Matt. 5:17-20 (Part 3)

TERTULLIAN: The epistle which we also allow to be the most decisive against Judaism, is that wherein the apostle instructs the Galatians. For the abolition of the ancient law we fully admit, and hold that it actually proceeds from the dispensation of the Creator,—a point which we have already often treated in the course of our discussion, when we showed that the innovation was foretold by the prophets of our God. Now, if the Creator indeed promised that “the ancient things should pass away,” to be superseded by a new course of things which should arise, while Christ marks the period of the separation when He says, “The law and the prophets were until John”—thus making the Baptist the limit between the two dispensations of the old things then terminating—and the new things then beginning, the apostle cannot of course do otherwise, (coming as he does) in Christ, who was revealed after John, than invalidate “the old things” and confirm “the new,” and yet promote thereby the faith of no other god than the Creator, at whose instance it was foretold that the ancient things should pass away. Therefore both the abrogation of the law and the establishment of the gospel help my argument even in this epistle, wherein they both have reference to the fond assumption of the Galatians, which led them to suppose that faith in Christ (the Creator’s Christ, of course) was obligatory, but without annulling the law, because it still appeared to them a thing incredible that the law should be set aside by its own author. Against Marcion, 3.431.

TERTULLIAN: “The law and the prophets were until John,” according to the Lord. For even if we are just now beginning with the law in demonstrating the nature of adultery, it is justly with that phase of the law which Christ has “not dissolved, but fulfilled.” For it is the “burdens” of the law which were “until John,” not the remedial virtues. It is the “yokes” of “works” that have been rejected, not those of disciplines. “Liberty in Christ” has done no injury to innocence. The law of piety, sanctity, humanity, truth, chastity, justice, mercy, benevolence, modesty, remains in its entirety; in which law “blessed is the man who shall meditate by day and by night.” About that law the same David says again: “The law of the Lord is unblameable, converting souls; the statutes of the Lord are direct, delighting hearts; the precept of the Lord far-shining, enlightening eyes.” Thus, too, the apostle: “And so the law indeed is holy, and the precept holy and most good”—“Do not commit adultery,” of course. But he had withal said above: “Are we, then, making void the law through faith? Far be it; but we are establishing the law”—indeed in those points which, being even now interdicted by the New Testament, are prohibited by an even more emphatic precept: instead of, “Do not commit adultery,” “Whoever shall have seen with a view to lust, has already committed adultery in his own heart;” and instead of, “Do not kill,” “Whoever shall have said to his brother, 'Racha,' shall be in danger of hell.” Ask yourself whether the law of not committing adultery be still in force, to which has been added that of not indulging lust. On Modesty, 4.78-79.52

HIPPOLYTUS: The Ebionites acknowledge that the world was made by Him Who is in reality God, but they propound legends concerning the Christ similarly with Cerinthus and Carpocrates. They live conformably to the customs of the Jews, alleging that they are justified according to the law, and saying that Jesus was justified by fulfilling the law. And therefore it was, according to the Ebionites, that the Savior was named the Christ of God and Jesus, since not one of the rest of mankind had observed completely the law. For if even any other had fulfilled the commandments contained in the law, he would have been that Christ. And the Ebionites allege that they themselves also, when in like manner they fulfill the law, are able to become Christs; for they assert that our Lord Himself was a man in a like sense with all the rest of the human family. The Refutation of All Heresies, 5.114.

HIPPOLYTUS: He says Himself: “Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden,” etc. For they who keep the commandments, and do not disclaim the ordinances of the law, enjoy rest both in them and in the doctrine of our Lord. . . As the Lord says, “I have not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them.” For even our Lord, in the fact that He keeps the commandments, does not destroy the law and the prophets, but fulfills them, as He says in the Gospels. Exegetical Fragments, 5.165.

ORIGEN: He who came to put an end to things, and to fulfill what was defective in the law, by saying, “It was said to them of old time,” etc., and, again, “That the things spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled.” Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 9.504.

ORIGEN: The “righteous requirements” of the law are a matter of its moral aspect. For “law” is a general term; righteous requirements are but a part of the law. For the law contains righteous requirements, judgments, commands, formalities, and many other categories like this. If [Paul] is not saying that the uncircumcised keeps not the law itself, but the righteous requirements of the law, then he is put so far ahead of the circumcised one who transgresses the law that he may even judge [the law]. And he has added well, “who perfects the law.” For he who lives according to the letter is said to keep the law; but he who lives according to the spirit perfects it. The perfection of the law takes place in Christ, who said, “I have not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it.” Now to fulfill the law means to perfect the law. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.

ORIGEN: It is not the same thing to say, “we set aside the law,”and, “the law is set aside.” Thus in the present passage Paul is declaring that he himself does not set aside the law. For even if the law is set aside through the glory which surpasses it it is not set aside through Paul or through any other saint. This is also why the Lord was saying, “I have not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it.” No saint then, not even the Lord himself, sets aside the law, but its temporal and transient glory is set aside and surpassed by the eternal and abiding glory.
Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.

ORIGEN: If we love this neighbor, we are fulfilling the entire law and all the commandments by his love.“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to all who believe.” It is absolutely impossible for one who loves Christ with his whole heart and with all his inner being63 to do anything displeasing to Christ. For the one who loves him not only does not commit murder, which is prohibited by the law, but he does not become angry with his brother because he whom he loves takes delight in this. And not only does he not commit adultery, but he does not look at a woman in order to desire her.But instead he says to him, “My soul desires and faints for the living God.”66 When would one who loves Christ, who has even abandoned everything he owns to follow Christ, think about stealing?On what occasion does the one who loves Christ bear false testimony, when he knows that the one he loves was betrayed by false testimony?He who loves Christ inevitably loves his neighbor as well.For a disciple is marked as belonging to Christ by this proof alone, if he loves his neighbors.For it is certain that he who does not love his neighbor does not know Christ.71 Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.

ARCHELAUS: Moreover, from the creation of the world God has always been with righteous men, and has never ceased to require their blood at the hands of the wicked, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias.From what source did righteous Abel and all those succeeding worthy men, who are enrolled among the righteous, derive their righteousness when there was not yet the law of Moses, and when the prophets had not yet arisen and discharged the functions of prophecy? Were they not constituted righteous in virtue of their fulfilling the law, “every one of them showing the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing them witness?”For when a man “who does not have the law does naturally the things contained in the law, he, not having the law, is a law to himself.”And consider now the multitude of laws thus existing among the several righteous men who lived a life of uprightness, at one time discovering for themselves the law of God implanted in their hearts, at another learning of it from their parents, and yet again being instructed in it further by the ancients and the elders. But inasmuch as only few were able to rise by this medium to the height of righteousness, that is to say, by means of the traditions of parents, when as yet there was no law embodied in writing, God had compassion on the race of man, and was pleased to give through Moses a written law to men, since verily the equity of the natural law failed to be retained in all its perfection in their hearts. In consonance, therefore, with man’s first creation, a written legislation was prepared which was given through Moses in behoof of the salvation of very many. For if we reckon that man is justified without the works of the law, and if Abraham was counted righteous, how much more shall those obtain righteousness who have fulfilled the law which contains the things that are expedient for men? The Disputation of Archelaus and Manes, 6.201.

ARCHELAUS: There is the law of Moses that in this world that does not give pardon to the offender; and there is the law of Christ that punishes in the future world. From this, therefore, mark how He confirms the law, not only not destroying it, but fulfilling it.
The Disputation of Archelaus and Manes, 6.204.

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