concern legislation are, in fact, of a decidedly moral character. The regulation of murder, theft, and civil rights is a moral matter. How a person operates his automobile on the highway is a moral issue since it touches on the well-being of fellow travelers.
Questions relating to the legalization of marijuana often focus on the fact that a majority of certain age groups are violating the law. The argument goes like this: Since disobedience is so widespread, doesn’t this indicate that the law is bad? Such a conclusion is a blatant non sequitur. Whether or not marijuana should be decriminalized should not be determined by levels of civil disobedience.
The point is that a vast number of Americans reflect an antinomian spirit regarding marijuana. Such disobedience is hardly motivated by noble aspirations to a higher ethic suppressed by a tyrannical government. Here the law is broken as a matter of convenience and physical appetite.
Within the church, the same spirit of antinomianism has prevailed too often. Pope Benedict XVI faces the embarrassing legacy of his predecessors as he tries to explain to the world why a majority of his American adherents tell the pollsters they practice artificial means of birth control when a papal encyclical explicitly forbids such methods. One must ask how people can confess their belief in an “infallible” leader of their church and at the same time obstinately refuse to submit to that leader.
Within the Protestant churches, individuals frequently become irate when called to moral accountability. They often declare that the church has no right to intrude into their private lives. They say this in spite of the fact that in their membership vows, they publicly committed themselves to submit to the moral oversight of the church.
Antinomianism should be more rare in the evangelical Christian community than anywhere else. Sadly, the facts do not fit the theory. So blasé is the typical “evangelical” toward the law of God that the prophecies of doom that Rome thundered at Martin Luther are beginning to come true. Some “evangelicals” are indeed using justification by faith alone as a license to sin; these can be deemed properly only as pseudo-evangelicals. Anyone who has the most rudimentary understanding of justification by faith knows that authentic faith always manifests itself in a zeal for obedience. No earnest Christian can ever have a cavalier attitude toward the law of God. Though obedience to such laws does not bring justification, the justified person will surely endeavor to obey them.
To be sure, there are times when the commandments of men are on a collision course with the laws of God. In those instances, Christians not only may disobey men, but must disobey men. I am not talking here of isolated moral issues but of attitudes. Christians must be particularly careful in this era of antinomianism not to get caught up in the spirit of the age. We are not free to do what is right in our own eyes. We are called to do what is right in His eyes.
Freedom should not be confused with autonomy. As long as evil exists in the world, the moral restraint of law is necessary. It is an act of grace by which God institutes government, which exists to restrain the evildoer. It exists to protect the innocent and the righteous. The righteous are called to support it as much as they possibly can without compromising their obedience to God.
God’s Will of Disposition

While we understand that the decretive will and the preceptive will of God are part of His overall will, other aspects of the mystery of His sovereignty remain. One such aspect is “the will of disposition.” It is tied up with the ability of man to disobey God’s preceptive will.
This aspect of the will of God refers to what is pleasing and agreeable to God. It expresses something of the attitude of God to His creatures. Some things are “well pleasing in his sight,” while other things are said to grieve Him. He may allow (but not via moral permission) wicked things to transpire, but He is by no means pleased by them.
To illustrate how these differing aspects of the will of God come into play in biblical interpretation, let us examine the verse that says the Lord is “not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9, KJV). Which of the above-mentioned meanings of will fits this text? How is the meaning of the text changed by the application of the nuances?
Try first the decretive will. The verse would then mean, “God is not willing in a sovereign decretive sense that any should perish.” The implication would then be that nobody perishes. This verse would be a proof text for universalism, with its view that hell is utterly vacant of people.
The second option is that God is not willing in a preceptive way that any should perish. This would mean that God does not allow people to perish in the sense that He grants His moral permission. This obviously does not fit the context of the passage.
The third option makes sense. God is not willing in the sense that He is not inwardly disposed to, or delighted by, people’s perishing. Elsewhere, Scripture teaches that God takes no delight in the death of the wicked. He may decree what He does not enjoy; that is, He may distribute justice to wicked offenders. He is pleased when justice is maintained and righteousness is honored, even though He takes no personal pleasure in the application of such punishment.
A human analogy may be seen in our law courts. A judge, in the interest of justice, may sentence a criminal to prison and at the same time inwardly grieve for the guilty man. His disposition may be for the man but against the crime.
However, God is not merely a human judge, working under the constraints of the criminal justice system. God is sovereign—He can do what He pleases. If He is not pleased or willing that any should perish, why then does He not exercise His decretive will accordingly? How can there be a hiatus between God’s decretive will and His will of disposition?
All things being equal, God does desire that no one should perish. But all things are not equal. Sin is real. Sin violates God’s holiness and righteousness. God also is not willing that sin should go unpunished. He desires as well that His holiness should be vindicated. It is dangerous to speak of a conflict of interests or of a clash of desires within God. Yet, in a certain sense, we must. He wills the obedience of His creatures. He wills the well-being of His creatures. There is a symmetry of relationship ultimately between obedience and well-being. The obedient child will never perish. Those who obey God’s preceptive will enjoy the benefits of His will of disposition. When the preceptive will is violated, things are no longer equal. Now God requires punishment while not particularly enjoying the application of it.
Yet does this not beg the ultimate question? Where does the decretive will fit in? Could not God originally have decreed that no one ever would be able to sin, thus ensuring an eternal harmony among all elements of His will: decretive, preceptive, and dispositional?
Often the answer to this question is superficial. Appeals are made to the free will of man, as if by magic man’s free will could explain the dilemma. We are told that the only way God could have created a universe guaranteed to be free from sin would have been to make creatures without free will. It is then argued that these creatures would have been nothing more than puppets and would have lacked humanity, being devoid of the power or ability to sin. If that is the case, then what does it suggest about the state of our existence in heaven? We are promised that when our redemption is complete, sin will be no more. We will still have an ability to choose, but our disposition will be so inclined toward righteousness that we will, in fact, never choose evil. If this will be possible in heaven after redemption, why could it not have been possible before the fall?
The Bible gives no clear answer to this thorny question. We are told that God created people who, for better or for worse, have the ability to sin. We also know from Scripture that there is no shadow of turning in the character of God, and that all of His works are clothed in righteousness. That He chose to create man the way He did is mysterious, but we must assume, given the knowledge we have, that God’s plan was good. Any conflict that arises between His commandments to us, His desire that we should obey Him, and our failure to comply does not destroy His sovereignty.
God’s Secret and Revealed Will

We have already distinguished among the three types of the will of God: His decretive will, His preceptive will, and His will of disposition. Another distinction must be established between what is called God’s secret, or hidden, will and His revealed will. This secret will of God is subsumed under the decretive will because, for the most part, it remains undisclosed to us. There is a limit to the revelation God has made of Himself. We know certain things about God’s decretive will that He has been pleased to set forth for our information in Holy Scripture. But because we are finite creatures, we do not comprehend the total dimension of divine knowledge or the divine plan. As the Scriptures teach, the secret things belong to the Lord, but that which He has revealed belongs to us and to our children forever (Deut. 29:29).
Protestant theologians have made use of the distinction between the hidden God (Deus obsconditus) and the revealed God (Deus revelatus). This distinction is valuable and indeed necessary when we realize that not all that can be known of God has been revealed to us. There is a sense in which God remains hidden from us, insofar as He has not been pleased to reveal all there is to know about Him. However, this distinction is fraught with peril since some have found within it a conflict between two kinds of gods. A god who reveals his character to be one thing, but who is secretly contrary to that revealed character, would be a supreme hypocrite.
If we say that God has no secret will and proposes to do only what He commands and nothing more, then we would perceive God as one whose desires and plans are constantly thwarted by the harassment of human beings. Such a god would be impotent, and no god at all.
If we distinguish between the secret aspect of God and the revealed aspect of God, we must hold these as parts of the whole, not as contradictions. That is to say, what God has revealed about Himself is trustworthy. Our knowledge is partial, but it is true as far as it goes. What belongs to the secret counsel of God does not contradict the character of God that has been revealed to us.
The distinction of God’s revealed will and hidden will raises a practical problem: the question of whether or not it is possible for a Christian to act in harmony with God’s decretive (hidden) will and at the same time work against His preceptive will.
We must admit that such a possibility exists—in a sense. For example, it was in God’s decretive will and by His determinate counsel that Jesus Christ was condemned to die on the cross. The divine purpose, of course, was to secure the redemption of God’s people. However, that purpose was hidden from the view of men who sat in judgment over Jesus. When Pontius Pilate delivered Jesus to be crucified, Pilate acted against the preceptive will of God but in harmony with the decretive will of God. Does this make nonsense of God’s preceptive will? God forbid. What it does is bear witness to the transcendent power of God to work His purposes sovereignly in spite of, and by means of, the evil acts of men.
Consider the story of Joseph, whose brothers, out of jealousy and greed, sold their innocent brother into slavery in Egypt. At their reunion years later, and upon the brothers’ confession of sin, Joseph replied, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20). Here is the inscrutable majesty of God’s providence. God made use of human evil in bringing to pass His purposes for Joseph and for the Jewish nation. Joseph’s brothers were guilty of willful and malicious sin. By directly violating the preceptive will of God, they sinned against their brother and against God. Yet in their sin, God’s secret counsel was brought to pass, and God brought redemption through it.
What if Joseph’s brothers had been obedient? Joseph would not have been sold into slavery; he would not have been taken to Egypt; he would not have been sent to prison, from which he was called to interpret a dream. What if Joseph had not become prime minister? What would have become the historical reason for the brothers’ settling in Egypt? There would have been no Jewish settlement in Egypt, no Moses, no exodus from Egypt, no law, no prophets, no Christ, no salvation.
Can we, therefore, conclude that the sins of Joseph’s brothers were, in fact, virtues in disguise? Not at all. Their sin was sin, a clear violation of the preceptive will of God, for which they were held responsible and judged to be guilty. But God brought good out of evil. This reflects neither a contradiction in God’s character nor a contradiction between His precepts and His decrees. Rather it calls attention to the transcendent power of His sovereignty.
Is it possible for us in this day and age to obey the preceptive will of God and yet be in conflict with the secret will of God? Of course this is possible. It may be the will of God, for example, that He use a foreign nation to chastise the United States for sinning against God. It may be in the plan of God to have the people of the United States brought under judgment through the aggressive invasion of Russia. In terms of God’s inscrutable will, He could be, for purposes of judgment, “on the side of the Russians.” Yet at the same time, it would remain the duty of the civil magistrate of the American nation to resist the transgression of our borders by a conquering nation.
We have a parallel in the history of Israel, where God used the Babylonians as a rod to chastise His people Israel. In that situation, it would have been perfectly proper for the civil magistrate of Israel to have resisted the wicked invasion of the Babylonians. In so doing, the Israelites would have been, in effect, resisting the decretive will of God. The book of Habakkuk wrestles with the severe problem of God’s use of the evil inclinations of men to bring judgment on His people. This is not to suggest that God favored the Babylonians. He made it clear that judgment would fall on them also, but He first made use of their evil inclinations in order to bring a corrective discipline to His own people.
Knowing the Will of God for Our Lives

Pursuing knowledge of the will of God is not an abstract science designed to titillate the intellect or to convey the kind of knowledge that “puffs up” but fails to edify. An understanding of the will of God is desperately important for every Christian seeking to live a life that is pleasing to his or her Creator. It is a very practical thing for us to know what God wants for our lives. A Christian asks: “What are my marching orders? What should my role be in contributing to the establishment of the kingdom of God? What does God want me to do with my life?” It is inconceivable that a Christian could live for very long without coming face-to-face with these gripping questions.
Having been a Christian for some fifty years, with the study of theology my main vocational pursuit, I find the practical question of the will of God pressing on my mind quite frequently. I doubt a fortnight passes that I am not seriously engaged by the question of whether I am doing what God wants me to do at this point in my life. The question haunts and beckons all of us. It demands resolution, and so we must ask ourselves, “How do we know the will of God for our lives?”
The practical question of how we know the will of God for our lives cannot be solved with any degree of accuracy unless we have some prior understanding of the will of God in general. Without the distinctions that we have made, our pursuit of the will of God can plunge us into hopeless confusion and consternation. When we seek the will of God, we must first ask ourselves which will we are seeking to discover.
If our quest is to penetrate the hidden aspects of His will, then we have embarked on a fool’s errand. We are trying the impossible and chasing the untouchable. Such a quest is not only an act of foolishness, but also an act of presumption. There is a very real sense in which the secret will of the secret counsel of God is none of our business and is off limits to our speculative investigations.
Untold evils have been perpetrated on God’s people by unscrupulous theologians who have sought to correct or to supplant the clear and plain teaching of sacred Scripture by doctrines and theories based on speculation alone. The business of searching out the mind of God where God has remained silent is dangerous business indeed. Luther put it this way: “We must keep in view his word and leave alone his inscrutable will; for it is by his word and not by his inscrutable will that we must be guided.”
Christians are permitted, in a sense, to attempt to discern the will of God by means of illumination by the Holy Spirit and by confirmation through circumstances that we are doing the right thing. However, as we will discover, the search for providential guidance must always be subordinate to our study of the revealed will of God. In our search, we must also come to terms with the dynamic tensions created by the concept of man’s will versus predestination. Before our inquiry can lead us into such practical avenues as occupation and marriage, we must face the thorny issues involved in the free will/predestination issue. We have seen what the will of God entails. What about the will of man? How do the two relate? How free is man, after all?

Chapter Two

The term free will as applied to man is often glibly declared with little or no understanding of its meaning. There is actually no unified theory of man’s free will, but a variety of competing and often conflicting views about it.
The question of man’s free will is made more complicated by the fact that we must examine it in terms of how the will functioned before and after the fall of Adam. Most important is how the fall affected man’s moral choices.
Augustine gave the church a close analysis of the state of freedom that Adam enjoyed before the fall. His classic concept of freedom distinguished four possibilities. In Latin, they are:

1. posse pecarre—able to sin
2. posse non pecarre—able not to sin (or to remain free from sin)
3. non posse pecarre—unable to sin
4. non posse, non pecarre—unable not to sin

Augustine argued that before the fall, Adam possessed both the ability to sin (posse pecarre) and the ability to not sin (posse non pecarre). However, Adam lacked the exalted state of the inability to sin that God enjoys (non posse pecarre). God’s inability to sin is based not on an inner powerlessness to do what He wants, but rather on the fact that God has no inner desire to sin. Since the desire for sin is utterly absent from God, there is no reason for God to choose sin.
Before the fall, Adam did not have the moral perfection of God, but neither did he have the inability to refrain from sin (non posse, non pecarre). During his time of “probation” in the garden, he had the ability to sin and the ability not to sin. He chose to exercise the ability to sin and thus plunged the human race into ruin.
As a result, Adam’s first sin was passed on to all his descendants. Original sin refers not to the first sin but to God’s punishment of that first transgression. Because of the first sin, human nature fell into a morally corrupt state, itself partly a judgment of God. When we speak of original sin, we refer to the fallen human condition that reflects the judgment of God on the race.
The Fallenness of Man

Christians differ in their views concerning the extent and seriousness of the fall. However, it is almost universally conceded that in dealing with mankind, we are dealing with a fallen race. Augustine located the depths of man’s fallenness in his loss of original powers of righteousness. No longer does man have the ability to not sin. In man’s fallen state, his plight is found in his inability to keep from sinning (non posse, non pecarre). In the fall, something profoundly vital to moral freedom was lost.
Augustine declared that in his prefallen state, man enjoyed both a free will (liberium arbitrium) and moral liberty (libertas). Since the fall, man has continued to have a free will, but has lost the moral liberty he once enjoyed.
Perhaps the most insightful study of the question of fallen man’s free will is the epic work of Jonathan Edwards, On the Freedom of the Will. Edwards and Augustine differ in terminology, but their meaning is essentially the same. Edwards distinguished between the natural ability of freedom and the moral ability of freedom. Natural ability deals with the powers of action and choice that we possess by nature. Man’s natural abilities include the power to think, to walk, to speak, to eat, and so on. Man lacks the natural ability to fly, to live beneath the sea as a fish, or to hibernate for months without food. We may desire to fly, but we lack the natural equipment necessary to live out our desire. Our freedom has a certain built-in restriction related to the limitations of our natural faculties.
With respect to the making of choices, fallen man still has the natural ability and the natural faculties necessary to make moral choices. Man can still think, feel, and desire. All of the equipment necessary for the making of choices remains. What fallen man lacks is the moral disposition, the desire, or the inclination for righteousness.
Stated simply, man still has the ability to choose what he wants, but lacks the desire for true righteousness. He is naturally free, but he is morally enslaved to his own corrupt and wicked desires. Both Edwards and Augustine said man is still free to choose, but if left to himself, man will never choose righteousness, precisely because he does not desire it.
Edwards took the question a step further. He said man still has not only the ability but the built-in necessity to choose according to his desires. Not only can we choose what we want, we must choose what we want. It is at this point that the protest is sounded: Is free choice an illusion? If we must choose what we choose, how can such a choice be called free? If we are free to choose what we want but want only what is evil, how can we still speak of free will? This is precisely why Augustine distinguished between free will and liberty, saying that fallen man still has free will but has lost his liberty. It is why Edwards said that we still have natural freedom but have lost moral freedom.
Why talk of freedom at all, if we can choose only sin? The crux of the matter lies in the relationship between choice and desire, or disposition. Edwards’s thesis is that we always choose according to the strongest inclination, or disposition, of the moment. Again, not only can we choose according to our strongest desires, we must choose according to our strongest desires of the moment. Such is the essence of freedom—that I am able to choose what I want when I want it.
If I must do something, then in a sense my actions are determined. But if my actions are determined, how can I be free? The classic answer to this difficult question is that the determination of my choices comes from within me. The essence of freedom is self-determination. It is when my choices are forced on me by external coercion that my freedom is lost. To be able to choose what I want by virtue of self-determination does not destroy free will but establishes it.
Choices Flow from Desires

To choose according to the strongest desire or inclination of the moment simply means that there is a reason for the choices I make. At one point, Edwards defined the will as “the mind choosing.” The actual choice is an effect or result that requires an antecedent cause. The cause is located in the disposition or desire. If all effects have causes, then all choices likewise have causes. If the cause is apart from me, then I am a victim of coercion. If the cause is from within me, then my choices are self-determined or free.
Think about Edwards’s thesis that we always choose according to the strongest inclination or desire of the moment. Think, if you will, of the most harmless choice that you might make in the course of a day. Perhaps you attend a meeting of a group and choose to sit on the left side in the third seat from the end of the fourth row at the front of the room. Why did you choose to sit there? In all probability, when you entered the room, you did not engage in a thorough analysis of your seating preferences. You probably did not make a chart to determine which seat was best. Your decision probably was made quickly, with little or no conscious evaluation and with a sense of apparent spontaneity. Does that mean, however, that there was no reason for your choice? Perhaps you sat where you did because you are comfortable sitting on the left side of the room in such meetings. Perhaps you were attracted to that seat because of its proximity to a friend or its access to the exit. In situations like this, the mind weighs a host of contributing factors so quickly that we tend to think our responses are spontaneous. The truth is that something in you triggered a desire to sit in a certain seat, or else your choice was an effect without a cause.
Perhaps your seat selection was governed by forces outside your control. Perhaps the seat you chose was the only seat left in the room, so that you had no choice in the matter at all. Is that completely true? The option to stand at the back of the room was still there. Or the option to leave the meeting altogether was still there. You chose to sit in the only seat available because your desire to sit was stronger than your desire to stand and your desire to stay was stronger than your desire to leave.
Consider a more bizarre illustration. Suppose on the way home from the meeting you encounter a robber who points a gun to your head and says, “Your money or your life.” What do you do? If you accede to his demand and turn over your wallet, you will become a victim of coercion, and yet in some measure you will have exercised free choice. Coercion enters by virtue of the fact that the gunman is severely restricting your options to two. The element of freedom that is preserved stems from the fact that you still have two options and that you choose the one for which you have the strongest desire at the moment.
All things being equal, you have no desire to donate your money to an unworthy thief. You have even less desire, however, to have your brain poured out on the sidewalk by the gunman’s bullet. Given the small number of options, you still choose according to the strongest inclination at the moment. We always do what we really want to do.
The Bible teaches, some will say, that we do not always do what we want to do. The apostle Paul lamented in Romans 7 that the good he wanted to do he did not do, and the thing he did not want to do was the very thing he did. Paul’s frustration over the wretchedness of his condition would seem totally to refute Edwards’s thesis of the relationship of choice to desire. Paul, however, was not giving expression to an analysis of the causal relationship between desire and choice. He was expressing a profound frustration that centers on the complex of desires that assault the human will.
We are creatures with a multitude of desires, many of which are in violent conflict with each other. Again, consider the “all things being equal” dimension of our moral choices. As a Christian I have a profound desire to please Christ with my life and to attain righteousness. That good desire for obedience to God is neither perfect nor pure, as it struggles daily with other desires in my sinful personality. If I had no conflicting desires, I would never be disobedient. If the only desire I had, or if the strongest desire I had, was to obey God continuously, I would never willfully sin against Him. However, there are times when my desire to sin is greater than my desire to obey; when that happens, I sin. When my desire to obey is greater than my desire to sin, at that moment I refrain from sinning. My choices reveal more clearly and more certainly than anything else the level of my desire.
Desire, like appetite, is not constant. Our levels of desire fluctuate from day to day, from hour to hour, and from minute to minute. Desire moves in an ebb-and-flow pattern like the waves of the sea. The person who goes on a diet experiences intensifying pangs of hunger at various times of the day. It is easy to make a resolution to diet when one is satiated. Likewise, it is easy to resolve to be righteous in the midst of a moving spiritual experience of prayer. Yet we are creatures of changing moods and fleeting desires who have not yet achieved a constancy of will based on a consistency of godly desires. As long as conflict of desire exists and an appetite for sin remains in the heart, man is not totally free in the moral sense of which Edwards spoke, and neither does he experience the fullness of liberty described by Augustine.
Choice as a Spontaneous Act

Over against the Augustinian view of free will is the classical notion that describes the action or activity of choice in purely spontaneous terms. In this concept, the will chooses and is free from not only external forces of coercion but from any internal rule of disposition or desire. The choice of the moment proceeds freely in the sense that no inclination or prior disposition controls, directs, or affects the choice that is made. It is safe to say that this is the dominant view of free will in Western culture and is the view Calvin had in mind when he stated, “Free will is far too grandiose a term to apply to man.” At bottom it implies that man can make choices that are effects without any causes. Here it is suggested that the power of man to produce an effect without a cause exceeds even the creative power of God Almighty. Moreover, the cardinal rule of causality—ex nihilo, nihil fit (“out of nothing, nothing comes”)—is broken. Such a view of freedom is repugnant not only to Scripture but to reason.
To understand freedom as purely spontaneous choice with no prior disposition controlling it is to rob freedom of any moral significance. That is, if I act with no prior motive or no previous inclination toward or away from righteousness, how can it be said that my act is moral at all? Such activity would be without reason or motive behind it; it would be a purely random action, with no moral virtue attached to it.
However, a deeper question remains: Is such a spontaneous action possible at all? If the will is inclined neither to the right nor to the left, how could it choose at all? If there is no disposition toward, or away from, the action, then the will suffers from complete paralysis. It is like the donkey that had set before him a bale of hay and a bucket of oats. The donkey’s inclination with respect to the hay and the oats was exactly equal, with not the slightest degree of preference toward one or the other. The story is told that the donkey in such circumstances starves to death with a banquet feast in front of him because he has no way to choose between the two.
The practical problem that remains with the classical view of freedom is one raised by behavioristic psychology. If man is indeed self-determined or free, does that not imply that if his desires were completely known, man’s action in every given circumstance would be completely predictable? There is a sense in which we must agree that such a predictability would be implied. However, there is no way that any genius short of God and His omniscience could possibly know all the complex factors present in the human mind weighing a choice.
We recognize with psychologists that preferences and inclinations are shaped in many respects by experience and environment, but we cannot predict with certainty what any human being will do. Hidden variables within the complex of human personality make for this unpredictability. It nevertheless remains a fact that there is always a reason for our actions, a cause for our choices. That cause stems partly from ourselves and partly from the forces operating around and over against us.
The Definition of Freedom

The safest course to steer is to define freedom as did the church fathers, such as Augustine: “the ability to choose what we want.” God’s sovereignty does not extinguish that dimension of human personality, but certainly rules over it.
Out of rigid forms of determinism comes the cry of despair: “If the complex factors that make up personality completely determine my choices, then what value is self-improvement or the search for righteousness? If my will is enslaved by my dispositions and desires, what hope do I have of ever breaking out of the patterns of sin that are so destructive to my present mode of behavior?”
In a real sense, the process of sanctification involves a radical reprogramming of the inner self. We are not the victims of blind mechanical forces that control our destiny. As intelligent beings, we can do something to change the dispositions of our hearts and the inclinations of our minds.
It is important to remember that desire is not a fixed and constant power that beats within our souls. Our desires change and fluctuate from moment to moment. When the Bible calls us to feed the new man and starve the old man, we can apply this injunction by taking advantage of the ebb and flow of moods to strengthen the new man when our desire for Christ is inflamed and to kill the old man’s desires by starving him in times of satiation. The simplest way to state the mechanism of sin is to understand that at the moment I sin, I desire the sin more than I desire to please God. Stated another way, my love for the sin is greater at the moment of its intense desire than is my love for obedience to God. Therefore, the simple conclusion is that to overcome the power of sin within us, we need either to decrease our desire for the sin or to increase our desire to obey God.
What can we do to effect such changes? We can submit ourselves to the discipline of a class or a teacher and devote ourselves to a rigorous study of the law of God. Such disciplined study can help renew our minds, equipping us with a new understanding of what pleases and displeases God. The development of a renewed mind is the biblical definition of spiritual transformation.
The mind and the will are linked, as Edwards noted. Understanding more deeply how abhorrent our sin is to God can change or reprogram our attitudes toward sin. We are to follow the biblical injunction to concentrate on whatever things are pure and good. It may be too much to expect that a man in the midst of an attack of profound lust will switch to pure thoughts. It would be difficult for him to push a button and change the inclination of his desire at that moment. However, in a more sober mood, he may have the opportunity to reprogram his mind by filling it with high and holy thoughts of the things of God. The end result is that he may well strengthen the disposition of his heart toward God and weaken the disposition of his fallen nature toward sin.
We need not surrender to a superficial form of rigid determinism or behaviorism that would cause us to despair of any hope of change. Scripture encourages us to work out our salvation “with fear and trembling,” knowing that not only are we applying the means of grace by our own effort, but that God Himself is working within us to bring about the necessary changes to conform us to the image of His Son (Phil. 2:12–13; 1:6).
Sovereignty of God and Freedom of Man

What about man’s will with respect to the sovereignty of God? Perhaps the oldest dilemma of the Christian faith is the apparent contradiction between the sovereignty of God and the freedom of man. If we define human freedom as autonomy (meaning that man is free to do whatever he pleases, without constraint, without accountability to the will of God), then of course we must say that free will is contradictory to divine sovereignty. We cannot soft-pedal this dilemma by calling it a mystery; we must face up to the full import of the concept. If free will means autonomy, then God cannot be sovereign. If man is utterly and completely free to do as he pleases, there can be no sovereign God. However, if God is utterly sovereign to do as He pleases, no creature can be autonomous.
It is possible to have a multitude of beings, all of whom are free to various degrees but none of whom are sovereign. The degree of freedom is determined by the level of power, authority, and responsibility held by each being. However, we do not live in this type of universe. There is a God who is sovereign—which is to say, He is absolutely free. My freedom is always within limits. My freedom is always constrained by the sovereignty of God. I have freedom to do things as I please, but if my freedom conflicts with the decretive will of God, there is no question as to the outcome—God’s decree will prevail over my choice.
It is stated so often that it has become almost an uncritically accepted axiom within Christian circles that the sovereignty of God may never violate human freedom in the sense that God’s sovereign will may never overrule human freedom. The thought verges on, if not trespasses, the border of blasphemy because it contains the idea that God’s sovereignty is constrained by human freedom. If that were true, man, not God, would be sovereign, and God would be restrained and constrained by the power of human freedom. As I say, the implication here is blasphemous because it raises the creature to the stature of the Creator. God’s glory, majesty, and honor are denigrated since He is reduced to the status of a secondary, impotent creature. Biblically speaking, man is free, but his freedom can never violate or overrule God’s sovereignty.
I and my son are free moral agents; he has a will and I have a will. However, when he was a teen living in my home, his will was more often constrained by my will than was my will constrained by His. I carried more authority and more power in the relationship and hence I had a wider expanse of freedom than he had. So it is with our relationship to God; God’s power and authority are infinite, and His freedom is never hindered by human volition.
There is no contradiction between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will. Those who see a contradiction, or even point to the problem as an unsolvable mystery, have misunderstood the mystery. The real mystery regarding free will is how it was exercised by Adam before the fall.
Options for Considering Adam’s Sin

If Augustine was correct that pre-fall Adam possessed an ability to sin and an ability not to sin, and that he was created with no prior disposition or inclination toward sin, then the question we face is, “How was it possible for such a creature with no prior disposition toward evil actually to take the step into evil?” As we grapple with this mystery, let me present several options that have served as explanations in the past.
First, we can hypothesize that Adam fell because he was duped by the craftiness of Satan and simply did not know what he was doing. The inspiration for this hypothesis is the biblical emphasis on the craftiness of the Devil. Satan, in his guile, was able to seduce Adam and Eve by confusing their thought patterns. Thus, the weakness of our primordial parents was not moral in nature, but intellectual, inasmuch as they failed to perceive the chicanery of the serpent. What complicates the picture is the fact that the Scriptures in this instance do not describe Adam and Eve as having been completely duped by their adversary; rather, they had full knowledge of what God allowed and did not allow them to do. They could not plead ignorance of the command of God as an excuse for their transgression.
There are times when ignorance is excusable, namely when such ignorance cannot possibly be helped or overcome. Such ignorance is properly described by the Roman Catholic Church as “invincible ignorance”—ignorance that we lack the power to conquer. Invincible ignorance excuses and gives one a reprieve from any accusation of moral wrongdoing. However, the biblical record gainsays this option in the case of Adam and Eve, for God pronounces judgment on them. Unless that judgment was arbitrary or immoral on the part of God Himself, we can only conclude that what Adam and Eve did was inexcusable. A just God does not punish excusable transgressions. Indeed, excusable transgressions are not transgressions.
A second option is that Adam and Eve were coerced by Satan to disobey God. Here we see the original instance of the statement “The Devil made me do it.” If, however, Satan, in fact, fully and forcibly coerced Adam and Eve to transgress the law of God, then once again we would find an excuse for their actions. We would have to conclude that they did not act with a reasonable measure of freedom, a measure that would at least have delivered them from moral culpability. Such a theory violates the clear teaching of the biblical text, which hints at no coercive manipulation on the part of Satan.
Consistently, the Scriptures place the responsibility, the blame, and the full culpability on Adam and Eve themselves. They committed evil. Their choice was an evil one.
By what means did Adam and Eve make an evil choice? If we apply the analysis of choice common to Augustine and Edwards to pre-fall Adam, we face an insoluble dilemma. If Adam had been created with a purely neutral disposition (with no inclination toward righteousness or evil), we would still face the same rational impasse that Edwards notes for those who would impose it for post-fall man. A will with no predisposition would have no motivation to choose. Without motivation, there could be no choice. Even if such a choice were possible, it would have no moral import to it.
We must examine the other two alternatives—that Adam was created with a predisposition toward evil or with a singular predisposition toward good. Both of these options end at the stone wall of intellectual difficulty. If we assume that Adam was created with a predisposition toward evil, we cast a horrible shadow over the character of God, for this would mean that God created man with a predisposition toward evil and then punished man for exercising the disposition that God Himself had planted within his soul. In a real sense, this would make God the author of, and the one ultimately responsible for, human wickedness. Every page of Holy Scripture recoils from such a thesis, as it would transfer the blame from man to God Himself, who is altogether good. Still, many take this option, following in the footsteps of the implied criticism of the first man, Adam, who excused himself before the Creator by saying, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate” (Gen. 3:12, emphasis added). Men from Adam onward have manifested their fallenness by trying to transfer the blame for that fallenness to the Creator.
A third option is that God created man with a disposition toward only righteousness. If this were the case, then we have an effect without a sufficient cause. How is it possible for a creature created with the disposition toward only righteousness to have chosen a wicked act?
Other Inquiries into the Mystery of Adam’s Sin

I have a built-in antipathy to dialectical theology—theology that proclaims the beauty of contradictions and nonsense statements. Thus, I must swallow hard to agree with one neoorthodox theologian about the origin of Adam’s sin. Karl Barth calls the sin of Adam the “impossible possibility.” Barth, of course, is calling attention to the utterly inexplicable mystery of Adam’s transgression—what was rationally impossible and inconceivable happened, and remains a bona fide and impenetrable mystery to us.
Other attempts have been made to seek a complex and sophisticated answer to the mystery of iniquity. One suggestion is that the sin of Adam was like all sin, namely, a privation, a corruption, or a negation of something that was inherently and intrinsically good. In other words, Adam was created with a good moral disposition. His appetites and desires were continuously good, and as a result, one would expect his activities to have been equally good. However, it is suggested that in the complexity of moral choices, sometimes a good will (which has a desire that in itself is good) can be misused and abused toward an evil end. The supreme example of such a twisting occurred at the temptation of Jesus, the second and new Adam.
In Jesus’ temptation experience in the wilderness, Satan came to Him in the midst of a prolonged fast. It is probably safe to assume that at that point Jesus had a consuming passion for food. That natural human desire to eat carried no immoral overtones in and of itself. One expects a hungry man to have a disposition to eat. However, Jesus wanted to obey God through this act of self-deprivation. When Satan came to Jesus and suggested that He turn stones into bread, Satan was appealing to a perfectly normal appetite and desire within Jesus. However, Jesus’ desire to obey the Father was deeper than His desire to partake of food. Thus, filled with an altogether righteous desire, He was able to overcome the temptation of Satan.
Now the theory goes like this: Perhaps it was something good that caused Adam to fall—something that in and of itself was good, but which could have been misused and abused by the seductive influences of Satan. Such an explanation certainly helps make the fall more understandable, but it goes only so far before it fails. At its most vital point, the explanation does not account for how this good desire could have become distorted, overruling the prior obligation to obey God. At some point before the act of transgression took place, Adam must have had to desire disobedience to God more than obedience to God; therein the fall already had taken place because the very desire to act against God in disobedience is itself sinful.
I leave the question of explaining the fall of Adam by virtue of the exercise of his free will to the hands of more competent and insightful theologians. To blame it on man’s finite limitations is really putting blame on the God who made man finite. Biblically, the issue has been, and always will be, a moral one. Man was commanded by the Creator not to sin, but man chose to sin, though not because God or anyone else forced him. Man chose out of his own heart.
Consequently, to probe the answer to the how of man’s sin is to enter the realm of deepest mystery. Perhaps all we can do in the final analysis is to recognize the reality of our sin and our responsibility for it. Though we cannot explain it, certainly we know enough to confess it. We must never attribute the cause of our sin to God or adopt any position that would excuse us from the moral responsibility that Scripture clearly assigns to us.
Some have criticized the Christian faith for its inability to give a satisfying answer to the question of sin. The fact is that other religions must come to terms with this same question. Some respond simply by denying the reality of evil—a convenient but absurd way out. Christianity alone deals head-on with the reality of sin by providing an escape from its consequences.
The Christian solution to the problem of sin is a radical departure from what other religions provide, for it is centered in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Through His perfect sacrifice, which has the efficacy of blotting out believers’ sins, we have become righteous in God’s eyes. However, that righteousness does not give us the license to do as we please. We must still seek to do God’s preceptive will, especially as we swim through the perilous waters of the moral, ethical, and social dilemmas of our age.
While we have discussed the more theological aspects of man’s will and God’s will, two other topics now beckon us: God’s will for our jobs and for our marital status. These two practical concerns take center stage in the drama of our personal lives. What can we learn about God’s will and man’s will in relation to these vital aspects of living? The next chapters offer guidelines to facilitate our decision making in these all-important areas.

Chapter Three

When we are introduced to people, the following three questions are generally asked: “What is your name?” “Where are you from?” and “What do you do?” The third question is the one that concerns us in this chapter.
“What do you do?” is obviously a question about one’s occupation, career, or vocation. People want to know what task or service constitutes our livelihood or helps fulfill our personal aspirations.
We are all familiar with the aphorism, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” We understand that life is more than work. We devote periods of time to recreation, sleep, play, and other activities not directly part of our principal employment or labor. However, the portion of our lives that is taken up by work is so encompassing and time-consuming that we tend to understand our personal identity in the light of our work.
Whatever else we are, we are creatures involved in labor. This was the design of creation—God Himself is a working God. From the very moment of creation, He conferred on our original parents the responsibilities of work. Adam and Eve were called to dress, till, and keep the earth, to name the animals, and to have dominion by way of managerial responsibility over the earth. All of these activities involved the expenditure of time, energy, and resources—in short, work.
Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that work is a punishment that God gave us as a result of Adam’s fall in the Garden of Eden. We must remember that work was given before the fall. To be sure, our labor has additional burdens attached to it because of the fall. A mixture of thorns and thistles is found among the good plants we seek to cultivate. Our labor is accomplished by the sweat of our brow. These were some of the penalties of sinfulness, but work itself was part of the glorious privilege granted to men and women in creation. It is impossible to understand our own humanity without understanding the central importance of work.
Most of us spend the early years of our lives preparing and training for a lifelong activity of work. The sensitive Christian understands that in the labor of his occupation, he is responsible to make a contribution to the kingdom of God, to fulfill a divine mandate, to embark on a holy calling as a servant of the living God. Such a Christian is keenly interested to discover how best to serve God through his labor.
Vocation and Calling

The idea of vocation is based on the theological premise of a divine call. The word vocation comes from the Latin word meaning “calling.” In our secular society, the religious meaning of the term has lost its significance, having become merely a synonym for career. I will be using the term vocation in its original sense: a divine call, a holy summons to fulfill a task or a responsibility that God has laid on us. The question we as Christians wrestle with is, “Am I in the center of God’s will with respect to my vocation?” In other words, “Am I doing with my life what God wants me to do?” Here the question of the will of God becomes eminently practical, for it touches on that dimension of my life that fills most of my waking hours and has the greatest impact on the shaping of my personality.
If the Bible teaches anything, it teaches that God is a calling God. The world was created through the call of the omnipotent Creator: “ ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Gen. 1:1). God also calls His people to repentance, to conversion, and to membership in His family. In addition, He calls us to serve Him in His kingdom, making the best possible use of our gifts and talents. Still, the question faces us: “How do I know what is my particular vocational calling?”
One of the great tragedies of modern society is that, although the job market is vast and complex with an infinite number of possible careers, the educational systems that train us tend to guide and direct us to a very small number of occupational choices. When I was a high school graduate embarking on college, a great deal of discussion centered on one’s major and career aspirations. At that time, it seemed as if everyone was setting out to become an engineer. The mechanized culture of the 1950s was opening up thousands of lucrative positions in engineering. College campuses were flooded with young aspirants for degrees in the field of engineering.
I also remember the engineer glut on the market that occurred in the 1970s. Stories circulated about people with doctorates in engineering who were collecting unemployment or washing dishes in the local diner because there simply were not enough engineering jobs available. The same could be said for education majors. Positions in education became fewer and fewer while the number of applicants became greater and greater. The problem was heightened by misguided publicity and counseling that steered people into occupational roles that society already had filled.
In the early twentieth century, the choices were much less difficult since the vast majority of American children spent their time preparing for a life in agricultural labor. Today, roughly two percent of the population is employed in farming—a radical decrease in one occupation that has opened the door for a vast number of other occupations.
Finding Your Vocation

The question of vocation becomes a crisis at two major points in life. The first is in late adolescence, when a person is pressured into deciding what skills and knowledge he should acquire for future use. Some college freshmen feel pressured to declare a major in their first year, before knowing the available options and the limits of their ability.
The second period in life when vocation becomes critical is in midlife, when a person experiences a sense of frustration, failure, or lack of fulfillment in his current position. He may ask: “Have I wasted my life? Am I sentenced forever to a job that I’m finding meaningless, unfulfilling, and frustrating?” Such questions highlight the fact that vocational counseling is a major part of pastoral counseling in America, second only to marital counseling.
We must also consider the fact that vocational frustration is a major contributing cause of marital disharmony and family strife. Thus, it is important to approach the matter of vocation with great care, both in the early stages of adolescent development and in the latter stages, when the sense of frustration hits home.
The problem of discerning one’s calling focuses heavily on four important questions:

1. What can I do?
2. What do I like to do?
3. What would I like to be able to do?
4. What should I do?

The last question can plague the sensitive conscience. To begin to answer it, we need to take a look at the other three questions because they are closely linked to the ultimate question, “What should I do?”
What can I do? Reasonably assessing our abilities, skills, and aptitudes is a crucial and basic part of the decision-making process in choosing a vocation. We need to ask: “What are my abilities? What am I equipped to do?”
We may object that Moses and Jeremiah both protested against God’s call by saying that they were not equipped for the task. Moses protested that he had limited speaking ability, and Jeremiah reminded his Creator of his youthfulness. Both experienced God’s rebuke for seeking to evade a divine calling on the basis of the flimsy claim that they lacked the ability to do the job.
Neither Moses nor Jeremiah had a full understanding of what was needed to carry out the summons God gave him. Moses, for instance, protested that he lacked speaking skill, but God had prepared Aaron to help Moses with that part of the task. What God was looking for was obedient leadership from Moses; public speaking could be delegated to another. God certainly took into consideration Moses’ gifts, abilities, and aptitude before He called him.
We must remember that God is the perfect Manager. He is efficient in His selection, calling people according to the gifts and talents that He has given them. Satan’s strategy is to manipulate Christians into positions for which they have no ability or skill to perform well. Satan himself is very efficient in directing Christians to inefficiency and ineffectiveness.
What can I do? This question can be answered by proficiency examinations, analysis of our strengths and weaknesses, and a sober evaluation of our past performance. Abilities and performances can be, and are, measured in sophisticated ways in our society. We need to know the parameters of our abilities.
People often apply for positions for which they have no skill. This is particularly and sadly true within the church and in related Christian service. Some hunger and thirst to be in full-time Christian service but lack the ability and the gifts required for the particular job. For example, they may have the academic training and credentials for the pastorate, but lack the managerial skills or the people skills to be effective pastors.
Perhaps the most important principle in Scripture regarding abilities is found in Paul’s injunction that we ought to make a sober analysis of ourselves, not thinking too highly of ourselves (Rom. 12:3). Through sober analysis, we can make a serious, honest, and clear evaluation of what we can and cannot do, and we should act accordingly.
The young person has a different question: What would I like to be able to do? Such a person may have developed very few skills or have little educational background, but he realizes that he has enough time to acquire skills and talents through education or vocational training.
At this point, the concept of aptitude is relevant. Aptitude involves a person’s latent abilities as well as his acquired abilities. A person may have a certain aptitude for mechanical things and have no aptitude whatsoever for abstract things. This person may desire to be a philosopher but would make a far better investment of his time by learning to be an airplane mechanic. However, preferences are still important. Here we tread into that critical and frightening area of human experience called the realm of motivation.
Motivated Abilities

Research indicates that most people have more than one ability, and that their abilities can be divided into two basic types: motivated abilities and non-motivated abilities. A non-motivated ability is a skill or a strength that a person has but is not motivated to use. Some people are very good at doing certain things, but find no particular fulfillment or enjoyment in doing them. Performing them is sheer drudgery and pain. They may be proficient in what they do, but for one reason or another they find the task odious.
I know of one young woman who in her early teenage years attracted national attention because of her proficiency at the game of golf. While still a teenager, she won a national tournament. Yet when the time came for girls her age to turn professional, she chose a different vocation, not out of a higher calling to seek a more spiritual enterprise than professional athletics, but because she found golf to be very unpleasant. Her displeasure came as the result of fierce pressure her father had placed on her in pushing her to become a proficient golfer at a young age. When she became of age and was out from under parental authority, she decided to do something else. She had the ability to become a professional golfer, but she lacked the motivation.
We might ask, “How could she have become so proficient in the first place if she had not been motivated to perform well in golf?” We have to realize that she had been motivated to become proficient, but the motivation was largely based on fear of her father’s wrath. In order to please him, she disciplined herself to acquire a skill that she never would have pursued on her own. Once free from the driving force of his authority, she turned her vocational pursuits in another direction. The moral to the story is obvious. The person who gives his full measure of time and energy to a non-motivated ability is a walking pressure cooker of frustration.
It is true that, as Christians, we don’t always have the luxury of doing the things we want to do. God calls us to sacrifice and to be willing to participate in the humiliation of Christ. To be sure, we live in the midst of warfare, and as Christians we have signed up for the duration. We should never neglect our awesome responsibility to the kingdom of God. Called to be servants, we are also called to obedience. Sometimes we are called to do things that we don’t particularly enjoy doing. Nevertheless, the overriding consideration is to bring our motivation into conformity with our call and our call into conformity with our motivation.
All things being equal, Jesus did not want to go to the cross, as He expressed in His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. Yet at the same time, He had an overarching desire and motivation to do the will of His Father. That was His “meat and drink,” the focus of His zeal. When it was confirmed to Him that it was the Father’s will that He lay down His life, Jesus was, in a very real and vital sense, motivated to do it.
Let us extend the concept of service and obedience to the analogy of human warfare. A crisis besets a nation, and people are summoned to the cause of national defense. Leaving the security and comfort of their homes and jobs, they make sacrifices by enlisting in the armed services. Are not Christians called to do the same? Certainly there is a sense in which we are. Yet within the context of the earthly military, there are a vast number of jobs, some for which we would be suited and others for which we would not. Some military tasks would be in line with our motivated skills and patterns of behavior, while others would be completely at odds with our motivated skills and behavior. Even within the context of sacrificial service, a consideration of motivation is a vital ingredient in determining our vocation.
Some rugged individualists in our society are self-employed and find it totally unnecessary to fit into an organizational working structure that involves supervisors, bosses, and lines of authority. Most of us, however, carry out our working lives within the context of an organization. Here we face the problem of fitting. Do our jobs fit our gifts, talents, and aspirations? Do our motivated abilities fit our jobs? The degree to which our job requirements and our motivated abilities fit often determines the usefulness of our contribution and the extent of our personal satisfaction.
When personal motivations do not fit job descriptions, many people suffer. The first to suffer is the individual, because he is laboring in a job that does not fit his motivated abilities. Because he is in a job for which he is unsuited, he tends to be less efficient and less productive. He also creates problems for others in the organization because his frustration spills over and has a negative effect on the group.
Some of us are “sanctified” enough to perform assigned tasks for which we lack motivation, doing them as proficiently as we do tasks that are more enjoyable. However, people who are that sanctified make up an infinitesimal minority within the workforce. Research shows again and again that there is a strong tendency for people to do what they are motivated to do, regardless of what is called for in their job description. That is, they spend the majority of their time and effort doing what they want to do rather than what the job, in fact, calls them to do. Such an investment of time and energy can be quite costly to a company or an organization.
The following simple diagrams show the relationships between motivated ability patterns and job descriptions. They have been borrowed from People Management, a Connecticut-based organization. People Management helps people to discern their motivated ability patterns and helps organizations to coordinate people’s gifts and motivations with the needs and aims of the organizations. This kind of guidance works not only in secular industry but also within the structures of the church and sacred vocations.

Job Description
Unused Abilities
Tasks Not Performed
Motivated Abilities
Job Fit

In this diagram, the top left block represents the job description of the employee, including the tasks required for optimal organizational functioning.
The lower right block represents the motivated abilities of the employee. The shaded area represents the area of job fit. It is not in balance. A large portion of the employee’s motivated abilities are not being used. This produces frustration for the employee.
Also, a large portion of the organizational job description is either left unperformed or performed at a low degree of proficiency. The result is organizational frustration. This pattern spells problems for both the individual employee and the organization. Changes must be made.
The diagram below represents an ideal matchup between job description and motivated abilities. The result is fulfillment for both the employee and the organization.


Through the influence of the world-denying spirit of Manichaeism, early Christians got the idea that the only way they could possibly serve God would be by living their lives on a bed of nails. It was assumed that to embark on a pathway of service involved self-denial. Real virtue could be found only in being as miserable as possible in one’s job. However, if God indeed called us to devote ourselves to the most unpleasant tasks possible, He would be the cosmic Chief of Bad Managers.
The Scriptures describe God’s management style differently. God manages by building us into a body according to our abilities and our desires. He gives gifts to each one of His people. Every Christian is gifted of the Lord to fulfill a divine vocation. Along with the gift, God gives a desire or a motivation to make use of that gift.
What Should We Do?

This brings us to the final and paramount question: “What should I do?” The most practical advice I can give is for you to do what your motivated ability pattern indicates you can do with a high degree of motivation. If what you would like to do can be of service to God, then by all means you should be doing it.
One vital constraint is at work: the preceptive will of God. If a woman’s great ability and motivation were to be a prostitute and a man’s motivated ability were to be the world’s greatest bank robber, then obviously vocational goals would have to be adjusted. To fulfill such motivated abilities would bring individuals into direct conflict with the preceptive will of God.
If we carefully analyzed the root causes for the motivated ability of the bank robber and the motivated ability of the prostitute, we probably would find root abilities and motivations that could profitably and productively be channeled into godly enterprises. We must not only bring our motivated abilities into conformity with the law of God, but also make sure that the vocation we choose has the blessing of God.
There is certainly nothing wrong, for example, with devoting one’s life to the practice of medicine, for we see the good that medicine can do in terms of alleviating suffering. We also understand that the world needs bread to eat and that the vocation of baker for someone who is motivated and able to bake is a godly enterprise. Jesus Himself spent many of His years not in preaching and teaching but in being a carpenter, a craftsman in a legitimate trade. During those years, Jesus was in “the center of God’s will.”
Any vocation that meets the need of God’s world can be considered a divine calling. I underscore this because of the tendency in Christian circles to think that only those who go into “full-time Christian service” are being sensitive to divine vocation—as if preaching and teaching were the only legitimate tasks to which God calls us. A cursory reading of the Bible would reveal the flaw in such thinking. The temple was built in the Old Testament through not only the wise oversight of Solomon but also the craftsmanship of those who were divinely gifted in carving, sculpting, and so on.
David’s vocation as a shepherd, Abraham’s vocation as a caravan trader, Paul’s vocation as a tentmaker—all were seen as part of God’s plan to bring about the redemption of the world. When God made Adam and Eve, neither was called to be a full-time professional worker in the ecclesiastical structure; they were basically called to be farmers.
A vocation is something that we receive from God; He is the one who calls us. He may not call us in the way that He called Moses, by appearing in a burning bush and giving a specific set of marching orders. Instead, He usually calls us inwardly and by giving us certain gifts, talents, and aspirations. His invisible sovereign will is certainly working in the background to prepare us for useful tasks in His vineyard.
The External Call from People

In addition to the inner call of God, we recognize that there is such a thing as an external call to labor, a call that comes from people who request our services for their particular mission or purpose. We may be called by the church to be preachers or by a company to be foremen or shippers. Every time an organization places a want ad in a newspaper, a human call is going out for able workers to come and match their gifts and talents to a presented need.
Some Christians have argued that the need always constitutes the call. They say that there is a need for evangelists in the world and therefore everyone should be an evangelist. I agree that we must consider the needs of the kingdom of God as we make vocational decisions. However, the very fact that the world needs evangelists does not necessarily imply that everyone in the world is called to be an evangelist. Again, the New Testament makes it clear that not all are called to be preachers or administrators. The church is composed of people with a diversity of gifts, talents, and vocations. We must not make a simplistic, passive assumption that the need constitutes the call.
Certainly the presence of a need requires that the people of God strive to meet that need. However, it does not necessarily mean that people who are not equipped to meet the need are thereby forced into the gap. For example, it is every Christian’s responsibility to help carry out the mandate for evangelism. It is not every Christian’s responsibility to be an evangelist. I am not an evangelist, though I contribute to evangelism by teaching evangelists theology and by contributing money for the church’s task of evangelism. I do those things so that those who do have the gift and the motivation can be called out, trained, equipped, and sent into the world as evangelists. I participate in the responsibility of the body of Christ to see that the task is met, but I myself am not the one who delivers the goods as the practicing evangelist. I could say the same regarding a host of other vocations.
How do others affect our vocational calling? We do need to listen to the community of believers and friends. Sometimes our gifts and abilities are more evident to those around us than they are to us. The counsel of many and the evaluation of the group are important considerations in our search for our vocations. However, we must put up a red flag of warning. The group’s judgment is not always correct. The fact that a particular individual or group thinks we should be doing a certain task is not a guarantee that it is the will of God.
I went through a period in my life of being unemployed for six months. During that time, I had five different job offers in five different cities in the United States. Five different friends came to me and said out of sincerity and urgent zeal that they were sure God wanted me to take each of the particular jobs. This meant that if all five of them had a direct pipeline to the will of God, God wanted me to hold five full-time positions and live in five different cities in the United States at the same time. I explained to my friends that I knew I was iniquitous (full of sin), but had not yet discovered the gift of being ubiquitous (being everywhere at the same time). I simply could not possibly do all five jobs. Somebody was wrong in their estimation of the will of God for my life.
I find it very difficult to resist the pressures that come from people who are sure they know what God wants me to do with my life. We all experience that kind of pressure, so we must be careful to pay attention to those whose judgment we trust. We must be able to discern between sound judgment and the vested personal interests of other people.
As it turned out, I accepted a sixth position for which no one came to me in the middle of the night with a telegram from God. I was convinced that the sixth position was the one that matched my abilities with the job that needed to be done.
Considering Foreseeable Consequences

One last consideration that is often neglected but is of crucial importance is the foreseeable consequences of the job. To take a job simply for money or for geographical location is a tragic mistake. All things being equal, I would like to have a salary of a $1 million a year, to be a teacher of theology, and to live where the climate is mild twelve months of the year. At the present time I am a teacher of theology living in Florida, but I make far less than $1 million a year. Somewhere along the way, I had to make a decision about my priorities. Did I want to make a million dollars or did I want to heed my vocational calling? My residence was determined by the locale of my vocation.
Job decisions have both short-range and long-range consequences. Consider the case of Abraham and his nephew Lot, who lived and worked together in the Promised Land. Conflict between their hired hands made it necessary for them to divide the territory they were occupying. Abraham gave Lot the first choice, offering any half that he chose. Lot gazed toward the barren area of Transjordan and then looked toward the fertile valley near the city. He thought for a moment: “If I take the fertile valley, my cows can graze there and become fat. It’s a short distance to the city market. My profit will be great.” In consideration of his business, Lot opted for the fertile areas around the city and left Abraham the barren land. Lot’s choice was brilliant—from the perspective of raising cattle. He didn’t ask himself, “Where will my family go to school? Where will my family go to church?” The city he chose was Sodom—a great place to raise cows. The short-term consequences were fine, but long-term living in Sodom turned out to be a disaster in many ways.
How will our job decisions be conducive to fulfilling our other responsibilities? The person who chooses a vocation purely on the basis of money, location, or status is virtually guaranteeing his later frustration.
Much of the confusion we often experience in the job arena would be dispelled by asking ourselves one simple question: “What would I most like to do if I didn’t have to please anyone in my family or my circle of friends?” Another good question is, “What would I like to be doing ten years from now?” These questions are good to keep in mind even after one has settled into a particular job. Another thing to remember is the promise of God’s Word that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. As His children, that includes the area of our work.
While God’s decretive will may not always be clear to us even in our occupational pursuits, His preceptive will is more easily discerned. Wherever we are, in whatever work we find ourselves, His preceptive will must be done.
Finally, what does God expect of us in relation to our work? As Christians, we have been called to be spiritual salt in a decaying world, to be spiritual light in the midst of darkness. We are to be wise stewards of God’s gifts and talents. That means striving to be the most honest, patient, hardworking, and committed workers we can be. It means settling for nothing less than excellence. God help us to live up to His high call for each of us.

Chapter Four

Besides our work, the other topic of perennial concern is our marital status. Should we marry or remain single?
It is possible that Christians expend more decision-making energy over the subject of marriage than any other area of human existence. No wonder, since the decisions relevant to the marital relationship have such far-reaching effects on our lives. How a person feels about his marital status determines, in large part, his sense of fulfillment, his productivity, and his self-image. The reality and the seriousness of the marital relationship are brought home when we realize that the one who knows us most intimately, the one before whom we are the most fragile and vulnerable, and the one who powerfully shapes and influences our lives is our marriage partner. That is why entering the marital relationship is not something anyone should undertake lightly.
Before we tackle the general question, “Is it God’s will for me to marry?” several specific questions need to be considered.
Should I Get Married?

The answer to this question has often been assumed by our culture, at least until recent years. Even today, most of us absorb the idea while growing up that marriage is a natural and integral part of normal life. In many ways—from the fairy-tale characters Snow White and Prince Charming, the romantic plays of Shakespeare, and some mass media heroes and heroines—we receive signals that society expects us to be numbered among the married. Among individuals who fail to fulfill this cultural expectation, those of a more traditional mindset are left with the nagging feeling that perhaps something is wrong with them, that they are abnormal.
In earlier generations, if a young man reached the age of thirty without getting married, he was suspected of having homosexual tendencies. If a woman was still single by thirty, it was often tacitly assumed that she had some defect that made her unattractive as a marriage partner or had lesbian preferences. Such assumptions are by no means found in the Scriptures.
From a biblical perspective, the pursuit of celibacy (as Scripture expects for the unmarried) is a legitimate option in some instances. Under other considerations, it is viewed as a definite preference. Though we have our Lord’s blessing on the sanctity of marriage, we also have His example of personal choice to remain celibate, obviously in submission to the will of God. Christ was celibate not because of a lack of the masculine traits necessary to make Him desirable as a life partner. Rather, His divine purpose obviated the destiny of marriage, making it crucial that He devote Himself entirely to the preparation of His bride, the church, for His future wedding.
The most important biblical instruction that we have regarding celibacy is given by the apostle Paul in a lengthy passage from 1 Corinthians:

Now concerning the unmarried, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. I think that in view of the present distress it is well for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage. But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a girl marries she does not sin. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. I mean, brethren, the appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away.
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. So that he who marries his betrothed does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.
A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If the husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. But in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I have the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. 7:25–40, RSV)

Paul’s teaching in this matter of marriage has been subjected to serious distortions. Some observe in this text that Paul is setting forth a contrasting view of marriage that says celibacy is good and marriage is bad, particularly for Christians called to service in the interim period between the first advent of Christ and His return. However, even a cursory glance at the text indicates that Paul is not contrasting the good and the bad, but rival goods. He points out that it is good to opt for celibacy under certain circumstances. Moreover, it is also good and quite permissible to opt for marriage under other circumstances. Paul sets forth the pitfalls that a Christian faces when contemplating marriage. Of prime consideration is the pressure of the kingdom of God on the marriage relationship.
Nowhere has the question of celibacy been more controversial than in the Roman Catholic Church. Historically, Protestants have objected that the Roman Catholic Church, by imposing on its clergy a mandate beyond the requirements of Scripture itself, has slipped into a form of legalism. Though we believe that Scripture permits the marriage of clergy, it indicates, at the same time, that one who is married and serving God in a special vocation does face the nagging problems created by a divided set of loyalties—his family on one hand, the church on the other. Unfortunately, the dispute between Protestants and Catholics over mandatory celibacy has become so heated at times that Protestants have often reacted to the other extreme, dismissing celibacy as a viable option. Let us return to the focus of Paul’s word, which sets forth a distinction between rival goods. His distinction, in the final analysis, allows the individual to decide what best suits him or her.
Paul in no way denigrates the honorable “estate” of marriage, but rather affirms what was given in creation: the benediction of God over the marriage relationship. One does not sin by getting married. Marriage is a legitimate, noble, and honorable option set forth for Christians.
Just a Piece of Paper?

Another aspect of the question, “Should I get married?” moves beyond the issue of celibacy to whether a couple should enter into a formal marriage contract or sidestep this option by simply living together. In the past few decades, the option of living together, rather than moving into a formal marriage contract, has proliferated in our culture. Christians must be careful not to establish their precepts of marriage (or any other ethical dimension of life) on the basis of contemporary community standards. The Christian’s conscience is to be governed not merely by what is socially acceptable or even by what is legal according to the law of the land, but rather by what God sanctions.
Unfortunately, some Christians have rejected the legal and formal aspects of marriage, arguing that marriage is a matter of private and individual commitment between two people and has no legal or formal requirements. These view marriage as a matter of individual private decision apart from external ceremony. The question most frequently asked of clergymen on this matter reflects the so-called freedom in Christ: “Why do we have to sign a piece of paper to make it legal?”
The signing of a piece of paper is not a matter of affixing one’s signature in ink to a meaningless document. The signing of a marriage certificate is an integral part of what the Bible calls a covenant. A covenant is made publicly before witnesses and with formal legal commitments that are taken seriously by the community. The protection of both partners is at stake; there is legal recourse should one of the partners act in a way that is destructive to the other.
Contracts are signed out of the necessity spawned by the presence of sin in our fallen nature. Because we have an enormous capacity to wound each other, sanctions have to be imposed by legal contracts. Contracts not only restrain sin, but also protect the innocent in the case of legal and moral violation. With every commitment I make to another human being, there is a sense in which a part of me becomes vulnerable, exposed to the response of the other person. No human enterprise renders a person more vulnerable to hurt than does the estate of marriage.
God ordained certain rules regulating marriage in order to protect people. His law was born of love, concern, and compassion for His fallen creatures. The sanctions God imposed on sexual activity outside marriage do not mean that God is a spoilsport or a prude. Sex is an enjoyment He Himself created and gave to the human race. God, in His infinite wisdom, understands that there is no time that human beings are more vulnerable than when they are engaged in this most intimate activity. Thus, He cloaks this special act of intimacy with certain safeguards. He is saying to both the man and the woman that it is safe to give oneself to the other only when there is a certain knowledge of a lifelong commitment behind it. There is a vast difference between a commitment sealed with a formal document and declared in the presence of witnesses, including family, friends, and authorities of church and state, and a whispered, hollow promise breathed in the back seat of a car.
Do I Want to Get Married?

Paul states in 1 Corinthians 7:8–9: “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” The distinction is between the good and the better. Here Paul introduces the idea of burning, not of the punitive fires of hell, but of the passions of the biological nature, which God has given us. Paul is speaking very candidly when he points out that some people are not made for celibacy. Marriage is a perfectly honorable and legitimate option even for those who are most strongly motivated by sexual fulfillment and relief from sexual temptation and passion.
The question, “Do I want to get married?” is an obvious but very important one. The Bible does not prohibit marriage. Indeed, it encourages it except in certain cases where one may be brought into conflict with vocation, but even in that dimension, provisions are left for marriage. So to desire marriage is a very good thing. A person needs to be in touch with his own desires and conscience.
If I have a strong desire to marry, then the next step is to do something about fulfilling that desire. If a person wants a job, he must seriously pursue employment opportunities. When we decide to attend a college or a university, we have to follow the formal routine of making applications and evaluating various campuses. Marriage is no different; no magic recipe has come from heaven that will determine for us the perfect will of God for a life partner. Here, unfortunately, is where Christians have succumbed to the fairy-tale syndrome of our society. It is a particular problem for young, single women. Many a young woman feels that if God wants her to be married, He will drop a marriage partner out of heaven on a parachute or will bring some Prince Charming riding up to her doorstep on a great white horse.
One excruciating problem faced by single women—more so in past generations than today—is caused by the unwritten rule of our society that allows men the freedom actively to pursue a marriage partner while women are considered loose if they actively pursue a prospective husband. No biblical rule says that a woman eager to be married should be passive. There is nothing that prohibits her from actively seeking a suitable mate.
On numerous occasions, I’ve had the task of counseling single women who insisted at the beginning of the interview that they had no desire to be married but simply wanted to work out the dimensions of the celibacy they believed God had imposed on them. After a few questions and answers, the scenario usually repeats itself: the young woman begins to weep and blurts out, “But I really want to get married.” When I suggest that there are wise steps that she can take to find a husband, her eyes light up in astonishment as if I had just given her permission to do the forbidden. I have broken a taboo.
Wisdom requires that the search be done with discretion and determination. Those seeking a life partner need to do certain obvious things, such as going where other single people congregate. They need to be involved in activities that will bring them in close communication with other single Christians.
In the Old Testament, Jacob made an arduous journey to his homeland to find a suitable marriage partner. He did not wait for God to deliver him a life partner. He went where the opportunity presented itself to find a marriage partner. But the fact that he was a man does not imply that such a procedure is limited to males. Women in our society have exactly the same freedom to pursue a mate by diligent search.
What Do I Want in a Marriage Partner?

A myth has arisen within the Christian community that marriage is to be a union between two people committed to the principle of selfless love. Selfless love is viewed as being crucial for the success of a marriage. This myth is based on the valid concept that selfishness is often at the root of disharmony and disintegration in marriage relationships. The biblical concept of love says no to acts of selfishness within marital and other human relationships. However, the remedy for selfishness is nowhere to be found in selflessness.
The concept of selflessness emerged from Asian and Greek thinking, where the ideal goal of humanity is the loss of self-identity by becoming one with the universe. The goal of man in this schema is to lose any individual characteristic, becoming one drop in the great ocean. Another aspect of absorption is the notion of the individual becoming merged with the great Oversoul and becoming spiritually diffused throughout the universe. But from a biblical perspective, the goal of the individual is not the annihilation or the disintegration of the self, but the redemption of the self. To seek selflessness in marriage is an exercise in futility. The self is very active in building a good marriage, and marriage involves the commitment of the self with another self based on reciprocal sharing and sensitivity between two actively involved selves.
If I were committed to a selfless marriage, it would mean that in my search for a marriage partner I should survey the scene to find a person for whom I was willing to throw myself away. This is the opposite of what is involved in the quest for a marriage partner. When someone seeks a mate, he should be seeking someone who will enrich his life, who will add to his own self-fulfillment, and who at the same time will be enriched by that relationship.
What are the priority qualities to seek in a marriage partner? One little exercise that many couples have found helpful is based on freewheeling imagination. While finding a marriage partner is not like shopping for an automobile, one can use the new car metaphor. When one purchases a new car, he has many models from which to choose. With those models, there is an almost endless list of optional equipment that can be tacked onto the standard model.
By analogy, suppose one could request a made-to-order mate with all the options. The person engaged in such an exercise could list as many as a hundred qualities or characteristics that he would like to find in the perfect mate. Compatibility with work and with play, attitudes toward parenting, and certain skills and physical characteristics could be included. After completing the list, the person must acknowledge the futility of such a process. No human being will ever perfectly fit all the possible characteristics that one desires in a mate.
This exercise is particularly helpful for people who have delayed marrying into their late twenties or early thirties, or even later. Such a person sometimes settles into a pattern of focusing on tiny flaws that disqualify virtually every person he or she meets. After doing the made-to-order mate exercise, he can take the next step: reduce the list to the main priorities. The person involved in this exercise reduces the number of qualifications to twenty, then to ten, and finally to five. Such a reduction forces him to set in ordered priority the things he is most urgently seeking in a marriage partner.
It is extremely important that individuals clearly understand what they want out of the dating and eventually the marital relationship. They should also find out whether their desires in a marriage relationship are healthy or unhealthy. This leads us to the next question, regarding counseling.
From Whom Should I Seek Counsel?

Many people resent the suggestion that they seek counsel in their selection of a marriage partner. After all, isn’t such a selection an intensely personal and private matter? However personal and private the decision might be, it is one of grave importance to the future of the couple and their potential offspring, their families, and their friends. Marriage is never ultimately a private matter, because how the marriage works affects a multitude of people. Therefore, counsel can and should be sought from trusted friends, pastors, and particularly from parents.
In earlier periods of Western history, marriages were arranged either by families or by matchmakers. Today, the idea of arranged marriages seems primitive and crass. It is totally foreign in the American culture. We have come to the place where we think that it is our inalienable right to choose one whom we love.
Some things need to be said in defense of the past custom of arranged marriages. One is that happy marriages can be achieved even when one has not chosen his own partner. It may sound outrageous, but I am convinced that if biblical precepts are applied consistently, virtually any two people in the world can build a happy marriage and honor the will of God in the relationship. That may not be what we prefer, but it can be accomplished if we are willing to work in the marital relationship. The second thing that needs to be said in defense of arranged marriages is that in some circumstances, marriages have been arranged on the objective evaluation of matching people together and of avoiding destructive parasitic matchups. For example, when left to themselves, people with significant personal weaknesses, such as a man with a profound need to be mothered and a woman with a profound need to mother, can be attracted to each other in a mutually destructive way. Such negative mergings happen daily in our society.
It is not my intention to lobby for matched or arranged marriages. I am only hailing the wisdom of seeking parental counsel in the decision-making process. Parents often object to the choice of a marriage partner. Sometimes their objections are based on the firm conviction that “no one is good enough for my daughter [or son].” Objections of this sort are based on unrealistic expectations at best and on petty jealousy at worst. However, not all parents are afflicted with such destructive prejudices regarding the potential marriage partners of their children. Sometimes the parents have keen insight into the personalities of their children, seeing blind spots that the offspring themselves are unable to perceive. In the earlier example of a person with an inordinate need to be mothered attracting someone with an inordinate need to mother, a discerning parent might spot the mismatch and caution against it. If a parent is opposed to a marriage relationship, it is extremely important to know why.
When Am I Ready to Get Married?

After seeking counsel, having a clear understanding of what we are hoping for, and having examined our expectations of marriage, the final decision is left to us. At this point, some face paralysis as the day of decision draws near. How does one know when he or she is ready to get married? Wisdom dictates that we enter into serious premarital study, evaluation, and counseling with competent counselors so that we may be warned of the pitfalls that come in this new and vital human relationship. With the breakdown of so many marriages in our culture, increasing numbers of young people fear entering into a marriage contract lest they become “statistics.” Sometimes we need the gentle nudge of a trusted counselor to tell us when it is time to take the step.
What things need to be faced before taking the actual step toward marriage? Economic considerations are, of course, important. Financial pressures imposed on a relationship that is already besieged with emotional pressures of other kinds can be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back. That is why parents often advise young people to wait until they finish their schooling or until they are gainfully employed so that they can assume the responsibility of a family.
It is not by accident that the creation ordinance of marriage mentions that a man shall leave his father and mother and “hold fast to” his wife, and the two shall become “one flesh.” The “leaving and cleaving” dimensions are rooted in the concept of being able to establish a new family unit. Here, economic realities often govern the preparedness for marriage.
Entering into marriage involves far more than embarking on new financial responsibilities. The marriage commitment is the most serious one that two human beings can make to each other. A person is ready to get married when he or she is prepared to commit to a particular person for the rest of his or her life, regardless of the human circumstances that befall them.
In order for us to understand the will of God for marriage, it is imperative that we pay attention to God’s preceptive will. The New Testament clearly shows that God not only ordained marriage and sanctified it, He regulates it. His commandments cover a multitude of situations regarding the nitty-gritty aspects of marriage. The greatest textbook on marriage is sacred Scripture, which reveals God’s wisdom and His rule governing the marriage relationship. If someone earnestly wants to do the will of God in marriage, his first task is to master what Scripture says that God requires in such a relationship.
What does God expect of His children who are married or thinking about getting married? God expects, among other things, faithfulness to the marriage partner, provision of mutual needs, and mutual respect under the lordship of Christ. Certainly the couple should enhance each other’s effectiveness as Christians. If not, something is wrong.
While celibacy is certainly no less blessed and honorable a state than marriage, we have to recognize Adam and Eve as our models. God’s plan involved the vital union of these two individuals who would make it possible for the earth to be filled with their “kind.”
Basically, I cannot dictate God’s will for anyone in this area any more than I can or would in the area of occupation. I will say that good marriages require hard work and individuals willing to make their marriages work.
What happens in our lives is cloaked ultimately in the mystery of God’s will. The joy for us as His children is that the mystery holds no terror—only waiting, appropriate acting on His principles and direction, and the promise that He is with us forever.
Sproul, R. C. (2009). Can I Know God’s Will? (Bd. 4, S. i–102). Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing.

300 Quotations for Preachers from the Medieval Church- free gift from LOGOS- via Uwe Rosenkranz


John Wycliff, Quotations

Elliot Ritzema and Rebecca Brant
Pastorum Series

Series Preface

I have always loved finding and sharing memorable quotations, but finding great quotes is always a struggle, and sharing them isn’t as easy as I would like it to be. In the fall of 2012, I compiled the kind of quotation resource I would want to use—a collection of notable remarks from throughout church history, with Scripture references and themes to make it easy to find relevant quotations. I then added slides to the resource to make the quotes easy to share. Each quotation has a cited source, so readers can look up the context if they so desire. I titled it 300 Quotations for Preachers since the audience I had in mind was the pastor looking for quotations to share in sermons.
300 Quotations for Preachers proved so successful that I decided to undertake a more ambitious project: five volumes of quotations from throughout church history—with the volumes categorized according to the major period (or topic) of history covered. Thus 1,500 Quotations for Preachers was born. My colleagues Elizabeth Vince and Rebecca Brant joined me in the effort to complete this massive undertaking.
Four of the five volumes of 1,500 Quotations for Preachers are organized by date:
• 300 Quotations from the Early Church is from the years 100–600
• 300 Quotations from the Medieval Church is from the years 600–1500
• 300 Quotations from the Reformation is from the years 1500–1650
• 300 Quotations from the Modern Church is from 1650 forward

For the most part, these divisions grouped people together in a way that is predictable and easy to search. Of course, there are a few exceptions. For example, although John Huss and John Wycliffe are generally studied as part of the Reformation, here they are included in the Medieval volume since they lived before 1500.
The one exception to this chronological division is 300 Quotations from the Puritans. The Puritan movement began before 1650 and continued beyond it, so dividing Puritan quotations between the Reformation and Modern volumes would not have made sense. In addition, there are so many fantastic quotations from the Reformation and Modern periods that we would have had to leave out some very good ones to stay with two volumes, so we decided to create the Puritan volume to include more of them.
A good quotation enables you to drive a point home more powerfully than you might be able to otherwise—or to put it in Richard Baxter’s words, quotes help you “screw the truth” into the minds of your hearers. It is one thing to say that people are prone to idolatry; it is another to say, as Calvin did, that “the human mind is, so to speak, a perpetual forge of idols.” It is one thing to say that persecution will not stop the Church; it is another to say with Tertullian, “The blood of Christians is seed” for good. These collections will enable you to access wisdom from throughout church history on whatever topic interests you. These volumes will also help you share truth easily and memorably with others, for the glory of God.


Aelred of Rievaulx (1110–1167)
Jesus Is Able to Calm Angry Thoughts
Job 26:12; Psalm 107:29; Matthew 8:26; Mark 4:39; Luke 8:24; Ephesians 4:26

Preaching Themes: Anger, Peace

Do you not know? Do you not feel? Do you not experience sometimes how the heat of passion rages in the flesh, anger is furious in the mind, the word of indignation and bitterness is just on the very point of breaking forth, and like the sea when it is vehemently agitated by the wind, all the inner thoughts of a man are troubled? But if Jesus lifts up His Cross over this sea, all is hushed, all is quiet.

Sanctified by Faith, Strengthened by Love
Acts 26:18; Romans 12:12; 15:13

Preaching Themes: Blessing, Faith, Holiness, Hope, Joy, Love

Let us each do what we can, that faith may sanctify us, love strengthen us, and hope make us joyful in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom is honor and glory to ages of ages.

Virtues and Vices Contrasted
Romans 6:22; Galatians 5:13–14, 16–24

Preaching Themes: Envy, Freedom, Greed, Love, Lust, Purity, Sabbath, Slavery, Sin

There is labor in vice, there is rest in virtue; there is confusion in lust, there is security in chastity; there is servitude in covetousness, there is liberty in charity.


Peter Abelard (1079–1142)
Believing in Order to Know
John 6:69; 1 John 4:16

Preaching Themes: Faith, Wisdom

We believe in order to know, and unless you believe, you cannot know.

“In the Spirit of Doubt We Approach Inquiry”
Matthew 7:7–8; Luke 11:9–10

Preaching Themes: Doubt

In the spirit of doubt we approach inquiry, and by inquiry we find out the truth, as He who was the Truth said, “Seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.”

Lazarus’ Resurrection and the Resurrection of Believers
John 3:16; 11:38–44; 1 John 2:25; 5:11

Preaching Themes: Resurrection, Miracles of Jesus, Resurrection of Jesus

The Lord performed that miracle once for all in the body, which, much more blessedly, He performs every day in the souls of penitents. He restored to Lazarus a life, but it was a temporal life, and one that would die again. He bestows on penitents a life, but one that will remain, world without end.

The Purpose of the Incarnation
John 8:12; 9:5

Preaching Themes: Birth of Jesus, Humanity of Jesus

The only purpose and cause of the Incarnation was that He might enlighten the world by the light of His wisdom and inflame it with love of Him.


Albertus Magnus (d. 1280)
Christ Showed His Love by Taking Our Nature
Romans 8:3; 1 Peter 5:1; 1 John 4:9; Revelation 19:7

Preaching Themes: Love of God, Divinity of Jesus, Humanity of Jesus

The Son of the Heavenly Emperor shows His great love in this, that He has taken our nature to be His Bride, and made it partaker of His glory.

The Son of God Joined Himself to Clay
John 3:16; Philippians 2:7; Colossians 3:1; 1 John 4:9–10

Preaching Themes: Love of God, Divinity of Jesus, Humanity of Jesus, Union with Christ

It was indeed a work of great love, that the Son of God joined to Himself our clay, and when He had joined it to Himself, raised it above cherubim and seraphim.

We Should Be Willing to Suffer Inconveniences for Christ
Matthew 2:11; 27:34; Mark 15:23; John 19:39; 1 Peter 4:1

Preaching Themes: Commitment, Suffering

We should offer myrrh to the Lord, by the hardness of our lives; that, as He suffered in the body many hardships for our sake, so we also should suffer some inconveniences for His sake.

What Sincerity of Devotion Means
2 Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 2:7

Preaching Themes: Church, Commitment, Prayer

We ought to offer incense to the Lord, by the sincerity of devotion. Now, the sincerity of devotion consists in this: that we willingly pray, and willingly think of God, and willingly frequent the churches to hear the divine office; willingly also lend our ears to the Word of God.

Why Jesus Bowed His Head on the Cross
Song of Songs 1:2; John 19:30

Preaching Themes: Humility, Death of Jesus, Passion of Jesus, Sabbath

Why did Christ bow His Head on the Cross? To teach us that by humility we must enter into heaven. Also, to show that we must rest from our own work. Also, that He might comply with the petition: Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth. Also, that He might ask permission of His Bride to leave her. Of great virtue is the memory of the Lord’s Passion, which, if it be firmly held in the mind, every cloud of error and sin is dispersed.

Why Those Who Die in the Lord Are Blessed
Revelation 14:13

Preaching Themes: Death, Eternity, Heaven

They who die in the Lord are blessed, on account of two things which immediately follow. For they enter into most sweet rest, and enjoy most delicate refreshment.


Dante Alighieri (1265–1321)
Dante’s Description of Hell
Matthew 25:41; Jude 7

Preaching Themes: Hell

Here sighs, with lamentations and loud moans,
Resounded through the air pierced by no star,
That e’en I wept at entering. Various tongues,
Horrible languages, outcries of woe,
Accents of anger, voices deep and hoarse,
With hands together smote that swell’d the sounds,
Made up a tumult, that forever whirls
Round through that air with solid darkness stain’d,
Like to the sand that in the whirlwind flies.

Depending Daily on God’s Provision
Exodus 16:13–35; Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3

Preaching Themes: Providence of God

Grant us, this day,
Our daily manna, without which he roams
Through this rough desert retrograde, who most
Toils to advance his steps.

Find Human Errors in Yourself
Isaiah 58:9; John 16:8

Preaching Themes: Freedom, Humility, Responsibility

To mightier force,
To better nature subject, you abide
Free, not constrain’d by that which forms in you
The reasoning mind uninfluenced of the stars.
If then the present race of mankind err,
Seek in yourselves the cause, and find it there.

Free Will God’s Greatest Gift
Genesis 2:15–16; Deuteronomy 11:26–28; John 8:36

Preaching Themes: Freedom

Supreme of gifts, which God, creating, gave
Of His free bounty, sign most evident
Of goodness, and in His account most prized
Was liberty of will; the boon, with which
All intellectual creatures, and them sole,
He has endow’d.

God’s Glory Pierces the University
Psalm 19:1; 57:5, 11; 108:5

Preaching Themes: Glory, Power of God

His glory, by whose might all things are moved,
Pierces the universe, and in one part
Sheds more resplendence, elsewhere less.

Not Created to Live Like Brutes
Proverbs 4:7; 23:23; Daniel 4:25, 32; 5:21

Preaching Themes: Character, Wisdom

Call to mind from whence you sprang:
You were not form’d to live the life of brutes,
But virtue to pursue and knowledge high.

Our Wills Become One with God’s
Matthew 7:21; Ephesians 1:9–10; 2:14; Revelation 14:4

Preaching Themes: Guidance, Heaven, Kingdom of God, Obedience

It is inherent in this state
Of blessedness, to keep ourselves within
The Divine Will, by which our wills with His
Are one. So that as we, from step to step,
Are placed throughout this kingdom, pleases all,
Even as our King, who in us plants His will;
And in His will is our tranquility.

Remembering Joy in Misery
Psalm 137:1–7

Preaching Themes: Grief, Joy

No greater grief than to remember days
Of joy, when misery is at hand.

Worldly Fame a Blast of Wind
Ecclesiastes 1:14; John 2:23–25

Preaching Themes: Glory

The noise
Of worldly fame is but a blast of wind,
That blows from diverse points, and shifts its name,
Shifting the point it blows from.


Anselm of Canterbury (ca. 1033–1109)
Every Sinner Owes God Honor
Psalm 116:12; Malachi 3:8; Matthew 18:23–35

Preaching Themes: Debt, Honor, Sin

Everyone who sins ought to pay back the honor of which he has robbed God; and this is the satisfaction which every sinner owes to God.

God Is the Greatest Conceivable Being
Exodus 19:11; 2 Chronicles 2:5; Psalm 135:5

Preaching Themes: God

And so, Lord … we believe that you are a being than which nothing greater can be conceived.

No Lowering in the Incarnation, Only Exalting
Romans 8:11; Philippians 2:5–11

Preaching Themes: Birth of Jesus, Humanity of Jesus

In the incarnation of God there is no lowering of the Deity; but the nature of man we believe to be exalted.

Seeking the Lord in Hunger
Psalm 34:10; Proverbs 10:3

Preaching Themes: Prayer

Lord, in hunger I began to seek you; I ask you that I may not cease to hunger for you. In hunger I have come to you; let me not go unfed.

Sin Is Not Giving God His Due
Psalm 29:2; 96:8; Matthew 18:23–35; Romans 6:23; 13:7

Preaching Themes: Debt, Sin

If man or angel always rendered to God his due, he would never sin.… Therefore to sin is nothing else than not to render to God his due.

The Unchangeableness of God
Psalm 55:19; Matthew 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20; James 1:17

Preaching Themes: God, Faithfulness of God, Truth

Consider the vicissitudes of things, and you will find in them a has been and a shall be. Think of God, and you will find an is, where there cannot be a has been nor a shall be. Rightly, therefore, Christ, who is the eternal and immutable Truth, speaks to those who are tossed by the tribulation of the world, “It is I, be not afraid.”

The Way of Redemption Is Fitting
Genesis 3:1–7; Romans 5:12–19; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22; 1 Timothy 2:14; 1 Peter 2:24

Preaching Themes: Restoration, Salvation, Sin

As death came upon the human race by the disobedience of man, it was fitting that by man’s obedience life should be restored. And, as sin, the cause of our condemnation, had its origin from a woman, so ought the author of our righteousness and salvation to be born of a woman. And so also was it proper that the devil, who, being man’s tempter, had conquered him in eating of the tree, should be vanquished by man in the suffering of the tree which man bore.

The World Must Be Renewed
Matthew 19:28; Romans 8:19–22; 2 Peter 3:10–13; Revelation 21:1–5

Preaching Themes: Renewal of Creation, Kingdom of God

We believe that the material substance of the world must be renewed, and that this will not take place until the number of the elect is accomplished, and that happy kingdom made perfect, and that after its completion there will be no change.


Anthony of Padua (1195–1231)
Ascend to Contemplate God’s Grace
Genesis 28:10–22; John 1:51

Preaching Themes: Grace of God, Neighbors

See! The ladder is set up! Why do you not ascend? Why do you creep with your hands and feet upon the earth? Ascend, therefore, because Jacob sees angels ascending and descending by the ladder. Ascend, O angels, O prelates of the Church, O faithful of Jesus Christ, ascend, I say, to contemplate how gracious the Lord is! Ascend, to assist; ascend, to consult; for of these things your neighbor stands in need.

Obstinate Sinners Like Hedgehogs
Isaiah 30:1; 65:2; John 15:22; Romans 10:21

Preaching Themes: Responsibility, Sin

The hedgehog is the obstinate sinner, covered all over with the prickles of sins. If you endeavor to convince him of the sin he has committed, he immediately rolls himself up, and hides, by excusing, his fault.

Saints Are Like Eagles
John 1:9; 3:19–21; 12:46; Acts 26:18; 1 John 1:7; 2:9–10

Preaching Themes: Repentance, Sin

In the eagle the subtle intelligence of saints and their sublime contemplation is set forth; for they turn towards the aspect of the true Sun, to the light of wisdom.… For all iniquity is made manifest by the light. Whence, if they see that any work of theirs cannot rightly look at the sun, and is confounded by its rays and weeps, they immediately slay it.

Three Things Required for a Holy Life
Leviticus 20:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; 2 Timothy 1:9; 2 Peter 3:11

Preaching Themes: Holiness, Neighbors

In the excellence of a holy life, these three things are required: That it be constant in itself, that it contemplate God, that it illuminate its neighbor.


Atto of Vercelli (d. 961)
Fasting and Praying Before Easter
Matthew 27:26–31; Mark 15:15–20; Luke 23:11; John 19:1–3; Philippians 2:7

Preaching Themes: Fasting, Death of Jesus, Passion of Jesus

The nearer we approach our Paschal joy, so much the purer we ought to make ourselves by fasting, by praying, by watching, and by all the works of mercy; and furthermore, to wash out our sins by continual weeping. And if anyone thinks that he need not weep for his own sins, at least he ought in these days to sorrow for the sufferings of his Lord. For though He was God before all worlds, coming in the form of a servant, and being spit upon and scourged by wicked men, for their and our salvation, He did not abhor at this time to lay down His life.

Living Simply for the Sake of the Poor
Deuteronomy 15:10–11; Luke 3:11; Acts 2:44–46; 4:32–35

Preaching Themes: Giving, Poverty

It is better to make three middling shirts, with which you may clothe both yourself and the poor of Christ, than if you were to make one of very precious materials for yourself. And it is better to have simple food prepared, by which you may entertain a number of the needy at your table, than if you were to spend a large sum of money on delicious food, and live riotously with your own family, while the poor of Christ were suffering and perishing with cold and nakedness in your presence.


Venerable Bede (ca. 672–735)
“Christ’s Love Has Dove’s Eyes”
Isaiah 57:15; Matthew 11:29; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12

Preaching Themes: Love of God, Greed, Humility, Love

Christ’s love has doves’ eyes, because every soul which truly loves Him internally is not fired, like hawks, with greed for things without, nor plans evil against any living things; for it is said to belong to the meek nature of the dove, to look on everything that may happen with simple, gentle, and lowly heart.

Desiring to Die and Be with Christ
2 Corinthians 5:1–10; Philippians 1:23

Preaching Themes: Death, Presence of God

It is time that I return to Him who formed me out of nothing: I have lived long; my merciful Judge well foresaw my life for me; the time of my dissolution draws nigh; for I desire to die and to be with Christ.

From Bede’s Sermon on All Saints’ Day
Hebrews 12:1; Revelation 7:9

Preaching Themes: Nature of the Church, Presence of God, Heaven

A great multitude of dear ones is there expecting us: a vast and mighty crowd of parents, brothers, and children, secure now of their own safety, anxious yet for our salvation, longs that we may come to their sight and embrace—to that joy which will be common to us and to them—to that pleasure expected by our celestial fellow-servants, as well as ourselves—to that full and perpetual felicity.… If it be a pleasure to go to them, let us eagerly and covetously hasten on our way, that we may soon be with them, and soon be with Christ.

Helped in Temptation by Other Believers
Psalm 133; Isaiah 35:3–4; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:24–25

Preaching Themes: Church Fellowship and Unity, Holiness, Purity, Speech, Temptation

Purity of tongue, as well as of conduct, is best preserved, not only by sacred reading, but also by intercourse with those who are devout servants of our Lord; so that if my tongue begins to run wild, or evil deeds suggest themselves to me, I may be sustained by the hands of my faithful brothers and preserved from falling.

Surrender Yourself as Christ Surrendered Himself
Romans 6:12; 1 Corinthians 15:24; James 4:7; Revelation 1:6

Preaching Themes: Holy Spirit, Submission

Christ surrendered Himself, that He might win you as a kingdom to God the Father. In like manner, do you give yourself, that you may become His kingdom, that sin may not reign in your mortal body, but that the Spirit may rule there, to the acquiring of life.

The Time for Labor and Agony Is Not Long
Matthew 24:22; Mark 13:20; 1 Peter 1:6; 5:10; Revelation 6:11

Preaching Themes: Eternity, Suffering, Work

God has provided this also, that the time for labor and for agony should not be extended—not long, not enduring, but short, and so to speak, momentary: that in this short and little life should be the pain and the labors; that in the life which is eternal should be the crown and the reward of merits; that the labors should quickly come to an end, but the reward of endurance should remain without end; that after the darkness of this world they should behold that most beautiful light, and should receive a blessedness greater than the bitterness of all passions.

Time to Pass from Evil to Good
Psalm 34:14; 37:27; Acts 26:18; 1 Peter 3:11

Preaching Themes: Last Judgment, Repentance

Beloved brothers, it is time to pass from evil to good, from darkness to light, from this most unfaithful world to everlasting joys, lest that day take us unawares in which our Lord Jesus Christ shall come to make the round world a desert, and to give over to everlasting punishment sinners who would not repent of the sins which they did.


Bernard of Chartres (d. ca. 1124)
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
Proverbs 8:33; 15:5

Preaching Themes: Humility, Wisdom

We are as dwarfs mounted on the shoulders of giants, so that we are able to see more and further than they; but this is not on account of any keenness of sight on our part or height of our bodies, but because we are lifted up upon those giant forms. Our age enjoys the gifts of preceding ages, and we know more, not because we excel in talent, but because we use the products of others who have gone before.


Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153)
A Combatant Shuns Comfort
Isaiah 3:18–23; Matthew 11:8; 1 Corinthians 9:27

Preaching Themes: Comfort, Discipline

If soft and warm garments, fine and costly cloths, full sleeves, an ample hood, a thick and soft coverlet, and fine linen make a saint, why should not I also follow the example? But these are the comforts of the sick, not the weapons of combatants.

A Stricter Rule Often Leads to Contentment
Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 9:24–27; 1 Peter 2:11

Preaching Themes: Contentment, Discipline, Peace

The trial of a Rule somewhat more strict often suffices to calm unquiet spirits who are not content with the kind of life that they are living.

A Virtue to Be Humble When Honored
Numbers 12:3; Proverbs 18:12; 29:23; Isaiah 23:9

Preaching Themes: Honor, Humility

It is no great perfection to be humble when we are despised; but it is a great and rare virtue to preserve humility in the midst of honors.

Aspiring to Greater Perfection
Matthew 5:48; 19:21; Philippians 3:15

Preaching Themes: Holiness, Purity

No one is perfect who does not desire to be more perfect, and a man shows himself more perfect inasmuch as he aspires to greater perfection.

Awareness of God Grows in Suffering
Job 42:5; Romans 5:3–5; 2 Corinthians 1:9; 12:9–10; Philippians 3:8; James 1:3

Preaching Themes: God, Suffering

Let the frequency of trials bring us often to the feet of God, surely it is impossible but we must begin to know Him, and, knowing Him, must come to discern His sweetness.

Bernard on Infant Baptism
Mark 10:16; Luke 18:15

Preaching Themes: Baptism

Let no man object to me that the infant has not faith. For his mother, the Church, communicates to him her own, wrapping it up for him (so to speak) in the sacrament of regeneration, until he becomes capable of receiving it by the positive and explicit concurrence of his own intellect and will.

Christ Came to Take Our Pain and Shame
Isaiah 53:5; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 2:24

Preaching Themes: Honor, Death of Jesus, Substitution, Suffering

There are two things from which our weak human nature shrinks—pain and shame. Christ came to take both from us, and this He did by accepting both in His own person—when, for instance, not to mention other occasions, He was condemned to death, and to a most shameful death, by wicked men.

“Do Not Think Death Far Off”
Job 7:6; 8:9; 9:25; Psalm 35:9; Ecclesiastes 6:12; Isaiah 40:6–8; Luke 12:16–21; 1 Corinthians 7:29–31; James 4:14

Preaching Themes: Death

Do not, while present prosperity smiles upon you, forget its certain end, lest adversity without end succeed it. Let not the joy of this present life hide from you the sorrow which it brings about, and brings about while it hides. Do not think death far off, so that it come upon you unprepared, and while in expectation of long life it suddenly leaves you when ill-prepared.

Evil Seduces by Imitating Virtue
Matthew 7:15; 24:24; Mark 13:22; 2 Peter 2:1, 18; 3:17; 1 John 4:6

Preaching Themes: Temptation

It is only the simulation of virtue that can ever seduce the virtuous.

Exchanging for That Which Endures
Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 10:42; 21:33; 1 John 2:17

Preaching Themes: Commitment, Eternity

It is a desirable and honorable exchange to give that which passes away for that which endures.

Fighting Safely When Sure of Victory
John 16:33; Romans 8:31; Ephesians 6:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:15

Preaching Themes: Persecution, Spiritual Warfare, Victory

You can fight safely when you are sure of victory. Safe, indeed, is warfare with and for Christ, for, though wounded, prostrate, trampled on, killed, if possible, a thousand times, yet, if only you do not fly, you shall not lose the victory. Flight, flight alone can take it from you.

First Love God, Then Love Neighbor
Matthew 22:37–40; Mark 12:29–31; Luke 10:27

Preaching Themes: God, Love, Neighbors

In order that love for our neighbor be entirely right, God must have His part in it; it is not possible to love our neighbor as we ought to do, except in God. Now he that does not love God can love nothing in Him. We must therefore begin by loving God, and so love our neighbor in Him.

God Grants Salvation, Freedom Receives It
Acts 16:31; Titus 2:11; Hebrews 5:9

Preaching Themes: Freedom, Salvation

God is the author of salvation; free will is merely receptive thereof; none can grant it save God alone, nothing can receive it save the free will. Thus then salvation is given by God alone, and it is given only to the free will; even as it cannot be wrought without the consent of the receiver, so cannot it be wrought without the grace of the giver.

God Is the Motive for Loving God
Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27

John 3:16; Romans 5:10; 1 John 4:19

Preaching Themes: Love of God, Love

The motive for loving God, is God. No title can be stronger than this: God gave Himself to us in spite of our unworthiness, and, being God, what could He give us of greater worth than Himself? If, then, by asking why we are bound to love God, we mean, what is His claim, the answer is: Especially this, that He first loved us.

Grace and Freedom Work Together
Romans 9:16

Preaching Themes: Freedom, Grace of God

What has been begun by grace alone is in such fashion performed by grace and by free choice, that in cooperation, not separately; at one and the same time, not by turns; the result is wrought by both of them. It is not that grace does part and free choice does part, but each does the entire work by its individual energy. Free choice, in truth, does the entire work, and so also does grace, but, even as the whole is done in the former (by cooperation), so the whole is done of the latter (by origination).

“Human Reason Usurps for Itself Everything”
Exodus 12:9; Isaiah 29:14; 1 Corinthians 1:19–21; 2 Corinthians 10:4–5; 2 Timothy 3:7

Preaching Themes: Faith, Philosophy, Pride

The faith of simple folk is scoffed at, the hidden things of God are exposed, questions about the most exalted truths are rashly ventilated, the Fathers are derided because they held that such things are rather to be tasted than solved. Thence it comes to pass that the Paschal Lamb, contrary to the command of God, is either cooked with water, or is eaten of raw in a rude and bestial fashion. What is left is not burnt with fire but is trodden under foot; so human reason usurps for itself everything, and leaves nothing for faith. It tries things above it, tests things too strong for it, rushes into divine things; holy subjects it rather forces open than unlocks, what is closed and sealed it rather plunders than opens; and whatever it finds out of its reach it holds to be of no account and disdains to believe.

Knowing Only the Crucified Jesus
1 Corinthians 2:2

Preaching Themes: Death of Jesus, Philosophy

While I live here below my only philosophy shall be “to know Jesus and Him crucified,” for that is the most sublime of all.

Learn to Love Yourself, Then Love Others
Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31, 33; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8

Preaching Themes: Love, Neighbors

The right order requires that you should study to care for your own conscience before charging yourself with the care of those of others. That is the first step of piety.… It is from this first step that a well-ordered charity proceeds by a straight path to the love of one’s neighbor, for the precept is to love him as ourselves.… If you shall have first learned to love yourself then you will know, perhaps, how you should love me.

Loving God Most Reasonable and Profitable
Deuteronomy 6:5; Joshua 22:5; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27

Preaching Themes: Love

Two things there are that move us to love God for Himself: nothing is more reasonable; nothing is more profitable.

Nothing Like the Name of Jesus
Matthew 11:29; Philippians 2:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:12

Preaching Themes: Anger, Envy, Power of God, Greed, Jesus, Lust, Pride

There is nothing like the Name of Jesus for restraining anger, assuaging the swellings of pride, healing the wound of envy, restraining the course of wantonness, quenching the flame of lust, moderating the thirst of covetousness, and putting to flight all lasciviousness. For when I name Jesus, I set before myself the image of the Man, meek and lowly, kind of heart, sober, chaste, merciful, peerless in purity and holiness, and at the same time, the Almighty God, who heals by His example, and strengthens us by His help.

Partaking in God’s Glory
Romans 8:17; Colossians 1:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; 1 Peter 5:1; 2 Peter 1:4

Preaching Themes: Glory

Although He Himself is sufficient unto Himself in an infinity of glory, yet He seeks glory also in His saints, not that His own may be increased, but that He may partake it with them.

Perseverance Is Always Attacked
Luke 18:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:13; James 1:12; 5:10–11

Preaching Themes: Discouragement, Perseverance

Perseverance alone is always attacked by the devil, because it is the only virtue which has the assurance of being crowned.

Preferring the Woods to Books
Job 12:7–9; Psalm 19:1–2; Matthew 24:32; Mark 13:28

Preaching Themes: Creation, Education

You shall find a fuller satisfaction in the woods than in books. The trees and the rocks will teach you that which you cannot hear from masters.

Recognized by Christ in the Strife
Matthew 7:21–23; John 14:21

Preaching Themes: Commitment, Heaven, Promises, Revelation

If Christ recognizes you in the strife, He will recognize you in heaven, and as He has promised, will manifest Himself to you.

Reproving for the Purpose of Curing
Psalm 12:2; 36:2; Proverbs 7:21; 26:28; 27:6; 28:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:5

Preaching Themes: Discipline, Mercy, Speech

The just reproves in mercy, the wicked flatters in impiety; the one that he may cure, the other in order to hide that which needs to be cured.

Righteousness Better Than Money
Psalm 37:16; Proverbs 11:4, 28; 1 Timothy 6:18

Preaching Themes: Money, Righteousness

Righteousness is incomparably better than money, because the one enriches and fills only the chest, but the other the soul.

Ruled Gently by God or Harshly by Self
Matthew 11:29–30; Galatians 5:1

Preaching Themes: Freedom, Obedience, Slavery, Submission

This is the property of that eternal and just law of God, that he who would not be ruled with gentleness by God, should be ruled as a punishment by his own self; and that all those who have willingly thrown off the gentle yoke and light burden of charity should bear unwillingly the insupportable burden of their own will.

Sometimes Confident, Sometimes Doubtful
Proverbs 11:14; 16:23

Preaching Themes: Counseling, Doubt

It usually happens that the greater number of persons of sense—or I might say that all such—trust the judgment of another person rather than their own in doubtful cases, and that those who have a clear judgment in the affairs of others, however obscure, frequently hesitate and are undecided about their own.

The Importance of Perseverance
Matthew 24:13; Romans 5:3–4; James 5:10–11

Preaching Themes: Obedience, Perseverance

Without perseverance the soldier does not obtain victory, nor the victor his crown. It lends vigor to the will and perfects all virtues, it is the nurse to merit and the mediator between the battle and the prize. Perseverance is sister to patience, the daughter of constancy, the bosom-friend of peace, the cementer of friendships, the bond of harmony, the bulwark of holiness. Take away perseverance, and obedience loses its reward, well-doing its grace, and fortitude its praise.

The Light Burden of Truth
Matthew 11:30; 1 John 5:3

Preaching Themes: Truth

We cannot but wonder how light is the burden of Truth. Is not that truly light which does not burden, but relieves him who bears it?… I seek in all things to find if possible something like to this weight which bears those who bear it, and I find nothing but the wings of birds which in any degree resembles it. For these in a certain singular manner render the body of birds at once more weighty and more easily moved.… Thus plainly in the wings is expressed the likeness of the burden of Christ, because they themselves bear that by which they are borne.

“The Love of Vanity Is the Contempt of Truth”
Genesis 19:11; Psalm 4:2; Daniel 5:23

Preaching Themes: Pride, Truth

What is more vain than to love vanity, and what is more repugnant to justice than to despise the truth? What is more just than that the power to recognize the truth should be withdrawn from those who have despised it, and that those who did not glorify the truth when they recognized it should lose the power of boasting of the knowledge? Thus the love of vanity is the contempt of truth, and the contempt of truth the cause of our blindness.

The One Who Does Not Hinder Evil Does Evil
Job 11:14; 1 Corinthians 5:13; Galatians 2:11; Ephesians 5:11; 1 Peter 5:9

Preaching Themes: Evil, Responsibility

He who does not hinder evil when he can, even although the evil purpose may be frustrated, is not clear of that purpose.

The People Not So Bad as the Priest
Isaiah 24:2; Jeremiah 50:6; Ezekiel 34:2–10; Hosea 4:9; Zechariah 10:2–3

Preaching Themes: Church Leadership

One cannot now say the priest is as the people, for the truth is that the people are not so bad as the priest.

The Sweetness of Jesus’ Name
Acts 2:38; 3:6; 8:12; Philippians 2:10

Preaching Themes: Jesus

If you write, your composition has no charms for me, unless I read there the name of Jesus. If you dispute or converse, I find no pleasure in your words, unless I hear there the name of Jesus. Jesus is honey in the mouth, melody in the ear, jubilation in the heart.

The Word of God Is a Piercing Word
Hebrews 4:12

Preaching Themes: Revelation, Scripture

The Word of God is not a sounding but a piercing Word, not pronounceable by the tongue, but efficacious in the mind, not sensible to the ear, but fascinating to the affections. His face is not an object possessing beauty of form, but rather is the source of all beauty and all form. It is not visible to the bodily eye, but rejoices the eye of the heart. And it is pleasing, not because of the harmony of its color, but by reason of the ardent love it excites.

Think As Much of Neighbor as Self
Matthew 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31, 33; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8

Preaching Themes: Neighbors

Let a man think of himself as much as ever he will, if only he take care to think equally of his neighbor.

Three Kinds of Worship
Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:7–9; Mark 7:6–7; John 4:23–24

Preaching Themes: Adoption, Fear, Power of God, Greed, Worship

One man praises the Lord because He is mighty; another because He is good unto him; and, again, another simply because He is good. The first is a slave, and fears for himself; the second mercenary, and desires somewhat for himself; but the third is a son, and gives praise to his Father.

True Friendship Never Flatters
Proverbs 26:28; 27:5; 28:23

Preaching Themes: Counseling, Friendship

True friendship brings sometimes rebuke, never flattery.

Union with Christ Brings Happiness
Philippians 2:1–2; Colossians 2:2

Preaching Themes: Happiness, Love, Union with Christ

By remaining united to Him, who is the real Being, and who is always happy, we also shall attain a continued and happy existence. By remaining united to Him, I said; that is, not only by knowledge, but by love.

Using and Misusing Knowledge
1 Samuel 6:19; 1 Corinthians 8:1; 2 Timothy 3:7; 4:2

Preaching Themes: Education, Love, Pride, Wisdom, Work

There are some who desire to know simply for the sake of knowing, and this is shameful curiosity. And there are some who desire to know in order that they may become known themselves, and this is shameful vanity.… And some there are who desire to know in order to trade with their knowledge, bartering it for gold or for honors, and this is shameful traffic. But there are some also who desire to know in order to edify, and this is charity. And some, finally, who desire to know in order to be edified, and this is prudence. Of the above-mentioned classes, the last two alone are free from the guilt of abusing knowledge, for only these seek understanding as a means of well-doing.

Who Is Responsible for a Scandal
John 3:19–21; Ephesians 5:11

Preaching Themes: Conflict, Evil, Honesty, Responsibility, Truth

When vices are attacked and a scandal results thence, it is not he who makes the accusation who is to answer for the scandal, but he who renders it necessary.

You Cannot Escape the Enemy When Fleeing
Ephesians 6:10–20; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8

Preaching Themes: Fear, Spiritual Warfare

Do not think that because you have fled from the fight, you have escaped from the hands of the enemy. The adversary overtakes you with more pleasure when flying than he resists you when combating, and strikes more boldly at your back than he attacks face to face.


Bonaventure (1221–1274)
Francis of Assisi’s Devotion to the Crucified Christ
1 Corinthians 2:2; Galatians 2:19–20; 6:14

Preaching Themes: Love of God, Death of Jesus

Christ Jesus crucified was laid, as a bundle of myrrh, in his heart’s bosom, and he yearned to be utterly transformed into Him by the fire of his exceeding love.

Loving External Respectability More Than True Virtue
Isaiah 9:15–16; Matthew 23:5–7; Mark 12:38–40; Luke 20:46

Preaching Themes: Character, Hypocrisy, Legalism

Those who are inexperienced in the religious life, and have no taste for spiritual things, are apt to imagine that the whole strength of the spiritual life consists in … external respectability, and therefore defend the latter with great zeal, having no regard for true virtue.


Caedmon (d. ca. 680)
The Dream of the Holy Rood
Matthew 27:45–53; Mark 15:33–39; Luke 23:44–46; John 19:34

Preaching Themes: Death of Jesus

’Twas many a year ago,
I yet remember it,
That I was hewn down
At the wood’s end.
Then men bare me upon their shoulders
Until they set me down upon a hill.
Then saw I tremble
The whole extent of earth.
He mounted me;
I trembled when He embraced me;
Yet dared I not to bow earthwards.
I raised the powerful King
The Lord of the Heavens.
They pierced me with dark nails.
They reviled us both together.
I was all stained with Blood,
Poured from His Side.
The shadow went forth
Pale under the welkin.
All creation wept,
They mourned the fall of their King.


Catherine of Siena (1347–1380)
Caught with the Hook of Pleasure
Matthew 4:1–10; Luke 4:1–12; 1 Corinthians 7:5

Preaching Themes: Satan, Sin, Temptation

The devil invites men to the water of death, that is, to that which he has, and, blinding them with the pleasures and conditions of the world, he catches them with the hook of pleasure, under the pretense of good, because in no other way could he catch them, for they would not allow themselves to be caught if they saw that no good or pleasure to themselves were to be obtained thereby.

Doing Evil to Self and Neighbor
Psalm 28:3; Proverbs 21:10; Zechariah 8:17; Romans 13:10

Preaching Themes: Evil, Neighbors, Sin

Inasmuch as such a man does no good, it follows that he must do evil. To whom does he do evil? First of all to himself, and then to his neighbor.… To himself he does the injury of sin, which deprives him of grace, and worse than this he cannot do to his neighbor. Him he injures in not paying him the debt, which he owes him, of love, with which he ought to help him.

Greed Deprives a Person of Mercy
Isaiah 5:8; Jeremiah 12:14; Ezekiel 22:12

Preaching Themes: Greed, Neighbors

Cruelty towards the body has its origin in cupidity, which not only prevents a man from helping his neighbor, but causes him to seize the goods of others.… Oh, miserable vice of cruelty, which will deprive the man who practices it of all mercy, unless he turn to kindness and benevolence towards his neighbor!

Guilt Punished Through Desire
Leviticus 18:25; Psalm 89:32; Jeremiah 30:15

Preaching Themes: Guilt, Suffering

Guilt is not punished in this finite time by any pain which is sustained purely as such.… Guilt is punished by the pain which is endured through the desire, love, and contrition of the heart; not by virtue of the pain, but by virtue of the desire of the soul.

How You Are Obliged to Love Your Neighbor
Matthew 19:19; 22:37–40; Mark 12:29–31; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8

Preaching Themes: Love, Neighbors

You are obliged to love your neighbor as yourself, and loving him, you ought to help him spiritually, with prayer, counseling him with words, and assisting him both spiritually and temporally, according to the need in which he may be, at least with your goodwill if you have nothing else.

Miseries Awakened by an Active Conscience
2 Samuel 24:10; Romans 2:15

Preaching Themes: Grief, Guilt

Your miseries are not hid from you now, for the worm of conscience sleeps no longer.

No Virtues Live Apart from Love and Humility
1 Corinthians 13:13; Ephesians 4:2

Preaching Themes: Character, Humility, Love

No virtue … can have life in itself except through charity and humility.

Not All Pains Are Punishments
Deuteronomy 8:5; Proverbs 3:11–12; Hebrews 12:7–10

Preaching Themes: Discipline, Repentance, Suffering

Not all the pains that are given to men in this life are given as punishments, but as corrections, in order to chastise a son when he offends; though it is true that both the guilt and the penalty can be expiated by … true contrition.

Pride Brings Evil Against the Neighbor
Psalm 101:5; Zechariah 8:17

Preaching Themes: Neighbors, Pride

Against whom does pride bring forth evils? Against the neighbor, through love of one’s own reputation, whence comes hatred of the neighbor, reputing one’s self to be greater than he; and in this way is injury done to him.

The Effects of Repaying Evil with Good
Proverbs 25:22; Romans 12:20–21; 1 Thessalonians 5:15

Preaching Themes: Anger, Conflict, Evil, Love

Not only is virtue proved in those who render good for evil, but, that many times a good man gives back fiery coals of love, which dispel the hatred and rancor of heart of the angry, and so from hatred often comes benevolence.


Cyrus of Alexandria (d. ca. 641)
You Are Not Tempted Because You Are Used to Sinning
Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38; Luke 22:40, 46; 1 Corinthians 6:18

Preaching Themes: Sin, Temptation

If you are not tempted, you have no hope: if you are not tempted, it is because you are used to sinning. The man who does not fight sin at the stage of temptation, sins in his body. And the man who sins in his body has no trouble from temptation.


Meister Eckhart (ca. 1260–1327)
A Piece of Wood and the Nearness of God
Acts 17:27–28; Revelation 7:11

Preaching Themes: Angels, Presence of God, Happiness

If a piece of wood became as aware of the nearness of God as an archangel is, the piece of wood would be as happy as an archangel.

Your Opening and God’s Entering
Joshua 1:9; Psalm 145:18; Isaiah 43:2; Matthew 28:20

Preaching Themes: Presence of God

Your opening and His entering are but one moment.


Francis of Assisi (1181–1226)
Blessed Are Those Who Love Their Brothers
Romans 12:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; Hebrews 13:1; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Peter 1:7

Preaching Themes: Blessing, Love, Neighbors, Slander, Speech

Blessed is that brother who would love his brother as much when he is ill and not able to assist him as he loves him when he is well and able to assist him. Blessed is the brother who would love and fear his brother as much when he is far from him as he would when with him, and who would not say anything about him behind his back that he could not with charity say in his presence.

Blessed Is the Servant Who Is Not Envious
Matthew 23:12; 1 Corinthians 3:3; 13:4; Galatians 5:26

Preaching Themes: Envy, Humility, Pride

Blessed is that servant who is not more puffed up because of the good the Lord says and works through him than because of that which He says and works through others. A man sins who wishes to receive more from his neighbor than he is himself willing to give to the Lord God.

Do Not Be Afraid of Others’ Opinions
Matthew 10:20; Mark 13:11; Luke 12:12; John 21:22–23

Preaching Themes: Faith, Fear, Humility, Poverty

Fear not to appear little and contemptible, or to be called by men fools and madmen; but announce penance in simplicity, trusting in Him who overcame the world by humility; it is He that will speak in you by His Spirit. Let us take care that we do not lose the kingdom of heaven for any temporal interest, and that we never despise those who live otherwise than we do. God is their master, as he is ours, and he can call them to himself by other ways.

Finding True Identity in God’s Eyes
Luke 17:7–10; 1 Corinthians 9:16; Galatians 6:4–5

Preaching Themes: Blessing, Humility

Blessed is the servant who does not regard himself as better when he is esteemed and extolled by men than when he is reputed as mean, simple, and despicable: for what a man is in the sight of God, so much he is, and no more.

Glory in Infirmities and the Cross
Luke 9:23; 2 Corinthians 11:30; 12:5, 9

Preaching Themes: Glory, Humility, Pride

If you were handsomer and richer than all others, and even if you could work wonders and put the demons to flight, all these things are hurtful to you and in nowise belong to you, and in them you cannot glory. That, however, in which we may glory is in our infirmities, and in bearing daily the holy cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Humbly Bearing Blame and Discipline
Matthew 5:11–12; 24:45; Philippians 2:15; 1 Peter 3:16

Preaching Themes: Blessing, Discipline, Humility, Obedience, Submission

Blessed is the servant who bears discipline, accusation, and blame from others as patiently as if they came from himself. Blessed is the servant who, when reproved, mildly submits, modestly obeys, humbly confesses, and willingly satisfies. Blessed is the servant who is not prompt to excuse himself and who humbly bears shame and reproof for sin when he is without fault.

Humility and Patience Are Shown When Tested
Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12

Preaching Themes: Character, Humility, Patience

How much interior patience and humility a servant of God may have cannot be known so long as he is contented. But when the time comes that those who ought to please him go against him, as much patience and humility as he then shows, so much has he and no more.

Leadership and Washing Feet
Matthew 20:25–26; Mark 10:43–45; Luke 22:24–27; John 13:1–17

Preaching Themes: Church Leadership, Humility, Leadership, Service

Let those who are set above others glory in this superiority only as much as if they had been deputed to wash the feet of the brothers; and if they are more perturbed by the loss of their superiorship than they would be by losing the office of washing feet, so much the more do they lay up treasures to the peril of their own soul.

Nothing Should Be Displeasing Save Sin
Romans 2:5; Ephesians 4:26

Preaching Themes: Anger, Sin, Stress

To the servant of God nothing should be displeasing save sin. And no matter in what way any one may sin, if the servant of God is troubled or angered—except this be through charity—he treasures up guilt to himself. The servant of God who does not trouble himself or get angry about anything lives uprightly and without sin.

Poor in Goods, but Exalted in Virtue
Psalm 141:6; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 1 Peter 2:11

Preaching Themes: Character, Poverty

The brothers shall appropriate nothing to themselves, neither a house nor place nor anything. And as pilgrims and strangers in this world, serving the Lord in poverty and humility, let them go confidently in quest of alms, nor ought they to be ashamed, because the Lord made Himself poor for us in this world. This, my dearest brothers, is the height of the most sublime poverty which has made you heirs and kings of the kingdom of heaven: poor in goods, but exalted in virtue.

Poverty the Way to Salvation
Matthew 5:3; Luke 6:20

Preaching Themes: Poverty

Poverty is the way to salvation, the nurse of humility, and the root of perfection. Its fruits are hidden, but they multiply themselves infinite ways.

The Spirit Keeps Servants Humble
1 Corinthians 4:9; 15:8; Ephesians 3:8; 1 Timothy 1:15

Preaching Themes: Holy Spirit, Humility

Thus may the servant of God know if he has the Spirit of God: if when the Lord works some good through him, his body—since it is ever at variance with all that is good—is not therefore puffed up; but if he rather becomes viler in his own sight and if he esteems himself less than other men.

True Peacemakers
Matthew 5:9; James 3:18

Preaching Themes: Peace, Reconciliation

They are truly peacemakers who amidst all they suffer in this world maintain peace in soul and body for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Virtues Crowd Out Vices
2 Peter 1:4–7

Preaching Themes: Anger, Character, Fear, Greed, Humility, Joy, Love, Mercy, Patience, Poverty, Reverence, Stress, Wisdom

Where there is charity and wisdom there is neither fear nor ignorance. Where there is patience and humility there is neither anger nor worry. Where there is poverty and joy there is neither cupidity nor avarice. Where there is quiet and meditation there is neither solicitude nor dissipation. Where there is the fear of the Lord to guard the house the enemy cannot find a way to enter. Where there is mercy and discretion there is neither superfluity nor hard-heartedness.

What It Means to Be Killed by the Letter
Matthew 23:3; 2 Corinthians 3:6

Preaching Themes: Education, Greed, Obedience, Pride

They are killed by the letter who seek only to know the words that they may be esteemed more learned among others and that they may acquire great riches to leave to their relations and friends. And those religious are killed by the letter who will not follow the spirit of the Holy Scriptures, but who seek rather to know the words only and to interpret them to others.

Who Crucified Jesus?
Isaiah 53:12; Hebrews 6:6; 1 Peter 2:24

Preaching Themes: Death of Jesus, Sin, Spiritual Warfare

The demons did not crucify Him, but you together with them crucified Him and still crucify Him by taking delight in vices and sins.


Hildebert of Lavardin (ca. 1055–1133)
Contrition Useless Without Confession
Psalm 38:18; James 5:16; 1 John 1:9

Preaching Themes: Confession, Guilt, Honor, Repentance

Very often, when the sinner looks at the greatness and multitude of his guilt, he is ashamed to confess that which he has done; and although he may deeply grieve for his sins, yet, foolishly hiding them in his own conscience, he is ashamed to reveal them to whom he ought. Fool! Why be ashamed to say to man that which you are not ashamed to do in the sight of the Lord? Away with such shame. Hasten to the priest; reveal your secret and confess your sin: otherwise, contrition of heart will be of no avail, if, when there is an opportunity, confession of mouth does not follow.

Holy Preachers Thank Their Maker
Acts 20:19; 1 Timothy 1:15–17

Preaching Themes: Church Leadership, Humility, Thankfulness

Holy preachers, when by their preaching they have gained the lives of their hearers, return thanks to Him of whose gift they have received, so that they attribute nothing in their operation to themselves, but to their Maker.

Honor Not Hindered by Accusations or Won by Flattery
Psalm 7:8; 15:1–5; 27:12–14; Proverbs 10:9; 22:1

Preaching Themes: Character, Honor

As the esteem of good men cannot be taken away by false accusations, so it cannot be won by the attentions of flattery. It rests with the individual himself either to advance that esteem by fruitfulness in virtue, or to detract from it by deficiency.

Jesus Speaks Concerning the Cross
1 Corinthians 2:2; Galatians 6:12

Preaching Themes: Death of Jesus, Revelation, Suffering

Turn not away, brothers, your eyes from the Cross of Christ; turn not away your ears from His words. Behold, He speaks concerning the Cross, and He speaks to you; for you He suffered.

Refusing Vengeance, Suffering Willingly
Deuteronomy 32:35; Romans 12:19

Preaching Themes: Death of Jesus, Passion of Jesus, Patience, Revenge

Wretched are they, indeed, who cannot obtain that vengeance which, in their impatience, they desire! On the contrary, blessed was Christ, who willingly endured His Passion, and would not take that vengeance on His persecutors which He might have taken!


Hugh of St. Victor (ca. 1096–1141)
Adorned with Spiritual Ornaments
Luke 7:25; 1 Timothy 2:9–10; 1 Peter 3:3–5

Preaching Themes: Humility, Love, Obedience, Patience, Purity

Let us … adorn ourselves with spiritual ornaments, that is to say, with chastity, humility, meekness, obedience, patience, and charity. These form the clothing in which the soul will be pleasing in the sight of the Heavenly King.

Better to Endure Want for God
Philippians 4:11–12; 1 Timothy 6:6–8; Hebrews 13:5

Preaching Themes: Contentment, Humility, Pride

It is better to endure some want for God’s sake than to abound in plenty. For the want that is borne for God begets humility, the source of all good. Whereas abundance produces pride, the root of all evils.

Contact with the World Leads to Sin
John 15:19; 17:15; 1 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 4:10

Preaching Themes: Sin, Temptation, Work

What wonder is it that those who are engrossed in temporal business and are unable to maintain a high degree of fervor or much religious practice should often transgress in thought and word and deed? The mere contact with the world tends to lead men to sin even against their will. But it is otherwise with those who have been relieved of the cares of the world and of many an occasion of evil.

Enduring Pain for Christ’s Sake
Song of Songs 8:6; Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; Romans 12:12; 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Timothy 3:11

Preaching Themes: Discipline, Love of God, Suffering

Those that deny themselves for Christ’s sake can well endure the pains of nature in virtue of the strength they receive in their souls. The love of God, that is stronger than death, is able not only to repress sinful desires, but also to assuage those feelings of pain that arise from sense and nature.

Glad to Be Corrected
Proverbs 9:8; 13:1; 15:12, 31; 19:20; Zechariah 3:2

Preaching Themes: Counseling, Discipline, Foolishness, Wisdom

The one who is glad to be corrected is truly wise.… The foolish man is angered when corrected.

Glorying in Poverty
Psalm 145:18; Matthew 5:3; Luke 6:20; 2 Corinthians 8:9; James 2:5

Preaching Themes: Poverty, Wealth

The same Lord is bountiful unto all that call upon Him. With good reason are we admonished to glory rather in the company of our poor companions than in the dignity of distinguished rank, because He who was rich in His glory made Himself poor for our sakes. He was pleased to associate not with the rich but with the poor, so that we may be drawn to render ourselves poor for His sake, since the Kingdom of Heaven is promised to the poor. It is part of the vanity of the world to take pride in wealth: to glory in poverty belongs to the state of those blessed in God’s sight.

God Healed the Breach
2 Chronicles 24:19; Jeremiah 35:15; Matthew 5:21–26; 21:33–44; Luke 12:58–59; Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18–21

Preaching Themes: Atonement, Forgiveness, Pride, Reconciliation, Sin

Between us and God we had caused a breach by our sins—and God was the first to apply the remedy. He sends to us His ambassadors to call us, the offenders, back to peace. Let us blush, then, for our pride, and let it cause us shame to think we are unwilling to make amends to our neighbor, seeing that God Himself, whom we offended, has come forward in the person of His messengers to ask us to be reconciled to Him.

God Will Not Be Shared with Other Things
Exodus 20:5; 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24; 5:9; Nahum 1:2

Preaching Themes: Greed, Jealousy

Men of the world would fain increase their share of this world’s goods: some covet gold and silver, others houses and families, others a great name, influence, and glory. One is allured by one object, another by something else, and all strive by various paths to achieve their various projects. But the portion of holy souls is God Himself. If we would be possessed of such a portion, such a heritage as is our Lord, it behooves us so to order our life that we may deserve to possess Him and be ourselves possessed by Him. That is to say, if we would possess God as our lot, we must have nothing outside of God, for he is avaricious indeed for whose desires God is not enough. If we look for any other object, as, for instance, gold, silver, or property, God will disdain to be shared with such things.

Hard Work and Love
1 Thessalonians 1:3; Hebrews 5:10; Revelation 2:19

Preaching Themes: Love, Work

Hard work and love make you carry out a task; concern and alertness make you well-advised. Through hard work you keep matters going; through love you bring them to perfection. Through concern you look ahead; through alertness you pay close attention.

Hungering After God’s Word
Psalm 119:72, 103; Matthew 5:6

Preaching Themes: Scripture

To hunger after God’s Word is to desire to hear it. Many there are that hear holy reading and go empty away. They have no devout feeling towards it; they lack all taste for it, and therefore easily lose all that they have heard. The very fact of hearing in this manner is a judgment upon them.… We must then first exercise our heart in desiring and hungering after God’s Word, so that divine grace may come to pervade our whole being, to refresh us with spiritual savor and sweetness.

Lack of Restraint in Speech Leads to Greater Evil
Matthew 5:22; 12:36; James 3:2–12; 1 John 3:15

Preaching Themes: Anger, Complaining, Slander, Speech

When we are unwilling to keep back the idle word, we soon pass to words that are really evil: we give way to grumbling and detraction—perhaps to disputes and strife, thence to anger and hatred.

Look at Yourself when You Have to Correct Another
Matthew 7:1–5; 18:15–17; Luke 6:41–42; 2 Timothy 2:25

Preaching Themes: Counseling, Discipline, Love, Mercy, Neighbors, Weakness

Look … into yourself as well when you have to correct another, and acknowledge that you also are a sinner and subject to frailty, lest you also be grievously tempted, if your admonition proceeds more from irritation than from compassion. Let the correction be prompted by love for the persons and hatred of all vices. And let this love of the neighbor and hatred of all that is wrong always be maintained, so that we may be severe with error but at the same time have a tender compassion for the weakness of human nature.

Love for God Brings Contentment
Matthew 6:33; Hebrews 13:5

Preaching Themes: Contentment, Love

If we loved God perfectly, and had altogether renounced carnal desires, we could dispense with many superfluous things that we now look upon as really necessary. Let us then try to love God with all our heart, so as to be led for love of Him to content ourselves with necessaries and to set aside the superfluous. Then, provided that which is of real necessity is not denied us, we should not look for what is over and above.

Physically Together and Spiritually Together
Matthew 22:37–39; Mark 12:29–33; Luke 10:27; Ephesians 4:3

Preaching Themes: Church Fellowship and Unity, Love, Neighbors

It is but right that, if we are corporally drawn together, we dwell together spiritually also. For it is of no avail that the same walls encompass us if difference of will separate us—since God regards rather unity of mind than of dwelling. Behold, we are a number of individuals under one roof, with different ways of acting, different hearts, different wills: all which one intention and one love of God must weld together in unity. We must therefore, in this matter, be of a single mind and a single will, that we may give our service to God and love God with our whole heart and with our whole soul and our neighbor as ourselves.

Pride the Worst of Vices
1 Samuel 15:23; Proverbs 21:4; James 4:16

Preaching Themes: Pride, Sin

Pride is the worst of all vices, because it attacks the soul through its virtues as well as through its evil habits. Pride is hateful to God and men.… It is the first prompting in the committing of sin; it remains the last in the struggle against sin. Indeed when the servant of God has overcome other vices and has reached the heights of virtue, she still has to face the battle against pride, and if she do not engage in the struggle her labor in other directions will be in vain.

Purity in the Eyes, Ears, and Tongue
Job 31:1; Matthew 5:28–29; 18:9; Mark 9:47; Colossians 4:6

Preaching Themes: Lust, Purity, Speech

The eye must not fix its gaze on anything that the soul may not desire without sin. The hearing must be pure and governed by discretion, deaf to all things vain and useless, ready to take in with delight the knowledge that is of God. Our speech must be seasoned with the salt of wisdom—to condemn all that is unprofitable or evil, to give utterance only to what is good and useful.

Renouncing Possessions and Acquisition
Matthew 13:44–46; Luke 9:23; 14:33

Preaching Themes: Commitment, Giving, Greed, Kingdom of God, Wealth

Willingly should we surrender earthly, in order to acquire heavenly goods. The Kingdom of Heaven is well worth all that you are possessed of. Nothing is bought more cheaply, nothing is more precious to keep when once acquired. Two things we must renounce for God’s sake: the right to possess and the wish to acquire.

Some Rebuke Motivated by Hatred
Matthew 7:1–5; James 5:9

Preaching Themes: Anger, Complaining, Counseling, Discipline, Neighbors, Revenge

There may be found some who rebuke the failings of their neighbors rather in the bitterness of hatred than out of charity, and not so much with a view to correct them as to give vent to the bad feeling they have in their hearts. This is certainly not according to God’s will, as it is prompted by revenge rather than by a love of discipline.

The Devil Fears Unity in Charity
Psalm 133; Romans 12:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; Hebrews 13:1

Preaching Themes: Church Fellowship and Unity, Love, Satan, Spiritual Warfare

At the time of our change of life we declare perpetual warfare against the devil. Now there is nothing he fears so much as the unity of charity. For if we give away all we possess for God’s sake—this the devil does not fear, because he himself possesses nothing. If we fast, he has no fear of our action because he does not use food himself. If we make long watchings, again he is not alarmed, for he himself never slumbers. But when we are united in brotherly love, then he is intensely affrighted—because we hold firmly here upon earth the treasure that he thought light of keeping in heaven.

The Importance of Attentiveness in Prayer
2 Corinthians 7:14–15; Acts 6:4; 1 Corinthians 14:15; 1 Peter 3:12

Preaching Themes: Prayer, Satan, Spiritual Warfare, Temptation

God does not give ear to the prayer to which even he who prays gives no attention. This lack of attention but too often occurs with us through the temptation of the evil one. He knows well the utility of prayer; he envies us the privilege of being able to address ourselves to God, and therefore stirs up a tumult of thoughts in those that are at prayer so as to lead the mind off that holy exercise and rob it of its fruit. Against his malice we must practice constancy of will, so that the more he attacks us with troubling thoughts, so much the more stoutly must the soul stand fast in the faithful observance of its whole state of life.

We Must Pray Constantly and Fervently
Isaiah 64:4; Matthew 7:7; 1 Corinthians 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Preaching Themes: Blessing, Prayer

To occupy oneself in prayer outside the allotted time is an act of spiritual providence; to pray at the appointed hour carries with it the merit of obedience; to allow the time of prayer to go by unheeded is an act of negligence. Our prayer should be the more frequent as we possess a clearer knowledge of its value. Constantly and fervently must we pray, because through this means God promises us immense blessings.

What It Means to Love God with Heart, Mind, and Soul
Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:12; 11:13; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30, 33; Luke 10:27

Preaching Themes: Commitment, God, Love

As regards the love of God—it must have within us a threefold expression, so that nothing remains in us that is not given over to God. We are commanded first to love God “with all our heart.” This means that we must refer all our thoughts to God. We must love Him “with our whole mind”; and this we do when we direct our reason, with which we judge and understand, to the service of God. Then we are bidden to love God “with our whole soul”; that is, we must make all the affections of our soul tend to Him.

When the Fool Is Truly Wise
1 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 3:8

Preaching Themes: Foolishness, Pride

In truth, pride is a blindness of heart, and it is foolish wisdom to wish to prefer oneself to others. And so, on the other hand, the same Apostle says: “If any man among you seem to be wise … let him become a fool that he may be wise.” The fool in this sense is truly wise, because before God it is great wisdom to judge oneself the inferior of all.


John Huss (ca. 1369–1415)
An Encouragement to Unity
John 16:33; Ephesians 4:13; 1 John 4:4; 5:4–5

Preaching Themes: Church Fellowship and Unity, Conflict, Love

Love one another, stand fast in unity, and suffer no dissensions among yourselves. For it is the unity that comes of a true faith which will preserve you safe unto God. May God in His turn mercifully grant unto you a successful issue that you may overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil!

Citizens of the City with No Darkness or Sorrow
Matthew 7:17–19; Luke 6:43; Hebrews 12:22–23; Revelation 22:11

Preaching Themes: Assurance, Renewal of Creation, Love, Heaven, Hope

I have confidence in His holy grace and cherish the hope … that the good among you may persevere, and the rest may welcome you in all honor, become good fruit and be the sons of God, citizens of that city where there shall be no darkness nor sorrow, where you will behold God your Father and understand all things, and you will each love one another perfectly as your own self, and have the desire of your heart.

Given Patience in the Midst of Trials
Romans 5:3; 12:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:4

Preaching Themes: Patience, Persecution

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will reward me plentifully, and will give me in my trials the help of patience.

Help in Battling False Teaching
Galatians 1:6–7; 3:1

Preaching Themes: False Teaching

O brave Christians! Are you all dead that you allow errors to be bandied about and God’s word driven into a corner? Scorn them, and do not let the devil rule over you. May the Lord God herein be your Helper, who alone can be, and is, Creator.

He That Chastises Heals Wounds
Psalm 5:9; 12:3; Proverbs 26:28; 27:6; 28:23

Preaching Themes: Conflict, Discipline, Friendship, Healing, Speech

You do not understand that the smooth-tongued flatterer is an enemy, while he that chastises is a lover and a healer of wounds, although the sick man is angry and murmurs at the chastisement.

“How Sacred Is This Bread”
Matthew 26:26–29; Mark 14:22–24; Luke 22:19–20; 1 Corinthians 11:24–26

Preaching Themes: Lord’s Supper

Our true salvation Jesus Christ,
From evil all recalling,
To us the sacred bread has given,
In memory of himself.
O, how sacred is this bread
You alone, O Jesus Christ
Are flesh, food and sacrament
Than which naught greater can be found.

Huss’ Statement of the Gospel He Believed
Matthew 5:18; 16:18; 1 Peter 3:15

Preaching Themes: Gospel, Truth

Seeing that I am always ready to give an answer to the satisfaction of every man who asks concerning the faith I hold, I declare with a sincere heart that the Lord Jesus Christ is very God and very man; and that His whole gospel is established so firmly in the truth that “not a jot nor tittle” of it can fail; and finally that His Holy Church has been so firmly founded on a firm rock that “the gates of hell cannot in any wise prevail against it.” I am ready in hope of the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself the Head, to bear the punishment of a dreadful death rather than to state … anything else than His truth.

“Jesus Suffered in Our Stead”
Matthew 26:28; Romans 1:18–20; Ephesians 2:1–3; Hebrews 2:17; 9:15

Preaching Themes: Atonement, Wrath of God, Death of Jesus

To avert from men God’s wrath
Jesus suffered in our stead;
By an ignominious death
He a full atonement made.

Keep Christ’s Gospel and Hold It Fast
1 Corinthians 11:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 2 Timothy 1:13; Hebrews 10:23

Preaching Themes: Encouragement, False Teaching, Perseverance

I ask you, by the passion of Christ, to keep His gospel and hold it fast, and to bring forth fruit as you advance.… Do not vacillate and waver in your minds. Moreover, give no heed to those who have entered upon an uncertain path and have taken a different turning, and who are now the keenest opponents of God.

Members of the Church Like Members of the Body
Romans 12:4–8; 1 Corinthians 12:4–30

Preaching Themes: Church Fellowship and Unity, Nature of the Church, Love

For as the members compose one body to which the soul is joined, and again as each member is necessary to every other, the one helping the other in the performance of its functions, so it is true of the members of the church by virtue of the power of communion and the bond of love.

Not Affirming Anything Outside the Faith
1 Timothy 6:20–21; 2 Timothy 2:18–19

Preaching Themes: Commitment

I hope, by God’s grace, that I am truly a Christian, not deviating from the faith, and that I would rather suffer the penalty of a terrible death than wish to affirm anything outside of the faith or transgress the commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Publicly Confessing the Faith
Matthew 5:14–16; 10:32; Luke 12:8; Romans 1:16

Preaching Themes: Courage, Honor

I will publicly confess and defend the faith I hold, not by detraction in nooks and corners, but in manner becoming a true Christian.

Renounce Sins, Live Righteous Lives
Deuteronomy 6:5; Proverbs 28:13; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27; Colossians 3:1–2; 1 John 2:17

Preaching Themes: Commitment, Faith, Holiness, Kingdom of God, Righteousness

Beloved, knowing that the world is passing to its doom … make it your chief concern to live righteous and holy lives and renounce your sins. Next, give earnest heed to the things that are heavenly; and, finally, love God with all your heart and put your trust in Him; for He will honor you in His glory for the merits of Jesus Christ and will make you partakers of His kingdom.

Suffering Here, Blessed There
Job 23:10; Philippians 1:29; 3:8; Colossians 1:24; 1 Peter 1:7

Preaching Themes: Blessing, Heaven, Persecution, Perseverance, Suffering

If here we have to suffer for Christ’s sake, there we shall be blessed. It is through a cross and through afflictions that we are tried, like gold in the fire, by the Builder who formed the world out of nothing. Blessed then shall we be, if we persevere in that which is good, even to the end.

Suffering with Christ
Matthew 10:38; 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; 14:27; Romans 8:17; Philippians 3:10

Preaching Themes: Discipleship, Purity, Suffering

Christ suffered for His beloved; should we wonder then that He has left us His example, in order that we endure patiently ourselves all things for our own salvation? He is God and we are His creatures; He is the Lord and we are His servants; He is the master of the world and we are insignificant mortals; He has need of nothing, we are destitute of all; He has suffered, why should we not suffer likewise, especially when suffering is for us a purification?

“The Image of Christ Will Never Be Effaced”
Luke 6:23; Revelation 20:4–6

Preaching Themes: Resurrection, Jesus

I am no dreamer, but I maintain this for certain, that the image of Christ will never be effaced. They [his enemies] have wished to destroy it, but it shall be painted afresh in all hearts by much better preachers than myself. The nation that loves Christ will rejoice at this. And I, awaking from among the dead, and rising, so to speak, from my grave, shall leap with great joy.

The Lord Gives Peace to His Own
Psalm 89:14; Isaiah 30:18; Colossians 3:15

Preaching Themes: Grace of God, Justice, Peace

The Lord is just and merciful, and He gives peace to His own in this world and after death.

The Lord Grants Perseverance When Tempted
1 Corinthians 10:13; Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 2:18

Preaching Themes: Assurance, Election, Perseverance, Temptation

The Lord will perfect what He has begun in you the elect, and will grant unto you perseverance when you are tempted.

Which of Us Follow Christ’s Life?
Matthew 24:12; Philippians 2:21; 2 Timothy 4:3–4

Preaching Themes: Repentance

Which of us—alas!—is following the life of Christ in poverty, chastity, humility, and diligent preaching? Woe, woe, woe! The apostle’s word is fulfilled: “All seek the things that are their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ’s.”

Why Christ Is Called the Head of the Church
Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Colossians 1:18; 2:3, 19

Preaching Themes: Divinity of Jesus, Humanity of Jesus, Nature of the Church

Christ is called the head of the church for the reason that he is the most exalted individual of the human family, imparting to all its members motion and feeling. For as in a man the most excellent part is the head, which gives to the body and to its parts motion and feeling, and without which neither the body nor any of its members could live the life of nature, so Christ is the individual, the true God and man, imparting spiritual life and motion to the church and everyone of its members and without whose influence it could not live or feel. And as in a man’s head are all the senses, so in Christ are hid all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God.

Why Wonder at Persecution?
Psalm 69:4; 109:3; John 7:7; 15:18, 24–25; 17:14; 1 John 3:13

Preaching Themes: Persecution

If, therefore, Christ suffered such things at the hands of the priests, He that healed all sicknesses by His word, and who without money and without price, cast out devils, raised the dead, taught them the law of God, hurt no man in anything, and did no sin, except only that He exposed their wickedness, why do we wonder if today the ministers of Antichrist, who are more greedy, luxurious, cruel and crafty than the Pharisees, persecute God’s servants, insult, curse, excommunicate, imprison, and kill them?


Isidore of Seville (ca. 560–636)
Martyrs in Time of Peace
1 Corinthians 9:26; Hebrews 12:4; 2 Timothy 1:7

Preaching Themes: Commitment, Discipline, Persecution

There are two kinds of martyrs, one in open suffering, the other in the hidden virtue of the spirit. For many, enduring the lyings-in-wait of the enemy and resisting all carnal desires, have become martyrs even in time of peace, because they have sacrificed themselves in their heart to the omnipotent God, and if they had lived in time of persecution, they could have been martyrs in reality.

Music Calls the Senses to a Different Quality
Job 38:4–7; Psalm 98:4; Revelation 14:2

Preaching Themes: Creation, Music

Without music there can be no perfect knowledge, for there is nothing without it. For even the universe itself is said to have been put together with a certain harmony of sounds, and the very heavens revolve under the guidance of harmony. Music rouses the emotions, it calls the senses to a different quality.

The Power of Letters
2 Kings 5:7; 2 Corinthians 10:10

Preaching Themes: Power, Speech

Letters are signs of things, symbols of words, whose power is so great that without a voice they speak to us the words of the absent; for they introduce words by the eye, not by the ear.


Ivo of Chartres (ca. 1040–1115)
The Difference Between the First and Second Advent
Matthew 24:30–31; Acts 1:11; Philippians 3:21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; Hebrews 9:27–28

Preaching Themes: Last Judgment, Resurrection, Second Coming, Birth of Jesus

In the first Advent He came to justify the wicked, in the second He will come to condemn the wicked. In the first He came to call back those that were wrested from Him, in the second He will come to glorify those that are converted to Him. In the first Advent Christ was betrayed for the wicked to a death which He deserved not, in the second He will give up the wicked to a death which they deserve. In the first Advent He came to form our hearts again to the image of God. But in the second, He will form again the body of our humility so as to be configured to the body of His glory.


John of Damascus (ca. 676–749)
A Defense of Images in Worship
Exodus 20:4–5; Deuteronomy 5:8; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15

Preaching Themes: Image of God, Humanity of Jesus, Worship

Of old, God the incorporeal and uncircumscribed was never depicted. Now, however, when God is seen clothed in flesh, and conversing with men, I make an image of the God whom I see. I do not worship matter; I worship the God of matter who became matter for my sake and deigned to inhabit matter, who worked out my salvation through matter. I will not cease from honoring that matter which works my salvation. I venerate it, though not as God.

Christ Both God and Man
John 1:14; 1 John 4:2–3; 2 John 7

Preaching Themes: Divinity of Jesus, Humanity of Jesus, Trinity, Worship

Christ, therefore, is one, perfect God and perfect man: and Him we worship along with the Father and the Spirit … For we worship Him, not as mere flesh, but as flesh united with divinity, and because His two natures are brought under the one person and one subsistence of God the Word.

Reminded of Christ’s Death by an Image of It
1 Corinthians 2:2

Preaching Themes: Death of Jesus, Passion of Jesus, Worship

Often, doubtless, when we have not the Lord’s passion in mind and see the image of Christ’s crucifixion, His saving passion is brought back to remembrance, and we fall down and worship not the material but that which is imaged: just as we do not worship the material of which the Gospels are made, nor the material of the Cross, but that which these typify.

The Many Attributes of God
Genesis 21:33; Psalm 135:13; Isaiah 44:24; Matthew 28:19; 1 Timothy 1:17; Revelation 1:8; 21:5; 22:13

Preaching Themes: Eternity, God, Knowledge of God, Power of God, Providence of God, Sovereignty of God, Trinity

We, therefore, both know and confess that God is without beginning, without end, eternal and everlasting, uncreated, unchangeable, invariable, simple, uncompound, incorporeal, invisible, impalpable, uncircumscribed, infinite, incognisable, indefinable, incomprehensible, good, just, maker of all things created, almighty, all-ruling, all-surveying, of all overseer, sovereign, judge; and that God is One, that is to say, one essence; and that He is known, and has His being in three subsistences, in Father, I say, and Son and Holy Spirit.


Julian of Norwich (ca. 1342–1416)
God’s Wrath Originates in Humans
Joshua 7:1; 1 Kings 11:9; Jeremiah 7:19; 18:20; Zechariah 7:12; Mark 3:5; Romans 2:5

Preaching Themes: Anger, Wrath of God

I saw no wrath but on man’s part; and that He forgives in us. For wrath is nothing else but a frowardness and contrariness to peace and love; and either it comes of failing of might, or of failing of wisdom, or of failing of goodness, which failing is not in God but on our part.

No Higher Stature Than Childhood
Matthew 18:4; 1 Corinthians 13:11

Preaching Themes: Children

To me was shown no higher stature than childhood. Not, of course, that we should remain children in understanding; not that when we have become men, we should refuse to put away childish things; but that there should remain much of the child-character in us to the end.


Thomas à Kempis (ca. 1380–1471)
Adversity Shows What a Person Is
1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13; 10:25

Preaching Themes: Counseling, Encouragement, Friendship, Suffering

There is no man without fault, no man without burden, no man sufficient to himself nor wise enough. Hence we must support one another, console one another, mutually help, counsel, and advise, for the measure of every man’s virtue is best revealed in time of adversity—adversity that does not weaken a man but rather shows what he is.

All but the Love of God Is Vanity
Ecclesiastes 1:2, 14; 2:17; 3:19; 12:8

Preaching Themes: Love, Temptation

We have daily snares in our meat and drink, in our wandering eye, our idle tongue, the inconstancy of our hearts, and distaste for good works. Honor, riches, and power are but vanity, and what seek you in the world; or what do you desire to see in the world, which is nothing and vanity? For all is vanity, frailty, and deceit but the love of God, and perseverance in well-doing.

All Our Peace in Enduring Suffering
Hebrews 10:32–36; 1 Peter 2:19–20

Preaching Themes: Humility, Peace, Perseverance, Suffering

All our peace in this miserable life is found in humbly enduring suffering rather than in being free from it. He who knows best how to suffer will enjoy the greater peace, because he is the conqueror of himself, the master of the world, a friend of Christ, and an heir of heaven.

Arm Yourself Against All Sins
1 Corinthians 10:12; Ephesians 6:10–17; 1 Thessalonians 5:6; 1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 3:2

Preaching Themes: Anger, Renewal of Creation, Envy, Greed, Lust, Pride, Sin, Spiritual Warfare, Temptation, Watchfulness

Let us arm ourselves against all sins, against pride, against hatred, against ambition, against envy, against covetousness, against sensuality. Let heaven see that, even on earth, it has those who stand on its side. Let hell know that, even on earth, there are those who make war against it with the Word of God. And let earth itself know that it is still capable of once more growing green and of giving much fruit.

Associate with the Humble and Speak Edifying Things
Proverbs 11:2; Ephesians 4:29; 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Preaching Themes: Friendship, Humility, Speech

Associate with the humble and the simple, with the devout and virtuous, and with them speak of edifying things.

Avoid Everything That Hurts the Soul
Proverbs 13:3; Matthew 12:36; James 3:5

Preaching Themes: Speech, Temptation, Watchfulness

Avoid everything that may hurt your soul; be not an object of scandal to anyone, and watch well that you do not let drop one unbecoming word.

Be Alert at the Beginnings of Temptation
Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38; Luke 22:40, 46; Galatians 6:1; 1 Peter 5:8

Preaching Themes: Temptation, Watchfulness

We must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks.

Blessed Are Those Who Desire to Carry Their Cross
Luke 14:27; 1 Corinthians 2:2; Galatians 2:19–20

Preaching Themes: Blessing, Discipleship, Death of Jesus, Passion of Jesus

O truly blessed Cross of Christ, which did bear the King of Heaven, and which did bring to the whole world the joy of salvation! By you the devils are put to flight; the weak are cured; the timid are strengthened; the sinful are cleansed; the idle are excited; the proud are humbled; the hard-hearted are touched; and the devout are bedewed with tears. Blessed are they who daily call to mind the Passion of Christ, and desire to carry their own cross after Christ.

Consider Before Believing Evil of Others
Psalm 34:12–16; Proverbs 11:13; 14:15; 20:19; Ecclesiastes 7:21; Titus 3:2; James 4:11; 1 Peter 3:10–12

Preaching Themes: Doubt, Patience, Slander, Speech

Do not yield to every impulse and suggestion but consider things carefully and patiently in the light of God’s will. For very often, sad to say, we are so weak that we believe and speak evil of others rather than good.

Consoled in This Life, Blessed in the Next
Romans 5:11; 15:17–18; 2 Corinthians 12:9–10; Galatians 6:14; Philippians 3:7; Hebrews 11:26

Preaching Themes: Blessing, Comfort, Commitment, Eternity, Joy

He who boasts himself in Christ, and despises all things for the sake of Christ, he shall be consoled by Christ in the present life, and in the life to come shall be filled with celestial blessings, and shall felicitously rejoice with Christ and with all saints, world without end.

Continue Faithful in Labor Now
Matthew 25:14–30; Luke 19:12–27; 1 Corinthians 3:13

Preaching Themes: Commitment, Faithfulness of God, Judgment, Joy, Work

Labor a little now, and soon you shall find great rest, in truth, eternal joy; for if you continue faithful and diligent in doing, God will undoubtedly be faithful and generous in rewarding.

Discoursing on the Trinity while Displeasing the Trinity
1 Corinthians 8:1; 2 Timothy 3:7; 4:2

Preaching Themes: Education, Holiness, Pride, Trinity

What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God.

Discussing Problems Rather Than Uprooting Vices
Matthew 12:36–37; 1 Corinthians 4:20; 1 Peter 2:15

Preaching Themes: Character, Obedience, Speech

If men used as much care in uprooting vices and implanting virtues as they do in discussing problems, there would not be so much evil and scandal in the world, or such laxity in religious organizations.

Distractions Only Come When Engrossed in Externals
John 8:15

Preaching Themes: Peace, Stress

He whose disposition is well ordered cares nothing about the strange, perverse behavior of others, for a man is upset and distracted only in proportion as he engrosses himself in externals.

Do Not Neglect Yourself, Whatever Others Do
Deuteronomy 4:9; 1 Timothy 4:14–16

Preaching Themes: Watchfulness

If you have spent the day profitably, you will always be happy at eventide. Watch over yourself, arouse yourself, warn yourself, and regardless of what becomes of others, do not neglect yourself.

Dread of Difficulty Keeps Many from Improving
Joshua 1:9; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21

Preaching Themes: Character, Courage, Fear, Perseverance

There is one thing that keeps many from zealously improving their lives, that is, dread of the difficulty, the toil of battle. Certainly they who try bravely to overcome the most difficult and unpleasant obstacles far outstrip others in the pursuit of virtue.

“Edify Your Neighbor by Word and Deed”
1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13; 10:25; James 1:27

Preaching Themes: Encouragement, Honesty, Neighbors, Service

Publish not scandal; for it is well to be silent: proclaim the truth, for it is salutary; be modest, for it is reasonable; hurt no one, for it is just; be useful to all, for such is piety; and edify your neighbor by word and deed, for such is religion.

Endure Tribulation with Jesus Christ
Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 1:29; 3:8; Colossians 1:24; 1 Peter 4:1

Preaching Themes: Comfort, Grief, Holy Spirit, Death of Jesus, Resurrection of Jesus, Joy, Perseverance, Suffering

If you be in tribulation and sorrow of heart, remember that you are with Jesus Christ, nailed to the cross; and if in prayer you receive the consolations of the Holy Spirit, then are you raised again from the dead: like Christ, you celebrate the Pasch with him in newness of life, rejoicing in heart.

Finding Yourself to Your Own Ruin
1 Samuel 16:7; Luke 19:3; John 7:24; 2 Corinthians 10:7; Philippians 2:21

Preaching Themes: Commitment, Jesus

You will quickly be deceived if you look only to the outward appearance of men, and you will often be disappointed if you seek comfort and gain in them. If, however, you seek Jesus in all things, you will surely find Him. Likewise, if you seek yourself, you will find yourself—to your own ruin. For the man who does not seek Jesus does himself much greater harm than the whole world and all his enemies could ever do.

Forsake and Renounce Self
Mark 10:21; Luke 10:42; 18:22; 1 Corinthians 13:1–3; Philippians 3:13–14

Preaching Themes: Commitment

If a man give all his wealth, it is nothing; if he do great penance, it is little; if he gain all knowledge, he is still far afield; if he have great virtue and much ardent devotion, he still lacks a great deal, and especially, the one thing that is most necessary to him. What is this one thing? That leaving all, he forsake himself, completely renounce himself, and give up all private affections.

Giving Up Our Opinions for the Blessings of Peace
Psalm 29:11; Romans 12:10; Ephesians 4:2–3; Philippians 2:3

Preaching Themes: Church Fellowship and Unity, Freedom, Presence of God, Peace

Everyone, it is true, wishes to do as he pleases and is attracted to those who agree with him. But if God be among us, we must at times give up our opinions for the blessings of peace.

Good Society Tends to a Safe Soul
Acts 2:46; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Hebrews 10:25

Preaching Themes: Church Fellowship and Unity, Friendship, Neighbors, Speech

Innumerous are the examples, both ancient and modern, which prove that the society of the good tends to the safety of the soul, and that of the wicked to its perdition; that good instruction is profitable, and evil conversation dangerous; and that silence and solitude increase our spiritual advancement, while the dissipation and tumult of the world retard its growth. Live then alone, and labor in the service of God; or join yourself to the devout and holy, with whom you may discourse on the virtues of Jesus Christ.

Grace Looks to Eternity
Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 12:22

Preaching Themes: Eternity, Heaven, Joy, Mercy

Grace looks to eternal things and does not cling to those which are temporal, being neither disturbed at loss nor angered by hard words, because she has placed her treasure and joy in heaven where nothing is lost.

He Is Great Who Has Great Love
Mark 3:35; Luke 7:47; Philippians 3:8

Preaching Themes: Humility, Love, Obedience, Wisdom

He is truly great who has great charity. He is truly great who is little in his own eyes and makes nothing of the highest honor. He is truly wise who looks upon all earthly things as folly that he may gain Christ. He who does God’s will and renounces his own is truly very learned.

How Frail Is Human Nature!
Romans 3:27; 1 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 3:5

Preaching Themes: New Year’s Day, Humility, Sin, Weakness

How great is the frailty of human nature which is ever prone to evil! Today you confess your sins and tomorrow you again commit the sins which you confessed. One moment you resolve to be careful, and yet after an hour you act as though you had made no resolution. We have cause, therefore, because of our frailty and feebleness, to humble ourselves and never think anything great of ourselves.

Judged More Severely the More You Know
Matthew 25:24–27; Luke 19:21–24; James 3:1

Preaching Themes: Holiness, Humility, Judgment, Responsibility

The more you know and the better you understand, the more severely will you be judged, unless your life is also the more holy. Do not be proud, therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather, fear because of the talent given you.

Keep Silence When Reproved Unjustly
Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 26:63; 27:12; Mark 14:61; Luke 21:19; Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 2:23; 3:9

Preaching Themes: Anger, Conflict, Peace, Speech

When you are spoken to over harshly, or reproved unjustly, do not give way to the first emotion of anger, nor reply sharply, but keep silence, or speak humbly, or suffer with patience like your example Jesus, who was silent when they brought false witness against him, and when he was scourged, he did not murmur.

Know What You Are, and Do Not Care What Others Say
1 Samuel 16:7; Proverbs 16:2; John 7:24; 2 Corinthians 10:7

Preaching Themes: Assurance, Honor

Praise adds nothing to your holiness, nor does blame take anything from it. You are what you are, and you cannot be said to be better than you are in God’s sight. If you consider well what you are within, you will not care what men say about you. They look to appearances but God looks to the heart. They consider the deed but God weighs the motive.

Leading Christ into One’s House
Matthew 26:40, 43; Mark 14:37, 40; Luke 22:45

Preaching Themes: Prayer

I, unhappy and poorest of men, how shall I lead You into my house, I who scarcely can spend a half hour devoutly—would that I could spend even that as I ought!

Learn to Be Content, and Have Peace
Ecclesiastes 6:9; Philippians 4:11–13; 1 Timothy 6:6–8; Hebrews 13:5

Preaching Themes: Contentment, Patience, Peace

You be, then, more patient than ever before, when things that seem needful to you are taken from you, or when things upon which you have set your heart are denied you. Learn to do with little, and to be content with what is mean and poor; so will you be kept from grumbling, and will have peace in yourself, and favor with Almighty God.

Learning Through Dryness and Abandonment
Psalm 31:9–10; 35:22; 38:21; 88; 94:14; Lamentations 2:7–8; 3:31; 2 Corinthians 4:9–11

Preaching Themes: Depression, Discouragement, Grief, Mercy, Patience

Many holy and devout souls have been proved by dryness, and seemed for a long while as if it were abandoned by God, that they might thereby learn patience and compassion for others, by the sense of their own sorrow and need, and not to presume too much on themselves in the moment of fervor, and in the season of spiritual jubilation.

Listening to Frivolity and Bartering One’s Soul
Proverbs 10:21; 14:3; 15:21; Mark 8:37; Romans 13:13

Preaching Themes: Foolishness, Speech

He that takes pleasure in speaking or listening to frivolous things barters his soul for a pitiful price.

“Look Carefully into Your Own Faults”
Matthew 7:1–5; Luke 6:37, 41–42; Romans 14:4, 10, 13; 1 Corinthians 4:5; James 4:11–12; 5:9

Preaching Themes: Humility, Judgment

Look carefully into your own faults, and you will find little leisure or inclination to weigh in the balance the actions of others.

Mourning Over the Faults of a Brother
Matthew 18:15; Ephesians 6:18; James 5:16

Preaching Themes: Church Fellowship and Unity, Forgiveness, Neighbors, Intercessory Prayer

He that mourns over the faults of his brother, and supplicates for his pardon, washes and wipes the feet of Jesus.

Never Cease Preparation for Battle
Romans 13:12; Ephesians 6:11, 13; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; 1 Peter 5:8

Preaching Themes: Satan, Temptation, Watchfulness

The devil does not sleep, nor is the flesh yet dead; therefore, you must never cease your preparation for battle, because on the right and on the left are enemies who never rest.

Never Seek a Learned Reputation
1 Corinthians 3:18; 8:1–2; 1 Timothy 6:4; 2 Timothy 3:7

Preaching Themes: Education, Humility, Pride

If you would profit from it, therefore, read with humility, simplicity, and faith, and never seek a reputation for being learned. Seek willingly and listen attentively to the words of the saints; do not be displeased with the sayings of the ancients, for they were not made without purpose.

Not What We Have Read but What We Have Done
Luke 6:46; 1 Corinthians 8:1–3; 1 Timothy 6:4; James 2:14–26

Preaching Themes: Education, Last Judgment, Good Works, Obedience

On the day of judgment, surely, we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done; not how well we have spoken but how well we have lived.

Place Trust in God, Not People
Psalm 20:7; 41:9–13; Proverbs 3:5; 29:25; Micah 7:5; Matthew 10:17; 2 Timothy 4:10, 14

Preaching Themes: Faith

Do not place much confidence in weak and mortal man, helpful and friendly though he be; and do not grieve too much if he sometimes opposes and contradicts you. Those who are with us today may be against us tomorrow, and vice versa, for men change with the wind. Place all your trust in God; let Him be your fear and your love. He will answer for you; He will do what is best for you.

Plant the Cross in Your Garden
1 Corinthians 1:18; Galatians 6:14; Hebrews 12:2

Preaching Themes: Beauty, Faith, Honor, Hope, Humility, Death of Jesus, Joy, Justice, Love, Mercy, Obedience, Patience, Perseverance, Poverty, Salvation, Wisdom

Plant in the garden of your memory, the tree of the holy Cross; it produces a very efficacious medicine against all the suggestions of the devil. Of this most noble and fertile tree, the root is humility and poverty; the bark, labor and penitence; the branches, mercy and justice; the leaves, true honor and modesty; the scent, sobriety and abstinence; the beauty, chastity and obedience; the splendor, right faith and firm hope; the strength, magnanimity and patience; the length, long-suffering and perseverance; the breadth, benignity and concord; the height, charity and wisdom; the sweetness, love and joy; the fruit, salvation and life eternal.

Preach to Get Listeners Displeased with Themselves
1 Corinthians 1:17; 2:2–7; 2 Corinthians 7:9–10

Preaching Themes: Church Leadership, Evangelism, Repentance

Sowers of the Gospel, this should be our aim in our sermons; not that men should be part pleased with us, but that they should be part displeased with themselves; not that our conceits should be thought by them good, but that their own habits should be thought by them bad; their lives, their pastimes, their ambition, and, in short, all their sins. So that they are discontented with themselves, let them be discontented with us, and welcome.

Receive God’s Words from Holy Scripture
Ezekiel 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:16

Preaching Themes: Humility, Scripture

When you hear the Holy Scripture read, remember it is God who speaks to you; humble yourselves then, and receive his words with a grateful heart.

Receiving the Bitter and the Sweet from God
Job 1:21; 2:10; Isaiah 30:21; 40:31

Preaching Themes: Faith, Thankfulness

Whoever loves God receives from His hand the bitter as well as the sweet, and both with equal gratitude. And he who holds little by man, or by his own exertion, but puts all his trust in God, walks in the way that is right and good, and nothing shall turn him out of it.

Resisting Small Trials Before Great Ones
Jeremiah 12:5; 1 Corinthians 5:6

Preaching Themes: Temptation

A very little thing often tempts a man violently, and a trifle that hardly deserves notice often grievously affects him. God justly permits this to be so, to teach us that if we do not resist small trials, we cannot overcome great ones.

Resisting Vices Harder Than Physical Toil
Matthew 5:29; 18:8–9; Mark 9:45, 47; Galatians 6:1

Preaching Themes: Sin, Temptation

It is greater work to resist vices and passions than to sweat in physical toil. He who does not overcome small faults, shall fall little by little into greater ones.

Rooted in God and Ignoring Human Reputation
1 Kings 19:1–5; Jeremiah 20:12; Acts 17:5–8; 2 Corinthians 5:9–10; 1 Thessalonians 4:1

Preaching Themes: Commitment, Knowledge of God, Honor

When to all outward appearances men give us no credit, when they do not think well of us, then we are more inclined to seek God who sees our hearts. Therefore, a man ought to root himself so firmly in God that he will not need the consolations of men.

Suffer with Christ and Reign with Christ
Matthew 26:31, 56; Mark 14:27; Romans 8:17; Philippians 3:10; 2 Timothy 1:8; 3:12

Preaching Themes: Complaining, Death of Jesus, Passion of Jesus, Persecution, Suffering

When Christ was in the world, He was despised by men; in the hour of need He was forsaken by acquaintances and left by friends to the depths of scorn. He was willing to suffer and to be despised; do you dare to complain of anything? He had enemies and defamers; do you want everyone to be your friend, your benefactor? How can your patience be rewarded if no adversity tests it? How can you be a friend of Christ if you are not willing to suffer any hardship? Suffer with Christ and for Christ if you wish to reign with Him.

Take Care That God Be with You
John 14:1; Romans 8:35–39; 1 Peter 3:14–15

Preaching Themes: Conflict, Presence of God, Persecution

Be not troubled about those who are with you or against you, but take care that God be with you in everything you do.

The Cross Awaits You Everywhere
Matthew 10:38; 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10

Preaching Themes: Discipleship, Patience, Peace, Suffering

The cross … is always ready; it awaits you everywhere. No matter where you may go, you cannot escape it, for wherever you go you take yourself with you and shall always find yourself. Turn where you will—above, below, without, or within—you will find a cross in everything, and everywhere you must have patience if you would have peace within and merit an eternal crown.

The Effects of Humble Prayer
2 Chronicles 6:26–27; 7:14; Daniel 10:12

Preaching Themes: Humility, Prayer

Humble prayer pierces the heavens, disarms the anger of God, obtains his mercies, and makes the snares of the evil one of no avail.

The Life of the Just
Proverbs 2:8; Isaiah 26:7; 1 Peter 4:11

Preaching Themes: Character, Righteousness, Suffering, Worship

To act well, and suffer evil, to praise God in all things, and never to draw vanity from his good gifts—such is the life of the just.

The Proud and Greedy Never Rest
Leviticus 16:31; 23:32; Isaiah 14:30; Habakkuk 2:5; Matthew 11:29

Preaching Themes: Greed, Humility, Peace, Poverty, Pride, Sabbath

A proud and avaricious man never rests, whereas he who is poor and humble of heart lives in a world of peace.

The Truly Wise Person
Proverbs 17:27; Micah 6:8; 1 Timothy 1:5

Preaching Themes: Grief, Honesty, Humility, Justice, Peace, Purity, Truth, Wisdom

He is truly wise who hates iniquity, who speaks the truth, and works the works of justice; and he that leads a sober and chaste life, who is pious, humble and devout, and who shuns the perilous rocks of temptation, possesses true wisdom, and the favor of God and of men. His conscience is pure—sorrow assails him not. Peace is his possession, and God often pours into his breast consolations that the world can neither know nor relish.

The Way of Christ Is the Only Way
Isaiah 30:21; Jeremiah 6:16; John 14:6

Preaching Themes: Discipleship, Jesus, Perseverance

This is the way, and there is none other; the right way, the holy way, the perfect way, the way of Christ, the way of the just, the way of the elect that shall be saved. Walk in it, persevere in it, endure in it, live in it, die in it, breathe forth your spirits in it.

Think on How Much Others Suffer from Us
Matthew 7:1–5; Luke 6:37, 41–42; Romans 2:1, 3; 14:4; 1 Corinthians 4:5; James 4:11–12; 5:9

Preaching Themes: Humility, Hypocrisy, Judgment, Prejudice, Revenge

We are quick enough to feel and brood over the things we suffer from others, but we think nothing of how much others suffer from us. If a man would weigh his own deeds fully and rightly, he would find little cause to pass severe judgment on others.

This Life Marked with Crosses on All Sides
Matthew 10:38; 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; Luke 24:26, 46; John 15:20; Colossians 1:24; 2 Timothy 3:12

Preaching Themes: Discipleship, Suffering

The whole life of Christ was a cross and a martyrdom, and do you seek rest and enjoyment for yourself? You deceive yourself, you are mistaken if you seek anything but to suffer, for this mortal life is full of miseries and marked with crosses on all sides. Indeed, the more spiritual progress a person makes, so much heavier will he frequently find the cross, because as his love increases, the pain of his exile also increases.

Triumph Over Self Is the Perfect Victory
1 Corinthians 9:24–27; 1 Thessalonians 5:6; Titus 2:12; 1 Peter 4:7

Preaching Themes: Discipline, Victory

If you completely conquer yourself, you will more easily subdue all other things. The perfect victory is to triumph over self.

True Freedom and Joy Come from Reverence
Malachi 4:2; Matthew 28:8; John 8:36; 2 Corinthians 3:17

Preaching Themes: Freedom, Joy, Reverence

No liberty is true and no joy is genuine unless it is founded in the fear of the Lord and a good conscience.

“Use Temporal Things but Desire Eternal Things”
Proverbs 30:15; Ecclesiastes 5:10; 6:7; Isaiah 55:1–2; Matthew 6:19–20; Hebrews 13:5

Preaching Themes: Blessing, Contentment, Happiness, Money, Wealth

Use temporal things but desire eternal things. You cannot be satisfied with any temporal goods because you were not created to enjoy them. Even if you possessed all created things you could not be happy and blessed; for in God, Who created all these things, your whole blessedness and happiness consists.

Vanity to Trust in Riches That Perish
Psalm 49:5–6; Jeremiah 48:7; Matthew 6:19–21, 33; 19:21; Luke 12:16–21, 31–34; James 5:2–3

Preaching Themes: Honor, Lust, Kingdom of God, Money, Pride, Wealth

This is the greatest wisdom—to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire things for which severe punishment later must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not to look ahead where eternal joy abides.

We Often Talk Vainly and To No Purpose
Leviticus 19:16; Proverbs 4:24; 18:8; 26:22; Ecclesiastes 5:2; Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38; Luke 21:36; 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Preaching Themes: Comfort, Encouragement, Slander, Speech

Why, indeed, do we converse and gossip among ourselves when we so seldom part without a troubled conscience? We do so because we seek comfort from one another’s conversation.… But, sad to say, we often talk vainly and to no purpose; for this external pleasure effectively bars inward and divine consolation. Therefore we must watch and pray lest time pass idly. When the right and opportune moment comes for speaking, say something that will edify.

What Pleases People Often Displeases God
1 Samuel 2:3; 16:7; Psalm 147:10; John 7:24; 1 Corinthians 13:4; 2 Corinthians 10:7; Revelation 2:23

Preaching Themes: Anger, Envy, Good Works, Humility, Judgment, Pride

Do not take pride in your good deeds, for God’s judgments differ from those of men, and what pleases them often displeases Him. If there is good in you, see more good in others, so that you may remain humble. It does no harm to esteem yourself less than anyone else, but it is very harmful to think yourself better than even one. The humble live in continuous peace, while in the hearts of the proud are envy and frequent anger.

When the Grace of God Is Not Evident
Psalm 22:1–2; 27:14; 37:34; 88:15–18; 130:6; Proverbs 13:12; Ezekiel 37:11; Acts 27:20; 2 Corinthians 1:8; James 5:7

Preaching Themes: Depression, Discouragement, Grace of God, Hope, Patience

When the grace of God comes to a man he can do all things, but when it leaves him he becomes poor and weak, abandoned, as it were, to affliction. Yet, in this condition he should not become dejected or despair. On the contrary, he should calmly await the will of God and bear whatever befalls him in praise of Jesus Christ, for after winter comes summer, after night, the day, and after the storm, a great calm.

When Wrath Takes Possession, Wisdom Takes Flight
Proverbs 10:19; 14:29; 15:1; 29:8, 11, 20; Ecclesiastes 5:2; 7:9

Preaching Themes: Anger, Speech, Wisdom

When wrath takes possession of the breast, wisdom takes to flight even from the wise. He that speaks hastily is like a snarling hound; but a meek answer breaks the violence of wrath, and gives to the afflicted roses in the stead of thorns. Blessed is the prudent tongue, for it heals the wounds of the hasty.

Why Charge Ourselves with the Burdens of Others?
Matthew 7:1–5; Luke 6:37, 41–42; Romans 14:4, 10, 13; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 5:12–13; Galatians 6:5; James 4:11–12; 5:9

Preaching Themes: Judgment, Responsibility

It is enough for each to bear his own burden; why then do we busy ourselves with the conduct of others? Why charge ourselves with a burden heavier than we can bear?

Why Some Were So Perfect and Given to Contemplation
Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5–11

Preaching Themes: Commitment, Discipline, Prayer

Why were some of the saints so perfect and so given to contemplation? Because they tried to mortify entirely in themselves all earthly desires, and thus they were able to attach themselves to God with all their heart and freely to concentrate their innermost thoughts.

Words That Edify Bring Joy
Proverbs 12:25; Matthew 12:36; Romans 14:19; Ephesians 4:29; 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Preaching Themes: Encouragement, Joy, Speech

Words that edify bring joy to those that hear them. Harsh words give pain to our friends, but idle words rob us of the fruit that time would have produced.


Peter Damian (ca. 1007–1073)
The Cross Opens the Door to Paradise
Genesis 3:24; Luke 23:43

Preaching Themes: Atonement, Death of Jesus

That angel who had received the sword which excluded from Paradise, beheld the key which was to open it in the Cross, and no longer opposed himself to the entrance.


Girolamo Savonarola (1452–1498)
Christ Will Always Give You Good Counsel
Matthew 4:19; 11:29; Mark 1:17; John 1:43; 10:27; 12:26; Ephesians 4:20–24; 1 John 2:6

Preaching Themes: Commitment, Discipleship

Follow Christ, who will always give you good counsel. He will not give you the treasures of this world, but eternal glory and undying happiness. What will you do, O child of man? Leave this world, enter the service of Christ. He is waiting for you, and will reward your service, for He is a bountiful rewarder. Let everyone then hasten to serve Him.

Do Not Be Ashamed of the One Who Was Not Ashamed
Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18; Galatians 3:1; 2 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 11:16; 1 Peter 2:21

Preaching Themes: Discipleship, Honor, Death of Jesus

If you are ashamed of the cross, the Lord was not ashamed to bear that cross for you, and to die on that cross for you. Be not ashamed of His service and of the defense of the truth.

Do Not Be Surprised if You Cannot Understand God
Psalm 145:3; Ecclesiastes 3:11; 8:16–17; Isaiah 55:8–9; John 20:9; Romans 11:33; Philippians 2:6–11

Preaching Themes: God, Humility, Death of Jesus, Divinity of Jesus, Humanity of Jesus, Resurrection of Jesus, Wisdom

We ought therefore not to be surprised that there is much in God which we cannot understand, and that very many truths of the faith we cannot yet prove since we do not yet know everything. The great God in His rich mercy saw our poor knowledge and came into our flesh and assumed it that He might work for us, die, and rise again from the dead; until after a life full of love He raised Himself above the world of sense into His eternity.

Impossible to Go to Paradise by One’s Own Virtue
Luke 18:9–14; 23:43; John 14:2–3

Preaching Themes: Good Works, Justification, Heaven

Know, O man, that if you will you can go to Paradise, for there has your Savior Christ gone; but know this also, that not by your own nature, not by means of silver and gold, not by your virtue, will you reach that place.

Sin in Speaking Builds Gradually
Psalm 34:13; Matthew 12:33–35; 15:10–11; Mark 7:14–15; Luke 6:43–45; James 3:2–12

Preaching Themes: Blasphemy, Profanity, Sin, Speech

Say to your tongue: Speak no more evil. For your tongue is as a great rock that rolls from the summit of a mountain, and at first falls slowly, then ever faster and more furiously. It begins with gentle murmuring, then it utters small sins, and then greater, until it finally breaks forth in open blasphemy.

The One Who Believes Christ No Longer Fears
Joshua 1:6–9; Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:5; Acts 9:28; 13:44–47; 19:8–10

Preaching Themes:Commitment, Courage, Fear

I call upon all men and women, all whose lives are ruined in sorrows and troubles. What do you fear? He who believes that Christ is above no longer fears anything. Come then all of you into His service.


Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
Bearing Some Wrongs and Not Others
Psalm 37:7; 1 Peter 2:19; 3:17; Revelation 2:2–3

Preaching Themes: Justice, Patience, Suffering

The good bear with the wicked by enduring patiently, and in due manner, the wrongs they themselves receive from them. But they do not bear with them so as to endure the wrongs they inflict on God and their neighbor.

Better to Share Contemplation Than Merely to Contemplate
Psalm 22:22; 40:9; 145:7; Mark 1:35–39

Preaching Themes: Education, Service

Even as it is better to enlighten than merely to shine, so is it better to give to others the fruits of one’s contemplation than merely to contemplate.

“Evil Cannot Exist Without Good”
Psalm 5:4; Romans 12:9

Preaching Themes: Evil

Good can exist without evil; whereas evil cannot exist without good.

God Can Direct Evil to Good
Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28

Preaching Themes: Power of God, Sovereignty of God

God is so powerful that He can direct any evil to a good end.

God Is the First Mover
Genesis 1:1; Hebrews 11:3

Preaching Themes: Creation, Power of God

Whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

God May Perform Miracles
Exodus 34:10; Deuteronomy 3:24; Psalm 77:14

Preaching Themes: Creation, Miracles

All nature is the work of the divine art. Now it is not inconsistent with a work of art that the artist make some alteration in his work, even after giving it its first form. Neither, therefore, is it contrary to nature if God does something in natural things other than that which occurs in the ordinary course of nature.

God’s Existence Demonstrable from His Effects
Psalm 19:1–2; Romans 1:19–20

Preaching Themes: Creation, God

The existence of God, in so far as it is not self-evident to us, can be demonstrated from those of His effects which are known to us.

God’s Relation to Time
Ecclesiastes 3:11; Isaiah 40:28; 1 Corinthians 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:9

Preaching Themes: Eternity, Knowledge of God

Things reduced to act in time, as known by us successively in time, but by God (are known) in eternity, which is above time. Whence to us they cannot be certain, forasmuch as we know future contingent things as such; but (they are certain) to God alone, whose understanding is in eternity above time.

Government Should Tolerate Some Evil
Habakkuk 1:13; Romans 13:1–7

Preaching Themes: Evil, Power of God, Sovereignty of God, Government

Human government is derived from the Divine government, and should imitate it. Now although God is all-powerful and supremely good, nevertheless He allows certain evils to take place in the universe, which He might prevent, lest, without them, greater goods might be forfeited, or greater evils ensue. Accordingly in human government also, those who are in authority rightly tolerate certain evils lest certain goods be lost, or certain greater evils be incurred.

Grace Perfects Nature
2 Corinthians 10:5; 12:9

Preaching Themes: Faith, Grace of God, Love

Since therefore grace does not destroy nature, but perfects it, natural reason should minister to faith as the natural bent of the will ministers to charity.

Guilt Remains after Sin Has Passed
Leviticus 5:17; Ezra 9:6–7; 2 Corinthians 7:10

Preaching Themes: Debt, Guilt, Sin

In all actual sins, when the act of sin has ceased, the guilt remains; because the act of sin makes man deserving of punishment, insofar as he transgresses the order of Divine justice, to which he cannot return except he pay some sort of penal compensation, which restores him to the equality of justice.… This restoration of the equality of justice by penal compensation is also to be observed in injuries done to one’s fellow men. Consequently it is evident that when the sinful or injurious act has ceased there still remains the debt of punishment.

Happiness Obtained Through Virtue
Psalm 1:1; Matthew 5:6

Preaching Themes: Character, Glory, Happiness, Honor

Happiness is obtained through virtue. Now virtuous deeds are voluntary, else they were not praiseworthy. Therefore happiness must be a good obtainable by man through his will. But it is not in a man’s power to secure honor, rather is it in the power of the man who pays honor. Therefore happiness is not to be assigned to honors.

Happiness to Be Found in God Alone
Psalm 102:5; Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19

Preaching Themes: Happiness

It is impossible for any created good to constitute man’s happiness. For happiness is the perfect good, which lulls the appetite altogether; else it would not be the last end, if something yet remained to be desired. Now the object of the will, i.e., of man’s appetite, is the universal good; just as the object of the intellect is the universal true. Hence it is evident that nothing can lull man’s will save the universal good. This is to be found, not in any creature, but in God alone.

Human Reason Deficient Concerning God
Job 11:7–9; Psalm 145:3; Ecclesiastes 1:3; 3:11; 8:16–17; Isaiah 40:13; 55:8–9; Acts 17:18–32; 1 Corinthians 1:20–21; Titus 1:2

Preaching Themes: Doubt, Faith, Philosophy, Weakness

Human reason is very deficient in things concerning God. A sign of this is that philosophers in their researches, by natural investigation, into human affairs have fallen into many errors, and have disagreed among themselves. And consequently, in order that men might have knowledge of God, free of doubt and uncertainty, it was necessary for divine matters to be delivered to them by way of faith, being told to them, as it were, by God Himself who cannot lie.

Impossible to Believe in Christ Without Believing the Trinity
Matthew 1:20; 28:19; John 1:14; Ephesians 3:4; Colossians 2:2–3; Hebrews 2:14

Preaching Themes: Renewal of Creation, Faith, Trinity, Divinity of Jesus, Humanity of Jesus, Holy Spirit

It is impossible to believe explicitly in the mystery of Christ without faith in the Trinity, since the mystery of Christ includes that the Son of God took flesh; that He renewed the world through the grace of the Holy Ghost; and again, that He was conceived by the Holy Ghost.… And consequently, when once grace had been revealed, all were bound to explicit faith in the mystery of the Trinity

Leading Others to Truth
Ephesians 4:15; 2 Timothy 2:25

Preaching Themes: Evangelism, Leadership, Truth

The proper good of the intellect is truth. Since therefore it belongs to good to lead others to good, it belongs to any well-disposed intellect to lead others to truth.

Loving God Is Greater Than Knowing God
Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27

Preaching Themes: God, Love, Wisdom

To love God is something greater than to know Him.

Not a Formal, but a Substantial Conversion
Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24

Preaching Themes: Lord’s Supper

The whole substance of the bread is changed into the whole substance of Christ’s body, and the whole substance of the wine into the whole substance of Christ’s blood. Hence this is not a formal, but a substantial conversion; nor is it a kind of natural movement: but, with a name of its own, it can be called transubstantiation.

Only Love of God Makes Us Love Enemies
Proverbs 25:21–22; Matthew 5:43–44; Luke 6:27, 35; Romans 12:20–21

Preaching Themes: Conflict, Image of God, Love

Love of our enemies springs, directly and purely, from love of God; whereas our love for other men arises from diverse motives, e.g., from gratitude, from kinship, from fellow-citizenship, and the like. But nothing save the love of God can make us love our enemies; for we love them because they are His creatures, made in His image, and capable of enjoying Him.

Peace Is the Work of Love
Isaiah 9:7; Galatians 5:22; 2 Timothy 2:22

Preaching Themes: Justice, Love, Peace

Peace is the work of justice indirectly, insofar as justice removes the obstacles to peace: but it is the work of charity directly, since charity, according to its very nature, causes peace.

Perfect Love and Perfect Hate
Isaiah 26:11; Matthew 13:42, 50; 22:13; 25:30; Luke 13:28; Revelation 19:6

Preaching Themes: Anger, Heaven, Hell, Love

Even as in the blessed in heaven there will be most perfect charity, so in the damned there will be the most perfect hate.

Preferring the Slenderest Knowledge of the Highest Things
2 Chronicles 1:10; Psalm 139:6; Philippians 3:8

Preaching Themes: Education, Wisdom

The slenderest knowledge that may be obtained of the highest things is more desirable than the most certain knowledge obtained of lesser things.

Relaxation Consists in Playful Words and Deeds
Exodus 23:12; Leviticus 23:3; Deuteronomy 5:14; Hebrews 4:9–10

Preaching Themes: Sabbath

Relaxation of the mind from work consists in playful words or deeds. Therefore it becomes a wise and virtuous man to have recourse to such things at times.

Society Impossible Without Truthfulness
Zechariah 8:16; Ephesians 4:25

Preaching Themes: Honesty, Truth

Since man is a social animal, one man naturally owes another whatever is necessary for the preservation of human society. Now it would be impossible for men to live together, unless they believed one another, as declaring the truth one to another.

The Ark and the Church
Genesis 7:13–23; 1 Corinthians 11:26; 1 Peter 3:20–21

Preaching Themes: Nature of the Church, Lord’s Supper

The reality of the sacrament is the unity of the mystical body, without which there can be no salvation; for there is no entering into salvation outside the Church, just as in the time of the deluge there was none outside the Ark, which denotes the Church.

The Best Form of Government
Psalm 72:1; Proverbs 8:15–16; Daniel 2:37–38; Matthew 22:17–21; Romans 13:1–7

Preaching Themes: Government

The best form of government is in a state or kingdom wherein one is given the power to preside over all, while under him are others having governing powers. And yet a government of this kind is shared by all, both because all are eligible to govern, and because the rules are chosen by all. For this is the best form of polity, being partly kingdom, since there is one at the head of all; partly aristocracy, in so far as a number of persons are set in authority; partly democracy, i.e., government by the people, in so far as the rulers can be chosen from the people, and the people have the right to choose their rulers.

The Nature of the Resurrection Body
1 Corinthians 15:35–49

Preaching Themes: Death, Resurrection, Children

Human nature has a twofold defect. First, because it has not yet attained to its ultimate perfection. Secondly, because it has already gone back from its ultimate perfection. The first defect is found in children, the second in the aged: and consequently in each of these human nature will be brought by the resurrection to the state of its ultimate perfection which is in the youthful age, at which the movement of growth terminates, and from which the movement of decrease begins.

Three Criteria for a Just War
Deuteronomy 20:1–4; Ecclesiastes 3:8; Romans 13:4

Preaching Themes: Justice, War

In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign by whose command the war is to be waged.… Secondly, a just cause is required, namely that those who are attacked, should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault.… Thirdly, it is necessary that the belligerents should have a rightful intention, so that they intend the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil.

Three Things Needed for Peace
Job 22:21–22; Matthew 5:9; Luke 2:14; Romans 8:6

Preaching Themes: Peace, Submission, Wisdom

Three things are needful if a man would have peace with himself—(1) That he should submit himself wholly to God … (2) That he should ever guard his goodwill … (3) That he should regulate every motion of the mind and body according to wisdom.

Two Kinds of Knowledge Regarding Belief
Acts 17:22–31; 18:4, 19, 28; Ephesians 4:11; Titus 1:9

Preaching Themes: Evangelism, Faith

A twofold knowledge may be had about matters of belief. One is the knowledge of what one ought to believe, by discerning things to be believed from things not to be believed: in this way knowledge is a gift and is common to all holy persons. The other is a knowledge about matters of belief, whereby one knows not only what one ought to believe, but also how to make the faith known, how to induce others to believe, and confute those who deny the faith. This knowledge is numbered among the gratuitous graces, which are not given to all, but to some.

Two Rules on Interpreting Scripture
Acts 15:19; Hebrews 10:23; 2 Peter 3:15–16

Preaching Themes: Evangelism, Scripture

Two rules are to be observed.… The first is, to hold the truth of Scripture without wavering. The second is that since Holy Scripture can be explained in a multiplicity of senses, one should adhere to a particular explanation only in such measure as to be ready to abandon it, if it be proved with certainty to be false; lest Holy Scripture be exposed to the ridicule of unbelievers, and obstacles be placed to their believing.

Using Scripture in Debate Only Useful if Some Truths Admitted
John 20:31; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 11:3

Preaching Themes: Faith, Revelation, Scripture, Truth

Sacred Scripture, since it has no science above itself, can dispute with one who denies its principles only if the opponent admits some at least of the truths obtained through divine revelation; thus we can argue with heretics from texts in Holy Writ, and against those who deny one article of faith we can argue from another. If our opponent believes nothing of divine revelation, there is no longer any means of proving the articles of faith by reasoning, but only of answering his objections—if he has any—against faith.

We Know God when We Know He Is Above What We Know
Exodus 15:11; Job 11:7–9; 38:1–3; 42:2–6; Psalm 145:3; Ecclesiastes 1:3; 3:11; 8:16–17; Isaiah 55:9 1 Corinthians 1:20–21

Preaching Themes: God, Reverence

Then alone do we know God truly, when we believe that He is far above all that man can possibly think of God, because the divine essence surpasses man’s natural knowledge.

Well-Ordered Self-Love Is Right
Matthew 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8

Preaching Themes: Love, Sin

Well ordered self-love, whereby man desires a fitting good for himself, is right and natural; but it is inordinate self-love, leading to contempt of God, that Augustine reckons to be the cause of sin.

Wonder the Beginning of Wisdom
Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10

Preaching Themes: Reverence, Truth, Wisdom

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom, being as it were, the road to the search of truth.


William of Ockham (ca. 1285–1347)
If God Commanded Hatred for Himself
Deuteronomy 12:28; 27:10; Ecclesiastes 12:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:3

Preaching Themes: God, Obedience

If God had commanded his creatures to hate himself, the hatred of God would ever be the duty of man.


John Wycliffe (1328–1384)
All Sacraments but Reminders
Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:24–25

Preaching Themes: Lord’s Supper

All the sacraments that are left here in earth are but minds of the body of Christ, for a sacrament is no more to say but a sign or mind of a thing passed, or a thing to come; for when Jesus spoke of the bread, and said to His disciples, “As you do this thing, do it in mind of me,” it was set for a mind of good things passed of Christ’s body.

Christ Was with the Father and Spirit at the Beginning
Genesis 1:1–2; John 1:1–2; Colossians 1:15–17

Preaching Themes: Creation, Trinity, Divinity of Jesus

The same Christ Jesus, King and Savior, was at the beginning with the Father and the Holy Ghost, making all things of naught, both heaven and earth, and all things that are therein; working by word of His virtue, for He said, “Be it done,” and it was done, whose works never earthly man might comprehend, either make.

Christ Without Beginning and End
John 1:14, 18; 3:16; Colossians 1:15–17; Hebrews 1:5; Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22:13

Preaching Themes: Divinity of Jesus, Humanity of Jesus

We all ought to believe that he was without beginning, and without ending, and in his manhood begotten and not made.

Christ’s Death Made the Fruit of Everlasting Life
John 16:7; Romans 6:22; Hebrews 2:14

Preaching Themes: Death of Jesus, Eternity

Men may see by the words of Christ that it behooved that he died in the flesh, and that in his death was made the fruit of everlasting life for all them that believe on him.

How a Priest Should Live
1 Timothy 3:1–13; Titus 1:6–9

Preaching Themes: Character, Church Leadership

A priest should live holily, in prayer, in desires and thought, in godly conversation and honest teaching, having God’s commandments and His Gospel ever on his lips. And let his deeds be so righteous that no man may be able with cause to find fault with them, and so open his acts that he may be a true book to all sinful and wicked men to serve God. For the example of a good life stirs men more than true preaching with only the naked word.

John the Baptist Did Not Cease to Be John
Matthew 11:11–15; 17:12–13; Mark 1:2–7; 9:12–13

Preaching Themes: Lord’s Supper

Do we believe that John the Baptist, who was made by the word of Christ to be Elijah, ceased to be John, or ceased to be anything which he was substantially before? In the same manner, accordingly, though the bread becomes the body of Christ, by virtue of his words, it need not cease to be bread.

Let Everyone Read the Scriptures
Deuteronomy 29:29; Psalm 119:148; Nehemiah 8:13; Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 3:15

Preaching Themes: Prayer, Love, Scripture

Let every man wisely, with meek prayers, and great study, and also charity, read the words of God and holy Scriptures.

Let the Straight and Narrow Way Be Opened
Matthew 7:13–14; Luke 13:24; John 10:9

Preaching Themes: Guidance, Obedience, Prayer, Salvation

Now, therefore, we pray heartily to God, that … the large and broad way that leads to perdition may be stopped, and the straight and narrow way that leads to bliss may be made open by Holy Scriptures, that we may know which is the will of God, to serve Him in truth and holiness in the dread of God, that we may find by Him a way of bliss everlasting.

The Bread Christ Broke Left as a Reminder
Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:24–25

Preaching Themes: Divinity of Jesus, Humanity of Jesus, Lord’s Supper

The bread that Christ broke was left to us for mind of things passed for the body of Christ, that we should believe He was a very man in kind as we are, but as God in power, and that His manhood was sustained by food as ours.

The True Form of the Apostles’ Trade
Matthew 20:25–28; Mark 9:35; 10:42–45; Luke 22:25–27; John 13:12–17; 1 Peter 5:1–3

Preaching Themes: Church Leadership, Service

This then is the true form and institution of the apostles’ trade: lordship and rule is forbidden, ministration and service commanded.

The Truth Will Conquer
John 1:14; 14:6; 2 Corinthians 13:8

Preaching Themes: Truth, Victory

I believe that in the end the truth will conquer.

Trust Wholly to Christ for Salvation
Romans 3:21–24; Galatians 2:16; 5:4; Philippians 3:9

Preaching Themes: Faith, Death of Jesus, Passion of Jesus, Justification, Righteousness, Salvation, Union with Christ

Men ought for their salvation to trust wholly to Christ, not to seek to be justified by any other way than by his death and passion, nor to be righteous by any other method than a participation of his all-perfect righteousness.

What Did He Bless?
Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 24:30

Preaching Themes: Blessing, Lord’s Supper

He took bread and blessed; and yet what blessed he? The Scripture says not that Christ took bread and blessed it, or that he blessed the bread which he had taken. Therefore it seems more that he blessed his disciples and apostles, whom he had ordained witnesses of his passion, and in them he left his blessed word, which is the bread of life.… It seems more that he blessed his disciples, and also his apostles, in whom the bread of life was left more than in material bread; for the material bread has an end.

Wycliffe’s Criticism of Too-Constant Prayer
Matthew 28:18–20; 1 Corinthians 9:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Preaching Themes: Church Leadership, Evangelism, Gospel, Prayer

Devout prayer in men of good life is good in certain time; but it is against charity for priests to pray evermore, and at no time to preach, since Christ charges priests to preach the Gospel.


300 Quotations for Preachers from the Medieval Church

Pastorum Series

Copyright 2012 Lexham Press

Lexham Press, 1313 Commercial St., Bellingham, WA 98225

We encourage you to use the slides in presentations. You may also use the quotations in presentations, articles, and books. For all other uses, please contact Lexham Press for permission by emailing


Publisher: John D. Barry
Ritzema, E., & Brant, R. (Hrsg.). (2013). 300 quotations for preachers from the Medieval church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Mathew 1-7 Commentaries- part 1 by Archbishop Uwe AE.Rosenkranz, MA,D.D


Mathew 1-7
The Life of Jesus

Matthew 1–7
A Commentary on Matthew 1–7

by Ulrich Luz

Translated by
James E. Crouch

Edited by
Helmut Koester

Press Minneapolis

Matthew 1–7
A Commentary on Matthew 1–7

Copyright © 2007 Fortress Press, an imprint of Augsburg Fortress

All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in critical articles or reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from the publisher. Write: Permissions, Augsburg Fortress, Box 1209, Minneapolis, MN 55440.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Luz, Ulrich.
[Evangelium nach Matthäus. English]
Matthew 1–7: a commentary / by Ulrich Luz; translated by James E. Crouch; volume editor, Helmut Koester.—[Rev. ed.].
p. cm.—(Hermeneia—a critical and historical commentary on the Bible)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN-13: 978-0-8006-6099-4
ISBN-10: 0-8006-6099-4
1. Bible. N.T. Matthew I–VII—Commentaries. I. Koester, Helmut, 1926– II. Title.
BS2575.53.L8913 2007

■ For Salome

—A Critical
and Historical
on the Bible

Old Testament Editorial Board
Peter Machinist, Harvard University, chair
Klaus Baltzer, University of Munich
Sidnie White Crawford, University of Nebraska
Paul D. Hanson, Harvard University
Thomas Krüger, University of Zurich
S. Dean McBride Jr., Union Theological Seminary in Virginia
Frank Moore Cross, Harvard University, emeritus

New Testament Editorial Board
Helmut Koester, Harvard University, chair
Harold W. Attridge, Yale University
Adela Yarbro Collins, Yale University
Eldon Jay Epp, Case Western Reserve University
Hans-Josef Klauck, University of Chicago
James M. Robinson, Claremont Graduate University, emeritus

The Author
Ulrich Luz was born in 1938, and he studied theology in Zürich and Göttingen under Hans Conzelmann, Eduard Schweizer, and Gerhard Ebeling. He taught at the International Christian University in Tokyo (1970–1971), at the University of Göttingen (1972–1980), and at the University of Bern in Switzerland (1980–2003). Now he is professor emeritus. He received honorary degrees from the universities of Leipzig, Budapest, Sibiu, Lausanne, Praha, and Nishinomiya and served as president of the Societas Novi Testamenti Studiorum in 1998. He is the author of numerous books, including Das Geschichtsverständnis des Paulus (1968), Matthew in History: Interpretation, Influence and Effects (1994), and The Theology of the Gospel of Matthew (1995), and editor of Die Mitte des Neuen Testaments: Einheit und Vielfalt neutestamentlicher Theologie (1983). He and his wife, Salome Keller, have three children.
Matthew 1–7
Editor’s Note
Preface to the First Edition
Preface to the Hermeneia Edition
Translator’s Preface
Reference Codes

1. Sources and Abbreviations
2. Text-Critical Sigla
3. Short Titles of All Commentaries and of Studies and Articles Often Cited
■ Introduction

1 Structure and Basic Character of Matthew’s Story of Jesus
1.1 Basic Problems
1.2 Structuring Methods
1.3 Overall Plan

2 Genre and Intention of the Gospel
2.1 Genre
2.2 Matthew’s Narrative as Communication with the Readers

3 Sources

4 Style
4.1 Syntax
4.2 Matthew’s Preferred Vocabulary
4.3 Words Avoided in Matthew

5 Evangelist’s Relationship to His Sources
5.1 Matthew as Heir of Mark and the Sayings Source
5.1.1 The Linguistic Relationship to Mark and Q
5.1.2 The Theological Relationship to Mark and Q
5.2 Matthew as an Exponent of His Community
5.2.1 Grounding in Worship
5.2.2 Matthew and His Church’s Scribes

6 The Historical Situation of the Gospel of Matthew
6.1 The Gospel of Matthew—a Jewish Christian Gospel
6.2 The Position of the Gospel of Matthew in the History of Jewish Christianity
6.3 The Position of the Matthean Churches in Judaism
6.4 The Situation within the Community
6.5 Place of Writing
6.6 Time of Writing
6.7 Author

7 Text

8 On the Intention of This Commentary and on the Hermeneutical Significance of the History of the Text’s Influence (Wirkungsgeschichte)
■ Commentary
Heading (1:1*)

I Prelude (1:2–4:22*)

A Infancy Narratives (1:2–2:23*)
1 Genealogy (1:2–17*)
2 Birth, Endangerment, and Rescue of the Messianic Child (1:18–2:23*)
2.1 Immanuel (1:18–25*)
2.2 The Gentiles before the King of the Jews (2:1–12*)
2.3 Flight to Egypt and Move to Nazareth (2:13–23*)

Excursus: The Fulfillment Quotations

B The Beginning of Jesus’ Activity (3:1–4:22*)
1 John the Baptist (3:1–17*)
1.1 The Baptist’s Call to Israel to Repent (3:1–12*)
1.2 The Revelation of the Righteous Son of God (3:13–17*)

Excursus: Righteousness (δικαιοσύνη)

Excursus: Son of God

2 The Authentication of the Son of God in Temptation (4:1–11*)
3 The Beginning of the Community in Galilee (4:12–22*)
3.1 Jesus in Galilee of the Gentiles (4:12–17*)
3.2 The Call of the Disciples at the Sea of Galilee (4:18–22*)

Excursus: Disciple (μαθητής)

II Jesus’ Activity in Israel in Word and Deed (4:23–11:30*)

Introductory Overview (4:23–25*)

Excursus: Preaching, Teaching, and Gospel in Matthew

A The Sermon on the Mount (5:1–7:29*)
1 Introduction (5:1–16*)
1.1 Jesus Goes up onto the Mountain (5:1–2*)
1.2 The Beatitudes (5:3–12*)
1.3 “You are the salt of the earth …” (5:13–16*)
2 The Main Part (5:17–7:12*)
2.1 Preface (5:17–20*)
2.2 Better Righteousness, I: Antitheses (5:21–48*)
2.2.1 First Antithesis: On Killing (5:21–26*)
2.2.2 Second Antithesis: On Adultery (5:27–30*)
2.2.3 Third Antithesis: On Divorce (5:31–32*)
2.2.4 Fourth Antithesis: On Swearing (5:33–37*)
2.2.5 Fifth Antithesis: On Nonviolence (5:38–42*)
2.2.6 Sixth Antithesis: On Loving the Enemy (5:43–48*)
2.3 Better Righteousness, II: Attitude toward God (6:1–18*)
2.3.1 On Almsgiving, Praying, and Fasting (6:1–6*, 16–18*)
2.3.2 Against Babbling Prayer (6:7–8*)
2.3.3 The Lord’s Prayer (6:9–13*)
2.3.4 On the Forgiveness of Sins (6:14–15*)
2.4 Guidance for the Community (6:19–7:11*)
2.4.1 Do Not Accumulate Earthly Treasures (6:19–24*)
2.4.2 Be Concerned with the Kingdom of God (6:25–34*)
2.4.3 Do Not Judge (7:1–5*)
2.4.4 Do Not Give What Is Holy to the Dogs (7:6*)
2.4.5 Boldness in Prayer (7:7–11*)
2.5 The Golden Rule (7:12*)
3 Concluding Admonitions (7:13–29*)
3.1 The Narrow and the Wide Gate (7:13–14*)
3.2 Warning against False Prophets (7:15–23*)

Excursus: False Prophets

3.3 Conclusion: Two Builders (7:24–27*)
3.4 Conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount (7:28–29*)

Summary: The Basic Message of the Sermon on the Mount

Conclusion: Reflections on the Praxis of the Sermon on the Mount Today

1. Passages
b/ Old Testament Pseudepigrapha
c/ Qumran and Related Texts
d/ Other Jewish Literature
e/ Rabbinic Literature
g/ Early Christian Literature and the Ancient Church
h/ Greek and Latin Authors
2. Greek Words
3. Subjects
4. Authors
The name Hermeneia, Greek ἑρμηνεία, has been chosen as the title of the commentary series to which this volume belongs. The word Hermeneia has a rich background in the history of biblical interpretation as a term used in the ancient Greek-speaking world for the detailed, systematic exposition of a scriptural work. It is hoped that the series, like its name, will carry forward this old and venerable tradition. A second, entirely practical reason for selecting the name lies in the desire to avoid a long descriptive title and its inevitable acronym, or worse, an unpronounceable abbreviation.
The series is designed to be a critical and historical commentary to the Bible without arbitrary limits in size or scope. It will utilize the full range of philological and historical tools, including textual criticism (often slighted in modern commentaries), the methods of the history of tradition (including genre and prosodic analysis), and the history of religion.
Hermeneia is designed for the serious student of the Bible. It will make full use of ancient Semitic and classical languages; at the same time, English translations of all comparative materials—Greek, Latin, Canaanite, or Akkadian—will be supplied alongside the citation of the source in its original language. Insofar as possible, the aim is to provide the student or scholar with full critical discussion of each problem of interpretation and with the primary data upon which the discussion is based.
Hermeneia is designed to be international and interconfessional in the selection of authors; its editorial boards were formed with this end in view. Occasionally the series will offer translations of distinguished commentaries which originally appeared in languages other than English. Published volumes of the series will be revised continually, and eventually, new commentaries will replace older works in order to preserve the currency of the series. Commentaries are also being assigned for important literary works in the categories of apocryphal and pseudepigraphical works relating to the Old and New Testaments, including some of Essene or Gnostic authorship.
The editors of Hermeneia impose no systematic-theological perspective upon the series (directly, or indirectly by selection of authors). It is expected that authors will struggle to lay bare the ancient meaning of a biblical work or pericope. In this way the text’s human relevance should become transparent, as is always the case in competent historical discourse. However, the series eschews for itself homiletical translation of the Bible.
The editors are heavily indebted to Fortress Press for its energy and courage in taking up an expensive, long-term project, the rewards of which will accrue chiefly to the field of biblical scholarship.
The editor responsible for this volume is Helmut Koester of Harvard University.

Peter Machinist Helmut Koester
For the Old Testament For the New Testament
Editorial Board Editorial Board
Editor’s Note
The appearance of Matthew 1–7 completes the English publication of Ulrich Luz’s commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. This English edition is a translation of the thoroughly revised fifth German edition of volume 1 of Professor Luz’s commentary; it thus supersedes the English translation of an earlier version of volume 1 published in the Continental Commentary series (Fortress Press, 1989). Volumes 2 and 3 of the English commentary (representing volumes 2–4 in German) have previously been published in Hermeneia.
The English translation of the Greek text of the Gospel of Matthew is based on the German translation by Professor Luz and reflects his exegetical decisions. Other biblical texts are usually quoted from the New Revised Standard Version. Quotations of Latin and Greek authors, except where otherwise noted, follow the texts and translations of the Loeb Classical Library or other standard editions.
The endpapers show facing pages from Codex Schøyen (MS 2650), a fourth-century Coptic manuscript of the Gospel of Matthew from the Schøyen Collection (Oslo and London), containing Matthew 6:5–19* (front) and Matthew 6:19–31* (end). The variants in this manuscript are sufficient to suggest that it may represent the Coptic translation of a different form of Matthew than the canonical Gospel (see p. 60).
Preface to the First Edition
It is with relief and gratitude that I release the first volume of “Matthew.” A sympathetic colleague from another discipline once told me that writing a major commentary on a New Testament book these days is probably the penitential exercise par excellence. He was thinking of the flood of secondary literature that increasingly proves to be more than a hindrance to scholarly communication and especially keeps one from dealing with the text itself. For the most part I have not found that to be the case. I have always experienced the text to be so supportive and so fascinating that without any effort it kept me involved. Indeed, the commentary is probably the literary genre that expresses most directly that we exegetes are indebted to our texts for everything we are and that we are to serve them in everything we do. Thus I am thankful that I have been able to write a commentary.
Admittedly, I too am uncomfortable with its length. It results not so much from the immensely swollen secondary literature as from the concept that lies behind this commentary. First of all, I am convinced that a commentary that not only explains biblical texts but also aids in their understanding is not permitted simply to remain in the past; it must also draw lines into the present. In the second place, I am convinced that the history of the text’s influence can make a significant contribution here. After the text itself, I am probably most indebted to the church fathers and to the Protestant and Catholic exegesis of the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. In a remarkable way their exegesis deals not only with the words but also with the substance of the texts. In the third place, there lies behind this commentary the conviction (or, perhaps, the hope!) that pastors and priests regularly have to struggle at their desks with the substance of their texts if they are not quickly to suffer from preacher’s burnout. I am quite aware that these days it is more likely the exception than the rule when the pastor does this kind of work with biblical texts. It falls victim not so much to scholarly work in other areas as to the hectic life of the pastorate, and it happens, in my opinion, to the detriment of our churches. I have written this commentary primarily for priests, pastors and teachers of religion. One wonders whether it will help them engage in an intensive conversation with the texts in their study or whether its length will actually keep them from such a conversation. I would rather have a response to this question than to read all the critical reviews.
There remains the pleasant duty of expressing thanks. This kind of book is not created without the help of others. Through the years a number of students have collaborated in tracing the history of the text’s influence: Peter Lampe, Reinhard Gorski, Andreas Karrer, Ernst Lüthi, Christian Inäbnit, Andreas Dettweiler, but especially Wolf Dietrich Köhler and Andreas Ennulat. I am indebted to the state of Lower Saxony and to the Canton of Berne for providing assistants and to the Swiss National Foundation for a temporary half-assistantship. Numerous colleagues have willingly helped me, especially church historians in whose domain I have muddled as a dilettante. I mention only one person as representative of all of them—the late Old Master, Hermann Dörries, in whose study I was able to learn so much. Joachim Gnilka, Eduard Schweizer and Hans Weder have read the manuscript and have helped it along with critical questions. Numerous students had to share in “Matthew” in lectures, seminars and seminar papers. What was it like for them? “Matthew is groovy” once appeared on a Göttingen bulletin board. To this day I still do not know what “groovy” means. Frau Karin Janecke and Frau Beata Gerber have typed the manuscript. Defaced by many only moderately successful efforts to shorten it, the manuscript was the occasion of no small amount of vexation to the publisher and printer. I thank all of them.
The dedication indicates who is most to be thanked, because it was she who suffered most whenever this commentary “consumed” me.

Ulrich Luz
Preface to the Hermeneia Edition
Compared with the earlier English edition of this commentary in Fortress Press’s Continental Commentary series, the Hermeneia edition is in many parts a new book. The desire of the Hermeneia editors to offer a new translation of the volume provided me with the occasion to rework it completely. The excellent translation offered here by Jim Crouch is based on the fifth German edition of 2002.
In this new edition the basic concept of the commentary has not changed, but it has become clearer. At many points I have sharpened my previous position or have clarified it; in a few cases I have corrected it. I have given more attention to the results of literary criticism and of sociological and reader-oriented exegeses. However, in its exegetical parts the commentary is not bound to a single methodological approach; it offers instead an attempt to integrate various methodological approaches. The basic assumption here is that the story of Jesus that Matthew reinterprets and actualizes is an approach to his communities in a totally concrete historical situation. That also opens the way to the history of the text’s influence (Wirkungsgeschichte) that I understand as consisting of all of the reflections on and receptions and actualizations of the gospel in new historical situations. This time when dealing with the history of 2:1–12* I was also able to call attention to art history. Of course, I have gone through the mass of literature that has appeared since 1984 and have incorporated it as appropriate.
The German-language reworking of chaps. 3–7 was completed in 1998, that of chaps. 1–2 and the introduction of the commentary in the summer of 2000. That also indicates the terminus ad quem up to which I was able to make use of the secondary literature. Unfortunately the additions have made the volume somewhat longer. In many sections the text is increased by as much as a third; in others it is less.
Again I owe thanks to a number of people. Axel Knauf has discovered many Hebrew errors (and other mistakes!) in the first edition. I would especially like to mention Jeannette Vuilleumin, Sarah Aebersold, and Stephan Bösiger, whose clever and sharp eyes have discovered many problems. Above all I am thankful to my translator, Jim Crouch, for the wonderful work he has done. Translating this kind of commentary means much more than simply translating. It involved, for example, finding English language editions of sources and other literature and providing the first names of authors missing in the German edition or the publishers of works cited. It was an unequalled Sisyphean task for which not only I am grateful but all American readers of this volume as well. In addition, his sharp eyes have discovered not a few errors that were overlooked in five editions of the German-language version. Also deserving special thanks are the editors of the volume, especially Helmut Koester (Harvard), and the collaborators at Fortress Press. They have all performed a wonderful work.
The dedication of the first edition is unchanged. It is for my wife, Salome, who has accompanied, supported and endured me—and that means “Matthew” as well—for more than half of her lifetime.

Ulrich Luz
Translator’s Preface
The reader of this commentary will want to note that, except for commentaries, secondary literature found in only one section of the work is not included in the “Short Titles” in the reference codes in the front pages. To avoid burdening an already long list of short titles these works are listed with full bibliographical information in the literature at the beginning of their respective sections and then cited in the footnotes with easily recognizable short titles.
Newcomers to the commentary who are not familiar with Professor Luz’s emphasis on the history of the text’s influence (Wirkungsgeschichte) would do well to begin by reading his comments in §8 of his introduction to the commentary (“On the Intention of This Commentary and on the Hermeneutical Significance of the History of the Text’s Influence”), including the comments in footnote 312 of the Introduction.

James E. Crouch
Reference Codes
1. Sources and Abbreviations

AASF Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae
AB Anchor Bible
ʿAbod. Zar. ʿAbodah Zarah
ʾAbot R. Nat. ʾAbot de Rabbi Nathan
ABR Australian Biblical Review
AbrN Abr-Nahrain
Act. Thom. Acts of Thomas
Act. Pet. Acts of Peter
ACW Ancient Christian Writers
Adam and Eve Books of Adam and Eve
Dial. Dialogus
Var. hist. Varia historia
AGJU Arbeiten zur Geschichte des antiken Judentums und des Urchristentums
AGK Arbeiten zur Geschichte des Kirchenkampfes
AKG Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte
In Luc. Expositio in Lucam
Off. De officiis
AnBib Analecta biblica
ANET James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (3d ed.; Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969)
ANF Ante-Nicene Fathers
ANRW Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt
Apoc. Abr. Apocalypse of Abraham
Apoc. Adam Apocalypse of Adam
Apoc. Pet. Apocalypse of Peter
APOT R. H. Charles, ed., The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament (2 vols.; Oxford: Clarendon, 1913)
B. Civ. Bella Civilia
Met. Metamorphoses
Apol. Apologia
Av. Aves
Nu. Nubes
Vesp. Vespae
Cael. De caelo
Eth. eud. Ethica eudemia
Eth. m. Ethica magna
Eth. nic. Ethica nicomachea
Part. an. De partibus animalium
Poet. Poetica
ASNU Acta seminarii neotestamentici upsaliensis
ASTI Annual of the Swedish Theological Institute
Ant. Vita Antonii
Suppl. Supplicatio
ATLA.MS American Theological Library Association—Monograph Series
Aug Augustinianum
Adult. conj. De adulterinis conjugiis
Civ. D. De civitate Dei
Cons. ev. De consensu evangelistarum
Ench. Enchiridion
In Joh. Ev. Tract. In Johannis Evangelium Tractatus
Mend. De mendacio
Nupt. concup. De nuptiis et concupiscentiis
Serm. Dom, De sermone Domini in monte
AzTh Arbeiten zur Theologie
b. Babylonian Talmud tractate
B. Batra Baba Batra
B. Meṣ Baba Meṣia
B. Qam. Baba Qamma
BAC Biblioteca de autores cristiianos
2 Bar. Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch
3 Bar. Greek Apocalypse of Baruch
Barn. Epistle of Barnabas
Reg. brev. Regulae brevius
Sanct. Christi gener. Homilia in Sanctam Christi generationem
BAW Bibliothek der Alten Welt
BAW.AC —Antike und Christentum
BBB Bonner biblische Beiträge
BBETh Beiträge zur biblischen Exegese und Theologie
BCE Before the Common Era
BDAG W. Bauer, F. W. Danker, W. F. Arndt, and F. W. Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (3d ed.; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000)
BDF F. Blass, A. Debrunner, and Robert W. Funk, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961)
Bek. Bekorot
Ber. Berakot
BBET Beiträge zur biblischen Exegese und Theologie
BEThL Bibliotheca ephemeridum theologicarum lovaniensium
BEvTh Beiträge zur evangelischen Theologie
BFCTh Beiträge zur Förderung christlicher Theologie
BGBE Beiträge zur Geschichte der biblischen Exegese
BGLRK Beiträge zur Geschichte und Lehre der reformierten Kirche
BHTh Beiträge zur historischen Theologie
BI Biblical Interpretation
Bib Biblica
BibLeb Bibel und Leben
BibS Biblische Studien (Freiburg)
BiKi Bibel und Kirche
BJRL Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester
BKV Bibliothek der Kirchenväter
BR Biblical Research
BSac Bibliotheca sacra
BSLK Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche
BSRK Bekenntnisschriften der reformierten Kirche
BThSt Biblisch-theologische Studien
BThZ Berlinger theologische Zeitschrift
BTP Bibliotheca theologiae practicae
BU Biblische Untersuchungen
BVC Bible et vie chrétienne
BWANT Beiträge zur Wissenschaft vom Alten und Neuen Testament
BZ Biblische Zeitschrift
BZNW Beihefte zur ZNW
ca. circa, approximately
CBQ Catholic Biblical Quarterly
CBQMS —Monograph Series
CChr Corpus Christianorum
CChr.SG —Series Graeca
CChr.SL —Series Latina
CD Cairo (Genizah) text of the Damascus Document
CD Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics
CE the Common Era
cf. (confer = compare)
chap(s). chapter(s)
CIC Codex iuris canonici
Divin. De divinatione
Ep. ad Quint. Epistula ad Quintum fratrem
Off. De officiis
Tusc. Tusculanae disputationes
Clement of Alexandria
Ecl. proph. Eclogae propheticae
Exc. Theod. Excerpta ex Theodoto
Paed. Paedagogus
Prot. Protrepticus
Quis Div. Salv. Quis dives salvetur
Strom. Stromata
1 Clem. The First Epistle of Clement
2 Clem. The Second Epistle of Clement
ConBNT Coniectanea biblica, New Testament
Conc Concilium
Const. ap. Apostolic Constitutions
CSEL Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum
CThM Calwer theologische Monographien
CThM.A —Reihe A: Bibelwissenschaft
Bon. pat. De bono patientae
Dom. or. De dominica oratione
Eleem. De opere et eleemosynis
Hab. virg. De habitu virginum
Mort. De mortalitate
Test. -Ad Qurinium testimonia adversus Judaeos
Cyril of Alexandria
Comm. in Luc. Commentarii in Lucam
Cyril of Jerusalem
Cat. myst. Catechesis mystagogica
DACL Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie
Or. Orationes
Did. Didache
Didasc. Didascalia
Dio Chrysostom
Or. Orationes
Diogn. Epistle to Diognetus
Mat. med. Materia medica
diss. dissertation
DJD Discoveries in the Judean Desert
DS Heinrich Denzinger and Adolf Schönmetzer, eds., Enchiridion symbolorum, 36th ed. (Barcinona: Herder, 1976)
ed(s). editor(s), edited by, edition
ʿEd. ʿEduyyot
EdF Erträge der Forschung
EDNT Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Horst Balz and Gerhard Schneider (3 vols.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990–93)
EG Evangelisches Gesangbuch (1995 edition)
EHS.T Europäische Hochschulschriften, Theologie
EK Evangelische Kommentare
EKKNT Evangelisch-katholischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament
Ep. epistula(ae)
Ep. Petr. ad Jac. Epistula Petri ad Jacobum (in the Pseudoclementine Homilies)
Ephraem (Ephrem)
Nat. De nativitate
Diss. Dissertationes
Ench. Enchiridion
Haer. Haereses
Ep. Arist. Epistle of Aristeas
ʿErub. ʿErubin
EstBib Estudios bíblicos
EstEcl Estudios eclesiásticos
ET English translation
EtB Études bibliques
EThL Ephemerides theologicae lovanienses
EThSt Erfurter theologische Studien
Dem. ev. Demonstratio evangelica
Hist. eccl. Historia ecclesiastica
Praep. Ev. Praeparatio evangelica
Quaest. ad Steph. Quaestiones ad Stephanum
EvTh Evangelische Theologie
FBESG Forschungen und Berichte der Evangelischen Studiengemeinschaft
FC Fathers of the Church
FGLP Forschungen zur Geschichte und Lehre des Protestantismus
frg. fragment
FRLANT Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen Testaments
FThL Forum theologiae linguisticae
FThSt Freiburger theologische Studien
FzB Forschungen zur Bibel
GCS Griechische christliche Schriftsteller
Giṭ. Giṭṭin
Gos. Thom. Gospel of Thomas
Greg Gregorianum
Gregory of Nazianzus
Poem. Mor. Poemata moralia
Gregory of Nyssa
Beat. De beatitudinibus
Orat. Cat. M. Oratio catechetica magna
Or. Dom. De oratione dominica
Virg. De virginitate
GThA Göttinger theologische Arbeiten
GuL Geist und Leben
Ḥag. Ḥagigah
HbrMt Hebrew text of Matthew of the Shem Tov (Ibn Shaprut), 14th century (= George Howard, The Gospel of Matthew According to a Primitive Hebrew Text (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1987)
Aeth. Aethiopica
Hermas The Shepherd of Hermas
Man. Mandate
Sim. Similitude
Vis. Vision
Op. Opera et dies
Dem. Christ. Antichr. Demonstratio de Christo et Antichristo
Ref. Refutatio omnium haeresium
HKAW Handbuch der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft
HNT Handbuch zum Neuen Testament
Hom. Homilia
Hor. Horayot
Carm. Carmina or Odes
Ep. Epistulae
Sat. Satirae
HThKNT Herders theologischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament
HThKNTSup —Supplementband
HTR Harvard Theological Review
HWDA Handwörterbuch des deutschen Aberglaubens
Fab. Fabulae
Vit. Pyth. De vita Pythagorae
IASH Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities
IBSt Irish Biblical Studies
ICC International Critical Commentary
Eph. Letter to the Ephesians
Magn. Letter to the Magnesians
Phld. Letter to the Philadelphians
Pol. Letter to Polycarp
Rom. Letter to the Romans
Smyrn. Letter to the Smyrnaeans
Trall. Letter to the Trallians
Int Interpretation
Haer. Adversus haereses
JAC Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum
JBL Journal of Biblical Literature
JBLMS Journal of Biblical Literature Monograph Series
Dan. Commentariorum in Danielem
Helv. Adversus Helvidium
In Jes. -Commentarii in Isaiam Prophetam
In Tit. In Titum
Pelag. Adversus Pelagium
Vir. ill. De viris illustribus
John Chrysostom
Hom. in Col. Homilies on Colossians
John of Damascus
Exp. fidei Exposition of the Orthodox Faith
Jos. Asen. Joseph and Asenath
Ant. Antiquities of the Jews
Ap. Contra Apionem
Bell. Bellum Judaicum
Vit. Vita
JQR Jewish Quarterly Review
JR Journal of Religion
JSHRZ Jüdische Schriften aus hellenistisch-römischer Zeit
JSNT Journal for the Study of the New Testament
JSNTSup Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series
JSOTSup Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series
JTS Journal of Theological Studies
Jub. Jubilees
Apol. Apologia
Dial. Dialogus cum Tryphone Judaeo
KBANT Kommentare und Beiträge zum Alten und Neuen Testament
Ketub. Ketubot
KlT Kleine Texte für Vorlesungen und Übungen
KP Der Kleine Pauly Lexikon der Antike (5 vols.; Stuttgart: Druckenmüller, 1964–75)
KRB Kleine Reihe zur Bibel
KTGQ Kirchen- und Theologiegeschichte in Quellen
KuD Kerygma und Dogma
LCC Library of Christian Classics
LCI Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie
LCL Loeb Classical Library
LCO Letture cristiane delle origini
LD Lectio divina
LouvSt Louvain Studies
LSJ H. G. Liddell, R. Scott, H. S. Jones, A Greek-English Lexicon, 9th ed. with rev. supp. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1996)
LW Luther’s Works (American Edition)
LXX Septuagint
m. Mishnah tractate
Mak. Makkot
Mart. Isa. Martyrdom of Isaiah
MBTh Münsterische Beiträge zur Theologie
Meg. Megillah
Mek. Mekilta
Midr. Midrash
MThSt Marburger theologische Studien
MThZ Münchener theologische Zeitschrift
n(n). note(s)
Ned. Nedarim
NedThT Nederlands theologisch tijdschrift
Neot Neotestamentica
NF Neue Folge
NHC Nag Hammadi Codex
NHL James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library in English (3d ed.; San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988)
Nid. Niddah
no(s). number(s)
NovT Novum Testamentum
NovTSup Novum Testamentum Supplements
NPNF Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers
n.s. new series
NT New Testament
NTA New Testament Abstracts
NTAbh Neutestamentliche Abhandlungen
NTApoc Wilhelm Schneemelcher, ed., New Testament Apocrypha (trans. and ed. R. McL. Wilson; rev. ed.; 2 vols.; Louisville: Westminster/ John Knox, 1991–92)
NTF Neutestamentliche Forschungen
NTL New Testament Library
NTOA Novum Testamentum et orbis antiquus
NTS New Testament Studies
NTT Norsk Teologisk Tidsskrift
OBO Orbis biblicus et orientalis
Or. Oratio(nes)
OrChr Oriens christianus
Cels. Contra Celsum
Comm. in Ps. In Psalmos Commentarii
Hom. in Cant. Homiliae in Canticum Canticorum
Hom. in Jer. Homiliae in Jeremiam
Hom. in Lev. Homiliae in Leviticum
Hom. in Luc. Homiliae in Lucam
Hom. in Ezek. Homiliae in Ezekielem
Or. De oratione
Princ. De principiis
OT Old Testament
Ex Pont. Epistulae ex Ponto
p(p). page(s)
par(s). parallel(s)
PCB Peake’s Commentary on the Bible
Pesaḥ. Pesaḥim
Pesiq. R. Pesiqta Rabbati
Sat. Satyricon
Petrus Comestor
Hist. schol. Historia scholastica
PG Patrologia graeca = J.-P. Migne, Patrologiae cursus completes, series graeca (162 vols.; Paris: Migne, 1857–66)
Abr. De Abrahamo
Aet. mund. De aeternitate mundi
Agric. De agricultura
Cher. De cherubim
Congr. De congressu eruditionis gratia
Decal. De decalogo
Deus imm. Quod Deus sit immutabilis
Flacc. In Flaccum
Fug. De fuga et inventione
Leg. all. Legum allegoriae
Mut. nom. De mutatione nominum
Omn. prob. lib. Quod omnis probus liber sit
Op. mun. De opificio mundi
Poster. C. De posteritate Caini
Spec. leg. De specialibus legibus
Virt. De virtutibus
Vit. cont. De vita contemplativa
Vit. Mos. De vita Mosis
Hist. eccl. Historia ecclesiastica
Vit. Ap. Vita Apollonii
Pyth. Pythia
Pirqe R. El. Pirqe Rabbi Eliezer
pl. plural
PL Patrologia Latina = J.-P. Migne, Patrologiae cursus completes, series Latina (217 vols.; Paris: Migne, 1844–55)
Ap. Apologia
Gorg. Gorgias
Men. Meno
Resp. Respublica
Symp. Symposion
Tim. Timaeus
Nat. hist. Naturalis historia
Alex. De Alexandro
Mor. Moralia
Quaest. conviv. Quaestiones conviviales
Onom. Onomasticon
Phil. Letter to the Philippians
Vit. Pyth. Vita Pythagorae
Prop. Sextus Propertius
PS Patrologia Syriaca
Ps.-Clem. Hom. Pseudo-Clementine Homilies
Ps.-Clem. Rec. Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions
Ps.-Philo Pseudo-Philo
Lib. ant. bib. Liber antiquitatum biblicarum
Ps.-Phoc. Pseudo-Phocylides
Ps. Sol. Psalms of Solomon
Flor. Epistula ad Floram
PW Pauly-Wissowa, Real-Encyclopädie der classischen Alterthumswissenschaft
PWSup PW Supplement
Q Sayings Source, Q
QLk Lukan version of Q
QMt Matthean version of Q
QD Quaestiones disputatae
QFRG Quellen und Forschungen zur Reformationsgeschichte
QGT Quellen zur Geschichte der Täufer
Qidd. Qiddušin
1QapGen Genesis Apocryphon from Qumran Cave 1
1QH Thanksgiving Hymns from Qumran Cave 1
1QM War Scroll from Qumran Cave 1
1QpHab Pesher on Habakkuk from Qumran Cave 1
1QS Rule of the Community (Manual of Discipline) from Qumran Cave 1
4QMMT Miqsat Maʿaśê ha-Torah from Qumran Cave 4
4QSir Songs of Sabbath Sacrifice from Qumran Cave 4
4QTest Testimonia from Qumran Cave 4
11QMelch Melchizedek Scroll from Qumran Cave 11
11Qps The Psalms Scroll from Qumran Cave 11
11QT The Temple Scroll from Qumran Cave 11
Inst. orat. Institutio oratoria
R. Rabbi (before a name)
Rab. Rabbah (following abbreviation for biblical book)
RAC Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum
RB Revue biblique
RCB Revista de cultura bíblica
RECA Real-Encyclopädie der classischen Alterthumswissenschaft
Ref. Reformatio
RevQ Revue de Qumran
RGG Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart
RHPhR Revue de l’histoire et de philosophie religieuses
RivB Rivista biblica
RSPhTh Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques
RSR Recherches de science religieuse
RStT Reformationsgeschichtliche Studien und Texte
RThL Revue théologique de Louvain
RVV Religionsgeschichtliches Versuche und Vorarbeiten
Šabb. Šabbat
Sanh. Sanhedrin
SANT Studien zum Alten und Neuen Testament
SAW Studienhefte zur Altertumswissenschaft
SBFLA Studii biblici franciscani liber annuus
SBLDS Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series
SBS Stuttgarter Bibelstudien
SBT Studies in Biblical Theology
SC Sources chrétiennes
ScEs Science et esprit
scil. scilicet, namely: to be supplied or understood
SEÅ Svensk exegetisk årsbok
Šebu. Šebuʿot
SemSup Semeia Supplements
Ben. De beneficiis
Šeqal. Šeqalim
Serm. Sermo
Sent. Sententiae
sg. singular
SGV Sammlung gemeinverständlicher Vorträge und Schriften
SHAW Sitzungsberichte der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften
Sib. Or. Sibylline Oracles
SIG Wilhelm Dittenberger, Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum (3d. ed.; 4 vols.; Leipzig: Hirzel, 1915–24)
SJ Studia Judaica
SJTh Scottish Journal of Theology
SMGH Schriften der Monumenta Germaniae Historica
SNTSMS Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series
SNTU A Studien zum Neuen Testament und seiner Umwelt, Serie A
SNTU B Studien zum Neuen Testament und seiner Umwelt, Serie B
SO Symbolae Osloenses
Oed. Col. Oedipus coloneus
Oed. Tyr. Oedipus tyrannus
SPAW Sitzungsberichte der preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften
SPAW.PH Sitzungsberichte der preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften Philosophisch- Historische Klasse
SR Studies in Religion / Sciences religieuses
StEv Studia Evangelica
StLi Studia liturgica
Ecl. Ecloge
STö.T Sammlung Töpelmann—Theologie im Abriss
StPatr Studia Patristica
Str-B Hermann L. Strack and Paul Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch (2d ed.; 4 vols.; Munich: Beck, 1956)
StTh Studia Theologica
SUNT Studien zur Umwelt des Neuen Testaments
s.v(v). sub verbo or sub vocem under the word(s) or entry (entries)
t. Tosephta tractate
T. Abr. Testament of Abraham
T. Jac. Testament of Jacob
T. Job Testament of Job
T. 12 Patr. Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
T. Ash. Testament of Asher
T. Benj. Testament of Benjamin
T. Gad Testament of Gad
T. Iss. Testament of Issachar
T. Jud. Testament of Judah
T. Levi Testament of Levi
T. Naph. Testament of Naphtali
T. Reub. Testament of Reuben
T. Sim. Testament of Simeon
T. Zeb. Testament of Zebulun
Taʿan. Taʿanit
Agr. Agricola
Ann. Annales
Hist. Historiae
Tanḥ. Tanḥuma
Tanḥ. B Tanḥuma (ed. Buber)
TaS Texts and Studies
TDNT G. Kittel and G. Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (trans. G. W. Bromiley; 10 vols.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964–76)
TEH Theologische Existenz heute
Tem. Temurah
Adv. Iud. Adversus Iudaeos
Apol. Apologeticus
Bapt. De baptismo
Cast. De exhortatione castitatis
Cult. fem. De cultu feminarum
Fuga De fuga in persecutione
Idol. De idololatria
Marc. Adversus Marcionem
Monog. De monogamia
Or. De oratione liber
Pat. De patientia
Praescr. Haer. De praescriptione haereticorum
Pud. De pudicitia
Scap. Ad Scapulam
Spect. De spectaculis
Tg(s). Targum(s)
Tg. Onq. Targum Onqelos
Tg. Yer. I Targum Yerushalmi I
Tg. Yer. II Targum Yerushalmi II
TGF Trierer Grabungen und Forschungen
ThA Theologische Arbeiten
ThBei Theologische Beiträge
ThBl Theologische Blätter
ThBü Theologische Bücherei
Or. Orationes
Idyll. Idyllia
Theodore of Mopsuestia
Fragm. Dogm. Fragmenta dogmatica
In Joh. -Commentarius in Evangelium Iohannis Apostoli
Theodoret of Cyrus
Graec. aff. cur. Graecarum affectionum curatio
Autol. Ad Autolycum
Hist. plant. Historia plantarum
ThH Théologie historique
ThHKNT Theologischer Handkommentar zum Neuen Testament
ThLZ Theologische Literaturzeitung
ThPh Theologie und Philosophie
ThQ Theologische Quartalschrift
ThR Theologische Rundschau
ThSLG Theologische Studien der (Österreichischen) Leogesellschaft
ThStK Theologische Studien und Kritiken
ThV Theologische Versuche
ThZ Theologische Zeitschrift
TLOT Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann, eds., Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (trans. Mark Biddle; 3 vols.; Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1997)
trans. translator
TRE Theologische Realenzyklopädie
TS Theological Studies
TSAJ Texte und Studien zum antiken Judentum
TThZ Trierer theologische Zeitschrift
TU Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur
TynB Tyndale Bulletin
VC Vigiliae christianae
VD Verbum Domini
VetChr Vetera Christianorum
Vg Vulgate
Aen. Aeneid
Vit. proph. Vitae prophetarum
vol(s). volume(s)
VTSup Vetus Testamentum, Supplements
v(v). verse(s)
WA Martin Luther, Kritische Gesamtausgabe (= Weimar edition)
WdF Wege der Forschung
WMANT Wissenschaftliche Monographien zum Alten und Neuen Testament
WuD Wort und Dienst
WUNT Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament
Mem. Memorabilia
y. Jerusalem Talmud tractate
Yeb. Yebamot
ZAW Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft
ZDPV Zeitschrift des deutschen Palästina-Vereins
ZEE Zeitschrift für evangelische Ethik
ZKTh Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie
ZNW Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft
ZThK Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche
2. Text-Critical Sigla
א Codex Sinaiticus
’A Aquila (Greek translation of the OT)
arab Arabic
arm Armenian
B Codex Vaticanus
bo Bohairic version
Byz. Byzantine MSS
c Colbertinus (Old Latin MS)
C Codex Ephraemi
co Coptic versions (agreement of all Coptic versions)
Δ Codex Sargallensis
D Codex Bezae
f1 family 1 of Gospel minuscule MSS
f13 family 13 of Gospel minuscule MSS
geo Georgian Translation
it Old Latin version
L Codex Regius
lat Latin MSS
LXX Septuagint
M the majority text
mac Middle Egyptian Coptic textual witnesses
MS(S) manuscript(s)
MT Masoretic text
Nestle-Aland25 Eberhard Nestle, et al., eds., Novum Testamentum Graece, 25th ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung, 1963)
Nestle-Aland26 Eberhard Nestle, et al., eds., Novum Testamentum Graece, 26th ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung, 1979)
P. Egerton Papyrus Egerton
P. Lond. Greek Papyri in the British Museum
P. Oxy. Oxyrhynchus Papyri
Σ Symmachus (Greek translation of the OT)
sah. Sahidic
syc Curetonianus: four-Gospel MS in Old Syriac
syh Heraclensis version (Syriac)
syP Peshitta version (Syriac)
sys four-Gospel Sinaitic MS in Old Syriac
Θ Codex Washingtonianus Koridethi
TR Textus receptus
vg Old Latin and Vulgate united textual reading
Vg Vulgate
VL Vetus Latina
W Freer Codex
3. Short Titles of All Commentaries and of Studies and Articles Often Cited
Abrahams, Studies
Israel Abrahams, Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels (2 vols.; 1917; reprinted New York: Ktav, 1967).
Hans Achelis and Johannes Flemming, eds., Die syrische Didaskalia (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1904).
Aphraates (fl. 337–345), Homilien: aus dem Syrischen übersetzt und erläutert (ed. Georg Bert; Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1888).
Aland, Synopsis
Kurt Aland, ed., Synopsis quattuor evangeliorum (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1995).
Willoughby C. Allen, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. Matthew (ICC; 3d ed.; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912).
Allison, New Moses
Dale C. Allison, The New Moses: A Matthean Typology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993).
Benedictus Aretius (Marti) (c. 1522–74), Commentarii in Domini nostri Jesu Christi Novum Testamentum (Paris: Ioannem le Preux, 1607).
Augustine Sermone Domini
Augustinus De Sermone Domini in Monte, PL 34.1230–1308 (ET: FC 11, trans. Denis J. Kavanagh).
Bacher, Terminologie
Wilhelm Bacher, Die exegetische Terminologie der jüdischen Traditionsliteratur (2 vols.; 1899–1905; reprinted Hildesheim: Olms, 1965).
Bacon, Studies
Benjamin Wisner Bacon, Studies in Matthew (New York: Holt, 1930).
Balch, History
David Balch, ed., Social History of the Matthean Community: Cross-Disciplinary Approaches (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991).
Banks, Jesus
Robert J. Banks, Jesus and the Law in the Synoptic Tradition (SNTSMS 28; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975).
Barth, “Understanding”
Gerhard Barth, “Matthew’s Understanding of the Law,” in Bornkamm-Barth-Held, Tradition and Interpretation, 85–164.
Barth, CD
Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics (4 vols. in 13; ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley and Thomas F. Torrance; trans. Bromiley, et al.; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1956–75; 2d ed. of vol. 1, 1975).
Bauer, Structure
David R. Bauer, The Structure of Matthew’s Gospel: A Study in Literary Design (JSNTSup 31; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1988).
Bauer-Powell, Treasures
David R. Bauer and Mark Allan Powell, eds., Treasures New and Old: Recent Contributions to Matthean Studies (SBL Symposium Series 1; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1996).
Francis Wright Beare, The Gospel According to Matthew (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981).
(Ps.-) Beda Venerabilis (prior to 820), In Matthaei Evangelium expositio (PL 92.9–132).
Johann Albrecht Bengel, Gnomon Novi Testamenti (Tübingen: Schramm, 1742).
Berger, “Gesetzesauslegung”
Klaus Berger, “Die Gesetzesauslegung Jesu in der synoptischen Tradition und ihr Hintergrund im Alten Testament und Spätjudentum” (diss., Munich, 1966).
Berger, Gesetzesauslegung
Klaus Berger, Die Gesetzesauslegung Jesu, vol. 1: Markus und Parallelen (WMANT 40; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1972).
Betz, “Literary Genre”
Hans Dieter Betz, “The Sermon on the Mount: Its Literary Genre and Function,” in idem, Gesammelte Aufsätze, vol. 2: Synoptische Studien (Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1992) 77–91.
Betz, Sermon
Hans Dieter Betz, The Sermon on the Mount: A Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, including the Sermon on the Plain (Matthew 5:3–7:27 and Luke 6:20–49) (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995).
Beyer, Syntax
Klaus Beyer, Semitische Syntax im Neuen Testament, vol. 1: Satzlehre, Teil 1 (2d ed.; SUNT 1; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1968).
Beyschlag, Bergpredigt
Karlmann Beyschlag, Die Bergpredigt und Franz von Assisi (BFChTh 57; Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1955).
Theodore of Beza (1516–1605), Jesu Christi Novum Testamentum (Geneva: Stephanus, 1582).
Binder, Aussetzung
Gerhard Binder, Die Aussetzung des Königskindes Kyros und Romulus (Beiträge zur klassischen Philologie 10; Meisenheim: Hain, 1964).
Bischoff, Rabbinen
Erich Bischoff, Jesus und die Rabbinen: Jesu Bergpredigt und “Himmelreich” in ihrer Unabhängigkeit vom Rabbinismus (Schriften des Institutum Judaicum in Berlin 33; Leipzig: Hinrich, 1905).
Black, Approach
Matthew Black, An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts (3d ed.; Oxford: Clarendon, 1967).
Bloch, “Gestalt”
Renée Bloch, “Die Gestalt des Moses in der rabbinischen Tradition,” in Fridolin Stier and Eleonore Beck, eds., Moses in Schrift und Überlieferung (Düsseldorf: Patmos, 1963) 95–171.
Bonhoeffer, Cost
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (trans. Reginald H. Fuller, rev. by Irmgard Booth; rev. ed.; New York: Macmillan, 1959).
Pierre Bonnard, L’Évangile selon saint Matthieu (2d ed.; CNT 1; Neuchâtel: Delachaux & Niestlé, 1970).
Bornhäuser, Bergpredigt
Karl Bernhard Bornhäuser, Die Bergpredigt: Versuch einer zeitgenössischen Auslegung (BFChTh 2/7; Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1923).
Bornkamm, “End Expectation”
Günther Bornkamm, “End Expectation and Church in Matthew,” in Bornkamm-Barth-Held, Tradition and Interpretation, 15–51.
Bornkamm-Barth-Held, Tradition and Interpretation
Günther Bornkamm, Gerhard Barth, and Heinz Joachim Held, Tradition and Interpretation in Matthew (trans. Percy Scott; NTL; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1972).
Jacques Bénigne Bossuet (1627–1704), Méditations sur l’Évangile (2 vols.; Paris: Garnier Frères, 1922).
Bovon, Lukas
François Bovon, Das Evangelium nach Lukas (3 vols.; EKKNT 3; Zurich: Benziger, 1989–2001).
Bovon, Luke 1
François Bovon, Luke 1: A Commentary on the Gospel of Luke 1:1–9:50 (trans. Christine M. Thomas; Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002).
Johannes Brenz (1499–1570), In scriptum apostoli et evangelistae Matthaei de rebus gestis Domini Nostri Jesu Christi commentarius (Tübingen: Mohard, 1567).
Broer, Freiheit
Ingo Broer, Freiheit vom Gesetz und Radikalisierung des Gesetzes (SBS 98; Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1980).
Brooks, Community
Stephenson H. Brooks, Matthew’s Community: The Evidence of His Special Sayings Material (JSNTSup 16; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1987).
Brown, Birth
Raymond E. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1977).
Martin Bucer (1491–1551), Enarrationes perpetuae in Sacra quatuor Evangelia (Argentoriati: Heruagium, 1530).
Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575), In Sacrosanctum Iesu Christi Domini nostri Evangelium secundum Matthaeum Commentariorum libri XII (Zurich: Froschoverum, 1554).
Bultmann, History
Rudolf Bultmann, The History of the Synoptic Tradition (trans. John Marsh; 2d ed.; New York: Harper & Row, 1968).
Burchard, “Theme”
Christoph Burchard, “The Theme of the Sermon on the Mount,” in Louise Schottroff, et al., Essays on the Love Commandment (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978) 57–91.
Burridge, Gospels
Richard A. Burridge, What Are the Gospels? A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography (SNTSMS 70; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992) 112–95.
Georg Calixtus (1586–1656), Quatuor Evangelicorum Scriptorum Concordia … (Helmstedt: Mullerus, 1663).
Abraham Calovius (1612–1686), Biblia Novi Testamenti illustrata, vol. 1 (Dresden: Zimmermann, 1719).
John Calvin (1509–1564), A Harmony of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke (ed. David W. Torrance and Thomas F. Torrance; trans. A. W. Morrison and T. H. L. Parker; 3 vols.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972).
Calvin, Inst.
John Calvin, Institutio Christianae Religionis (ET when given = Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Ford Lewis Battles; 2 vols.; LCC 20; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960).
Catchpole, Quest
David R. Catchpole, The Quest for Q (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1993).
Martin Chemnitz (1522–1586), Harmonia Chemnitio-Lysero-Gerhardina, vol. 1 (2d ed.; Hamburg: Hertel & Libernickel, 1704).
Christian of Stavelot
Christian of Stavelot (Christianus Druthmarus, d. 880), Expositio in Matthaeum Evangelistam (PL 106.1261–1504).
Chromatius of Aquileia (c. 400), Tractatus in Matthaeum (CChr.SL 9A; Turnholt: Brepols, 1974).
Concord, Book of
Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1959).
J. A. Cramer, Catenae Graecorum Patrum in Novum Testamentum, vol. 1: Catenae in Ev. S. Matthei et S. Marci (1840; reprinted Hildesheim: Olms, 1967).
Cyril of Alexandria
Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444), Commentariorum in Matthaeum quae supersunt (PG 72.365–474).
Dalman, Arbeit
Gustaf Dalman, Arbeit und Sitte in Palästina (7 vols.; Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1928–39).
Dalman, Jesus
Gustaf Dalman, Jesus-Jeshua: Studies in the Gospels (trans. Paul P. Levertoff; 1929; reprinted New York: Ktav, 1971).
Dalman, Orte
Gustaf Dalman, Orte und Wege Jesu (2d ed.; BFChTh 2/1; Gütersloh: Bertelmann, 1921).
Dalman, Words
Gustaf Dalman, The Words of Jesus (trans. D. M. Kay; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1909).
Dalman, Worte
Gustaf Dalman, Die Worte Jesu (2d ed.; Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1930). [The appendix on the Lord’s Prayer is not included in the English translation, which was based on the 1st edition.]
Daube, New Testament
David Daube, The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1990).
Davies, Setting
W. D. Davies, The Setting of the Sermon on the Mount (1964; reprinted Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989).
William David Davies and Dale C. Allison, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew (3 vols.; ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1988–97).
Davis, “Tradition”
Charles Thomas Davis, “Tradition and Redaction in Matt 1:18–2:23,” JBL 90 (1971) 404–21.
Degenhardt, Lukas
Hans Joachim Degenhardt, Lukas, Evangelist der Armen: Besitz und Besitzverzicht in den lukanischen Schriften (Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1965).
Denaux, “Spruch”
Adelbert Denaux, “Der Spruch von den zwei Wegen im Rahmen des Epilogs der Bergpredigt,” in Joël Delobel, ed., Logia: Les Paroles de Jésus: The Sayings of Jesus: Mémorial Joseph Coppens (BEThL 59; Louvain: Peeters and Louvain University Press, 1982) 305–35.
Dibelius, “Bergpredigt”
Martin Dibelius, “Die Bergpredigt,” in Botschaft und Geschichte: Gesammelte Aufsätze (2 vols.; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1953–56) 1.79–174.
Dibelius, Tradition
Martin Dibelius, From Tradition to Gospel (trans. Bertram Lee Woolf; New York: Scribner’s, 1935).
Didier, Évangile
M. Didier, ed., L’Évangile selon Matthieu (BEThL 29; Gembloux: Duculot, 1972).
Dietzfelbinger, Antithesen
Christian Dietzfelbinger, Die Antithesen der Bergpredigt (TEH 186; Munich: Kaiser, 1975).
Dihle, Regel
Albrecht Dihle, Die goldene Regel: Eine Einführung in die Geschichte der antiken und frühchristlichen Vulgärethik (SAW 7; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1962).
Dionysius bar Salibi
Dionysius bar Salibi (d. 1171), Commentarii in Evangelia (ed. I. Sedlacek and Arthur Vaschalde; 3 vols.; Louvain: Durbecq, 1953).
Dobschütz, “Matthäus”
Ernst von Dobschütz, “Matthäus als Rabbi und Katechet,” ZNW 27 (1928) 338–48.
Donaldson, Jesus
Terence L. Donaldson, Jesus on the Mountain: A Study in Matthean Theology (JSNTSup 8; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1985).
Eugen Drewermann, Das Matthäusevangelium (Bilder der Erfüllung; 3 vols.; Olten: Walter, 1992, 1994, 1995).
Dupont, Béatitudes
Jacques Dupont, Les Béatitudes, vol. 1: Le problème littéraire; vol. 2: La bonne nouvelle; vol. 3: Les Évangélistes (EtB; Paris: Gabalda, 1958–73).
Eichholz, Auslegung
Georg Eichholz, Auslegung der Bergpredigt (6th ed.; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1984).
Ephraem Syrus (306–377), Commentaire de l’Évangile Concordant ou Diatessaron (trans. L. Leloir; SC 121; Paris: Cerf, 1966).
Erasmus, Paraphrasis
Desiderius Erasmus, Opera Omnia, vol. 7: In Evangelium Matthaei Paraphrasis (reprinted Hildesheim: Olms, 1962).
Euthymius Zigabenus
Euthymius Zigabenus (12th century), Commentarius in quatuor Evangelia (PG 129.107–766).
Faber Stapulensis
Faber Stapulensis (c. 1455–1536), Comentarii initiatorii in quatuor Evangelia (Basel: Andreae Cratandri, 1523).
Fiebig, Bergpredigt
Paul Fiebig, Jesu Bergpredigt: Rabbinische Texte zum Verständnis der Bergpredigt (FRLANT 37; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1924).
Flusser, Judaism
David Flusser, Judaism and the Origins of Christianity (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1988).
Hubert Frankemölle, Matthäus: Kommentar (2 vols.; Düsseldorf: Patmos, 1994–97).
Frankemölle, Jahwebund
Hubert Frankemölle, Jahwebund und Kirche Christi (NTAbh n.s. 10; Münster: Aschendorff, 1974).
H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, eds., Midrash Rabbah (10 vols.; London: Soncino, 1983).
Frenschkowski, “Traum”
Marco Frenschkowski, “Traum und Traumdeutung im Matthäusevangelium,” JAC 41 (1998) 5–47.
Paul Gaechter, Das Matthäus-Evangelium: Ein Kommentar (Innsbruck: Tyrolia, 1963).
von Gemünden, Vegetationsmetaphorik
Petra von Gemünden, Vegetationsmetaphorik im Neuen Testament und seiner Umwelt: Eine Bildfelduntersuchung (NTOA 18; Freiburg: Universitätsverlag, 1993) 122–30, 182–85.
Giesen, Handeln
Heinz Giesen, Christliches Handeln: Eine redaktionskritische Untersuchung zum δικαιοσύνη Begriff im Matthäus-Evangelium (EHS.T 181; Frankfurt: Lang, 1982).
Joachim Gnilka, Das Matthäusevangelium (2 vols.; HThKNT 1/1–2; Freiburg: Herder, 1986–88).
Goulder, Midrash
M. D. Goulder, Midrash and Lection in Matthew (London: S.P.C.K., 1974).
Hugo Grotius (1583–1645), Annotationes in Novum Testamentum (2 vols.; Groningen: Zuidema, 1826–27).
Walter Grundmann, Das Evangelium nach Matthaeus (ThHKNT 1; Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 1968).
Guelich, “Not to Annul”
Robert A. Guelich, “ ‘Not to Annul the Law, Rather to Fulfill the Law and the Prophets’: An Exegetical Study of Jesus and the Law in Matthew with Emphasis on 5:17–48” (diss., Hamburg, 1967).
Guelich, Sermon
Robert A. Guelich, The Sermon on the Mount: A Foundation for Understanding (Waco: Word, 1982).
Robert H. Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982).
Gundry, Use
Robert H. Gundry, The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew’s Gospel, with Special Reference to the Messianic Hope (NovTSup 18; Leiden: Brill, 1967).
Häfner, Vorläufer
Gerd Häfner, Der verheissene Vorläufer: Redaktionskritische Untersuchung zur Darstellung Johannes des Täufers im Matthäus-Evangelium (SBB 27; Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1994).
Häfner, “Jene Tage”
Gerd Häfner, “ ‘Jene Tage’ (Mt 3,1) und der Umfang des matthäischen ‘Prologs’,” BZ NF 37 (1993) 43–59.
Donald Alfred Hagner, Matthew (2 vols.; Word Biblical Commentary 33A–B; Dallas: Word, 1993–95).
Hahn, “Worte”
Ferdinand Hahn, “Die Worte vom Licht Lk 11,33–36,” in Paul Hoffmann, ed., Orientierung an Jesus: Zur Theologie der Synoptiker: Für Josef Schmid (Freiburg: Herder, 1973) 107–38.
Hawkins, Horae
John C. Hawkins, Horae Synopticae: Contributions to the Study of the Synoptic Problem (1909; reprinted Grand Rapids: Baker, 1968).
Heinemann, Prayer
Joseph Heinemann, Prayer in the Talmud: Forms and Patterns (SJ 9; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1977).
Heinrici, “Bergpredigt”
C. F. Georg Heinrici, “Die Bergpredigt (Matth. 5–7, Luk. 6,20–49), begriffsgeschichtlich untersucht,” in Beiträge zur Geschichte und Erklärung des NT, vol. 3 (Leipzig: Edelmann, 1905) 1–98.
Hengel, “Bergpredigt”
Martin Hengel, “Zur matthäischen Bergpredigt und ihrem jüdischen Hintergrund,” ThR 52 (1987) 327–400.
Hengel-Merkel, “Magier”
Martin Hengel and Helmut Merkel, “Die Magier aus dem Osten und die Flucht nach Ägypten (Mt 2) im Rahmen der antiken Religionsgeschichte und der Theologie des Matthäus,” in Paul Hoffmann, ed., Orientierung an Jesus: Zur Theologie der Synoptiker: Für Josef Schmid (Freiburg: Herder, 1973) 139–69.
Hesychii Alexandrini Lexicon, ed. Johannes Alberte, Moritz Schmidt, Rudolf Menge (1858; reprinted Amsterdam: Hakkert, 1965).
Hilary of Poitiers (c. 315–367), In Evangelium Matthaei Commentarius (PL 9.917–1078; cited according to Jean Doignon, ed., Sur Matthieu, 2 vols.; SC 254, 258; Paris: Cerf, 1978, 1979).
Hoffmann, “Auslegung”
Paul Hoffmann, “Auslegung der Bergpredigt, I–V” BiLe 10 (1969) 57–65, 111–22, 175–89, 264–75; 11 (1970) 89–104.
Hoffmann-Eid, Jesus
Paul Hoffmann and Volker Eid, Jesus von Nazareth und eine christliche Moral (2d ed.; QD 66; Freiburg: Herder, 1975).
H. J. Holtzmann, Die Synoptiker (3d ed.; HKNT 1/1; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1901).
Howell, Inclusive Story
David B. Howell, Matthew’s Inclusive Story: A Study in the Narrative Rhetoric of the First Gospel (JSNTSup 42; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1990).
Hübner, Gesetz
Hans Hübner, Das Gesetz in der synoptischen Tradition: Studien zur These einer progressiven Tradition (Witten: Luther-Verlag, 1973).
Hummel, Auseinandersetzung
Reinhart Hummel, Die Auseinandersetzung zwischen Kirche und Judentum im Matthäusevangelium (BEvTh 33; Munich: Kaiser, 1963).
Aegidius Hunnius (ca. 315–367), Commentarius in Evangelium S. Matthaei Apostoli & Evangelistae, in Operum Latinorum tomus tertius (Wittenberg: 1608) 1–616.
Ishodad of Merv
Ishodad of Merv (d. 850), The Commentaries, vol. 1 (ed. M. D. Gibson; Horae Semiticae 5; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1911).
Cornelius Jansen (1585–1638), Tetrateuchus sive Commentarius in sancta Jesu Christi Evangelia (Brussels: Francisci T’Serstevens, 1737).
Jeremias, Abba
Joachim Jeremias, Abba: Studien zur neutestamentlichen Theologie und Zeitgeschichte (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1966).
Jeremias, “Bergpredigt”
Joachim Jeremias, “Die Bergpredigt,” in Abba, 171–89.
Jeremias, Parables
Joachim Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus (trans. S. H. Hooke; rev. ed.; New York: Scribner’s, 1972).
Jeremias, Prayers
Joachim Jeremias, The Prayers of Jesus (trans. John Bowden, et al.; 1967; reprinted Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978).
Jeremias, Theology
Joachim Jeremias, New Testament Theology: The Proclamation of Jesus (trans. John Bowden; New York: Scribner’s, 1971).
Jerome [Hieronymus] (c. 340–420), Commentariorum in Matthaeum libri IV (CChr.SL 77; Turnholt: Brepols, 1959).
John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom (c. 354–407), Commentarius in sanctum Matthaeum Evangelistam (PG 57–58).
Jülicher, Gleichnisreden
Adolf Jülicher, Die Gleichnisreden Jesu (2d ed.; 2 vols.; 1910; reprinted Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1976).
Juvencus, Gaius Vettius Aquilinus (4th century), Evangeliorum libri IV (PL 19.54–338).
Craig S. Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999).
Kilpatrick, Origins
George D. Kilpatrick, The Origins of the Gospel According to St. Matthew (Oxford: Clarendon, 1946).
Kingsbury, Story
Jack Dean Kingsbury, Matthew as Story (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986).
Kingsbury, Structure
Jack Dean Kingsbury, Matthew: Structure, Christology, Kingdom (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975).
Erich Klostermann, Das Matthäusevangelium (2d ed.; HNT 4; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1927).
Joseph Knabenbauer, Commentarius in Evangelium secundum Matthaeum (3d ed.; 2 vols.; Cursus scripturae sacrae 3/1–2; Paris: Lithielleeux, 1922).
Köhler, Rezeption
Wolf-Dietrich Köhler, Die Rezeption des Matthäusevangeliums in der Zeit vor Irenäus (WUNT 2/24; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1987).
Krauss, Archäologie
Samuel Krauss, Talmudische Archäologie (3 vols.; 1910–12; reprinted Hildesheim: Olms, 1966).
Krentz, “Extent”
Edgar Krentz, “The Extent of Matthew’s Prologue,” JBL 83 (1964) 409–14.
Kretzer, Herrschaft
Armin Kretzer, Die Herrschaft der Himmel und die Söhne des Reiches (SBM 10; Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1971).
Krüger, Evangelienauslegung
Friedhelm Krüger, Humanistische Evangelienauslegung: Desiderius Erasmus von Rotterdam als Ausleger der Evangelien in seinen Paraphrasen (BHTh 68; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1986).
Kuhn, “Liebesgebot”
Heinz-Wolfgang Kuhn, “Das Liebesgebot Jesu als Tora und als Evangelium,” in Hubert Frankemölle and Karl Kertelge, eds., Vom Urchristentum zu Jesus: Für Joachim Gnilka (Freiburg: Herder, 1989) 194–230.
M. J. Lagrange, Évangile selon Saint Matthieu (EtB; Paris: Gabalda, 1923).
Cornelius à Lapide (= van den Steen) (d. 1687), Commentarius in quatuor Evangelia: Argumentum in S. Matthaeum (Antwerp: Meurstum, 1660).
Lapide, Sermon
Pinchas Lapide, The Sermon on the Mount: Utopia or Program for Action (trans. Arlene Swidler; Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1986).
Legenda Aurea
Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend (Salem, N.H.: Ayer, 1969).
Liber Graduum
Liber Graduum (ed. Michael Kmosko; PS 1/3; Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1926).
Lindars, Apologetic
Barnabas Lindars, New Testament Apologetic: The Doctrinal Significance of the Old Testament Quotations (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1961).
Ljungman, Gesetz
Henrik Ljungman, Das Gesetz erfüllen (Lunds Universitets Årsskrift NF Avd. 1 50/6; Lund: Gleerup, 1954).
Lohfink, Bergpredit
Gerhard Lohfink, Wem Gilt die Bergpredigt? Beiträge zu einer christlichen Ethik (Freiburg: Herder, 1988).
Ernst Lohmeyer, Das Evangelium des Matthäus (ed. Werner Schmauch; 4th ed.; KEK Sonderband; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1967).
Alfred F. Loisy, Les Évangiles synoptiques (2 vols.; Paris: Ceffonds, 1907–8).
Luomanen, Entering
Petri Luomanen, Entering the Kingdom of Heaven: A Study on the Structure of Matthew’s View of Salvation (WUNT 2/101; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1998).
Martin Luther (1483–1546), D. Martin Luthers Evangelien-Auslegung (ed. Erwin Mühlhaupt; 5 vols.; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1964–73).
Luz, “Disciples”
Ulrich Luz, “The Disciples in the Gospel According to Matthew,” in Stanton, Interpretation, 115–48 (reprinted in Luz, Studies, 115–42).
Luz, “Matthew and Q.”
Ulrich Luz, “Matthew and Q,” in Studies, 39–53.
Luz, Studies
Ulrich Luz, Studies in Matthew (trans. Rosemary Selle; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005).
McConnell, Law
Richard S. McConnell, Law and Prophecy in Matthew’s Gospel: The Authority and Use of the Old Testament in the Gospel of St. Matthew (Theologische Dissertationen 2; Basel: Reinhardt, 1969).
A. H. McNeile, The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1915; reprinted London: Macmillan, 1965).
Gerhard Maier, Matthäus-Evangelium (2 vols.; Neuhausen-Stuttgart: Hänssler, 1979).
Juan de Maldonado (1533–1583), Commentarii in quatuor Evangelistas, vol. 1 (ed. Johann Michael Raich; Moguntiae: Sumptibus Francisci Kirchheim, 1874).
Manson, Sayings
T. W. Manson, The Sayings of Jesus (2d ed.; London: SCM, 1949).
Marguerat, Jugement
Daniel Marguerat, Le Jugement dans l’Évangile de Matthieu (2d ed.; Geneva: Labor et Fides, 1995).
Mayordomo-Marín, Anfang
Moisés Mayordomo-Marín, Den Anfang hören: Leserorientierte Evangelienexegese am Beispiel von Matthäus 1–2 (FRLANT 180; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998).
Mayser, Grammatik
Edwin Mayser, Grammatik der griechischen Papyri aus der Ptolemärzeit (2 vols. in 6; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1970).
Meier, Law
John P. Meier, Law and History in Matthew’s Gospel (AnBib 71; Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1976).
Philip Melanchthon (1497–1560), Annotationes in Evangelium Matthaei iam reens in gratiam studiosorum editae, in Werke, vol. 4 (ed. Robert Stupperich; Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1963).
Merklein, Gottesherrschaft
Helmut Merklein, Die Gottesherrschaft als Handlungsprinzip (2d ed.; FzB 34; Würzburg: Echter Verlag, 1981).
Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Hand-Book to the Gospel of Matthew (trans. Peter Christie; New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1884).
Wilhelm Michaelis, Das Evangelium nach Matthäus (2 vols.; Zurich: Zwingli, 1948–49).
Montefiore, Gospels
C. G. Montefiore, The Synoptic Gospels (2d ed.; 2 vols.; 1927; reprinted New York: Ktav, 1968).
Montefiore, Literature
C. G. Montefiore, Rabbinic Literature and Gospel Teachings (1930; reprinted New York: Ktav, 1970).
Moore, Judaism
George Foot Moore, Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era (3 vols.; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1927–30).
Neirynck, Agreements
Frans Neirynck, The Minor Agreements in a Horizontal-Line Synopsis (Louvain: Louvain University Press, 1991).
Eberhard Nestle, et al., Novum Testamentum Graece (27th ed.; Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993).
Niederwimmer, Askese
Kurt Niederwimmer, Askese und Mysterium: Über Ehe, Ehescheidung und Eheverzicht in den Anfängen des christlichen Glaubens (FRLANT 113; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1975).
Nissen, Gott
Andreas Nissen, Gott und der Nächste im antiken Judentum: Untersuchungen zum Doppelgebot der Liebe (WUNT 15; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1974).
Nolan, Son
Brian M. Nolan, The Royal Son of God: The Christology of Matthew 1–2 (OBO 23; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1979).
Ogawa, Histoire
Akira Ogawa, L’histoire de Jésus chez Mattieu: La signification de l’histoire pour la théologie matthéenne (EHS.T 116; Frankfurt: P. Lang, 1979).
Hermann Olshausen, Biblical Commentary on the New Testament (trans. A. C. Kendrick; 6 vols.; New York: Sheldon, Blakeman, 1857–58).
Opus Imperfectum
Pseudo-Chrysostom (6th century, Arian), Diatribe ad opus imperfectum in Matthaeum (PL 56.601–946).
Paschasius Radbertus
Paschasius Radbertus (c. 790–859), Expositio in Evangelium Matthaei (PL 120.31–994).
Patte, Discipleship
Daniel Patte, Discipleship According to the Sermon on the Mount: Four Legitimate Readings, Four Plausible Views of Discipleship, and Their Relative Values (Valley Forge, Pa.: Trinity Press International, 1996).
Paul, L’évangile
André Paul, L’évangile de l’enfance selon Saint Matthieu (Paris: Cerf, 1968).
Heinrich Eberhard Gottlob Paulus, Philologisch-kritische und historische Commentare über die drey ersten Evangelien (4 vols.; Lübeck: Bohn, 1800–1808).
Percy, Botschaft
Ernst Percy, Die Botschaft Jesu: Eine traditionskritische und exegetische Untersuchung (Lund: Gleerup, 1953).
Peretto, “Ricerche.”
E. Peretto, “Ricerche su Mt 1–2,” Marianum 31 (1969) 140–247.
Pesch, “Gottessohn”
Rudolf Pesch, “Der Gottessohn im matthäischen Evangelienprolog (Mt 1–2): Beobachtungen zu den Zitationsformeln der Reflexionszitate,” Bib 14 (1967) 395–420.
Pesch, Theologie
Rudolf Pesch, ed., Zur Theologie der Kindheitsgeschichten: Der heutige Stand der Exegese (Schriftenreihe der katholischen Akademie Freiburg; Munich: Schnell & Steiner, 1981).
Peter of Laodicea
Peter of Laodicea (7th century), Erklärung des Matthaeusevangeliums (Beiträge zur Geschichte und Erklärung des Neuen Testaments 5; Leipzig: Durr, 1908).
Piper, Enemies
John Piper, Love Your Enemies: Jesus’ Love Command in the Synoptic Gospels and in the Early Christian Paraenesis (SNTSMS 38; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979).
Polag, Fragmenta
Athanasius Polag, Fragmenta Q (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1979).
Przybylski, Righteousness
Benno Przybylski, Righteousness in Matthew and His World of Thought (SNTSMS 41: Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980).
Rabanus Maurus (780–856), Commentariorum in Matthaeum libri VIII (PL 107.727–1156).
Jean Radermakers, Au fil de l’Évangile selon saint Matthieu (2 vols.; Heverlee-Louvain: Institut d’études théologiques, 1972).
Ragaz, Bergpredigt
Leonhard Ragaz, Die Bergpredigt Jesu (1945; reprinted Hamburg: Furche, 1971).
Reiser, Judgment
Marius Reiser, Jesus and Judgment: The Eschatological Proclamation in Its Jewish Context (trans. Linda M. Maloney; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997).
Joseph Reuss, Matthäus-Kommentare aus der griechischen Kirche (TU 61; Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1957).
Rothfuchs, Erfüllungszitate
Wilhelm Rothfuchs, Die Erfüllungszitate des Matthäus-Evangeliums (BWANT 88; Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1969).
Léopold Sabourin, L’Évangile selon saint Matthieu et ses principaux parallèles (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1978).
Saintyves, “Massacre”
Pierre Saintyves, “Le massacre des innocents ou la persécution de l’enfant prédestine,” in Paul Louis Couchoud, ed., Congrès d’histoire du Christianisme: Jubilé Alfred Loisy, vol. 1 (Paris: Rieder, 1928).
Alexander Sand, Das Evangelium nach Matthäus (RNT; Regensburg: Pustet, 1986).
Sand, Gesetz
Alexander Sand, Das Gesetz und die Propheten: Untersuchungen zur Theologie des Evangeliums nach Matthäus (BU 11; Regensburg: Pustet, 1974).
Sato, Q
Migaku Sato, Q und Prophetie: Studien zur Gattungs- und Traditionsgeschichte der Quelle Q (WUNT 2/29; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1988).
Sauer, “Erwägungen”
Jürgen Sauer, “Traditionsgeschichtliche Erwägungen zu den synoptischen und paulinischen Aussagen über Feindesliebe und Wiedvergeltungsverzicht,” ZNW 76 (1985) 1–28.
Schellong, Gesetz
Dieter Schellong, Das evangelische Gesetz in der Auslegung Calvins (TEH 152; Munich: Kaiser, 1968).
Schenk, Sprache
Wolfgang Schenk, Die Sprache des Matthäus: Die Text-Konstituenten in ihren makro- und mikro-strukturellen Relationen (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1987).
Adolf Schlatter, Der Evangelist Matthäus (2d ed.; Stuttgart: Calwer, 1933).
Schleiermacher, Faith
Friedrich Schleiermacher, The Christian Faith (1828; reprinted Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1989).
Schmid, Matthäus und Lukas
Josef Schmid, Matthäus und Lukas: Eine Untersuchung des Verhältnisses ihrer Evangelien (BibS 23/2–4; Freiburg: Herder, 1930).
Schnackenburg, Bergpredigt
Rudolf Schnackenburg, ed., Die Bergpredigt: Utopische Vision oder Handlungsanweisung? (Düsseldorf: Patmos, 1982).
Julius Schniewind, Das Evangelium nach Matthäus (8th ed.; NTD 2; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1956).
Schottroff, “Non-Violence”
Luise Schottroff, “Non-Violence and the Love of One’s Enemies,” in Luise Schottroff, et al., Essays on the Love Commandment (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978) 9–39.
Schottroff-Stegemann, Hope
Luise Schottroff and Wolfgang Stegemann, Jesus and the Hope of the Poor (trans. Matthew J. O’Connell; Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1986).
Schulz, Q
Siegfried Schulz, Q: Die Spruchquelle der Evangelisten (Zurich: Theologischer Verlag, 1972).
Schürmann, Lukasevangelium
Heinz Schürmann, Das Lukasevangelium (2 vols.; HThKNT 3/1–2; Freiburg: Herder, 1969–93).
Schürmann, Untersuchungen
Heinz Schürmann, Traditionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen zu den synoptischen Evangelien (KBANT; Düsseldorf: Patmos, 1968).
Schwarzenau, Kind
Paul Schwarzenau, Das göttliche Kind: Der Mythos vom Neubeginn (Stuttgart: Kreuz, 1984).
Eduard Schweizer, The Good News According to Matthew (trans. D. E. Green; Atlanta: John Knox, 1975).
Schweizer, “Church”
Eduard Schweizer, “Matthew’s Church,” in Stanton, Interpretation, 149–77.
Schweizer, Matthäus
Eduard Schweizer, Matthäus und seine Gemeinde (SBS 71; Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1974).
Segbroeck, Four Gospels
Frans van Segbroeck, et al., eds., The Four Gospels: Festschrift Frans Neirynck (3 vols.; BEThL 100; Louvain: Louvain University Press, 1992).
Sim, Gospel
D. C. Sim, The Gospel of Matthew and Christian Judaism: The History and Social Setting of the Matthean Community (Studies of the New Testament and Its World; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1998).
Slingerland, “Origin”
H. Dixon Slingerland, “The Transjordanian Origin of St. Matthew’s Gospel,” JSNT 3 (1979) 18–28.
Soares-Prabhu, Quotations
George M. Soares-Prabhu, The Formula Quotations on the Infancy Narrative of Matthew (AnBib 63; Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1976).
Soiron, Bergpredigt
Thaddaeus Soiron, Die Bergpredigt Jesu: Formgeschichtliche, exegetische und theologische Erklärung (Freiburg: Herder, 1941).
Spicq, Lexicon
Ceslas Spicq, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament (trans. James D. Ernest; 3 vols.; Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1994).
Stadtland-Neumann, Radikalismen
Hiltrud Stadtland-Neumann, Evangelische Radikalismen in der Sicht Calvins: Sein Verständnis der Bergpredigt und der Aussendungsrede (Mt 10) (BGLRK 24; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1966).
Stanton, Gospel
Graham N. Stanton, A Gospel for a New People: Studies in Matthew (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark,1992).
Stanton, Interpretation
Graham N. Stanton, ed., The Interpretation of Matthew (2d ed.; Edinburgh: T. &T. Clark, 1995).
Stanton, “Matthew”
Graham N. Stanton, “Matthew: Βίβλος, εὐαγγέλιον or βίος?” in Segbroeck, Four Gospels, 2.1187–1201.
Stauffer, Botschaft
Ethelbert Stauffer, Die Botschaft Jesu: Damals und heute (Dalp-Taschenbücher 333; Bern: Franke, 1959).
Stendahl, “Quis et Unde”
Krister Stendahl, “Quis et unde? An Analysis of Matthew 1–2,” in Stanton, Interpretation, 69–80 (reprinted from Walther Eltester, ed., Judentum, Urchristentum, Kirche: Festschrift für Joachim Jeremias [2d ed.; BZNW 26; Berlin: Töpelmann, 1964] 94–105).
Stendahl, School
Krister Stendahl, The School of St. Matthew, and Its Use of the Old Testament (2d ed.; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1968).
Stoll, Virtute
Brigitta Stoll, De Virtute in Virtutem: zur Auslegungs- und Wirkungsgeschichte der Bergpredigt in Kommentaren, Predigten und hagiographischer Literatur von der Merowingerzeit bis um 1200 (BGBE 30; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1988).
Walafrid Strabo (attributed, 12th century), Glossa Ordinaria (PL 114.63–178).
Strecker, “Antithesen”
Georg Strecker, “Die Antithesen der Bergpredigt (Mt 5,21–48 par),” ZNW 69 (1978) 36–72.
Strecker, Sermon
Georg Strecker, The Sermon on the Mount: An Exegetical Commentary (trans. O. C. Dean; Nashville: Abingdon, 1988).
Strecker, Weg
Georg Strecker, Der Weg der Gerechtigkeit: Untersuchungen zur Theologie des Matthäus (FRLANT 82; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1962).
Streeter, Gospels
Burnett Hillman Streeter, The Four Gospels (London: Macmillan, 1924).
Stuhlmacher, “Gesetz”
Peter Stuhlmacher, “Jesu vollkommenes Gesetz der Freiheit: Zum Verständnis der Bergpredigt,” ZThK 79 (1982) 294–306.
Suggs, Wisdom
M. Jack Suggs, Wisdom, Christology, and Law in Matthew’s Gospel (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970).
Syreeni, Making
Kari Syreeni, The Making of the Sermon on the Mount: A Procedural Analysis of Matthew’s Redactoral Activity, part 1: Methodology and Compositional Analysis (AASF. Dissertationes Humanarum Litterarum 44; Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 1987).
Tannehill, Sword
Robert C. Tannehill, The Sword of His Mouth (SemSup 1; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975).
Tatum, “Origins”
W. Barnes Tatum, “ ‘The Origins of Jesus Messiah’ (Matt 1:1, 18a): Matthew’s Use of the Infancy Traditions,” JBL 96 (1977) 523–35.
Theissen, Gospels in Context
Gerd Theissen, The Gospels in Context: Social and Political History in the Synoptic Tradition (trans. Linda M. Maloney; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991).
Theissen, Social Reality
Gerd Theissen, Social Reality and the Early Christians (trans. Margaret Kohl; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992).
Theophylactus (d. c. 1108), Ennaratio in Evangelium Matthaei (PG 123.139–92).
Tholuck, Commentary
August Tholuck, Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount (trans. R. Lundin Brown; 1860; reprinted Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1874).
Thomas Aquinas Lectura
Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), Super Evangelium S. Matthaei Lectura (5th ed.; Turin: Marietti, 1951).
Thomas Aquinas S. th.
Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica (5 vols.; BAC; Madrid: La Editorial Catolica, 1955–58).
Tilborg, Leaders
Sjef van Tilborg, The Jewish Leaders in Matthew (Leiden: Brill, 1972).
Tolstoy, Religion
Leo Tolstoy, My Religion (trans. from the French by Huntington Smith; New York: Crowell, 1885).
Wolfgang Trilling, The Gospel According to St. Matthew (trans. Kevin Smyth; 2 vols.; New York: Herder & Herder, 1969).
Trilling, Christusverkündigung
Wolfgang Trilling, Die Christusverkündigung in den synoptischen Evangelien: Beispiele gattungsgemässer Auslegung (Munich: Kösel, 1969).
Trilling, Israel
Wolfgang Trilling, Das wahre Israel: Studien zur Theologie des Matthäusevangeliums (3d ed.; EThSt 7; Leipzig: St. Benno, 1975).
Juan de Valdés, Commentary upon the Gospel of Matthew (trans. John B. Betts; London: Trübner, 1882).
Vögtle, “Genealogie”
Anton Vögtle, “Die Genealogie Mt 1,2–16 und die matthäische Kindheitsgeschichte,” in Das Evangelium und die Evangelien (KBANT; Düsseldorf: Patmos, 1971) 57–102.
Vouga, Jésus
François Vouga, Jésus et la loi selon la tradition synoptique (Geneva: Labor et Fides, 1988) 189–301.
Walker, Heilsgeschichte
Rolf Walker, Die Heilsgeschichte im ersten Evangelium (FRLANT 91; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1967).
Weder, Rede
Hans Weder, Die “Rede der Reden”: Eine Auslegung der Bergpredigt heute (Zurich: Theologischer Verlag, 1985).
B. Weiss
Bernhard Weiss, Das Matthäus-Evangelium (9th ed.; KEK 1/1; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1898).
J. Weiss
Johannes Weiss, Das Matthäus-Evangelium (2d ed.; Schriften des Neuen Testaments 1; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1907).
Julius Wellhausen, Das Evangelium Matthaei (Berlin: Reimer, 1904).
Wesley, Sermons
John Wesley on the Sermon on the Mount: The Standard Sermons in Modern English (ed. Kenneth Cain Kinghorn; Nashville: Abingdon, 2002) = vol. 2 of Wesley’s Standard Sermons, nos. 21–33.
de Wette
W. M. L. de Wette, Das Neue Testament, griechisch mit kurzem Kommentar, vol. 1 (Halle: Anton, 1887).
Johann Jacob Wettstein, Novum Testamentum Graecum, vol. 1 (1751; reprinted Graz: Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, 1962).
Wolfgang Wiefel, Das Evangelium nach Matthäus (ThHKNT 1; Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 1998).
Windisch, Sinn
Hans Windisch, Der Sinn der Bergpredigt: Ein Beitrag zum geschichtlichen Verständnis der Evangelien und zum Problem der richtigen Exegese (2d ed.; Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 16; Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1937).
Johann Ludwig Wolzogen (1633–1690), Commentarius in Evangelium Matthaei (Irenopolis, 1656).
Wrege, Überlieferungsgeschichte
Hans-Theo Wrege, Die Überlieferungsgeschichte der Bergpredigt (WUNT 9; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1968).
Theodor Zahn, Das Evangelium des Matthäus (Kommentar zum Neuen Testament 1; Leipzig: Deichert, 1903).
Zeller, Mahnsprüche
Dieter Zeller, Die weisheitlichen Mahnsprüche bei den Synoptikern (FzB 17: Würzburg: Echter Verlag, 1977).
Nicolaus Ludwig Graf von Zinzendorf, Reden über die vier Evangelisten (ed. G. Clemens; 3 vols.; Barby: Theological Seminary, 1766–69).
Huldrych Zwingli, Opera, vol. 6/1: Annotationes in Evangelium Matthaei (ed. Melchior Schuler and Johannes Schulthess; Zurich: Schulthess, 1836) 203–483.
Zwingli, “Gerechtigkeit”
Huldrych Zwingli, “Von göttlicher und menschlicher Gerechtigkeit,” in Hauptschriften, vol. 7 (ed. Rudolf Pfister; Zurich: Zwingli, 1942) 31–103.
Luz, U. (2007). Matthew 1–7: a commentary on Matthew 1–7. (H. Koester, Hrsg.) (Rev. ed., S. iii–xxxvii). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.


Mathew 1-7
The Life of Jesus

Your destination of success- success strategies -by ARCHBISHOP ROSARY

How to use the advanced hardware supply

for Your destination of success destination of success


How do You choose Your internetmarketing supplier???

What flat rate shall IT supply?

Which kind of lifestile do You want?

Where can You do Your entrepreneurship?

When are You in the right time for freedom?

What is Your destination?

When using Your advanced

Hardware supply for Your

Destination of success

In EmpowerNetwork internetmarketing,

You should be in a

Pre-Disposition to

Have good answeres on the

Above mentioned questions.

And: YOU DON´t HAVE TO BE A hornblower J

To empower Your network with

Excellent solutions.

But- on the other hand-

It´s no failure to

Optimize Your

Strategies of internetmarketing

To be successful.

In the short movies

ArchBishop ROSARY

Is providing You

With the good practice

How to succeed.

It´s our destination and we appreciate

To help You with empowernetwork

'Choose the Right' shield



  • Take a BEYOND-ALL-LIMITS flat rate
  • Build Your basical Homebusiness destination
  • Make clear to be free in working in Your own Mobile Home
  • Choose the motivating success people and the right season
  • Be on bord with us on Your destination tour


by ArchBishop Rosary

How to use the advanced hardware supply

for Your destination of success destination of success


How do You choose Your internetmarketing supplier???

What flat rate shall IT supply?

Which kind of lifestile do You want?

Where can You do Your entrepreneurship?

When are You in the right time for freedom?

What is Your destination?

When using Your advanced

Hardware supply for Your

Destination of success

In EmpowerNetwork internetmarketing,

You should be in a

Pre-Disposition to

Have good answeres on the

Above mentioned questions.

And: YOU DON´t HAVE TO BE A hornblower J

To empower Your network with

Excellent solutions.

But- on the other hand-

It´s no failure to

Optimize Your

Strategies of internetmarketing

To be successful.

In the short movies

ArchBishop ROSARY

Is providing You

With the good practice

How to succeed.

It´s our destination and we appreciate

To help You with empowernetwork

'Choose the Right' shield



  • Take a BEYOND-ALL-LIMITS flat rate
  • Build Your basical Homebusiness destination
  • Make clear to be free in working in Your own Mobile Home
  • Choose the motivating success people and the right season
  • Be on bord with us on Your destination tour


by ArchBishop Rosary

New daily devotion with LIBRONIX bible software, by ArchBishop ROSARY

English: Under the title "New Britain&quo...

 „Amazing Grace“ appears in a 1847 publication of Southern Harmony in shape notes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amazing Grace—366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
July 12 • HIDING IN THEE • William O. Cushing, 1823–1902 • But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. (Psalm 94:22) • In childhood when we were frightened we wanted to run and hide in our mother’s or father’s arms until we felt the danger had passed. In the same way when trouble and sorrow disturb our adult lives, we look for a place of consolation or escape. But we can only …

The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life
The Secret of Guidance • July 12 • There must be a complete submission of your will to God, that where He leads you’ll follow; and then you must leave it altogether to Him and don’t worry about it. If the thought comes that you ought to speak or to pray, say at once, “Yes, Lord, I will; only give me something to say if I must speak, and, if I must not, let me forget all about it.” • Don’t indulge in …

Morning and Evening
Go To Morning Reading Evening, July 12 • “His heavenly kingdom.” • — 2 Timothy 4:18 • Yonder city of the great King is a place of active service. Ransomed spirits serve him day and night in his temple. They never cease to fulfil the good pleasure of their King. They always “rest,” so far as ease and freedom from care is concerned; and never “rest,” in the sense of indolence or inactivity. Jerusalem the golden is the place of communion with all …

My Utmost for His Highest
• July 12th • The spiritual society • Till we all come . . . unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. Eph. 4:13. • Rehabilitation means the putting back of the whole human race into the relationship God designed it to be in, and this is what Jesus Christ did in Redemption. The Church ceases to be a spiritual society when it is on the look-out for the development of its own organization. The rehabilitation of the human race on …

Thoughts for the Quiet Hour
July 12 • Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out • Song of Sol. 4:16 • Sometimes God sends severe blasts of trial upon His children to develop their graces. Just as torches burn most brightly when swung violently to and fro; just as the juniper plant smells sweetest when flung into the flames; so the richest qualities of a Christian often come out under the north wind of suffering …

%d Bloggern gefällt das: