Commentary on Matthew

Commentary on Matthew

Translated by D. H. WILLIAMS
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Commentary on Matthew
    Book Description:

    St. Jerome (347-420) has been considered the pre-eminent scriptural commentator among the Latin Church Fathers. His Commentary on Matthew, written in 398 and profoundly influential in the West, appears here for the first time in English translation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2024-6
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
      (pp. 3-38)

      The first half of the fourth century yielded few texts produced by Latin writers. All of the surviving remnants from this period come from the genre of biblical exposition: an abbreviated commentary on the Apocalypse by Victorinus of Poetovio (martyred in 304);¹ a fragmented commentary or scholia on the Gospels by Fortunatianus of Aquileia,² a handful of sermonettes on three of the Gospels by Arnobius of Sicca,³ and two of the pseudo-Cyprianic sermons that are thought to come from the fourth century.⁴ Hilary’s commentary on the Gospel of Matthew provides the only nearly complete text,⁵ also making it the first...

      (pp. 41-47)

      Whereas matthew followed the order² of royal succession, Luke reckons it according to priestly origin. Each writer is using a [different] criterion, one tracing the Lord’s bloodline,³ and the other by means of his tribe. It is quite right to present the sequence of the Lord’s generation⁴ in this way since the association of the priestly and royal ancestry⁵ inaugurated by David in his marriage is thereafter confirmed through the lineage⁶ of Shealtiel to Zerubbabel.⁷

      And so while Matthew established his paternal origin which stemmed from Judah, Luke teaches that the lineage proceeded through Nathan from the tribe of Levi.⁸...

      (pp. 48-53)

      Once herod was dead, Joseph was later instructed by the angel to return to Judea with the boy and his mother.¹ And as he was returning, he learned that the son of Herod, Archelaus, was ruling, so he feared to enter there and is warned by the angel to cross over into Galilee and to live in Nazareth, a town of that region.² So [we learn that] Joseph is instructed to return to Judea, and having returned, he is afraid; then being admonished in a dream, he is told to cross over into the land of pagans. But it is...

      (pp. 54-58)

      Then jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit in order to be tempted by the devil.¹ The passage² into the desert, the forty days of fasting, the hunger after fasting, the temptation of Satan, and the response of the Lord have been fulfilled in accordance with the realization of a great and heavenly plan. That he was led into the desert indicated the prerogative of the Holy Spirit, who exposed his humanity to the devil at that moment by allowing him to be tempted. This provided an opportunity which the Tempter would not have had unless it had...

      (pp. 59-73)

      When a great crowd had assembled together, he then climbed up and taught them from the mountain. In other words, having situated himself on the height of the Father’s majesty, he laid down the precepts of heavenly life. For he could not have delivered eternal principles had he not been situated in eternity. And so it is written: He opened his mouth and began to teach them.¹ It would have been easier to say that he was the one to speak, but because he dwelt² in the glory of the Father’s majesty and taught about eternity, it is clear that...

      (pp. 74-84)

      We are instructed to pray with the door of our room closed,¹ and likewise taught to offer our prayer in every place since the prayers of the saints were undertaken in the midst of wild beasts, in prisons, within flames, from the depth of the sea, and from the belly of the monster.² We are told to enter the secret places, not of a house, but of the room of our heart. Enclosed within the privacy of our mind, we are to pray to God, not with copious speaking, but with our understanding, because every such prayer is superior to...

      (pp. 85-89)

      Do not give to dogs what is holy nor throw your pearls before pigs,¹ etc. Nothing is more valuable and more holy than the precepts and promises of God, which confer upon us, who are sanctified, the treasure of immortality. We are not permitted to distribute those sacraments and powers² to the pagans or to discuss them with heretics. For dogs are the pagans, so called³ because they bark in rage against God. But the name pig is given to heretics because, although they have a cloven hoof, they nevertheless reconstitute the knowledge of God they received without chewing it.⁴...

      (pp. 90-96)

      And when he came down from the mountain, large crowds followed him. And behold, a certain leper came and entreated him, saying, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean,”¹ etc. In the beginning of this account we warned about thinking that anything should be omitted perchance from the factual events² of faith. So we teach that the events themselves contain the development³ of the facts in their order.⁴ For nothing is omitted from the truth, since the truth is what we follow in imitation. In all of his earlier words the Lord had delivered the precepts of...

      (pp. 97-102)

      And when he got into the boat, the disciples followed him. And behold, a great storm arose on the sea,¹ etc. After the disciples entered the ship, a storm arose, the sea was agitated, and the passengers were thrown into commotion. Having fallen into a deep sleep, he was aroused by their nervous fearfulness; they begged him to do something.² After he once more scolded the disciples because of their small faith, he commanded the wind and the waves to be quiet.³ To their amazement, the wind and the sea obeyed his orders.⁴ It stands to reason that churches which...

      (pp. 103-109)

      And as jesus went on from there, he saw a man sitting at the tax booth, by the name of Matthew, and he said to him: “Follow me,”¹ etc. He commands Matthew the publican, sitting at his tax booth, to follow him. And going to his house, Matthew prepares a dinner, where with Jesus was seated a group of publicans and sinners.² At this, the Pharisees rebuked the disciples, asking why their teacher dined with publicans.³ To them he responded, it is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick who require treatment.⁴ And he commanded them to...

      (pp. 110-128)

      Seeing the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless,¹ etc. It is appropriate to examine the authority² of his words no less than his deeds, because, as we said,³ there consists the same important significance in his words as in his actions. The Lord had compassion on the harassed and helpless crowd just as a flock is scattered about without a shepherd.⁴ And he said: The harvest is plentiful, the workers are few, pray that the Lord of the harvest send out many workers into the harvest.⁵ Once he called his disciples together, he gave...

      (pp. 129-137)

      When john heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent his disciples to him asking, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we wait for another?”¹ Because he was confined in prison, John was unaware of the Lord; such a great prophet did not know his God. As the forerunner² nonetheless, he announced the one who was to come; as the prophet, he acknowledged his [Christ’s] existence; as the confessor,³ he venerated his [Christ’s] advent. How could there occur such an error in his knowledge, which was so varied and prodigious? If, however, we follow...

      (pp. 138-152)

      At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath; his disciples who were hungry began to pick the heads of grain and eat them.¹ His entering the grain field, the day of the Sabbath, the hunger of the disciples, the plucking² of the grain heads, the allegation of the Pharisees, and the response of the Lord³ have, as do the rest, an underlying explanation based on an interior cause.⁴ For the full truth of the facts, as we have said, stems from the consequences of these events, and also provides the likeness of a future truth understood...

      (pp. 153-157)

      That day Jesus went out and sat down beside the sea, and crowds gathered around him such that he got into a boat.¹ There is an underlying principle for the reason that the Lord sat in the boat and the crowd stood outside. He necessarily spoke in parables² and indicates by this genre that those who are located outside of the Church³ can find no understanding of the divine word. The ship presents a type of the Church, within which the Word of life is situated and preached. Those who lie outside in barren and fruitless places, like the desert,...

      (pp. 158-169)

      Have you understood all these things?” And they said to him: “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore, every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven,”¹ etc. The Lord spoke not to the crowd but to the disciples and provided a proper explanation to those who understood the parables. He makes a comparison between them and himself in the guise of the master of a house,² because they accepted instruction from the Lord’s treasury of new and old things. Given their knowledge, he calls those “scribes” who understood these things, new and old, which were presented in...

      (pp. 170-176)

      Then since the scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem¹ approached him saying,² etc. The reason for the words and deeds in the following events is clear: in light of the reports that had been related to the Lord, he responded by saying every plant that is not planted by his Father must be eradicated.³ In other words, human tradition should be uprooted when it comes transgressing the precepts of the Law. The Pharisees and scribes are themselves blind guides who do not see the way of eternal life, which they promise.⁴ Blind men and the blind guides all together fall into...

      (pp. 177-184)

      And the Pharisees and Sadducees came to him, testing him, and they asked him to show them a sign from heaven.¹ The Pharisees and Sadducees present were arrogant because of their confidence in the Law. Disdaining his powerful works of faith, they sought a sign to be shown to them from heaven. When they looked upon the humility of the flesh and the body of Christ, they refused to accept teaching from these works which he accomplished as a human being.²

      With ridicule for their arrogance and foolishness, the Lord responds that they were accustomed to interpreting many omens from...

      (pp. 185-192)

      Truly, i say to you that some of those standing here will not taste death, until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.¹ The Lord teaches us that deeds and words, speech and action, in equal proportion guide us in the faith of our hope.² For the heavy burden of human weakness has been imposed on us so that when we began to sense an awareness of life by experiencing it, we would put aside the benefits and deny bodily pleasures. The hope is that we might not become what we had begun to be. Since we...

      (pp. 193-199)

      On that day, the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who do you think is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”¹ and the rest. The Lord teaches that no one enters the Kingdom of heaven unless he returns to the nature of childhood.² This means that the sins of our body and soul should be revoked in childlike simplicity. He declares that children believe everyone because they trust what they hear.³ They follow their father, they love their mother, they do not know how to wish evil on their neighbor, they are indifferent to the desire for riches, they are...

      (pp. 200-207)

      And it happened that, after Jesus had said these words,¹ he passed through Galilee and came to the region of Judaea,² etc. He healed Galileans in the region of Judaea. For he had not been able to tire³ from the crowds of the sick or bringing aid to the infirm within the land of Galilee.⁴ But we must also see that a figurative reason was involved given the particular⁵ places where the Lord pardoned the sins of the pagans—a pardon that had been prepared for Judaea.

      2. Then the Pharisees came in order to test him saying, “Is a man...

      (pp. 208-217)

      After they heard these things, the disciples were astonished and troubled, saying that no one can be saved.¹ The Lord responded that what is impossible with men is possible with God.² They in turn said to the Lord that they had left everything in order to be with him.³ The Lord promised them that when he sits upon his throne in majesty, they will sit upon twelve thrones and will judge the same number of the tribes of Israel.⁴ For anyone who leaves everything for his name’s sake, there are reserved benefits one hundredfold. The many who are last will...

      (pp. 218-228)

      Then jesus sent two of his disciples saying, “Go to the village which is ahead of you,”¹ etc. Two disciples are sent to the village in order to loosen a donkey tied up with her colt and lead them to the Lord.² If anyone should ask why they are doing this, the disciples are supposed to respond that they are necessary to the Lord and must be brought immediately.³

      Considering the earlier passage in which we remember that the double calling of Israel was signified in the two sons of Zebedee,⁴ it is now appropriate that two disciples are appointed...

      (pp. 229-233)

      Listen to another parableThere was a landowner² who planted a vineyard and surrounded it with a wall,³ and dug a winepress in it, and built a tower,⁴ etc. The whole issue⁵ is clear. Even the chief priests and Pharisees understood that this was spoken of them,⁶ which made them angry. But the significance of the persons mentioned and the comparisons made should be explained.⁷ Here we understand that God the Father is the landowner who has planted his people Israel in anticipation of an excellent harvest.⁸ He enclosed them within his wall,⁹ sanctified by the name of the fathers,...

      (pp. 234-239)

      Then the Pharisees went out and made plans to trap him in his words,¹ etc. Often the Pharisees were confounded and were not able to find an occasion for falsely accusing him on the basis of past deeds, for no one could impugn his deeds or words with any fault. Nonetheless, with a malicious intent, they attempted in every instance to find grounds for making an accusation. Surely the Lord has called all people away from their worldly sins and from the superstition of human religion² to the hope in the Kingdom of heaven.

      The Pharisees tested him [to see]...

      (pp. 240-247)

      Then jesus spoke to the crowd and to his disciples, saying, “On the seat of Moses sit the scribes and Pharisees,”¹ etc. He showed that the glory of the Law bears witness to himself; the [same] Law revealed in him bore an image of truths to come. At every point, Christ’s advent was intended.² Whatever is contained in the Law led to the advancement of the knowledge of Christ. This is the reason he commanded [his disciples] to submit to the Pharisees’ teaching.³ Because the latter sit in the seat of Moses, the Lord told the crowd and his disciples...

      (pp. 248-253)

      And as he was walking away from the Temple, his disciples approached and beckoned him to look at the structure of the Temple.¹ After threatening that Jerusalem would be forsaken, he is shown the grandeur of the Temple’s stature, as if it were necessary to stir him by its splendor. He said that it would be entirely destroyed and demolished since the stones of the entire structure would be knocked down.² But an eternal temple is one that is consecrated to be a habitation of the Holy Spirit, that is, the temple is a person who is worthy to become...

      (pp. 254-258)

      Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened,¹ and the rest. He indicates his glorious advent and majestic return by the darkening of the sun, the eclipse of the moon, the falling of stars, the shaking of the heavenly bodies,² the display of portentous signs, the lamentation of the pagans when they recognize the Son of Man in the glory of God,³ and the appointing of the angels with trumpets for the gathering of the saints⁴—the opening of freedom for all. It so happens that a huge tree comes from a mustard seed;⁵ it so...

      (pp. 259-266)

      Who then is the faithful and wise servant whom the Lord places in charge over his household?¹ and the rest. Although the Lord exhorts us generally toward tireless and focused vigilance,² he issues a special charge to the rulers of the people, that is, the bishops, about their watching for his coming. The Lord identifies the faithful and wise servant as the one given charge³ over the household, to care for the needs and the interests of the people entrusted to him.⁴ If the servant hears what the Lord says and obeys his instructions, that is, if the servant has...

      (pp. 267-267)

      When the Son of Man comes in his majesty and all the angels with him,¹ and the rest. The Lord himself clarified the complete meaning of this statement. He is mindful of the time of judgment and the moment² when he will separate the faithful from the unfaithful,³ and distinguish between the fruitful and the unfruitful, removing the goats from the sheep, placing each on his right and on his left.⁴ He will establish those on his throne who are worthy according to their goodness or wickedness. He shows that he is with the least of his children: those who...

      (pp. 268-269)

      While jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him, holding an alabaster jar of costly perfume,¹ and the rest. At the time of his Passion, it is not for nothing that a woman poured costly perfume on the Lord’s head as he was reclining at the table.² The disciples became indignant at this act, saying the perfume ought rather to be sold for the needs of the poor.³ Nonetheless, the Lord approved of the woman’s deed and promised there would be an eternal memorial of this deed when the Gospel is preached.⁴...

      (pp. 270-272)

      On the first day of Azymes,¹ the disciples came to Jesus saying, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”² and the rest. The disciples were told to go to a certain man and say to him that the Lord, along with his disciples, wished to celebrate³ the Passover with him.⁴ They did as they were told and prepared the Passover.⁵ But it was necessary that they should know how to proceed as well as learn the name of the man. Otherwise, they would be uncertain where to go or how to execute the...

      (pp. 273-281)

      Then jesus went with his disciples into a field¹ which is called Gethsemane, and said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there to pray,”² and the rest. He welcomed the disciples’ trust³ and the steadfastness of their will devoted to him, but he also knew that they would be thrown into confusion and despair.

      He told them to wait together in that place, while he went forth to pray, taking with him Peter and the sons of Zebedee, James and John.⁴ Once he had taken them aside, he began to be sorrowful and troubled, saying that his...

      (pp. 282-286)

      While he was still speaking, behold Judas, one of the twelve, came and with him a large crowd.¹ In all of these points we find the orderly arrangement² of the Passion. The kiss of Judas³ has meaning that teaches us to love our enemies and those who we know will commit violence against us.⁴ For the Lord did not reject his kiss. Because he said to Judas, Do what you are going to do,⁵ he gives in this statement the power for his betrayal.⁶ For he who had the prerogative to call upon twelve thousand legions of angels⁷ against traitors...

      (pp. 287-294)

      While pilate was sitting on the tribunal, his wife sent him a message saying, “There is nothing between you and this just man.”¹ An image of the pagans is in this woman, who, already believing,² summoned her husband and an unbelieving people to faith in Christ. Because she herself had suffered much for Christ,³ she invited her husband to the same glory of a future hope. And so Pilate washed his hands and bore witness to the Jews that he was innocent of the Lord’s blood.⁴ While the Jews have accepted upon themselves and their children the crime of shedding...

    • APPENDIX I. AN ECHO FROM THE LOST ENDING Hilary, De trinitate 2.1 (SC 443.274–76)
      (pp. 297-297)
    • APPENDIX II The Capitula of Hilary’s In Matthaeum
      (pp. 298-301)
      (pp. 302-308)
      (pp. 309-317)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 318-318)