Matt. 6:16-18 (Part 1)

6:16-18 SECOND CLEMENT: Almsgiving therefore is a good thing, as repentance from sin; fasting is better than prayer, but almsgiving than both; “but love covers a multitude of sins.” 7.522

THE DIDACHE: But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whatever others can; but you should order the baptized to fast one or two days before.

But do not let your fasts be with the hypocrites; for they fast on the second and fifth day of the week; but do your fast on the fourth day and the Preparation. 7.379.

POLYCARP: Forsaking the vanity of many, and their false doctrines, let us return to the word which has been handed down to us from the beginning; “watching unto prayer,” and persevering in fasting; beseeching in our supplications the all- seeing God “not to lead us into temptation,” as the Lord has said: “The spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Epistle to the Philippians, 1.34.

HERMAS: Every prayer should be accompanied with humility: fast, therefore, and you will obtain from the Lord what you beg.
The Shepherd of Hermas, 2.16.

HERMAS: While fasting and sitting on a certain mountain, and giving thanks to the Lord for all His dealings with me, I see the Shepherd sitting down beside me, and saying, “Why have you come here so early in the morning?”

“Because, sir,” I answered, “I have a station.”

“What is a station?” he asked.

“I am fasting, sir,” I replied.

“What is this fasting,” he continued, “which you are observing?” “As I have been accustomed, sir,” I reply, “so I fast.”

“You do not know,” he says, “how to fast unto the Lord: this useless fasting which you observe to Him is of no value.”

“Why, sir,” I answered, “do you say this?”

“I say to you,” he continued, “that the fasting which you think you observe is not a fasting. But I will teach you what is a full and acceptable fasting to the Lord. Listen,” he continued: “God does not desire such an empty fasting. For fasting to God in this way you will do nothing for a righteous life; but offer to God a fasting of the following kind: Do no evil in your life, and serve the Lord with a pure heart: keep His commandments, walking in His precepts, and let no evil desire arise in your heart; and believe in God. If you do these things, and fear Him, and abstain from every evil thing, you will live to God; and if you do these things, you will keep a great fast, and one acceptable before God.” . . . .

I said to him, “Sir, I do not see the meaning of these similitudes, nor am I able to comprehend them, unless you explain them to me.”

“I will explain them all to you,” he said, “and whatever I shall mention in the course of our conversations I will show you. Keep the commandments of the Lord, and you will be approved, and inscribed among the number of those who observe His commands. And if you do any good beyond what is commanded by God, you will gain for yourself more abundant glory, and will be more honored by God than you would otherwise be. If, therefore, in keeping the commandments of God, you do, in addition, these services, you will have joy if you observe them according to my command.”

I said to him, “Sir, whatever you enjoin upon me I will observe, for I know that you are with me.”

“I will be with you,” he replied, “because you have such a desire for doing good; and I will be with all those,” he added, “who have such a desire. This fasting,” he continued, “is very good, provided the commandments of the Lord be observed. Thus, then, you shall observe the fasting which you intend to keep. First of all, be on your guard against every evil word, and every evil desire, and purify your heart from all the vanities of this world. If you guard against these things, your fasting will be perfect. And you will do also as follows. Having fulfilled what is written, in the day on which you fast you will taste nothing but bread and water; and having reckoned up the price of the dishes of that day which you intended to have eaten, you will give it to a widow, or an orphan, or to some person in want, and thus you will exhibit humility of mind, so that he who has received benefit from your humility may fill his own soul, and pray for you to the Lord. If you observe fasting, as I have commanded you, your sacrifice will be acceptable to God, and this fasting will be written down; and the service thus performed is noble, and sacred, and acceptable to the Lord. These things, therefore, shall you thus observe with your children, and all your house, and in observing them you will be blessed; and as many as hear these words and observe them shall be blessed; and whatsoever they ask of the Lord they shall receive.”
The Shepherd of Hermas, 2.33-35.

MATHETES: The soul, when but ill-provided with food and drink, becomes better; in like manner, the Christians, though subjected day by day to punishment, increase the more in number. Epistle to Diognetus, 1.27.

ARISTIDES: And if they hear that one of their number is imprisoned or afflicted on account of the name of their Messiah, all of them anxiously minister to his necessity, and if it is possible to redeem him they set him free. And if there is among them any that is poor and needy, and if they have no spare food, they fast two or three days in order to supply to the needy their lack of food. They observe the precepts of their Messiah with much care, living justly and soberly as the Lord their God commanded them. The Apology of Aristides the Philosopher, 9.277.

JUSTIN MARTYR: [On baptism:] I will also relate the manner in which we dedicated ourselves to God when we had been made new through Christ. . . As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, “Except you be born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” . . .

And for this rite we have learned from the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe; he who leads to the laver the person that is to be washed calling him by this name alone. For no one can utter the name of the ineffable God; and if any one dare to say that there is a name, he raves with a hopeless madness. And this washing is called illumination, because they who learn these things are illuminated in their understandings. And in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and in the name of the Holy Ghost, who through the prophets foretold all things about Jesus, he who is illuminated is washed. The First Apology, 1.183.

JUSTIN MARTYR: Learn, therefore, to keep the true fast of God, as Isaiah says, that you may please God. Isaiah has cried thus: “Shout vehemently, and do not spare: lift up your voice as with a trumpet, and show My people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins. They seek Me from day to day, 8 and desire to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the judgment of God. They ask of Me now righteous judgment, and desire to draw near to God, saying, 'Why have we fasted, and You do not see? And afflicted our souls, and You have not known?' Because in the days of your fasting you find your own pleasure, and oppress all those who are subject to you. Behold, you fast for strifes and debates, and smite the humble with your fists. Why do you fast for Me, as today, so that your voice is heard aloud? This is not the fast which I have chosen, the day in which a man shall afflict his soul. And not even if you bend your neck like a ring, or clothe yourself in sackcloth and ashes, shall you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord. This is not the fast which I have chosen, says the Lord; but loose every unrighteous bond, dissolve the terms of unjust covenants, let the oppressed go free, and avoid every iniquitous contract. Deal your bread to the hungry, and lead the homeless poor under your dwelling; if you see the naked, clothe him; and do not hide yourself from your own flesh. Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your garments shall rise up quickly: and your righteousness shall go before you, and the glory of God shall envelope you. Then you shall cry, and the Lord shall hear you: while you are speaking, He will say, Behold, I am here. And if you take away the yoke, and the stretching out of the hand, and the word of murmuring; and give heartily your bread to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall your light arise in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday: and your God shall be with you continually, and you shall be satisfied according as your soul desires, and your bones shall become fat, and shall be as a watered garden, and as a fountain of water, or as a land where water does not fail.”  “Circumcise, therefore, the foreskin of your heart,”  as the words of God in all these passages demand.
Dialogue with Trypho, A Jew, 1.202.

IRENAEUS: For they [the Gnostics] can neither confer sight on the blind, nor hearing on the deaf, nor chase away all sorts of demons—none, indeed, except those that are sent into others by themselves, if they can even do so much as this. Nor can they cure the weak, or the lame, or the paralytic, or those who are distressed in any other part of the body, as has often been done in regard to bodily infirmity. Nor can they furnish effective remedies for those external accidents which may occur. And so far are they from being able to raise the dead, as the Lord raised the dead, and the apostles did by means of prayer, and as has been frequently done in the brotherhood on account of some necessity— the entire Church in that particular locality entreating the request with much fasting and prayer, the spirit of the dead man has returned, and he has been bestowed in answer to the prayers of the saints. Against Heresies, 1.407.

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