Matt. 5:1-12 (Part 1)

“But woe unto you rich! for you have received your consolation. Woe to you that are satisfied! You shall hunger. Woe to you that laugh now! You shall weep and be sad. Woe to you when men praise you! For so did their fathers do to the false prophets.” The Diatessaron, 9.56. (Luke 6:24-26)

5:1 ORIGEN: It should be observed how often it is mentioned the word, “the multitudes,” and another word, “the disciples,” so that by observing and bringing together the passages about this matter it may be seen that the aim of the Evangelists was to represent by means of the Gospel history the differences of those who come to Jesus; of whom some are the multitudes and are not called disciples, and others are the disciples who are better than the multitudes. It is sufficient, however, for the present, for us to set forth a few sayings, so that any one who is moved by them may do the like with the whole of the Gospels. It is written then—as if the multitudes were below, but the disciples were able to come to Jesus when He went up into the mountain, where the multitudes were not able to be—as follows: “And seeing the multitudes He went up into the mountain, and when He had sat down His disciples came to Him; and He opened His mouth and taught them saying, 'Blessed are the poor in spirit,'” etc. Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 9.433.

IRENAEUS: And in His office of teacher this is what He has said to the rich: “Woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation;” and “Woe to you that are full, for you shall hunger; and you who laugh now, for you shall weep;” and, “Woe to you when all men shall speak well of you: for so did your fathers to the false prophets.” All things of the following kind we have known through Luke alone. Against Heresies, 1.438.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: The Scripture is to be believed which says, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man” to lead a philosophic life. But, on the other hand, it blesses “the poor;” as Plato understood when he said, “It is not the diminishing of one’s resources, but the augmenting of insatiableness, that is to be considered poverty; for it is not slender means that ever constitutes poverty, but insatiableness, from which the good man being free, will also be rich.” The Stromata, 2.352

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: “And blessed are the poor,” whether “in spirit or in circumstance”—that is, if for righteousness’ sake. It is not the poor simply, but those that have wished to become poor for righteousness’ sake, that He pronounces blessed—those who have despised the honors of this world in order to attain “the good.” The Stromata, 2.413.

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: That soul is unclean which is rich in lusts, and is in the throes of many worldly affections. For he who holds possessions, and gold, and silver, and houses, as the gifts of God; and ministers from them to the God who gives them for the salvation of men; and knows that he possesses them more for the sake of the brethren than his own; and is superior to the possession of them, not the slave of the things he possesses; and does not carry them about in his soul, nor bind and circumscribe his life within them, but is ever laboring at some good and divine work, even should he be necessarily some time or other deprived of them, is able with cheerful mind to bear their removal equally with their abundance. This is he who is blessed by the Lord, and called poor in spirit, a suitable heir of the kingdom of heaven, not one who could not live rich. Who is the Rich Man that Shall Be Saved?, 2.595.

TERTULLIAN: For whom but the patient has the Lord called happy, in saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens?” No one, assuredly, is “poor in spirit,” except he be humble. Well, who is humble, except he be patient? For no one can abase himself without patience, in the first instance, to bear the act of abasement. Of Patience, 3.714.

TERTULLIAN: It is “the poor,” not the rich, “whose are the kingdoms of the heavens.” To His Wife, 4.48.

ORIGEN: Those who have been obedient to the word of God, and have henceforth by their obedience shown themselves capable of wisdom, are said to deserve the kingdom of that heaven or heavens; and thus the prediction is more worthily fulfilled, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth;” and, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.” De Principiis, 4.275.

ORIGEN: In the next place, with regard to the declaration of Jesus against rich men, when He said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,” . . . Now, if Celsus [a pagan critic] had not perused the Gospels in a spirit of hatred and dislike, but had been imbued with a love of truth, . . . he would not have left without examination the fact that “the poor” are termed “blessed” by Jesus, while “the rich” are designated as “miserable;” and whether these words refer to the rich and poor who are visible to the senses, or whether there is any kind of poverty known to the Logos [Jesus Christ] which is to be deemed “altogether blessed,” and any rich man who is to be wholly condemned. For even a common individual would not thus indiscriminately have praised the poor, many of whom lead most wicked lives. Against Celsus, 4.580-581.

ORIGEN: But if you enquire into the meaning of the words, “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” you may say that Christ is theirs in so far as He is absolute Kingdom, reigning in every thought of the man who is no longer under the reign of sin which reigns in the mortal body of those who have subjected themselves to it. And if I say, reigning in every thought, I mean something like this, reigning as Righteousness and Wisdom and Truth and the rest of the virtues in him who has become a heaven, because of bearing the image of the heavenly, and in every power, whether angelic, or the rest that are named saints, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come, and who are worthy of a kingdom of such a kind. Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 9.498.

ORIGEN: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This then is a blessed poverty that says, “Gold and silver I do not have; but what I have, I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise and walk.” A poor man of this sort always dwells in Jerusalem while possessing spiritual riches. His gold is wisdom and his silver is words of knowledge. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.

METHODIUS: And the Lord does not profess to give the same honors to all; but to some He promises that they shall be numbered in the kingdom of heaven, to others the inheritance of the earth, and to others to see the Father. The Banquet of the Ten Virgins, 6.332.

ARCHELAUS: It is well that he declared that in the law God said, “I make the rich man and the poor man;” while in the Gospel Jesus called the poor blessed, and added, that no man could be His disciple unless he gave up all that he had. The Disputation of Archelaus and Manes, 6.214.

ARCHELAUS: Let us look, again, at the fact that in the Old Testament we find the words, “I make the rich man and the poor man,” whereas Jesus calls the poor blessed. In that saying Jesus did not refer to those who are poor simply in worldly substance, but to those who are poor in spirit, that is to say, who are not inflamed with pride, but have the gentle and lowly dispositions of humility, not thinking of themselves more than they ought to think. . . . I perceive that Jesus also looks on willingly at the gifts of the rich men, when they are put into the treasury. All too little, at the same time, is it if gifts are cast into the treasury by the rich alone; and so there are the two mites of the poor widow which are also received with gladness; and in that offering verily something is exhibited that goes beyond what Moses prescribed on the subject of the receipt of moneys. For he received gifts from those who had; but Jesus receives them even from those who do not have. But this man says, further, that it is written, that “except a man shall forsake all that he has, he cannot be my disciple.” I observe again, that the centurion, a man exceedingly wealthy and well dowered with worldly influence, possessed a faith surpassing that of all Israel; so that, even if there was any one who had forsaken all, that man was surpassed in faith by this centurion. But some one may now reason with us thus: It is not a good thing, consequently, to give up riches. Well, I reply that it is a good thing for those who are capable of it; but, at the same time, to employ riches for the work of righteousness and mercy, is a thing as acceptable as though one were to give up the whole at once. The Disputation of Archelaus and Manes, 6.217.

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