Matt. 5:17-20 (Part 4)

5:18 CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: I could adduce ten thousand Scriptures of which not “one tittle shall pass away,” without being fulfilled; for the mouth of the Lord, the Holy Spirit, has spoken these things. Exhortation to the Heathen, 2.195.

ORIGEN: But the “one dot” is not only the iota of the Greeks but also that which among the Hebrews is called the yod. And the “one iota” or “one dot” can symbolically be said to be Jesus, since the beginning of his name is written not only by Greeks with an iota but also by Hebrews with a yod. So Jesus will be the one dot, the Word of God in the law which does not pass from the law until all is accomplished. Fragment 9976

5:19 CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: He is a Christian, who is after the image and likeness of God, who imitates God as far as possible, deficient in none of the things which contribute to the likeness as far as compatible, practicing self- restraint and endurance, living righteously, reigning over the passions, bestowing of what he has as far as possible, and doing good both by word and deed. “He is the greatest,” it is said, “in the kingdom who shall do and teach;” imitating God in conferring like benefits. The Stromata, 2.369.

CYPRIAN: It behooves us to obey and do that which Christ did, and what He commanded to be done, since He Himself says in the Gospel, “If you do whatsoever I command you, from now on I don't call you servants, but friends.”And that Christ alone ought to be heard, the Father also testifies from heaven, saying, “This is my well-beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear Him.”Therefore, if Christ alone must be heard, we ought not to give heed to what another before us may have thought was to be done, but what Christ, who is before all, first did. Neither is it becoming to follow the practice of man, but the truth of God; since God speaks by Isaiah the prophet, and says, “In vain do they worship me, teaching the commandments and doctrines of men.”And again the Lord in the Gospel repeats this same saying, and says, “You reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition.”Moreover, in another place He establishes it, saying, “Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.” Epistles of Cyprian, 5.362.

CYPRIAN: All which things, most brave and faithful soldiers of Christ, you have suggested to your brethren, fulfilling in deeds what you have previously taught in words, hereafter to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven, as the Lord promises and says, “Whosoever shall do and teach so, shall be called the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Epistles of Cyprian, 5.404.

CYPRIAN: To put on the name of Christ, and not to go in the way of Christ, what else is it but a mockery of the divine name, but a desertion of the way of salvation; since He Himself teaches and says that he shall come unto life who keeps His commandments, and that he is wise who hears and does His words; that he, moreover, is called the greatest in the kingdom of heaven who thus does and teaches; that, then, will be of advantage to the preacher what has been well and usefully preached, if what is uttered by his mouth is fulfilled by deeds following?
The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.494.

CYPRIAN: We must labor not with words, but with deeds. In Solomon, in Ecclesiasticus: “Do not be hasty with your tongue, and in your deeds useless and remiss.”And Paul, in the first to the Corinthians: “The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” Also to the Romans: “Not the hearers of the law are righteous before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.”Also in the Gospel according to Matthew: “He who shall do and teach so, shall be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Also in the same place: “Every one who hears my words, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house upon a rock. The rain descended, the floods came, the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it did not fall: because it was founded upon a rock. And every one who hears my words, and does not do them, I will liken him to the foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. The rain descended, the floods came, the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and its ruin became great.” The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.554.

LACTANTIUS: For the things which you teach cannot have any weight unless you shall be the first to practice them. The Divine Institutes, 7.125.

5:20 JUSTIN MARTYR: For He exhorted His disciples to surpass the pharisaic way of living, with the warning, that if they did not, they might be sure they could not be saved; and these words are recorded in the memoirs: “Unless your righteousness exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Dialogue With Trypho, A Jew, 1.252.

JUSTIN MARTYR [Addressed to Jews]: Furthermore, I have proved in what has preceded, that those who were foreknown to be unrighteous, whether men or angels, are not made wicked by God’s fault, but each man by his own fault is what he will appear to be. But that you may not have a pretext for saying that Christ must have been crucified, and that who transgressed must have been among your nation, and that the matter could not have been otherwise, I said briefly by anticipation, that God, wishing men and angels to follow His will, resolved to create them free to do righteousness; possessing reason, that they may know by whom they are created, and through whom they, not existing formerly, do now exist; and with a law that they should be judged by Him, if they do anything contrary to right reason: and of ourselves we, men and angels, shall be convicted of having acted sinfully, unless we repent beforehand. But if the word of God foretells that some angels and men shall be certainly punished, it did so because it foreknew that they would be unchangeably wicked, but not because God had created them so. So that if they repent, all who wish for it can obtain mercy from God: and the Scripture foretells that they shall be blessed, saying, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute sin;”that is, having repented of his sins, that he may receive remission of them from God; and not as you deceive yourselves, and some others who resemble you in this, who say, that even though they be sinners, but know God, the Lord will not impute sin to them. We have as proof of this the one fall of David, which happened through his boasting, which was forgiven then when he so mourned and wept, as it is written.85 But if even to such a man no remission was granted before repentance, and only when this great king, and anointed one, and prophet, mourned and conducted himself so, how can the impure and utterly abandoned, if they do not weep, and do not mourn, and do not repent, entertain the hope that the Lord will not impute to them sin? And this one fall of David, in the matter of Uriah’s wife, proves that the patriarchs had many wives, not to commit fornication, but that a certain dispensation and all mysteries might be accomplished by them; since, if it were allowable to take any wife, or as many wives as one chooses, and how he chooses, which the men of your nation do over all the earth, wherever they sojourn, or wherever they have been sent, taking women under the name of marriage, much more would David have been permitted to do this.”
Dialogue With Trypho, A Jew, 1.269-270.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: The Christian, then, is impressed with the closest likeness, that is, with the mind of the Master; which He being possessed of, commanded and recommended to His disciples and to the prudent. Comprehending this, as He who taught wished, and receiving it in its grand sense, he teaches worthily “on the housetops”those capable of being built to a lofty height; and begins the doing of what is spoken, in accordance with the example of life. For He enjoined what is possible. And, in truth, the kingly man and Christian ought to be ruler and leader. For we are commanded to be lords over not only the wild beasts without us, but also over the wild passions within ourselves. Through the knowledge, then, as appears, of a bad and good life is the Christian saved, understanding and executing “more than the scribes and Pharisees.”
The Stromata, 2.506-507.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: After abandoning idols, then, the Greeks will hear the Scripture, “Unless your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees” (who justified themselves in the way of abstinence from what was evil),—so as, along with such perfection as they reveal, and “the loving of your neighbor,” to be able also to do good, you shall not “be kingly.” The Stromata, 2.519.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Those who think they are superior to others by their nobility of birth ought to be superior to them also in their moral characters, that they may escape incarceration in the prison. For indeed as the Lord said: “Except your righteousness exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of God.” On Marriage.87

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