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Sunday, December 18, 2005

HEBREWS 13:17

What then (you say), when he is wicked should we obey? Wicked? In what sense? If indeed in regard to Faith, flee and avoid him; not only if he be a man, but even if he be an angel come down from Heaven; but if in regard to life, be not over-curious. And this instance I do not allege from my own mind, but from the Divine Scripture. For hear Christ saying, "The Scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat." (Matt. xxiii. 2.) Having previously spoken many fearful things concerning them, He then says, "They sit on Moses' seat: all therefore whatsoever they tell you observe, do; but do not ye after their works." (Matt. xxiii. 2, 3.) They have (He means) the dignity of office, but are of unclean life. Do thou however attend, not to their life, but to their words. For as regards their characters, no one would be harmed [thereby]. How is this? Both because their characters are manifest to all, and also because though he were ten thousand times as wicked he will never teach what is wicked. But as respects Faith, [the evil] is not manifest to all, and the wicked [ruler] will not shrink from teaching it.

Moreover, "Judge not that ye be not judged" (Matt. vii. 1) concerns life, not faith: surely what follows makes this plain. For "why" (He says) "beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" (Matt. vii. 3.) "All things therefore" (He says) "which they bid you observe, do ye" (now to "do" belongs to works not to Faith) "but do not ye after their works." Seest thou that [the discourse] is not concerning doctrines, but concerning life and works?

ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM,HOMILY XXXIV:HOMILIES ON THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS PUBLISHED AFTER HIS FALLING ASLEEP, FROM NOTES BY CONSTANTINE, PRESBYTER OF ANTIOCH.
[The Oxford Translation Revised by Rev. Frederic Gardiner, D.D. Late Professor in the Berkeley Divinity School, Middletown, Conn.]